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TO THAT DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN, DOMINUS DOCTOR BOND, NOBLE VICE CHANCELLOR OF OUR MOTHER THE UNIVERISTY AND MOST WORTHY PRESIDENT OF MAGDALENE COLLEGE, THE AUTHOR’S PATRON AND MOST EXCELLENT MAECENAS
Accept, Maecenas, the triﬂing verses which Apollo lately sang, which the ninefold crew of the Muses gave forth, when our august sovereign Elizabeth entered our precincts to visit these learned schools. I have ascribed these songs to the Muses. But see, they are tawdry things, unworthy of such a choir. They are insufficiently terse, unpolished by the fine pumice, but are worthy to be tossed out to lie in squalor. But no matter what they may be like, I should scarcely allow them to be put forward under my name, were they unprotected by your authority.
Most devoted to your dignity,
WORSHIPFUL IDYLLS OF APOLLO AND THE MUSES ON THE MOST AUSPICIOUS AND WELCOME ARRIVAL OF QUEEN ELIZABETH
When Apollo sat by Thames-side, having abandoned his Parnassan font, here where glassy Isis wends her gentle way, watering Alfred’s learned town, amazed by the novelty of the place and the mildness of its climate, he exclaimed, “ I am minded to make an enduring home here with the Muses; now let me be called a citizen of this land, and with my mouth I shall celebrate its people. Farewell to you, Pierian ridges, farewell to you, marshes and Gorgon-waters, farewell, you streams of Phocis.” Addressing his companions, he said “You know (though the memory be painful) how shamefully we have been exiled from our native land, how we have departed our pleasant fields, how we have meanly made our way over the waters in a skiff. But here you can see greenwoods and verdant fields, which I am bound to confess are in no wise inferior to their predecessors. And indeed a great goddess watches over this land.” As they marveled at these things, standing on the river bank, behold, a wild band came rushing over the fields in the moonless night, blowing trumpets and shaking their jingling rattles. They exclaimed that the goddess was at hand, come to visit her own Athens. Thereupon the god, having taken up his golden lyre, undertook the sovereign’s praises, twanging his strings as he sang. With equal zeal the crew of Muses joined in, and the entire neighborhood resounded with their music.
APOLLOO my lyre, always welcome to the gods above for your plaintive tune, Jove’s delight, I ask you to set aside your loves and play an excellent song such as you sing as you haunt the Olympians’ lavish banquets. Now you are not to sing of Daphne, the unique ornament for my head, nor of Tethys’ daughter Clymene, nor of the mother of Circe, nor of Chione, daughter of Daedalion who by deceit was seduced by me in the guise of a hag, nor yet again of Leucothoe’s frankincense shrub. A more fertile crop of songs will lie ready athand. Behold, the Queen, surrounded by her retinue, having received her brilliant company of noble lords, drawn by snow white horses, enters the great houses built for the Muses’ pursuits, that she has longed to visit; a throng of noblemen attends her, splendid in their purple raiments, and sitting high they freight the backs of their swift steeds. Together with them hasten along maidens, perfumed with Tyrian myrrh, decorated at the throat with ruffs, with golden necklaces at the breast. These are followed by the fickle commons in a long train, singing their gladsome whoops for such a ruler. Celebrate her renowned godhead with agreeable measures and sweet music. She receives us with newfound hospitality and protects us whom the barbarous inhabitants of Latium have exiled with bitter hatred, who have ejected us as outcasts from our paternal homes.
God, You Who guide the glittering heaven’s wandering army with Your mighty hand, and restrain the threatening aspects of the stars, controlling them by Your government,
Sweep the sky clean of cloudy weather; let Sirius shift his ruinous heat from here to Africa, nor let Orion stir up his Aeolian squalls.
Bind the winds lest Notus’ fury bring down the rains with raging force; hide the sodden Pleiades and the Hyades, the rain-star,
Lest perchance a storm arise and our sovereign’s zeal be chilled for hastening hither to attend the learned disputations, the pleasant contention.
Let days clear from sunrise endure for a week, so that thrice-blessed Elizabeth, sated by the spectacles, may exclaim:
“We have seen enough of pastimes on all sides, enough of the schools; we have laughed enough. There is nothing of which we do not approve. Lo, I retire joyfully, a ‘huzzah’ having frequently been given.”
Calaena, famous for your home of the Muses, joyously ﬂing open your gates, let the gilt doors of the city stand wide, their hinges bent back.
A virgin approaches, escorted by a lengthy train, clad in robe of state, Elizabeth, wielding a mighty scepter in her hand.
Come, townsmen, present your gifts to the goddess, let the Mayor present her with his sword, let the Beadles bring their staves, and hand over their rods of office for her safekeeping.
As befits the Nine Sisters, we submit holy scrolls, golden fruit of the Schools; we proffer them as tokens of our friendly disposition.
She will receive both with unfurrowed brow, as she is equally proficient in the arts of Mars and Minerva, having mastered the weapons of both with her innate genius.
With manlike spirit she yearns for battle, as she rushes against the serried ranks—assuredly a Volscian Camilla worthy of a nobler sex.
But her inclination leads her to the practice of peace; as one hand wields the drawn sword, in the other she continues to grasp the sacred Word.
In both respects she is a Pallas; she has leisure for learned letters, and smiles at the wars which cause ink-blots, noble alike in peace and war.
Therefore with united hearts let us pray that such a sovereign receive the old age of the Sibyl, the military might of Xerxes, and Croesus’ heaps of bronze and gold.
Hail, preeminent glory of the Britons, scion of kings, enduring ray of light, care of Jove, darling of the gods. We worship you as a goddess, we shall sing of you as a goddess favorable to the Muses, whose generous hand of bounty offers Attalid coffers to him who begs your aid. Not unfamiliar with hardship, you support the needy; as queen you receive miserable outcasts into your capacious home, just as once Sidonian Elisa supported the wandering Trojans with her hospitality. May you live, happy in your enduring kingdom, and may you find a God Who smiles on your wishes, and an upright citizenry. May rebels, such as desire to disturb your peace, be stricken with treason’s swift death. From out of heaven may Jove bestow on you years equal to Nestor’s old age, so that you may long gaze on your happy Britons, and your happy Britons may long gaze on you.
And so, Elisabeth, are you present, come to see our homes, the abodes of the Muses? And so have you come to see what kind of playful wars are fought in our schools? For us this is the highest accolade: see how the aura of your name has uplifted us all. Heavenly goddess, you see how pleasantly the shadow of your godhead refreshes us. You perceive how a goodly throng of youths gathers at the crossroads, choking the streets. Throughout our streets our people, weighed down by their gowns, stand numerous in long rows. Cheering you, most excellent sovereign, they shout “Long live Elisa!” They pray that you live, and that you lawfully grasp the royal scepter in your strong right hand. And you, sweet daughter, happily protect the learned arts with no less zeal. With you as champion let our pulpits ﬂourish, with you as sovereign let our debating-halls thrive. Thus when the day dawns our benches will resound, when the day ends they will chant “Long live Elisa for us, and after her death may she always live with God!”
ERATOYou, goddess sprung from Jove’s brain, who presides over our crew and who rules the ardent spirits of the toga-clad race, provide us with a fertile vein of talent and celestial powers fit for a golden song, one worthy of your chorus, worthy of the lyre. Be present, kindly inventor of the sacred olive, mother of wholesome Peace; I pray that you adorn your children with verdant fronds, so that we may pour forth to meet you, distinguished by a branch of your tree as if by a herald’s staff. Jove’s child is at hand, the pious ruler, the learned maid, who is overwhelmed by a profound love for public tranquillity, a colonist indeed at the Nag’s Font, dedicated to your sacred godhead; she fosters your Athens, and now as a virtuous master of the art she adorns it with her presence. So let her plant her foot here, and long may she protract her stay. And with you as her guide, when she retraces her route may she take the road with a favorable omen.
With safe auspices, puissant goddess, may Jupiter so guide you that wherever you direct your step you may shun traps, more cautiously than serpents. May Neptune, god of the sea, thus gird Albion’s white shores with perpetual storms, that with swift currents he may thus ward off the enemy. May Mars, clad in adamant armor, keep wide-awake watches by night lest the assassin pierce the virginal side with his impious blade. I think him born on Caucasian crags, sired by an Armenian lion, suckled by a tigress-mother or reared by a wolf, in whose hand first sprang up the dagger thirsty for royal blood. May the favoring gods protect us, the female race, with their provident powers, so that God may make strong and defend women enfeebled by their sex, innocent by their bashfulness, purity, and chaste modesty.
Monarch of heaven, mighty parent of the gods and kindly king of men, whose fierce armed bird bears torches glittering with lightning, look down from your lofty throne on us poor Sisters, prostrate on the ground, who beg with suppliant voices that you elect to bless our English sovereign. Grant that this scion of kings may long occupy her ancestral throne; grant that she bear the crown on her brow, the scepter in her hand, and that she govern this warlike race, while craving to be called the parent of wholesome peace, and that she enjoy a time of greatness. But if some canker, some plague upon the nation should be so hard of bowel, being so strong in impious impulses, as to work evil against you, consecrated virgin, then, Father, quickly level your sulphurous weapon at the head of such a fierce monster so that, weighed down by an Aetnaean mass, he might relieve Enceladus of his burden, the sluggishness oppressing his side, lest he live and pollute the air with the wicked pollution of his mouth. Or, if you wish him to live, let him bear the stigma which the inventor of slaughter, the original murderer, once bore as a mark of sin, he who designed evil against his brother, so that thus the murderer may feel the eternal pangs of a guilty conscience.
TERPSICHOREYou three divinities, wool-working Sisters, whose duty it is to weave a man’s fate, whose distaff plays out our life’s fair fabric with its thin thread, at our prayers cease its passage through your fingers, let sweet Elisa’ spindle run slow beneath your thumb. You must be a Penelope-like band, and whatever your industrious hand accomplishes to its exhaustion, it must also unweave in the silent night. And let her come to see the advanced age of the old Mygdonian man, the years of Nestor that spanned three generations, the age of the Dircaean seer, or of the ancient Sibyl. Make yourselves compliant for our Elisa. Late may the gray hairs sprinkle her temples, the wrinkle of years wither her brow, or a staff support her limbs broken by sad old age. Let the comeliness remain in her fair face and beauty paint her rosy cheeks, glowing always as is their wont. Never—but assuredly you will never grant this—never let black death’s stroke wound the breast of such a sovereign. But as it is necessary for her to bear this fate, let her at least be late in finding her end.
I am she who makes the spheres to live and animates their fires, whose breath moves heaven’s bright stars, deriving my pedigree from Jove, the most famous virgin in heaven, taking my renowned name from its bright citadel. I have designated, o queen, the place where you are to stand in the sky after black death has put an end to your final day. There is a spot between Erigone and Bootes’ wain, bright in the serene heaven, conspicuous on earth, where shines the gleaming constellation of Minos’ daughter and Caesar’s star, under which lies proud Rome. From here your star will shine down on your subject Britons and will shed a gentle light for English navigators. You, a cynosure and Helice for your people that travels before as they traverse the waters, will illuminate them with a bright light. As a guide through the doubtful tracks you will bring them to the shore, so that their ships may find rest in their shallows. Have no anxiety, sovereign, a sure place is readied for you. The welkin gives birth to stars, for your sake the universe rejoices. Yet I shall pray that you be late in coming into this kingdom, that you long may shine on your throne, and thereafter even more brightly in heaven.
Thus the nine Theban sisters sang as Phoebus led the way, and the entire grove resounded. Thereafter the puissant queen, drawn by plumed carriage horses in her coach with gilt wheels, escorted by a packed throng of peers, entered an Athens made joyous by such a virgin, such a sovereign. And in its accustomed way this armed escort solemnly led her to the house which Wolsey once erected with an outlay worthy of the Attalids. But these venerable lords themselves sought out various lodgings and were guests at other colleges which they heaped with praises, admiring these establishments and their founders.
Waynﬂete’s noble institution stands off to the east, apart from the others, where its walls are lapped by the Cherwell’s waves as it wends its lazy way through the fields. This is an ample structure, spacious in its grounds, and it handsomely displays its lofty gates. Its roofs surge up with their spires, and inside rooms with painted beams mutely attest its founder’s efforts and outlay.
Here our President, sent from the sovereign’s court, summoned the first lords of the land, this man whom the entire University reveres, looking up to him as its father; his life enlarges him with its approved morals, the sacred page renders him learned, and a gravity that it is not severe adorns his brow. He was to give an excellent banquet for his guests. He regaled his table-companions with genial feasting, pouring sweet wines from the cask and calling for costly dishes. The servants appointed to furnish the table and pour the wine stood in a long row, dealing out the chased cups and golden ﬂagons.
The great men took their places. Then, august in his dignity, the ambassador sent from Gallic climes occupied the first seat, the image of the great Bourbon, the one of which warlike France boasts as its stout-hearted ruler.
To his right sat noble Lord Cecil, that grave and learned gentleman, lover of true piety, an eloquent old man, “the wisdom of our times.” He, having been appointed Lord Treasurer, presides over our ample fisc. A shrewd and vigilant member of the Privy Council, he handles the weightier business of sovereign and state.
The opposite place was held by that famous Earl who takes his title from Worcester, renowned for pedigree, praise, the laurels garnered by a deep intellect, patriotism, and foresight. Magdalen has enrolled his two sons, breathing their father’s character in their hearts, a noble pair of noble brothers, and rejoices in acquiring such progeny.
The noble Earl of Cumberland was present for the feast, eager for battles, who has thrice come to grips with the Spanish, having violently attacked them by sea, plying his Vulcan’s artillery with horrible roaring; he had acquired all the Indies’ gems and wares and joyously returned to his native land, laden with spoils. Thus he addressed his comrades: “Lo, glory vouchsafes herself to us while we are living. But what,” he said, “if a soldier is sunk in the sands without honor of a grave? He who is buried in the waves will be covered with marble.”
Next in order followed the Earl of Pembroke, the very glory of the peerage. Wales proclaims his achievements, how adroitly he manages her with tranquil peace. As magistrate he duly arbitrates disputes, as governor he settles quarrels. His true religion and burning ardor for the Lord have demonstrated how he has supported the pious, favored the learned. His son, accompanying his father on this visit, sits at the banquet, a very noble heir of high character, but one for whom a cornstalk stands up among the grass.
Next to these sat Lord Essex, noble and wise, in the ﬂower of his youth surpassing his elders in wit, surpassing his teachers, hoary with age. He admires the learned, though yet more learned himself. As a Maecenas he enfolds good men in his capacious embrace. Aggressive in war, an active child of Ares, whose grave-hearted deeds against the Spanish sun-baked Lusitania has felt, as he dashed though her fields and personally struck at proud Lisbon’s gates with his iron-shod spear. The dwellers in the Armorican land celebrate his onslaughts as, heedless of his life, he yearns to protect the afﬂicted French with helpful arms. He rides along on a fire-breathing steed wildly champing at the hard bit, exulting in the foam, as he follows you, virgin Queen, a famous horseman, a fierce soldier, the Master of your Horse.
After him follows a magnate of high degree, a man whom by right Southampton claims as her great lord. No gentleman more comely was present, no youth more distinguished in the arts, though the down scarce grows on his gentle face.
Seated among these grandees was the very famous Howard, who overtopped the rest with his lofty frame; a great descendent of captains, brilliant whelp of his ancestors. Favoring him alone among his bloodline, the queen has ordered that the royal ﬂeet be charged to his care, a responsibility not for any tar, but only for great and provident men of stout heart.
Nor, famous Earl, was your son and heir absent, you whom Derby has given us, whom the Isle of Man calls its king—though you are a king such as heeds the bidding of our great sovereign, yielding your rights to her scepter, wearing a crown of gold-washed lead, cheaper than silver, less pure than the yellow gold.
These, if I recall aright, were those present at your festivities, President; these were the men who visited your chaste dwelling, Waynﬂete. Many of lower estate were there also, of whom I keep silent, whom it would be tedious to enumerate.
You alone were absent, Sackville, darling of the toga-clad throng, greatest glory of this city, in whom our academy rejoices as its patron, its kindly Maecenas. And thus she addresses you: “Why impede our joys, when I have sought you with a thousand pleas and entreaties? Frequent sighings and sad complaints show how sweet it is to enjoy your company, how doleful to live without you. But, having been despatched on royal business, you are obliged to tarry afar, you who are worn down by great responsibilities, distracted by care, though you crave to be present. The fact that the queen, always loyal to your interest, has commanded you, compels your obedience, you must comply.” Thus, I say, she seemed to make her plaint. Then a numbness overcame her mouth and the mother’s complaint merged with that of her children.
These great men remained seated, drawing out the time in varied conversation, while satisfying their bodies with the dishes set before them. And, had it been possible, these poems would have been recited for them. But suddenly word came to them all that the divine queen had come out of her chamber and quit her lodging for St. Mary’s church. The lords departed, as soon as they had exchanged greetings, and the host received great thanks from his guests.
Thus far, excellent lords, you have witnessed the duty paid by our rustics at lavish expense, that the more well-bred congregation has amplified with magnificent feasting. Now the academy testifies its devotion by the well-wishing with which it hails you and the exultation with which our happy city receives its sovereign, shaking the empty air with its shouts.
These rejoicings do not belong only to the cheering throng alone, nor do our words, issuing from heaving lungs, alone broadcast vociferous sounds: the brazen bells in their lofty belfries shiver as they are struck, the mute houses wax eloquent with their new coats of whitewash, tricked out with their painted beams. The walls, gleaming with vermilion, shouts out “huzza,” the high walls seem to bow their heads, the gates spring open for you, so that due reverence may be paid your high accomplishments. Such glory attends honorable peers.
Thus the townsmen revel in their joy, thus the yokels play their part. We, another crew, we humble Muses, tender and humble as tamarisks, what gratitude shall we express? Under this roof there is no gem, no elegant furniture fetched by some merchant from the East Indies; no Syrian wares, no plate has come to us for the giving, no silken fabric such as the Chinese harvest like wool from trees. Here we live on simple bread, a thrifty Ceres adorns our humble table, our banquets rarely glow with Bacchus.
Therefore what are we to offer from our hearts? Our prayers and worshipful words befit the Muses; this alone pleases you, if we give no more, and since we are lowly we undertake great things in vain. Live happy, outstanding Lords, come often to our threshold devoted to your wills, to these halls, these edifices, these citadels of Pallas built by your forefathers, defend them by your favor.
They say that when Romulus was wielding his javelin against a boar, the polished spear struck the Palatine hill and a tree grew, supported by novel roots; it burgeoned with leaves and raised its lofty head to the breeze. It blossomed and offered shade for the admiring populace as long as civil wars were silenced by government. Afterward, when discord had shattered the city and the people had drenched their hands in gore, this Italian ash shed all its leaves and died, withered, and lost its limbs. Our ash flourishes, golden Peers, Councilors of the realm, by your auspices and counsels. The lance becomes a laurel, the peaceful olive clothes the spear, a bark grows, it is covered with leaves. While Mars’ trumpets threaten wild wars, we spend our days in security amidst a thriving peace. While others go a-dashing, swords drawn for the wounding, the land of Britain sings under our queen’s auspices. And it will sing unremittingly, safe and tranquil in the shade, if battles lapse thanks to your industry. But if our people should rage with bitter hatreds, stung by the gadﬂy, keeping its neck free of government, of a sudden our nation will collapse in ruins worthy of Troy. Elizabeth will fall, our sacred Court will suffer its downfall. And the tree that has grown out of a polished spear will be killed and supply weapons for our slaughter. May God avert this omen from our necks, may He approve of our pious prayers for the realm! May our republic thrive, may the Commons fare well along with its sovereign, may she not quake at our enemies’ tricks! And you, to whom all the realm’s affairs are charged, who offer your counsel, thrice noble committee, hatch clever devices in your fertile hearts, that religion’s sacred work may be carried forward with fervor, for religion is now practiced by minds scarce in agreement, groaning because of our countless quarrels and schisms. Thus God will be present in your endeavors, and will guide you with the onbreathing of His spirit. Thus an heir will always be granted you for your staves of office, thus your progeny will relieve you of the burden of your counsels. Now live happy, may the gods’ cupbearer bring you the juice of nectar and ambrosia.
GOD SERVE YOU WELL