1700
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Psyche.

Psyche, or Love's Mystery, in XXIV. Cantos: Displaying the Intercourse betwixt Christ, and the Soul... The Second Edition, with Corrections throughout, and four new Cantos, never before printed. [Christopher Beaumont, ed.]

Rev. Samuel Woodford


Samuel Woodford, himself an imitator of Spenser and Phineas Fletcher, prefaces the second edition of Psyche, a 40,000-line religious allegory, with 44 stanzas "In sacred Memory of the very reverend Author of the following Work, Joseph Beaumont, S.T.P. &c." Near the end of Woodford's poem Redcross and Una welcome Beaumont (d. 1699) to heaven: "The service he did Thee, and came to do, | The Red-Cross Knight, at his bold Squadrons head, | Loudly proclaim'd, and bid his Una show | How well she took the Cause." Sir Philip Sidney and Urania (presumably Joshua Sylvester, who had translated the Du Bartas poem by that name) celebrate Beaumont as a member of a sort of Protestant succession of British poets.

Though there is apparently no record that Samuel Woodford knew Beaumont (who was a Cambridge man), there must have been some connection for him to have seen the manuscript of the expanded version published in 1702. The references to painting may indicate personal acquaintance, since in addition to being an allegorist, Joseph Beaumont was a painter.

Herbert E. Cory: "These curious, half-diseased, half-divine poets were in one respect the truest Spenserians who ever lived. They did not distil the rarest essence or their master as did Milton and Keats and other great English poets. But they did more than merely loot The Faerie Queene for lines and stanzas. With the passing of the School of the Fletchers there passed the last ambitious, absurd attempts to rear the cumbersome, tottering framework of The Faerie Queene to the very stars. The eighteenth century poets imitated Spenser elegantly and superficially, for the most part, as they imitated all their masters. The romanticists, when they reached their period of full triumph, did not imitate; they were inspired. But the Fletchers and their crew, besides plundering and botching lines and stanzas, outlined gigantic schemes like that set forth in Spenser's letter to Raleigh, that superb manifesto of idealism, and turned Milton from his dreams of Arthur to write audaciously of God and Satan. With the school of the Fletchers such heaven-storming became the fashion in England as it was already the fashion on the continent. We cannot fairly but admire as well as laugh at the rare audacity with which the School of the Fletchers strove to rear Babels of poetry. And in this chaos Milton saw light" "Spenser, the Fletchers, and Milton" UCPMP 2 (344-45.



PSYCHE, Fair Daughter of the Blest THREE-ONE,
Th' Eternal FATHER's Choise for Future Bride,
To His Almighty Coeternal SON,
When by The SPIRIT's Clear Unctions purify'd;
By Charis, and thy Guardian Phylax lead,
Thro' Life's dark shades, to thy bright Nuptial bed:

Psyche, sole Empress of all Seas and Lands,
When ever Man, thy Liege, His Throne has set;
Himself thy Throne, but stoops to thy commands,
How High so e'r exalted, or how Great;
In All whom, like Life's quickning Flame thou art,
Whole in the whole, and All in every Part:

Thee I invoke, for Muse thee supplicate;
Not as in this streight breast thou groan'st confin'd,
But as thou far and wide didst Reign of late
In holy Beaumont's all-embracing Mind:
Beaumont thy Prophet, whose Harmonious lyre,
Love's Triumphs to resound, thou didst inspire.

As Him teach Me, since Thee my Muse I make,
Some Acts of thy Espousals loud to sing;
And since I Beaumont's Ground, and Numbers take,
Accept the Off'ring I at distance bring,
With harp ill-tun'd, and long thro' Age unstrung,
Fit only to fill up some Under-song!

He, he the Man, who thy Vast Powers did know!
He, who Thy Maze, thro' this Earth's Wild could trace,
Bolder than any Son of Verse below,
And lead thy Song to its High Resting place;
But not till made thy Resident above,
Clearly discern'd The Mystery of Love.

Too bright that View for any mortal Eye;
Blest Beaumont saw not All, till hence remov'd,
And tho' invigor'd by Heav'n's last Supply,
And loving, knew not how He was Belov'd:
How much of God Belov'd, and for thy sake,
Whom next Him, He his chiefest Care did make.

Thee He did make, next God, his chiefest Care;
Witness that Pourtrait of thy Form Divine,
Which his best Art did for thy Spouse prepare,
(As Distant Princes treated Love's incline)
And in exchange for his, to thee first sent,
On Embassy with it in person went.

Rare the Design, and masterly all wrought,
But long e'r finisht; as the time was long,
Till to thy self thy Rebel-self was brought,
In Wilful obstinacy only strong:
By Aphrodisius and Agenor's Wiles,
Only not taken in Proud Lust's thick toils.

'Tis true, from them thou made'st an Happy Scape,
Thanks to their Care, who were thy Watchful Guard,
And steps uncall'd, 'twixt Thee and brutal Rape:
(If what then pleas'd thee suits a term so hard)
But time to reconcile thee to thy Friends
It took, more time for them to work their ends.

On thee to work them, Poor unhappy Maid!
(Pardon me so to call thee!) left alone,
By Foes girt round, and by base slaves betray'd,
Without all Conduct but thy twice-foil'd Own;
Reason so call'd, but scarce was common Sense,
Prefer'd to Faith, its Guide, Rule, Bounding Fence.

This made Thee Venturous, trust thy self too much,
And, safe at Home, presume abroad to go;
Confinement, but at Thine own pleasure grutch,
And judge All Well, because thou thought'st it so:
What thy Spouse did, intranc'd to see, and hear;
What remain'd thee to do, in little Care.

No, not thy Guardian's motions to obey,
Who Caution'd thee the Dangers of the Place
Where thou against his Will resolv'dst to stay,
The Mount that to both Adams fatal was;
Sad Calvary, which for the Second's sake,
Living thy Home, Dead thou thy Grave wouldst make.

But thence Authades, with his glosing Mien,
Debaucht thy Love, and drew thee to his Cell;
Made thee in All but Will a Nazarene,
Thy Reason he with Reason back't so well:
Thy Will was for Pseudagius's Conquests left,
And that lost, of thy All thou wert bereft.

Agyrtes won it, and his sleights did play
With such Close art, he might have plaid them on,
So Wise, so Good seem'd All he deign'd to say,
Had not thy Phylax bid the Feind be gon!
Away he flew, off drops his False Disguise,
And Reason to it self return'd, grew Wise.

Not on a suddain, nor till Caris call'd
To his assistance, thee to Gitton took,
And broke up Heresy's foul Den, appall'd
At which, with horrid Wonder thou wert struck:
This choak't thy Reason, this thy Will inclin'd,
And to that Will Divine gave Both resign'd.

Time then it took a New Scene to display
Of Glories thou hadst never seen before;
Ecclesia's Court with Spoils divinely gay
Of conquer'd Hell, and this World's shatter'd Power;
But where Ecclesia's Self, High on her Throne,
Shon brightest, with thy Lord's rayes made her own.

Long thou staid'st here; (who would not?) here hadst staid
Still longer, had not thy Dear Albion,
More glorious by thy suff'rings to be made,
Call'd thee to hard Adventures, yet unknown;
Proud Persecutions Flames, which thou hadst past,
But that reserv'd for blacker Flames at last.

The bitter'st Cup e'r tendred Maid to drink,
(Charis, and Phylax, and thy Love withdrawn)
Hurrying thee quick to Desperation's brinck,
Whose monstrous Gulf, with gore did deadly yawn.
Thou saw'st it; Trembled'st, but which way to fly
Saw'st not; abhorring Life; twice dead to Die.

Phylax here once again did interpose;
Snatcht thee from Death; but helpless to reprise
Life's joyes, thy Dread Spouse Heav'nly Charis chose,
To whom the Key belongs of Paradise—,
She Open'd; In thou went'st; and there dost stay
Dissolv'd in Loves, waiting thy Marriage Day.

THESE, and a thousand more the Chances were,
Which made thy Pourtrait in its drawing long;
With various sketch, as did thy Self appear
Under their force, to make Love's Charms more strong:
Beaumont alone was skill'd to hit them All,
With lights, shadows, as each best might fall.

Thy Conquests were the Lights, which shew'd thy Face
So lovely Fair, it ravisht at first sight,
Sparkling with Majesty, and humble Grace,
Thy absent Spouse's Amours to invite
And tho' thy Self thou only didst o'rcome,
That Victory for One o'r Him made room.

He heard thy Battails, lov'd the Heroine,
Who could Her Passions with such awe subdue,
Girt with the Belt of Chastity Divine,
His first kind Token, Treaties to renew,
Of ancient Loves, before all time design'd
And deeply laid in the Eternal Mind.

O, the bright lustre, that thy Port it gave,
With that pearl'd Girdle to be claspt around;
Which show'd thy shape, and thy great Heart to have
A Resolution, able to confound
Thy fiercest Enemies, which by it press'd,
Quitted their Fort, resign'd to thee thy Breast

This, more than Shield, or Lance was thy Defence,
Thy flowing Habit's noblest Ornament,
Which never loos'd did sacred Powers dispense,
Unhurt to take the Darts against thee sent:
To Heav'n fast bound thee, made thee Heav'n's last Care
Unconquer'd in Defeats, Renown'd in War.

And this One Cause was, that to shew his skill,
But more thy Diff'rent languors to disclose,
Thy Draught's Designer did his Table fill
With Diff'rent Charms, and Art's best touches chose:
But what they were, how tender, strong, and clear,
Exceeds my Verse to tell, wrongs thee to hear.

But all was there, which might become a Queen,
A Maiden Princess, Royally array'd
In her pure Virgin Beauties, to be seen
By him, whose Heart her Eyes had Captive made,
He Came, and Saw; but thou didst Overcome:
And Spoils he got abroad, Divide at Home.

There Innocence and Modesty did strive,
With greatest Sweetness on thy Air should dart;
There Magnanimity bold strokes did give,
Able to pierce the most Obdurate Heart;
And scattered round such Flames of warm Desire,
As shew'd thy Soul with Love was all on Fire.

There every Virtue did with Honour vye,
Which should Deserve and Have the highest Place;
But in just Order rank's, its Charge so ply,
As gave, and from its neighbor took new Grace;
And all Grac'd Thee, who in One had them all,
All Virtues, as all Souls Grand Arcenal.

The Shadows were thy Foiles, which lay below;
Hid in the Folds of thy long trailing Vest,
But so contriv'd, that every Foil did show
Some after battail gain'd, with Trophies dress'd,
Whose Figures in the hightnings did appear
And by recover'd strength thy Love indear.

Down at thy Foot vast heaps of Conquer'd lay,
Both Foreign, and Intestine Enemies:
Satan their Chief, who kept them all in Pay,
And Lust and Pride, in their stain'd Liveries!
But the most horrid Sight in Prospect drawn,
Was Heresy, with all her Cursed Spawn.

The Missives thou thy Love didst often send,
All His to Thee, thy abstinencies, Tears,
The Days thou didst in Contemplation spend,
Lents of Devotion, and Ecstatick years,
Wherein Absorpt, thou didst whole-self forget
Thought thou wert Nothing, but wert ne'r so Great;

Thy Penances, thy Works of Charity,
Some Exemplary, some so close, and hid
They lay conceal'd from the most Curious eye,
Scarce could thy Self know, what thy Self thus did:
The Transports of thy Faith, thy Hopes increase,
And midst the Fret of War, profoundest Peace.

All these, and all that these short Heads contain,
Best Inventary of thy little All,
Yet all thou hadst thy Spouse's Heart to gain,
So great his Goodness, all thy Good so small,
In Ebon Cabinets, on either hand,
Safely put up, lay ready at Command.

There they lay ready, for a sacrifice,
With thy Heart on his Alter to be laid;
Thy Heart, which broke, found pity in his Eyes,
Thy best Artillary Heav'n to invade!
All that was Thine, Acceptance to intreat,
All that was His, to make thy Beauty Great.

SUCH was the Figure of thy Looks Divine,
With his best Art retoucht, and latest Care
Which Marriage treated long, at length to join,
Beaumont did for thy absent Spouse prepare:
And which completed, none more fit than he,
To make the Present, and thy Envoy be.

On the Blest Message, up he quickly went;
And notice of his swift Approach's given,
A noble guard of Spirits were downward sent
To meet him, at the utmost bounds of Heaven:
Angels, and Souls of Just Men Perfect made;
Spectators Part, and Part for his Parade.

Millions of Leigers to the Heav'nly Court,
Before dispatcht, and who, their Business o'r,
Conge obtain'd, upon the first Report,
To meet their Empresses Embassador;
Both to their New Come Brother honour do,
And by theirs, let him his Reception know.

Each had an Angel pitcht on his Right hand,
And on his Left the Grace He reverenc't most,
Which over all the Rest had full command;
A train of Vertues, and a numerous Host,
With wide spread Banners, streaming glorious light,
And terrible to see, more terrible to fight.

Who they might be none asks, for all did know
Whose each band was; e'en Beaumont but just come
Knew ev'ry Standard, and saluting low,
By all was known, and wondred at by some,
Who oft had heard of his Great Learning's Fame,
But knew not his whole worth, till there he came.

The service he did Thee, and came to do,
The Red-Cross Knight, at his bold Squadrons head,
Loudly proclaim'd, and bid his Una show
How well she took the Cause, that in his stead,
He for Ecclesia bravely did maintain,
And Crowns design'd her, for her Sister gain.

So Astrophil, and so Urania;
In shouts with whom the British Poets join'd,
All who to Heav'n had found the narrow way,
And sacred Verse, from this World's Dross refin'd:
May they all find it, there their Tribute bring,
Never had Albion abler Sons to sing.

O, would they henceforth Beaumont Imitate!
Whom having watcht Heav'ns Verge thy Phylax meets,
And handing to his Audience up in state,
His Coming, and his Welcome friendly greets:
The croud of Blessed Saints, to make him way,
Stood close, all listning what he had to say.

Humbly then Prostrate, down before a Throne,
Splendid as that, the Lov'd Disciple saw,
And like encompass'd, with like Glory shon,
But which no mortal Pensil dares to draw:
Thy Pourtrait he on the Rich Pavement lay'd,
And Mercy thrice, thrice Mercy only pray'd.

Upright with Holy boldness then bid stand,
Out from the Throne a Voice of Thunder came,
Which Seraphs startled, and did Saints command,
Silence to keep,—

"Know all ye Powers, I AM
Change not; Our Royal Word to Psyche past
Will in its Time perform; Its Time makes haste:
Psyche Our First Love was, Psyche shall be Our Last."

[irregular signature markings]