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THE OBSEQUIES OF THAT RIGHT FAMOUS KNIGHT SIR PHILIP SIDNEY, PERFORMED IN HONOR OF HIS MOST DEAR MEMORY AND NAME
PRINTED AT OXFORD BY JOSEPH BARNES
A. D. 1587
TO THE MOST EXCELLENT SIR ROBERT DUDLEY, EARL OF LEICESTER, GOVERNOR OF THE ALLIED PROVINCES OF THE NETHERLANDS WHICH ARE UNDER THE PROTECTION OF OUR MOST SERENE QUEEN ELIZABETH, AND COMMANDER OF THE ENGLISH FORCES THERE, BARON OF DENBIGH, KNIGHT OF THE ORDERS OF ST. GEORGE AND ST. MICHAEL &c., MOST EXCELLENT AND APPROVED CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD OUR MOTHER, GREETINGS
HIS little book, most excellent Earl, has finally put an end to the profound silence which we displayed at the most bitter death of that divine man, Philip Sidney, your most beloved nephew, not out of any indolence , but because of the incredible dimensions of our grief; it also signals the beginning of the testimony of our zeal, devotion, duty, and piety towards the both of you, the living and the dead, according to our academic manner of expression. I do not say that we should not have displayed our sorrow in the midst of this great sorrow of yours, and of all orders of society, but that we could not. For what monstrosity of mind or sloth of body could have affected us that we would not be most keenly pierced by the sense of his so grievous loss? Although there is no need to erase any suspicion of apathy, there may still be some need to apologize for our tardiness. But why should they fear any rebuke for experiencing less sorrow than is their duty, when their very sorrow silenced their voice? The women of Troy mourned Hector most piteously. But what was the sobbing of these Trojan women in comparison to the silence of Hecuba? Thus our silence, especially in such a great catastrophe, is both proof our great sorrow and most legitimate excuse for our slowness. For we confess, and even proclaim, most illustrious Earl, that, as customarily occurs in human experience when some great reversal has been incurred, so that when men are overwhelmed by the very weight of the calamity they are lest certain of what to do or what plan to adopt, albeit such is then most needful, when the death of your Sidney and ours, never adequately to be deplored, was announced, we suffered the same thing. For, bereft of so great a man, losing such a great ornament and bulwark of letters, we were stricken in mind and virtually laid prostrate, and for a long time a sad silence came over the tongues and minds of us all. And if there were some who, when their grief had abated somewhat, committed their lamentations to paper; they bethought themselves of singing for themselves and their Muses rather than devising and publishing an open exhibition of their sorrow. For each man had his attention more focused on the cause of his grieving than on its form, and considered how much, rather than in what manner, he should mourn. And assuredly sorrow makes a poor instructor in matters of decorum. And so as we were staring at each other in mute sorrow, at length that most accomplished and fine man, your chaplain Dominus James, offered himself as a leader and chief mover in doing this duty. And although his plan was received with the greatest approbation by common consent, both because of the considerable time that had now passed and because we thought ourselves incapable of producing anything of the kind suitable for the dignity of the occasion, and were daily expecting an account of this most excellent man’s life and death to appear, the project was postponed entirely. But since none of those who could best do so produced any account, and our Fabius remained fixed of purpose, not ceasing to admonish us, finally, as it were, “by delaying he retrieved the situation.” And indeed he asked me, or rather compelled me by his urgings, that I supervise this, so speak, ambassadorial effort of the University, that I take in hand the management of these memorial observances for your most brave nephew and bring them to completion, and that with lugubrious solemnity I bring them before your eyes. I was persuaded to undertake this task, in the first place, by the influence of that most worthy gentleman, and by my affection for the University, and also most particularly by my regret for the dead hero, by my duty towards you as a member of the academic community, and by the favors you have both shown for me. For I thought that an occasion, scarcely inopportune, had been offered me for seeming, if not exactly to repay, at least to repay in part the both of you for the moderate favor he had shown me, and not only for the long-standing and lavish benevolence with which your Excellency has always treated my two uncles, the Cordells, but also for your notable kindness to me, thanks to which I am to this day a son of our College. Therefore, most noble Sidney, in the name of my priestly duty I ask and implore you to deign look down placidly from heaven and witness the obsequies which the University, our dearest mother, is performing for you; and, most honorable Earl, in our united names I beg you not to think that these rites we perform are untimely: for what can be done late which ought not be done once, but annually? And indeed it fell out most opportunely that, after her most loving maternal aunt had shed her copious tears and some among us had also woven him a shroud, the University his mother should occupy the last position, which is the most honorable among mourners, the place of the chief mourner, and should perform the full obsequies for her own son. I beg you not to think that these exequies will be more elaborate for coming after the passage of nearly a year. For they are not newly devised by us, but rather each of us has refurbished those which he wrote in his own chambers as they occurred to him at the first outpouring of his grief. And I have no qualms that they will be considered too few in number, since in undertaking this task nothing has been more troublesome than risking being overwhelmed by the number and throng of the mourners. Therefore I have not included within this number offerings in Hebrew, Greek, French, Italian, and even more than a few Latin items, lest it swell into a huge volume. There is no need to employ more words entreating you Excellency that with your glance you will dignify this funeral procession as it goes by. For whatever measure of honor belongs to this form of piety pertains both to the glory of that man among the dead, and to your own consolation as you exist among the living. I pray God, most illustrious Earl, that, just as you lived at leisure with the greatest of dignity, so in this task you have undertaken, so important for yourself and the nation, you may conduct yourself not only with no danger, but also with the highest degree of glory and prosperity. Farewell. From Christ Church, Oxford, October 22, 1587.
Most devoted to your Excellency,
I wholeheartedly thank Cambridge, I was a guest there, and it offered me its welcome hospitality. Now that I am dead, it has honored me with its tears, and after my death it blesses me, urging me to live on in death. What can I say to Oxford, my mother? Or what can I repay her for giving me great rivers of her pure milk? What can I repay her? Naked I lie, I have no gold to hand. What can I say? I am tongue-tied, mute and silent. I do not await your prayers, nor your praises, I have mounted up to to my Father, Paradise possesses me. I am doing what is permitted: on your behalf my spirit prays that peace be in your Schools for all time.
Now my life has no ending, my fame is eternal. This glory of both universities remains.
Legend has it that Numa’s wife dissolved into rivers of tears when he died, as did Byblis for her brother, though mother Niobe (for whose sorrow tears were not enough) was transformed into stone, but in such a way that she might stand as a monument to her eternal sorrow, for in its own time marble too has its tears. Let other Muses bewail Philip as a brother and husband, for he was their hope and their glory. It befalls Oxford alone to mourn him as a child taken off by fate, she alone was blessed by having given him birth. Let others weep at his tomb, she keeps her sorrow locked up in her heart, her motherly womb serves as his grave. Light sorrow speaks, but heavy sorrow is silent: the one wishes its grief to be seen, whereas the other grieves without a witness.
My sorrow speaks mutely, and the well-known cause of my mourning makes it well known that my grief cannot be matched with words, nor can be sufficiently matched by tears, even if my grief exceeds due measure and my tears, as if shed in a great rain, surpass the waters of the Thames and makes them overflow their banks. Now at length I am obliged to attest this same grief with my words, and make it well known with my weeping.
For, just as silent grief is greater, and as he who grieves without a witness grieves in truth, whereas a lighter emotion summons up eloquent tears, and the mourning of a mother, her face veiled, has surpassed that of those whom the ancients have depicted with tear-stained faces, nevertheless, since the common folk measure emotion by words and grief by tears, let me employ lesser evidence to betoken my greater grief, and publicly shed tears from my marble. My very foundations will speak, my chapels, Schools and spires will fill the world with great wails, the stones which make up myself and my consecrated colleges will pour forth tears before my Philip, nourished on my milk, will be called the son of anyone else, and before I (sad beyond all grieving) lose the reputation and glory of being his mother, for I was his true mother.
For it is enough that he has been lost, nothing more needed to be added to the death of such a beloved son to make me wholly wretched, because he was taken off in the very flower of his youth, he who had created such hope as a young shoot.
When I see the lively image of him in his youth, which is never unwelcome to me, he who as a lad was wont to dwell in Christ Church and happily hang from my breasts, so as to drink the Muses’ milk and the liquor of the fountain of Parnassus, he who lived in my Athens, how cheated I seem to be of my hope! What my golden child, my truly golden son, promised to himself, to me, the Muses, the Court of our learned sovereign, his family and his nation as a tender shoot, how much that was (and this age cannot acknowledge how much it was, posterity will add up the sum), this all has been cut off by fate in the flower of his youth. The Parcae, to whom everything mortal is subject, saw he was destined to be immortal, if his crop would grow to ripeness. And yet in a thing concerning which they wished to cheat our hopes, they themselves are cheated: the plant and the bloom have not withered so that they exist no more. Sidney’s virtue will flourish for many years, his crop will have its honor.
For we see the autumn fruit in Philip’s springtime, and a greater prudence has accrued to him in his youth than commonly comes from many years’ experience. Who was better known to foreign men? Who more distinguished at their Courts? Who has visited more cities, more places like Athens? Who has done more to cultivate the Muses? Who else was more cultivated than they themselves? For surely the Muses fear lest they die in him, since in his talent they seem truly to have lived. There was great expectation indeed for this young man, but the lad proved greater than expected. He outran his times: the plant had its flower, and the flower its fruit. What would his advanced age not have witnessed, unless the Fates had unexpectedly denied the earth such a bright light, and set it in heaven?
I scarcely trust myself, when I reflect with a silent mind; and I scarcely trust others, when they speak of his character’s rare endowments, he was so seen to possess an intellect more than human, he was so known to possess a judgment beyond his years, he was so worthy to be reckoned the Pandora of the Muses, the Pandora of the three goddesses, that you may believe these things which surpass normal understanding transcend belief, and seem smaller because they are greater.
The entire body of my men had their eyes fixed on this one man, that he might at length be an ornament to our Athens, and for me his mother’s sake might defend my rights, under attack by a profane crew, right deserving to ship its newborn sons off to the Indies rather than have the Muses suffer a blow under the rule of our learned Queen, who argue that the Muses have no private rights, albeit this has been granted by sovereigns themselves.
Born as he was, he was worthy to be Leicester’s heir, whose honors he seemed to me to be grasping in his hand at the time when he came as the Earl’s companion, nevermore to be seen, though he departed intending to see me again.
Now what ocean will suffice for my tears, what words for my sorrow? What good in weeping, when the cause requires a grief that transcends tears? By weeping I do not seem able to satisfy a mother’s emotion, but if I remain silent I see the name and glory of motherhood taken away from me. Therefore I must both weep and maintain my silence, so as to seem what I am, his dearest mother, and yet because I am his mother this weeping cannot satisfy my great my love, nor can this weeping satisfy my great sorrow.
So come now, you sons of the Muses, dear to me, thrice-dear to Philip, you who have drunk from the Castalian font, open the fountains of our sorrow. Let that which you have sung inwardly to yourselves about Sidney fill all the land, nor limit itself to its shores. Wherever the reputation of your Philip has been wafted, let your sorrow follow at full flood, so that (even if the jealous thread of fate wishes otherwise) he may live on as my son, without whom I scarcely belong to myself, or at least that this glory may remain for me, that he was mine.
Our sister has shed her tears, she has written out her sorrows and already published her dirges. This was done properly, for there are certain times proper for weeping, and a sorrowful song has its place and its praise. A song is often welcome at funerals, death and dole are not at odds. When good men perish, the Church feels its wounds, and a public catastrophe comes by the death of a single man. When a divine man or a trusty prophet is taken off, when a captain, a soldier or a senator departs, when high lords fall, a wise man, an orator, or a hero, Judah’s supports collapse and God Himself sings. What great pillars of this realm have toppled, what kind of men has the British land lost? Lately savage Atropos has robbed me of the Russells, cutting their lives’ thread before their appointed days. The father, excellent for his piety, Lord Bedford, has fallen — alas what a support for his native land! Baron Edward has fallen, his most choice scion, a scion adorned with excellent good qualities. Our John, flourishing in his age and in the Muses, has fallen, the shining star of his noble house. And Francis, Earl and Baron, third in his line, has fallen by Scottish art, alas, a man wholly devoted to Mars. Great God, preserve all the remaining line, multiply the noble seed of Bedford. Now Bromley has died, that supreme judge, a living law, the measure of justice. No Chancellor escapes the death’s cancellation, alas, no Parca is wont to be parsimonious of his life. For it is too late to mourn Bacon, who had preceded him, a man whose well-known reputation flies from mouth to mouth. Now Sadler is dead, who as another Chancellor served sovereigns with his wholesome advice. Lo, that noble scion Philip has died in battle, and a new cause for grieving sorrow is at hand. Sidney’s seed, sprouting and lately turning green, has now withered, that golden lad, as have both of his parents. The line of the Sidneys is truly descended from swans, for it has now given its swan-song. What am I to do? Shall I compose many plaints after so many deaths? Shall I attend their sad tombs with tear-wet cheeks? What am I to do? Shall I put on clothes of mourning and heap myself with ashes? And shall my gloomy dirge pollute their graves? Sidney’s candor would not tolerate clothes of sad color, his Muse desires to speak of reasons for joy. What help is their in mourning? Thalia cannot mourn. What forbids us to rejoice, since death is to be regretted when an evil life has preceded it, when it attends upon an evil life as a black punishment? At Oxford how greatly this lad shone! He was a grammarian, a logician, a rhetor, and a historian. He continued as he began, and completed his studies, mordebatur his finish-line was just the same as his starting gate. Philip was great in judgment, greater in piety, but greatest in intellect, terse in his eloquence. When he followed Mars (to Minerva’s indignation), the blaring bugles and fearsome trumpets, while he kept in mind Alfonso and bore the badge of piety, fighting for God’s law, and for His congregation. He was cut down by missiles: thus, thus it was a fair thing to die. His life was sweet, but it was short. He was not the chick of Mars so much as the child of peace, he was a follower of Mars, but a lover of peace. Were he as fortunate as he was brave, now the English realm would be rejoicing in its captain. Any age you care to name brings forth its Catilines, but a Curius is a rare bird, as is a Cato. The unhappy nettle grows all over the fields, but not every soil has its purple violets. He has run his race, why should he be denied the palm of victory? He fought, fine trophies await the brave. Let tears now cease, he happily lives on after his woundings, sainted in death: let Oxford rejoice. Let Oxford rejoice: he bears Bray aloft and a fair garland covers his student's head. Oh farewell, Sidney, you were an earthly star, but now the stars above possess you. Philip, farewell. O fatherly God, draw out the life’s thread of good men, but, oh good Christ, cut short the days for the bad. Let Elizabeth our sovereign live as long as the crows, our times rarely produce a Phoenix.
If the Cam thus flows wider and more sluggishly, deploring the loss of a man it only knew by repute, if thus you weep, water of Isis, for a man you knew in person, so that now you have run dry for tears, how am I to mourn Philip, who was entrusted to me when he dwelt on your banks, noble Isis; when I see this field, rich and pregnant with its future crop, which lately had been tended by my hand, lying destroyed, ravaged by lightning and its bloom blasted, deprived of its long-promised goods? Your death is no more deplorable than its cause, for you were a child of peace more than of Mars. Religion, piety, learning, modesty, candor, prudent counsel, unblemished faith, these were the virtues that adorned you, these were your true glory. You were not harsh or grim. Since you died by Mars though a child of peace, you, Pallas, quickly gained an wound slow to heal. You fall, alas, like the sun from mid-heaven, tumbling headlong into the westerly waters. Oh Parcae, you most harsh goddesses, would that he had felt your touch either sooner or later! Did he deserve thus to have been snatched by your cruel hand, after having by such care been readied to achieve every great thing? Or if you wished him dead in the very flower of his age, could he not have been stricken down with a gentle hand? What sorrow arises because he could not live long or die an easy death! And what great hope was disappointed! Now, no matter in what grave you lie as a most noble corpse, the tomb itself is ignorant of such great good. Rejoice, earth, in your new guest. You alone receive Philip, who was the excellent glory of this city and of the world.
Grievous sorrow, with what boldness to you provoke my song, long out of practice? Why remind me of Philip’s virtue and deeds, his merits, noble mind, great decorum? Neither my mind nor nature have instructed me to bind my words in strict measures. Why do you at once forbid and inspire me, urge me and hold me back? Why check with your groaning the duties you command? Cease sorrow, no arid talent will bewail Philip; rather, whatever flows will be as rich as the waters of the sea. Spare me, Philip: I can be yours, but not your poet. You could have been your own poet.
Now is the time when I should desire (whatever I am) to dissolve into tears, so that as a single man I can singlehandedly surpass all the tears shed by grieving princes, commoners, old men and young ones, at home and abroad, over the sad death of the slain man, the tears of all good men who now exist, who did or afterwards will exist in coming years, easily the best and most pious of men. Now is the time when I should first desire to be initiated in your rites, Phoebus, when I should think it a sin to be lamented by any profane man’s mouth or pen a man a man whom I know not was a fiercer captain against our enemy and a kindlier patron at once for the learned and for pious poets, or a poet himself, a more great-hearted captain, a greater poet, and more learned than anyone else. But since the unkindly Fates took him away and you, Phoebus, permit them to commit this crime unavenged, and do not allow this man’s life to be restored, in whose welfare was comprehended the welfare and hope of all those who observe your rites, henceforth this is not the time when I should seem to be initiated in your rites, Phoebus.
Philip, the Muses shuddered when you attempted to combine Mars with themselves by a difficult pact. And in vain did they speak out (what business have the Muses with Mars?), lamenting their Sidney’s martial enterprises. They joined in issuing earnest entreaties. Alas, none of their words, entreaties or tears had any power to sway a great-hearted man. Hence they imagined savage battles red with blood, and, terrified, hid themselves in your bosom. The story goes that they followed you over the sea and through the camps of Belgium, and did much to relieve you of the tediums of campaigning. Being far from warlike, they feared for you; being wise, they strove for you, and they supplied prophetic emblems for your banners. They stood watch with you, they sounded the retreat, and issued you with warnings of your wound and your death. They hated the opposing forces, and, seized with fury, they brandished unfamiliar weapons in their hands. They took care for you (as much as the Fates allowed), ah, more than you were willing to take care for yourself. And they promised solemn measures for your triumphs, offering up much incense for your safe return. They are said to have been wounded by your cruel wounding, to have suffered loss by your loss, and to have fallen by your fall, grieving that it was denied to themselves to die along with you. Indeed, you can say that they now live with a disgraceful pallor, like that of a corpse, and that they crave to die. Because of your fatal demise, after your death the limping Muses are marked by a livid scar on their left thigh. And they pour forth lugubrious poems at your grave, honoring your gloomy tomb with their wet cheeks.
I, who sang wedding-hymns (of whatever worth they might be) for your marriage, now spoiled by your death, am compelled to harp on a very different string for your obsequies, Philip, and to mourn your fate in other measures. I admit I do so unwillingly, for no sadder day has dawned for me than that of your death. And yet you deserve this, that my Muse cease to exist along with yourself, for she was yours alone. You were the first man responsible for my writing of verse, you inspired the genius that helped my wit. You will be the last man of whom my Muse shall speak. Born by your means, she wants to die, now your are dead. So for her this will truly be Sidney’s swan-song, she has nothing else left with which to inspire me. For, except for that which is dissolving in these tears, she has run dry, and all the Muses perished along with you on the day you died.
Could you die, Sidney, you who were life, and anything that could be sweeter than life, for your friends? Am I thus to believe you could have died, when virtue had just begun to live, alas, suffering a collapse in your downfall? Oh death! Oh manner of death! Oh lamentable time! For you, such a man, to die such a death! Could the Parcae have not chosen any other single man out of thousands rather than you, in whose death a thousand die? Could you have not died in any other way than by a bullet-inflicted wound, which would have brought you a sure death, but not a slow one? Could they have not done so at another time than the time of flowering, when the blooming flower made it the time for a harvest? What fates await us? What greater things are they reserving for us, when the first lights of our age perish? Under whose command will virtue wage war? Under whose command will it enjoy peace, when the first glory of war and peace is perished? What will become of the Muses, when they hoped to live with this man as their patron, when the hope of the Muses, when all their glory is laid low? Let the the soothsaying crew hold its silence, now it has nothing more wherewith to threaten us. For that year is now forgotten, that eighty-eighth year of which they sing so many evils. For with Philip snatched away, the Fates remove each and every doom they teach to be hanging over the world. For other men much has died together with you, Philip, but just as the one thing that was mine has perished, so has my one hope: I thought myself alive for no other reason than that I was deemed worthy of your affection.
Natures genius admired herself in Sidney, as did Art and War. Death saw this in admiration, and took him away, lest divinities admire divinity only on this earth.
Lately, as Mars thundered at Zutphens walls, the heaven resounded, and a new light was received. Lo, of a sudden the stars wondered at a new star, but this new star was our Sidney.
Oh glory of the Muses, when you were alive the Muses hoped to live; with you dead, they fear to die. But I am mistaken. I see that by your means the Muses now live, and thanks to the Muses you have the means not to die.
With her measures the Muse consecrated Sidneys tomb, lest the Muse be entombed with Sidney.
You weep for Sidney, taken away in the flower of his youth, but in vain, for there is no reason for weeping. Neither age nor days could added to his genius, his virtue, or his praises. He was whatever Nature could fashion, nor ever did so much honor repose in so great a mind.
Sidney our star, a heaped mass of good things, done in by a ball, departed for Olympus. Surely I cannot match his praises in my singing? Come now, Homer, rise up, take up your quill again. Now Democritus does not summon you with his magic art, the lively virtue of Sidney summons you. Behold, he is a great subject, worthy of your genius, our Sidney, greater than great Achilles.
When Sidney strewed fierce battles with his hand, he was our new Mars. When he roused our senses with his lively words, he gave us poems worthy even of Vergil. When unmerciful death saw these things, he grew envious and said, There will only be one Mars, there will be no Vergil.
Our Britain is the glory and jewel of the world, but Sidney was the jewel of Britain.
You fair-minded surviving posterity who read these laments (if but you do survive!), we who belong to this age (living, to be sure, but squalid with grieving, and clad in mourning) wish you to know that our tears are unfeigned, our laments genuine, not written with dry cheeks. If there be any trust in venerable old age, if piety can speak nothing but the truth, here we have made no lies about Philip’s praise, you have heard malign reports of Sidney. In our times there was admiration such as our annals do not record, nor will any in the future. He was a model of life lacking no virtue, imitated by young and by old. Is it unjust for us to grieve that such a great man is taken away? Will a man be acting in vain if he condemns such cruel fates? No, rather we offer tokens (albeit shabby tokens) of our grief, learned and unlettered alike. Oh pardon our squalor. For, because of our love, our sorrow has preferred to be such, rather than to be none at all.
We are giving what death-honors we can, sure monuments of our sorrow, though they be lesser than his deserts. He was the glory of the Muses, the bright glory of this realm, the ornament of warfare and of religion. And (at which I marvel the more) he was such while performing his life’s great task and at the pinnacle of his fortune. He was such (if I am permitted to call him such) as you can scarce find among men who have received honors. He was such as we all mourn, but God has translated him from earth to better things.
Whatever you were to other men (and you richly deserved for men to have wished you a brighter fate), to me alone you were this and more, because of your personal benefits, fair Philip. Thus, if your death is a cause for complaining grief for any man, let it be a reason for my great sorrow. For I thought myself quite happy while you lived, and I have wretchedly perished because of your death. So let each of the others, whose loss has been lighter, attest his sorrows with a long poem. What suits me is tongue-tied grief, sorrows such as no song can express.
I tried to keep my sorrows pent up within me, and groan over my loss in private, with no witnesses. But in vain: for who can keep a fire hidden? When its heat is pent up, fire blazes all the hotter. Delay gives weeping more strength, as when a dam bursts and the swollen water flows all the fuller. He grieves less whose tears come easy, and who knows how to put his weeping into words. The man who complains against his will, and whose sorrow sheds tears although he resists them, he truly grieves. Philip is dead, I need say no more, for there is sufficient praise in his name alone. Woe’s me, what shall I do? No plaint can match my grief, nor does my grief let me hold my tongue. Why say more? Henceforth, whether I am silent or speaking, no time of my life will not be sad.
You Fates, hostile to good men, you Parcae, you hateful goddesses, goddesses more savage than the god of Tartarus, just now you have won a fine victory, killing one man while being three yourselves, and goddesses at that! And yet he did not die, for he still lives, being greater than your divine power, greater than your hostility. You mangled his tender body with a death-dealing wound, but his holy mind has been gathered up to the sky. Would that you could have survived us, you excellent hope and glory of your nation! Rather, you live, and will live down through the centuries, Philip, dear to pious souls, dear to God. Dear to them, but harsh to yourself, for you abandoned your wife, your home, your tender young daughter, and the rich realms of your nation, to follow Belgian camps and battles waged on foreign soil, and there you were a stranger and enemy on alien shores, this was your person’s first downfall. You, first and alone (for the usual ardor of your great-hearted breast impelled you), drove unheedingly into the midst of the arms of your enemies, whose terrible spirit was like fire. And behold (a miserable occurrence), you died by a bullet, a cold shiver came over your bones. You died, and now that you are dead I attend you with moist eyes, and with a trembling murmur I pronounce the final farewell. Oh Sidney, glory of Earls, the single hope for two of them, oh single heir of two knights, farewell! Albeit your glory may be lesser than your deeds, and your reputation for good deserts all but malign, nevertheless you shall be celebrated, famous throughout all the world, your glory will be enduring, and your reputation everlasting.
Bellesita wept for her fair, dead Daphnis, Bellesita, noble among the nymphs of the southland, clad in a dark robe, her brow bound with cypress, bare of foot and of breast, the picture of a true mother. When she first heard that he had been pierced by a bullet — strange this could have happened — she fell silent. Sorrow muted her voice, preventing the astonished nymph from venturing abroad, and she shuddered, smitten by the evil befalling her. Thus Niobe is said to have stood when bereft of her children, thus Hecuba after the killing of Hector or of you, Polydorus. For great sorrow is amazed and dumbstruck, whereas a lesser one quickly finds expression in voice and tears, such as your aunt, Daphnis, lately poured forth by the waters of the winding Cam, not such as your mother Bellesita, who loved you more dearly, finally gave out. When she saw your pitiful corpse, swaddled for the grave and borne on men’s shoulders, escorted by a throng of peers and commoners, sensation returned to her breast. Her astonishment, which had been suppressed, is said to have broken its profound silence and thus gave free rein to its sorrow. This is her most tearful song, which the nymphs related to me, even if she herself, very shy, might prefer to have it kept a secret.
“Delight of my existence, pride of my offspring, Daphnis, are you laid low? Do I see your gloomy funeral being made ready? Are you returning on your bier? Are you celebrating your triumph on this car? I awaited you on a car, but am I receiving you on a bier. Did my high hope accept such a great rebuff? For what did I promise myself concerning you, what did I say about you, almost babbling? What pleasure I took in hearing someone talk, narrating your exploits! Miserable fruits of war! Daphnis, your virtue and that blackest of days when battle was joined have cost you dear. Desist, young man, and do not mount the back of a second horse. Where are you rushing, heedless of yourself, heedless of your people, cruel, too liberal with your life and hand? Now you have garnered sufficient praise, why hurl yourself against the enemy, doomed; why revisit the battle, once it has begun, avid for reputation? Let not glory of arms or the sweet honor of fighting in the forefront be so prized by you, that you would want to entrust yourself to savage Mars. Your piety, your virtue, which does not know how to retreat, are deceiving you in your greatness of heart. Dare no further than your strength allows. You see that the enemy outnumber you, and their men are fierce, a race born for battle. Lo, virtue, noble to be sure, but spendthrift of life, how you impel young men, into what dangers you send them! Alas, the pleasant voices of mothers, the empty promises made to children, the prayers offered up, the threads of a long life, all prayed for in vain, Daphnis, for you. Nor did a destructive God ever frustrate greater hopes. Mothers, place no trust in your prayers, henceforth do not promise your children great harvests. I say to you, mothers, and I say it again, take care, since Daphnis has fallen among the cruel shades. With Daphnis now dead, whom will the Fates spare in after times? Now they themselves are ashamed of what they have done, they shudder at their unspeakable crime, condemning their sister who placed the evil spell on his life’s thread. But for you, author of this great wrong, this wounding, who have made me witness the untimely, premature funeral of my son, you wicked man, may God inflict punishment, paying you the well-deserved reward for your crime. May you be wretched, miserable and worthless in the eyes of the whole world, may you die a stranger to all, let the praise that attaches to your monstrous deed (if there be any for an enemy) be suppressed, let nobody ever boast of the wounding of Daphnis. Rather, let the death and the weapon by which Daphnis, that noble person, fell, share the glory, lest anyone commemorate the vile name of deed’s author in some future age. For the present, you? What words can I pronounce matching my great sorrow? Even were I to dissolve into a flowing stream, my store of tears would not suffice, nor could this sorrow be dispelled by my doleful weeping, this sorrow which has stricken our world, which the English-born race feels, as it confesses itself to have received a great blow, as each man is astounded, distressed by this omen, silently praying: ‘Great God, what are you working against this nation, from whom you are removing this youth, endowed with divine qualities?’
“But deign, good Daphnis, to accept the lamentations of your people, their wailing, their resounding expressions of grief. You are mourned as a master by your servants; as friend Euryalus by your Nisus; as a brother by your two brothers, but especially by Robert, knighted on the field, an emulator, Daphnis, of your virtues and praises, now first after Daphnis; by your sister, a Countess, by your aunt, a Countess; as nephew by two Earls born on your mother’s side; Walsingham mourns you as a son-in-law; above everything and everyone, your most fair wife mourns you in death. Daphnis, your homecoming is a great sorrow to us, but at the same time a great glory. We do not see you acting unworthily of your family or wounded in a disgraceful manner. Nor has your shade descended to Hades shamefully, you join the dead scarce unworthy of your forefathers. You die, but as a victor you bequeath to the enemy a heap of dead. Alas, England, and you, Elisa, what a bulwark you are losing, whether you are at peace or at war! What a man am I, Bellesita, losing! Farewell forever, most brave Daphnis, farewell for eternity. Memorable boy, you will not see the things possibly in store for your nation and family.”
Such were the plaints she issued, nor from that time has she ceased her doleful lamentations, which the resounding hills redouble on every side, with which the welkin rings, and the broad flatland where the Cherwell and the Isis flow together, mingling their grief along with their waters, where sad Bellesita keeps her fair abode.
Most outstanding offspring of brave Brutus that ever did, does, or ever will exist, Philip, Gager sings your funeral dirge, a poet of humble name, a poet of name just as humble as you were the best of all.
If, Philip, out of all our youths, the triple Fates had refused to keep you unharmed for us, they at least ought to have crippled you. Then for you, since you should have been ashamed to walk abroad, your nation could have offered this fine consolation: “Let it not shame you to go abroad, Philip, for with every step you take you should be mindful of your virtue.” Would, Philip, they had lamed you. And the fact that they did not return you to us maimed engenders our hatred of these cruel goddesses.
Citizens, away with this marble and impotent iron for Philip, this bronze. Let the workmen’s effort cease, these works destined to perish over the ages. There is no need for a tomb of this kind. He has erected his own pyramid, built in his own lifetime, lofty and foursquare, which alone will outlast the proud piles of the kings of Egypt, to which the endurance of marble, iron, and bronze offers no match. No power of rains, nor storm of heaven’s lightning, no day will suffice to diminish it. It shall stand eternal, as long as piety, faith, religion, the Muses, reputation, and nobility endure. Through the years the memory of such a great man will remain; although now it is newly built and flourishes by our grateful praise, it will gather strength with the passing years, and each new day will contribute its increase to his prior glory.
That which none of the gods would dare promise to this perverse age, not even if he were father Jove, that which nobody will hope for henceforth, that he would live and die beloved to all, this Philip obtained through his virtue in living and in dying, and this is a great miracle.
Friends, offer your ailing friend sound, valid advice, sufficient for the heavy lost of our great-hearted Philip, not the usual consolation one is wont to read in books or hear in schools. “Assuredly Philip has died on behalf of his nation, and it is ordained that we must die at some time.” But this is very well known and exceedingly trite, and is immediately overwhelmed by my grief. Oh friends, give me something that is not commonly read in books or heard in schools, some consolation that is strong, robust, and fresh. But I confess I am asking a great and difficult thing.
Philip, what delights of that happier realm in high heaven am I to imagine you enjoying after a year’s time? Does it please you to indulge yourself in perpetual peace, to idle through the sacred halls, the wonderful halls of our amazing Architect, gazing at His mansion with hungry eyes? Does it please you to take part in the leisurely choral dance, leading your chorus amidst God’s starry daughters? Are you reacquainting yourself with the erstwhile arts of your previous life, by which you used to aspire to heaven; and, having time for your customary Muses, are you singing magnificent hymns about gods, virgins, leaders and martyrs, singing to the rhythm of the heavens? So it is, and sitting on midmost Olympus, your hair bound with everlasting laurel, you attract the immortals in throngs by your singing, kindling affection for yourself in gods, virgins, leaders, and martyrs, the denizens of that happier realm.
Meliboeus the shepherd wept for the shepherd Daphnis, taken off by a bitter death, atop Shotover, where once he had been accustomed to condescend to tend his flocks in the nearby dale, on the banks of the Cherwell and the fishy streams of the Isis. Thus fair Adonis, thus handsome Apollo grazed by the forests. Recite to me, nymphs, the shepherd’s doleful song. For you have heard it, you nymphs who dwell in the parks on Oxford’s fair margins. Assuredly Meliboeus has sung of Daphnis, ashen-faced, like a man who has carelessly trod on a viper. With his locks and brow garlanded with funereal yew, he stared fixedly at the ground while composing the following tune on his rustic reed.
“Alas, harsh fortune of war, which makes the feeble equal to the brave, the sons of the soil equal to the gods’ offspring, snatching the captain along with the hardened private! Daphnis, what business had you with savage Mars? What business, Daphnis, had he with you? Ah, how much better to have stretched out in the shade of the oak trees, grazing your flocks, serving as bard for your fellow shepherds! As the reaper heedlessly cuts off with his scythe the violet, the primrose, or the sad hyacinth, so a black day cut you down, boy to be remembered through the long ages, taking you away in the first springtime of your honor. Assuredly you should have lived for many a year, your youth was more deserving of life. But you lie a piteous shade, Daphnis; nothing remains of you but a lifeless mangled corpse and a head devoid of its mind and accustomed brilliance; nothing remains for your people but tears and sere garments. Where have gone the beauty of your brow and serene countenance, your godlike majesty and demeanor, your fingers, worthy of Bacchus, your locks, worthy of Phoebus, your mild nature, your skill on the pipe? Alas, nobody may place his trust in human affairs! If to anyone, Daphnis, this should have been allowed to you, but your deceiving expectations lie prostrate, defiled on the grass. Just so I once saw a flourishing ash uprooted, one that provided a nesting-place for birds and shade for shepherds in vain, for of a sudden it was gripped by a whirlwind, torn from the earth, and laid headlong on the ground. Mourn, shepherds, the mighty ruin of this noble tree, destined to provide greenery for this region and a refuge for the cattle, in whose shade you have grown accustomed to blow on your delicate reeds and pronounce your verses, to leave in safety your crooks, wallets, and flasks, and, when exhausted, to hang your reed pipes on its pleasing branches. The tall corn is cut down, the ripest harvest of poets, and now let the bracken, fit only for burning, grow in the despised field. What pleasant rest is for the weary, a breeze and the sound of plashing waters for the sweating, summer shade for reapers, winter sunshine for the shepherds, a flagon of cool water for the thirsty, a flower for the thrifty bees, springtime for the birds, and dew for the cicadas, such was Daphnis for us, and even more welcome.
So you must restrain your sheep and truculent bull-calves, lest with their wanton nibbling they crop the tender young laurels which Daphnis planted in rows with his own hand. Let them grow into wreaths and fitting crowns in his honor. In his honor, shepherds, let each one break his oaten pipe. Daphnis deserves and merits having these things done for him. He was at once the best of singers and the best subject for song; in death he has taken away the art of singing, and so let him take away the worthy cause of the shepherd’s piping, let him keep it, holding it in his tomb. Before that, however, perform the proper rites at his grave, and as miserably as you can, join your pipes with the Muses. There is no need to squander purple flowers. Of its own will the earth where Daphnis’ bones are in repose will produce blossoming violets and pallid lilies. Compete in dutiful lamentations, and with a great song heap praises on the soul of a boy, than whom no other of the English has been braver at arms or more skilful at the reed. Nobody was accustomed to sound his flute more sweetly. You would swear it was Orpheus singing or Linus, born of the stock of Calliope. How often have people marvelled, agape as he sat on a grassy knoll! I have seen (a wonder to speak of, but I have seen it) wild beasts dancing to Daphnis’ song, I have seen the birds lingering, rocks and nearby oak trees nodding their heads, rivers ceasing their flow, choruses of nymphs bestirring themselves, the gods standing attentively, an awestruck Pan setting aside his nimble pipes in silence. So, Daphnis, will it henceforth be forbidden to hear you singing, to enjoy the familiar sweetness of your voice? Thus, Daphnis, the fauns and double-shaped satyrs who inhabit you, Shotover, or you, Stowe, or you, Beckley, or Woodstock forest, or the grove devoted to you, Bartholemew, and the spirits dwelling in the surrounding hills, will mourn your passing. Throughout the gardens nymphs are crying for you, complaining of the great waste of their beauty, with you, the one who most praised them, taken away. Above all the others, Galatea rages, pining in mute sorrow, she who was so often celebrated by your Muses who, unless you were Daphnis, could have made her haughty.
Your most fair nurse approaches the throng of mourners, once Wolsey’s daughter but now ennobled by the name of Christ, a nurse most renowned for her gentle offspring. A bountiful nurse, to be sure, but she will be a useless one, children, and you will push at her dried-out breasts in vain if (and may Elisa forbid this) the harpies and the leech, never sated with blood, continue to filch her milk. Your Tityrus, that man who cultivates the best of talent (and there’s no shepherd who plays a sweeter flute) mourns you, and is devising a fair ornament for your tomb. The sheep testify their sorrow by their bleating, in lieu of voices. The very Cherwell, with fresh waters, seems to flow more sluggishly than usual, and the familiar Isis scarcely glides along its path. The Thames is swollen by our tears, and all the swans who live on the Thames and local deities have sighed for you. The forests have shed their foliage, and for you each tree weeps its sap instead of tears. In your absence nothing pleases, things lack their familiar charm. Thus the lamb will sooner cease to fear the wolf, the dove to fear the hawk, the fish will forget to love the water, before love for you will disappear from shepherds’ hearts, before my pipe will fall silent about you. Whether I wander over the mountains or through the forests, the forests and mountains will echo “Daphnis.” Let neither the swan nor the Thracian nightingale surpass me at song, even though he be dying and she complaining of her rape. And further, I shall carve your name on the hard rocks, I shall carve “Daphnis” on the trees, and as they grow so will Daphnis. The elm, friendly to the vines, the ash, from which they make spears, the poplar, fit for the making of shields, and the alder for ships, will bear witness; the mountain-loving ash, will bear witness, and also the oak, longer-lived than any ash. I shall affix verses about you on the brambles and trackless places, on the roads and all the pathways I shall strew pious songs. Only, Daphnis, let your shade be sensible of my acts of duty, and let it not spurn my reed, screechy though it may be. If such a pastoral pipe can achieve anything, no day will ever take Daphnis away from the shepherds, as long as springtime follows winter and summer in turn follows the spring, and autumn summer, as long as the glory of the English endures, and England holds up her head among the nations.”
Thus far Meleboeus had indulged his pipe until midnight, then he raised himself from off the turf and betook himself to Daphnis’ dear nurse. And she received him weeping, while weeping herself, and put him to bed.
Sidney, the ancients compared a poet to a swan: each has equal pallor, and equal sweetness of voice. Each rejoices in fountains, meadows, and pleasant streams, and each is dear to divine Phoebus. But unless the mild breeze of the zephyr has blown, the prophetic swan does not sing from his shining throat. Therefore, after your death, our singers will forever fall silent, for you were our sole Zephyr.
And so after so many circuits of the sun, so many adventures of the moon, so many changes of overlordship, so many altered centuries, does Greece still squabble about which one of seven cities should have a claim on blind Homer, although he was poor, helpless, and a trifling power, while we living men allow you, great Philip, the glory of the Sidney clan, to be stolen from us, those of us who joined with you in making sacrifices to the Muses at Oxford? Should we hold our tongues and let this go unavenged? For what does it mean that he should be heaped with so many praises at Cambridge, extolled to heaven in a book, while we, who saw him as a lofty lad among us, whom we heard as a boy thundering Ergo in the Schools, and who afterwards, as we know full well , so often helped Oxford at our sovereign’s Court; for us, who drank water from the same fountain as he did, lacking our bard, seeing this praiseworthy man buried, as it were, in a long night, refuse to open our mouths? Rather, let our care for weightier concerns be broken off, let us have a recess from our more important studies, while each of us, in accordance with his abilities, compile a work to adorn our common schoolmate, either in prose or in verse. The Muse gives life to captains with her songs, and raises good things to heaven; let us try to do the same, if you please. No better subject for song will ever be given, as soon as the Muses hear Philip’s name they will be present; if summoned, so will Apollo. Therefore let one of us sing of what great a light England has been deprived; let a second describe how our sovereign’s court grieves for his loss; let a third tell how the Muses are amazed at this death; let someone mark how the whole bevy of the Virtues is saddened, crippled because Sidney has been removed; let another write how the Spanish enemy are grieving that their foeman Philip has fallen; and let somebody else describe how three foreign cities are eagerly competing to have his body given to them, as if it were a gift. But for my part, I am moved by your misfortune, good Sarmatian who dwells on the shoulder of Europe, you whom our age now calls by the familiar name of Polishman. I know that ten years ago you were subject to King Henri of France, but that he abandoned you to your misery (for such the Fates decreed), since his Gallic realms summoned him. Afterwards Stephen of Hungary was your king, that unique glory of all rulers produced in our times, whom I saw myself and with whom I was fortunate enough to speak. But the last day of December (if you subtract one day) took away that glory of our age. And you, you abandoned nomad Pole, are troubled and seeking a Stephen-like shepherd throughout your inhospitable realms. May the gods grant you that which you seek! And because you are the farthest-flung of Christians, often violated by Christ’s enemies, it behooves us Christians to hope for this, and we should pray to Christ. Nor would you have had to search for such a man for long, had not the Fates removed Philip from this earth in the month of October. He was a man who was suited by nature to succeed the deceased Stephen, had he not been taken away first. For I know that our Philip was possessed of every point which you admire in any man, my Pole: divine endowments of character, honorable appearance, a spirit aspiring to things superior to the rabble’s trash, a hand which refused to be called frugal and craved to be called royal. He was worthy and equal to such great things. But, my Polish friend, this man who I often prayed you be granted as your king from among us British, God gathered up to his shining halls. He was an excellent youth, whose death the earth mourns, and whom the English nation regrets having reserved for you at this cost, land of Belgium,. I know, alas, that at a far better cost it could have made him blessed at home.
Let this suffice me to have sung for you, Philip, not as if it is something adequate to match your merits, because it is always reasonable for each man to measure himself by his own yardstick.
Four times the moon had fully shone, four times it had waned, when falling Phoebus elicited our sighs (just as steaming vapor is wont to be drawn upwards). Greville's were caught in the clouds, those Walsingham allowed to follow, daring go where a sunless sun called them, barely attained to high heaven. Now our sighs, condensed into pious tears, follow those that went before. Thus fire and water return to the source from which they are summoned.Weep, you poets, for that swan famed for his swain's songs, that inspiration of songs, that god of genius; mourn, you Muses, for that glory of Minerva, that cynosure of the arts, that tenth Muse, that Apollo of choruses. Wail, Oxford, for that light of letters, that pillar of your sons, that apex of your envy; wail, Arcadia, for that shepherd of Admetus, that man who was the bellwether of your flock, your second Tityrus, the glory of your greenwood. Mourn, Mornay, groan, you French Saluste, for that trumpet of your praise and language. Groan, Belgium, for that bastion of your battle, that shield of your piety second only to God. Weep, you Britons, for that man born to praise God, a great father of his nation in fact, but a greater in hope. Weep, you Lords of the Court, for that ornament of the graces, that marrow of praise, that man next to Phoebus. Grieve over the misfortune, Greville, for that Patroclus of yours, that measure of your love, that great part of your mind. Weep, brother Robert, nearly his second self, whose like heaven has not given, nor will it give again. Pour forth seas of tears, Mary, for that darling of yours, for that harmony established in your life. Make the gods jealous, wife, by weeping for that heart of yours, that eye, that mind, that spirit, that sense. Weep, honorable father-in-law, for that Brutus or Cato of yours, who with his hand conferred great and conjoined praise upon you. Weep, you uncles, for your hope, your adornment, that repository of your honor, that Hercules-like heir of your Atlas-like burden. Dissolve in tears, Elizabeth, for that Hermes and Hector in whom you were happy, whether you were readying war or peace. Wrap up the world, time, you stupendous form of all the centuries, for the Phoenix of your age. Cease your childbirth, Nature, for it was he to whom you gave all your bounty, that flower and model of yours. Fall silent, Virtue, for that single man blessed you more than her offspring blessed Niobe. Weep, you widowed world, for that master of your lights, the sole sun of your world, who made you the equal of the spheres above.
What about him? I am disgusted to say. What about him? He is dead. Rejoice, you Spanish, the the thunderbolt of English Jove, stronger than the Jove of Spain, has failed. Rejoice, Mary his mother, for having been conjoined with a man of flourishing birth, and thus were noble for your husband and your child. Rejoice, Henry his father, for that you were his father, since, dying before him, you are an Anchises and get back your son. Celebrate your triumphs, death, such a great prey has made you terrible and base, yet fair and light. Rejoice, you heavens, for your heavenly guest, the jealous heavens envy earth its darlings. Weep, Philip, that your own people are weeping for you. Rather, Philip, let your own people join you in rejoicing. He who can join you in rejoicing is most blessed. And where your destiny summons you, whither the Fates summon, there virtue will safely follow with her divinity. Either our Caesar has written his own deeds, bearing the sword in one hand and the pen in the other: either you must write them, Greville, nor nobody can, for you, Greville, are lightning exposed to the light. For his pedigree and his ancestors, and things he did not do, he scarce thought his own. He did fine things, shed your light on these. Give these form, you companion of light and form.
Virtue smacks of nothing trifling, nor does it creep along in a lowly valley. Rather, it shines and heads for the mountain-tops. By its own great quantity, Sidney, this vigor, this mind, this spirit of your lofty heart, summoned forth its own ruin. What Fates stole your presence from your own home? What Fates have given you back? Your fate is lamentable for this and for that. Is this the victory-palm you have won by your great efforts? To have yourself decorated, not by laurel but by funereal lamentation, is this what the Fates decree? Are these the badges of dire war? Oh great, cruel monstrosity, unworthy of the light, whose lot was to remove such a noble light from the world. But, Sidney, what you accomplished was not nothing, nor are your trophies empty of praise: rather, you may celebrate this among your supreme triumphs, that you exposed yourself to a thousand dangers for your nation’s sake, and that you died famous at home and powerful in war. Why, Bellona, did you so jealously destroy your child, so that you did not support him in war though you had when he dealt with the Muses? Jealous — I am telling the truth. For you have no strength left to bear mortals a similar son. O happy son, who happily flees back to the gods’ supernal home, disdaining this earth!
When any of our bards celebrate you in his song, who can fashion songs equal to yours? Let Pan, the Arcadian god, vie with you in song, let him vie with Arcadia sitting as judge: he will be bested.
Oh Sidney, while the spirit coursed through your limbs and you were safe, all Belgium stood in safety. Your wife was happy with you for a husband, the Earls with you for a nephew, your father with you for a son, your father-in-law with you for a son-in-law, a noble pair of knights, a noble pair of Earls and brothers, of whom you were sole descendant and heir. But now you have fallen, a soldier in a foreign field, your body shot through by a bullet. Still alive, the knight mourns his son-in-law, the Earls their nephew, and your wife sings sad dirges at your funeral rites. In heaven, where you dwell as the scion of two Earls, the sevenfold Great Bear and the Little Bear shine. And so let this song be added to your grave, let these lines be inscribed on your tomb: Oh now the mighty heir of two knights and two Earls wonders at the threshold of Olympus, he beholds the clouds and lofty stars beneath his feet. To those men he was a son-in-law, a son, and a nephew, the one was a father-in-law, the second a father, and the other two uncles. One offspring was heir to these four.
A mighty heir of two knights, a mighty heir of two Earls, has fallen, the child of great Mars, pour forth your tears.
[…] lions die with a moan, let the forest mourn, let hazels speak, let mountains groan, let crags raise tearful songs.
I would sing of your accomplishments, Philip, I would recount your deeds, your strategic devices, your praise, had the gods given me the music of the sweet swan.
Now in the meantime let it be enough for me to have surpassed the kingfishers in weeping, let be enough to have drenched your buried ashes with my copious tears.
You have gained a renowned existence, where you will see the leads gods intermingled with divinities, and the supernals will regard you in turn, as you cling to the stars.
As long as fish love rivers, or the boar the ridges of the high mountain, while Mt. Hybla feeds bees, and meadows feed grasshoppers,
So long will the famous praises of your name endure, will your reputation live. Never will that face of yours fade from our hearts.
Just as Phoebus setting in the west and hiding himself in cloud, shines brighter than before with his rays, just as the dying swan on the Meander sings with a sweeter tune, so Sidney, the Phoebus of our life, our swan, is brighter by his death than he was before.
Tyndareus could open his locked tomb. Ah, Sidney, break yours open, leave your pyre. As soon as Glaucus had drunken the honeyed potion, the life and vigor started up in his dead body. The two Palici whom divine Thalia bore to Jupiter got free from the waters of Styx, Asclepius, the Epidaurian god, gave dead Androgeon back to his father’s hearth, using Cretan herbs, but did God fail to heal your wounded limbs? Steal secret fires, Prometheus, and let renewed life be breathed into this man. Alas, to my unhappiness I perceive my prayers are achieving nothing, I see my wishes have no weight. Alas, there remains no hope for you, none at all for us, that you will not be food for the vile worms, that he who shone with his holy light will not escape us. With this taken away, our days will be beclouded with darkness. Yet let it be, let your doom be immutable, but you should hope the gods will refuse to deny you that which is yours in justice, what the upright mind craves: they are heaping up rewards worthy of your deserts. Mars and Minerva, to whom you were by far the most dear, have both cherished you in their sweet embrace, Father Jupiter has ordered you to sit by him to govern, now you can be called a god for this realm. As a god for this realm you can say, “Previously I was not alive, since death accompanied my life. Now all fear is removed, and I am immune to my enemy’s weapon. Let cannon roar, they will do no harm. I thank the Spanish, they have made me blessed, they have inflicted a sweet wound, though I was unwilling. This was no death, but a road to this life. Thus a wounded man can be rescued.” Scorn the badges of your previous life, I do not object, protect the Elysian fields together with your Jove. Spare yourself fear, spare yourself the use of avenging force. This has been sweet for you, but fatal for us.
Grant me this final effort, my Muse, I shall sing a few words to Philip (words which Robert may read: who would deny him a few, who would deny him many? For to me he was a god on earth, I practiced his art, I invented similar forms after his pattern. He taught me to pursue an equal fame with my unequal Muses. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Thus we compare the smallest to the greatest: Thames to the ocean, torchlight to the sun, straw huts to lofty halls and towers, a flask tied to a shepherd’s crook to the circling spheres, mountain-ranging flocks to the serried ranks of war, farmers to Dukes. But he lifted up his head among the English as much as does the queen of the birds among the lesser fowl. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Go, Philomela, intending to sing amidst the ancient hazel-bushes of your husband, the murder of your son and the crime committed to your sister, and when your plaints begin to fail you (as I know they can fail, thanks to my own grieving and my long experience at weeping), pray continue by joining my plaints to others: in your singing imitate these laments for the man transformed into a star, imitate these tunes. Alas, my music has perished, the man responsible for my music has perished. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Utter your final sounds on the gliding waters, swan, fill the fields and the streams with your piteous sounds. Now, soon to die of old age, devise heavenly tunes to ring above the slender broom and along the hollow banks. I have happily heard the resonances of the neighboring shores. And when you have called out for Philip, let Echo reply “I shall come also, also.” Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Come down from the leafy elm, turtledove, come down to your empty nest, drawing renewed sighs. Visit the hidden entryways, freely seek out the dark lairs of beasts, until you have scoured all the fields. And if you accomplish nothing with your vain flights, and waste your zeal in looking for the chick you seek, it is no great thing if you destroy yourself as well. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Mourn now for your shepherd, snowy uplands, now drink the ample rains of our tears, you meadows. Mourn now, you lofty ash-trees, you lowly tamarisks, sigh now, you ivy, bereft of your berries. Violate yourselves now, you violets, and blush, you roses. Give your marks, hyacinth, give more than a royal name, a greater man has died than he whom Telamon fathered. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Why speak of dead laments? Let living ones be summoned. Let no small part of your mind, Mirafilus, nourished on the same Muses, speak of your deeds, Philisides, Mirafilus, well known because of your faithful affection, Mirafilus, no living man is more excellent. For at his death you spoke up and conceded him the first palm, now it accrues to you as its second owner. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Oh that I myself knew the things they know who write of your distinctions, and knew how to write them! If I could describe your sword, your shield, your horse that gnashed its teeth as you sat unmoving, your brief rages as you ardently dashed forth, aboil with anger, how you rushed there where you saw weapons the thickest, how you harmed your enemy again and again! Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. But I do not wage wars, nor do I have the strength for battle. My love is for the Muse, while you enjoyed life your gifts were always dear to the Muses. You shepherds of Arcady, decorate your dead father’s tomb, and add an ancient song for his grave. If the god Pan were to vie with you, with Arcadia serving as judge, then with Arcadia serving as judge the god Pan would admit he was bested. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Tasso, prince of poets for your Freed Jerusalem, Du Bartis, noble for your work of seven days, just as you are ennobled by your breeding, come and join your laments to these. For, although against my will, I am compelled to beg borrowed sobs from foreign shores to supplement my own, which seem thin and of no account. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Paros did not extol its Archilochus, or Mytilene its Aeolic Sappho, Bacchic Lesbos its Alcaeus, sad Himera its Stesichorus, nor Athens its tragedians, who represented indecorous characters with great gravity, Thebes its Musaeus, Cyrene its smooth Callimachus, not even Colophon its Homer, Philisides, as much as your nation boasts of you, its native son. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. Cordoba did not thus mourn its Lucan or its two Senecas, Mantua its Vergil, Verona its soft Catullus, Bordeaux its Ausonius, fair Florence its Petrarch, Sulmo its Ovid, or Cumaean Naples the poet who uttered words labored over by night for twelve years, nor the Venusian towns their Horace, Philisides, as much as your nation weeps for you, stolen away. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet. For along with you its Fauns have left their dwellings, its woodland Priapi have departed with you, its goat-foot satyrs, its Pans, those spirits of the hills have fled with you, whose care was its meadows, holy Pales, and together with you whatever poets and shepherds could hope for. And since everything else has disappeared with you, I shall too. Speak of Philisides, my music, speak of the poet.
Lately I wanted to sing of jokes, happy things, and happy tunes. But while I wanted to sing of jokes, happy things, and happy tunes, the Muses sang of Philip. Then I thought of singing of wars in Belgium and the praises of Leicester. While I was thinking of singing of wars in Belgium and the praises of Leicester, the Muses sang of Philip. So farewell, jokes, happy things, and happy tunes. Likewise farewell henceforth, wars in Belgium and praises of Leicester. Grieving and complaining, my Muses sing only of Philip.
Come, holy Philip. I do not seek Pallas, the Graces, Apollo, or my wonted Muses, as before. I call you, I invoke you, Philip. You alone, Philip, are my Graces, my Apollo, my Pallas. You alone are my sole Muse, my godhead, oh Philip, my light, oh Philip.
Hard gods, harder than steel, savage stars, more savage than fate (or whatever can be found harder than the one, more savage than the other)! Iron is bent when softened by fire, fate is halted by heaven’s decree. But the fire of our love does not bend the one, nor does heaven, the power of the gods, halt the other. Hard gods, harder than steel, savage stars, more savage than fate (or whatever can be found harder than the one, more savage than the other)!
Philip soldiered against the Spanish for two reasons, for the sake of his nation and for piety. Philip satisfied both reasons against the Spanish, fighting for his nation, dying for piety.
The purple-clad Theban throng remains by the water mourning their master, one part of it is birds, the other rocks. If birds or rocks were your mourners, Philip, they would be all the birds in the sky, all the stones in the world.
He who has seen you, Philip, and has not made your acquaintance, who has not loved you when he has come to know you, could scarcely make me believe that he has seen you.
These pillars of Hercules have deserved Herculean praises: one is set up at home, the other abroad. Mars gave one to the Dutch, Minerva the other to the British. Both stand upright, Philip, shored up by your good deserts.
THE PILLAR OF MARS
It is not the sculpted masses of illustrated arches, not marble steles with their lofty pinnacles, not the trophies of many men painted by an artist’s hand, but battles stained with spilt blood, weapons shattered by their flight, shields, breastplates and swords that will celebrate your triumph; the battles joined in Belgian fields, weaponry preserved for your late descendants, shields, breastplates, and swords that should be preserved with constant reverence. When some Italian prince sees these things, some noble prince who would emulate Philip, “Oh great Philip!” he will exclaim, “Oh monuments of true merits!”
THE PILLAR OF MINERVA
Oh great scion of great Jove, if poets are scions of Jove, who will deny you to have been a poet, who would deny you to have been a scion of Jove? Your green laurel proves you a poet, your divine virtue shows you are a scion of Jove. Oh Philip, to be celebrated for your divine virtue and green laurel, Jupiter saw you as England’s poet, complained of our ungrateful times, and took you away, nor will Jupiter or future times grant us such a poet. You laurel, which has been made a bard’s reward, the sole remains of pious Philip, may you flourish, so that posterity may learn Philip was a bard.
I was amazed that no Muse, no god, no Minerva assisted me when I sang of your fate. But when I learned, Sidney, that Minerva, the Muses, and the holy gods had stolen you way, I could scarce be amazed that no Muse, no god, no Minerva assisted me when I sang of your fate.
The three of you died in three places, all within three months, three defined by three duties and three titles. You, father Henry, died in May; you, mother Mary, in August, and you, son Philip, in May. Ludlow gave sad death to the mother, Worcester to the father, and sad Flanders to the son. Although they were three, and everything came in threes, alas, a single year brought their three funerals.
Fair, honored, just, praiseworthy, innocent, most learned, prudent, and knowing the useful: you wish me to sum all these things up in a word? You have them in the one word Philip.
Many say much about Plato, and more about Plato’s year, his Great Year. They say that Plato’s year will come after ten thousand years, as will a Plato full of years, in his own year. Things that he did will be done again, words that he spoke will be spoken again. Oh if Plato would return, or Plato’s Great Year, so I would know that what Philip did and what Philip said would be done and said once more! Then I could see what he did, then I could mark what he said. I should see that such a great man did not die, I should not note his final words.
Pollux, Castor, and Helen were born of a swan, the one the boxer of the Greek nation, the second its horseman, the third its light. By their shared honor Castor was divine, and, having the half of the divinity granted them, Pollux was a god: having this origin, the one fell, the both of them set and rise. The Sidney family is born of a swan: Philip resembles Pollux, Robert Castor, and Mary Helen: the first was its fist, the second is its knight, the third the light of our land. By his shared honor Robert is a divine, and, having half of the heavenly divinity granted them, Philip is a god. Both are great-minded, each is a noble star. Having this origin, the one fell, the both of them set and rise.
After your your death, your splendor, your heavenly endowments, your mighty mind, your honors, worthy of the gods, so greatly delight me, bright Philip, that I would wholly melt with light-headed joy if I were not tormented by sorrow over your absence. After your death, I am so greatly tormented by sorrow over your absence that I should wholly freeze with heavy grief, if I were not delighted by your splendor, your heavenly endowments, your mighty mind, your honors, worthy of the gods.
Author of my songs, reason for my three tragedies, Croesus, Philotas (oh the crime!), and the one about the savage house of Pelops, which I happily began, relying on your auspices, bard Sidney, you are dead. Your savage tragedy, more savage than a fate invented by a poet, has destroyed my triple tragedies Croesus, Philotas, and the one about the savage house of Pelops.
Mars saw that Philip was a better rider than Mars, Mars, did not wish a rider equal to himself to be aa footman. He shattered the lad’s thigh with a bullet, and laughingly said, “Philip will be no rider, nor henceforth will he be a footman.”
While I add tears to tears and complaints to complaints, no tear, no complaint will be enough for me. Oh that I could shed for you the tears I wished, oh that I could be wholly turned into tears!
My verses cannot make you immortal, but you can make my verses immortal.
Why is it, you ask, that I name Philip in nearly all my verses? I think those of my verses are sweeter in which I name Philip.
For manners, wit, handsome appearance, and piety, Philip, the Golden Age scarcely gave birth to your equals. This so-called Iron Age of ours would not have been made iron save by your death. The other ages of the world, content to be second-rate with their second-rate men, have obtained a middling position. Oh, should I call us wretched, on whom Philip’s star has shone, or happy, for whom it has set? We have experienced both fortunes, but we are unhappy, because our latter fate was the worse.
Jupiter is said at first to have made sorrows to be voiceless, blocking their powers of speech. Now the sorrow that has arisen breaks its suppressed silence, and, knowing no bounds on its speech, says the unsayable. Either his ancient power has abandoned the Thunderer, Philip, or our lot has been very harsh.
Sidney desired to learn Phoebus’ heavenly mysteries, so Phoebus bore Sidney to the stars. And the god, thinking him to be worthy of supreme honor, and not to deserve being earth-bound, enrolled him as a god. Phoebus bequeathed him his name and his godhead, nor does any sun-god other than him rule the stars. Philip’s is a happy metamorphosis, but not a great one, he was a Phoebus whether dwelling on earth or among the stars.
Sidney, the Muses’ equal — Alas, by a too swift — Sidney, the companion of Phoebus — Alas, by a too cruel —Sidney, the pillar of his nation— the Parca has snatched away by a swift and cruel death. Do not carry your hatreds any farther, an ample enough victim has been sacrificed for your triumph, unsparing Parca.
Thrice trying to speak, my Muse thrice checked her mouth, sadly sticking at your name, Philip. Because you were lame, behold how in following you my Muse has been happy to imitate your limp.
When Greece used its soldiery to encircle warlike Troy, that nation grievingly lost its Achilles. While England stoutly besieged a Dutch city, this wretched nation lost its Sidney. Both nations have something to lament, but England suffers a greater loss (although in its unhappiness it does not make this boast). Death, jealous of this man, jealous of our success, why do you unfairly strike us in this unwonted way? You were jealous when you implacably took of the Greek Achilles, but Homer did not live in Achilles’ body. You were jealous when you took off Sidney, for you took off both: he was full of Homer as well as Achilles. Tell me, you who know Homer the bard, if this man was not greater than Homer. The one sang amazing things, but things he had not himself done. The other sang marvelous things, but he himself did the things to be sung about. Tell me, you bards who know Achilles, if he was not also our Achilles. He was his equal in many respects, and in this one greater than Achilles, that that man was famed by means of another man’s art, but he by his own. They were equal in battle and equal in death, they both fell by ambush. They were both young, and both died helpless: the one died wounded in the thigh, the other in the foot. Tell me, you who know Thetis’ son and who know Homer, tell me if this one man was not the both of them. Alas, neither of you survives. Because you were both, alas, great Philip, you pleased the gods too much. I think the very gods who tend to human affairs were moved by your song, great poet. This I know, that the gods above (whether they loved you or your song) have already stolen you to their homes on high. I envy the heavens (forgive me this sin, gods, for it was also your crime when you stole him), I envy the heavens, would that I could likewise steal your soul from heaven, noble Philip.
A quarrel arose among the Pierian sisters which was to be schooled in your music. Urania (most deserving of victory) bested the others and gathered up Sidney to her home. Now you are heavenly, Sidney, and you behold God, singing your celestial measures amidst the dwellers of heaven. Oh I pray you, since you surpass Orpheus in song, add Orphic guile to your verses. With his tune he swayed the infernal shades, you should sway the gods with your more than Orphic song. But I fear lest the gods, overcome by your great sweetness, will not be overcome by any guile and will not allow you to return. If heaven’s movement made harmony before, this will become sweeter thanks to your arrival. Now I see the stars harping with their swift order, happily performing their tasks under your direction. And so, since the stars preside over human affairs, and since you are the foremost dweller among the stars, oh may you be good and lucky for your countryman and, soothing the stars, command them to be propitious for your fellow citizens! If they beget plagues, let Spain do the suffering, so that Iberian nation may learn you are its enemy, and the English nation that you are its guide. Abandon your pride, Spaniard, forget your triumphs: why do you imagine he has perished, for whom you atone as he lives on? He did not depart unwillingly, but rather he left unconquered, and soon will inflict harm on you by a new plan. More safely he can disrupt your ranks from on high, more safely he can shoot his darts from on high. He has not departed to the supernals because he was stricken by death; rather he went when summoned by his Father, when invited by God. The offended deities loathe this ungrateful earth, and have abandoned the homes they hate. Since he has always followed the gods through all things, now he has hastened to follow them to their realms. There by his happy death his father preceded him, there his mother flew, freely following her husband. He, following the gods, his father and mother, rightly preferred God to his nation, the stars to the earth. You gods, I am not complaining. Sidney, I am not asking you back. Continue to obey God, as is your habit. Now sad England has stopped its unworthy lamentation, an England harmed by your death, but happy nonetheless. It grieves that you have perished, but glories that you perished as you did, even though it wishes you had not perished, nor perished as you did. But I cannot say you perished without committing a sin, for, now being safe, you possess your life and your nation. Heaven is your native land, England your nation. The one gave you life, and so did the other. While you lived you dwelt in both, and, as if alive, so do you still. Now you are angelic, you who had been Anglican, England is a land near to the celestial pole. Why am I complaining of your absence? England is near to heaven, so that you, having gained heaven, cannot be far away.
What shame, or what limit, should there be in our longing for such a dear person? Gloomy England, although exhausted by grieving, now at length renews her grief.
If the Fates can send back souls, the British nation will weary the gods with her prayers, and ask for this one thing, that they restore the soul of dead Philip.
Now is when I would wish to be a follower of Pythagoras, if someone can prove Pythagoras spoke the truth when he said that the minds of the dead can pass into new bodies.
If some Pythagoras will persuade England that Sidney’s like could rise anew, on this score the youth of England will study Pythagoras’ teachings.
Indeed I promise more (who accepts this bargain?): for me he who gives us Philip, or Philip’s like, will not be Pythagoras in my eyes, but rather a god.
Yet although a thousand centuries flow by, a thousand centuries will not grant such a man. Never shall I abandon Aristotle and study Pythagoras’ screeds.
If you cannot be restored whole, Sidney, yet grant us the half of your mind. The half of your mind will bless the whole of Britain.
Happy is the man imbued with your mind. He will surpass Orpheus with his honeyed songs. If the Muses themselves challenge him, he will not hesitate to outdo the Muses.
Happy is the place which possesses your soul, be it earth or heaven. I will not fear to compare that place to the blessed homes of the gods above.
When the Muses wished to devise a name equal to themselves, they invented one out of their individual titles, PHILIP.
P olyhymnia, gives you the first letter, Philip.
H appy is the second, granted you by Thalia.
I n third place fair Calliope gives you her form.
L auds are added to these by Clio, and to make your name more famous,
I lluminating your glory, she adds tw0.
P oet as you were, Melpomene praises you,
P reeminent skill in all things is Euterpe’s gifts.
U rania grants you heaven, and also your eighth letter.
S upreme Thalia adds you to her happy choir.
Erato alone gives you no letter, but grants you more.
You were wholly lovable, Erato gave herself wholly to Philip.
Earthly tombs do not do preserve the dead well. A fig tree can split marble, time consumes structures of brass, worms ravage bodies. To guard against these things the Muses established a deathless tomb for Sidney, secretly adding their names. And yet it contains nothing but Philip’s name: England possesses his body, heaven his mind. The Muses have eagerly enclosed what remains in his tomb. Believe it, mortals, the Muses have built this tomb. I myself have seen those goddesses toiling and fitting everything together, I have lent them my help with my small abilities. Behold, the Pierians have given me this as my reward, that I may safely publish their works under my own name.
If any nightingale sang at the tomb of Opheus, its song was sweeter than the other birds’. Sidney, when I sing of your doom I am singing of Orpheus, but my great sorrow forbids me from being sweet.
Your Christian name, Philip, had the same number of letters as Parnassus has Muses. Your surname had the same number as Aristotle taught there are heavens in the sky. Since in your name you are the equal of the Muses, and of the heavens, I seek no more names for your praise.
When Pan, that god of Arcady, competed with Phoebus in song, he was often bested by Phoebus in song. When the god Sidney, who was better, came to Arcady, he bested them both. And behold, since with his wondrous tune he surpassed the sun, the just gods set him over the sun.
I recall that the year which was fatal for you, Sidney, was a sorrowful one for this land. We lost our crops (for, Philip, when you died the English lost their fruit and flower). Then rains ruined the pastures with their constant floods, and the British land suffered a great famine. For these rains were tokens of our tears, and that famine a dire herald of your death. The weeping clouds helped our tears, the barren land could not mourn enough.
Forgive me, please, oh loving Philip, for more learned poets should sing about you. A man without praise cannot give praise. But your praises, Philip, are so many that inspire me to speak, although I am tongue-tied, I did not know the one whom I am speaking about, but speaking of you I know that I cannot do but honor you.
Who can safely publish Jove’s secret? Will anybody safely dare such a great crime? Oh, if somebody would dare for once to publish Jove’s secrets for our benefit! Will nobody dare this, Muse? If nobody is willing, you can do it: freely tell us Jove’s mind. Why are you afraid? Buck up your courage.
But the Muse says, “I dread this thing of Jove’s. Being a person he threatened then, I therefore decline.” Why be afraid? Does this name trouble you? Come, reveal Jove’s secrets, if you know any.
Soon she says, “Since you crave it, here’s the gist. The hero Sidney is a very distinguished name.” Why mention that great hero? “He’s dead, oh the heavy doom!” Has such a great hero died? Jove’s faith! But continue, Muse, don’t stop speaking. If you don’t know anything more bitter to relate, say happy things rather than sad, change your tune. I don’t want to know how he died, or where, or on what day, except, perhaps, so I might always curse the day and the place. It’s more than enough for me to know he’s dead. But continue, Muse, tell me the reason for such a great leader’s death, hasten on with your story.
She was very unwilling; nevertheless she afterwards consented to comply. But before her speech she uttered mournful notes. Clenching her hands, with her words she thus began, revealing the supreme god’s mind. “Your unhappy final year, Philip, took away that glory of ours, your father. When his soul passed through the heaven’s spheres, and he set his foot atop the Primum Mobile, the happy celestial company received him, Jupiter deemed him worthy to sit at his table, and Henry, made a dinner-guest, drank full cups of nectar, sat by the gods, and ate the banquet set before him. Examining heaven’s hollow dome, he inspected the place and its strange fabric, amazed at the novelty of things. He was in a fever to see yet more and had not yet satisfied his curiosity. He often tried to count up the souls who dwell in heaven, but with this strange toil he vainly struggled to count up their infinite numbers. Seeing this, the supreme Father asked, ‘why are you counting up their throngs? I alone can do this, I want this to be my province exclusively.’
“Up to this point the outcome of affairs was a happy one, but this happy outcome was the point at which a limit was placed on such great joy, where sorrow drew its line. For here the Thunderer sets his counting-stones, and whatever his divinity counts, in alternating turns. Mark you, he had been counting the even numbers. But heed the sequel, for this is the source of the remaining sorrow. Rejoicing in uneven numbers, he sought the uneven. Henry, Philip, who was born of your blood, was single, unique, and therefore unequal, and for him Jove destined an unequalled place in heaven. The business was transacted, the company of the gods gave its assent. Phoebus and his sister were quickly summoned by the gods’ command (for thus it pleased them), and long sought for Philip with their alternating light, seeking Philip along the route they were always free to travel. Swift Phoebus, in the morning raising up his light in the easterly region of the sky, was late in plunging his head in Tethys’ waters and stretched out the short hours of oncoming winter. Afterwards Diana would search for him by night, and four times she renewed the light she lost when her horns approached each other. But the weakened power of the exhausted sun made his sister’s globe grow dark, and while he drew up vapors (as is his wont as he moves) to the icy bosoms of the upper air, he likewise brought up the tears spilled on the ground from the cheeks of the dumbstruck common folk, everywhere mourning his dead father Henry. These were accompanied by a cloud, darker than the infernal cave of Dis, so wherever Philip planted or moved his step, for a long while it kept Phoebus’ fiery torch hidden, lest he would see this destined god anywhere on earth. Then, perceiving the dark cloud’s tricks, Phoebus began to seethe, impatient of delay, and melted the black cloud into gentle waters. Falling, the rain, full of hateful salt, troubled the youthful head of Ceres’ daughter, her failed crop fell, its stalks scorched, and the sap of her plants failed because of the excessive moisture, nor did Phoebus’ raging heat abate. As soon as Libra, moderating the excesses of the seasons, held the hours in its equal balance, making day and night the same in their courses, at length you could see Philip, the sought-for hero, filled with Mars and protecting the Belgian lands with his hand. Yet the rage did not cease. At the sun’s command (for the sun feared tricks), a swarthy Spaniard, an agent of harsh misfortune and a scurvy fellow, struck his left thigh with a fatal ball. Now his wounded body lies on earth, and his unwounded spirit, borne up to the supernal homes, possesses a place among the beings of heaven. So let that accursed man pay his forfeit, whoever has Philip’s blood on his hands, that heartless rascal who did not know his own father. A new year follows its erstwhile circles, and the risen sun brings back the same day. Now you will gain your vengeance, if shades retain their former concerns and your love for the beings of heavens does not fade. Do not let the hatreds for this crime grow cool, let your violent spirit cherish its wrath forever. And let a stout English band of soldiers forever wage its insatiable wars.”
When the Muse had thus spoken, her tongue began to grow dry with a thirst for vengeance and lost its sounds. Then she angrily checked her voice.
Pallas wove a garland out of many kinds of flower, planning on giving it to her Sidney. While she combined white roses with soft violets, and the garland grew into a circle with its new flowers, and when the blossoms were used up, she carefully placed palm-fronds in her wicker basket, and in the basket there chanced to be cypress. She saw this, and sighed deep within her breath, suspiciously fearing for her Sidney. She threw it away from her left hand (for she chanced to grasp it with her left), and I imagine that then she would have preferred to lose that hand. Scarce had she knelt on her left knee, and the plant had fallen on the nearby earth, when a report came to the goddess’ fearful ears that her favorite had died. The basket slipped from her lap, the garland from her hands, and she herself fell from her seat. Quickly the wonted color deserted her face, the wonted warmth her bones (such, I imagine, was the look of grieving Niobe). But at length her immortal strength returned, dispelled away her senselessness, and flowed into her chill body. As soon as she beheld him, stained with foul dust, she befouled her own cheeks so as to resemble him. Afterwards, when she had cut open his garment with her drawn sword and beheld the wound in his tender knee, she said, “How similar is your fate to that of sweet Adonis! A beast gored his thigh with its tusk. How similar is my fate to that of sad Venus! For my favorite has now died too. Hateful human race, hateful race of beasts, why can’t a goddess’ favorite live in safety? Just now Sidney has died, dear to me, and likewise Adonis, dear to Venus. Is it not allowed to keep their divine minds locked up in their fair bodies, rather than constantly suffering harm? Henceforth (she said) I myself shall guard against this evil, he will live, and yet he shall not have a body to be harmed.” Thus speaking, she released his mind from its dark prison, and it flew up to its celestial home, in which it enjoys eternal peace, caring nothing for your ambuscadoes, my Spanish friend.
On the point of seeking out the stars, Sidney refused wings. For he recalled the downfall of Icarus, and feared it. The earth he was on the verge of leaving, awash with its chill waters, menaced his wings with its great weight, and the stars he was about to attain with his vigorous strivings threatened to burn the feathers with their fires. But since Sidney’s innate virtue could not be wounded by cold or burned by fire, it made the effort. Neither fire’s heat nor water’s chill could stand in its way to keep it from flying straight to heaven so that, sitting at the side of almighty Jove, he could ornament the heaven he had gained with the presence of his divinity and illuminate the earth, outspread below, by his added light.
Why isn’t the funeral of the Muses being celebrated together with Sidney’s? For I fear the Muses too have died from mourning. They say that Thalia herself has grown old with grieving, and come to her poet slower than is her want. Who can hope that the Sisters are still surviving? Rather, they have poured out their hearts in sad laments.
The gods are rejoicing, why should we sluggish mortals complain? Adieu to Sidney: if he fared well as a warrior, a captive, a corpse, how well does he fare as a citizen of heaven? Why, my wretched friend, do you envy a man who is blessed?
After the death of her Sidney, golden Britain is said to have torn her yellow tresses and filled her face with flowing tears. Quickly she hid herself sadly in the middle of a forest, nor did she adorn her gown with ruddy copper or gold, as before, but sitting amidst the hazels she beat her glowing breast with her hands, as a bevy of nymphs came a-flying before her. Now came Essex, fertile with saffron, and watery Sussex, and Cornwall with her shining veins. Here stood Lincoln, wealthy with snow-white flocks. And now, heaven rent asunder with their cries, they all repeated, “Oh Jupiter and you stars, accomplices to such a deed! Has Sidney fallen? Ah, Flanders is scarcely worth such a price!” Weeping Cheshire came too, flourishing with her knightly pedigree, joining hands with her sister Shropshire, noble for that thunderbolt of war, the noble scion of the Brigantes, thundering out thrice or four times, “Alas, Flanders is not worth such a price!”
And the other English nymphs were also present, their brows pallid with blue fillets and the sad cypress-branch. Kent was of the same hue as they; Kent, no nymph flourished more when Sidney was alive, but now, after Philip’s death, unlucky Kent tore at her rosy locks.
Now Faunus grieved, the two-horned satyrs grieved, and the greeny Nymphs hid themselves in their caves.
Thames, the ruler of the waters, could not bear these laments, but touched the shining sand with his foot of nectar, and washed the ship-bearing sea with his flowing and ebbing waters.
Severn (once a royal daughter, now a river), came running from the west, wandering a thousand ways, and reached the foaming home of her Ocean. And here too came a-rolling the Rhine: once none was more handsome, but now his face was stained with cruel blood. When he saw them, their sea-blue father bade them recline on painted couches, the Naiads supplied nectar, and their tables were laden with sea-conches. After their dinner, they came to a cave which chanced to hang in the living pumice, and to their seats of smooth stone, and thus Father Ocean began to speak from his lofty reef:
You rivers which glide through happy lands, since we are sitting in this blue cave, pray speak to me of the life and death of my descendant. Here the hard reefs, the resounding floods, and the outcroppings of tufa which weave their little shadows are awaiting your tune. You sing of his life, and the Rhine of his cruel death. Let Thames begin and Severn follow. Sing in alternating verses, alternating verses are pleasing to Philip.
She was unequalled by Aurora with her rosy fingers, by Flora with her hair, by Venus with her eyes and lips, by Dione with her neck, by Pallas with her gait, by Cynthia with her countenance.
Long-haired Apollo saw her among the Nereids and her sister-Nymphs, picking violets and sweetly blushing apples (for what does he fail to see?)
He saw and was amazed, he praised her. And in praising her he gathered warmth, and, stricken by Cupid’s arrow, Phoebus gave birth to a man greater than Phoebus, if it is permitted to believe this).
It is permitted: for Peleus’ glory yielded to that of Achilles, Priam to Deiphobus, Evander to Pallas, Saturn to Jove, and Phoebus to Philip.
Nymphs strewed flowers about the growing boy’s cradle, they sweetly gave lilies with their full hands, and happy Oxford rejoiced in such a great son.
And the lad was blessed to have Oxford as such a great nurse. Here Athena migrated, scorning Athens. Here they say the Muses came, abandoning Helicon.
While he hung from his nurses’ gentle breast as a boy, he drank nectar and ambrosia.
As he grew up, the Muses carved his name in the bark of a tree, and the boy’s name grew together with the bark.
He learned the markings of the moon, the effort of the sun, the falling of the stars, and the multi-colored rainbow. He learned what shakes the earth and whirls the rapid gale, and makes the swift tides flow, and why the golden moon whitens when it hails and reddens when the winds blow.
He did not only mark the heaven’s rising stars with his glance, he also saw the lands and their highways, and the winding surges of the sea, both where the sun raises up its chariot and where it plunges it into the water.
No young man ever flourished more than he.
Trust me, no old man lives who was more prudent than he.
Daphne courted Sidney, fair Phyllis courted Sidney, he was courted by Crocale and Lycoris. But nether Crocale nor golden-haired Lycoris won him.
And yet he was won by Walsingham’s daughter, to whom Lycoris yields, though she is pretty, just as the prickly thorn-bush yields to the crimson roses.
She won him, and, second only to Juno, presented her sweet husband with a pretty nymph, though prettier herself. Ah, she was very, very happy in her husband.
For he towered above all husbands as much as Attic Philomela surpasses the strident grasshopper.
What grace in his visage! How often he sang, how fine, how great!
And what majesty! Oh how well, how greatly he carried himself!
He was dear to the Muses. As a poet he surpassed the poets, and Pierian garlands wreathed his learned brow.
He was dear to Mars and hurled the flying missiles, the happy laurel bedecked his victorious brow. My Muses will sing of this man when the sun rises in an eastern clime, and when it falls and hides itself in a Spanish harbor.
Why should I speak of the Muses? Philip, pray sing of Philip. Only you could. Great Amyntas defers to you, and Pan, bested in singing, yields you his chill mountains of Arcady, and I think he will yield you Thesallian Tempe. When he vied against you on the Arcadian reed, he confessed he was defeated by you.
I thank you for your song, you handsome streams, and I always shall be thankful, as long as stars shine, as long as Sidney’s glory fills the walls of the world. I pray you start, Rhine, and surpass the lowly myrtles. Wild nard does not always please, lift your head higher, speak of English armies and the thunder of great Mars. Since I am doing the asking, my Apollo will not grow angry.
I am not playing on a thin reed, as once I did. I am departing the forest and leaving the shepherds’ pastures. May the Muses forgive me, I will sing of far greater things. Lo, savage Allecto leaves the pit of Tartarus, dark night, the pale realms of Dis, in search of another Phlegethon. For, like a whirlwind, she went a-flying to the King of Spain (Orcus is no crueler than he) and thus she addressed Philip, her favorite:
“Thus, you idler?, you allow your father’s helmet to rust from disuse and your arms to grow slack with luxury? Are you satisfied to have lost Libya, gained by your father’s virtue, while you softly keep your bones abed? Are you satisfied to be shattered in wars and defeated in battle? Will you bequeath your bejeweled scepter to some soft German? Once you dared kill a man deserving no such thing, and sated yourself with the blood of your Charles, but now you fear your people, a rebellious people? You weren’t ashamed to befoul your marriage and your marriage-bed, you worst of men, but now you are ashamed to sully your sword? Tell me, what are you waiting for? For the key-bearing Pope to come to your aid? Or until it rains gold into your lap? Now go and sleep, enjoy carefree peace. Let monks encircle you with their prayers that the warlike Englishman won’t harm you, or dauntless Drake steal your gold, or Santo Domingo surrender itself to Drake.”
She spoke and, wrenching a cruel snake from her brow, she took it and plunged it in the king’s side and guts. Without delay a terrible bugle blew a harsh blast, and Parma ravaged the fields of Flanders, wasting everything with his crackling balls of fire. Meanwhile they say that Phoebus gave this response to the Dutchman who came to him for an oracle: “Neither the Frenchman nor the Turk can break the Spaniard in battle, nor a thousand battalions. But a virgin queen, the Thunderer’s protecting daughter, can do that which the Turk and a thousand battalions cannot.” Closely following these words, Belgians came a-flying in a ship, plowing the blue sea, equipped with a branch of green olive, and now they entered your harbors, Britain. Immediately the Queen bade these ambassadors be summoned to her dwelling, and sat on her throne of fiery scarlet, attended by a great bevy of Lords. And they, granted the freedom to speak in her presence, gazed upon her countenance and her reverend majesty, and were dumbstruck in astonishment. For her garment was crusted with the glory of pearls and jewels, such as Sidonian Dido wore, or Hecuba in Troy’s palmy days. No, I sing of things too small: this queen surpassed kings, this woman surpassed men, this nymph outdid the Nymphs, this Diana bested Diana. Now I am singing of great things, and I shall sing of greater. Now open your floodgates, Muses. Oh her countenance, worthy of a virgin! Oh majesty, worthy of Jove, oh mind worthy of Pallas! Your sweet voice sounded like Calliope, oh surely you are goddess! Such she was, so great she was, and as the young Flemish ambassador held his tongue and marveled. Elisa composed her serene countenance, raised her eyes (for she had been looking at the ground), and spoke:
“Flemish sir, your wish will be granted. I am untouched by desire to gain power or rule. Your shining scepter and your crown do not move me. My name of Elisa and my excellent pedigree inspire me, my mercy compels me, my indomitable virtue commands me. I do not like sad wars, oh if only Mars were never impious! Oh, if golden peace would reign over all the world! But the gods are unmoved, nor will prayers prevail. For that which the Fates refuse cannot come to pass. Now, having suffered evil myself (for Jupiter in his justice has willed that I too should suffer misfortune), I am aiding you in your misery, Elisa is so much a lover of piety and religion. For I am ashamed of the Spaniard, I pity you, and I shudder at the thunderbolt of Jove, of whom I am born.”
The sovereign spoke those things, and similar ones that eluded my Muse. You must imagine her speaking more. Imagine, and yet Elisa will surpass your imaginations with her deeds. She spoke, and her Lords made preparations to obey he words. Baleful bugles blew, and, with a cheer, Lord Leicester was the first to come forward. On his ivory back shone the ancestral glory of his his striped military cloak. His knotty staff glowed in the golden light, up which a bear climbed, shaggy with with its fur and bound by a hundred chains, , and a crescent moon adorned its middle.
Following him sprang forth a numerous band of youths, a bevy of Lords. Among these, glittering with his arms, hastened Sidney, the flower of the Court, the jewel of Parliament, a thunderbolt against the Spanish, a light for the English, a glory for the Belgians. His shield was studded with stars, for Mulciber had graven on it the deeds of his ancestors, the destinies of his descendants, and the flourishing pedigree of the Sidney family. Here Europa soothed the horns of Jove’s bull, licking his hand with neck turned backwards. Britannia followed Europa her mother, and Father Ocean embraced her with his two arms. Three hundred Nymphs were hiding their bodies in Ocean’s warm bosom. But Kent was depicted as wandering the meadows, and eloquent Apollo was ravishing her, or at least sweetly trying to seduce her, as she was picking violates and soft apples. The green rim of the shield held these pictures, but its boss contained Drake, who, skilled at handling his fleet, understood the rising and falling of the sun. Although the Spanish seemed to wall him around and threaten a thousand deaths and woundings, he cheated their wiles and escaped (wonderful to relate) by transforming himself into a bird, his wings bore aloft the beauty of his body. This sea-bird was borne to the shore, flying to fields full of silver, and a golden crest, made out of your gold, towered over Drake. Such was the shield, and a gemlike light blessed his sword-point with an indescribable brightness. A crest stood atop his helmet, and, seen to be shining from afar, shot its fiery light up to high heaven. His breastplate, encrusted with gold, shone, and on a medallion (which shone like a comet) there shone a quill-shooting porcupine, done in silver.
In the company of these captains, the whole army entrusted its ships to the swift winds, the waters foamed with their busy oars. And now they hastened to Zutphen and attained its walls, placed under siege by Parma’s armed soldiery. Catching sight of the British squadrons, and the sun shining off their helmets, he was amazed and fearfully hid himself within the walls. But the English, that race mighty in arms, landed, ardently formed ranks, and, full of menace, challenged the enemy to battle with their shouts. Meanwhile Juno, nursing an eternal wound within her enflamed heart, summoned Pallantias with her ruddy face and the daughter of Thaumas, and wrapped heaven and earth in cloud. She hid the mountains in thick darkness and the green dales in a dire covering. Amidst these mists the bold youth of Spain examined the English camp and ran about, planning on working their tricks. The Lord Sidney saw this, and (for thus it chanced to happen), with a small escort of men he went to encounter them, brandishing his weapons. Spears were reddened by the great bloodshed, such a storm of missiles were hurled. While the wounds were mounting, while lightning was being warded off by lightning, while adamantine headpieces were being shattered, you would have imagined that Mars and Jove were waging war against each other with all heaven looking on. Just as when easterly winds struggle against the floods of the Sicilian straight, or as when the crashing goes up to heaven when fire-breathing Brontes is forging Jove’s thunderbolts, such was the uproar. High heaven glowed with their gunfire. The gods all shuddered, and the Giants were terrified lest once more the gods throw great mountains up to the stars. But when they caught sight of Sidney, each of the gods competed to make him their own. “He’s mine,” said Minerva. “He’s my Aeneas,” Venus said. “See, so Aeneas kept his helmet, his hands, his weaponry.” The father of the gods smiled and stood up. “I recognize the face of Hercules. This is the fellow who once fetched up three-headed Cerberus, dragging him in adamantine chains. Oh what masses and weights of oak trees he wrenches up!” Thus fierce Hector harried Achilles of Larissa, and likewise crested Achilles harried Hector. And these comparisons do not please me. For Mars, daring as he may be, is his inferior.” Mars heard this and and was filled with rage. Quickly, faster than the east wind’s wings, or like a rushing current, he furiously flew out, snatched up his weapons, and spewed forth threats from his savage mouth. Meanwhile a soldier chanced to be preparing to shoot darts with his sluggish bow. Mars saw him, and when the man had drawn his string, he eagerly guided his aim. Sidney carefully bent his body as the arrow came hissing, and his horse, receiving the full force of the wound on its forehead, struck the earth with its dying head. The fierce Sidney ardently urged forward a second horse with his spurs of shining gold, and the horse breathed forth fiery foam. The swift-moving morning star was no quicker in its onrush, nor were Pyroeis nor fiery Aethon faster in their onrush. Mars saw this and grew envious. Delaying no longer, he transfixed Sidney’s fair leg with a Gorgon’s poisons. Long he struggled to overmaster this violent wound, but, alas, he fell, and at length yielded to the unkind Fates.
The universe stood amazed, Cynthia refused to give her wonted light, and Apollo hid his shimmering torches. Without delay the earth shook, the sky thundered, the waters rolled back, Atlas gave a shudder, and all but lost the globe from his neck. The Almighty flashed and, if the Fates had not held him back with a great struggle, he would have whirled his thunderbolt three or four times and dispatched Mars to the shadows of Tartarus. He did what he could and, grieving and flying on swift wings, took up his Sidney, deprived of light and life, sprinkled him with ambrosia, and set him among the glittering stars.
This hateful bane is not sufficiently atoned by tears, nor the nor’wester by its blast, nor winter by cloud, nor war by blood.
Throughout the world the Ganges, the Nile, and the Danube loudly sing of Sidney.
Harsh though she is, Spain has dissolved in complaining dirges, nor in speaking of his death does she abstain from tears.
Neither the narcissus nor the acanthus is always in bloom.
Nor is the rose, though clad in its purple garment.
Nor does victory always fly on propitious wings.
Philip is spoken of so much, ah, so much. He would be alive on earth, had he not been that Philip.
He would be alive on earth. But now, being very bright and set next to the Great and Little Bears, Sidney’s star burns amidst the glittering stars.
As long as Mars loves Venus, golden Venus the myrtle, the myrtle the shore, the shore the thirsty stand, he will live, Philip’s fame will flourish forever.
As long as the sun follows the dawn, the image of night follows the sun, dawn with her rosy hair the night, he will live, great Philip’s fame will never die.
These are the things I remember the streams to have said in their cool caverns, and now the gliding stars urged sleep. They departed, weeping, with the reefs calling out their “alas.” And Echo answered “alas” to the hard reefs.
If I am permitted to bewail Sidney in my humble verses (scarce any man was better known in the world, or a greater hero for his sacred virtues), my humble verses will not hold an unwelcome silence, since I am grieved by the public mourning, by our common cause, and by the complaints repeated so often, so often.
Of what should I first complain? What words might suffice for my grief? Could any tears or plaints be worthy of these sorrows? Each individual word will proclaim its constant sadness, Philip, whether I complain of your mournful death or remember, Britain, the wound inflicted on you.
How happy England once was because of Sidney’s virtues — oh, would that her fates had always remained so! In his one breast resided the Muses, and all the arts, and all the languages which could be contained by a single breast, and a later age will surely not believe this. Nobility of birth was his ornament, and he, if anyone, was the honor of his ancestral nobility. The bevy of the Muses adorned him, and he more than the others decorated the Muses with much honors.
Oh the Fates! Who, Sidney, unless he is harder than steel itself, will not mourn you, taken away before your day and robbed of the sweet light of life, you, whose name amazed the Peerage and astonished the Commons?
Ah, how great would you have been at arms, and how great would you have been in peace, if a later age had removed you? But fate, damnable fate which knows no limit, forbade this. Oh hateful war! It cut off life for you, and hope for us. A single dark day took you off, a day at which the present age shudders, and which generation after generation of our descendants will curse.
This was the death of one man, but the grieving touches everybody, all unhappy Britain felt this wound.
And so, you greathearted Lords whose reputation and the tokens of your deserved praise makes famous throughout the world, I call you (once happy in the piety of Philip, your heir) to bear witness to what plaint, what tears that accursed day brought the Commons and Parliament, that day on which the light of his nation, the flower of his nation, that prince of war and pillar of peace died, while charging into the thick of the enemy.
Your death did not create such sad lamentations among the Romans, lamented Camillus, nor did the senate and people weep for you with greater sorrow, Titus, you darling of the city, you delight of your nation.
Because he was a just man, Deucalion was not sunk in the waves when the sea and water consumed everyone else. But you alone out of everyone else, great Philip, lie dead, a man than whom this age has seen no better. Why did your piety fail to preserve you for many a year? Because it was more deserving of heaven.
While so many Lords were wishing to name you their heir, God adjudged you His worthy heir. Philip, happy in life, happy in death, oh how great your piety has made both for you!
He who compares you to the gods above, divine Philip, will grant you more than is proper for a man. He who thinks he can compare you to men grants Philip less than is fitting. Oxford, the first witness of his virtue, and the royal Court, to whom no other Lord was dearer, and also the camp itself, so fatal to your life, know you had more than mortal wisdom.
Dido would have possessed her Aeneas, had she been blessed with a son and could have seen his father’s face in the boy. His wife is not happy in possessing his child, even if the girl’s face resembles her father. It is a small thing for her to resemble him in looks, unless she can do so in deeds, but no child, male or female, can do that. No: if his daughter were to cast off her girlish guise, as did Iphis, she could not resemble him both. So is it right to search for a Hermaphrodite’s appearance? Female or male, neither child resembles him, nor would any.
Sidnaeus in the Latin language, Philippos in the Greek, being one man who knows both tongues, you possess both names. Being a lover of virtue, when peace rules all, if you subtract the middle of your Greek name, you will be Dear [philos]. When wars subtract a leg from the middle of your body, subtract the middle of your Latin name and you will be a Star [sidus]. Subtract from the middle of your body and your names, both your Latin and Greek names contain an omen. Dear in peace, a star in war, let heaven and earth adore you, lucky in your Greek and Latin names.NATHANIEL DOD
Oh you nine Sisters of Oxford, at length abandon your amazement, nor let your sorrow for Sidney to be locked up in your heart, as it locks up your heart with amazement.
At length let your sorrow say something and send forth tearful groans and sounds. Alas, now that Philip has been taken off, discharge his rites in resonant measures.
To the man whom you gave gifts in life, now you must give sad songs in death. Even if no poetry is worthy of him, nevertheless your let your pious willingness be welcome.
If sorrow that your darling has been taken off by arms forbids you to sing, then for a little while, Melpomene, lend me your tuneful lyre,
So that I may now use the measure of my mind, now declaring in lugubrious tones the manner of his life, which surpassed declaration, and the manner of this death, which surpassed lamentation.
Oh Sidney, you bright star, born of a noble star, would that the earth had been worthy of such a great little star, so that you would have gone later to the beings of heaven,
So that you might long bless yourself and your nation by the light of your angelic face, its heart by your heart, its powers by your virtue, its minds by your mind!
If this earth, teeming with vices, had not been unworthy of you (I am ashamed to say this), alas, the Fates would have granted you a longer life in this world.
You would not have died thus, in the flower of your fresh youth, then such a great hope for your nation, being an asylum for the virtues, and the darling of the Graces and the Sisters.
The world would not be bereft of such a light of virtue, which you had once quickly begun to give the world, at least once, and shed further over the earth.
Them Mars himself would have shuddered to shed the blood of such a dear body, and the goddesses would have shuddered to have robbed the world of the light of such a great star.
But high heaven is the place for stars. Earth was not worthy of such a star. Hence, since the earth cannot not bless you, happily enjoy the sky.
Were Philip himself to return from the Elysian vale and again drag out unwelcome delays in this world, if he could briefly witness the ceremonies of his funeral procession, his rites being performed in tearful ways, I do not imagine he would regret the loss of such transitory youth, rather than be eager to perform your duty, your pious throng. Rather I fancy that, if he had to face death, he would choose this death and this pyre once more. Oh Oxford, worthy of a son of such piety, and you, Philip, worthy of your Oxford!
When you hurled yourself into the thick of your enemies, Sidney, when you were greatly urged on by your youthful glory, oh you were forgetful of yourself, but not before growing forgetful of your fellow countrymen. You should have thought of your nation. But you thought of it, then you thought of it too much, great Philip: then your nation urged you on, then your nation killed you. But your nation did not kill you, you were sacrificed by the impious hand of Parma, and he demanded forfeits from an innocent man. But you did not kill yourself, nor did your nation or impious Parma itself. You were killed by the savage force of destiny: a force that was savage, but in vain, since, though conquered, at length you conquer; though dead, sainted Philip, you cannot die.
Whose tomb is this? Sidney’s. Who is that weeping woman? His nation. Why does she weep? It is right to bewail one’s father. Who is the goddess carefully leading his funeral procession? Religion. What chorus follows her? That of the Muses. Are the gods themselves in mourning? Rightly so. Religion bewails the loss of her patron, the Pierides their Phoebus. Alas, who begrudges the gods their dear person, and begrudges our own selves? The unfair hand of death. Nation, religion, and you Clarian sisters mourn, this death is your perpetual misfortune.
Rome used to be made of stone, but that was before the time of Caesar. When Caesar lived, Rome became golden. While Sidney lived all Britain was golden, so at his death is she destined to become stone? I do not know, that is for posterity to judge. I can only say this, that she is dumbstruck.
Whoever you are who are tormented by Philip’s loss, go, seek our Arcady, in Arcady he is alive.
Although your fame should be proclamed in hexameters, why am I singing unequal elegiacs at your tomb? At your funeral I was weeping immoderately, every other line interrupted by a sob.
By Jove’s permission, it once was allowed us to lie a little to Love. But by Jove’s command we are not allowed to lie about you either to Love or to Jove.
Why are you hesitating to die, Apollo? Since bloody Belgium has taken away your Philip’s life, once your glory, why are you hesitating to die, Apollo?
Farewell, Muses, your Sidney lies dead, the unique glory of your altars, your father, son, your worshipper, and likewise your god. Farewell, Muses, your Sidney lies dead.
And you, you British, once noble leaders, prepare his funeral, his very unhappy funeral. Offer your tears, if tears avail anything, and you, you British, once noble leaders.
Our tears remain, and we offer you our tears. Let England celebrate lengthy rites for you, Philip, which will often rekindle your pyre. And as long as our tears remain, our tears will flow.
How there should seem no hope for you, Flanders! He who fell for you has made you stand. And though yourself have not yet failed, how there should seem no hope for you, Flanders!
If there remains any sensation in the dead, Sidney, tell us what destiny is contriving for your nation, tell us what the stars threaten, what God is preparing, if there remains any sensation in the dead, Sidney.
Perhaps, Philip, more things will oppress us. But greater things cannot: what is worse than your death? Let the stars fall, if they wish, together with the falling sun, and let more things oppress us, Philip, if they can.
Without you what is sweet? What evil can I imagine when I am with you? If I should climb up to the homes of heaven, or if the threshold of Jove of the Underworld should receive me, without you what is sweet? What evil can I imagine when I am with you?
I shun the happy path of a late death, let me hasten to die, if I can be joined to you, Sidney. I would die an unhappy death, if I could die the quicker. And I shun that happy path, if it is long.
The fearful Belgians summoned Sidney’s arms, on the verge of falling the camp at Sluys summoned Sidney, it exclaimed it must be retaken. But I am less concerned about the Belgians. The fearful English are summoning Sidney’s arms.
Hear me, if you are alive. And if you do not hear me, come. Urge us on, remove either war or war’s delays, and lend us your ancestral strength, if you can. And so come to battle as a captain, or as a maker of peace.
A daughter sat by her mother, condemned to death for a great crime, as her only companion. And since she could not nourish her in any other way, she was compelled to feed her with milk squeezed from her breast. Seeing this the judge, the hostile judge, was astonished. Taking pity, he spoke as follows: “Daughter, let your piety spare your mother, let it spare yourself. This piety is rare indeed, both of you are worthy of salvation.” What the daughter did for the mother, Philip, you have done for your condemned nation, and you have done it for an innocent one. And though it be innocent, it is oppressed by great danger, whereas the mother was oppressed by things she had earned by her great guilt. Although the daughter sat by her, you have run through a thousand dangers, alone before the others, whereas the daughter was a sole companion. The daughter could do nothing else, but you, Sidney, could have done a thousand things sufficiently welcome for your countrymen, but safe enough for yourself. What the daughter did, she perhaps did under compulsion, but each thing you did was done of your own free will. What did the daughter do, if she only squeezed her breasts? Your heart and body suffered dire woundings. She acted for a few days, you for nearly a whole year. She fed one, you fed countless men. What she gave was only a surplus portion of her milk, what you gave was a sacred river of your blood. Yet she did not give, she only repaid her mother, as was fair. You gave, for to whom did you owe such great things? Yet when Mars, that supreme judge of battle, saw these things, Mars grew very hostile and was filled with envy, doubtless admiring, but perceiving where your virtue and your piety would at length take you, and either pitying the Spanish or fearing you, Sidney, you whom Parma’s camp fears even in death, spoke words such as these. He spoke them? Oh would that he had spoken them! O would that he would have spoken words such as these, if any! Yet he took them back, out of respect of your piety. “You have destroyed your nation, Sidney, and your great piety has destroyed you, I wish them both to perish by your death.” Thus he spoke, and suddenly you vanished into thin air: these are worthy rewards for your merits? The daughter’s piety was rare. How great was yours, Philip? If piety describes her act, what will be fitting for you? For if the piety of one girl had purchased life for one, what would your life be worth to you or your nation? But the piety of one brought life for two, then what your life be worth to you or your nation? And if this was salvation, if it was worthy salvation, if it was worthy for the both of them, this was not piety, but rather a single work of piety. For in accordance with any right you care to mention, Philip, your death (whatever it is), your worthy death, was worthy enough for both.
Divine Du Bartas, in what just order you enumerate four pillars for the English Muses! You mention More, Bacon, Sidney, and Elizabeth. You imply that two exist, and two existed in the past. And you do so truly, if in naming them you take away three and add no more. For although More surpassed everyone in intellect, he lost his wit along with his head. Bacon was great, but in life he he scarce had the strength to stand up. Can he be stronger now? And, although Sidney surpassed the both of them, when his legs failed him he must needs fall. Take away More’s head, Bacon’s crutches, Philip’s legs, we stand well enough, if Elisa stands.
You, Barupenthe, surpass light grief, let your Tears surpass Barupenthe. Yet let it mourn. And if a Shroud should cover up your Tears (as a shroud should), yet you should continue to cry. If you cannot cover up our complaints, or easily bear them, Shroud, you can proclaim your own. If ours cannot excel, as they seem to wish, you can add your own ones as well.
What a dire, what an incurable wound did I, England, receive, by my own unwholesome fault? When I strove to help the Belgians, worn down by war and dashed to pieces by the slow conflict, pitying their protracted evil, both with men and arms, I suffered a loss both of men and arms. Is this how you repay my favors, Belgian land? Is this how you harm me undeservedly, Flanders? Are these the fruits of my zeal and the honor for my love and devotion you give me, because I took pity on your and your great leaders in war, and outfitted you with much of my soldiery, giving you wealth and much help, giving you stout heroes and trusty servants as allies and partners in your suffering? But see, my wealth, my captains, my sturdy comrades in arms, my arms and missiles are lost, to my harm. Oh, your very ungrateful, cruel heart! You compel me to be consumed in lamentations, a bereaved mother. And yet their loss would not trouble me, had a more dolorous stroke not befallen me. I sent the single hope of our nation, the pillar of Britain. Alas, the hope and pillar of my nation has fallen. I sent Sidney: no man dearer to me, no greater man produced by Britain. I sent Philip, deserving to be heaped with praise for every virtue, for his justice, piety, and faith. But why am I harping on his laudable praises, for my pen is unequal to all his praises? Rather why not fit tears to my eyes, laments to my sorrow, as I weep with sorrow for your death? Oh would that — but after your death there is no place for prayers, since you have departed, not to be recalled by human prayers — yet would that his life would be purchased by your loss, Flanders, for to me the whole of you is not worth the cost! But since neither tears nor prayers are of any avail for the dead, I shall make him live on men’s mouths. You sweet nurse, Oxford, observe these last rites for your child and his funeral. Let your complaints be joined to your sister’s tears, let the both of you extol to the stars the lofty name of much-loved, much-missed Sidney. Let the both of you strive that his reputation does not perish together with his body, but, famous and living, go a-flying on the mouths of men.
Thus I come onto the gloomy stage, my sorrowful head shrouded, just as the blood-stained son of Atreus stood at the altar.
Fortune alone bests all my art, the reed pipe feels my unworthy amazement. No words can suffice for my savage grief.
Neither the swan dying on the sad waters, nor the Thracian bird could surpass me, if wretched complaints could relieve this harsh fate.
Let Belgium cry for Philip as her captain, let England cry for Philip as her father, let our sovereign cry for Philip as her Mars, let her Court cry for Philip as its glory, let Oxford mourn for Philip as its patron. How much hope resided in this one Philip!
He who thunders on ruddy Olympus placed three stars in the outstretched universe, he made one and three an eternal star: Mars, the greated-hearted Father, and Philip.
You who pass by, show reverence: this altar is sacred, dedicated to a half-divine human, a half-human divinity. His deeds proclaim his godhead, yet the Fates have proven he is a man. The human part is dead, the divine part will not die.
Just as proud Juno saw Minerva born from Jove’s brain, without a mother, and grew envious, lest Jupiter be in any way her superior she likewise conceived Mars without a father. Henceforth Juno vexed Jove, Jupiter vexed Juno, and neither birth grew less hateful. Hence the Muses hate Mars and jealous Mars hates the Muses, so that I can’t imagine they would both bestow their favor. For if both were to favor any one man, Philip, they would have equally favored you. But the Muse, mindful of her father, and Mars, mindful of his mother, both knew they could not long favor you equally. Lest this seem ungrateful, they took turns in furnishing you with much, such as neither divinity could give alone. Hence when you were scarcely a youth the Muses granted you everything, and afterwards Mars wished to give you more as a man. But since your early death denied you to Mars, the Muses kept you for themselves. Thus, albeit dead, you are known throughout the world. If the Muses live, you too will survive.
Venus saved Aeneas, and Thetis rescued Achilles. Yet the latter goddess was fit for wars, but not the former. Two greater divinities could not protect you fighting in battle, Philip. Both Mars loved you as a fighter, and Pallas as a bard, but neither Mars nor Pallas could come to your aid. While you were equally a devotee of Mars and Minerva, neither the one or the other could rescue you from your destiny. Did it thus please you to serve two gods, Philip? You would better have been protected by the divinity of one or the other. Why did you plunge your armed ranks into Mar’s battle? Philip, pens should have been your arms, books your missiles.
Sidney, that thrice-great hero, was Pythagoras’ equal, and a Greek letter gave an equal name to both. The one set forth a way under the image of a two-forked path, the other shows the way to the hilltop by a threefold road. The one showed heaven and Hell by his twofold way, the other revealed both poles, by whatever way you seek them. Both of them seem to have set forth a model for life, although the one displayed a life that is eternal, the other a brief one. Both garnered equal praise for their similar achievements. The one was superior to many men, the other had no equal.
You who would have been a new Cynosure had you lived, Philip, shine in the spangled sky as a star. Your sovereign held you dear, as did your nation. Your sovereign was dear to you, as was your nation. If savage death had not cut short your rising honor, both she and it would have been enlarged by your merits.
Like the splendor of the sky soaring over the clear vault of heaven, like the the sun’s glory at his first rising, like the splendor of the sky fleeing as the vault of heaven closes, like our love for the sun at its setting, such you were to us in life, Philip, such you when ghastly death oppressed you.
After night had covered the sky with its dark wings, and deep sleep had come over my heavy eyes, in a dream I saw the image of sad Virtue, dressed in mourning clothes, wringing her hands for an inexpressible reason, and drawing sighs. After showing dire signs of her troubled sorrow, she at length fixed her dripping eyes in the ground, waited a while, and than began to speak:
“What impious madness drive you to harm my Sidney, hateful Mars, he who shone like a star, and who loved me from his tender young years, and whom I blessed with my virtue, as much as I could? His noble body was not lacking in strength, nor manly virtue, worthy of having Jove as its father. But you, jealous Mars, together with your blind accomplice Misfortune, have conspired against him. But why am I thus moved? He received a lethal wound on behalf of his nation, and this brought him supreme honor. But would that some other man had gained this honor in your place, as long as you would have survived! It is not sinful to have this hope. I am complaining because fortune has no turning back, and he cannot live again thanks to my complaints. But, Sidney, thrice dearer to me than the others, may you have this as my gift: let your glory live until hateful Mars’ star shines atop Olympus!”
She spoke, and, like a shade, disappeared more quickly than you could describe.
So, Philip, will death destroy your praises, and your honor disappear along with your corpse? Will there be no memory of such great things? Will there be no mention made of such a great commander? Is this how you mourn dead Philip, English nation? This is your sorrow? These are your lamentations? This is your concern? You hold your silence? Unhappy country, deprived of such a patron! Unhappy land, for the way it has endured its fate! Unhappy wife, bereft of such a husband! Unhappy daughter, deprived of this father! Unhappy nation, robbed of such a light! Unhappy sovereign, under whose rule he lived! Unhappy University, whose Alexis he was! Unhappy House, whose son he was! Unhappy wife, daughter, nation, ruler! All these things are to be deplored in a single man.
An astrologer saw a star shining with strange brightness in the place where the star of Mars usually glows. He could not understand why this was so, and so Urania helped his understanding: Philip was occupying the house of Mars.
You flower of your own family, you pillar of the British, you glory of your native soil, often to be sung, why should I begrudge you a famous name, equal to your virtues? Piety and sorrow should do more? Therefore you will be called a hero, you shall match the glory of your ancestors, equal to the ancients with the pen, equal with the sword. But this too serves to hide Sidney’s praises, not to publish them: in his character he was greater than Pyrrhus, than Scipio. Would that at least his character had been immortal At least he produced writings that no day will destroy)! Then it would not be so sad that this captain’s strength, and martial prowess, and mighty arms have now been destroyed. Yet Belgium, her hair flowing, keeps beginning for Sidney’s martial prowess — alas, she will not gain her wish! And England, if any harsh misfortune should befall, more than once you will call for Sidney with your sad voice. I am not singing of obscurities: the prideful Spaniard will bear witness how mighty he was at arms, how mighty he was in his courage. All the lands governed by unknown Thule, and that straight which derives its name from that of Helle, will bear witness. But such great virtue did not wish to be confined within Europe, but was anxious to spread further. Perhaps he would have troubled the Turks and menacing Asia, where the gate to immeasurable glory lies open, had not that grim hole been shot in his snow-white body, and the Fates and God had commanded that captain to die.
G. S. of CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE
Why ready yourself to aid the wretched Belgians, Sidney, so as to render the British far more wretched? There is honor and glory in bringing help to an afflicted nation, but it is criminal to hasten the downfall of your own. But there was no crime in what you did, Philip, for whoever helps the Belgians helps the Britons, and prudently looks out for his nation and its own security, warding the raging enemy off from its shores. For it concerns ourselves when our next-door neighbor’s house catches fire. And so your nation joins the Belgians in mourning your death, and erects due monuments to your virtue, because you did not hesitate to spend your life for your nation while you strove to bring welcome safety to the Belgians.
You ashes of Hector, and whatever fate’s cruel violence has overcome with death in the eastern world, you are very happy ashes, your fate was lucky. For he, albeit scarce overcome by great Achilles, has enjoyed great publication of his praise, as well as of his sad end, thanks to the genius of a bard’s verse, resounding under both eastern and western suns. Oh you, whose honors the Muse has always been vigilant in lauding, live on! Neither will old age wear away your names, nor will misfortune overwhelm them. In all ages of the world men will read of Agamemnon, vexed in battles, and Ulysses, storm-tossed on the sea.
Our own heroes have deserved no less by their merits, if the same virtue requires the same reward. Why should the Muses, who with their song create everlasting fame for men of antiquity, deny this to contemporaries? For we, neither soft nor degenerate, do not spurn the courage of our ancestors. Drake has been a victor by land, a victor by sea, the terror of the Spanish, and the thunderbolt of Mars in the western world. And yet Sidney grew greater, besting all our ancient fathers and our own times. Great Drake, great as you were in courage and in arms, yield to rising Philip. Oh what great courage he displayed before he came to his full age! Oh what a figure he cut! Oh, since he was kindled with great love of great fame, what proofs he gave of his ancestry, the martial prowess of his forebears!
As soon as he emerged from his boyhood years, in his spirit he breathed a growing love of praises. He was ashamed to have any equals: even then he wanted to be first, and to surpass others in setting an illustrious example. Now the faces of your seniors, the prayers of your juniors turned to him, and he drank Oxford dry. For as soon as he was admonished, he turned his mind to greater things, snatching at an enlargement of his virtues, and, now dealing with great things, he eagerly occupied himself with lofty things, despising the trifles of Court. It is good to have a mind that deals with useful concerns and the safety of one’s nation. Then he resumed his care about what way he might manage his army, by what arts he could overwhelm his enemy, and what usages the duties of peace demanded of himself. His seniors admired him in peace and in war, men like Curius and Camillus would have been astonished. Foreign nations were troubled by this omen, and our Catos were afraid of the destiny arising for him. Various parts of the world vied in lodging claims on the man’s various virtues and those of his polished mind. Lately France swore he was their citizen; on one side the Germans desired him, on another the Italian race grasped at him. But the Dutch made him their own. Wherever you are in the world, on whatever sea, you should avoid the shores of Holland. Alas, you would better have been given to the Turks, better to the Spanish, than entrusted to the Dutch, you should shun their dire shores and fields, you hero ill-entrusted to the Dutch alone! Nevertheless, what ever cities he captured, whatever regions he entered, he took them all by fighting and held them by delaying. They called him their native, nowhere in the world was he a stranger. And yet he was wholly yours, England, he both desired and deserved to be deemed your citizen. “Let my person serve you alone,” he said, “let this hand of mine exert itself for you alone.” Meanwhile, just as the hero wonderfully accumulated monuments of his genius, so he grew to greatness under a great star, his spirits and heart grew great. The Schools yielded to his genius, as did their audiences; his seniors yielded to his counsels, and the Lord of Parma to his arms. He astonished his elders: when men weary themselves in reviewing all the centuries, their annals and accomplishments, very few out of many will be found in all time, such as Sidney alone is reckoned to be among all the centuries. The Muses by whom the centuries are brought back to life are said to have called him uniquely our nation’s darling.
Was destiny’s violence able to steal even him from us? Could fierce Mars end even his life? Oh his very sad ashes, oh his sad fate!
Have the Fates so destroyed our poets? Will they be unable to consign to eternal fame the man’s meritorious virtues and his deeds? To recall the affecting Muses and Phoebus to sing of a Hector? Alas that their great hearts are so beclouded! For what bard will describe arms? Who will be able to write of the fires of such a great heart? Who will disclose so many monuments and heroic spirits? Who will supply the rewards for such great praise? Virtue with no bard to celebrate it lies dead and buried. Oh his very sad ashes, oh his sad fate!
But at least you Arcadians, oh you Arcadians skilled at singing, oh if amidst your greenwoods he played his tunes on his greater reed, if he managed to attract Pan, taking him away from great Phoebus, and if he was the first to be able to detain in that hall at Pembroke the nymphs who usually sported atop Mt. Maenalus, you will sing of these things atop your mountains, you Arcadians. You will sing of them in your deepest dales, your greenwoods and your dales will summon his sad ashes, his sad fates.
Receive these tears, Thames, be not ashamed to flow at full force, enhanced by these tears. See how Father Thames assaults his banks with his high waters, how his waters swell because of the rain of our tears! Indeed, when you wind your streams to the sea, although Ocean is salty beneath his swollen flood, he will be saltier because of our waters. Oh let him in his greatness feel the tears of the men of Merton, let Atlas sooth his waves, and let him exclaim with a hoarse murmur, cruelly moaning, “oh his very sad ashes, oh his sad fate!”
But with happy omens our choice young men will go under some great general, and demand Sidney of the proud Spanish. Then let them cast fear far and wide, let Willoughby’s sword thunder, and slaughter break out on a savage sea. And from another direction let his great uncle bring his standards and shatter their armies. And let the Spanish, everywhere overthrown by his indomitable might, receive his victorious sword in their guts, and never avoid the woundings of his death-dealing hand. Indeed someday the Lord of Parma himself will exclaim over his cruel ashes, his cruel fate.
We are humble souls, and the such great undertakings do not suffer themselves to be published by our mouths. You alone are worthy of composing such great things for yourself. You will be your own bard in their speaking, as you are their author in their doing. For what worthy songs await you? The glory of the western shore is great, greater than our shadows? Although you give yourself a posthumous fame destined to endure for the centuries, and will be hidden by no tomb, I still sing. My pious Muse will attest my zeal with a mouth that is willing, if not long-enduring. All posterity will hear of your fame and will wonder; alive, you will dwell on the mouths of man. And through late centuries our descendants will call your ashes happy, your fate happy.
In the Netherlands there is a place, below the forks of the Rhine. On one side the walls of the city of Zutphen rise up, and on the other a thick woods strikes the air with its treetops. In between lies a very broad flatland. Here the Spanish were bringing up supplies from their nearby camp and attacking the city. Under the pitch-black cover of night Sidney, accompanied by two hundred select horsemen, unexpectedly confronted the enemy and spiritedly joined battle. The enemy, astonished by the strength of this column that suddenly appeared, refused an engagement. Inferior in arms and in courage, they decided to form a circle and surround our squadrons by their numbers. Twice they tried to break out, trusting in their numbers, but twice the enemy ranks retreated, and, having twice been bested, they hid themselves within their fortifications. With indomitable courage, our men followed, and it came to sword-blows. Very great slaughter ensued. On the one side raged Russell pell-mell, on the other Sidney, placing their martial prowess into manifest danger. Fusius, D’Avila, and Vogas died, with his sword. Russell took off Andredius’s head. Here the doughty Gonzaga, famous for his great feats of arms, boasting Hannibal’s name and titles, awaited Sidney, fixed on him alone. Seeing the fair man befouled with dust, he said “Oh youth, worthy of dying by my arms alone, receive your fate and your fate’s consolation. You will die it my hands, Hannibal will be the author of your wounds.” He retorted, “Why boast of empty names? I don’t claim them as mine.” Having spoken, he parried the blow and energetically ran his spear through the bend of the man’s knee. Hannibal lay dying on the bare sand. [The text seems corrupt at this point.] Meanwhile a musket-ball threatened Sidney, but he dodged it, swerving a trifle aside, and it was received by his horse’s forehead. Sidney immediately was carried back into the fray on a second horse. He felt Mars swelling in breast, the warrior had indomitable courage. Next he galloped headlong, and now the fearful name of Sidney resounded from every side. A divine battle-frenzy drove him on, greater than any human heart.
But see, young Willoughby, distinguished for his courage and ardent with desire for glory, shone afar in his fine armor, went against his confused enemy, pressing those who resisted wherever his onrush took him. But, overexcited by his zeal for a fight, he followed the enemy too far as they engaged him in front they stretched out their flanks. Suddenly the enemy flanks came together and Willoughby was caught between them, surrounded as they encircled him. When Sidney saw him placed in such great danger, he gave a groan, suddenly felt the fires of rage in his keen heart, aroused his menacing spirits, and said, “Alas, England will have born me in vain if Spain takes you as a prize right before my eyes. I will immediately rescue you from this fearful danger, Willoughby. Or, if I cannot, you will have me as a companion in your death and in your glory.” He spoke, and hurried straightway to the place where the fighting was most horrid, where he raged as an insuperable god of war, and burst their ranks. With his hand he cut his way through the fighting and killing. His trusty band of horsemen followed, and, forming a wedge, broke a way through the armed enemy and drove back their shattered forces, wearying their bold hands by killing the Spaniards. And now victorious Sidney and Willoughby drove the enemy bands everywhere along the strand, headlong, and drew out the battle until late at night. But at length they brought back their weary horsemen from the killing. And here, behold, a criminal hand once more shot a bullet, and Sidney was pierced. It flew deep into his leg, shattering the bone. His virtue, which knew not how to yield, was greater in his extremity, accompanying him even here. Not even groaning at his wound, he returned to camp. And soon his divine soul, freed from the embrace of this dust, returned to its divine homeland.
The Dutch were astonished amidst their sorrow, as if complaining about the shattered enterprise of their rising destiny. The stiff-necked Scots wept welling tears for you, Sidney, as did the harsh Spaniards, the Frenchmen, and the warlike Germans. So did the captains who had often followed your camp, and the Nymphs who had often followed your songs. And England, troubled in mind by its sorrow, England, said to be robbed of a father, England, bereft of a teacher of virtues and letters, knew not what to do and railed against the heavy weight of its unfair fate. And it cast the blame on the Netherlands’ complaining voice. “Will you return my pledge to me, Dutchmen?” she said, “Oh Dutchmen, will you return the pledge I entrusted to you? Is this your faith?” But at these final words her voice trailed off, choked by sorrow.
And when the floodgates of their fountains burst, the Muses let their waters leap forth more freely, saying, “Run, you waters, run from our fountains, and let our steady tears constantly flow from your sources. Henceforth if any man drinking our waters is surprised that our fountains and streams taste of salt, let these streams attest to our tears. Sidney is our tears, Sidney our love.”
As when a tree lies outstretched, stricken by great-hearted Jove’s lightning, or a pine, that glory of the forest and glade, is toppled by a gale,
So that youth, made illustrious by the blood of his noble pedigrees, the light of his nation, the honor of his great sovereign, the great hope of his country, lies dead.
Alas, my silent sorrow allows me to say no more. When the menacing decrees of the offended gods thus, o thus, snatch away a great man, what calamities are they preparing for us wretched folk?
Sad Ops mourns Atys, golden Venus Adonis, a beclouded Phoebus searches for Phaethon, Syrinx was Pan’s concern, Artemis wept for maimed Hippolytus, Aurora, rising with wet with weeping, hunts for Memnon, Echo often calls for Narcissus in the deepest dales. Weeping next to Helicon the Nymphs and the Graces call and call again for their dead Philip.
A single day has taken away a man such as no day has given, the glory of mankind, the ornament of his nation, the beloved of the world. Let the Frenchman bear witness to his manners, the Spaniard to his courage, the Englishman to his life, the Belgian to his death. England experienced you as its sun, Spain as its Mars, France as its Mercury, Belgium as its Jupiter. Let east and west and both poles learn that the Fates have stolen you from me in your youth, Philip.
Here let the bereft turtledove moan, let the Siren sing sadly, let the nightingale and the dying swan sing their baleful tunes. Here you should bring nard, cinnamon, crocus, myrrh, smoking incense, Judea’s sacred balsam, and the harvest of Araby’s spices. Here lies the birds’ Phoenix, oh mournful death! The world has none other, nor will earth grant us his equal.
My son, for whom I so often hoped for the fortune of a Caesar, the long life of a Nestor, so that your virtue would be a help for the nation and for myself,
Since, dear boy, the dark Fates of the gods and of an angry Jove refuse to let you live, and since adamantine death cannot be swayed by prayers or wet tears,
So that neither your glory no your mother’s piety might perish, behold your tomb, a sign of my grief and a token of your virtue.
Here no gem glitters, no Indian ivory; no gold gleams, no Parian marble, your mother was unable to give you a Mausoleum, she gave what she could.
Perhaps this is a greater work, one which will not be diminished by the passage of years, the rage of our enemies, or envy. It will only be destroyed by the day which will destroy the world.
Oh pyramid worthy of your deserts! When posterity sees this mass, then it will give purple roses and gentle violets to your beloved ashes.