“Click a green square to see the Latin text. Click a red square to see a textual note.
JOHN BARCLAY: TWO BOOKS OF POEMS
Printed at the expense of John Bill, 1615
F I did not owe everything to his Most Serene Majesty, your illustrious father, and therefore to your Highness, o greatest of Princes, I would very much need to explain my reasons for dedicating this work to you and for claiming your patronage. But as it is, I am so entirely yours that whatever I contribute to literature is entirely your gift. My only task is to justify—or perhaps excuse—this book and the principles of its composition, because there will be severe critics who think it inappropriate that I stoop to playful poems after writing my more serious works. However, since everything, especially the hard and difficult, endures better if it includes some variety, who could refuse me some relaxation with a milder Muse after the weariness of serious work? We see that choruses interrupt tragedies, which are the representation of the cares and bloody crimes of kings; even there the lute and harp find a place.
2. But I will not excuse myself with this alone, for I would like you to believe that I immerse myself in this poetic sport for a serious reason. Many hold in contempt and consider as common the useful magnificence of the Muses. These people, in the frivolity of their imagination and their ignorance of this art, have made bold attempts at poetry and think that madness by itself is sufficient for poetic composition. This art, which requires special diligence, will never wash off such a stain unless it is celebrated and practiced by those who have seen things other than the school and the academy. Poetry will not be more healthy and relevant to things in the real world—not as it is taught by the naïve and inexperienced—unless it recovers the tone which it had in prior ages when it formed upright character and when it gave eternal fame as the reward of virtue. Consequently, though far from having that piercing intelligence which could restore this poetic art to its native place, nevertheless I was rapt away by the sweetness of these studies in school, and being resident for many years in your most serene father’s court, I wished to offer my work here. I hope that those who correctly judge poetry—a rare talent anywhere—may test my abilities and perfect my initial attempts. Those who value everything only by its exterior beauty should be aware that poetry is not so cheap and childish that those engaged in the court or in other serious matters may blush at it.
3. Not only that, but even if I were a foreigner and this book had free choice of claiming a patron, how could it pass you by, o most lofty Prince? Your noteworthy young manhood, formed in face and manner for every grace, has something in common with Apollo and the Muses. You honour the latter with daily association and (in my opinion) you consider them useful, since they are the means by which Achilles and the heroes have been preserved for eternity. Word now goes through the whole world that this greatest king, this king endowed with all virtues, has promoted you not just to his power, but to his talents, genius, and character. Whoever remembers the king’s youth, does he not adore your age and spirit as a renaissance of his young manhood? In other words, who could see anything wanting in Your Highness now, or fail to anticipate its unfolding in your future years? Mildness, along with a vigorous talent, majesty tempered with kindness in your gaze, in short, whatever talent in the royal mind that flatterers may invent or honest men may hope for, these are so much a part of your talents and abilities that you can only hope that men believe you to be what you truly are.
4. Nothing will accomplish this better than the Muses, who will not only magnify your qualities for posterity, but will also display them living and breathing to future ages. While we wait for these Muses to create a poet equal to such a task, I have dared to take up my rustic pipes, pipes whose songs have been heard for some time in your household and which have been acceptable to your benevolence. It has been nine years since I dedicated a collection of poems, entitled Sylvae, to your uncle, the most serene King of Denmark. However, the passage of time, leisure, and increased carefulness in a man of public reputation have condemned many of these poems. As a result, of those poems which I have transferred to this volume (for quite a few have been omitted entirely), I have made various changes in some. These make up barely a third of the poems and songs which I publish in these two books. I have divided this work in such a way that poems of a higher and more untrammelled spirit constitute Book 1; poems written in the lighter verse which is more appropriate for the limitations of the epigram are placed in Book 2. If I had based these two books on my own poetic powers, I would still hope to be valued by you because of them. But now I beg that these rude and rough songs be viewed tenderly by you, if only, noble Prince, because of that most ardent devotion with which I dedicate these poems and myself with them to Your Highness. To be sure, even if you reject the rest, you cannot be adverse to the poems scattered throughout these books written in honour of your most sacred father, nor perhaps even those, Most Illustrious Prince, which I sang about Your Highness.
O Fame that resounds through rapt lands flying,
That honors worthy men, e’er ancestors
Extolling but wont to despise our times,
Turn your gaze here, you will see greater t7hings,
And worthy, you can tell through all the climes. 5
Do you see Britons calm rejoice in James?
Do you see Charles his great sire’s hopes fulfill?
Not so much e’er favored Nature a blessed
Folk and, pledging on one course happy times,
Gave from afar such signs of lasting fate.10
Tirynthius was greater than the lands or stars,
His son lesser. What offspring great Theseus,
Emathian king, or swift Achilles matched?
The fates give men by turns. But our island
Beseeched the gods, e’er will it be happy 15
In its kings, never see its sceptres droop
In stained unworthy hand.
Now Britons’ realm
To James the Fates have given—’neath one staff
Was Albion joined from where it nears the south
To where it seeks north high in Scottish woods 20
When Genius, who tends British soil and folks,
Glad draws the Parcae nigh and speaks these words:
“O Gods who rule the lands, nor grant mishaps
To be the law—the race mounts up that you
Approve, sets its head on high—by incense 25
Or prayers earned I the fate you’ve granted me?
Lo! from the blurry bound of races twinned
Comes my one isle that knows old tumult not,
Neither open nor secret wars nor strifes.
But simpler ’tis to join limbs wrenched and minds 30
Than put them under one great head. Old times
In songs by swarms of bards once known, sought him—
Oh Flatterers— for themselves, and him rival
Gods oft chose king for their dependent folk,
[But] James for me in these times you have saved. 35
If your forgiving power should call back
The ages in all lands to golden ways,
Then Sol arising or prone from the sky
On waters west would him alone know king,
Mens’ laws and sacred iron be given him. 40
To whom else such honor? Whose mighty hand
Have scepters graced? Whose skill matches his mind?
He’s equal to the gods if his life line
Proves equal, but your distaff won’t send him
To Olympus ’til old age, counting days, 45
Watching Phoenix reborn wearies him, and
More years he’ll enjoy than old Tithonus.
Then will he seek heaven, leave sceptered son.
His offspring wax—I pray they live—fairest girl
Who goddesses outdoes, two starry sons. 50
For us, I pray, save these, o sacred fates.
Why then—whom last of these his mother dear
Brought forth (fear not the burden nor the sign!)—
Why ails alas Charles’ tender little frame?
Tender alas! He whom fair-faced Naiad 55
Would take, and Amor guileful in hid wings.
But fate in doubt, he hovers on life’s verge.”
“Thus Genius. Parca gently viewing him
Began, drew holy threads with her right hand,
This faith much pleases me, from one who comes 60
Glad of our gift, nor have you come in vain.
To you I will expose the secret twists
Of things, the very innards of our fate.
He to whom we gave the scepter, his heart
Greater than his fate, that James who gentle 65
Respite gives to you from ruinous wars,
Happy will lead unspoiled times of long life,
Surpassing in spirit all his forbears.
Her too, in mind and face to goddess’ like,
Whom gay Saturnia joined in ardent love, 70 renumber
Fair fates await. The queen will see her young.
She’ll teach them—perfect model— moral hearts,
And, virtue’s guide, she’ll leave herself in them.
“Elizabeth, like quivered Diana
In youthful years, the virgin descendent 75
Of kings who lights your banks (O happy Thames),
Will wax, and O! from her great height will rule
The wondering nymphs! Lay down your rivalries,
Goddesses, for who bears beauty’s golden prize.
If winged Cyllenian joined on Phrygian Ida 80
Idalian Venus, golden Minerva,
And the sceptered goddess, the brash shepherd
Would scorn Cytherea for chaste Eliza.
Lift now your head, O Rhine, with both your mouths,
Flow full and cut your fields with greater swells. 85
Eliza yields to you, adept will tend
Conjugal flames and bear great offspring famed.
“He whom you see growing from slender years
Into man’s mien and mind, whose lofty thought
The threshold occupies of adult cares, 90
He, tended by your prayers, his family’s great
Delight, Henry, soon a fallen flower
Will leave. In vain your eyes and mouths will be
Agape with grief insane. Our ways you can’t
Deflect. We’ve fixed the laws in granite deep. 95
None of the gods transgresses these our powers.
You’ll not see down gird his tender cheeks, nor,
Kind Hymen, will he call you to his bed.
Yet we’ll make good those stolen years with great
Dower. No one will better guide the reins, 100
Nor thrum his shafts within a riven sky.
His mind’s fit now to tend, deep cares in heart.
All things quake before Henry, speak his name,
And Albion’s called blessed in such a child,
When suddenly my thread falls short. I see 105
Men groan, far kings go sad in funeral pomp.
When you the fatal chariot black-garbed bears,
O Prince, unto your tomb, and slow the steeds
Are bade to roll, they’ll tinge their tracks with tears.
No doubt upright in some cart else you’d ride, 110
Not wretched in fatal file. In triumphs glad
To hear applause and see reflected face
In eyes throughout a cheering, eager crowd,
You were worthy, Prince, if god-known secrets
Had not forbade. Scarce can I speak dry-eyed 115
Those sorrows I describe. Thus he will die,
His fourth Olympian term yet incomplete.
Like moistened seeds in early spring’s wide fields
That underneath the verge of winter yet
You see hasten to bear their flowery tops, 120
Soon, when bright day beneath the sun’s full heat
Shines forth and kindles sky with lasting heat,
Weary they fall, unapt for such great flame.
“ But spare your tears, your hearts all rent with grief
Now fill with presages of greater cheer. 125
I will sing joys. When soon the ripened times
Bear out our words, oft to the temple you’ll bring
Solemn gifts and call upon our power.
May laurel adorn your right hand and its wreaths
Your brow, may precious olive branch surround. 130
You cannot joy too much. The golden sun
No more outshines the stars and lesser fires
Than Albion’s mighty deeds will conquer lands
And shadow their high pride with monuments.
So great he’ll be, such years Charles brings to you, 135
For whom you doubtful fear. For him we spin
Gold threads. Behold the distaffs full—they can’t
Be cut by sword nor flames, unbound by age.
See him straining to rise, scarce with stout step,
Cheeks wan? Discern the hidden causes now. 140
The hostile gods who rule the Stygian shades,
Fury, wan Sin, Horror black hued and blue,
Cruelty and Death’s heart never replete,
Have joined fierce hands, for Charles in vain prepared
Envious darts to rip this hope from earth. 145
This host of raging beasts fought less to break
Henry, whose life was short, with battle dire.
This one they seek with hateful minds; his fate
By our wills stays untouched. The boy will live,
Reflect his father’s mien. Thus anxious once 150
They saw the cradled sire whom sceptered now
You tend, and all the years have brought him strength.
We’ll give the son like fates in those selfsame
Footsteps. His strengths will grow with waxing years,
His crown will weightier nod, with sinews joints 155
Will grow. In face (this now, if not calm, whole)
Oak, and strength will come against the stormy skies.
Chief in his breast we’ll place his land’s concerns.
Thus large, thus brave he’ll be, his strength unbent
By twisted force, a victor mild to pleas. 160
So, too, his mind and studious way are like
His father’s, but age and purple will give
Difference, and humble son’s paternal awe.
“As in the Assyrian world’s most furthest pole,
Where winds and air fall still, nor black with clouds 165
The winter twists the sky and thunder roars,
The Phoenix rises airy in the sun’s
Blazing light, bounteous death demands, comes forth
In its own fire; who as father rent the air
Now son unfurls his new wings not unskilled. 170
As then in eastern sky so now will be
In Albion! The fates allow there no twinned
Phoenix be seen, its pyre one bird renews.
Our kindly land bears two at once and sees
Them joy in long lives, no life buys with death. 175
No worse your Prince’s eyes, his looks, will be
Than stars, and satisfy ancestral fame.
Cruel spite will yield. Of such great mind who could
His nature hate? Gentle, with kind nod, he’ll
Draw all, and bind him hearts with generous wealth. 180
He’ll likewise with great worship please the gods
Of Delphic shore. How oft Parnassian laurel
Could he rightly pluck, set twined upon his brow?
And would. But greater laurels will crown his
Temples and he’ll mask those honors for now. 185
Now fierce afoot with sword, a horseman keen
He’ll stand, reins flexed, and drive his steed tight orbed.
He’ll bend supple bows with ne’er errant shafts.
Take what you will in mind. We ready more
Than you could have through prayer. His downy cheeks 190
Will scarce first shadow clothe when swift the whole
World’s nymphs will vie who worthy is to wed
The handsome lad, whom waits such married bliss.
When by gods’ will, she ta’en in mind and beds
Will be whom fates will give, then children fond 195
In grandsire’s lap he’ll set, pledges to realm
And self. He’ll love to bring a worthy land
New joys, love worthy parents venerate.
Now live content, and, as purple rarely can,
Preserve the faith. To his potent scepters 200
We add a wish. May the shouts of fearful tongues
Not harm, nor wicked man’s perjurious plague.
May all dread you, respect rise more than fear.
This will be, as we swore in ancient times.”
The Parca ceased to speak, Genius gave thanks 205
Appropriate, thought long and then embraced
The given oracles, then raised his face
And filled the year entire with blooms profuse.
O master of the lands and sea, the worthy care
Of favoring gods, O prince who founds a better age,
First crown of earth, king nearest to the gods,
Put down your rays and give our muses leave
Draw nigh, accustomed to a lesser sun. 5
They sing things known in these dark days to you
And me, seen now while wakeful moon concludes
The prior year. Forbid me not to tell
This blessed night’s secrets. For now the truth
I’m free to speak, while fierce Apollo rends 10
My captive heart, unbridles now my tongue.
Now Phoebus now prepared his meted course
And normal paths to go, when Janus casts
On earth his gifts, views calends fests full faced.
Behold, fierce care me lashed, unsleeping in 15
My sluggish bed, about what, Greatest King, fit
Offerings to your temples I could bind.
How could I, wretch, hold out an empty hand
And not say something on this bounteous day?
When sudden Phoebus came to me and ope’d 20
My eyes. (By bards gods’ faces can be seen.)
And then revered Britannia strode in with
Her giant steps; it wasn’t hard to know
The goddess, whose garb showed her lofty rank.
The nation’s crown stood on her brow, scarce worse 25
Than eastern jewel, set gems by laurel adorned.
Hair verdant down her back, her arms foliaged,
Her hand was armed; Neptunian trident weighed
Her grasp and firmed her measured steps on land.
Her shoulders shawled and dress gleamed goddess worth. 30
On it the forms of ancestors of old,
On it pomps marked her triumphs manifold;
If Irish halls they took or Spanish shore,
Or if they tinted ocean’s midst with gore.
This robe the fierce goddess had put upon 35
Her blessed form, joying mindful in great sons.
Gold clasp her flowing gown did hold affixed,
Gold necklace hung her glittering neck adown.
As when the bride from Ida’s shrines comes forth,
Cybele, with scented hair and flower-wreathed arms 40
To please her noble man; glad Hyman smiles
To see and Nature hopes for new young gods.
She seeks the palace, both the great hall’s depths
And royal bed to which beneath still night
You give your limbs. Denying first shades oft 45
To sleep, your Apollo lights this muse’s room.
And as she comes into your sight, with tears
Britannia calls you son and sire, you grasp
Her neck and cheeks and eager faces join.
“O Hail,” she says, “best light of this our world, 50
Brighter than the sun for whom the morrow’s light
Makes fresh start e’er upon its slanted course.
The time is now at hand when gods above
And you, my son, will give me gifts. Proud France,
Now rich in steeds courageous and fierce youth, 55
And Spain that boasts sword-bearing throngs of foot,
Germania brave, near lovely as a maid,
Unite and here upon these calends hope
To go upon your chamber, plead with fair
Voices, and take first gift from me away. 60
They’ll ask you give them peace and rest, aspect
Nations with gentle beam, chain tumid Mars,
Forbid the sea make war in peaceful lands
And straits, and order calm in men’s affairs.
They’ll say ‘halt wars, be honorable, don’t lead, 65
But stand amidst and justly weigh your scales.’
“These things will foreign Nymphs say at your door,
But me first honor, glory of first gift
Is owed. Of course you know that, Father: Crete’s
First gift and Delos’ came from their offspring. 70
To me, whom long by edict of old fate
And broad forecasts of seers the gods promised
Both king and sire, sufficient the huge gift
You’ll bring if you maintain largesse given
Since long past, if your gifts live on with you. 75
For granted, what more could I shameless wish
From fervid prayers, or for my race, whom sea
Adores, O Greatness, ’neath your auspices,
And lands that joy meek in your strength to rise?
To those pale shores your land and waves lie ope— 80
That neighbor in the night, arctic winter
Pleases, or watch Mygdonian day begin—
It is a sin the British to have vexed.
All love and fear your name. I’d wish this seat
Depart but to have seen my peoples’ worth. 85
How great is that I see? Have fates indulged
Our blessed soil? How often sticks the plow
In our rich fields, tenacious soil wears out
Our tardy ox and goad? No fallow fields
Untrod nor gloomy mounts. Not India glad 90
Or gold-veined Lydia grows so rich except
To make our halls gleam gold, and I perceive
Foreign realms their metalled streams upon us pour.
Then nourishing peace favors a long age
Quiet and unshaken in riches. A wife, 95
Not knowing strife, man back from foreign fight,
Asks what wars are. In rich fields farmers drag
Strong rakes, in poorer set their sheepfolds up,
And fleeces soft abound on curly backs.
“But if perchance it suits me to measure 100
My peoples’ hearts and minds, what more could gods
And willing fates have given me? Old age
Is apt for plans, raw youth for great triumphs,
Hence greater times await a pleasing lad.
Thus when subtle Nature amply varies 105
The growing horses, and foal’s first impulse,
Strong curbs are given to the meek, trumpets
This one and sound, another, fields to plow,
To the more apt, races for Isthmian wreaths.
Need I say sky’s tridented Sire cedes me 110
Seas subdued and power o’er all waters?
How oft without my nod dare winds to rage?
They fall silent. How with strong wings they wait
To bring those turns in which I wish them sweep
The sky and rule their breaths in ordered course? 115
Why count the eastern and the Persian hulls,
And fleet wide flung in Danaan Marmor Sea?
More will be granted me, when I will fill
The deep with sails that go broad ocean’s leagues,
Nor will you, Neptune, see the sky. Sea scarce 120
For keels will do, and canvas use all winds.
And with new bounds and shores by vessels linked,
A bridge now Nature fears. If fair to say,
If you’ll, Great One, bear your praise, we proclaim
All due to you, your fates, your mind that rules 125
Your fates. You give me, Kind One, safety in
Honored peace, I burn not with foreign flames,
Am the sea’s ruler, fearsome to my foe,
If such be, that all—men, gods, stars—approve,
And a gentler Sun tempers northern climes. 130
“Now come, Great Father, and the many gifts
You’ve given me—fates and gods marvel how
I’ve waxed wide-flung, and frighted earth envies—
Make eternal. Ask this at Janus’ door,
These your gifts are all Britannia seeks. 135
Then other lands may find that you’re their fate,
Or whom fair dawn by torch or whom the sun
In furthest waves spies dying. These should know
You can rage or spare, fear and court your might.
Where generous Jove dispenses on his world 140
The fruitful rain and friendly beams of Sol,
In that place too he roars. But you first gifts
Bring me unthreateningly. Omens confirmed,
You nod, and Britain’s care belongs to you.”
She ceased, hands clasped, cast reverent form prostrate, 145
Adored the mighty force behind the prince.
Lo! Foreign nymphs at this in long line come,
Burst in, upon the chamber’s threshold thrust
Their hands in loud plea out. Iberia stands,
Dark eyes and hands, unsure in multi-garb, 150
And Gallia ever changing in her dress.
Soon others too arrive, Germania last
Her long delays excusing. All beg you
Gifts and gentle peace. Their loud murmur breaks
My rest and startled the covers I thrash. 155
So I took the god’s intent to heart, portent
Of blessed night; it suits, I said, to follow
The goddess’ example in auguried dream.
At this beginning new of Phoebus’ course
The whole world seeks rewards from our great king. 160
Should I alone differ? I’ll change my mind
And also call for gifts this cheerful dawn.
Your grace, the living earth’s immense glory,
Nation’s loving light, for whom Fates weave days
And scepter with long thread, whom Destiny 165
Promises profuse gifts and Jove more worlds,
Lo! New stars now restore the months’ sequence.
Grant that new joys ascend now to our mind.
Grant easy access. Grant we touch your hand,
Hug your knees, and brush with our face your steps. 170
And to these gifts, by which you’d lift base me,
Add more. These offerings I think honor you.
For who with sacred incense petitions
Immortals, or with blood of oxen choice,
Can heaven please more than he whose foolish 175
Hands reach to the stars, in plain voice claims
That gods are great and earth their powers needs.
Prostrate your gentle flood, summon whole flocks
Of swans, let now be garlands made for men
And ships, and flags wave on their painted hulls.
Cheer this glad day for British land and waves,
O Thames, a golden light enters our world. 5
See how the clouds are tamed, the air glows
Clear, the greater mildness of the warm sky?
Do you see the northern king’s diadem
Shine on your waves, and see a thousand ships,
A thousand powers, crowd your narrow flood? 10
Who bears Jove’s roofs and with their gods the stars
Bears such not on his neck; you lovely bear
The sacred weights, and glad fate’s happy boons
Assume. Worthied with this great honor, swell
Not, let these many craft carve the calm blue, 15
Connect the distant banks in their numbers.
You too—than whom among the purple throng
None rules with stronger hand than him the Cimbri hail
Prince and Vandals plundering Ausonian shore—
Gaze happy on these gods and the glad pomp 20
You make on this blessed soil. Look and enjoy
These prodigies: scarce e’er bore lofty craft
Itself with like fates, helped by eager gods.
Pietas herself leaped down from the sky
(Though scorned she scarce dwells earth and hates mankind 25
Apostate) when she saw Cimbrian ships
Breast the sea, venerated sought your fleet,
As if her happy face proclaimed the age of gold,
Not lands deformed by vexing all her powers.
She worked the sails herself, the curving hull 30
Impelled with gentler winds, her godhood hid.
Meanwhile Phorcus’ and biform Glaucus’ throng
Admire the vessel’s size, its men and their dress,
That Pietas on deck dashed widely o’er
The sea, stood mixed heroic with the men. 35
How often Nereids swarmed about your ships,
The name and reason of the voyage asked!
Pietas taught all, wished halls beneath sun strewn
To know these things: “Nor war nor flames,” she said,
“Impel this fleet’s good news. Behold the troops, 40
Armed hands, this band attends upon both me
And peace. The king himself, that king and sire
Cimbrian, guides to fraternal shore these keels.
The trip’s sole cause am I. He wants to see
Dear sister’s face, brother’s splendor, nephews, 45
To join like-minded allies in compact,
That Cimbria not be foreign to Albion’s shores,
Cimbria beloved count Britons fair its own,
And boundless sea’s divisions disappear.
Much better than if he brought grievous war 50
Through swelling blue, in Mars sought savage gains.”
Thus Pietas urged eager your lauds in words
Profuse as the small sparks she sees that spread
The sky, the curling waves that surge the sea.
Goddesses hear, accept, then kisses bear 55
On deck and cleanse the ship in measures glad.
The fleet has now come to the kindred shore,
Now Thames your bearer, proud of so great weight,
Was pulsing strong upon adjacent fields.
Behold the Prince—brought you by many oars, 60
Your trip’s cause and prize, who bringing Britain
Her sacred law raises her to heavenly fame—
Arrives. Horns have blared and with peaceful roar
Some drums have sounded on the ‘stonished banks.
At crowned ship’s very verge you were standing, 65
And holding out your arms in tender sign.
But he with close embraces joined all close,
And for your kisses reached his dear son out.
Then noble powers, Danes and Britons both,
Souls mingled in embrace, attendants then 70
And fearless mass of steel. ‘Mongst resting spears,
And through the crowds flew golden peace amidst.
Your native deck for our oars soon you’ve changed,
O Prince. What spectacle then World, what wide
Wonders did that day see? Concord of kings 75
In total trust, hands joined, a dear comrade’s
Twinned love. What the public’s adornments then?
Who cheered? What swarms stood on the crowded banks?
Narrow the banks for men, more so for streams
Of boats, the sky for prayers, air for applause. 80
As when, Cybele high-crowned from Phrygian ruins
Ausonian gods honored, carved Tiber’s stream,
Discerning now Latium’s sacred roofs,
Effusive Rome together stood, Rome one,
And saw the coming goddess from the shores. 85
The plebes, heads crowned with wreaths and new-cut boughs,
Honored the gods with prayers and applause both.
Now spread in merry play, reweaving now
The past, it glad recalled Troy’s ancestors.
Nor led they goddess more in pomp prepared 90
To temples high than you, O king, whom fond
The wreaths surrounded when the wave bore you,
Or fairest shore on outspread carpets led,
Until you’ve entered shrines unseen by plebes,
Hearths hidden, where lofty palace alone 95
To kings and to first lords its wealth extends.
Then roofs echo with prayers, the happy hall
Sounds with applause, a feast day occupies
Townsmen and clowns; they press in rhythmic twine,
Or, guests, repair to tables raised on high. 100
And with the gods they sing the kings, revere
The kings, wish them immortal be. What joys more
Could gods, or you, give? but only that the times
In which you honor these lands too quick fall.
If here you mean the sun’s whole tracks to see, 105
Be sluggish sun, or if to stay a month, then
Run slow month, last for an entire age.
Beloved of the High Ones, augment to eager gods
When oracles have been fulfilled, whose bloods
Connect names royal from days innumerable,
O Youth—if birthdays do exist for the great gods,
Near boy, yet in your first years more than man— 5
Go, bear the sacred flames. Go, offer the High Ones
Sabean incense, do not cease resolute prayer
To gods so generous to you, deserving more
Than you could ever offer! You lacked no purple
Garments when light first opened to you here 10
A grateful world, or forbears who gave you both face
And mind equal to your fortune. And more than all,
You have been sown by a great Sire. Mighty heaven’s
Kindness could scarcely have given you better gifts.
To you, Dear Boy, he will be your Phoebus, noted 15
Force and glory. Never better did Phoebus steer
The stars than your Northern Father controls the reins.
You, the lad longed for by the nations, wont to bear
Those blessed lights, his beams, now learn in your first age
To fix your face for long on such an image great. 20
Here perceive the ancient kings and what the ages
Promise you, as well as the nature of the heirs
You would wish to fashion for him. There’s no offspring
That owed a father more than you do yours. At life’s
Threshold he held you and lifted up your face to kiss. 25
He labors to adapt your hand to scepter strong,
Fashion you an apt mind, and plait comely habits.
O Prince, his name indeed cannot be e’er surpassed,
But he would wish to be bested, invites you, sire
And rival, to vie for lauds and highest honors. 30
As in your heart you deal with all your waking cares,
Beware lest his precepts perish. Seeds could not
Be scattered in a better soil. Sprung forth they grow
The sky and joyous now each day they raise their tops.
Who would so fitly bring your interests and your ways 35
Each forth? Now fierce the reins you handle and the toothed
Bronze curb, now javelins you brandish in your hand,
Now share her pious knowledge with the learned muse.
When then it pleases you to recreate with play
A mind wearied by books, who would believe your years? 40
You are a lad just like the one that Juno, great
Mars’ mother, saw cradled in the Thracian forest,
As they say Jove foresaw, or Phoebus, in whose mouth
The oracles attended when he too was born.
Thus seemly you appear beyond our mortal face 45
And such you are in looks you can reflect the gods.
And if you should clip to your shoulders crimson wings,
Let Love beware; if you tend shrines, let Apollo joy;
If grove, Paphos’ goddess would think you Adonis.
Now if you haste your tender steps towards Parnassus, 50
Go on, fair lad; the gods have done song-worthy deeds
And sung them; dwellers of the Phrygian plain of old
Admired strong Achilles for his arms and lyre.
Bacchus from the Ogygean fields crushed Gangean shores,
The Red Sea and the eastern peoples held, victor, 55
To whom the offerings on Nysa’s peak, howe’er,
Were no more pleasing than the victim offered up
In Cyrrhaean fane and on altars to the Muses.
Fame waits you too; purple drapes your chest no less fair,
Or the bands that you’ll wear atop your radiant brow, 60
Than the honors that now you seek here from the springs
Permessian. For willing Nature makes great lords,
And Manliness, those worthy of its crown.
Live long, O happy One, O worthy progeny
Of the gods, for whom Fame now new wings frames 65
And fears fatigue, for whom Mars fashions spear and sword
And battlements, and golden Peace charms gentled folks.
Live long, for whom the muses reverenced prepare
Their songs, whose cradle mighty kings already view.
Let Arabs and Asians worship, what sees you by 70
The light of dawn, what Sol spies in the evening’s waves.
And when you have numbered your growing years greater,
May nymphs, Fair Boy, attend you, kneeling Delia plead,
Or Pallas willing wish her aegis lay aside,
And, having been too long a virgin, yield to you. 75
Be not to the goddess harsh. Give gods to the sky,
And new posterity. But when triumphs weary
Your mind and laurel will adorn all of your gates,
And the eager stars have called you to heaven late,
May you joyous approach; or if our mortal prayers 80
Touch gods, may you have our lands and dwell within them
Beside your Sire, and ne’er these scepters put aside.
Apollo’s shepherd Corydon, at temple gates,
His cheeks with tears besmeared, his breast with dust,
This mournful tune played on his broken pipe.
“Sire Phoebus, to whom Ocean did his waves
Entrust, and Jove himself his fire bequeathed, 5
Why pleases me your look, of all things fairest—
That quickens fields and gives the world new age—
Why please your beams? Why reckless from our fields
Befled was I, and vain hope slipped me by.
To me in vain the prescient fowl cried out, 10
‘Where to, Corydon, how touches court the clown?
Why flee these fields and long, o fool, for state?’
Which said, the birds affected me no whit,
Nor did the bullock’s lows from out his field.
I came, and merry piped my doubled reeds, 15
Mayhap I pleased; your nod indeed you gave
On high, and said, ‘Do bide with us a time.’
I stayed indeed, e’en dared to play in verse,
And, pipe laid down, to touch again my strings,
To prove my lyre and blunt my quill with lyre. 20
Behold my life, hard toils beguile faint hopes.
A third time summer clothes the woods with leaves,
As oft returns the cold to naked fields.
Thus sad and weak beneath these altars high
I tire myself and thee, o Sire, with prayer. 25
Sometimes my thoughts recall me to my home,
And old Amyntas sends advice on bark,
Now tend your sheep, Corydon, enough and more
Your prayers wear out the gods, look to your home.
So what to do? Your temples leave and go? 30
O grief! Return to home and no fame won?
Whate’er I bore here once across the deep—
My pack, crook, flute, lambs strayed and piped again—
Long days destroyed and I am shamed, alas,
To travel home like this. If I should go 35
Far hence, and leave my sheep once more with friends,
Why then I’ll go, but sure my muse will groan,
Will damn the gods and Fate’s accursed thread.
Perhaps she’ll leave some markers to our grief,
Perhaps new ages will believe our Muse. 40
Whate’er will be, Phoebus, I worship thee,
My flute in pastoral song will sing thy praise
While streams have stones and meadows grow wild oats,
While wolf in woods and lambs in vales abide.
I’ll have my fame, my song will live eterne. 45
And while I roamed, a lad ‘neath quivering shade,
I saw, and praised in songs, dear Lyda mine.
The country gods fell still; then all the pipes,
All fields, all things, resounded with our verse.
I saw contend, and prizes then were rung, 50
Chromis and Nomas both; I knew Acestas’ flute,
What it could do, though rare heard in our fields.
Where thunders Rhone with black and tumid waves,
Where Loire’s sands shift and Seine does nurse the world,
Or Po and Tiber run down to the sea; 55
Wherever shepherds sport the fields, dare match
Their skills with mine; my pipe will conquer all.
If those on high will grant me life and time,
Forever will it conquer Lydian trump,
Cybele’s horn, and raucous Bacchus’ drums. 60
I’ll speak the West where Nature’s bounds reach out
The land at Ocean’s end, where Morning Star,
O Sire, you dim and light the eager world.
You’ll wish perhaps then that you’d saved my song,
When I address far tribes and distant lands, 65
And vend false words, alas, to lesser gods.
If thou art harsh with me (all times will know!),
If thou art harsh, throughout the world they’ll say,
“Wretched Corydon, by Fate’s decree,
And Phoebus’ fault, who sees not everything.” 70
So what if you shine splendid o’er the world,
Depend the weight of earth and Muses rule—
Though wiser than the Muses you yourself—
If you shine not on me nor love my song.
Relent, o sire, relent, o heaven’s delight; 75
My plaint is just. Mayhap my fault drove me
To Phrygian fields, mayhap my words beneath
A barbarous roof wore out my burdened pipes,
Mayhap Midas, lord of that savage shore,
My verse extolled; there were rewards of praise. 80
Oh me if, when you’ve seen these plaints, only
You’ll say, o sire, “These, shepherd, are good songs;”
Just that; win back my songs with trifling praise.
Smiling to me you say, ‘Just ask, Corydon.’
What should I seek? Choose, sire, for Corydon 85
Reward. Poor shepherd knows not what to ask.
My wish? my song will hang upon your shrine,
My wish? my reeds will echo to your name.
Your wish? to bring me gifts. I don’t ask much.
Incense we take to Jove for fecund rains. 90
For honeyed wine earth mother bears rich crops,
For butchered kid old Bacchus grants us wine.
But if my pipes are lead for such slight task,
Return my crook, my pack, and shepherd’s marks,
All that I brought and long use turned to trash. 95
Return I beg, what by your sons I seek,
Delights of gods and stars of dawning world.
May, Phoebus, they survive you, nay exceed!
Just as you left your sceptre-bearing sires.”
He ceased, and in the sacred temple’s dust 100
He tore the ragged locks from his bowed head.
The father heard and nodded from his caves.
Corydon ended, closed his eyes to die,
The pipes he’d set aside kissed one last time,
When Father Phoebus spoke from cavern hid:
“Grieve not, Corydon, you’ll not sing foreign fields,
Nor vend unworthy gods pronouncements false. 5
You’re ours, will sing at our altar when old.”
He spoke, gave for our kiss his sacred hand.
Then, having heard, Corydon dried his face,
His bruised eyes, and raising his hands starwards
Said, “Father Phoebus, heaven has no more 10
Lovely force than you, nor more bountiful.
Indulge our tears, and spare our idle fear.
You said, ‘Leave your flocks, Corydon, greater
Favors wait,’ and wrong it were you’d speak
Idly, sinful to doubt reverent Phoebus. 15
But sluggish time, fates hostile to my verse,
Blame from the other gods affrighted me.
Now hopes restored, tumultuous care put off,
Fear secured, delight abundant soothes me.
No more for flock and shepherd I’ll ‘neath springs 20
Seek woody shades, nor lead my willing goats
Through unknown fields to rocky pastures high.
Cruel Lycotas’ muse will not deride me
Sent home, foul Acestes point no finger.
I’ll not be a shepherd, not if Pan gave me 25
The flute, not if the nymphs sought me pastures,
Gave grasses laced with charms against the wolves.
So go my flocks, farewell my olden cares:
Where’er beneath tall trees the suns scarce shine,
The fickle shepherd here and there sings songs, 30
For willing girl considers rustic gifts,
Birds’ nests or baskets with strawberries full.
Indeed a happy life, easy to love,
Whoe’er knew not the gods nor Phoebus’ homes.
But now shines better day and clearer sky, 35
My longed-for goal of heaven is at hand.
No more the reeds and pipes of supple willow
Bark and songs that move the rustic nymphs,
But lyre and learned lute, Cythara’s name
And Lyra’s, noble song on golden harp. 40
Phoebus father, the gods’ first light, whom stars
With dimmed lights venerate, heavens with calmed winds,
Phoebus world’s weal, Phoebus heaven’s glory,
Master of mortal songs beyond all praise,
Such that Delphi can name you and your verse. 45
Yet your Corydon will dare take you o’er
Heaven’s heights, fit out with your deeds his muse.
Whether the hoarse sea groans beneath your ships,
Or you with regal roar lead battles fierce
And deadly arms through earth, or victor give 50
Mild terms and, most courageous, still your rage.
My verse will sing your deeds, and I’ll repay
Your gifts with lasting fame, or those you gave,
Or those you’ll give. This will not change with time.
Your merits, Phoebus, not your famed rewards 55
Have brought me here. May lute and lyre witness,
Which you gave me, and pipes I’ve laid aside.
You, the most holy priest of Phoebus’ fane,
Whether you’d be called Thestorides, Theodomas,
Melampus, one who sifts fates from afar. 60
O grace immense, most worthy worshipper
Of Phoebus, his priest, less than him only;
You’ve deigned my humble incense show the god,
Turn him to its vapors high and slender fumes,
You’ve pleased the will divine of Phoebus great. 65
Now take my thanks and may, O holy priest,
It please you hear them. They are not base gifts.
The earth will hear, wherever shores may pulse
With limpid waves or rivers with full banks.
The skies will hear, and no age will be mute: 70
Corydon was a shepherd, his priest bore
Phoebus his prayers, Apollo made him seer.”
Servant, with humble prayers and much incense.
Already high, pleased with his willing god,75
He fixed with steady steps on higher ground.
Apollo’s beloved shepherd, Corydon
Of Thrace, yearned for Daphne, fairest of all.
Indeed, he’d earned the love for many years
Of nymph Leuconoe, but new fates took him;
Fair Daphne only pleases Corydon. 5
He built her therefore altars green of turf,
Incense set out with garlands fragrant gay.
Often he burned the new harvest’s first grains,
Often the flocks’ newborn; above all songs
He wrote, and made his great love known in verse. 10
He had scant hope. For Daphne heroes rare
Then ruled, the race from gods. To them his prayers
Corydon oft bore; oft they answered him,
Gave hope, more vexing than all other cares!
Until alas with harsh mien sad they said: 15
“You ask in vain Corydon; your incense doesn’t rise.
You’re a shepherd; Daphne, one of the gods.”
Corydon hearing shook, and everywhere
Tore up his plants and, having bade his grief
And self farewell, roamed wild his wasted fields. 20
But finally across a stream he sat,
And sang in his mind’s wretched gloom this song:
“O nymph beloved, by Cupid me denied,
Forest jewel, who’s driven you us to scorn,
Our newborn love burst cruelly apart? 25
Is it that I came groveling to your door
And often put my lips to its bare posts?
Hence do you deem me base, unmanned, condemn
Me for my pleas and swell with steep contempt?
O you’ve erred! Richest of the field, Leuconoe, 30
Warms me, augments her gifts with coaxing words.
With fruits the heat she cools me, and fresh milk;
She bears me cups and ruby strawberries,
Which she herself in baskets gathered full.
When winter sweeps in snows on hoary wings, 35
She heaps the hearth and roasts the birds we both
Had trapped, and bustling doubles up our clothes.
O to me how dear, if you weren’t dearer.
But wild love besets me. I’d sooner you
Were owed her gifts. If you gave me trifles, 40
You’d make them valuable (who’s loved knows this)
In giving, and you in them I’d worship.
For that I’d bring you gifts with both my hands.
I’m a shepherd? Phoebus was too. My fame
Flies to all fields. No unknown guest insipid 45
I’ll come within your hall (ope wide Daphne).
My crook can do whate’er my fathers’ could,
Attract the flock and toss the twitched out clods,
Fright wolves away, join furrows with a leap.
Good gods, it beguiles me when my slung stone 50
In looping orb its marks has driven long.
You needn’t act so pleased O shining girl;
Daphne’s worthy worship; Corydon, love.
I know my blue eyes and my face, would say
You’ll scarcely find a shepherd with my looks. 55
But do I, barely sane, speak to deaf ears?
Ah gods! You’re losing, Daphne, Corydon.
So fierce you spurn your suppliant and all
His much heard songs. Have my pleas made me vile,
No fault or sin? O Phoebus, let me swell 60
With rage and pay her back with savage songs.
Let vengeful Nemesis my just plaints hear.
Wretched I say: Love has made you (O fairest)
Our life’s law, which is whate’er you pleases.
You’ve done no wrong, but your fostering noble 65
Heros, gods’ race, have sinned. Whence this stern bolt?
Why have you now destroyed me with this thrust?
Who didn’t give me omens in glad words,
And hope, when first I timid owned my love,
Woe me, and asked to serve my darling girl? 70
All said they’d help. Why, you who gave me hope,
Why did you take it from me (wretched!) away?
I sought things not unholy but too great,
I weighed in with my prayers. We also prayed the gods.
Can I not speak? Can’t I my heavy heart 75
Assuage? No fate denies me this solace.
Indeed prayers, but I will more than pray.
Where fiery father lifts his cart at dawn
And where in night’s waves tired sets his torch,
Your glory fame has borne; everything 80
Your praises filled, pulsing the heaven’s stars.
Your name, howe’er, will die, grow old in time,
When you’ve been snatched from sight in realms to come.
Once others sparkled, whose haughty virtue
Suffered decay and set, whose names scarce live. 85
Life lasts for those the shepherds’ pipes, the kind
Apollo gave me, special merits give.”
Corydon had spoke, when from a muttering sky
The ruptured clouds gave omens in bright flames.
The side of the world was cleansed where Phoebus 90
Was wont to rise, and birds sang left to right.
He hailed the gods’ imminent powers, wiped
His eyes and brow with hand, and vast became
In hope and outlook both; his plaint laid down,
He said, “O nymph, O guardians heroic, 95
Be kind; false gossip made you harsh to me:
Don’t be; the left sky’s stroke propitious flared,
Bade me to still my dread. Milky Daphne
Will yield me, your aspects will not be harsh.
I’m yours, I”ll trust the gods and heavens’ words. 100
And you, while air hugs earth and heaven air
And there are bounds to land and shores to sea,
I’ll call with incensed prayers, ever honored
Just after the first gods, Jove and Daphne.” 105
Thus Corydon, and vowed himself her loves;
Or did he trust too much the gods’ omens?
In misty gloom our father sun had hid
His shaken face, and heavens’ stars wore ash.
Tityrus and Corydon, as baleful boxwood wan,
Hands pressed to face, great Daphnis, you bewailed,
Pride of the plain, whom, snatched by dire blow, 5
Not farmers only, not shepherds only,
But clearly nature mourned, both earth and sky.
Their boughs forests buffeted contorted,
The waters of the sea churned sad and hoarse.
Among their tears and plaintive broken words 10
They said, “Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
TITYRUS “Do we live? Or have we wretched gone to hell?
What is our crime? Whence the gods’ wrath? By Fates’
Harsh crafty deeds, such fury’s never been!
Look: the field’s color’s not the same, the plants 15
All droop, though Boreas blows not from cold climes.
Now trembling leaves turn pale, the harvests wan,
Although no spell has eaten up the grain.
The fields fail by themselves, sad virtue drags
All with it, knows its kindred by their grief. 20
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
CORYDON “Tityrus, drop your crook. Why tend the flocks?
There is no love of light or laughter now.
We’re dead, death’s savage little knife takes sheep
Alike and shepherds. With Daphnis now reft, 25
The field withers, dumb fear scatters the flock
Along the ways. Let this deed fade from time.
Such great wrong makes almost gods criminals.
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
TIT. “But now the field no more enjoys his weight 30
-- As when his footprints ‘mongst us Daphnis left --
Is spattered from the wounds of Daphnis hewn,
Not willing red; in what sad font can it
Be expiate, beneath what waves be cleansed?
Wash, O gods, with pouring clouds this wretched crime 35
And if from all the sky the clouds are gone,
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
COR. “O goddesses, swift nymphs, powers sylvan,
Wont Daphnis to admit your fetes, to show
Him unware beasts to hunt and guide his shafts, 40
Strew your rent hairs, now tear your garlands up.
Daphnis is no more, no more his glad song.
His smooth cheeks woe! have gone, his cheery face,
His light no less than when warns Lucifer
Dimmed stars to ope the gate and dew the fields. 45
Your drooping breasts funereally beat,
O forest nymphs, add this amidst your plaint,
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
TIT. “O monstrous chaos! All distinctions dead.
All wrong borne by the champion comes to earth. 50
Now ram with horn, now pert kid in the grass
The feeble flock far from the green plain drives.
The oxen swell their necks, with which oak-browed
They burst the fence and in a ring surround
The richest fields which for fodder suit them. 55
The countryside is shocked, the deer grow weak.
O stop this sin, o you who rule the world,
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
COR. “What storm across the razed world’s roofs had stirred
The lands, when Daphnis once arose to calm 60
Our pastures ‘neath the auspices of gods!
It suited then swift slings with fierce Mars wield
On earth and scatter what was met with stones!”
TIT. “What peace he gave the lands he pacified,
When savage beasts withdrew and maddened hearts 65
Lay down their wretched rage at Daphnis’ verse!
Nor filled he but his fields with his great fame.
What shepherd e’er drives sheep or rock-mad goats
In northern winters or toward Phoebus setting,
Whom fiery Nothus seeks, whom Eos browns, 70
Prone quaked at Daphnis’ strengths and awesome mights,
Or burned with love, by so much virtue seized.
Victor in war, he fell to savage peace.
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
COR. “As he was, Tityrus, see Daphnis in your mind. 75
His right hand weighted by the scepter long
The myrtle gave, his temples with garlands
Wreathed; oak they were, laurel and olive mild.
Fields flourished glad where he walked, snakes declined
To hiss and trees bent with each kind of fruit. 80
See his brow’s glory, such that bulls, fearing
His every word, with flapping dewlaps run,
That sheep are fat, and Saturn’s reign returns;
You’ll say, Tityrus (tears will follow words)
Such was Cynthius in Messenian fields. 85
You’ll say, Tityrus, he lived on our behalf.
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
TIT. “His pale limbs see instead with streaming blood,
His fallen face, the dark wound in his breast;
Then you’ll say, Corydon, Daphnis to our ruin 90
Fell and to the stars was borne with little pain;
But long grief for the earth his wounds will cause.
Return, O stars, return to us Daphnis.”
COR. Let him be kind, appease the gods, our signs
Be idle fears, his soul be safe in heaven, his fame 95
On earth be far and wide, the weight of ground
Upon him light, and blooms spring from his blood.
TIT. Let there be sad rites at his tomb and pious
Throngs. Let us Eleusis’ fires with ours surpass.
COR. Tityrus, cease your fears. Our grief appeased 100
Heaven. Behold the happy twinkling stars.
Daphnis is among the stars in heaven,
Himself a new star (just count!), Daphnis shines.
TIT. Daphnis is yet on earth. A new one rules,
With smaller crook and lesser sling in hand 105
Arising; a greater genius yet fills all,
And o how many years are destined him!
Go happy flock to your accustomed lea.
Go lords of flocks (now let the good times surge),
Go through the shaded woods (Daphnis rules all). 110
Therefore you Dryads, too, and all you nymphs
Who roam high peaks, now cease your long lament.
Laugh gently and now comb your long hair out;
Your dances will he in the old way lead.
That my feeble Muses attempt your praise,
I beg mercy. They’ve sung Jove, now think
It just to go through all the gods. (O world’s
Glory, whose fame will live in times to come).
Be kind to the poet and his muses; the task’s 5
Extent excites the nine, though goddesses.
Already they seek prefaces with which to start
Your praise, and some part for the final chords most apt.
As when the new year now from Hybla’s vales
Its riches summons, girds itself with blooms, 10
And Nature most revered glad garb resumes,
The bees gone forth delay what fields to seek,
What first they’d wish to taste: mild aster now,
Now violet, now tiny wings hears marjoram.
But if the muses see your handsome face 15
In hero’s likeness, your lineage review,
Have seen whose blood from which you’ve sprung, who showed
The path to fame, taught not to yield to cares,
And faithful e’er to stand ‘fore sacred crown,
I think they’d here begin your righteous praise. 20
How oft your father’s love hugged you and stroked,
With loving smile and oldster’s strength bestowed
Kisses, nor spoke in vain his mind’s foresights:
Virtue would make you him to whom Pallas
Would yield and Cyllenian youth with ‘stonished words. 25
How oft he wished to shape your roomy breast
With highest things, unroll realms’ vast affairs,
Astounded that in you grew greater seeds,
That even he was able yet be taught.
Now whatsoever tomb covers your shades, 30
Hear, memorable old man, if offspring
Had not blocked your way, you’d have conquered
The long ages just as you did the olden times.
But he presses your fame, just as stars pale
When Lucifer renews the day, or streams, 35
Whether fair Thames or the twin-antlered Rhine,
Flow in the sea and merge with it their names.
Nor was, of your great deeds, more noble none
Than this man to have sired. If right to think
Departing souls stay worthy shades in their 40
Own limbs or go into Elysian glade,
I’d say you went into your son when sad
Death took your life. Oak added to his mind,
His spirit learned beneath your great fervor.
Thus when Indus unopposed takes Hydaspes 45
In waters blue, surges ‘midst the fields amazed
Its course, the rivers haste to join their strengths
And press their ampled banks, two streams no more.
But you, proud son of a great-minded sire,
The glory of a sea-faring race, whom Britain’s 50
Fair throngs and Eire commend for tumult calmed,
Do not, I pray, decline to take just lauds
And joy a bit in them. No one was higher
In counsels and in courage. Had you lived
When Aeacus’ fierce son crushed wide Latium 55
With war from Spartan citadel at Tarentum,
Cyneas would a famous name scarce been.
Ausonian senate you’d to Rome’s cheers have walked,
Have written pact ‘tween king and senators.
If Danaan ships had seen you on Phrygian 60
Shore, Greek poets had of Nestor said no word.
Not fickle fortune with its changing nods
Gave you this high place, but good long shining
Exalted you, bore you amongst the human stars.
The very ruler of us all, to whom the fates, 65
Good Jupiter and better fortune gave
The Britons, knows and lauds your gifts, rewards
The state with them, naught envies in the stars.
He shares with you the weight of great concerns,
The sacred chambers opens of his starry mind, 70
With you shapes fates, just as we think the Thunderer
Sometimes the oracles of startled Phoebus sought.
Nor was it right your praises, name, and fame
Were fixed where our ancestral sea’s waves bind
The warlike Britons and two worlds hold apart. 75
Although uncertainties of keels and winds
Don’t bear your fame afar to foreign shores,
Your virtue on its broad wings bore itself
Far and wide through Nereus’ swelling deep,
Flew o’er Tartessian shores of western folks, 80
O’er Rhone and Loire, o’er potent nature’s bars,
And has been measured ‘yond the frozen Alps.
The world’s one part you cherishes, one fears,
But all marvel. Not only hearts sublime
Or those who bear the light of the swift sun, 85
But vulgar boys in rude and trembling years
Know you. On distant crossroads women buzz,
Wise farmers talk about you on the land.
Fond parents, and nurses’ mad love, have all found
New prayers to raise on high over cradles 90
They press to their breasts and fill with blooms.
Not Ithacan’s mind, bold Achilles’ strength, nor
Tithonus’ days they ask, but “Child, I pray you’ll be
Cecil, and that you’ll have a mind like his.”
How oft, when Phoebus at first dawn not yet 95
Has left the watery seas, clients in crowds
Wear out with prayers the threshold of your gates!
Not commoners but those whom culture, grace,
And birth wish to raise up in swollen pride
And give place but to you. With calm face you 100
Hear these and now those, speaking with so much
Grace and charm that they ne’er fail to love you if
You nod to them or not, both those sent off
And those let in. Though cares on every side
Surround you, and cause you wakeful nights, 105
We don’t see you change your face in wrath.
Alike with all and with yourself, as rivers
To the sea roll forth their sloping channels,
Which Nereus is shy to note and goes
Henceforth no deeper nor with fuller waves. 110
Pray be so calm and let your face beam forth
When at your entrances our Phoebus stands,
And cause him to be generous with our budding muse.
Great parent, whom Fortune bade go abroad
From sea-girt Britain’s soil and then to wed
On Lorraine’s shores fair lineage to Scots’ fame,
Lest the world think the stars that shine beneath
The Bears are fixed reluctant in their place. 5
Phoebus has not yet gone one course on his
Light bringing cart, ended a fruitful year
Since tight you held me with your gentle arms
Paternal at your chest and with your sighs
Infused your soul, when sacred orders from 10
My gentle prince me called to Britain home.
I think the age begrudged me a long time
With you. How oft your dear image stirred me,
And my cares gentled with a soft caress!
Those words you gave me—when you at dawn 15
I greeted and after the sun’s late settings
When happy eve brought sober dinner meals—
Return, my spirit seize and warm with sweet
Support, although the sea with all its waves
Divides, and Nereus’ waves roar deafeningly. 20
Whether it suits you to retire from cares,
Tend your grey hairs, enjoy your lauds in old
Age tired and glad recall your active years,
Or carry on your usual pursuits
Where holy Themis and your lofty mind you rapt 25
Impelled and showed rewards of fame deserved,
Surely, O sire, you fault now strength and age,
The frailty that steals you from your home
Ancestral and alas! my land alike,
And more than land and native air, denies 30
To you the face of James, a face by you
Desired more than Sidonian seer wished glad
Stars see when driven out the hid light left
His fearful body, fled into his holy mind.
But if fate bids you cross the swollen sea 35
And view again your Britain, do not fear
Your strength, the distance if by land or sea,
And old age, crueler than the creeping miles.
O father, don’t despair. The king your nature loves
Such that your limbs he pardons and your years. 40
If you midst civil Andes till sweet fields,
Or in Lorraine where the Moselle winding
Makes its deep channels through vine-bearing hills,
Spare yourself, nor tire limbs with vain labor
More, be yourself kind as your years deserve, 45
Wish your old age for son and wife to save,
Whom Hyman from her early years faithful
Joined. With such a wife all say you are blessed,
With such a spouse all say she’s fortunate
Amongst the maidens all of fair Lorraine. 50
If probity and morals should soothe you,
If virtue its reward receives, envy not gods
Their Inachia, Leda, or Europa; cherish
With flames eterne, as you do, but Anna.
She, if soft winds your sails billowed, or waves 55
Roared and frighted planks groaned, faithful comrade
At your side clung always, sweet burden on
Your neck, her spirit ne’er downcast with fear.
O happy pair! Assyrian Phoenix suffers life
Through time unfrighted ‘til it leaves in flames 60
Old age’s weariness and too much life.
May willing they who rule the spindle stern
Give you as many years as she who calls
The sun gave Tithonus or Cumaean seer
Begged Phoebus, and fervid wish that your limbs 65
Though old and wearied never die. If life is sure
While name and virtue last, while fame survives,
You’ll conquer all the ages with perpetual life.
A time will come when I’ll bow to you both
With pride, embrace you, touch your hands, kiss you. 70
— Then I’ll propose to tell the news from our
Beloved Britain, then what the Governor does,
How he servants honors, mellows mild their
Fortunes, how fair the cheeks, shining her eyes
With blessed majesty, of our Thunderer’s wife, 75
How tender yet mature in his few years
The Prince grows, marvel of a world amazed.
Who can grant me, which god, dirges and sighs
To soothe my heart with suitable lament?
What grief! What fear! What raw prelude for great
Talent and doom ne’er quenchable by tears!
I don’t dare ask the Delphic Sisters for harp 5
And funereal songs; indeed, they mourn
That little girl, and lyre laid down they beat
Their heaving breasts, nor called can hear the poet.
Nor you, whose fairest gift this maiden was,
O Nature, do I call; if you’d availed, 10
She’d not have died in whom you used rejoice,
Show Jove, or promise comrade to Diane.
Isabella, have you died? Has mad death snatched
Such great hopes, such a budding mind? Not yet
Had your fifth birthday Sol seen in his course 15
When you fled that day and for your goodness
Went the sky, blazing like the shining stars,
Unmarked, untouched by life’s experience.
Do I speak truth, or false dreams take my mind?
In dances glad, in plain life’s blessed leisure 20
Joying and always most pleased by new games,
Oh! Isabella, have you gone in your tomb?
What lightening struck? What god envied our shores?
I do recall, though ‘tis a sorrow huge,
The good things that have fled and all we’ve lost. 25
How your feet happy moved, I remember,
To the harp’s bidding, no strangers to lutes.
Then on your head uncovered swayed the hair,
Cute and pert, on top held by a little band
At your head’s highest point. This image stays. 30
This, too, when shiny-cheeked you scarce could ring
Your parents’ necks with both your straining arms.
Then visiting (unconscious of your charm),
You’d walk right up to all, shake hands and chat.
When it suited you, urged by rushing words, 35
You’d stir disputes with little threats and fits,
Then pouting prettily defend your fault.
What’s marriage to you, terms to be arranged,
Changed every day? Already promised boys
From equal rank, but heaven only due. 40
I was such a father-in-law, and now acquit myself
With this verse, as if mourning a daughter-in-law.
Whate’er it was, where books and age did call,
Mixed play, your years and festive charm were there,
Seeds, maiden, of a budding mind, if Fates 45
Had granted, and death jealous of our affairs.
Thus when orchards swell full in the spring sun,
When, first leaves scarce on boughs, a few branch tips
Grow green but trees have not yet set forth fruit,
Amidst the leaves in glowing garlands spring 50
Flowers purple, buds subject to the winds.
Their hope and beauty please, but jealous Auster
Blown, their ruined beauty expelled, hope droops.
Childhood had scarce your tongue’s chains loosed and you
Could conversations hold already with 55
Spaniards, French, fair Britons, and those who watch
The Rhine’s rough waves themselves join with the sea,
Where turbulent it spills upon the shores.
Maternal Spain boasted, and the Belgian earth,
That you were theirs; glad Britain takes you next, 60
An infant, wants to count you ‘mongst its maids,
While your father, legate from a great prince,
Dwells our most welcome guest along the Thames.
Here fate will deal your end, you’ll exit time
In foreign land. Nor slow accomplished death 65
The crime. Though savage and implacable,
It feared to torture you with slow torment.
Saddest Lucifer first saw that you were sick,
Maiden, when late in the night he returned,
Brought by Hesperian horses, cut your supple 70
Warp, and led you rapt to realms celestial,
Rapt from your mother’s arms, whose frozen grief
Twisted her face, as death, my sweet, did yours.
What was the sight at home, while sad discord
Twists hearts, while soft into your still limbs 75
Deadly winter creeps? The house now still, now wild
Weeps, pity flares at every other burst.
Your father’s stunned, like one God’s flashing fire
Frighted, who felt the bolt from sudden wings.
Unfixed his stern face now holds back the tears, 80
Now by his loss diminished flees from all,
Alike he groans and speaks the only words
A father can, a father who’s bereaved,
Bewails the fates, who don’t heed his lament.
Your mother wretched meanwhile beats her breast, 85
Gives in to grief, upon her daughter’s corpse
Consumes her tears and mews her piteous moans.
How oft her fierce grief to restrain her spouse
Draws near? How oft her need to weep and grieve
Insane him interrupts just as he starts, 90
His efforts at the first words cancels out?
But as the need for grief first rages here,
And instant rage subsides, then both parents’
Hearts raise up to heaven, for unfit grief
Beg pardon, for heaven’s unmoved decrees 95
Can’t be disturbed; what God in heaven does
Is sacred, the fates he gives to trembling earth.
When to themselves r eturned, accorded they
Their willing hearts to God. As when a gust
Brings Boreas unwares on a mountain ash, 100
Unbending first it bows its remnant leaves,
Then towering the sky entire fills,
To vain winds rival now presents itself.
Thus they, too, end their wild laments, fend off
The blow, recall yet that they’d been parents, 105
And nature grants them reasonable grief.
Night came, and tears gave to the mourners sleep,
While you, maiden—above the fiery stars
Carried to heaven rejoiced, pleased to spurn
Your body dead and earth for better life— 110
Yet pity in your heart your parents dear,
Reach out to earth and your familiar home.
They knew their own, in sleep with striving arms
They sought your hugs; then frightened soon they ceased
To try. For, Isabella, a stern majesty 115
Stood out upon your face. Amazed they fill
Mind’s eye and timid seek to hold your hand.
You’d grown; your features gave a different light;
Your hair was bright and from your neck a fine
Robe flowing covered on all sides your feet. 120
And then you seemed to speak: “Put care aside.
I live, and knowledge nature scarce could give
Gave joyous death. I forsook childish things
To join my stars. New limbs and senses too
We’ve donned; what you know now has little worth. 125
Beyond are other suns and new joys in
The stars, no loathing ever in God’s face.
If you’d not touched our ears with your laments,
Earth I’d have forgot. If e’er I pleased you
A daughter, rejoice joyous at our triumphs. 130
Fate has given me heaven for your earth’s loss.
Could you give that, father, or you mother?
I could gladly indeed have counted noted sires
Among your blood, and names through ages known,
Chiefs of the Belgian and the Spanish folk 135
Added to my lineage; the court could have
Seen me amidst its honored attendants
(And would have). Grown, I’d brought a son-in-law,
Perhaps grandchildren from my blessed womb,
And then soon daughters-in-law. These joys 140
Vain hope for eager prayers vowed you from me.
Suppose my Fates had wished? What troubled mix
Of compromised delights that would have been!
But now above the stars with tranquil prayers,
I think on other honors and nuptuals, 14 5
A maid forever, lessened not by youth,
More than scepter (let envy depart), more
Than those whom fortune would have made me serve.
I want my home in heaven, will walk e’er
With like maidens, with the great Thunderer, 150
Safe now myself, concerned on your behalf.”
She spoke, at once to heaven rapt in flight
She left without embrace and, omens seen,
Night and care left parents no longer sad.
JOHN BARCLAY’S POEMS, BOOK II
EADER, be aware that some of the poems published here speak to the dead as if they still lived, for example the poem which I composed in honour of the most illustrious Prince Henry while he was still healthy; likewise the poems for that great man, the Earl of Salisbury, and for my famous and most beloved father. It would be hurtful to remove from this publication those who have been taken from us. It would be sacrilegious to take what I wrote about living men and devise a way to apply it to the dead. If this were the practice, poems would be limited to a one-time publication, for they would certainly be untimely after a century (which defines the life of a really long-lived man) if the words which we spoke about them cannot endure after their deaths. Farewell.
To fruited Autumn—as the year lies harsh
On weary earth in black effusive clouds,
Both day fades and Apollo lord of ligh t—
Corydon anxious speaks for his great lord:
“O fruitful Autumn, who at year’s end set 5
Your last gifts now to anxious farmers forth,
If soft you blow upon the ripened grapes
Or hope to seeds give for the coming year,
Hear, though called with incense slight and slender
Reed, for what more do I a shepherd have? 10
Behold my Phoebus wan, sad disarrayed,
As unafraid he sets our world afright.
Not winter foul (much bristling with white locks
And yielding naught to Auster blustering)
Not tumid spring’s insolence such has dared, 15
Or crimes summer ascribes to fiery beasts,
Of whom insanely with its barkings this
One rages, those incite flames with their howls.
You alone cause these fears, such offerings,
O you more worthy other monuments. 20
Sad earth; dull stars within a saddened sky;
No billows calm. All after Phoebus ask.
But you keep him, O Autumn, in his rooms,
Within his sick door’s shade. Just as plucks moon
In shining orb itself from wondering fields, 25
See blanching lights amongst the peoples stunned,
See faces grave and cast down with dismay.
Boots it thus peoples to be seen? What will
Earth be, Apollo gone? Beneath such gloom
What virtue can endure? Just times for peace 30
Away, their laws to cruel Mars absent,
One night will hide laws, morals, and rapt gods.
And what bears peoples everywhere to hell
Will be one death. Return O sacred light
To Phoebus, and regard these our sad fears. 35
Thus may gentle breezes pluck at your robes,
And woods not bare their boughs at the first frost.
May competing farmers bring you great gifts.
Oft may you see your threshold drip new wine,
Scarce less than gold Minerva’s be your shrine. 40
“What will you do? Hear you our groans? Or cruel
With your crime swollen you can do such harm
Spurn you these prayers, you fool? Do not believe
You’ll snuff him out, fierce one; the Fates let you
Show Phoebus clear to earth or in a cloud 45
Brief hide. This is of your realms the extent.
But if you don’t return him to sad earth,
May you foul go roads rushed with floods, dark with
Deep fog, but not with trodden grapes besmeared.
For new wines will not flow, nor Pallas sport 50
In oil, the year not owe you anything.”
While shepherd raves, turns into curses prayers,
From out a whirl of sodden mist arrived,
And more bright shining, no help from Autumn,
The ether dried our Phoebus with his flames. 55
I fastened Melidoria’s bracelet,
Which as Melidoria’s gift I had,
Around my happy, O so happy, wrist.
And “splendid hand” and “precious hand” how oft
Then I did say, and “little blessed hand,” 5
And all those blandishments lovers are wont
To tell their wrist if at some time they see
That it is bound with such a crown as this.
I scarcely knew the strengths of this bracelet,
Which I felt then and which I still do feel. 10
If around my arm I clasp it, at once
My heart’s immediately on my sleeve;
If I do with much kissing worship it,
And I impress it with lingering lips,
Immediately my heart flees to my lips, 15
And almost it forsakes my silent lips.
At last I think it will depart, by death
I’ll flee and purge her. E’en now through my limbs
Insensibly slides cold and horrid death.
O maiden, you splendor of all our age, 20
Hark to my groans and to my final words.
After my mind and soul will have my lips
Fled forth, unknowing when they might return,
Residing in your bracelet they’ll flourish,
O more than in my heart they’ve yet flourished. 25
So take, o maiden, this bracelet of yours,
Return it to your wrist or to your breast.
And happy all my heart and all my soul
I’ll think then that the bracelet they’ll give up,
So that upon your wrist or on your breast, 30
O Maiden, they can constantly reside.
Thus you who had before been life to me,
Will now be death, and in your kindly breast
You’ll grant my tomb and final resting place.
This boon I pray of death: please help me die! 35
And if my vile life willfully resists,
Won’t suffer me to go into this death,
So that I’ll living perish anyway,
I’ll force my life to go into this tomb.
“O gods and goddesses, why am I doomed,
Why doomed and she prospers and flourishes,
The maid because of whom I’m doomed, ye gods?
Why prospers Melidoria, O Love,
And at the same time scorns your arrows too, 5
As well the heart those arrows do so harm?
If you allow her to get off unscathed,
O deities, then you, O Love, are lost.
By her example she’ll do constant harm.
She’ll be the ruin of your imperium.” 10
As I told Venus this, and Cupid too,
I moved them Venus both and Cupid too.
“But certainly you see a blindfold binds
My captive eyes,” Cupid then said to me,
“So that my darts with random aim I shoot. 15
Whole troops of youths impious roam about;
Therefore they heedless love, or not at all.
You want that I should strike this maiden’s heart,
Because you cannot break her with your groans?
Then take my blindfold off, that with freed eyes 20
I might direct my purposed arrow now.”
Thus spake the boy and I began by hand
To take the blindfold from his bright blue eyes,
That he could take her with his certain dart.
Then inspiration and relentless fear 25
Bade me to hold my so incautious hand.
“O you’d remove your darkness with our help,
O tricky love, O boy so insolent?
If you should see my girl, then certainly
You’d be inflamed by her, and her inflame 30
Towards you, deceitful Cupid, and not me.”
You whom Mars’ great-hearted Cimbria king
Alike and father owns and now recalls,
Moved by deep awe, scarce snatched from home and our
Shores scarce arrived, since so much joy you bring
Why have you shone so sparingly alas? 5
Why, just come, leave? Already your fleet sails
And from our shores you race the deep blue sea.
But if I worthy pray and Britain knows
The right gods to beseech, the flood will stay,
Your empty sails not fill with any wind, 10
Your hulls decline to go. From you Great Prince,
I ask this boon: decline to hear the winds
If sails are called. What offers you the world
More sweet? Why Cimbria prefer to us?
For you here regal dread and vast grace sure, 15
Here your great brother lives, here kisses you
Your sister dear, hugs you an eager prince.
But since you love your land, since envies us
Cimbria and the days pledged anxious counts,
I pray that Neptune’s trident pry her up 20
And bring her boundaries nigh within our sea,
Or with you let sail Britain happy midst
The flood and join her shores to Cimbrian fields.
My prayers are not impossible. You’ve done
The world more wonders yet, you nature’s lights, 25
You twin kings and twinned likeness of the sun.
To join the west to eastern lands, to change
The earth, far redoubts crush, and overturn
The heaven’s certain laws is lesser than
To prove the faith of kings and minds unite — 30
Or else to show you two to wondering earth.
O once a lad, and now a star on high,
O once a lad, why did the hastening fates
Snatch you from earth? Kinder a gift to keep
Than take it back. Irksome the hope and joys
The Fates without the proper omen gave, 5
That they’d but in our grief ungodly joy.
Just as bright Eos shines raised from the waves,
Just as a bud grows full in Hybla’s mead,
If Boreas smites the bloom, if rain the sun,
You fell, sweet boy, your fading lights now hid 10
Within sad cloud. Why, Cupids, groaned you not?
O progeny of kings, ripe from first years,
Too worthied by the skies, mind free from cares,
Ta’en from our ills and happy in your death,
If only you don’t hear your land’s lament. 15
O progeny of kings, the third lily’s
Now gone. Behold your brother’s purple groan
In sad array, your august mother mad,
The mob unbidden beat its breast with grief.
O spurn these tears, I pray, from heaven’s height 20
Not come back to your life. That you might shine
Serene above, are we here stained with tears?
What worthy wish for grieving land dare beg
I worth your joy? Let death dare not return
To your home, snatching victims to the sky, 25
Confound the pious faces of the folk.
But I bear answered prayers: Your brother’s ours
For ages, wishing stars and heights in vain,
Condemned fore’er to rule his native shores.
O you provincial and repulsive girl,
As fancy as, O girl, you think yourself,
O you with unattractive purple nose,
O you whose little lip all puffy gets,
As if they’ve both been baked by Libyan sand, 5
Why wear so many fancy brands upon
Your saucy breasts? And what about that jewel
That you’ve stuck shining in your bright red hair?
Is that what you, Camella, styling call?
Why dress like that? O Camella, you fail. 10
Whoever sees you and your shabby show
Asks that the gods should smite the horrid girl
Who those adornments wretchedly defiles.
This morning when I went to leave my room,
I careless struck the doorcase crown and base,
To the ruin of my forehead and my toe.
In my state of confusion, first of all,
Appeared an Ethiopian, hair on end. 5
I wretched looked about and then I quaked,
Lightning seeing and some birds to my right,
Naught but an ominous sign to my left.
Not just calamity nor simple death
The gods wished to portend with all these threats, 10
But much more grave indeed and more severe,
Alas they savaged me! For Camella,
Whom, I think, for a year I had not seen,
Appeared vile in my fright, and insolent
Demanded kisses after all this time. 15
This house, to pleasant intrigue witness, lent
Augustus often discreet assistance,
When lust ruled desire, when joys imprudent
Nigh a dangerous couch alas united.
Aflame one dreadful night it spread great fears, 5
As roaring flames bore smoke up to the stars!
On evil wings swooped ever nearer ruin;
A savage roar went through the house entire.
He, fearing flame, witness, and neighbors’ shouts,
Betook his freezing limbs from blazing room, 10
Just as from burning Troy arose to arms
Aeneas, tipped off, Hector, by your shade,
As unware stranger stunned by Aetna’s fires,
When that mount sudden fires its ruddy hearths.
No room for thought, thought suited not for fear; 15
It sways intrepid men to grasp their arms.
Thus was he addled, like Ajax fled from
Danaan ships, affright at great Jove’s blast.
He didn’t stop to wrap his tunic wide,
Nor gather with fringed belt his tumid lap, 20
But poorly wrapped a robe around his waist
And off he hastened in his naked flight.
But as he fled both men and fire, his feet
Slipped (pity!) in the filthy water’s sludge,
His dignity plopped wretched in a ditch. 25
Nor was a lictor there to clear his way.
“Ye gods,” he cried, “two powers torment me?
Enough it is to die by flood or fire.
Enough that in a swirl of flames we’ve purged,
Mars and Venus, the Lemnian god’s wrath.” 30
Once happy with the prince’s lust
When she was all he cared to have,
Nape grieved that pretty Chloe
Was cuddled in this prince’s hugs,
Devouring all his rich kisses, 5
When the young prince later left her.
She flew into a rage, resolved
To lay hands on the little whore.
Just like an Amazon at war,
Clearing her bloody paths with steel, 10
Ferocious Nape made a charge
As Chloe’s coach was driving off.
And since she rode on lofty wheels,
The battle thus would be on horse.
“Giddap!” cried Nape to her man, 15
Scarce able to control her words.
“Giddap! crash into Chloe’s cart.
Go now, attack, and lots of luck!”
He did, and steering Chloe’s course
He locked his axles up with hers. 20
Stay axles! If one of you falls,
The ground will be severely harmed.
By Cupid king! How seemed Nape
On seeing Chloe? And Chloe,
Trembling when Nape’s cart hit hers? 25
What artist could have portrayed that?
Their rage was not confined to words
Expressed, and soon they took to arms.
Now faces livid scratched by nails,
Their breasts glowed livid, hammering. 30
They tore at eyes, and piles of hair
Their rage in taking turns destroyed.
The coachmen flailed away with whips,
The servants jibes and taunts exchanged.
No Roman aedile made such show 35
As Venus in Alexandria.
O day born under evil star!
Alas the battle stained with blood,
From which for these unhappy dames
No drop of shamefast blood remained! 40
And now I go back home, leave Phoebus’ halls,
Halls splendid joined by winding golden stairs.
Am I insane? I’ll lose my nicer home.
I’ll be midst waters false, like Tantalus,
An exile, in paternal hugs bereaved. 5
Alas the sad words from me in my joy!
O Phoebus mighty, you omnipotent,
Let hope attained my distant sojourns soothe.
As this pale summer chills you, Phoebus gone,
Thus your star near, the winter will grow warm. 10
O lucky Megadorus, age’s gem,
Forbear if I bring counsel you’ve not sought.
We all dare give advice. The crowd’s entered
The court entire; you must forgive the age.
You’ve, lucky Megadorus, found your son 5
A wife and your daughter-in-law a spouse.
Why do three hundred bridegrooms crowd your hall
Along with their three hundred pretty girls?
Why make so many nuptuals all at once?
Do you seek thanks? Give a more certain gift. 10
Fate is doubtful. Perhaps things will go wrong.
Do you seek votes? They’ll give more than you want.
(The fates forbid this omen should come true!)
That half the spouses might be satisfied,
Three hundred husbands have to curse the day.
You won’t last long, Camella, take my word.
What’s good for you within these earthly realms?
If only you would put your wretched life
Within a noose or lose your corpse in waves
That would for once at least give it a bath! 5
Those yet to come will set up cults to you!
You’ll be happy in your coming death!
As Phoebe, goddess of envenomed guile,
Is much invoked in far Thessalian field,
Like Theft or rampant Lust, both ruling gods 10
Whom men have made, controlling all their lives,
To you a temple, altars, will be built,
And you’ll, Camella, be goddess of shames.
This is how my Camella looks:
She unfolds thickly her broad gut
To heavy limbs, a scrawny neck
Bears up beneath her chunky knob.
Her body’s short, not ebony 5
But more like green, like olives old
From Athena’s most noble trees.
Her eyes are red, her teeth are gold,
Her lips are fat and so’s her brain.
The girl’s not lighter than a cork. 10
Ye gods, please grant the boon I beg,
That who hates me loves Camella.
A troop of flighty hares who live amidst
Newmarket’s Fields, unhid in shady glades,
We write these lines, O King. Upon them smile,
Just as you do the hounds you greet and calm
When they alas come panting from our deaths. 5
Because our ranks from countless deaths grow thin
In your presence, and tinge the earth with blood,
Don’t think the dogs’ rage and their nimble paws
Do this, their howling jaws that snap the wind.
There are fields and room for flight, swift fears, 10
Always the dread of death and lust for life.
Yet we regret we fled. ‘Twere sweet to die
O Prince, and at your nod to bear the bites
Of eager dogs. O greatest of all kings,
The first house sees you at the surging light, 15
The last house at the setting of the sun,
All bow their heads to you, all you beseech,
All purple yields to Caledonian sword.
Therefore, O He beneath whose weighty nod
Shakes lesser nature and tyrants tremble, 20
Upon our deaths it’s worthy to look too!
O gods, let fate suffice, our noble death
We’d not escape. Let foreign beasts likewise
Come join our throng and willing die with us.
Wherever it is rent by bursting sea, 25
Facing a foreign shore, our island cries,
“O happy land where ‘neath so great a king
The beasts are pleased to die, the men to live.”
Harder, O girl, than any stone,
Deafer, O girl, than any sea,
Whom rival Cupid long has feared,
Groaning wretched that those good shafts
He plucked from his laureled quiver, 5
Snapped by the hardness of your side,
Alas, alas, stern virgin, fail.
How can you claim such innocence
While shamelessly you credit take
For this slaughter? Why win so fierce? 10
Why such cruel disdain extend?
This laurel does not suit your brow.
Alas the many souls that roam
Stygian gloom too soon and tell
Your harshness to the judges there, 15
Whom, ‘tis said, will avenge disdain
For men and maids in Tartarus.
Perhaps those judges, too, once loved,
Can pity take, and will not let
The lovers’ biers go unavenged. 20
Be careful, girl, if you should wish
To mollify those powers stern.
You see that I’ve been borne to hell
By the great wound you’ve given me.
More gently now, less harsh at least, 20
I pray, give solace as I fall,
That, when I die, I will oppose
Your dead lovers, and tell the gods,
Those hanging judges so severe,
“Sweeter than honey was my girl, 30
Alluring as a star she was,
Yet harder and more obstinate
That girl once was than any stone.”
I asked Venus, “How come this boy
Has tied a bandage o’er his eyes?
How come, Cypriot, Cupid hid
Such fair eyes underneath this veil?
With sadness she began to speak. 5
“A king once was my Cupid here.
As king, charm, elegance, beauty
Shining, delight and grace were his,
The youth all worshipped him as king.
A white turban circled his brow, 10
His hand a scepter never lacked,
But when that hand his swift bow seized.
While thus he revelled decorous,
Frighting and ruling lands and stars,
Alas, fate led him to your girl. 15
He stopped dead in his tracks, anger
Or envy tinged his wretched face,
Alas, a little boy subdued!
When beat and lost he sensed himself,
And gazing on her lovely face, 20
He damned her lips and royal state.
“Come now, death’s shades, come now,” he said.
“Let now my shame me swallow up,
Lest seeing me some wicked god
Insult me, or that conquering girl.” 25
This said, the poor boy veiled his eyes
And, with his turban, swollen grief.
Fierce battle’s site, long war’s arduous home,
And, while heaven’s divorce long raged in doubt,
Mad suit of gods, by flaming arms at last
I’m crushed, worn out. Put down your plaint and wrath,
Perverse heaven dwellers. In captive dust 5
I turn sad ash, nor dares the victor rest.
What nation, alas, has not felt my fall?
I called men from all sides, and strewed their biers.
When whole I was unknown. Now miserable
I’ll live through my fall, added to the great 10
Cities, grudging Troy’s fame. It isn’t much.
I fought my fate; I’ll go now to the shades,
My land already rapt by raging waves,
In ruins, and used up for my people’s tombs.
I don’t bewail my fall; I’m only glad 15
That I could roof my men. Fame won’t ignore
This tomb, and many who survived will groan.
When stars, fate, flames and steel
In one blow struck me down,
I said I had no more to fear,
No place for second wounds.
But by the stars and fruitful wiles 5
Of fate in my downfall!
The worst of evils comes to me,
O wretch, an inept poet.
Who stops your dirge, Ostend? It’s fit for you to grieve.
It suits your mien to voice death’s measures sad.
Death’s honor you’ll not lack, nor fame due to your pyre;
Do as you will, now rend and tear your hair.
Yes, tear your hair and pay your soldiers worthy sighs, 5
Alas inferior against such evils!
And if you’re silent, yet the entire world will wail,
And scarce the Spaniard’s eyes will remain dry.
You’ll give the world a new fable, and heroes too,
Made like the Theban or the Trojan work. 10
Whenever the last light dims late upon your fame,
I think will be the end of humankind.
Those swallowed by the earth, those sunk deep in the sea,
Will cry that they’ve been crushed by blows like yours.
And when the Dog Star fierce will burn the nations up, 15
They’ll say plague Ostend struck with that same heat.
I don’t ban tears; don’t keep on pressing that old charge.
Within our breast there’s a more kindly sense.
I had only complained that, with the late defeat,
You’d chosen, imitative, the same sounds 20
With which Evander Turnus cursed, and Trojan barbs,
When Amata herself hung with her shawl.
Those savage ages, with their harsh words, have vanished.
Why did you choose to write in a dead style?
Or am I wrong? Did death teach you the tongue of shades, 25
The language of the Stygian forum?
It’s not a troubling task for me, it’s not,
Which Phoebus and the poets all
Attempted with their lyres to fabricate,
How Venus looked when she came forth
Upon the Phrygian mount and routed there 5
The goddesses, or how did bathe
Herself Diana in her sacred springs.
Or how with glowing lovely face
Put Pallas down her helmet and her shield
And joined the gentle Muses all. 10
Or how their hair Aurora and Juno
Accomplished curled with iron warm,
When one would beauty flaunt to Cephalus,
The other lure her errant spouse.
But much more glorious than all these things 15
O gods, is that task left for me,
A task untouched, O gods, by all the poets:
The eyes and lips of my mistress
That I should try to show with my bold strings.
When Cupid my announcement heard, 20
He mocking laughed and from his little wings
He summoned up applause and said:
“O you’re far and away too innocent,
Don’t you think that’s been tried before?
Not just by anyone among the bards 25
But Phoebus and alike all poets
Have tried to picture this with all their strings.
To sing my mother’s loveliness,
With which Phrygian judge she held in hand,
Or Diane in her limpid spring, 30
How beautiful Minerva’s lips did shine
When she joined with the Muses all,
How Aurora and Juno curled their hair
So artfully with the warm iron,
Is this not your mistress’ charms to show? 35
Does this not tell your mistress’ loveliness?”
Halt traveller, your way; behold a woeful tomb.
Come mourn a bit; you won’t cause any grief.
This maid had not yet lived beyond four times five years,
Whom earth here covers sadly with soft dust.
But death, who grants to souls the years that they can have, 5
But death, who’s blind, thought that she was too old.
While with her friends she passed the time in dances pure,
A wicked fever seized her happy soul.
Why do her parents weep, and why weep we, her friends?
Is she not in heaven’s vault more lovely? 10
Perhaps her fate forseeing, and the rites due her,
On a swan’s byre joyous she wished to die.
Hand me the incense, boy, and you, priest, frame the words,
For now we make rites sacred to our gods.
Let those keep hence whom wicked crimes of guilty life
Or occult promises bid fear the gods.
I bear prayers openly, bid that they come to pass, 5
O gods, if I ask not invidious things.
Mostly, I pray, pure let me at your altars stand,
Let be my special task to worship you,
That which my parents have tended sacred to me,
My mind wish not my fathers to condemn. 10
Troubled I’d not question why virtue’s base on earth,
Crime’s valued, why the poles don’t roar with fire.
Let me such weighty wisdom worry not too much,
Pride makes a pious mind not much concern.
My home be calm, my children happy and my wife, 15
My burdens dear my income not outpace.
Let no one me deceive in friendship’s divine name,
Let none friendship repay with injuries.
Let judge and irksome guest my leisure not bear off,
Leisure more suited to Castalian dance. 20
Let poverty compel me not for wealth to lie,
Desperate pleas with praise to intermix.
Let sleep come easy, which money never disturbs,
May faithful friends not let my days be long.
My table let be gay, my wife with me e’er laugh. 25
O gods! Let me remember I’m a man.
Let me seek not nor fear to die, but always joy
With trouble blend, though not too much nor long.
Let age be glad, when fate resolves all finally,
Let my lute’s reputation stand intact. 30
But that’s enough, I’ve pleased the gods. The flames flare up,
And laurel crackles on the unstained hearths.
I am a new god of new construction,
A Power born these days, O traveller,
Because I’d guard the markets born these days.
Therefore old Fraud and old Laverna, too
And you as well, saucy boy, old Cupid, 5
Wicked chap who among goods up for sale
Considers even women merchandise—
Stay far away, since by the recent care
Of those who’ve placed me here, this house, sacred
To Mercury and to the honest mind, 10
A chaste lad, I do upright oversee.
Perhaps when many seasons yet these stones
And me will have given another hue,
I, too, will be corrupt from ancient frauds,
And just like you in nature and in age 15
I’ll ask you then beneath my gracious roofs.
Rejoice ye gods and goddesses on high,
Rejoice ye in between and below too,
As well the many gods poets have made,
And you especially, blessed Clio,
Guarding all the poets with your power.
Now angry with me, Camella is wild,
Right now she’s not offering me her hand,
Her pretty little mouth, and stinking breath.
Anything more pleasant and more charming
Has this girl, wont to be unpleasant, done? 10
Because Camella with your powers wants
To be angry, O gods and goddesses,
Not eager on your altars incense place,
Or her disgusting kisses to bestow,
Then will you rejoice, gods and goddesses, 15
Then will your altars please you all the more,
Then you will cherish your fanes all the more.
Then this will be the voice of all the gods,
“Nothing more pleasant and more charming,
Has this girl, wont to be unpleasant, done.” 20
O prettier than Camella’s mother
Really should be, O unlucky mother,
Whence, o whence got Camella her nose,
Her forehead, breast, her hand, as well her hair?
Since Camella has none of these from you, 5
Your parenting almost denied by looks,
Since you are pretty, bright, and full of charm,
If you can remember, then tell me please,
Which ugly father gave Camella life?
Iris, famed for your slanting rays that bind
Olympus, and Juno who sends black clouds
And shakes at will the rumbling heaven’s heights,
Tell me, what are you up to with the clouds?
Where’s Auster, and Zephyr who light airs whirls 5
Blustering and strokes the new growth with his rain?
Earth dries and Phoebus barren kills new grass,
And then the nights, agleam with sluggish cold,
Destroy what vines, crops, fodder that day spared.
Ye gods! Both Scythian toils and Libyan 10
Upon our people fall with monstrous doom?
Yet here and there, curled in long fleece, gather
Clouds oft, and lightning flashes from the sky.
Swallows scrape earth, many fish from the stream
Flash and with their leap new waves forecast. 15
Alas! While earth opes wide her burning mouths
With thirst, and we await the rains desired,
Behold! fierce Boreas from Scythian door
Sweeps up the sky and drinks alas our frosts.
Thus thirsts midst waters, hung by fleeting shades, 20
Tantalus, bites in vain the empty air.
Meanwhile, great dread in mortals thunderstruck,
And not just plague. Now burns in veins hot fire,
Here temples are by unseen motion pulsed.
There calm is rare, there languidly hearts faint, 25
And eyes are pressed in sluggish slumber tight.
If care for mankind now seems vile to you,
O ye above, then spare at least your nymphs.
No grass grows where they lie, where worn they bathe
Their breasts, no spring runs in its wonted whirl. 30
Why pleases you men, nymphs, and herds to doom
With like blows, Nature’s laws to overturn?
Much rather, dewy Powers, our prayers
Grant. Altars with rites elaborate farmers
Will raise, give to Minerva wine and oil, 35
Whate’er the year from your clouds will return.
Just cover bleaching Phoebus with thick clouds,
Let rain with gentle breezes loitering
Nurture the fields, let warm nights soak the grass
With kind dew, which cold Eurus won’t dry up 40
With swirls, or Boreas wild from Getic caves.
Lest yet (O gods) with too much gift our soil
Auster hide, let Phoebus not our plaints hear,
For from a soaked sky he must clouds recall.
Mistress of the nations, Queen of the turgid deep,
Mighty in Mars and of a great purpose aware,
What misfortunes could I have feared, what wars or gods?
What limits to my arms, my rule complete, not lamed,
If I in battles my raw power had expressed? 5
I would have brought fierce ‘neath my law what Sol has seen
At dawn, high noon, and evening, but with dire wound
Fate had partitioned my insides, with bloody slash
My viscera, to raise in me self hatreds vile,
Bestow twin names, and as many scepters, alas. 10
How oft then when I bloodless was while my split hearts
Endured, when coalblack ran the blood upon our limbs,
Whom have I scattered with my own hands! Did I then
Wish or mad seek after my death so soon? Long since
I would have died but gods forbade. Cease now your cares, 15
O ye above. My insides are in harmony;
Now single, I am named one. Scarce any scarring
Betrays the wound. The king, tending thus everything,
Scarce lets disorders be recalled. ‘Neath such a force
As I’d heal, it helps to have ailed. ‘Neath such a force 20
I’ll be the whole orb’s world and scarce an island mere.
What’s this, Charia, glory of the sisters
Who occupy the twin-peaked mountain’s groves,
O judge and glory of the sacred law?
Is it that joyous days flee to your feet’s
Auspice, by clouds to be covered over, 5
And hide their faces ‘neath a curtain dark?
O stronger this than Thessalian venom,
That you can by your foot’s modest anguish
Command the clouds forthwith into the sky!
Ah let proud Juno not get wind of this, 10
Who rules Boreas both and Auster warm.
Would she her realms to enter suffer you?
Nay, flee rather from her envy, and cease
Of your foot’s anguish to be credulous.
Or let the gods and goddesses above 15
Make your foot well, and therefore take away
That wicked gripping grief that brings the rains.
The war, o Muses, tell about the war
Of all too martial fowl once wont with song
To summon up the light, the violet dawn,
As well the prowling lions to fright away
And spectral shapes that haunt the dark of night. 5
Thus stand they guard atop Parnassus’ peak
And with their ringing songs they’ll wake you up
If someone bold from fold of similar name
Would take up arms against the Delphic shrine.
There is a place raised up on little posts 10
By skilful hand shaped into spacious ring
To settle matters in dispute with blood,
For savage cocks a war-like threshing floor.
They do not there put down the thirsty sand
That keeps the wounds and all the blood concealed. 15
Straw flaxen and made tight by knot and weave
They bear in for a battleground more fit,
That should not hinder the profoundest step,
Nor wickedly betray rushing assaults.
Around (for here are seated weighty folks) 20
The theatre rises up in curving steps,
Where after the unruly crowd has sat
In fickle zeal, and everyone has prayed
To gods duly invoked for his own bird,
Then both the cocks are freed from covered cage 25
And in the light sees each his dreaded foe.
You’d know long-practised athletes by their guise
That strode into their ’customed battleground,
For the splendour of their combs and ruddy cheeks
Have cautiously been trimmed by practiced shears, 30
Lest enemy could seize them with his beak
And with a mighty peck obtain the prize.
No ostentation too of scythed tail,
Lest during the heated combat torn away
It be a treacherous bar to agile legs. 35
How martial was these fighters’ elegance!
Scarce having gauged by eye the foe in turn,
Aroused to battle they array themselves.
Both shake their necks and fan far out their plumes,
Just like a lion would shake his threat’ning mane. 40
You’d think this fight was urged by ancient hate,
And war was now declared between the birds.
Now here, now there the rage, and with short flight
The stormy fighters slash each other’s breast,
Just like the ram assails the ’sieged walls, 45
Which hidden works brings forward to the attack.
They batter each other’s breast with frequent blows
And slash so often (o this manly tribe!).
Finally their wearied strength begins to fail,
Although so resolute in heart and limbs, 50
And with an open throat they gasp the air.
But stubborn pride of warriors hot to fight
Allows them not to tire circling in the ring.
Pride seeks a place for planting cruel wounds.
O what a talent for ferocity! 55
Now hasten they to advance with shorter leaps,
And as if taught they now fall skilfully back.
They aim for eyes, and slash all savagely,
Fighting even with a fiery glare.
Such courage we may well believe prevailed 60
In Trojan Hector’s oh so mighty heart,
Or while the Giants curse the very stars,
Or while great Jupiter protects the stars
And drives the Giants off with bolts so hot.
Nor did this haughty courage lack all guile: 65
Now this one, then the other flees the foe,
And whosoever flees, he droops his wings
With which he now sweeps clean unsteady tracks.
Thus when you’d think him beaten, suddenly
He rushes in with powers all restored, 70
Then back he flees. The other in his turn
Takes to flight, not waiting Fortune’s will.
So you, warlike Horatius, likewise did,
When you held Roman fates in governing hand.
You fled as if so filled with feignèd fear. 75
That knight of wretched Alba close pursued,
Whom you laid low in fearsome turnabout
And brought sad ruin on his fatherland.
Ye gods, why did you give mere mortal frames
To such great spirits? Left in them by now 80
There was no voice, no colour, but alone
Such hardy resolution as they join,
Raging, in final union (o glorious fate!).
Thus soaked in his own and the other’s gore,
Each falls with honour, united with his foe. 85
They lie, they pant, they toss their heads on high,
You’d wonder if their spirits still survived
Remembering war, or if their noble hearts
Beat weary at their fast approaching death.
Of all this courage and ferocity 90
Of these two fowls who lately fought this duel,
No statues of the deed, no feeble faith
Of ancient fame, no useless poet’s pride
Have told the tale. Nor did mere chance
Arouse up all this rage. But what a prize 95
Was waiting there for this so glorious fight!
How righteous was the ardour of these cocks!
How noble was that death, when once they saw
You, Britannic Lord, escaping for a while
Your kingly cares, were watcher of their war. 100
Perhaps they were to you fresh sacrifices made.
Perhaps, Great King, these warlike fowl then felt
The glories of their warlike pageantry,
And thought they died a very worthy death.
“Painter,” I said, “paint my face faithfully;
This canvas will endure for many days.”
The painter complied, and with pots arranged
He said, “Let your words therefore my hand guide.”
“First,” I said, “set me in a holy place, 5
As if I’m in a temple or my home.
My look not common make with vulgar wrap,
My gown let not be showy with excess,
Use modest styles my husband would approve.
Above all let no color false my face, 10
For Arab none nor Spaniard lent our mien.
Nor does my hand tresses borrowed affix.
My man next me, on whom I’ll set an eye
That modesty does not allow to budge.
Make my face testify no goddess’ charms 15
Are preferrable to our marriage couch.
Don’t make my face the sort that pines with love
Unfilled, but shines with love proportionate.
Add Flora’s image, too, and Minerva’s
The skillful. These are Powers great to me. 20
Paint finally our hearth, children at play,
One to my hand clings, one hangs from my lap.
When these shapes you’ll have rendered, put no names,
As painters once in their crude work would do.
Enough my image ‘neath to write these lines: 25
Here are the true pledges of my spirit.
No wife was more beloved of her husband,
No wife her husband ever more adored.”