1656
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Epithalamion. The morning after the Marriage of the Earl of Barymore with Mrs. Martha Laurence.

The Works of Sr. William D'avenant Kt consisting of those which were formerly printed, and those which he design'd for the Press: now published out of the Authors originall Copies.

Sir William Davenant


21 stanzas (aabccb). William Davenant's epithalamion bears at least some general resemblance to Spenser: "Awake faire Bride! and be your | Bridegroomes dawne! | Break through your Curtaines, Clouds, and Mists of Lawne. | Like op'ning Buds your early sweets disclose! | Though froward Winter now growes old, | And coughs aloud with taking cold, | Be thou calme June, and our unfolded Rose" It was first published in 1673.

Alexander Chalmers: "His miscellaneous pieces, of which we have been obliged to confine ourselves to a selection, are of very unequal merit. Most of them were probably written in youth, and but few can be reprinted with the hope of satisfying a polished taste. Complimentary poetry, so much the fashion in his times, is now perused with indifference, if not disgust; and although the gratitude which inspired it may have been sincere, it is not highly relished by the honest independence which belongs to the sons of the Muses" Works of the English Poets (1810) 6:345.

Epes Sargent: "A native of Oxford, Davenant (1606-1668) succeeded Ben Jonson as poet-laureate. He was the son of an innkeeper, and educated at Oxford. In 1643 he was knighted by King Charles. His works consist of dramas, masques, addresses, and an unfinished epic called Gondibert, which he dedicates to Hobbes. He left a son, Charles, who sat in Parliament, and distinguished himself somewhat as a literary man" Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 87.

A. M. Gibbs: "This marriage took place in November 1656. Richard Barry, Earl of Barrymore (1630-94), was born in Dublin in November 1630. He was appointed Colonel of Foot in 1661 and in the same year took his seat in the House of Lords.... Martha Lawrence, who died in 1664, was the daughter of the Puritan statesman, Henry Lawrence" Davenant, Poems (1972) 421n.



A lover is a high and mighty Thing!
Or else we hear wilde Notes when Poets Sing;
Loves pleasant Priests who teach the World to wooe.
Nor can they want Discretions Light
To follow Love's most secret Flight;
For they are grave, and of his Council too.

But if a Lover so important be
That half his Dreames may fill a History,
Then must a Bridegroomes Title higher sound;
Who first a feather'd Lover is,
And then flies upward to the bliss
Of being a victorious Lover crown'd.

But if a Bridegroome be so crown'd a Thing
(For more then Lover is not less then King)
How glorious is the Bride who gives that Crown?
For though she cannot well depose
The Sov'raign Prince whom she has chose,
Yet she awhile can kill him with a frown.

A Bridegroome and a Bride, Loves King and Queen,
Fame sayes, are now at Court, and to be seen;
And other prosp'rous Lovers, though but few,
And Poets, but they bear no sway;
And this, O costly Opera!
Thou, fatally, canst witness to be true.

I will to Court, and Fame shall be my Guide:
But thou, fantastick Fame, canst nothing hide;
And I aloof in shade would follow thee:
Fame therefore leave thy Trumpet here,
To which all listen with some feare;
For it does praise but few, and cannot me.

Vaine Guide! she whispers every fool she meets;
And makes her stops and turnings in the Streets,
Which are the Peoples durty Galleries.
Hence! least we reach the Court too late!
For little sleep does serve the State;
And Pow'r, the publick Scout, needs watchful Eyes.

At last, to Hymens Chamber we are come,
After our heedful walks through every Roome;
Where many cast and cancell'd Lovers stay;
Who envy'd this triumphant night;
And therefore came ere it was light
In haste, to tell the Bridegroome it was day.

Awake faire Bride! and be your Bridegroomes dawne!
Break through your Curtaines, Clouds, and Mists of Lawne.
Like op'ning Buds your early sweets disclose!
Though froward Winter now growes old,
And coughs aloud with taking cold,
Be thou calme June, and our unfolded Rose.

But being now display'd, What guilt is thine,
That, like the Morne, thou dost in blushes shine?
Roses, the Morne, and you, are innocent:
And, as in blushes you agree,
So are you the undoubted Three
That have alike no reason to repent.

Thou Bridegroome, noble in thy Minde as Blood,
Hast Honour's flame to light thee soon to good:
But Honour waites as Page behinde thy Bride.
Thou must, to match her vertue, be
Humble and harmless too as she;
And from griev'd Lovers all her beauties hide.

Draw not her Curtaines yet; nor rise to boast
What blessings thou hast gain'd, and they have lost:
But, free from mischief, sleep awhile, and dreame
How kind and loyal she will be,
Whilst faster she imagines thee
The Lovers Pattern, and the Poets Theam.

Arise, arise! you must not undertake
To think in sleep all I should speak awake,
Or Hymens Priests in blessings can express.
The World you know not yet; nor see
What will with it and you agree:
I am his Priest, and thus have learnt to bless.

First, may those interwishes you did make
In dream (though you sublim'd them when awake)
And may those strange perfections which the Bride
(Lifting her Snowy hands) did crave
To glorify what both would have,
Be all by Hymens policy deny'd.

For Hymens Common-weale cannot dispence
In private with Monarchick excellence.
When singularly good you strive to be
Then will the marry'd Populace
Cry, Libertie! and soon deface
Your vertue to preserve their Vices free.

And, though the Ermines whiteness be his grace,
Yet it provokes the Hunter to the Chace;
So an excessive purity of Love
Unarmes you to invite offence,
And for a Prey keeps Excellence.
You must acquaint the Serpent with the Dove.

Next, may your Loves sweet Pledges prove but few;
For how can many grow so good as you?
Or rather, Hymen kindly grant that none,
Though of your own wisht Progenie,
May to your selves so equal be
In vertue as to second your renowne.

For who can such a cautious Envy blame
As grieves that any one, though of your name,
Should wholly equall you in future dayes;
And so a theam to Poets be
By which they soon might equall me,
And get a flourishing Estate of Bayes?

But how, sweet Bride, can envy ere suppose
A Rose-Tree budding should not bear a Rose?
Or that thy vertuous Mother bore not thee,
Or that thy noble Father cou'd
To any others trust his blood
But such as thy excelling Brothers be?

Here then let my fantastick blessings cease.
I give you liberty your selves to bless,
Whilst Hymens busie Priesthood I lay down.
A Poet has not power to add
To that perfection which you made
When both your wishes joyn'd to make you one.

Fame, shake thy Wings! and straite prepare to fly;
I came not here to write a History.
Nor can I stay, though thou art loth to move.
This Court is thy most proper Spheare;
For thou mayst sound the triumps here
Of mighty Warriours, and of mighty Love.

Those are the Songs that keep the World awake.
Stay then, and I will send thy Trumpet back;
Which civilly I made thee leave behinde:
Thy courted looks, if seen with me,
Would wither, and thy Musick be
But wandring blasts of the unheeded winde.

[pp. 310-13]