1595
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Cynthia.

Cynthia. With Certaine Sonnets, and the Legend of Cassandra.

Richard Barnfield


Nineteen Spenserians, the first (if brief) formal imitation of Spenser's Faerie Queene. The difficult stanza did not attract imitators and was not used again until Henry Peacham adopted it for a brief poem in Prince Henrie Revived (1615).

John Payne Collier: "In his address 'to the courteous gentlemen Readers' he takes credit, as he deserved, for being the speediest follower of Spenser. The design of Cynthia is precisely that of Peele's Arraignement of Paris, printed eleven years before, viz. that the golden ball, adjudged by Paris to Venus, is taken by Jupiter from the goddess of beauty, and assigned to Queen Elizabeth, as more lovely than any of the three striving deities.... Perhaps Barnefield's admiration of a good model may here be considered his chief recommendation; but when he relies more upon his own fancy and resources, especially in lyrical composition, he sometimes approaches excellence" Poetical Works of Spenser (1862; 1875) 1:cvii-viii.

Waldo F. McNeir: "Cynthia is written in nineteen Spenserian stanzas, with a ten-line Conclusion in iambic pentameter couplets. Its theme, the complaint of Juno and Pallas that Paris has awarded the golden apple to Venus, with Jupiter's decision that the prize rightfully belongs to Queen Elizabeth, to whom it is accordingly sent, is a direct imitation of Peele's Arraignment of Paris" "Barnfield's Borrowings from Spenser" Notes and Queries NS 2 (December 1955) 510.

George Klawitter: "Of classical models, Ovid's 'Oenone to Paris' and 'Helen to Paris' are close to the tone of Barnfield's poem, but Lucian's 'Judgment of Paris' parallels Barnfield's dramatic plot. Lucian's light tone, however, is better paralleled in Peele. The single most important poetic influence is Spenser. As far as can be determined, Barnfield is the first poet to write Spenserians stanzas after Spenser as Barnfield himself points out 'To the curteous Gentleman Readers' early in the book" Complete Poems (1990) 35.

Katherine Duncan-Jones: "The poem is a highly miniaturized echo of The Faerie Queene" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 79.

McNeir gives a table of parallel passages, as does Wells, Spenser Allusions (1972).



Now was the Welkyn all invelloped
With duskie Mantle of the sable Night:
And CYNTHIA, lifting up her drouping head,
Blusht at the Beautie of her borrowed light,
When Sleepe now summon'd every mortal wight.
Then loe (me thought) I saw or seem'd to see,
An heavenly Creature like an Angell bright,
That in great haste came pacing towards me:
Was never mortall eye beheld so faire a Shee.

Thou lazie man (quoth she) what mak'st thou heere
(Luld in the lap of Honours Enimie?)
I heere commaund thee now for to appeare
(By vertue of JOVES mickle Majestie)
In yonder Wood. (Which with her finger shee
Out-poynting) had no sooner turn'd her face,
And leaving mee to muze what she should bee,
Yvanished into some other place:
But straite (me thought) I saw a rout of heavenlie Race.

Downe in a Dale, hard by a Forrest side,
(Under the shaddow of a loftie Pine,)
Not far from whence a trickling streame did glide,
Did nature by her secret art combine,
A pleasant Arbour, of a spreading Vine:
Wherein Art strove with nature to compaire,
That made it rather seems a thing divine
Being scituate all in the open Aire:
A fairer nere was scene, if any scene so faire.

There might one see, and yet not see (indeede)
Fresh Flora flourishing in chiefest Prime,
Arrayed all in gay and gorgeous weede,
The Primrose and sweet-smelling Eglantine,
As fitted best beguiling so the time:
And ever as she went she strewd the place,
Red-roses mixt with Daffadillies fine,
For Gods and Goddesses, that in like case
In this same order sat, with il-beseeming grace.

First, in a royall Chaire of massie gold,
(Bard all about with plates of burning steele)
Sat Jupiter most glorious to behold,
And in his hand was placed Fortunes wheele:
The which he often turn'd, and oft did reele.
And next to him, in griefe and gealouzie,
(If sight may censure what the heart doth feele)
In sad lament was placed Mercurie;
That dying seem'd to weep, and weeping seem'd to die.

On th' other side, above the other twaine,
(Delighting as it seem'd to sit alone)
Sat Mulciber; in pride and high disdaine,
Mounted on high upon a stately throne,
And even with that I heard a deadly grone:
Muzing at this, and such an uncouth sight,
(Not knowing what shoulde make that piteous mone)
I saw three furies, all in Armour dight,
With every one a Lampe, and every one a light.

I deemed so; nor was I much deceav'd,
For poured forth in sensuall Delight,
There might I see of Sences quite bereav'd
King Priams Sonne, that Alexander hight,
(Wrapt in the Mantle of eternall Night.)
And under him, awaiting for his fall,
Sate Shame, here Death, and there sat fel Despight,
That with their Horrour did his heart appall:
Thus was his Blisse to Bale, his Hony turn'd to gall.

In which delight feeding mine hungry eye,
Of two great Goddesses a sight I had,
And after them in wondrous Jollity,
(As one that inly joy'd, so was she glad)
The Queene of Love full royallie yclad,
In glistring Golde, and peerelesse precious stone,
There might I spie: and her Companion bad,
Proud Paris, Nephew to Laomedon,
That afterward did cause the Death of many a one.

By this the formost melting all in teares,
And rayning downe resolved Pearls in showers,
Gan to approach the place of heavenly Pheares,
And with her weeping, watring all their Bowers,
Throwing sweet Odors on those fading flowers,
At length, she them bespake thus mournfullie.
High Jove (quoth she) and yee Coelestiall powers,
That here in Judgement sit twixt her and mee,
Now listen (for a while) and judge with equitie.

Sporting selves to day, as wee were woont
(I meane, I, Pallas, and the Queene of Love.)
Intending with Diana for to hunt,
On Ida Mountaine top our skill to prove,
A golden Ball was trindled from above,
And on the Rinde was writ this Poesie,
PULCHERIMAE for which a while we strove,
Each saying shee was fairest of the three,
When loe a shepheards Swaine not far away we see.

I spi'd him first, and spying thus bespake,
Shall yonder Swaine unfolde the mysterie?
Agreed (quoth Venus,) and by Stygian Lake,
To whom he gives the ball so shall it bee:
Nor from his censure will I flie, quoth shee,
(Poynting to Pallas) though I loose the gole.
Thus every one yplac'd in her degree,
The Shepheard comes, whose partial eies gan role,
And on our beuties look't, and of our beuties stole.

I promis'd wealth, Minerva promised wit,
(Shee promis'd wit to him that was unwise,)
But he (fond foole) had soone refused it,
And minding to bestow that glorious Prize,
On Venus, that with pleasure might suffize
His greedie minde in loose lasciviousnes:
Upon a sudden, wanting goode advice,
Holde heere (quoth he) this golden Ball possesse,
Which Paris gives to thee for meede of worthines,

Thus have I shew'd the summe of all my sute,
And as a Plaintiffe heere appeale to thee,
And to the rest. Whose folly I impute
To filthie lust, and partialitie,
That made him judge amisse: and so doo we
(Quoth Pallas, Venus,) nor will I gaine-say,
Although it's mine by right, yet willinglie,
I heere disclaime my title and obey:
When silence being made, Jove thus began to saie.

Thou Venus, art my darling, thou my deare,
(Minerva,) shee, my sister and my wife:
So that of all a due respect I beare,
Assign'd as one to end this doubtfull strife
(Touching your forme, your fame, your love, your life)
Beauty is vaine much like a gloomy light,
And wanting wit is counted but a trife,
Especially when Honour's put to flight:
Thus of a lovely, soone becomes a loathly sight.

Wit without wealth is bad, yet counted good,
Wealth wanting wisdom's worse, yet deem'd as wel,
From whence (for ay) doth flow, as from a flood,
A pleasant Poyson, and a heavenly Hell,
Where mortall men do covet still to dwell.
Yet one there is to Vertue so inclin'd,
That as for Majesty she beares the Bell,
So in the truth who tries her princelie minde,
Both Wisdom, Beauty, Wealth, and all in her shall find.

In Westerne world amids the Ocean maine,
In compleat Vertue shining like the Sunne,
In great Renowne a maiden Queene doth raigne,
Whose royall Race, in Ruine first begun,
Till Heavens bright Lamps dissolve shall nere bee done:
In whose faire eies Love linckt with vertues been,
In everlasting Peace and Union.
Which sweet Consort in her full well beseeme
Of Bounty, and of Beauty fairest Fayrie Queene.

And to conclude, the gifts in her yfound,
Are all so noble, royall, and so rare,
That more and more in her they doe abound;
In her most peerelesse Prince without compare,
Endowing still her minde with vertuous care:
That through the world (so wide) the flying fame,
(And Name that Envies selfe cannot impaire,)
Is blown of this faire Queen, this gorgeous dame,
Fame borrowing al mens mouths to royalize the same.

And with this sentence Jupiter did end,
This is the Pricke (quoth he) this is the praies,
To whom, this as a Present I will send,
That shameth Cynthia in her silver Raies,
If so you three this deed doe not displease.
Then one, and all, and every one of them,
To her that is the honour of her daies,
A second Judith in JERUSALEM,
To her we send this Pearle, this Jewell, and this Jem.

Then call'd he up the winged Mercury,
(The mighty Messenger of Gods enrold,)
And bad him hither hastily to hie,
Whom tended by her Nymphes he should behold,
(Like Pearles ycouched all in shining gold.)
And even with that, from pleasant slumbring sleepe,
(Desiring much these wonders to unfold)
I wak'ning, when Aurora gan to peepe,
Depriv'd so soone of my sweet Dreame, gan almost weepe.

THE CONCLUSION.
Thus, sacred Virgin, Muse of chastitie,
This difference is betwixt the Moone and thee:
Shee shines by Night; but thou by Day do'st shine:
Shee Monthly changeth; thou dost nere decline:
And as the Sunne, to her, doth lend his light,
So hee, by thee, is onely made so bright:
Yet neither Sun, nor Moone, thou canst be named,
Because thy light hath both their beauties shamed:
Then, since an heavenly Name doth thee befall,
Thou VIRGO art: (if any Signe at all).

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