1598
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Complaint of Poetrie, for the Death of Liberalitie.

The Encomion of Lady Pecunia: or the Praise of Money. By Richard Barnfeild, Graduate in Oxford.

Richard Barnfield


Richard Barnfield's elegy contains an intermittent and variable refrain that appears to echo Spenser's "Dido is dead" in November: "Bounty is dead, the cause of my annoy; | Bounty is dead, and with her dide my joy" Sig. A3. The poet asks, "What Art deserves such Liberalitie, | As doeth the peerlesse Art of Poetrie?" Sig. A4 — but discovers that patrons are nowhere to be found. George Klawitter sees an "anguished cry" Complete Poems (1990) 41, though the parabolic rhetoric and the fact that the "Complaint" is coupled with "Lady Pecunia" suggests the possibility of burlesque. There is Spenserian imagery and alliteration throughout. The poem is printed with a separate title page.



Weepe Heavens now, for you have lost your light;
Ye Sunne and Moone, beare witnesse of my mone:
The cleere is turnd to clouds; the day to night;
And all my hope, and all my joy is gone:
Bounty is dead, the cause of my annoy;
Bounty is dead, and with her dide my joy.

O who can comfort my afflicted soule?
Or adde some ende to my increasing sorrowes?
Who can deliver me from endlesse dole?
(Which from my hart eternall torment borrowes.)
When Bounty liv'd, I bore the Bell away;
When Bounty dide, my credit did decay.

I never then, did write one verse in vaine;
Nor ever went my Poems unregarded:
Then did each Noble breast, me intertaine,
And for my Labours I was well rewarded:
But now Good wordes, are stept in Bounties place,
Thinking thereby, her glorie to disgrace.

But who can live with words, in these hard tymes?
(Although they came from Jupiter himselfe?)
Or who can take such Paiment, for his Rymes?
(When nothing now, is so esteem'd as Pelfe?)
Tis not Good wordes, that can a man maintaine;
Wordes are but winde; and winde is all but vaine.

Where is Mecaenas, Learnings noble Patron?
(That Maroes Muse, with Bountie so did cherish?)
Or faire Zenobia, that worthy Matron?
(Whose name, for Learnings Love, shall never perish)
What tho their Bodies, lie full lowe in grave,
Their fame the worlde; their soules the Heavens have.

Vile Avaricia, how hast thou inchaunted
The Noble mindes, of great and mightie Men?
Or what infernall furie late hath haunted
Their niggard purses? (to the learned pen)
Was it Augustus wealth, or noble minde,
That everlasting fame, to him assinde?

If wealth? Why Croesus was more rich then hee;
(Yet Croesus glorie, with his life did end)
It was his Noble mind, that moved mee
To write his praise, and eeke his Acts commend.
Who ere had heard, of Alexanders fame,
If Quintus Curtius had not pend the same?

Then sith by mee, their deedes have been declared,
(Which else had perisht with their lives decay)
Who to augment their glories, have not spared
To crowne their browes, with never-fading Bay:
What Art deserves such Liberalitie,
As doeth the peerlesse Art of Poetrie?

But Liberalitie is dead and gone:
And Avarice usurps true Bounties seat.
For her it is, I make this endlesse mone,
(Whose praises worth no pen can well repeat)
Sweet Liberalitie adiew for ever,
For Poetrie againe, shall see thee never.

Never againe, shall I thy presence see:
Never againe, shal I thy bountie tast:
Never againe, shall I accepted bee:
Never againe, shal I be so embrac't:
Never againe, shall I the bad recall:
Never againe, shall I be lov'd of all.

Thou wast the Nurse, whose Bountie gave me sucke:
Thou wast the Sunne, whose beames did lend me light:
Thou wast the Tree, whose fruit I still did plucke:
Thou wast the Patron, to maintaine my right:
Through thee I liv'd; on thee I did relie;
In thee I joy'd; and now for thee I die.

What man, hath lately lost a faithfull frend?
Or Husband, is deprived of his Wife?
But doth his after-daies in dolour spend?
(Leading a loathsome, discontented life?
Dearer then friend, or wife, have I forgone;
Then marvell not, although I make such mone.

Faire Philomela, cease thy sad complaint;
And lend thine eares, unto my dolefull Ditty:
(Whose soule with sorrowe, now begins to faint,
And yet I cannot move mens hearts to pitty:)
Thy woes are light, compared unto mine:
You waterie Nymphes, to mee your plaints resigne.

And thou Melpomene, (the Muse of Death)
That never sing'st, but in a dolefull straine;
Sith cruell Destinie hath stopt her breath,
(Who whil'st she liv'd, was Vertues Soveraigne)
Leave Hellicon, (whose bankes so pleasant bee)
And beare a part of sorrowe now with mee.

The Trees (for sorrowe) shead their fading Leaves,
And weepe out gum, instead of other teares;
Comfort nor joy, no Creature now conceives,
To chirpe and sing, each little bird forbeares.
The sillie Sheepe, hangs downe his drooping head,
And all because, that Bounty she is dead.

The greater that I feele my griefe to bee,
The lesser able, am I to expresse it;
Such is the nature of extremitie,
The heart it som-thing eases, to confesse it.
Therefore Ile wake my muse, amidst her sleeping,
And what I want in wordes, supplie with weeping.

Weepe still mine eies, a River full of Teares,
To drowne my Sorrowe in, that so molests me;
And rid my head of cares; my thoughts of feares:
Exiling sweet Content, that so detests me.
But ah (alas) my Teares are almost dun,
And yet my griefe; it is but new begun.

Even as the Sunne, when as it leaves our sight,
Doth shine with those Antipodes, beneath us;
Lending the other worlde her glorious light,
And dismall Darknesse, onely doeth bequeath us:
Even so sweet Bountie, seeming dead to mee,
Lives now to none, but smooth-Tongd Flatterie.

O Adulation, Canker-worme of Truth;
The flattring Glasse of Pride, and Self-conceit:
(Making olde wrinkled Age, appeare like youth)
Dissimulations Maske, and follies Beate:
Pitty it is, that thou art so rewarded,
Whilst Truth and Honestie, goe unregarded.

O that Nobilitie, it selfe should staine,
In being bountifull, to such vile Creatures:
Who, when they flatter most, then most they faine;
Knowing what humor best, will fit their Natures.
What man so mad, that knowes himselfe but pore,
And will beleeve that he hath riches store.

Upon a time, the craftie Foxe did flatter
The foolish Pye (whose mouth was full of meate)
The Pye beleeving him, began to chatter,
And sing for joy, (not having list to eate)
And whil'st the foolish Pye, her meate let fall,
The craftie Foxe, did runne awaie with all.

Terence describeth under Gnatoes name,
The right conditions of a Parasyte:
(And with such Eloquence, sets foorth the same,
As doeth the learned Reader much delyght)
Shewing, that such a Sycophant as Gnato,
Is more esteem'd, then twentie such as Plato.

Bounty looke backe, upon thy goods mispent;
And thinke how ill, thou hast bestowd thy mony:
Consider not their wordes, but their intent;
Their hearts are gall, although their tongues be hony:
They speake not as they thinke, but all is fained,
And onely to th' intent to be maintained.

And herein happie, I areade the poore;
No flattring Spanyels, fawne on them for meate:
The reason is, because the Countrey Boore
Hath little enough, for himselfe to eate:
No man will flatter him, except himselfe;
And why? because hee hath no store of wealth.

But sure it is not Liberalitie
That doeth reward these fawning smel-feasts so:
It is the vice of Prodigalitie,
That doeth the Bankes of Bounty over-flo:
Bounty is dead: yea so it needes must bee;
Or if alive, yet is shee dead to mee.

Therefore as one, whose friend is lately dead,
I will bewaile the death, of my deere frend;
Uppon whose Tombe, ten thousand Teares Ile shead,
Till drearie Death, of mee shall make an end:
Or if she want a Toombe, to her desart,
Oh then, Ile burie her within my hart.

But (Bounty) if thou love a Tombe of stone,
Oh then seeke out, a hard and stonie hart:
For were mine so, yet would it melt with mone,
And all because, that I with thee must part.
Then, if a stonie hart must thee interr,
Goe finde a Step-dame, or a Usurer.

And sith there dies no Wight, of great account,
But hath an Epitaph compos'd by mee,
Bounty, that did all other far surmount,
Upon her Tombe, this Epitaph shall bee:
Here lies the Wight, that Learning did maintaine,
And at the last, by Avarice was slaine.

Vile Avarice, why hast thou kildd my Deare?
And robd the World, of such a worthy Treasure?
In whome no sparke of goodnesse doth appeare,
So greedie is thy mind, without all measure.
Thy death, from Death did merit to release her:
The Murtherers deserv'd to die, not Caesar.

The Merchants wife; the Tender-harted Mother:
That leaves her Love; whose Sonne is prest for warre;
(Resting, the one; as woefull as the other;)
Hopes yet at length? when ended is the jarre;
To see her Husband; see her Sonne againe:
"Were it not then for Hope, the hart were slaine."

But I, whose hope is turned to despaire,
Nere looke to see my dearest Deare againe:
Then Pleasure sit thou downe, in Sorrowes Chaire,
And (for a while) thy wonted Mirth refraine.
Bounty is dead, that whylome was my Treasure:
Bounty is dead, my joy and onely pleasure.

If Pythias death, of Damon were bewailed;
Or Pillades did rue, Orostes ende:
If Hercules, for Hylas losse were quailed;
Or Theseus, for Pyrithous, Teares did spend:
Then doe I mourne for Bounty being dead:
Who living, was my hand, my hart, my head.

My hand, to helpe mee, in my greatest need:
My hart, to comfort mee, in my distresse:
My head, whom onely I obeyd, indeed:
If she were such, how can my griefe be lesse?
Perhaps my wordes, may pierce the Parca's eares;
If not with wordes, Ile move them with my teares.

But ah (alas) my Teares are spent in vaine,
(For she is dead, and I am left alive)
Teares cannot call, sweet Bounty backe againe;
Then why doe I, gainst Fate and Fortune strive?
And for her death, thus weepe, lament, and crie;
Sith every mortall wight, is borne to die.

But as the woefull mother doeth lament,
Her tender babe, with cruell Death opprest:
Whose life was spotlesse, pure, and innocent,
(And therefore sure, it soule is gone to rest)
So Bountie, which her selfe did upright keepe,
Yet for her losse, love cannot chuse but weepe.

The losse of her, is losse to many a one:
The losse of her, is losse unto the poore:
And therefore not a losse, to mee alone,
But unto such, as goe from Doore to Doore.
Her losse, is losse unto the fatherlesse;
And unto all, that are in great distresse.

The maimed Souldier, comming from the warre;
The woefull wight, whose house was lately burnd;
The sillie soule; the wofull Traveylar;
And all, whom Fortune at her feet hath spurnd;
Lament the losse of Liberalitie:
"Its ease, to have in griefe some Companie."

The Wife of Hector (sad Andromache)
Did not bewaile, her husbands death alone:
But (sith he was the Trojans onely stey)
The wives of Troy (for him) made aequall mone.
Shee, shead the teares of Love; and they of pittie:
Shee, for her deare dead Lord; they, for their Cittie.

Nor is the Death of Liberalitie,
(Although my griefe be greater than the rest)
Onely lamented, and bewaild of mee;
(And yet of mee, she was beloved best)
But, sith she was so bountifull to all,
She is lamented, both of great and small.

O that my Teares could move the powres divine,
That Bountie might be called from the dead:
As Pitty pierc'd the hart of Proserpine;
Who (moved with the Teares Admetus shead)
Did sende him backe againe, his loving Wife;
Who lost her owne, to save her husbands life.

Impartiall Parcae, will no prayers move you?
Can Creatures so divine, have stony harts?
Haplesse are they, whose hap it is to prove you,
For you respect no Creatures good Desarts.
O Atropos, (the cruelst of the three)
Why hast thou tane, my faithfull friend from mee?

But ah, she cannot (or she will not) heare me,
Or if she doo, yet may not she repent her:
Then come (sweet Death) O why doest thou forbeare me?
Aye mee! thy Dart is blunt, it will not enter.
Oh now I knowe the cause, and reason why;
I am immortall, and I cannot dye.

So Cytheraea would have dide, but could not;
When faire Adonis by her side lay slaine:
So I desire the Sisters, what I should not;
For why (alas) I wish for Death in vaine;
Death is their servant, and obeys their will;
And if they bid him spare, he cannot kill.

Oh would I were, as other Creatures are;
Then would I die, and so my griefe were ended:
But Death (against my will) my life doeth spare;
(So little with the fates I am befrended)
Sith, when I would, thou doost my sute denie,
Vile Tyrant, when thou wilt, I will not die.

And Bounty, though her body thou hast slaine,
Yet shall her memorie remaine for ever:
For ever, shall her memorie remaine;
Whereof no spitefull Fortune can bereave her.
Then Sorrowe cease, and wipe thy weeping eye;
For Fame shall live, when all the World shall dye.

[sigs A3-C2v]