To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see a textual note, click on a red square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
I. TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS HENRY VIII, MATCHLESS KING OF ENGLAND, FRANCE AND IRELAND
When royal Rome flourished with its happy triumphs and the Latin language was held in high esteem, laurel-crowned Augustus strove to endow his bards Horace and Vergil, as well he should. Hence his fame spread throughout the whole wide world, a fame destined never to die. Therefore, if there is any value in gaining an immortal name, and to have cultivated the learned with signs of favor, now you should continue supporting my struggling Muse, Your Majesty, so that she may sing your praises with a full mouth.
II. TO PHILOMELA
You, Philomela, who use your shrill voice to devise sweet tunes in the great forest, come hither, and when Phoebus has begun the day with his beams, banish my idle dreams with your melodies. Here there is a most welcome place amidst the deep shadows, wholly thriving with rich moss. Dwell here, you well-known teacher of many-toned harmony, and feed my ears with your song. Thus you will have the consolation of a long life, able to hatch chicks like yourself. Thus no greedy huntsman will set snares for you or catch your feathers in his birdlime.
III. A COMPARISON OF POETS AND SWANS
I think that the man who has striven to compare poets with gleaming white swans has noticed some worthwhile things. A singing swan’s body is white all over, while a poet’s heart is purer than snow. The happy swan seems to delight in cool streams, while a poet rejoices in a clear fountain. When the gentle zephyr nourishes flowers with its breeze, your Leda-like swan sings its sweet tunes, and when the west wind blows on a bard in the greeny springtime, it makes him pour forth resounding music from his tuneful mouth. When the dog-star burns hot, the swan often repairs to his nest of withies along the riverbank, and in summer heat the poet happily seeks out the chill of a nearby forest with its rushing waters. Now who can deny that snow-white swans and candid poets resemble each other in all respects?
IV. ON A PORTRAIT OF TIME
— Tell me what this picture shows, painted by a skilled hand in living color? — It’s a picture of Time. — Why is he bald-headed? — So that you may learn to seize him by the forelock. — Why has he wings? — Unless you are on your guard and look out for your affairs, he flees faster than the wind. — Why is he holding a sickle in that threatening hand of his? — He uses it to cut down all the gods of this world. The only thing that can blunt it is divine virtue. Cultivate that and you need have no fear of his sickle.
V. TO HIS LUTE
My lute, when you sing, touched by fingers, you are the sweet ease of my cares. You are my consoling delight amidst my studies, whenever my Muse is wearied by her constant reading. You are my relaxation, a sweet help for my rest, so that gentle sleep may close my weary eyes.
VI. THE COMING OF LEARNING INTO BRITAIN
Everywhere honest report has it that the goodly Muses have never crossed over the Alpine snows, that when eloquence abandoned Pandion’s Athens the polished Muse found an Italian home. But, even if Rome herself is listening, I can solemnly aver that the Muses did cross those snows. For the Muse has taught the Britons, though separated from the rest of the world, to speak elegant words with pear-shaped tones. Ancient Rome flourished with two languages, whereas Britain rejoices in three.
VII. TO HIS SWAN, AN ADMIRER OF JOVIANUS PONTANUS
My swan, you are wont to mark the genius of learned Pontanus with a thrice-clear gem. You are wont to mark his flowing verses and talent with a clear gem. You are wont to mark Pontanus’ graces and elegance with a thrice-clear gem. All graceful, elegant, candid folk mark you with a clear gem for being a devotee of the musical choir, you who mark my Pontanus with a clear gem.
VIII. TO AURORA
May you come, Aurora, borne on your ruddy chariot. Grant me, oh goddess, to see your face. I am being sought for and Urania, the patroness of my studies, is warning me. Come, dyed with your rosy hue.
IX. THE RENWAL OF BRITISH ANTIQUITY
Britain, fertile mother of learned men, I hope you have no regret in calling me your own. For if Jupiter grants my life a few more years and allows me to enjoy prosperity, I shall make monuments hidden in deep darkness clearer than daylight itself.
X. ON A PORTRAIT OF THOMAS KNYVETT, TO SIR BRIAN TUKE, TREASURER TO KING HENRY VIII
Martial Knyvett, that great glory of the British nation, fell amidst blazing gunpowder, alas, in the bloody confusion of a savage sea-battle, and perished in the blue sea. But he breathes, Tuke, in your elegant manor, painted with such consummate skill that you can imagine each individual hair to exist on his living head, that even now you can imagine his eyes to roll back and forth and his veins, filled with warm blood, to stir up life throughout all his body. And what of the fact that a gracious inscription wonderfully beautifies this distinguished canvas? So many felicities and colors sweetly smile at you with their welcome novelty, such as neither noble Parrhasius nor Zeuxis himself would have been able to produce.
XI. TO ZACHARIAS, AN ATTORNEY
Zacharias, resplendent with your learned arts, you who adore the Muses and their light dances, abandon your famous Parnassus and do not scorn the cottage of your old friend. Humble though it may be, it is yours, and will gladly hymn your virtues. Come to your familiar sports, having adorned your head with a green garland, and strike the lyre with your flying hand. Who can deny you have no skill at music, you whom once quill-wielding Phoebus himself instructed in all manner of song? But cease to say more, Thalia. Zacharias, that son of Phoebus, is making his entrance.
XII. ON A PORTRAIT OF ANDREW SMITH, HOLDING HIS SON CHRISTOPHER
Famed Apelles, who has painted this in bright colors, has joined Christopher to his father on this lifelike canvas. Smith, the well known glory of Apollo’s crew, is cradling his delicate son in his gentle arm and, as if he were appreciating it, his father’s darling and delight is sweetly rolling his bright eyes. The boy is happy in his dear father’s embrace, and is forever playing in his lap.
XIII. TO A SWAN, HIS JUDGE
My poem always stands or falls according to your judgment, my learned swan. If it is elegant in its figures, let it happily enjoy a perpetual bower amidst the rosebeds of twin-peaked Paestum and amidst the sweet violets. But if it is lacking in a ruddy hue, let it feed the limping god’s ovens.
XIV. A PRAYER TO LIBERTY
I do not greedily demand pearls, glittering on the shore of the Red Sea, nor the soft wealth of the Arabs. I do not demand heaps of treacherous gold. Fair Liberty, come as my sole goddess. What’s the good in circling my head with a gold crown? What’s the good in dressing my body in clothes from Venice or in adorning my head with the scarlet cap of a Cardinal? Fair Liberty, come as my sole goddess. I bid adieu to scepter-wielding kings and their bejeweled garlands, and I bid adieu to you, noble court. I bid adieu to the elegant corrupter of maidens. Fair Liberty, come as my sole goddess. Whatever ruddy sand is possessed by the wealthy Pactolus and the splendid banks of the gold-bearing Tagus may depart, as may the bounties of this vast earth, purchased by great effort. Fair Liberty, come as my sole goddess.
XV. TO STELLA, A VIRGIN
Stella, you possess such color in your tranquil countenance such as lilies have when they are intermixed with roses. Your eyes vie with the stars, your hair with gold, your soft lips glow with ruddy redness. These could be called nature’s greatest gifts, yet your chaste mind possesses something yet greater. Preserve the virginal honor of a pure mind, and thus you may shine as a bright star in high heaven.
XVI. IMMORTAL LINACRE
Learned Linacre, Philomela will abandon her tuneful songs, there will be no fish in the crystal stream, no field will produce flowers in springtime, before your name will perish.
XVII. MY NATIVE SOIL
Mantua gave birth to Vergil, and Verona to Catullus. The noble city of London is my home.
XVIII. TO MARY, THE DAUGHTER OF KING HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND
Whatever the snow-white Graces possess, those daughters of Lenaeus, whatever is possessed by the fair bevy of the nine Muses, by Persuasion, and by productive Minerva, and, in sum, whatever portion of virtue a woman possesses, this shines in you, Mary, noblest of all things, no less brightly than the sun in a cloudless sky.
XIX. ON A FRIEND’S RETURN
Strew your pretty violets, you wood-nymphs, my darlings, strew lilies mixed with the roses of Paestum. And you happy Graces, now you must lead festive dances, and you must play your lyre with a new song, Phoebus. Be present, father of gladness, and pour the foaming vintages which are your generous gifts. For my long-awaited friend has come here, today is a blessed one for me in all respects.
XX. TO HIS MOST LOYAL FRIEND WILLIAM GONSON
Oh, how I must always celebrate that happy day that joined our hearts with mutual zeal! For then I was first attempting to climb mount Pimplaeus and dip my mouth in its sacred waters. Then I was preparing to survey the Aonian mountains and visit that city named after you, Pallas. Then, happy on the bank of the water of Aganippe, I caught a glimpse of learned Phoebus and the learned Sisters. All of which, William, my Calliope now wants to trumpet as having happened by your doing.
XXI. TO A SWAN, ON THE MIGRATION OF THE MUSES TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
It is well known that the eloquent Sisters have abandoned pleasant Helicon, together with the leader of their belaureled band. But do you know where they have gone, my white swan? Straight to the Schools on the Cam, those learned halls.
XXII. TO THE RIGHT BOUNTIFUL HENRY VIII, KING OF ENGLAND
Most illustrious king, may all the gods grant you a little Henry who may look like his father. Father of your nation, may the gods grant you happily to live a life longer than that of an ancient Athenian. Defender of the Faith, great prince, may they answer your prayers with every good thing, you who grant that they answer my prayers with every good thing — with tawny gold.
XXIII. IN PRAISE OF HISTORY
Whoever wishes to understand the great praiseworthy qualities of history will be instructed by my poem. That which our right fair sun provides with his orb up in the sky, history provides for our use.
XXIV. TO HIS MUSE, THAT SHE OUGHT TO GREET MARTIAL
Go now, my Muse, with the speed of a Pegasus, and seek the house of learned Martial. Do you know for sure where it is, do you know the way? They are next door to the hall of mighty Wolsey, who now shines in Tyrian scarlet. There you will be friendly and tap on the door with a modest finger, asking if a client may say a few words of greeting to his patron (but only if he is entirely free from serious business). If he is calm and agrees, you will enter. Let there be no unbecoming bashfulness, and you will give him my great greetings in the customary way. Furthermore, you will tell him why I sent you that man of quite magnificent splendor: I mean that in this way I might clearly show that my affection for such an old friend is unchanged and has ever been pure as the driven snow. Go now, my Muse, with the speed of a Pegasus, and seek the house of learned Martial.
XXV. FROM A GREEK EPIGRAM IN PRAISE OF HOMERI
In the view of his own Ionians, gold-tressed Phoebus shining in mid-heaven obscures the stars and the very moon, and not otherwise does Homer obscure hymn-singing bards, brilliant thanks to the light of the Muses.
XXVI. ON A PAINTING OF EROS
Zeuxis (no artist in the world more famous) represented Eros in a painting, adding purple clusters of grapes, gifts worthy of the winged boy’s snow-white hand. In painting these his art so imitated their lifelike colors that they deceived a black crow into thinking they were his plunder. Had he painted the boy as happily as he did the grapes, this would have been a work perfect in every respect.
XXVII. TO THOMAS LUPSET
There are those who with their greedy heart demand the gleaming treasures of Phrygian Midas. There those who with their pretty mouths utter great prayers that they might gain handsome Nireus. There are those who court Caesar’s favor, the very short-lived gift of the seductive court. And there are those who seek to sate their gullets with ambrosial meals and sweet undiluted wine. But, Lupset, I beseech the thrice-great Thunderer that I might be permitted to live and die with you, such a well-known friend, pure in all respects. And if good fortune grant my prayers, trust me, I shall envy no man his title, no matter how lofty.
XXVIII. THE PROGRESS OF HIS STUDIES
The right famous Cam taught me the seven Arts, and also the school which takes its bright name from the Isis. But the Parisians convinced me that I must cultivate the Muses, and so I have sung assorted tunes in mixed modes.
XXIX. TO THOMAS HOWARD, SON OF THE DUKE OF NORFOLK
Oh you trace your bright lineage from a lordly pedigree, fair Thomas, read these humble verses of mine. After your twelfth year had seen you, my Thalia has been training your nature. No tongue, no pen, can describe how much I admire you. Oh would that the gods could grant you to see the things pent up in my heart! You would properly understand how I, your tutor, always attend on my ward with particular love. But since mortal hearts are not transparent, let these words bear witness to my pious disposition. Just as I do my duty in loving you, I ask you that you consent to match me in your affection.
XXX. TO CATULLUS
There are those who admire, revere and adore your poems, learned Catullus. But my Muse is so entranced by Marullus’ poems that I doubt I wish to be your devotee any longer. And erudite Pontanus’ Muse pleases me so much that hang me if if I wish to be your devotee.
XXXI. LUCRETIA’S CHASTITY
When fair Lucretia stabbed her own chaste breast and red blood stained her dark dagger, then she set an example destined never to perish, how, although her body had been handled, her mind remained untouched.
XXXII. TO FAME
Tell me, Fame, pray tell me whether you are willing to give my Muses the welcome gift of longetivity. I am not unaware that their grace is a small thing. And, whatever their quality may be, they good-naturedly ask for your favor. If you grant this now, they will strive for new beauty and take on a bright hue, so that they might come to closely resemble those of Catullus, so that they might come to closely resemble the fluent Muses of Marullus and Pontanus (our age will see nothing fairer or more elegant). But why should I anxiously say this when you are divine enough, and of your own volition are inclined to bless a hymn-singing bard?
XXXIII. POSTERITY’S ACCLAIM
“As long as a bird loves the air, as long as a fish loves the streams, the British Muse will give her acclaim to my verses.” Possibly I will strike the envious as overoptimistic. I hope to have a place among men of distinction. But posterity may keep its silence, there’s no weight in this prediction. It’s enough for me to have given pleasure to this present age.
XXXIV. TO THOMAS LUPSET
Lupset, most conspicuous glory of your times, although you are commonly in the eloquent climes of the water-logged Venetians and the learned French, you will lend a friendly ear while with his flying pen your Leland writes verses dedicated to you, no matter how inferior to your merits. Everything you do is so serene that no centuries can shine more brightly or lavishly than ours. You introduce the goodly Arts into our nation, you restore the polite languages, you import treasuries of ancient books and restore the learned choir. As a translator you readily fashion Latin monuments out of Greek ones, and, again, you produce Greek books from Latin ones by a welcome effort that is welcome and no less useful than pious. Pray continue in this way and in your brilliance will you will provide lights for lofty London (your homeland and my own) no less than polished Pliny brought to Como with his kindred thunderbolt of eloquence.
XXXV. TO A HANDSOME YOUNG MAN, ON THE GENEROSITY OF NICHOLAS UDALL
Oh, money was lacking for my expanding studies, but Udall’s gift removed all the evil. Sooner will this heart scorn the Muses and happily clasp Gothick words to its bosom, before impious forgetfulness can plunge this great favor done me into the waters of Lethe.
XXXVI. TO A CERTAIN YOUNG NOBLEMAN
You sing pretty songs that flow in a sweet vein, bringing to mind your endowments and wit. Continue with a string of such verses and a festive garland will encircle your elegant head.
XXXVII. ON THE HOT SPRINGS OF BRITAIN
The glory of the Murotriges is agreed to consist of its hot springs at the place where the Avon, that excellent river, gleams. Here (and this is a miracle) mighty nature produces warm fountains, and there is a certain force in the surging water. I could believe that there are veins of sulphur in the vicinity, the hidden source of this perpetual heat. And whenever the water gushes fourth more abundantly, there arises a dark vapor and great stench. If I recall aright, these springs are three in number, and one of them possesses the noble name of the King’s Bath. They are enclosed by a wall, and the King’s Bath also offers seats carved out of the rock with careful piety. A numerous throng bathes in the healing water, which caresses their broken limbs with welcome heat. At the poolside a gang of boy-divers stands, hoping for coins and saying such things as this: “Do you wish our help, fair guest? We are at your service. You are wealthy and generous. Let your wallet open up and pour forth happy rewards for us scrawny fellows. The healthful springs make the same request, they praise a guest’s bountiful hand. Toss in a few coins of the better sort and let them sink heavily in the middle of the water. We’ll dive in and scour the bottom. Don’t be surprised, we’ll bring back your money.” So much for the boys. The company of the learned debate the origin of the place. They praise to high heaven Bladud, that invention of the Welsh, as the inventor of this fine work. And Maidulphus, that admirable glory of his time, built it to prove his loyalty and dutifulness towards Caesar. Caesar turned his terrified back on the Britons he had been pursuing, yet this man did his duty? These are mere words. Other emperors and Roman virtue adorned Bath as their city, and within its walls it preserves Roman remains, the fine work of noble antiquity. May the excellent glory of the baths shine forever, as long as they are always mindful of me, their guest.
XXXVIII. TO HIS MUSE, THAT SHE SHOULD GREET CHRISTOPHER SMITH
Give great greetings to Christopher Smith, my Muse, when you give him these verses as my gift. Although he is a boy of scarce ten years, he speaks Latin fluently. As an actor, when he plays comedy he gets applause, and the happy theaters resound with cheers. When as a tragic actor he reports dire deeds with his sad voice, the gloomy spectator drenches his cheeks with tears. Hence his father writes verse worthy of perpetual cedar, with Apollo’s approval, which the little boy recites and sings in his high voice, you’d imagine that Attic honey was dripping from his lips. These are indeed signs of a happy intellect, nor is his fair appearance less impressive than his mind. Do you want to learn the excellent points of his features? He is like Eros in Apelles’ painting. Thus I have been wanting to commend you to my Muse, so that, having been praised, that virtue of yours might increase.
XXXIX. A COMPARISON OF PLUTARCH AND SEVERUS
Plutarch wrote biographies, as did Severus, and both did a fine job in their work. To the same degree that Plutarch is superior in his use of language, the other is more distinguished in his subject-matter and in his faith.
XL. TO CALLIOPE
Pray forgive your weary bard, Calliope, he’s not forgetful of his duty. Tomorrow, when Aurora shows the world her rosy face, his pen will return to its regular work.
XLI. TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS WILLIAM BLOUNT, ENTITLED MONTJOY
I am sending you a small gift from the banks of the Seine, Blount, the forthright gratitude of the Pierian choir. But if you consider my intention, I will strike you as having sent a great one. When the means are absent, the will is enough.
XLII. TO HIS BROTHER JOHN, A DISTINGUISHED PHYSICIAN
Now, brother, the countryside is being friendly and detaining my carefree self. Here, content with the peace of this small dwelling (but a dwelling crowned by a fertile garden) I am a poet writing elegant verses, verses which (should Apollo give his consent) learned posterity will perhaps approve and sing. You are being detained by that place of holy wisdom, where the lecturer often occupies the worn-down columns and by his lengthy effort prepares for you the sweet glory of the proud victory-palm. As a result, a friendly finger points you out as learned among the learned. Just as you rejoice in academic distinction, so do I in the delight of the countryside.
XLIII. TO SLEEP
Come sweetest sleep, welcome repose for weary limbs, soothing my exhausted eyes. But when bright Phoebus shines with his fiery torch, sleep, you must depart from my swollen cheeks.
XLIV. THE JOINING OF THE ROSE AND THE LILY
In a multicolored garden the first place is granted the roses, and the fair lilies own the next. The ones are painted with Phoenician purple, the others are whiter than Thracian snow. The ones are loved by our prince as badges of his royal pedigree, the others are held in highest honor by the King of France. May the gods preserve the lilies, conjoined to the purple roses, so that the nourishing tranquility of peace may grow green on this earth!
XLV. FROM THE GREEK
A fair friend is obviously a great treasure — as long as one knows how to put a limit on his savings.
XLVI. TO BRIAN TUKE, TREASURER TO HENRY VIII
Brian, you light of the Pierian crew, whom the throng of learned men lauds to the skies with threefold words of praise, if you are not preoccupied by the business of your noble sovereign and mine, accept this stranger of a Muse who comes to you on this little sheet of paper. For now she’s endeavoring to gain your favor with these few lines so that, relying on your kindness, she may produce more and better ones, by which she can make your virtue, famous to the British, yet more so.
XLVII. ON A PAINTING OF A GIRL WITH ONE OF HER FEET PLANTED ON A GLOBE
A handsome girl decorates Smith’s house (a shrine of the Muses), gleaming with the art of a crowned Zeuxis. She stands with a rosy face, waving feathers atop her head, and covers her middle portion with linen, though the rest is nude. Triumphantly she tramples underfoot the subdued high points of the vast world, since a woman overcomes young and old alike.
XLVIII. TO CHRISTOPHER SMITH, A LAD OF GREAT PROMISE
Come here, Smith, you no common glory among fair lads, you who are cultivating the nine Sisters, while I offer you the fresh firstfruits as Thalia urges me to write hendecasyllables. Be friendly and lend me your ear, gladly listening to my advice, and thus you will quickly master the noble Muses. With good auspices you must learn the choice books of the ancients, from which you will acquire ample gifts of the Latin language. And furthermore, if you want to be graceful and hope for a terse and polished style, then you should embrace the artful eloquence of fair Terence. He will teach you how to scatter witticisms and playful grace. If your decorous love requires gentle verses, then you must study Ovid. For he reigns supreme, able to speak his verses in rounded tones. You will do right to cherish these two, they are specially appropriate for your young years. Be sure not to pass by their humble cottage with hasty step, for they feed the boys who linger there with honeyed food.
XLIX. ON THE ARRIVAL OF FAIR LIBERTY
At last you have come, having been sought so often, the liberty of my tranquil repose. You are going to give me this sweet gift, by which you may lessen my toilsome care and the sad sufferings of my mind. Or am I deceived by the blackness of fleet slumber? No, it is she. For I recognize her relaxed face, her happy, star-like eyes gleaming hither and thither. Then I see her light garments, free of servile gold, and yet decent. She smiles, carrying an open coffer, blessed with that much-praised Golden Mean. She is happy with her fine companion Peace, nor does she a whit for the wealth of Midas, and blessedly prefers a modest fortune. With what joy, with what garlands can I celebrate your arrival? You Muses, my greatest delight, oh you Muses, now kindle offerings of Sabaean incense on loaded altars. Give sweet-smelling roses and the other fresh scents which the springtime pours forth. For this is the first day that has brought me safety, with sweet Liberty favoring me.
L. THE QUALITY OF WILLIAM LATIMER OF OXFORD
If any man flourishes in the elegant language of Cecrops’ nation and in your eloquence, learned Rome, if any man reads over Aristotle’s pregnant volumes with a rare dexterity of good judgment, if any man devotes himself to lawgiving Moses and the holy Prophets, and preaches Christ with a pure mouth, and if anybody banishes avarice and cultivates the Golden Mean, this is the glory of pious Latimer.
LI. A HUNTING LEOPARD
Lately swift hounds won the proud palm for outrunning the fleet-footed stag. Then the leopard made fearlessly made its appearance, expecting to conquer, not to be conquered, having a coat marked with dark spots. You would imagine that it could run faster than the arrows of Cnossos and surpass the light birds with its speed. Perhaps its hunting delighted the Romans, those masters of the world. Our times witness the same.
LII. TO JUSTUS, THE HEADMASTER OF ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL
You, Justus, who finish off young tongues with a certain dexterity, tolerating no downfall of the shining Muses, now receive my poem with a kindly hand, written at the behest of mighty Phoebus. My love for him, who carries so many bright rays in the sky, thus grows day by day, and this is something which this pen of mine cannot easily endite on paper. Yet everything will cheerfully obey the command of my great patron and will extol your virtues to high heaven in neat Phaleucian hendecasyllables, which that tuneful choir dedicated to Paul will sing to your honor.
LIII. A COLUMN AT OXFORD, SET UP BY THE ASTRONOMER NICHOLAS CRATZER
Famous renown sings of the marble columns which great Rome erected for her great men, nor will renown sing any the less of the notable column put up by the artful handiwork of Cratzer. The Zodiac fittingly encircles the white marble, shining with its various colors. When the sun shines with its golden-haired light, he tells the time with by casting shadow. When the moon shines, surrounded by her elegant coronas, a painted line marks the number of the hours. Moreover the ingenious column, inscribed with various figures, observes the movements of the stars. After its pattern the learned crew has erected new columns with their rare industry.
LIV. TO N. IONUS
At my advice, Ionus, with a studious hand you turn the pages the ancient poets of illustrious note. Now I pray that, with the Muse being favorable, you receive ample fruits from this field of study. Half of the business is to make a proper start, and a fair outcome will prove the truth of my words. The beginning is hard, but sweet pleasure will soften this. Do you want to know what it is? Listen. Whoever is endowed with profound judgment cherishes tuneful poets. He will be able to fly on sure wings through various vicissitudes and shed bright light on deep darkness. Hence he safely be able to expatiate to the world on any branch of learning with elegant diction and call down the Aonian Sisters from their sacred mountains; as an ardent lover he can join them in singing soft elegies, he can sing the bloody wars of men with a great trumpet, or hymn the gods’ supreme praise, or transform things into shining constellations. You may think that I thus speak of great things, as long as I am assisted by lively effort and an ardent mind. You will reap the ripe harvest of your completed labor as an enduring reward.
LV. IN PRAISE OF MACRINUS
The lute is playing sweet odes of Macrinus, such as even the Muses would have liked to have composed.
LVI. A COMPARISON, TO THE GLORY OF THE PUISSANT KING HENRY VIII
As much as brambles with their thorns are inferior to scarlet beds of roses in the fresh springtime, as much as all the other gem-like flowers in a pleasant garden are inferior to the lily in its whiteness, as much as all the other fruits are inferior to red apples in their comely redness, as much as the lowly tamarisks are inferior to the cone-bearing cypresses in their glory, as much as the lowly earth is inferior to the star-studded sky in its huge mass and blackness, thus much all other serene sovereigns are your inferior in fame, reputation, and true glory (not to mention the light, streams and thunderbolt of your more powerful intellect, and the enduring strength of your rare judgment). Oh Henry, you are a great support of your nation, such as the famed Hercules once triumphantly bore.
LVII. TO THE MUSES
You who are wont to sport atop Boeotian mountains and lead the virginal dance with clasped hands and a sweet song, you sisters,
Grant me the power, and as a most welcome gift bring a tuneful lyre to match these slender verses of a poet who is your kinsman, you sisters.
Every tree, burgeoning with scented blossoms as the west wind blows so gently, entices the noble mind to measured tunes.
Now the swallow, which cannot tolerate the sharp cold, abandons its home (I mean its brave nest), and strikes the calm breezes with its agile wing.
The happy birds sing in the delightful hedges, and the air resounds with the song of their loud voices.
If you Muses are favorable and give this requested lyre to a new bard, he will be friendly and hymn your divine godhead with fitting praises.
LVIII.TO SIR FRANCIS POYNINGS, A RIGHT DISTINGUISHED KNIGHT IN ALL RESPECTS
Thus, Francis, the chorus of musical Phoebus resounds with your praises, since each of its members thinks he will gain the name of a holy bard, together with a wreath of ivy, if he praises, lauds, and extols you in song, you whom the Muses, the Graces, Venus and Charm join together in raising you to the stars above. And so my Thalia has persuaded me that I must cast my favorable vote, so that I might kindly celebrate your endowments. You should rejoice because you are cherished at the Muses’ bosom even when you are surrounded by cruel enemies. And you strive to give to your fellow Britons that which famed Maecenas used to give his fellow Romans, being the patron of Vergil and the lyric poet Horace.
LIX. A VERDICT ABOUT BRIXIUS ET MORE
Brixius is full of fair candor, and he lashes out at ill-considered words. Brixius has corrected More in respect to honeyed verse, yet More was the more distinguished in terms of intellect.
LX. TO A YOUNG MAN
Leland takes this opportunity to send you great greetings, my handsome young man. And, not content with sending only his greetings, he also sends a gift to suit your enthusiasm, namely a reticule containing twelve French balls. I know you will be just as delighted when you receive this small gift as if I had sent you jewels as a gift. And not without reason: for if I judge aright, the number of balls matches the years of your age.
LXI. TO SIR BRIAN TUKE
Caesar ensured that the fire did no harm to Vergil’s poem, you give me the ivy wreaths of Bacchus. Any learned man would rescue verses from fire, but the bestowal of ivy is princely. To the same degree that a private citizen is inferior to a prince, British Tuke is superior to that Roman.
LXII. CHRYSIS’ SQUIRREL
While a red squirrel dwelt in the branches of a hazel-tree, turning over its little meal of a shell-encased nut in its hooked claws and happily poking its ears straight up, it sat bolt upright, drawing its hairy tail to its quivering head, showing off lord knows what hidden power of his nature which gives it its name (for it has a Greek origin, and an entirely significant one). The shell was keeping its sharp little teeth occupied, the work was going on busily, and little fragments were falling on all sides, making a great heap. Some little boys were mourning that this prize had been stolen from them, and all of them singlemindedly kept threatening it with birdlime and fetters (a gallows for this cruel tyrant). Straightway, when its hunger had been banished, it stashed away the ripe hazelnuts in its storehouse there, where it had made a safe nest for its children out of lush moss in a hollow fallen-down tree. This squirrel was a constant champion of liberty, but (alas) one little boy, relying on evil deceits, begrudged it its beloved peace. For the boy scoured the whole forest and, being accustomed to guile, constructed a trap in which he could either catch its neck or enchain its feet. Heedless of the snare, the squirrel wandered out a-hunting in its favorite darkness, to that place where the navelwort thrives and lavishly renews its crop, nor did it fear a thing. At that point he was caught and suddenly greatly oppressed, and it perceived the trick of the fetters. In wretched way it struggled to force its way out of his bonds. But with all its commotion it achieved nothing, but rather became all the more entangled. Now enslaved, it abandoned hope and surrendered to the trick. The boy who had devised it saw this, happily came up, and, freeing his little prey from its bonds, attached a collar and leash to the captive beast. Next, having acquired such a soft and elegant little animal, he went to the turreted city, bringing this small gift to his master’s mistress. He spoke his greetings to the pretty Venus. Then this beauty, mindful for her duty, praised the little boy and rewarded him with a gold coin. Pretty Chrysis, seeing the gift prepared for her, dressed it up and cherished it with delicate things, and also tamed the squirrel with her soft hand and fed it ambrosial food. Now she binds its neck with a golden chain so it will not wanted too far astray, and so it, which was once entirely a forest-dweller, has easily become domesticated. And it is trained to play elegant pranks to please its mistress and as closely examines her familiar face as it once did hazelnuts. It studies her dark eyes for signs of black sadness or of joy, and when it sees them downcast, oh how many cares it pretends! It gloomily droops its ears, moans and closes its sad eyes, its wide tail shrouds its body, and it lies on the cold ground wearing a glum expression. But when it sees golden Chrysis’ eyes brightly shining, it cheerfully returns to its old games and laughter. Climbing into its shining mistress’ warm lap, it presses her milk-white breasts. And, just like the Chaonian doves, it kisses her soft lips. Now with impudent feet it fiercely stamps the marble breast of its Diana, pretending to be most angry. And then it sets aside its threats and peacefully invents merry sports, seeking the familiar reward of a little nut.
LXIII. ON THE RETURN OF RICHARD PACE, THAT DISTINGUISHED ORNAMENT OF BOTH LANGUAGES
Now our Pace, that glory of the Aonian Muses, has returned safely from noble Venice, bringing his lights (or, to speak truthfully, his divinity) back to his nation. Does any pearl shine brightly in its shell, does any branch rustle with leaves of gold, with which I might celebrate the great joys of my applauding heart? What noble songs will the harmonious Muses grant me, with which I can profoundly congratulate Pace on his return? When he was absent the chorus of the learned sought after him with sad words, complaining “oh cruel stars!” When he was absent the splendid number of nymphs known to Apollo grieved in wondrous wise. The flock of those men born for studies, eager to see him safely returned, roars with applause, and now that he is returned the splendid Muses, their brows garlanded with purple flowers, vie with their thrice-cheering songs to extol him to the pinnacles of bright heaven.
LXIV. ON A STATUE OF JOHN COLET, DEAN OF ST. PAUL’S
Here where Lily put a polish on young men’s eloquence, great Colet, you breathe in your statue. If the great Praxiteles had made it, he would perhaps have done as well, but he would have done no better. As long as this statue remains, the undying image of Colet will endure for a long time.
LXV. TO JOHN DYGON
You have been an excellent supporter of my name, Dygon, and I of yours. I have often wished to recite my trifles to you, and you have often wanted to recite yours to me. Therefore posterity will justly bear witness that we have worshiped the pious god of friendship.
LXVI.TO A SWAN
You have wreathed my brows with green ivy, my swan, and this ivy is my gift to you. Grow, you happy ivy, you happy rewards of bards, destined never to die.
LXVII. TO THOMAS MYLES
Everybody would justly call me most ungrateful, Myles, if my Muse did not praise you. For out of sheer piety you took me in at an early age, bereft of both parents, and continually looked after my education. My teacher was that Lily thanks to whose anxious care England’s talented youth learned to speak fluently. Later, when I was a young man, you placed me among those sons of Socrates there where the happy Cam gleams. Afterwards with good success I sought out the city by the Isis, since my Cambridgeshire tutor had died. Afterwards I was greatly helped by the favor and bountiful hand of Henry VIII. Next I lived in Paris for the sake of my studies, in which city I eagerly courted those men who were learned down to their fingertips: Budaeus, Fabrus, Paulus Aemilius, and Ruellus, names worthy of being preserved forever in cedar. In return for such good offices, dear Myles, the busy dolphin will come to hate the waves and the savage bear will come to love the waters before your name will fade from my heart, a name which Piety herself will reward out of her pocket.
LXVIII. TO PETER VANNUS
You have praised my untalented Muse, Peter, thanks to whom I sang of my Tuke’s noble titles. In exchange I myself will praise your fair candor, but not with the same logic. For your candor can add glory to my Muse, but my Muse can add nothing to your candor.
LXIX. THANKS TO A FRIEND FOR A GIFT
During hard times, when I was lacking in gold, I received a welcome gift from your servant. What can gift can I give you now to repay you for yours, when my meager fortune forbids me from giving great ones? If the nine Muses can accomplish anything in song, together with Apollo my patron, tuneful Philomela will abandon her greenwoods before I grow forgetful of my obligation.
LXX. TO GONELL, THAT HE SHOUILD LEAVE THE CITY
I do not see why, Aonian Gonell, you should celebrate the naughty luxuries of crowded London with such enthusiasm, for they foster softness of body, with a hapless disregard of one’s sacred character. Nor do I see why you adore the proud city’s vain hubbub, although the chattering common folk might point at you, since (being outstanding for your learning even among the learned themselves) you pursue the pure delights of the Latin language. You should often shut your ears to idle popular opinion. If you seek a sure crown of praise, hunt after successes, and they will give you a heap of prettier flowers. So come now, leave your house in the city. For as far as I am concerned a man is not striving for a proper way of life who indulges himself as a loiterer amidst city taverns; rather, this is a done by a man who cultivates his pleasant nature by intent and constant effort. At this point I perhaps strike you as tedious, always harping on the same theme. Certainly my candor and my affection move and enjoin me, and even command me that I write boldly and maintain my case, but always with the honorable intention of seeming like a vehement preacher rather than a harsh taskmaster. My intention is sufficiently well known to you, and I am striving to goad you on in your course. Thus you should blessedly return to your country home and entrusted to you as its sacred landlord, and you should piously look out for the welfare of your dependents. The very erudite School which flourishes by the Cam, mighty in the glory of both languages, will preach these same things to you. The hunting set will come a-flying and greet you with welcome arms when they sees you are alive, on all sides they will receive you when you are returned save and sound. So willingly celebrate your country retreat, and leave the city.
LXXI. THE QUALITY OF BORBON’S SONG
The poet Bourbon pours forth songs such as the dying swan sings.
LXXII. ON A PAINTING OF ST. JEROME
Whenever I look on your face, St. Jerome, I am wholly concerned with ardor for Holy Writ.
LXXIII. TO THE READER, ABOUT HIS SWAN’S COMPLAINT
My eloquent swan wretchedly complains that Minerva’s Athens does not survive in men of goodly intellect. “What is Athens now but a word?” the poet Ovid sang in his verses. But why lodge this complaint? Athens will always flourish, Attic grace will keep flowing from its eternal mouth. Though cities may perish, eloquence will never die, virtue’s immortal glory will always remain fresh. One or another of nature’s fountains may run dry by some fault, but, behold, a third unexpectedly flows. She likewise alters the fortunes of intellect and eloquence, but in such a way that she repairs their goodly seed. I greatly revere, venerate, adore, and sing the praises of the illustrious monuments of the city of Athens, and yet the mere word Athens does not sound well to my ear, but my Cambridge always rings true. Scythian barbarity befouled that city, as did its cruel progeny, the Getes. Sigibert, that pinnacle of kingship, and the Burgundian Felix competed in adorning this one with sacred studies. That undefended village (and only a small one) lost all the glory of its ancient fame, whereas Cambridge shines with the knowledge of three languages, and is excellent for the keen thunder of its Attic eloquence. What pleasure I take in speaking the praises of my fostering nurse! If now my fame would shine forth, acquired thanks to her! Grant me a long and happy life and I shall rise up to your credit, serene Cambridge.
LXXIV. TO BRIAN TUKE, WRITTEN ON THE TITLE PAGE OF PROCOPIUS
If there is anything in human affairs which can make us prudent and well-versed, if there is anything which helps us in our life and shapes our mind with manners thrice or four times good, history does this, my most well-endowed Tuke, and my Muse is not able to sound its praise. So with a kindly face receive this Procopius I am sending you, a gift worthy of your attention.
LXXV. TO THOMAS SULMO, FRENCH SECRETARY TO HENRY VIII
You attribute learning to me and praise me as erudite, celebrating my name with great honor. I don’t regard myself as worthy of such great honor, my Sulmo, these laurels are suitable for your merits.
LXXVI. ON HIS BIRTHDAY
“Bind your brows with rosy wreaths, my Muses, and set the harmonious strings of your Castalian lyre a-moving. This is the festal day on which I first saw the bright lights of the star-studded sky. The fostering Ides of September marks my twenty-fourth year, happy times, indeed, that I certainly must mark with a white stone so that I may seem to have been mindful of my duty. Thus may Jupiter grant me the years of a Nestor and grant me to enjoy peaceful prosperity. I do not choose to lead my life in delights, or to indulge in evil things amidst idle sloth. I only desire this, that I might foster polite learning, and grow in the praises of my nation.” This was a noble aspiration, but just this one thing was lacking: writers to remember me and the love of posterity. You who with careful fidelity print the monuments of British antiquity (which is my concern), ply your pens, provide bright examples, so that our nation might shine forth, painted in all its colors.
LXXVII. TO LAURENCE SPARCHFORD
If mighty Fortune would grant me my wishes, I would wholeheartedly give you golden gifts. But since my hostile lot refuses to grant what I want, now you shall receive this small gift of a good man’s verses. My hard times only allow me to give you these verses I have poured forth, which your kindly affection certainly demands. The good offices you performed for me at your house remain fixed in the inmost recesses of my steadfast and constant mind at the time I came to see my beloved Smith. I could have happily remained with you for all the days of my life. Now Helicon seems no more welcome to its sacred nymph than that country house seemed to me, gleaming peacefully with its flowers and set in such a pleasant site. I humbly beseech that you maintain it for yourself and your friends, a ready hospice for the Muses, for a hundred years, and that you experience no bitter disgust for a hard life, my Sparchford, or the fierce assaults of that collapsing fortune, which is a horrible thing.
LXXVIII. ON A PAINTING OF FORTUNE SAILING
This painted Fortune is sailing on the bounding main, just like Venus in Apelles’ painting. A curved dolphin contributes its slippery body to be her ship, cleaving the blue waters with the onrush of its belly. Thin linen provides the ship with its sail, which the splendid girl holds in her hand. At the same time, the four winds are blowing with a howling gale to fill the sail. Go now, and ponder why wanton Fortune cannot long stay in one place.
LXXIX. TO WILLIAM GONSON
Never-ceasing poets herald Hercules’ praises because he conquered and put down cruel Cacus. Athenian Theseus won noble rewards of fain for smiting savage Sinis with his hard steel, and gained no less fame because as an avenger he sent Sciron to the waters of the Styx. If Alcides is due so much praise for his deed, if so much glory awaits the son of Aegeus, what great praises will deservedly accrue to your deeds, since because of your leadership the pirates, that conquered crew, will lie dead, men whom neither the Sultan of the Turks nor the fair of island of Rhodes with its arms-bearing men, nor the bands of vine-bearing Crete, nor the Doges of Venice could defeat? Congratulations for your spirit, and act to clear our waters of such men, Gonson, you darling and glory of the Lord God of Battles.
LXXX. TO THOMAS WOLSEY, ARCHBISHOP AND YORK
May King Henry, abounding in glory, thus zealously honor, distinguish and love you. May a pious concord thus bind together our great Peers that the Turk may succumb to war’s just thunder. May you thus complete the great mass of your construction projects, churches dedicated to God Almighty. May you be good and auspicious for myself. May you deservedly be called a protection of the Muses and a bulwark for me.
LXXXI. TO NICHOLAS UDALL
Udall, you friend of the nine Muses, who wholeheartedly loves learned letters, now in my sadness I can call the stars quite adverse, for by an unfriendly fate they have taken from me such a fair companion, such an old and close friend, and removed him to the fierce Brigantes, where I can scarcely bring myself to believe the Muses have come. For Mars reigns there, plying his bloody swords, and with his strong hand he is constantly oppressing the Scots and the English. What do the Muses now have to do with raging Mars? But if the Fates forbid you to return to your sweet home, I pray that in all respects, with you their northern guide, the barbarians may flourish in the learned languages.
LXXXII. ON THE NAVAL BATTLE FOUGHT BY WILLIAM GONSON IN FRENCH WATERS
When Gonson overcame an enemy ship with his gunfire, a mighty victor in this heaving region, out of fear Father Ocean hid his hoary locks in the depths of the glassy ocean, and an amazed Neptune, the king of the salt sea, quickly plunged his head into the blue waves. Out of astonishment Glaucus, who is wont to wreath his blue-green locks with seaweed, rushed to his cave. Palaemon, who rides the curved back of a bridled dolphin, hid his face amongst hollow reefs. No less did Triton, who blows loudly on his fearful trumpet, sank his vast body in headlong flight. For all were terrified by the thunder and flash of many guns and scarce in possession of their wits. They thought that an angry Jove had come down from on high as an avenger to drive his brother from the surging waters. But when the victor set aside his rage and sang his merry paean of “huzzah, huzzah,” and happily showed off his noble work, after spoils had been taken and the enemy ship had been shattered, the prince of the sea gradually lift up his head from the waves, surveying his foaming realm with a roving eye. And after he had recognized the face of his dear guest Gonson, the god wholly stood out of the water, and summoned his conch-blowing Triton from the waves so he might sing of this battle, accomplished with a strong hand. Hearing his father’s voice, Triton came in haste, springing out of the waves, blowing his bugle. You could have seen the green Nymphs and Doris tripping their measures. Then, following their example, the entire British populace rejoiced in dancing on their curved shore, and with happy arms embraced such a great returning victor, the protection of their sea.
LXXXIII. TO JOHN BARRET, ATTORNEY
Thus may your hand often leaf through Budé’s divine volumes, and also those of Alciato. Thus may your rare eloquence come to the help of your troubled clients and may your case prevail in the courtroom. Pray, Barret, read over these epigrams, my trifles, since they have appointed you as my judge.
LXXXIV. A GRATULATORY POEM FOR EDWARD WOTTON ON HIS RETURN FROM ITALY, IN THE NAME OF THE COLLEGE OF THE BEES
…when [Orpheus] has brought down the unbending ash-trees from the white mountains and soothed the watery streams with their fish, begin, Calliope, to touch your plaintive strings. For as far as I am concerned today is wholly given over to delights. You Graces, join in the happy games with linked hands, and help me lead the gentle dances, you happy College. Such honor and more is owed to my friend, who by his return happily dispels all sadness, being born to fill this hall with genuine mirth. Oh what sweat flowed from my chill breast when, refusing to be deterred, Wotton sought out Italy! Oh what great joys have occupied my throbbing heart when happy Wotton returned! Just as when winter spreads abroad and with its irresistible chill takes away the flowery appearance of the burgeoning field, the trees gradually shed their leaves, and the stalks drop their wheat and wither, and then by its return the fresh spring transforms the barren aspect of the failing field, with the trees breaking out with ample foliage and the wheat growing with its new fruit, thus for me the dire winter is always fleeing, and Wotton takes away all my joys along with himself. Thus for me the sweet spring is always returning, and Wotton. Therefore, you spinning Sisters, let it now remain your concern to fashion fair Wotton’s thread out of happy wool, so that he might join me in living the years of a Nestor, striving to banish filthy barbarism from his mouth. Then nor will any other part of the world be more auspicious for me, no matter how much the whole world may extol the noble names of learned men with its fine praises.
LXXXV. TO SIR BRIAN TUKE
Alexander the Great is said to have been open-handed in giving generous gifts to nobly singing poets, but my Tuke has done no less, for he has given me as many Philips as I have given him happy songs. Rise up, my Muses, for the benefit of such a great patron, and let Tuke equal Alexander in his generosity.
LXXXVI. TO DIVINE PEACE
Greetings, happy Peace. Have you come under a happy star, serene goddess, to visit your bard? By Phoebus and the Sisters I ask you to tell me the reason for such a long delay? Did the poet Hieronymus detain you, or Hessus, or Ursinus, or my Bourbon? Each of these was certainly one of the learned, and, I am sure, has been happy in many a way. Thus you should want to dwell with me for long years, and my Muse will laud your name to the skies.
LXXXVII. TO THE RIGHT NOBLE SIR ARTHUR ARCH
Rumor has often come to my ears, grandly proclaiming that you are a great devotee of polished learning, and this befell me before I had the splendid experience of making your acquaintance. And I admit, learned Arch, that to my great advantage I have discovered that this is all respects true. I am mindful of the smile with which you blessed me even when with a happy hand I was presenting a volume to your master and mine, and because of this you struck me as a most outstanding supporter of lovely virtue. Therefore, taking advantage of an idle moment of leisure, with flying pen I have been preparing this letter of thanks, lest you imagine that this kindness was bestowed on an ingrate or a heedless man.
LXXXVIII. TO THE MUSES, THAT THEY SHOULD VISIT MARY, THE DAUGHTER OF HENRY VIII
See John Leland, Two Latin Masques
LXXXIX. TO MELLITUS
You are worthy of your name, sweet Mellitus, for what you write is more honeyed than honey itself.
XC. AD RALPH BOUREUS
While you are striving with your benevolent mind to adorn a rising poet, weaving me flowery garlands, you are offering me the greatest of gifts, considering your meager fortune, so that you may show what should be offered to the goodly Muses. Moved by such acts of kindness, I have taken up my reed and desire to fit words to my unequal tunes. But, Ralph, to give you a few measures now is the same thing as casting a drop of water into the vast sea.
XCI. TO REGULUS
Since you royally endow learned men, Regulus, your deeds prove you worthy of your name. If you always pay with this coin, Regulus, then you’ll be thrice-great with the full title of King.
XCII. ON A PAINTING OF A NYMPH
A Venetian nymph is running her fingers over her lute, and a ruddy ray lights her face. A golden gown adorns her slender body and a proud plume her elegant head. What more can I say? I shall say that Apelles’ artful hands could scarce have painted its like.
XCIII. TO RICHARDUM TOMIO
Either Clarian Apollo and the Clarian Sisters will forsake me or, Tomio, you will be first in my songs. For although I embrace many men with considerable affection, you are dearest to my heart. The reason is well enough known (nor shall I deny things that are self-evident), the fact that you greatly love and admire me. Had I a hundred tongues and a hundred mouths, then my Muse would swell up for your praises. I am destitute, my eloquence is assuredly a slender thing. And yet, whatever its size, it will be at your service.
XCIV. CONGRATULATION ON THE RETURN OF THOMAS LUPSET
Have you come back to me safely, Lupset? And are you willing to abandon the flowery fields of Venice, moved by the studies of your fellow Englishman which so greatly desire your help? Have you come so that now, safe and sound, you might at length revisit your old friends? Oh this is a propitious day for me, which has been able to return to me you, whom I have so often hoped for in my prayers! This is a festive day that I must mark with bright leaves and fresh garlands. This is a day for thanksgiving, that I must mark with a white stone, a day which has also banished the gloomy cares from my quaking heart and returned you, my loveable delight. Surely laurel-wreathed Vergil was no more welcome to Horace, returning from his Athenian friends after a long time, Lupset, than you are now that you are given back. You are a man whom for a long time I yearned to see, and I wearied the gods above with my harsh words.
XCV. THE QUESTIONABLE LOVE OF POSTERITY
Love of posterity seeks to seduce me, promising many centuries for my books. But it is not so easy to deceive a man of experience, I know I do not deserve to enjoy such a great honor. Greece itself is lacking eloquent bards, and Rome likewise grieves to have lost hers. Since I am educated by these clear examples, how can I hope my Muses might live on? Surely it will suffice me to write for the present century, and to have given pleasure to the ears of my nation.
XCVI. TO CHARLES BLOUNT, SON OF WILLIAM BLOUNT
I am sending you a small book, fair Charles, which the holy choir of Boeotian Muses attributes to great Homer as its true father. Although it is a small thing in appearance, yet you should not scorn it. A gem from India is often more valuable than columns of Parian marble. Nor should you scorn a man playing Greek Homer’s sweeter songs on the strings of a Latin lyre. For The Latin Muse has her own delights, which often beguile Aonian poets.
XCVII. THE WEDDING-SONG OF JOHN CLEMENT, PHYSICIAN, AND HIS MARGARET
See John Leland, Two Latin Masques
XCVIII. ON THE EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF A MOOR
Having bound his shaggy temples with a ribbon, this Moor sits on the proud back of his winged horse. In his right hand he brandishes a balanced missile, while with his left he tightens and relaxes the reins of his horse. You could imagine him to be coursing about and hurling his shafts.
XCIX. TO SIR BRIAN TUKE
Being a poet, Tuke, I am sending you gifts made of paper. My Muses possess no greater fortune.
C. TO ANDREW SMITH
Ah, why spend many words telling you what a heavy thing it is to live without you? With you I was accustomed to reveal the secrets of my inmost heart, and keep busy by happily making up sweet songs, with our high voices singing to the resonant lyre. With you I was wont to visit the meadows, so shining with their many-colored gems. Had not an unkind fortune driven me, a wretch, over storm-tossed waters, how happily I could have lived that easy life with you, and think myself blessed for always having such a fair friend! No zeal for gold nor accursed ambition, nor anything which fertile earth produces from its bosom would distract me from cleaving to you wholly. But now, since my cruel fate prevents me from enjoying your presence any longer, I think the next best thing is to repair the loss with frequent letters. Thus my mind will join me as in companionship with my absent fair friend.
CI. IN PRAISE OF THE ROSE, BY MEANS OF A COMPARISON
As much as cone-bearing cypresses surpass sluggish vibernums and the fruitful olive surpasses the willow, and the ruddy apple surpasses crab-apples (degenerate and acid) in its beauty, as much as a handsome herb garden surpasses the uncouth mountains in the new springtime, so much I could believe that the red rose (that gift of Venus) surpasses all flowers in its splendor.
CII. TO BRIAN TUKE
With your generous hand, splendid Tuke, you gave me tawny gold as a pledge of your great affection. Behold, I am bestowing on you this small gift of a poem, and thus you imagine that I am giving you small things in exchange for great. But, Tuke, what you recently gave me has now fled away, my money-chest does not do as good a job of keeping as it does of receiving. If Fortune is favorable to my Muse, fair Tuke, with my verses I shall surpass your gifts of gold.
CIII. TO JOHN CLERK, BISHOP OF BATH
Clerk, you who deserve to be numbered among the eloquent advocates who practice both civil and canon law, my Muse is striving to praise you with her tuneful notes, unequal as she may be to your praises. I know for a fact that the Parisians are wont to speak of your accomplishments, and that your glory is familiar at the court of Rome. Nor does Bologna, so studious of the sacred laws, cease to illuminate you with its well-deserved annotations. What can I say of the ways in which you are an ornament to both sciences, of the way you are an ornament to learned men? Once upon a time Bath conferred distinction on prelates, now you, yet more distinguished, confer distinction on it. Let it love its shepherd, and the shepherd his city, just as my Muse loves the endowments of your intellect.
CIV. TO R. CRAYFORD
Crayford, while the choir of the Seine kindly retains me with certain enticements of languages and solid learning, you stroll about the court, wholly happy amidst the famous men of Britain, thrice-gladdened by the smiling face of your master and mine. And yet I do not envy your good fortune. For my part, as I am engaged in the trifling business of the goodly Arts, now let it befall me strenuously to reap fruits that are neither trifling nor meager, to restore ancient and shining eloquence, so help me Phoebus.
CV. TO HIS SWAN, ABOUT THOMAS LINACRE
I have often heard you asking whose mouth the Muse should choose to speak Greek things in Latin. So you may be better informed about this, lately I paid to a visit to plectrum-wielding Apollo and the Boeotian choir of the Muses. Phoebus told me Linacre, the Sisters said Linacre, and so did all the learned throng of the Castalian choir. They unanimously said that he is the man in whose mouth they wanted Latin words to be spoken.
CVI. PRAISE OF BOURBON VANDOUEVRE
Eloquent France praises Bourbon, who pours forth from his mouth a song as sweet as nectar. In my verses I am not Bourbon’s equal, and yet someday the land of Britain will sing of my Muses.
CVII. THE HELIOTROPE
When shining Phoebus arises in the eastern world, I have woken up and lifted up my face. But when he wearily dyes the western waters, I have veiled my handsome face with my tresses. Out of all lovers, Phoebus alone completely delights me, the glory of the sky and darling of the earth. Hence I am comely and pointed out in gardens, and I am commonly called the heliotrope.
CVIII. TO HIS MUSES, THAT THEY SHOULD CELEBRATE HENRY VIII
Say “huzzah,” Muses, and now say “huzzah,” and bind your festive brows with roses of Paestum. Henry, the most illustrious king in all the world, supports, decorates, and loves us with his thrice-candid heart. Under such a prince it is now possible for us to visit the fair luminaries of the School at Paris. Now we can travel through learned Italy and spice our Latin words with the salt of Greek wit. Tell me, what gifts will you give the king, your patron, in exchange for having such affection for me? What gifts, if not the very familiar ones of a sweet-singing bard, gifts destined not to perish through the long passage of days?
CIX. ON THOMAS LINACRE’S BOOK DE EMENDATA STRUCTURA
There’s no need to grow pale over books by Palamedes or spend wakeful nights over those by Diomedes. Elegant Linacre has not produced such tomes, such as the long passage of time has never given us. I can get any fair judge to admit that he has won the fair prize among grammarians. Whatever he has taken from the ancient Greeks or Romans he repeats with his own inventiveness. He who attempts to publish something more polished will be trying to shoot out the eyes of crows.
CX. ANOTHER POEM ON THE SAME BOOK
What’s the point for young men to celebrate the virginal band of Muses or the waters of Bellerophon? Or what’s the point of lauding sacred Helicon, the sacred waters of Permessus, or the places of Cyrrhae consecrated to the laurel-wearing god? Rather, come hither on happy feet and fix your tender young eyes on this book, destined to live. Adieu to the dreams of Parnassus and the Boeotian countryside. Now Linacre will be the single one for us all.
CXI. TO RICHARD GONSON
Plucking ambrosial flowers, those new shoots of the burgeoning springtime, you prepare me welcome gifts. Attend to this often, and on this score you will discover that my character is much gentler.
CXII. TO CALLIOPE, ABOUT JOHN CLAYMOND
Now polished Claymond is your friendly devotee, Calliope, to whom the chorus of the nine Sisters bring so many white stones. He also frequently honors you with a great gift and his most kind mouth. Wherefore, Calliope, you should take up your lyre once more and do your duty in exchange, lauding Castalian Claymond’s name to the golden stars with your tuneful praises.
CXIII. TO RICHARD HYRDE
HyrdE, you serene light of the Castalian choir, you who serve as an ornament to the learned British because of your pleasant wit, now my Muse commands me to send these verses to you, written with a flying pen, filling your mouth with the ambrosian food of Hyblaean honey. For when reborn Latin words flow from your nectar-covered lips, at that moment I seem to be witnessing the age of eloquent Cicero. With the Muse favoring you, you happily undertake to write fine things, and then you caress my ears with your fluid manner of writing and your style. Now, my Muse, say no more, for you will give my songs to tuneful Hyrde, which is the same as adding a drop to the swelling sea, or chips of wood to forests of ancient oak.
CXIV. ON A PAINTED PORTRAIT OF OPPORTUNITY
Opportunity, whoever painted you on this clever canvas (be he that well known son of the nation of Cos or Zeuxis, much-hymned throughout all the world) had a thorough understanding of your nature. For he equipped you with long locks in front, but the back of your head is quite bald. Let men seize their fortune when it is present. For Opportunity averts its face and flees, not to be caught again.
CXV. A COMPARISON OF BUDÉ AND CUTHBERT TUNSTALL
With what praise will our Britain sing of you, Tunstall? And with what praise will learned France sing of Budé? The other one strives to honor Greek Minerva, while you honor the monuments of the Greek Fathers. He wholeheartedly devotes himself to the ancient laws, and the laws are the object of your learned subject. He taught us to understand the uncouth parts of the as, and you were the first to teach numbers to speak Latin. France, allow this English legalist to be compared to yourself, for both are worthy of a white mark.
CXVI. ON THE DEATH OF HIPPOLYTUS MOST CRUELLY SLAIN
Once upon a time Hippolytus, that darling of Diana, who hitched up her dress for the hunt, died, torn apart by savage horses. But our Hippolyte has perished — what will rage not dare to do? — with his breast befouled by a savage sword. Hippolytus was safe and sound, fetched up to the clear sky by your happy godhead, chaste goddess of Delius, while Hippolyte was summoned to a better life in heaven, and punishment was visited on the author of his death. For he wretchedly perished by the dire shot of a musket, this is the end that awaits bloodthirsty men. Spare us, mortals, spare us your steel, for impious deeds move the avenging gods.
CXVII. ON ZEPHYRUS AND THE SWAN
Is my west wind surprised that the song of its tuneful swan falls silent? Let it blow, and the tuneful swan will open its musical mouth.
CXVIII. TO THE RIVER SEINE
Seine, with your locks bound with garlands of grapevines, you who water French meadows with your glassy water, you provide me with sweet consolation for my labor, and always are wise enough to dilute the bitter with games. For when I wander your banks with slow steps, the odor of flowers feeds my nose, and this same noble goddess endlessly beguiles my eyes with the brightness of her colorful things. She fosters your reputation, and as a happy neighbor dutifully favors your guests. When I, weary, relax in the shade of a willow, you too babble with a murmur, come, sleep. Genial Zephyrus has heard this and blows with a favorable sound, wantonly giving his breeze. And when I swim naked in your pure stream, your clear water is all I could hope for. Do such for me, Seine, always do such, and my British Muse will sing of your divinity.
CXIX. TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, THAT IT OUGHT TO CELEBRATE JOHN REDMAN
If you want to show yourself friendly to me, Cambridge, and place a pious bard under your obligation by doing your duty, you will candidly satisfy my just request (unless you prefer the request to be more gratifying to yourself). Lo, in our number is your studious son Redman, well-versed in both languages. I am striving to consecrate him to enduring fame, but my feeble Muse can scarcely confer such great things. But you, being quite great, can do this, and you are always wont to show welcome favor to your learned students. Therefore, inasmuch as from pure sources he has imbibed all the goodly Arts taught by the Athenian fathers, make my Redman’s fame flourish, that it may never die and taste the waters of Lethe.
CXX. ON THE TITLE PAGE OF HIS BOOK
Feel free to enter this laurel-decked house of our serene prince Henry, banish that boorish shyness. With a kindly had the king will receive you, for he is a familiar companion of the Muses, and a shrewd and pious devotee of tuneful Clarian Apollo.
CXXI. TO THAT RIGHT NOBLE KNIGHT THOMAS WYATT
On the verge of setting out from here to his native land, Dudley told me that I should be mindful to give some greeting to you, his old familiar friend. I have done as he wished, and certainly am glad of it. For I have understood that he is tied to your pursuits by the bonds of a wonderful friendship, and I may may add he is also my own fair patron. Now, Wyatt, I beg you to consider my intention, and not to weigh what I write against the brighter graces of the flowing style which by unanimous consent the Castalian maidens have bestow on you, with the result that the fair chorus of learned men might imagine that you were born in the very mountains of Aonia. Now you see the dutifulness of your friend, of whatever quality it may be. Give your approval and farewell.
CXXII. TO SIR BRIAN TUKE
For men of olden times the custom was to celebrate the First of January with New Years’ gifts, a practice our age admires. Hence I am sending a gift, splendid Tuke, so that I might seem mindful of my duty. I am aware that others give jewels and gold, it is fitting to send great things to great men. I am sending a few ancient coins, albeit gladly, the small gift of my slender fortune. But he who gives what he can assuredly gives something no whit inferior to gold or gems.
CXXIII. TO JANUS LASCARIS
Lascaris, you uniquely polished Phoenix of our times, who by your Muses (in Phoebus’ judgment) make your Cecropian Athens shine throughout the world, for a long time now my Muse has been eager somehow to enter your abode (with Clarian Apollo’s permission) and see with her own eyes the presence of the nine Sisters, together with that famous Helicon and the festive ridges of Parnassus. If with your most candid kindness you show her these things, she will think herself blessed in many ways, and deservedly so.
CXXIV. TO WILLIAM GONSON
As a preeminent victor, Gonson, you have been accustomed to follow the wars and strike great captains with your sword. After the Turks have been subdued, after battles against the French, and after fighting at sea, fostering Peace now possesses you. A discharged soldier, you have hung up your plumed helmet at Hercules’ door. Instead of snow-white camps and lofty quarterdecks, you dwell in a civilian home with your dear wife, and inside that house breathes a fine portrait of your sovereign Henry, executed with the art of an Apelles.
CXXV. IN PRAISE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Come hither, Cambridge, learned mother of my studies, while my Thalia sounds your praises. Once Britain flourished with the Greek tongue and could speak pure Latin words. With their wars, the barbaric madness of the Picts and the mean-minded Scots stole away the glory of your eloquence. But Horsa and Hengist, equal in their nobility, put down the Picts and the threatening Scots. Accompanied by their harsh Saxon soldiery, they worshiped Mars as their only god. Paganism prevailed, and scorned the learned Arts. Their Gothic posterity blew the bugles for horrible wars. But at length golden centuries returned, the Saxons acknowledged Christ as their protection. Hence the goodly Arts more happily returned to their old homes, not without praise. Augustine was the standard-bearer of this accomplishment, and afterwards Theodorus was among his illustrious successors, a Greek sent from the city of Rome, and his companion was Hadrian, that pinnacle of piety. Using these men as their teachers, the Saxons worshiped the sacred fountains of eloquence. Sigibert, that immortal glory of pious kings, ruled over the East Angles and founded the Schools which he had previously discovered to be good while an exile studying in France. Present too was Felix, a certain learned Burgundian, the half of his sovereign’s soul. These men generously established their prizes for the goodly Arts in the place where the new Cambridge stands near the old town, and Cambridge shone with the highest distinction for its erudition in languages, and happily extolled its patrons to high heaven. For many years thereafter it flourished, enhanced by its virtues, and reaped the reward of its fame. The Barbaric Dane envied those virtues, and it was necessary to fight against him night and day. This slaughter preoccupied the English for such a long time that the glory of eloquence lay prostrate, overwhelmed. The later age which brought peace with it, what was it other than an idle crew of sophists? But you, taking pity on the barbarism of the British realm, restored both Minervas with good auspices. And so you Muses, Graces, Persuasion, and Elegance, joining in singing these happy songs in happy tones. Hail Cambridge, graceful restorer of languages, whose excellent fame mounts on high. The glory of your name will never fade, as long as your burgeoning garden yields its beautiful bounties.
CXXVI. TO STEPHEN GARDINER
Amiably accept these tunes of my singing Muse, Gardiner, which are dedicated to you, since she is cheerfully striving to proclaim your shining virtues in a few hendecasyllables. In countless passages you assuredly recall the laws to their erstwhile splendor, teaching that all those many shriveled glosses (the work of latter-day writers) are injurious to good intellects. Hence you demonstrate that in framing his orations Cicero, the father of the Latin language, introduced the traditional laws of the ancients in polished language, and that this immediately makes courtroom cases run peacefully and smoothly. With conspicuous elegance you do a miraculous job of restoring the witty and elegant plays of the ancient poet Plautus to his theaters, being a happy and eloquent actor, and you shine by so doing. Thus that boastful solder so held my rapt eyes that, as long as I live, I shall always keep that performance locked up in my memory. Hawkins acted his parts well, and likewise Achinus represented the decorum of his role, but there was a single slave, Fabrilegus, who was as witty, elegant and ardent as a group of many men, whose glory will grow in every respect. And now being most learned in both the laws, you are achieving something which (as far as I know) nobody has done before: namely that a legally trained advocate flourishes in the School of Theology as a blessed interpreter, handling the great mysteries of the Old Testament and the New with his happy judgment. Seeing these thing, Fortune with her ready hand will triumphantly lead you to the higher steps of fame, and will continue to lead you until your head fittingly receives the distinction of a two-horned bishop’s miter.
CXXVII. AD LEONARD COXE
Noble Cracow, that glory of the Polish nation, knows your virtues, learned Coxe. Melanchthon, that Phoenix of eloquence in both languages, knows how much Phoebus and the Pierian choir love you. Prague has sung your praises, as has Paris, a city courteous towards learned men. Since such things are agreed, your mother England ought to celebrate you in a similar way, and so she shall. For she recently appeared to me as I was singing, and bade me signify this same thing to you.
CXXVIII. TO THE FRENCH POET ROUSSET
You, Rousset, to whom the friendly Muses have given the noble plectrum of the Thracian bard, a plectrum which often tames Armenian tigers with its tuneful song, brings down stiff oaks from the mountains and (a wonderful thing!) makes rivers stand still, pray set aside your more austere Muses for a little whole and with your usual smiling face listen as Leland sings his slender tunes. Later he will use blaring trumpets to sing your titles, when his inmost heart bursts asunder with Delphic frenzy.
CXXIX. TO PHILIPPUS
As often as you sit on the back of that Scythian horse of yours, Philip, you prove the truth of your name.
CXXX. TO ANTHONY BARKER
Anthony, you who by right hold no inferior place among my old friends, if you can tear yourself away from austere Minerva’s studies, for a moment turn your eyes to these trifles. You can’t easily imagine, polished Barker, the judgment by which my Thalia dedicates this to you. So come here, and scan through the pages of this little volume which preserves the dear pledges of my Muse.
CXXXI. TO BOURBON VANDOUEVRE
You be the judge of my song, Vandouevre. Oh how I’d like to be next to your Nugae!
CXXXII. THE DAUGHTERS OF THOMAS MORE, A BEVY OF GRACES
The Greek poets pretended there were three Graces, the same number of which their imitator Rome sang in its verse. Until how this thing has never been regarded as true (like the vain tale of the nine Muses). And yet when I entered More’s learned household, I was astonished by the novelty of the thing when I saw three Graces. And what, I ask, is surer evidence than one’s eyes? Therefore let this old fable gain full credit.
CXXXIII. TO THE RIGHT SERENE MARY, THE KING’S DAUGHTER
Bright glory of the virginal choir, you who make gentle your nation’s darkling storm clouds with the lights of you virtue, behold, I have brought you flowers that were protected in Seneca’s shining garden, sweeter than those produced by the rose-beds of Paestum. For those beguile the twin openings of the nose, but are destined to die after a few hours, whereas these beguile the mind’s sacred recesses with their ambrosial scent for a very long time.
CXXXIV. TO NICHOLAS WILSON
May I have the nine Sisters together with all of Apollo’s tuneful crew angry at me if anything befalls me more welcome than the letter which Lupset, that genuine glory of the British Muses, sent me, with many greetings added in your fair name. And so I have thought it my duty to write to you in return, displaying an equally friendly mind, and yet not written in the same elegance of style. For, I ask you, how could I do this, when you leave next to no room for further gracefulness? Yet why say these things to you, a modest man who ignores the publicity of a favorable report? I might more properly pray, learned Wilson, that you honor me with your erstwhile affection, for I admire the shining virtues of your mind, your constant light, and that you commend me to your master and mine when a favorable occasion arises.
CXXXV. TO AMBROSE
That pleasant name of Ambrose suits you well, for your manners are sweeter than sweet ambrosia.
CXXXVI. TO RICHARD HYRDE
Hyrde, you man greatly hymned by the British, from whose mouth flows Attic grace, you should at last hasten across the happy waters governed by Thetis and Oceanus. Tell me, what splendor exists in our world that should dazzle you into such a delay? Come here. Here the winding Seine flows in its peaceful course, welcoming to its guests. Here a continual springtime rules in the wide fields, here the flowers clothe the earth with their bright gift. This place alone is more abounding in grapes than Sorrento, here Amalthea’s cornucopia is full. And no less flourish here embroidered tapestries of language, whether it is your pleasure to speak in Latin or Greek. Lascaris shines here who, having been born at learned Athens, flavors Latin words with his Attic honeycomb. Here shines forth Budé, the greatest glory of his nation, and Aemilius, its greatest reputation. If you are not inspired by any concern for such great men to attempt the salt sea on a curved ship, let Barber and Leland move you, both are your familiars, and both are your companions in your studies.
CXXXVII. THE RENEWAL OF BRITISH ANTIQUITY
The land of Britain will be just as indebted to me as Germany is to learned Rhenanus. He made the customs and names of his nation clearer than summer daylight. I too am a great lover of old things, and I shall adorn the bright lights of my nation. When these come forth printed on white paper they will bear witness to my industry.
CXXXVIII. TO FRANCISCUS SYLVIUS, A FRENCHMAN
Silvius, you glory of the University of Paris (when you are properly understood), who mightily restore the Latin language to its elegance, and who only introduce its father, noble Cicero, to your students, such as he once was when as the best of advocates he defended his friend Milo, set aside your severer books for a little and accept these verses, dedicated to you by Leland. Read them with a more relaxed countenance than the one with which you customarily distinguish yourself. My aim is that thus my Muse will now convey the enduring endowments of your mind and your excellent reputation for erudition from the French to the tow-headed British.
CXXXIX. TO WILLIAM WELDON
Continue translating learned Valla’s polished books, these happy seeds promise goodly fruit. For if the Muses and the great quill-wielding god have granted me any judgment, in all of Italy there is nothing better than those, he was assuredly the greatest grammarian. Oh Weldon, would I could always be at your side in this effort! But I am dragged elsewhere by the words of my sweet Muse, which does not let me be my own man. But you must persist. Although they may be late in coming, William, worthy rewards await such efforts.
CXL. ON A PORTRAIT OF DESIDERIUS E.
This is a wonderful portrait of the immortal Erasmus, to whom Germany is indebted for its goodly Muses. The painter Holbein (none more renowned) created this work with his rare industry.
CXLI. TO DROGO
Drogo, great glory of the Cecropian zither, Drogo, famed glory of the Ausonian lyre, pray bear with a friendly the fact that I, a stranger, cross the threshold of your friendship with these crude verses. Thus may you shine most brightly in Apollo’s art, and under your guidance may Galen triumph in Latin garb, thus may you long stride the summit of Parthenius, and splendid garlands adorn your head.
CXLII. ON A PORTRAIT OF FRANCISCO TASSO, AN ITALIAN
When candid Francisco Tasso was present with you, Tuke, he was joined to you in friendship. Now that he is absent, Tasso is joined to you in friendship with his customary candor. Now in his usual way he haunts your home, appearing to you in his entirely thanks to the art of an Apelles. Gods, you have taken good care for our sincere affection, since one canvas can retain its grip on two minds.
CXLIII. TO HIS MUSE, ABOUT HENRY VIII, KING OF ENGLAND
If by some happy fate you survive my death and are able to take your place among the Latin Muses, make sure that that bulwark of yours and of myself, that sweet glory of yours and of myself, Henry, the supreme father of his nation, is hymned by the erudite choir of the learned.
CXLIV. TO CHARLES BLOUNT, A NOBLE YOUTH
Taking opportunity of her idle time, free with soft leisure, my Muse decorously addressed me, her friend, in tones such as these: “You should attempt to sing the full praises of that noble lad Charles in a song. For with his happy study he cultivates the torrential streams of the Hippocrene, a familiar companion of the learned Sisters when they trip their measures atop twin-peaked Parnassus, their brows bound with floral garlands in a very fetching way. In exchange for this zeal, the nine girls have unanimously chosen to give these fitting gifts to the Blount boy, the enduring grace of the Attic tongue, and the pure delights of the Latin one.” I am bound to obey my Muse’s honorable urgings, and I think it doubly a good thing to give my approval to your study of the Arts twice over in my verses.
CXLV. TO ROGER ASCHAM
Ascham, you write so prettily that Greece herself would very much like to have you as her secretary, and as would noble Rome, the capital of the world, although she is learned in writing Italian tropes. But why am I a bard striving to extol your ability at writing, when your virtue is sufficiently well known?
CXLVI. TO ROBERT SEVERUS
While you declaim at Cambridge, happily leaf though so many monuments of Ausonia with your accomplished hand, and more seriously survey the entire world of the Greeks, bathing your face in the fountains of Helicon, I, your old friend Leland, am by a lucky fate dwelling in the realm of France. If you care to know what I am doing here, hear these facts from me (though briefly sketched). I devise and invent poems which I can soon perform, so that my Muse may sing with the resonant song of a Horace. Furthermore I am hunting down many copies of ancient works, I search, and I rescue them from deep darkness. Behold, you see with greater certainty the entire scheme of the life I am leading here. Farewell, learned Severus.
CXLVII. TO HIS SWAN
My swan, are you wondering why I am sending you these doves, a small gift in comparison to the good things you have done for me? The single thing I have in mind is not to give you a gift that is equally great, but one that is wonderfully appropriate. So it first struck me that I should consider doves, for you shine with dove-like simplicity. And then how suitable is their white color! For you have the greatest reputation for whiteness. Cease wondering why I am sending you these doves, my swan, this is a gift that suits your manners.
CXLVIII. TO VALERIUS MARTIAL
Many fine bards have written epigrams which the choir of the learned sing throughout the world. But in my opinion, poet of Bilibis, you are the only one who always displays life-like acumen. If More had handled the same material, his Muse would have rivaled you. But he only wanted to show clear signs of his wit, without expending any great effort, whereas you have sailed into the vast sea. Share your praise, and thus the reputation of the both of you will increase.
CXLIX. TO DESIDERIUS ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM
If you want to please the Castalian choir, go now, my sweet Muse, go on swift feet to the shining fields of the Swiss nation, where the swollen waters of the curving Rhine passes by the citadels of Basel with a pleasing flow. There you will find learned Erasmus, that noble glory of Latin eloquence, plying the tuneful strings of his lyre with a busy thumb, while Clarian Apollo and the Muses are slightly afraid lest the their sacred mountain with its two peaks lose its noble honors, lest Cytheron lose its titles, and they yield place to the German poet. And, my Muse, if you give many greetings to him in my name, he be friendly and immediately give you a welcoming embrace.
My Muses, if you desire to please your master and desire to do a thing three or four times welcome to his grateful heart, show yourselves deferent to my Blount, who has happily championed our nation’s learning, while, being wholly dedicated to studies himself and an eminent lover of virtue, set an enduring example. He has played the part of a well-tried Maecenas, for in earnestly trying to gain that man’s glory he has blessed all learned men with his ample endowments, and has been a conspicuous, frequent and learned patron of the School at Paris. Above all, he procured his friend Erasmus, that torrent of eloquence. From this grew rich fruit, and Desiderius was enriched with new friends, thanks to the support of bountiful Blount. Recommended by this, as a glorious patron he mounted up to the lofty stars, receiving the supreme reward for what he had done, that he will never perish as long as polished books will shine with their beams.
Go to Poem CLI