1615
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Penardo and Laissa. Caput. II.

The First booke of the famous Historye of Penardo and Laissa other ways callid the Warres, of Love and Ambitione. Doone in Heroik Verse, by Patrik Gordon.

Patrick Gordon


The second canto opens with reflections on the mysterious ways of Providence. The tragic Muse Melpomene descends to Avernus in search of Alecto. The denizens of Hell are described in griesly detail before the Muse makes her request to the Furie: "I pray the pas unto Achay | Wheir is the Virgine fair Laissa plac'd | And work her wrak her ruine her decay | She's daughter too the great Achaian King | And has defyld our fair caballean spring" Sig. B6.

Ernest A. Strathman compares the opening stanzas to Faerie Queene 1.3.1: "Nought is there under heav'n's wide hallownesse" etc.



ARGUMENT.
The Muses send Melpomine
Doune to the lowest Hell's
She meits with Night and askes the way
Which she unto her tells
To Plutoes kingdome when she cam
She past by all the pains
At last out of her dreidfull Den
Alecto she constrains

Ther is nothing beneth the sky insearte
More moves my mynd to pitie and compassion
Then for to sie a true and upright hearte
Wheir faith and trueth has bult hir only station
By Fortuns snar's and Envyes craftie baits
Dispys'd, disdain'd disgrac'd with falce deceats.

And whither it be kyndest pitie loe
Or duetie (which I ow all woman kynd)
I know not, but my hart doeth burst for woe
When harme unto ther harmeles sexe I find
And my poore eyes whil as I writting lay
With tears did seeme to washe the lyn's away.

Fa'r wemen should be lov'd and not envy'd
Whoes substance is so daintie pure and fyne
In Naturs triple fornace being try'd
Till all the drosse be thence removd, and syne
That Essence pure most Angel-lyk retains
No staine, nor blot, but alwayes cleir remains.

But this poore Lissa beautifull and fair
(Which beautie God did geve her as a grace)
Was by deceat throwne doune in endles care
By Envi Slaine that monstre merciles
And suir I think whome God has grac'd with beawtie
For them he cars, to them we ought a dewtie

For when he made this great and woundrous frame
Of Chaos masse that shaples lay confus'd
He tooke the purest substance of the same
And that which was most beautifull he chus'd
And theirof did he make the Angelis bright
To glorifie his name, and show his might.

He made the purest substance which remaind
Unto his blissed self a Mansione rair
Syne thrice thee Orbs, whairof the eight containd
Bright shyning starr's, and sev'n the Planets fair
Nixt placd the Fyre because'n beautie next,
Syne Aer, then Water, last the Earthe he fixt,

Earthe then we sie the drosse of all things yit
Which this great Architector singling furth
By his great migt and all for seing witt
Is lowest plac'd according to her worth
But that which was most beautifull and pure
Evne next unto him self he placed sure.

And then that Alcreator did ordaine
Eache thing according to their substance pure
To bring furthe fruit this all to intertane
Which by his powre he caused to indure
Not tyme, nor age, nor restles moveing, may
Destroy confound, or weir, or make decay.

First then the Heav'ns (as haveing most of bewtie
Brought furthe the starr's, the Moone, the Suns great light
And aer (commanded next to do his dewetie)
Brought furthe all sorts of fouls with fethred flight
Water brought furth all sort of fishe anone
The Earthe brought furthe all beasts that leive theirone

As heavns are of the fynest substance lo
So are the starr's most beautifull most cleir
But cheiflye Planets sevin theirin doeth show
Gods powr'full might (werin doeth well appeir)
He getts them rewll, might, vertue, pow're and strength
Our fouls, fishe, beasts, tries, herbs, and men at length.

And thus we sie eache creatuere furthe doth bring
(According to its essence) ill or goode
The aer breids foules, in water fishes springe,
Herbs tries, and living beasts ar Earths grosse broode
Yea evrie thing (according to his kynd)
Ill favor'd foule, fair shynninge, clear, we fynd

Altho it pleas'd heigh Jove from heavne discend
Fraill man to make of earth of drosse, of clay,
Most fair of all ov'rall to have command
For him, all made to him all should obay
Then man should thank him prase him, pray him still
To love, to blesse, and to forsie his ill.

Yea lyke to his owne Image man he maks
In which he shews his love and eak his might
But these to whom most beautie he betaks
These maks he lykest to his Image bright
Wherefore to these we owe great love, and dewtie
Remembring God the fontane of all bewtie

For why when this great God made all things first
To beute did he give the heighest place
Becaus it was the substance worthiest
Of the aspect of his most glorious, face
Then whoso ev'with beautie is indewd
Them should we love, as through Gods love renued.

And if so he in Chaos mas confus'd
Sum say their was no light nor beautie fair
But God (the fontane of all light) infus'd
Such beateous light in all his creturs rare
Then unto whom he beautie geves, to those
His grace, his goodnes, and his love he shoes

Yea in my simple judgement this I think
Ov'r beautie God has ay a speciall caire
So that with Lucifer they do not shrink
Away frome grace and think them selfs too fair
But with meik mynds upon his holy montane
Give God the praise who's of all beautie fontane

But O my Muse too heighe thow seem's to flie
Thy wings ar lag'd with vapors dull and grosse
That which thou sing's is too too heigh for thee
More meit foy pregnant witt's and learnings force
Turne back, least thou repent thy self, advyse,
Wade not too deep in Gods heigh misteryes

Turne to thy sacred sisters with thy quill
For to advyse with them what must be doone
With Lissa fair, whoes beautie works her ill
For lo Melpomene they do injoyne
To bring Alecto frome her dreidfull den
Who blood, and warre, and murther maks on men.

Melpomene made way throw empty aer
And through the wattrie empyrs wyde and deip
Through darkest hollow caves she did repair
And trough he bowell, of the Earth did creip
And low where light of day did never shyne
Nor Phoebus show his everlasting shryne,

Wheir Cynthia does steip in silver dew
Her never cheirfull, ever drouping light
In Thetis watrie bed whoes azur hew
Her lustre showes in blak eternall night
Through fearfull, loathsume, foull, and filthie fenns,
Throgh foggie smook, throgh dark, and dreadfull dens,

She haveing past frome Phoebus cheirfull light
Came to a Regione of eternall darknes
The habitation of the dun kishe Night
It wes indeid, so fearfull was the marknes
She meitts that greislye Hagge with visage sadd
Who was into a cole blak mantle cladd.

And sat into a chariot pitchie blak
Four jeatblack steids that braith'd dark clouds of smook
With ramping noyes made all their harneis crak
With braying all the solid earth they shooke
This unaquainted brightnes when they saw
Their Mistres doune to hell they seem'd to draw.

At last the Muse so oft aloud did call
That uglie Night out of ther chariott looks
She sayes most dreidfull Dame so feard of all
Melpomene that tragick sadnes brooks
Wold know thy wayes, dark paths, and fearfull gets
That doune to Plutoes loathsum kingdome lets.

The aged Hagg with furious rage thus spake
With gostly speeche and dreidfull countenance
Thow Imp of my old foe who seiks my wrack
Why trubles thow my Regions with thy glance
Lo wheir fyre smook and sulphur doe aryse
In younder denne if thow dar enterpryse.

The greisly gulf of deip Avernus holle
Above the which my mantle black is spred
About the which a fearfull laick doth rolle
Doune throw that flamming gulf thow must be led
Wheir never yit did enter any wight
But feirce Aneas and Sibilla bright.

Evne that same way the sacred Muse is gone
The smook and sulphur ceast their restles flame
And doune to Plutoes court she goes anone
The brasin getts burst oppen when she came
At ther bright looks and at her beauties glance
Feinds spirits and Ghosts fell in a hellische traunce.

Ov'r Acheron she past the bitter waves
(Wheir damned souls with shriling skreiks lament)
To Flegithone with fyrie floods that shewes
The tortring torment of that element
Wheir Sinners nought but desperatione gains
And thousand thousands of eternall pains

At Plutos gate was dreidfull Cerberus
With thrie wyid oppin hollow throats devoring
And curled hair of snaiks, most venemous
Gnawing blood, fleshe, and bones with fearfull roring
But her devyne, and Sune-shyne beauties such
Hells porter dar's not once her vesture tutch.

Straight to the house of endles paine she goes
Inviround with that fyrie flamminge floode
That Phlegithone whoes fearfull laick furth throes
A filthie smook out belshing labberd blood
Tisiphone the keipar heght to name
Mother of murther, Sinn deceat, and shame

Ther did the rout of loathsum Harpyis roar
Ther Sillaes sound, their sevine moth't Hydras houling,
Their Serpents hisse their greisly Gorgons hoar
Their Centaur's, Sphinges, fearefull Chymers rouling,
All those and many thousand Monsters more
Wher set one burning thrones their Prince before

Their wofull wailing wretches tos'd with pains
With ghostlie grones with ouglie yeling sounds
With harsk and jangling noyes of irone chains
Whoes clamors, cryes, and shouts throu hell redounds
Those monstres trampling were in darksum shed
That horror, dred, fear, death, and terrour bred

Their Sulmon crauling was in endles paine
For counterfitting thundreflaught and fyre
Their Titius (darling of the earth) was flaine
A Vulter feidding one his filthie lyre
Their was the wheill Ixion turning still
For daring tempt heavn's Queine to lechrous ill.

Their Tisiphus disjoynted one a rack
Their Theseus to endles slouth condem'd
Their fyftie Sisters drawing water wrack
And yet their vessels emptie still unstem'd
Thair Tantalus with thrist, and hunger slaine
Sees meat and drinck yet nether could he gaine

At last a foull and filthie sink she sees
Wheir fyre and brimstone pitche and tar were smooking
Whoes deipnes dyv'd as far beneth the seas
As it was up to heavne from thence in looking
Above this sink a dragone still repears
Whoes monstrous bodie feftie heids uprairs.

Doune in this fearfull smook and filthie hole
Wer Titans broode and Earths fearce childring thrust
That in their bloodie raige did restles roll
In their owne blood whill sulphur smook them burst
Tiphon and all the Gyants warr's that maid
Against the Gods were their by lightning led.

While in this hollow pitt they do remaine
They thunder furthe such fearfull roaring crye
Confusdly jarring in their endles paine
Their bodies hudge in flamms still rosting lye
Which send a stinking smook furth with the cry
That much amazd the Muse in passing by.

At last she came unto a dreidfull cave
Wher Furies furthe send many fearfull cryes
Their Pryd attended on by wraith as Slave
Their Madnes that on wraith had fixd her eyes
Their Envy fals one, Vertue still was railling
And their Dispair her owne hairt furth was trailling.

Their Rage did rune her heid against the wall
And their despight satt gnawing of her fingers
Their was the thrie commanders of them all
Wofull because the Earthe from mischeif lingers
Alecto, Tisiphon, Megera their
Who work mischeif, plague, famin, bloode, and weir.

The Muse Alecto furth she calls in ha'st
And said I pray the pas unto Achay
Wheir is the Virgine fair Laissa plac'd
And work her wrak her ruine her decay
She's daughter too the great Achaian King
And has defyld our fair caballean spring.

This when the Muse hade said she did returne
Throuw shadows dimme of dark and glomie night
Up to her Sisters who with anger burne
Till wrought was all their veangeance their despight
On Lissa fair whom beautie hade in keiping
Who all this whyle lay by the fontane sleiping

[sigs B-B6]

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