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ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Kalendarium Humanae Vitae.

Kalendarium Humanae Vitae. The Kalender of Man's Life. Authore Roberto Farleo, Scoto-Britanio.

Robert Farley


Robert Farley's emblem book consists of twelve poems arranged by season in Latin with facing English translations. While not an imitation of the Shepheades Calender, the imagery, as in August, appears to owe something to Spenser, and the prefatory verses by Edmund Coleman allude to the Shepheardes Calender: "Th' Arcadian Shepheards shall make their starre, | And place this next to Tityrus Calendar" Sig A3v. "To the Courteous Reader" describes a rose "wearing a cap much like the Fairy Queene" Sig. A8.

Joseph Robertson: "This rhyming Kalendar, of two versions, begins in March, or man's birth; then follow April, or man's infancy; May, or man's childhood, &c. February is occupied with long epitaphs, on Methusalem, Abraham, Sampson, and other ancient worthies. It is all in a very bad taste, though not entirely devoid of fancy" Scottish Poets (1822) 4:2:125.

Paul J. Klemp: "Robert Farley moved away from the Spenserian style, presenting instead both a Latin poem and — on facing pages — an English translation in iambic pentameter couplets. By beginning his twelve-poem sequence in March he departed further from Spenser" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 395).



AUGUST, OR MANS YOUTH.

When Phoebus doth with chast Astrea meete,
Crowning the fruits and fields with influence sweet
Then plants bring forth their fruits, after their kinde,
Not all alike, some good, some bad we finde,
So man in Youth shewes by his conversation,
His towardness, and former education,
Like as the fire which long hath lurkt in ashes,
When it gets stronger fewel, flames and flashes,
So nature which in weaknesse long did lurke,
Doth now in heate of blood begin to worke:
Or like strong wines in caske, when first they vent,
They shew themselves in motion vehement,
So man in leavned age, and youthfull prime
Gives passions most violent for a time;
Tinder nor flaxe takes not with Vulcanes ire
More quickly, than youths bloods set on fire,
And oft condemnes the Stoicke apathie,
As by his passionate valour we may see.
So Pellas flower did conquer all the East,
Alcides kill'd the many-headed beast,
Jason with the noble Youths of Greece,
In spight of dangers wonne the golden fleece:
This passion as it is a whetting stone
To goodnesse, so to evill it spurreth on.
Loves passion made Perithous descend
To Plutoes house t' attend his lustfull end;
Anger made Eteocles kill his brother,
Nor could their funerall smoake agree together;
Revenge did cause Orestes put to death
His mother, who did give him life and breath;
So griefe made Ajax turne his wrath from Troy,
And with the fatall sword himselfe destroy:
This age still in extremes can scarce obey
Reason, cause passion beares so great a sway,
And oft, when reason and affection too
Concurre, the danger's, not to overdoe.
It leadeth us unto a forked way,
Where the great Hercules was sayd to stay,
The one is broad, plumed on every side,
With Damaske Roses, and with Flora's pride,
There Ceres gifts in great aboundance grow,
And Bacchus cupps with nectar overflow;
There's downy beds stuffed with swanlike plumes,
There every thing is sweetned with perfumes;
The winged quiristers with their sweete throates,
Doe warble forth their care-bereaving notes;
And painted pleasure lyeth all along
Upon her downes, the fragrant flowers among,
Her lookes are lovely, and her eyes are cleare
Much like to Venus, when she did appeare
First from the sea; the honey's not so sweete,
As are her words, she's outwardly compleate,
But O if one should see her breast within,
Farre different would he finde it from her skinne.
Whatever she pretends she meanes no lesse
Than death, destruction, gall, and bitternesse;
Her eyes, like Basiliskes, they see and kill,
Her voyce like Sirens doth entise to ill;
Beleeve bee no wayes, when she sheddeth teares,
For like the Crocodiles, they're full of feares;
She gives Circean cuppes giddy wine,
Mixt with toades poyson, and the Lotish rine,
And turnes man into Goate, or mimicke Ape,
Or Wolfe, or Lyon, which doth roare and gape;
Oft times she with her cupps so doth them drench,
That without blood their thirst they cannot quench;
But which is worst of all behold the end,
To misery and death they are condemn'd.
A little swinish pleasure deare they buy,
With Gout, Consumption, or the Pleurisie,
And brings upon themselves such misery,
That they can choose, or doe nothing, but dye.
Perhaps one Polemo who in her waies,
Hath lavish'd out his young and tender dayes,
When he a wise Xenocrates doth heare,
Will be ashamed, and his garlands teare;
But he is one amongst a thousand, who
Farre otherwayes, then he hath done, will doe;
For vitious custome puts them so in ure,
As that it doth their hearts and minds obdure;
Their better Parts from Heav'n it doth deface,
And tyran-like usurpeth Natures place,
Then nothing profits carefull education,
And hope is gone of healthfull reformation.
O what a pitty's this! Nature brought forth,
A towardnesse,which gave some hopes of worth;
Their mother suffred paines, and gave them sucke,
And dandled them with songs of happy lucke,
Then were they put to Schooles, and learning taught,
And now when tis their prime, all is for naught.

The other is a steepe and narrow path,
And, beside which you make, no passage hath,
Its straw'd with briers, thornes all along,
Through which, who ere so walkes, he needes must throng;
On every side are monsters such as dwell
In Plutos prisons, and the pits of hell:
Here sits gray-headed, and heart killing cares,
Here lyes palefaced, and joynt-shaking feares;
Here warchfull Dragons, whose unsleepy eyes,
The care-relenting Morphews never sees;
There vaine and phreneticke labour rowles a stone
Like Sisyphus the craggy rocke's upon;
At last Despaire drooping and almost dead,
Scarcely can pull the rope over her head.
On th' other side, the furious Passions stand,
Marching with armes along, in traine-like band.
Angry with fiery eyes and frownes doth threat
To pull high thundring Jove downe from his seate:
Next comes Contention with her cursed brands
Seeking to set on fire both sea and lands;
Then Hatred in her hollow heart doth keepe
Revenge and for occasion forth doth peepe;
There Rashness, on a rope hangs by the toe,
And of her boldnesse makes a foolish show:
Vaine Hope with waxen wings doth love to flye
Like Icarus, above the Azure sky.
Fierce monsters doe this narrow passage bound,
And deadly dangers it encompasse round.
Yet Vertue doth her followers safely guide,
Least they should goe astray on either side.
Prudence through the darke windings doth them lead,
Safely with Ariadnes clew of thread.
Then Vertues ushers, Courage, Constancy,
Doe hearten them on against adversity:
And show them Vertues Castle, how on high,
It stands resplendent all with Majesty.
If they doe stumble gainst a blocke or stone,
Then Constancy saies, stay not here, goe on;
And Hope proclaimes afarre: Loe here you shall
Have joy for sorrow, Hony for your gall.
Here peace and joyfull rest, for ever dwell
Which neither crosse nor time shall ever quell,
So when they have these hideous monsters past
With joy they reach the mountaines top at last.
Where Vertues pallace stands on pillars square
The courts of gold, the gates of of chrystall are,
And all this glorious castle's founded on
The Chrysolite, Saphire, and Berill stone.
Before the stately gates, blacke Envy lies,
Tormented with the aspect of her eyes;
On whom, when once these Champions doe trample,
Through Vertues Courts, they enter Honours Temple,
Then Glory doth eternall Trophees raise,
And Fame Seraphik-like, their name doth blaze.
There but two ways; and yet where one dare venter
On this, a thousand by the other enter:
Vertue, oft, all alone doth goe and dwell;
Pleasure doth lead whole colonies to hell.
Nay, I dare say, the most of men doe stray
At first, and enter in the broader way;
Happy are they who doe returne, before
They runne too deepe in cursed pleasures score,
Darke ignorance doth blindfold many so,
That from the meane into th' extremes they goe.
Their ship scarce from the shore her course doth take,
When she on deadly-rockes doth shipwracke make;
Others have knowledge and the best desire,
But crost with stormes and fortunes spightfull ire,
There strength and meanes answer not to their mind,
And so poore soules they're forst to lag behind.
Amongst so many thousands of this age
How few with faire applause goe off the stage;
And yet those few like Gideons fleece, we see
Tith'd by untimely fates mortality.
When fruites are almost ripe, storme can them shake,
When Youth is almost man, death may him take.
Search you deaths Lime pits, and youle finde therein,
As oft the Young Steeres as the Oxes skinne;
Oft time old gray-haird wrinkles swim in teares,
For youthes who dyed in their prime of yeeres;
The ancient Pollard Oake ofttimes doth see,
The overthrowing of a Young Beech tree,
This onely law is propper unto man,
To dye, or soone, or late, doe what he can.
One way he comes to life, if Fates dispose
Will once of him, a thousand wayes he goes.

The stormy seas doe not with waves so fret,
When roaring surges, glowming clouds doe threat,
As with contrary tides my breast doth swell,
And doubtfull thoughts my plunged soule doth quell;
Which furious anger doth me headlong lead,
And shaking feares doe strike me almost dead;
While hope doth raise and sorrow downe me cast;
Lord after storme, shew forth thy calme at last.
Chase anger, feare, vaine hope and griefe away,
That joy and rest of soule, enjoy I may.
The first fruites of my young age sanctifie,
With strength of body, strength thy grace in me,
Direct me Lord along thy narrow path,
Which may lead me to Heaven, by saving faith,
Strengthen me with perseverance to the end,
From Satan, and Hels monsters me defend:
So when I shall come to Heavens rest, I'le sing,
O cruell death,where is thy deadly sting:
And when I shall triumph in Heaven with thee,
I'le say, O Grave, where is thy victory,
Before I want this rest, I had rather goe
Through thousand Lab'rinths of this mortall woe.
These worldly crosses, last but for a day,
And like the Eastwind, quickly flye away:
But sure I am when earthly sorrow's past,
Heav'ns thought-surpassing joy shall ever last.

[sigs E2-E7]