You who are reading another man’s writings, are you not providing yourself with knowledge? Is there not illumination in is for you?
*II. THE TYPESETTER TO THE READER
What our poets’ Muse did not unwillingly supply, my press gives to you against their will.
III. ODE 1 AGAINST THE TRAITOR WHO TRIED TO ENCOMPASS THE MURDER OF OUR MOST SERENE QUEEN ELIZABETH
Fears such as are usually felt by the dove, barely freed from the vulture’s talons, or the fearful lamb, newly rescued from the jaws of the wolf,
Such fears of vulture and wolf were lately felt by fair Elisa’s heart; and with death’s terror scarce banished, the lamb is fearful, the dove trembles.
How nearly was the unique light of our times put out by crime and wickedness! How nearly our world’s splendid sun came to toppling from its lofty axis!
Perjurer (if it is right to call you by this simple name, with your crime surpassing every possible reproach—for why should I sully my Muses by mentioning your family name?)
What obscure Welsh cave, lying beneath a forbidding mountain, what foul beast bore you in your infamy, a disgrace and reproach to our happy realm?
Did cruel oak, triple brass, and flint strengthen your mind, as you were making ready to pierce such a soft breast with your terrible steel?
Savage man, what custom is this, to sacrifice virgins’ hearts with cruel woundings? Your step-daughter found you milder, when for you she carried a gravid womb.
Your dagger, which once played its prelude on the blood of a creditor who was a mere subject, now scorns a lesser victim and seeks the head of state.
What horror of detected crime weighs and pierces you? What Furies oppress you? This is the first penalty, to be followed by the forfeit of your wicked head.
All England, surrounded by evils such as abound in you, wretched man, has taken an oath for your ruin. Why hesitate to relieve your nation by dying a swift death?
So that the nation may be at peace, will you never gratify me? I took no treacherous oath, nor would I fear the blame of being your headsman.
Learn how good gifts vanish, if divine grace has deserted a man. The gods hate natural endowments, no matter how great, when they are devoid of piety.
IV. AN ODE ON THE MOST SERENE QUEEN ELIZABETH, RESCUED FROM THE IMMINENT PERIL OF ASSASSINATION, ODE 2
Although it was not without its terrors, that day is more welcome to me than the day of my birth, Eliza, which betrayed the enemy of your life and welfare.
That day would have come to me far worse than they day of my death, blacker than night, if it had not caught sight of the enemy hovering over your head.
How near you lately came to seeing the dark kingdom of infernal Dis, the shades finished off by chill death, if Jove had not warded off the blow!
It is Jupiter, father and guardian of princes, whose concern is and will continue to be your safety, who turned aside your savage steel, traitor, from her throat.
And so shall we delay in offering pious incense to such a kindly god, along with our prayers? Ah, are we hesitating to strike the consecrated necks of his victims?
Let the Peerage erect a hallowed shrine, let their wellborn assemblage slaughter a herd, let each commoner ponder the sacrifice of a white-fleeced lamb.
Let my own gift be a pair of doves, over and above the Commons’ white lamb. And I shall crown these gifts with the song of a grateful mind.
I shall drink a hundred cups and more, now I shall have no fear of being called too lighthearted, now my frenzy is sweet, with Eliza well rescued from death.
Let heaven hear our lads and gaffers, let the hills hear our populace and fathers, as everyone calls with loud voice vivat, vivat Elisa!
Let death remove my sweet parents, let it remove my brothers, uncle, and sister. I shall patiently bear all calamities, while Elisa is safe.
Let God protract their old age, yet I shall care nothing for the good things of life if some violent power of harsh Fate takes off Elisa.
Let me not be happy without you, nor ever miserable with you, my life and death; if you live, I live, if you die, it suits me to perish with you.
Oh king of the gods, ruler of men, divinity at once all-powerful and kindly, I pray you mercifully to hear a suppliant’s loyal prayers.
Subtract thirty years from her, I pray, and add them to mine. Let her thus immediately grow young, and thus let me more grow old, as is fitter, when these years are added.
Let that day come late, later than in my generation, nor in the following, on which you make ready to consecrate the deified Elizabeth among the gods.
V. TO THE MOST SERENE QUEEN ELIZABETH, SO THAT SHE MAY BE OF GOOD HEART AND AT LENGTH CEASE TO FEAR, ODE 3
Queen, I pray you set aside your fear at length. Endowed with vigor, trust in your flourishing realm. The lamb does not fear the foe it flees, or the dove fear the hawk,
So much that the one refuses to build her nest, or the other to gambol in the pastures. Nor does the doe always dread the hound or the treacherous nets.
Let your mind grow loftier because of this peril, surge up more powerful because of these adversities. Be not so much a virgin as a heroine. Away with womanly terrors.
Let the traitor thrice draw his impious sword — thrice it will drop from his hands, thrice pallor will overcome his rages, thrice paralysis will overcome his evildoing.
The origins of noble kings are derived from Jove on high, whom He has allowed to bear His image, and He will protect her as His own posterity.
God does not permit great wickedness to be done against these, whose consecrated bodies He has made, on whom high majesty has been bestowed, scarcely to be violated by savage hands.
Let a thousand arrows encircle your right side, let ten thousand fall on your left, you will stand untouched, not a one will rend your virgin’s limbs.
Now, with pleasure receive sound sleep lying on both ears, secure both in God’s protection and in the support of the Commons and Peerage.
Cecil will display all loyalty in directing the duties of fostering peace, while the brothers Dudle y will carry out those of fierce war.
Why mention that pillar of strength, the sons of our nobility, who rescue their parents? Now the eagle’s chicks threaten to surpass the eagle.
Thus Clinton, the hope of Lincoln, brings to mind his grandfather, and is now his father’s rival. Thus young Walter Devereux, together with his brother Robert, takes after his father.
Among all of these Philip Sidney shines forth like a star, that great glory of our knighthood, vowing to Elisa the strength of his wit and arm.
And I, not the worst of your subjects, shall pray for one thing, that he be banished from Court to whom the gods have given innate gifts, devoid of piety.
*VI. AGAINST THE TRAITOR WILLIAM PARRY, AS HE IS TAKEN TO THE SCAFFOLD FOR HIS PLOT TO ASSASSINATE THE QUEEN
Parry, when he did not acknowledge anyone on a par for genius, wished to be peerless in evildoing. Parry, since he scarcely acknowledged the world to be his peer in good qualities, did not wish there to be a nonpareil Queen in the world. Parry, when he found no perfect hour for the doing of his crime, has found an hour perfect for ruining his wicked undertaking. Parry, although he did not care to live a life according to law, meets death in accordance with the law, in advance of all his compeers, as Parry the paragon hangs. Let all those compeers be subject to the same fate.
*VII. AGAINST THE SAME MAN, SINCE HE HAD PREVIOUSLY WOUNDED HUGH HARE, A CREDITOR
Was Hare unable to quench your thirst for blood, since you desire to have your fill of the Queen’s? Against a rabbit you could dare what you wanted, but you cannot harry a huge lion without finding death.
*VIII. AGAINST THE SAME MAN, SINCE HE HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN CONDEMNED TO DEATH BUT EXPERIENCED ROYAL CLEMENCY
Are you to deny our sovereign the enjoyment of the very life she granted you, she who gave you the enjoyment of life when you were condemned? Robbers act just as well: the man who releases them from prison will find that they are robbers.
*IX. AGAINST THE SAME MAN
False fellow, do you work treachery against the woman who unguardedly placed her trust in you, who mercifully gave you your life, who bestowed favor on you at home and honor abroad? Disloyal fellow, have you dared deprive her of life? Has her great grace made you an ingrate? What great thing could Rome have promised you that you would be the criminal hand of the chief of sinners?
*X. ABOUT THE SAME MAN
Parry is rightfully made the hand of the Pope, the chief of sinners. For he is the son of naught, and the Pope is the father of naughtiness.
*XI. ABOUT THE SAME MAN
His father’s name, family, and particulars were obscure, and his mother would be all but unknown save she was a bastard. Parry invented his own surname, since he was displeased with his father’s name ap Harry. But in truth he more resembles his mother. For as she was born as a disgrace to her parents, so was he born as a disgrace to his country.
*XII. ABOUT THE SAME MAN
Parry, in his mind a son of Rome, but in truth a son of nobody in particular, thinking this realm to be beneath his dignity, dared a crime worthy of shackles and prison, so that he, in himself a nobody, might become somebody. By which he became a hero in the same way as did Herostratus, who once, chaste Diana, burned down your temple. For they achieved fame in the same fashion: the one burned down a virgin’s temple, the other attempted to murder a virgin.
*XIII. ABOUT THE SAME MAN
Wales gave you birth, France swore you to the Pope’s service, Italy gave you over to crime, and England to the gibbet.
*XIV. AGAINST THE SAME MAN
It is a crime that it was a Queen. It was a crime that it was a virgin whose life was sought. It was a crime that it was a pious Queen. It was a crime that she had been favorable to you. Bah, that it was a pious virgin Queen, favorable to you, whose life was sought was a crime, a crime to surpass all others!
*XV. AGAINST THE ANGLO-ROMANSAm I mistaken, or do the very same purpose and outcome await our Anglo-Romans that befell the Greeks? A Greekish harlot drew those to the walls of Troy, a whore of Babyon seduces these to Rome. The cause was the same for both, but it is more blameworthy to recall a banished woman than to employ force to bring back one who was kidnapped. The Greeks saw their tenth year beneath Troy walls, but our Catholics now prepare to pass their thirtieth. When the Greeks got nowhere by force, they instructed Sinon in deceit. Our Catholics have thousands of Sinons, learned in treachery. Let wind and weather prevent the Greeks’ homecoming, so wind and weather deny these their return. They sent to inquire of Phoebus’ oracle, while our Catholics have consulted the Pope at Rome. For the Greeks, bloodshed and the sacrifice of a virgin placated the winds, and for these people the killing of a heroine was supposed to provide easy winds. But that whore of Babylon will meet her downfall before this virgin, who denies them their return, will not perish.
Who is to imagine that this man, who armed his followers against a virgin, is the servant of the virgin-born Christ? Who can bear this king of kings, master of masters, who oppresses every realm with his dominion? But let him rage as he will, among the English it will be a virgin Queen who is the protectress of our virgin-born King.
Hail, Queen, strong in spirit, heroic in virtue, prudent in counsel, pious in religion. He Who has thus separated the English from the rest of the world, so that no undisguised power can destroy your estate, has directed so many watchful eyes from every side that no deceit of friends can touch your bosom. May He Who was born of a Virgin refresh your virginal years. Virgin, on your safety depends our salvation.
Now is when one want to be snatched away from here, wherever a cyclone might care to carry him headlong, even beyond the Pillars of Hercules or the range of Drake’s stout-hearted voyages.
Now is when one wants to cower in a cave, living life with the very beasts and, eating fallen acorns, lurk in the harmless forests,
Where no report of a domestic traitor can ever reach, where no disloyal man guilty of high treason can ever be heard of.
What foul poisons am I to believe have been spread in our morals? What times am I to think these are? What land? What nation? What desire, if not for working great evil?
How many men like Cethegus has our age, fertile in sin, lately produced? How many men like Lentulus? Now Catiline sets many a snare against his city and Consul.
And a greater monstrosity — crimes spring up even as these are punished. Now one crime does not rear its head against a single individual, but rather treason, cut off, multiplies like the Hydra.
When will the headsman throw his chains on this and wash away the taint of guilty blood? When shall I see the axes lying idle and an empty Tower?
Oh the freshly-contracted infamy of a Christian century! Oh the wickedness, the evil that would put to shame not just the English, but even the very Turks!
What Tagus, what Nile or Thames will wash away the stain of our world? Nor could the blue ocean-father who encircles us English achieve this expiation.
A mass of guilt, gathered over so many centuries, surges against us, we are oppressed by this Godforsaken age in which every kind of evil and depravity reigns.
Our distinguished young men did not add fierce Ireland to our realm by these modes of behavior, nor more than once rout the French and the Spanish, or the indomitable Scots.
But our youth, given over to disgraceful wantonness, and brave only in the killing of a virgin, practices the arts of deceit, from the time it was administered a dose of Italian guile.
And so if any base deceit had worked, would a gloomy England now be mourning Eliza, dead? Would our ships be ablaze? Would ashes blanket our nation?
Oh the ironclad bowels of scoundrels! Posterity will not credit this action, scarce will our own age think the crime to have been set in motion.
Why did the Queen deserve such a thing? The Queen, resplendent with a gentle heart, the divine virgin, than whom the sun sees nothing better as he turns in his orbit.
She fails to please you, foul pestilence. But she is exceedingly pleasing to us, to God, and to the wholesome Commons, she who is protected by the many prayers of Peerage and people.
The earth pursues you with pious curses, demanding punishments without mercy. Our citizens loathe you, our chaste bevy of maidens abhors your crime.
I myself have scarcely abandoned my dread. I am wholly amazed, trembling shakes my limbs as the savage image and outline of this intended evil comes to mind.
I abominate the omen, but nevertheless I see Elisa dealt a cruel wound, I see the blood from her virginal side dripping down her fair limbs.
Her bent neck lies slack on her snowy bosom, as the lily droops when cut by the plough, as the heavy poppy is bent by the rain.
I see the English fleet ablaze, our cities afire, our womenfolk dragged by the hair, our helpless maidens and youths in terror.
My Muse, where are you rushing on such unrestrained feet? Ah, cease. This is a matter worthy of Philippics, of bitter Archilochus’ dire iambics, or Seneca’s buskin.
What god will give me a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues, the same number of iron voices, such as can pour forth the joys of a brimming mind?
Come, Muse, sing songs for the centuries, sing a song for me in this, the celebration of our times, goddess, and long may it live in the honor of the ages.
Where are you rushing, Clio? Of a sudden I seem to be ranging atop Pindus, or frosty Haemus, and now on tranquil Parnassus.
Behold, Tempe, what pleasant places am I now seeing? Along what river-banks, what streams am I going? What waters of the font of Hippocrene moistens my lips?
I am bathed. What desire to sing, what new frenzy overcomes me? Whence such a yearning? I crave to pour forth an inspired song.
Neither Daulian Philomela nor the swan will outdo me in song, even if she sings of her sad misfortunes and he is on the verge of death.
Learned Catullus will not surpass me in verse, nor Flaccus with his lyre, even though the one be learned and the other is preeminent among the lyric poets, touching the stars with his head.
Why do I delay? Thracian Orpheus will not best me though Apollo be his father. Nor will Linus, though divine Calliope be his mother.
Safe is Eliza (ah, it is sweet to recall, although very painful to experience), safe like a brand pulled from a heaped-up pyre.
How close this debased gang of malign fellows came to assassinating her with their criminal hands, unless God had snatched her safely from the midst of their swords!
And so, if I should spend my life on the sea, wearing myself out at the oar as a slave to a Spaniard, or unluckily among the Turks, or lived as a naked exile on the Libyan Syrte,
Still I should pour forth annual songs with a happy mouth, keeping time to the beat of my oar. Mindful of such a blessing, I should write my song in the sand.
And now I can scarce restrain myself, I want to speak out. My mind is set on baying in the woods on the manner of the Maenads. I crave, as is proper, to range through the grottoes.
I am swept along. What if my voice can scarcely reach divine Elisa’s ears? The hills will still hear, everywhere the fields will resound.
With my voice I shall outdo seven bells, and the Spaniard will burst his guts, like a serpent rent asunder by a magical spell.
The thornbrakes will hear. Nor do I fear an encounter with lioness, wolf, or boar, as I happily sing of Elizabeth, freed from death.
Let some inhospitable stretch of the world conceal me, whether I am stiff with cold or baked by an overbearing sun, it will be sweet to recall Elisa rescued, sweet to tell the tale.
Whither is this foolish gang of traitors rushing? Why does it feed its empty, impious hopes? Why is it weaving secret lunacies and nursing meaningless anger?
When will it perceive its pointless outcomes, its baleful results, dragging to an unlamented end its house, forebears, and useless progeny?
For suppose the Frenchman and insolent Spaniard were to destroy our city, overthrown by treason: how much of this evil would rebound on its very authors?
Treason may be pleasing to our enemy, but nevertheless who loves a traitor, or trusts in his second loyalty, from the time that his first has betrayed God, nation, and homestead?
Therefore he will shamefully eke out his life under suspicion, a life bitterer than death, a burden to himself, a reproach to his times, this raging cause of God’s wrath, this plague on men.
What of the fact that, even if a brazen tower surrounds the rebel, if night blacker than pitch hides his mad upheavals, his misdeed will be revealed before the day?
Let the disloyal man bolt his windows and shut himself within a thousand doors, blocking his small chinks, let a Daedalus-wrought Labyrinth hide him in its recesses,
Still the doorposts will announce his plan, the door will publish it, the birds will chatter, the loyal housefly will broadcast ambiguous whispers.
Trust not the forest when plotting crime. The forest has ears. Nor your house. For there eyes in the walls and the entire house sees the misdeed and will divulge it.
Suppose nobody betrays you: place no trust in yourself or your own mind. Often a trembling fear, a horror-stricken expression, pallor and paralysis have betrayed a crime.
Suppose you conceal yourself: still, what cares, what anguish of heart, and dreads of the insomniac will gnaw at you? You must believe that here dwell the shades, the triple Furies.
The traitor starts at every sound, he dreads whispers, thinking everything pertains to him. He dashes off when nobody is afoot in pursuit.
One dangles from a beam, having broken his neck with a well-applied noose; another has gulped down poison, while a third has plunged his own sword into his side.
If such things weigh down the man who has only thought of crime, what are the burdens of evildoing when it has been caught out? What is the penalty for the act, once committed? What goads and Furies pierce him?
An avenging God pursues the rebel, forsaking the results he devised, laughing at his deceits, reserving punishment for his wicked head.
Who is to believe this? Religion provides a cloak for monstrous evil. The murder of a ruler has heaven’s blessing, is a holy thing. Great crime is called piety.
Only one thing had been missing from this wickedness, for God to be invited to the deed. Cease, traitor, to befoul innocent divinity and load down the gods with guilt.
Did David, now the undoubted heir, betray wicked Saul? But where is the similarity? Elisa is not Saul, nor are you waging war on behalf of a destined king.
He thought it highly sinful for Saul’s armor to have been stripped off while he was lifeless. He scarcely received the cup and spear in his hand. Will you cut off the head of Elisa while she is awake?
He piously wept over Saul’s sad end, and rewarded the man bearing the news with death, even if that man was a liar. Are you lamenting the fact that Elisa still lives on earth?
Surely swift disease or the sword will remove a tyrant. It is right to bear the ruler sanctioned by God; let prayers and tears be the weapons of the pious.
But wicked Sheba tries to remove the best of kings by his subjects’arms. Therefore it is not David’s part to strike, the savage hand belongs to degenerate Sheba.
Oh mightier daughter of a mighty father and fairer daughter of a fair mother, Queen, next to the gods our greatest strength and pillar of our affairs,
Say, divine virgin, what has been your mind? What hue came over your serene countenance when the first report of traitors offended your ears?
Were you afraid? Did pallor settle on your cheeks? Oh, the confidence of your heart! You, a maiden, were not afraid of many: the doe did not fear the hounds, the lamb the tigers.
You did lament this, that your sword had to be drawn. But why regret it? Out with the axes, let punishment follow wicked evildoing as an attendant.
Tichborne (I pray you forgive me, England and our divine virgin), I pity you. And I feel pity for Salisbury’s youth, deserving of a better fate.
It is not my intention or purpose to chew at ghosts. I do not gladly gloat over the dead, no blood-lust has overcome me.
I detest the bloody form of punishment. But let your blood rebound on the head of that man who urged this great wrong, no sin weighing on us or our progeny.
But let our noble nation encompass within itself all forms of goodwill. Tichborne, now I have no pity on your youth, or that of Salisbury.
My nation, you make me severe; my Queen, you make me hard. Beloved Queen, I have pity on your beloved head, your subjects, my country, myself.
Are you always to fear drawn daggers in your side? Are you never to walk abroad in security? Are you, unavenged, to tremble for your ancestral throne?
Are we to be the prey and plaything of a wicked traitor? Is he to mark us poor people down for murder with impunity, to stage a proud triumph during your reign?
Let these men, born of the giants’ bloodstock, be confounded by the peril they themselves have created. Put down their high-flown spirits. Honi soit qui mal y pense.
Let Typhoeus pile Pindus on Pelion, crowning Olympus with Ossa’s mass, let the giants grind their teeth and Enceladus hurl uprooted ash trees,
Jupiter, greater than these, will lay them low with his forked lightning, torturing them forever with the fires of sulphurous Aetna.
The Titan-born, almost wholly lacking in reason, will collapse of their own weight. The gods loathe whatever takes the lofty road, forbidden to us.
He who hates a throne poses a threat of heaven, the estate of princes is akin to Jove. He who injures rulers by deceit is making a feckless assault on God.
Will any black day ever dawn for me on which I must weep for Elisa, murdered by wounding? Let that day not dawn, or God ever suffer such a crime.
Nor let poison or treachery take you off, nor the dagger or violence. May you pass away gently, brought to ripe old age by the Fates, and you must trust that thus the seeress Sibyl has prophecized.
A later and saner age will marvel that our age has produced so many traitors, but it will be positively astonished that so many have sought to encompass Elisa’s end.
Neither her brother, still a boy, nor her sister experienced these treacheries, nor did her father, famed for his feats of arms, nor her grandfather, that friend of peace, nor her more distant royal ancestors.
Did her brother surpass her in the piety of his mind, her sister in mercy? Did her father outdo her in industry? Did her grandfather or her royal forbears surpass her in reputation for prudence?
When did she come to deserve such a crime? In what part has she erred? Of what sin is she guilty? How has she aroused such great hatreds, inexpiable save by savage bloodshed?
When has she cruelly murdered her sweet husband? When has she deserted one? Surely she has not made a marriage worthy of the tragic stage, of so many deaths of commoners and lords?
Whom has she ever harmed? Whom has her vigorous sword ever struck, save for those who in their depravity elected to attack her with their steel, whose enthusiasm is to dull the edge of the headsman’s sword?
If she were to ask, “Whose ox or field have I stolen, whom have I injured by fraud?” would not the English answer, “You have taken nothing?”
She is no Circe, no Medea, uncontrolled of mind, traitor, whom are you attacking with your blade. Why draw your sword? Stop, this is Elisa’s heart you are striving to pierce,
The best of rulers wherever the sun in his chariot shines down on the inhabited world, the virgin Queen — what thing like her does our age see, will it see in the future?
Ponder the kings whom our great world contains on all sides: let my Muses be free of consuming malice, but she shines out among them like the sun among the stars.
God has blessed her mild reign with such favors; while the nations miserably roar under arms and are ablaze with war, a profound shadow of peace protects her people.
If she were a commoner, her scepter set down, who would not still love Elisa? Whom would she not please? Who would deny she has been born for puissant government?
What beauty, surpassing the snows of Thrace! What a life, what intelligence! What sweetness of manners, untinged by guilt! She would be declared blameless, were Envy herself to sit on the bench.
Surely it is most laudable if a virgin falls by a man’s hand, if the kite snatches the pious dove, the vulture the lamb, the wolf the lamb in its bloodstained mouth.
Do the gods rejoice when a virgin is slain? Does this victim gratify them? Why allege the innocent gods as your pretext? Why seek an innocent with your sword?
Abandon your hardness of heart, traitor. Let the sheath hide the sword, abandon your wicked intentions, and forbear to stain your hand with pious blood.
Greetings, kings, scions and assured offspring of the gods, to whom your own virtue and the generous gods have granted authority second only to heaven’s,
Carefully preserve your scepters, let loyal ministers surround you. Treason is raging. Lo, what unspeakable thirst for drinking your blood has overcome them?
You must keep traitors far away from the hospitality of your realms. Our example will attract this ruination to your people, for a single diseased sheep will taint the entire flock.
The mind which has once dared a great crime, the hand that rejoices in shedding famous blood, will never rest, nor does stained wool regain its former hue.
Will the bold-faced traitor dare make an attack on a ruler’s life with your sanction? Will majesty be allowed to lie prostrate, trampled with impunity by the least significant of men?
The lot of all rulers is one and the same: whatever burns one is an evil that might oppress each. When your neighbor’s chimney catches fire, let your house be on guard against the sparks.
Where are you headed, my Muse? Cease chattering to kings, brevity befits our message, and with a longer you will become tedious to the ears of the purple-clad.
Oh nation, sweeter than the sweet light of day, oh our dear earth, no small part of my soul, let us follow England as our leader, our hatreds resolved.
Whatever religion grips our mind, let it prefer Elisa to a foreigner. Whatever religion exhausts us with discords, no pious one urges us to act against our nation.
Traitor, do you wish the nation reduced to nothing, so that you alone can govern according to your opinion? This foreign power is suspect, and their mighty crew will not depart, as it is thirsty for dominion.
So that our nation will be healthy, will you deliver it, wounded, to an enemy who will at once cauterize and dissect its sound parts? War is a horrid medicine.
Where has our ancient virtue gone, the innate strength of the English, untaught to bear the masterful will of overseas dominion, its harsh regime?
Will the Spanish soldier, mighty in gold rather than numbers, reap these fields, these crops? Are these fields to be down for the benefit of a Frenchman? Shall the victor say “These are mine,
Let the old farmers depart,” and insolently slaughter those who delay? Shall we bear the shameful yoke of an arrogant master, fearfully silent, our necks bent?
I pray that eternal night hide me beforehand, my father’s sword take me off by wounding. Oh, let it be allowed me to serve an Englishman. Servitude is made easier by the identity of one’s master.
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 amidstGod’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.
Henceforth, Case, who will imagine to imagine you to be childless when you are the happy father of three children. Your firstborn is a daughter, Logic, preeminent in judgment, wise, and modest, and altogether a girl of much talent. Then came a male child, Moral Philosophy, who resembled his father more closely, just, magnanimous, and liberal, full of self-control, distinguished by a decent accumulation of all the virtues. And lo, the youngest to be born was Political Science, a divine lad, well versed in affairs, born to govern great empires, to whom the customs of men and cities are well known. They are all sprung from your intelligent, just as Minerva was born from Jove’s brain. They all ennoble their father, they will give him back his years when he attains to old age, preventing him from dying because of his solid, powerful, enduring reputation. O, how you are blessed in your three offspring!
While you sing of a pilgrim whom Gluttony does not delay, nor Envy burn, nor that short-lived madness Anger, whom neither Sloth, nor Pride and Covetousness, nor seductive Lust can capture with her shining cheeks, whom adversities cannot oppress, nor life’s pleasures can deceive as he seeks you, Paradise, by walking the straight path, you certainly sing of an admirable man, but which such a song that the man who sings it is admirable, as well as the man who is sung.
Thus you conceive your pilgrim, thus you portray your lover, so that love is a stranger to the pilgrim. Let everyone applaud, this love is sacred and modest, noble, and far removed from the vulgar sort. Which of the Muses dictated this love to you, Breton, or provided you with such a treasure? What goddess? Your voice does not sound like mortal’s. Oh surely it is a goddess! I am not surprised that these holy things flow from a holy spring.
Weare I a kinge I cowlde commande content,
Weare I obscure unknone shoulde be my cares,
And weare I ded no thoughte should me torment,
Nor wordes nor wronges, nor loves nor hopes nor feares.
A dowtefull choyse of three thinges one to crave, 5
A kingedum or a cottage or a grave.
What business have I with you, Muses, once my care? What business you have I with you when I am transfixed with genuine cares, sadly dragging my soul through bitter circumstances? Songs require a mind that is clear and at ease, free of troubles and misfortune. But where are you taking me, thus unaccustomed, my piety (still dutiful) and sorrow? Why stir the old fire, scarcely still burning and turned to black cinders? Why are you breaking my ironclad vows of silence, forcing this retired trooper into song? Go on and hurry me along. I shall follow and comply with your insistent commands. But first provoke my mind with real causes for lamentation, for there is need for true ones. This business is not about some play acted with the tragic buskin. I am obliged to write a genuine tragedy, not a fictitious one. Whatever I may produce is your responsibility, and none of the Muses is providing me with aid. I shall not put off doing my duty in the hope that one of them might perhaps come to my assistance. Though unmusical, sorrow makes my verses pour forth.
For many men are adorning your funereal rites with song, heaping up praises of your soul and offering their futile gestures and lamentations, Unton; out of piety I did not wish, nor think it right, not to play my part. I did not wish there to be no tokens of my sorrow and disposition, no matter what their quality might be, to survive your burial. I leave it to others to sing artfully of your death; it is enough for me that I belong to this throng, publishing my sorrow, which is genuine and unvarnished. For why should we seek art in laments, or decorum in tears? For ones that are untaught and unskilled are more fitting.
I confess, bravest of men, that in life I had no personal dealings with you, nor did I have any familiarity with your honest face. But that trumpet of your serene virtue which announced you to the world forbids you to be unknown to me, by the means of which no man was better known to me, nor more splendid or welcome. For to my mind public, not private, virtue is everything; it is the public goodness of any man which affects me by a great part of itself, awaking in me wonderful affection and quickly making me a friend and a ready advocate. Nor do my good words stand far away from that man’s good actions. Just as the most praiseworthy thing is to act, so the next best is to match deeds with words. Thus, Unton, for you flow my laments and songs.
You were no body without a heart, no empty name without any substance. You were no man having golden spurs and sword-hilt, while himself made of lead. Nature did not endow your mind with a grain of gold, but rather with a huge heap. Hence you were born to be golden both to your family and your nation. You were granted wealth, the arts of enjoying your wealth, nobility of pedigree, reputation, handsome appearance, sound health, distinguished learning for a soldier, large character, and intelligence even larger, and finally all the endowments that make mortals blessed, excepting your lack of heirs. But for us this is the greatest loss, that we deplore you as childless when it is we who are the more bereft of progeny. For indeed, if you had engendered a scion before your death, who could have reminded us of you by his handsome appearance, character, and paternal virtue, in death you would not have been wholly taken from us. Now we bitterly complain that you were without progeny, childless ourselves as we make our plaint. Assuredly you were a man who had deserved the gift of long years from stepmother Fate and at the same time that of children from Nature. But we were unworthy of having such great favors lavished on us. Now, like a great ash tree which had flourished on the mountain, offering shade to the ground and its leafy top to the sky, uprooted by the unkind North wind, you lie prostrate, nor is there now anything remaining of you in death save your reputation, or anything left for us save tears and enduring heartsoreness.
For what end will there ever be to our longing for such a wellbeloved man? What lamentation can ever suffice? What sighing, what words can match our great sorrow? Neither your wealth nor your high birth rendered you overproud, nor did your honorable reputation puff you up; comeliness, health, knowledge of worldly affairs did not deflect you from virtue’s path, force of intellect did not make you clever, your great mind did not render you overbold. That throng of men of the sort which will always be with us shabbily in the world had experience of your wealth, but it was the throng of the needy, by whose support one makes his way to heaven. The Peerage acknowledged your distinction, the Commons talked about it. To whom did you not always appear fair and strong? Your nation had experience of you as an eloquent man, well-versed in practical matters. Those individuals experienced your excellent nature whose terror is that barbarous clan who will not let go of your wallet until they have sated themselves on its juice, who reap a money-harvest from pleading cases or letting them pend a long time. This is the spleen of our realm, for as it swells it is necessary for the body’s other members to wither, the great bane of our people, the infamy of our age. Our sovereign and Parliament have experienced your excellent nature, and mourn your loss. France has experienced you as a great man, fatal France, never favorable to us. Wicked France, why not return us our ambassador safe? Do you give us back no great man sent by England? Our enemies and their great arrays experienced you as a man of high spirits, excellent in counsel, mighty in strength and in battle.
All in vain. Oh human hopes, always vain and deceiving! Oh Fortune, always unfriendly to virtue! How often our endeavors are shattered in mid-course, sunk on the high seas before they can sail safely into harbor! Thus it has seemed best to the gods. How the Muses’ darlings are ever unfortunate and short-lived! I cite as evidence Philip Sidney, unavenged, and also, famous Earl, your brave brother Walter. What souls! What stout hearts in war! Walter, let it be permitted for me to say, was nearer to my heart. The earth never bore a more honorable man; nobody was dearer or closer to me. His end showed the world how great he was, and it was God’s decision that he live no longer. No scion of his stock ever ennobled his forefathers with greater deeds of daring, nor could the bloodline of Trojan Brutus ever boast the more of any other offspring. Alas, his virtue, his old-fashioned honor, his glory, spendthrift of life! Nobody ever opposed him without shedding his blood, whether he led the battle-line afoot or was carried at the enemy seated high on horseback. Alas, poor boy! If somehow you could have broken Destiny’s cruel chains, what sort of man would have you been, how great? To what would you have attained? Fill the painted baskets with lilies, I shall strew fresh violets, at least decorating his tomb with these funereal offerings, performing a vain duty. Accept also my tears. But where have I been carried by piety and my great friend’s name?
But the matter does not end with these losses, unless Unton makes a third along with these, in death adding to their number and our grief, adding to these a great pile of sorrows. Unless he dies in the fullness of his prosperous years, dying ignobly of fever, an ambassador, far distant from his friends, the companionship of his wife, his nation and home, in the very camp, possibly even in jaundiced eyesight of the French, lamenting him with feigned sadness, certainly in a land that is hateful and malevolent towards our people. So this is what you give, virtue? Do all your bright promises, your golden harvest, at last come down to this? Of a surety you are nothing except words and a noble name, if Fortune can banish you and your captains from your very camps and cut you down in mid-enterprise with fevers. Fostering God, what do you plan against the poor English, when you seize their sources of strength, when you tear down all their mainstays? How I fear lest they have not enjoyed a happy destiny!
And at this point, divine Earl, your dear image strikes my mind, creating a chill anxiety in my heart. As you stand on your ship’s quarterdeck, on the point of of setting sail, bringing the men o’war into a hard battle, Neptune is amazed and lifts his head above the waves, as in his deeps he feels the sea burdened by a new fleet and the encircling sea-strands ringing with its sounds. Nereus is amazed, and Triton, and the goddesses of the sea, and Proteus, and whatever the ocean has by way of divinities. They are astounded by your glittering squadrons and warlike hearts, and most of all by great Devereux, outstanding in his massive armor, second to none of the heroes of old. Thus his eyes gleam, thus he overtops everyone by a head. Thus they saw Jason accompanied by his Argonauts sailing towards Colchis. Thus they saw great Agamemnon hastening Troywards. Thus, finally, they saw Scipio when he was seeking you, Africa, during his happy enterprise, when he brought Romans arms to your harbors, Carthage, and drew off the Punic leader who had harried Latium for so many years, and forced him to look to his walls and defend his nation’s citadels.
God of our forefathers, thanks to Whom the glory of the English stands high, and will continue so to stand preeminent among the surrounding peoples, I pray You to keep this fleet in safety, and may they preserve you for us unharmed, noble Lord. This is paramount. Then may they send it back enriched by that grasping king’s spoils, laden down with praises, famed for distinguished deeds. Let the weather fight on your side, let the winds play the part of servants and guard your sails.
In the meantime, poor man, for you let us perform the last duties. Farewell for eternity, Henry, and receive these welcome consolations for your undeserved death. Elisa mourns you as a loyal spokesman. The Peerage and the entire Court deplore your loss as a stout companion. The knighthood laments for you as a light extinguished. The nation grieves for you as an outstanding citizen, now lost. The people mourn you as a patron, the needy as a supporter, the Church as a beloved son, religion as a pillar, and the University as an erudite son. If once upon a time you had died as a Roman legate in some distant clime, you would have stood in the city in bronze, or anyway in marble. Since this honor is recommended by your merits, I have erected this song in lieu of a marble monument.
In the midst of a foreign country a French fever has killed ambassador Unton, whom the bonds of international law had kept safe and unharmed for his own people. Thus France continues to show the same old faithfulness to the English.
Cease to be surprised that an English ambassador was done in by a fever: the fever was French.
Infamous and accursed forever be that black fever which brought Unton his dying day. But you offspring of Archilochus, high-spirited lads, whose hearts swell with the legitimate bile of Nemesis, imitate Archilochus’ rage and write your verses, which will be as a French fevers to the fever itself.and the shade of Walsingham is an ancient misfortune, and whatever else of our Peerage, mighty in war and peace, Fate’s piteous power has removed. The nation owes nothing more to your shades, all the rites have been performed for such great men. But behold, new sorrows come by sea and land, cruel Destiny continues thus savagely to toy with us. Two new deaths have occurred at sea, those of Drake and Hawkins. On land acute fever has snatched off Unton. The Nereids and ocean nymphs mourn those men. The Muses, that tuneful crew, lament Unton.
When Nemesis lately saw Unton die of the heat of a French fever, determined to inflict an equal reverse on the unhappy French she handed Calais over to the Spanish, which is intended to be the worst of fevers for them, by which they may always be kept calescent. But I fear lest the neighboring English be warmed up by this heat, so that the intervening stretch of ocean will not be able to put out the fire. Oh horrible fever, worse than the French one!
The Romans worshipped Fever at consecrated altars so that, as I think, she would not inflict harm on them. What is strange about Health’s inability to ward off fever from Unton? Fever herself is a divinity. Because he refused to adore her in the Roman fashion for the sake of his welfare, see how he preferred to die.
They say that the gods, angry with clever Prometheus because he had created Man by his wonderful skill, inflicted three predestined afflictions on the newborn human race, Fever, Hunger, and Woman. The Fates, who exercised this authority, allowed Unton to avoid Hunger and Woman. Oh, if the goddesses had also warded off Fever, if the three divinities had spared him the triple Furies! But when Clotho had driven Hunger away from him and Lachesis had routed the more seductive evil, alas, Atropos (being savage, hostile, and malign) did not suffer Fever to be banished, and in her cruelty refused to contribute her gift.a man never sufficiently celebrated by my song, never sufficiently lamented in my heart (if I may pass over the leaders of lesser reputation who lie buried in your soil, and perhaps you wish our battalions of foot soldiers to lie buried in your soil). More recently you have sent us back Unton, a body newly laid to rest in his tomb. What of the fact that you communicate your habits to our youths and instruct our English girls and lads, our fickle common people, in your styles of dress? Though you be a dangerous foe, you could harm us more as our friend. How you are always a wolf we hold by the ears, troublesome to hold but vexatious to release! How much better when, like Rome’s rival, Carthage, you gave us battles, even bloody ones, but also gave noble booty and triumphs to so many kings of England! France, I believe that thus you are less dangerous.
Frenchmen and France, I do not wish to quarrel with you so that, while our league of sacred alliance stands, I wish to scourge you with my words (even though I scarcely deny that you are Frenchmen and I a true Englishman), but while I multiply my laments on the death of Unton and seek out subjects for writing, even jesting ones, I confess that the place where he spent his final day seemed to offer no inopportune matter. For just as we curse the manner of his bitter death, so we are displeased by his dying-place. Even the day of his dying displeases us. Nor can his friends bear to look on his funeral clothes, torches, or chamber, though these are ours. My bile has not been provoked, it is a matter of poetical invention and sense. This is not the intention of my mind or my poems, for grief is ever a bad guardian of propriety, since sorrow loosens the reins on one’s words, and my sorrow has made this stuff to pour out. The disease, the time and place of his death, have kindled my plaint and made it fiery. On both sides, in our grief we both offer and grant pardon. Piety and poetry have this licence. However, France, you did not fail to play a role in this catastrophe. Perhaps, if you did not exist, he would still be living.
Unton, it is no small thing that all these poets pour out their songs for you. This is not granted princes or the rich. Save for Sidney, this honor has been conceded to nobody, nor would it pour itself out save for your virtue. Nothing is granted to wealth or birth. The academic trumpet sounds only for virtue and meritorious deeds. This voice is heard rarely. The few whom Phoebus has loved, and whom the nuturing band of Muses has fostered, men born of gods, have been able to attain to such an honor. But great honor is accorded to great virtue. Depart, you base and greedy, you haughty of mind, this trumpet should not sound for you. Rejoice, Unton, that for you it sounds the second time. There will scarcely be one or two men to follow you in receiving this honor. If our Muses and our songs have any power, no ages will abolish your name. For whatever it may be worth, you are indebted to us for being honored in death, and possibly to be read of by later posterity.and that he may live, to be sure, but that he might life in a sort of grove. But what manner of man, how altered from that Unton who twice performed the office of ambassador! Once he came home spattered with Spanish blood, the time he gave you, Lowlands, the fruits of his effort. When the Muse brings back to life praiseworthy men, true life does not return, but life that is only partially real. The son of Peleus preferred to lead a poverty-stricken life on earth rather than lord it in Erebus. Possibly he would rather have regained his prior life rather than life through your Muse, great Homer. But if any Muse can forbid a man to die and grant him to live in truth, such a good Muse is not among my choir.
If my prayers and yours, Englishmen, had prevailed, now there would be no need for me to invoke my Muse in a poet’s customary way. You would have your sweet life, Elisa, and we would have you. But because the unfriendly Fates have denied this to you and me, what better trumpet can sound for Elisa, taken away from us, than that by which Elisa lived and will live forever?
Therefore come, goddess, I pray, steal into my mind, as you inspire others, as you used to inspire me once when, relying on you and on my youth, I dared to sing her large praises and diminish her great achievements with my thin melodies. Stir my unaccustomed heart, warm me within as you gain power over me. I could not dare, nor can I, to utter anything aright if you did not will it. If only you grant your favor, goddess, I will not fear to extol with my words even Elisa.
And now you are present, I recognize the spark caught by the tinder. Where am I being borne? Or where am I? What songs do I meditate in my heart? What songs shall I prefer to the rest? What beginning ought I now to make? Should I first laud her physical beauty, the serenity of her spirit, or her prosperity? Can there be so many wondrous things?
But what, goddess, are you preparing? Ah, cease. Hey, you are ceasing, I feel it. As the winds abate my sails go slack, and meanwhile the extinguished spark cools to ashes. To be sure, goddess, you can blow on the spark, but my skiff cannot tolerate such waves, nor my sails all this wind. I am an old jug cracked by new wine, a little jug broken by all the water poured in, and my heart fails in the presence of this great heat, scorched by your divine warmth. The old-time strength does not remain in my spirit, worn down by cares and thepassage of the years, I am not equal to this burden. This business requires a tranquil and carefree mind, retirement and leisure. And it is perhaps not decorous for me to undertake a young man’s task.
You, whose talent is vigorous and whose spirits are still fervent, untouched by time, to whom Elisa has granted leisure, ought to undertake something polished, sweet, melodious, a work which would be equal to its subject matter: something men of my age can envy, that will garner you praise, and which will live. The king of Macedonia was to be painted by Apelles alone, his statues were only to be carved by Lysippus. Thus too, Elisa’s praises are not to be celebrated save by an outstanding bard. I ask a great thing, I acknowledge, but something that is owed to Elisa. Unless we perform this duty, we betray the friendly enterprise of literature, and we fail to praise Elisa according to her merits — a woman such as no age has ever produced, no future one will have seen.
At long length, in a late year, has come the death of Elisa, long awaited and prayed for by your unrighteous prayers, Jesuit, and especially by you, Parsons, infamy of our century, and reproach and shame of this School. Death has at last visited Elisa in this, her final year. See how she lies without issue, and so wholly dead. What profit is there for you? What advantage has accrued? Has God heard or rejected your pious prayers? For behold, in the stead of a childless ruler, a single women, now many are present. For James is here, a father blessed by many excellent children. So after Elisa, Jesuit, what hope remains for you? Can you destroy this family? So you are free to depart — go to the Indies, for henceforth your pestilence has nothing to accomplish here.
We too, the extreme part of Cambridgeshire, the husbandmen of Castrodunum, rejoice at your arrival, noble Count, so that the part will not be dissonant with the whole. And behold, we mingle our rustic happiness with the throng of city-dwellers; a rowdy lot, we mix our band with the swans. Amidst all the lyre-playing we demonstrate our gladness on our untrained oaten pipes, but also on our bells, struck in skilful order, tunefully ringing various changes, since the nearby University has instructed us in this art. We offer all fraternal good wishes to a German husband. In our uncomplicated spirits, after the custom of your own people, we wish happy and prosperous marriage for you, your bride, your father-in-law, your people and ours; we pray that you remain here in safety and safely return hence homeward. There is nothing more our poetic ability can attempt.
Great-spirited prince, nobody will henceforth write, as formerly, that the English are cruel to their guests. You came here as guest, speedily became a suitor, then a bridegroom, at length a son-in-law, and here you are as a husband. What booty will you finally take away from us? That little sheep of Colchis, nay, all of Colchis, was not so costly. Outdoing Jason by far, you are not pleased just with the Golden Fleece, you have to have the gold-bearing sheep.
Whatever you wish for yourself, most noble Count, allow this royal girl to enjoy the virginity that pleases her. Moved by her girlish sense of modesty, she does not wish to marry, but still she does not want you to depart. In your native German way you play the part of the ardent suitor, and you do not allow the prey to escape. Is this the modesty and love inbred in Germans? Is this youthful modesty and simplicity of spirit? Within herself, she feels bashfulness and love struggle and, captivated, has no avenue of retreat. Have you had to enchant the royal virgin thus, that your sake she deserts mother and father, not unwillingly follows you across sea and land, and, virginity abandoned, longs for mother-hood? Thus it is, thus it ought to be. Let her always cleave to you alone, made flesh of your flesh, your other half. Let her be so bold as to join you in listening to the creaking of the rigging, tolerating the long tedium of an ocean voyage. For you, let her abandon father, mother, and brother, and whatever is sweet and pleasant about her native soil. You are her father and mother, you are also her brother, you are the substance and image of her native land. The more people she abandons for you, the more you should prize her, and your love for her should be multiplied. Oh marriage-yoke, not only sweet, but wonderful, for by it bodies and souls are thus conjoined!Let Him turn all the sad times of your marriage into their opposite, turning your water into noble wine.
By the Rhine, there was no girl worthy of you, by the Thames no man ﬁt for our princess. You were obliged to seek a wife in foreign climes, and ours to seek a foreign spouse. The marriage-bed of each had to be made in a strange place, a bed worthy of both. By the Fates you were destined for our princess, she was fated for you, you are her Caius and she your Caia. Living apart, how well you agree with each other, equal in years, blood, family, position, and creed! You bear a well-matched yoke. No match could be more reasonable or more pleasing. Formerly so ill-separated, you are now linked by such a good bond. A logical conclusion can be drawn from this great syllogism. I pray for this one thing only, lest possibly some Iarbus objects and casts a jaundiced eye on such great good things.
Marriage is a shared yoke, to be pulled by both partners, taking away the freedom of each. However, it is a yoke of the kind that, if one does not wear it, even be he a Count or a sovereign, he is still not a man. As people go, this one may be male and that female, but assuredly before marriage he is not a man, she not a woman.