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GREETINGS TO THAT RIGHT SERENE AND PUISSANT LADY, ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF THE ENGLISH AND THE IRISH
MONG the many reasons I could cite, Elizabeth, most kindly Queen, you should know that there are three in particular which have already inspired me, a foreign man, to devote my labors to you. You yourself, being so very perspicacious, can divine the most important of these, even if I hold my silence. Nevertheless, as I hope, you will soon have this explained to you in a word in person, and that in the near future, if God Almighty speeds me and my voyage. How could I conceal the evidence which will make my second motive clear and obvious to all? For you yourself are most learned, and so well-versed in a number of languages, and so you have been accustomed, not only to judge these and similar pursuits, but also to form an opinion of individual talents in the Liberal Arts. The third reason ceaselessly derives, as if flowing from a fountain, from the stimulus and incitement of the first two: one which, heaven help me, has so gripped and held in thralldom my mind and my longing for a full thirty years (why deny the truth?) that I have realized that this most ardent desire has never diminished over such a great span of time, nor lessened one whit in its intensity; rather, I have felt my mind burning with a desire to visit you incredibly increasing day by day. Hence has arisen not just a conviction, but a very fixed hope, that a great splendor — should I say a splendor accruing to the poet or to his poetry? — would be garnered from the brilliance of your majesty, since I have always kept you before my eyes like a pole star, a Helice or Cynosure, by which the course of my ship might be set. What more? Are you expecting me to assemble a catalogue of your most excellent virtues and most outstanding good qualities, so as to compare them with ancient examples? That, by Hercules, would be out of place. Let it suffice for me to say that you stand out like a most precious gem, a pearl among all humanity. Vainly, vainly indeed do they strike me as wasting their effort who fancy they can scan the writings and the histories of olden times and find some outstanding woman, surpassing the rest, with whom you might properly be compared. It is so far from being the case that the written record provides some woman who is your peer or resembles you, that none at all comes to mind comparable to you even in the smallest detail. In result, you are not just held in the highest admiration by all learned men, but, as if a goddess sent down to earth from heaven, you are justly respected, worshiped, and adored, not just by your subjects of Britain and Ireland, but by all the world’s sovereigns, not to mention poets. Wherefore it should come as a surprise to no man if I (in the past, and now too) have attempted to use my humble verses (threadbare as they may be), I shall not to say to equal the heap of your praises, which everyone knows to be huge (and this, by Hercules, I think heaven has granted to no mortal man), but at least to give you an indication, such as it may be, of my mind’s disposition. And so, as once I wrote concerning you, “If any lady is worthy of being celebrated in a grave poem, you are worthy of being celebrated in a grave poem. And indeed you are all the worthier, because you surpass all the goddesses in all your endowments, my British goddess.” I would desire to undertake the writing of a complete composition about you, my lady, if either I understood that you wished it thus, or were aware that I was capable of producing something. Yet, whatever you were to command, I would not engage in its writing in such a way that you would not admit I had labored might and main. Farewell, and support my endeavors. Given at Paris in the month of August, in the year 1585 A. D.
PAULUS MELISSUS, GERMAN AND FRENCHMAN,
COUNT PALATINE AND KNIGHT
1. MELISSUS’ EPIGRAM TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
I am not just sending you these volumes, your majesty, with a finishing touch at their proper conclusion. Whether this will be verse, or musical song, or I know not what manner of lyric verse, it is all yours. For I am not only giving and consecrating these little Books to you: I am dedicating this person of mine to your guardian spirit, my lady. I am surrendering this German man, born of French stock, to the yoke of royal servitude. Employ my devoted self, my lady, and treat this freeborn poet so that he will always sing your praises. Is liberty so valuable to any man that he would refuse to be the noble slave of such a rare mistress?
2. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Elisa, born of the blood of British kings, and likewise the leading light of England, the pillar of France, the mistress of Ireland, and the mighty mistress of the sea, in whose heart dwells the wisdom of Pallas, and in your mouth Persuasion, and Euphrosyne in your eyes, whose royal throne is upheld by Themis, that patroness of justice and right, not without those must closely joined sisters. fair Purity and Good Faith, such as can scarce be found anywhere else,
At your feet kneels a suppliant French poet, and pray let me kiss your hand. Pray let your snow-white hand receive a kiss, a token (as I hope) of my good disposition, o goddess. For the peaceful aura of your favor is wont to strengthen a fainting mind with its consolation, and disburden your humble servant of his keen fear. Who would deny that your virtue, widespread throughout your inner being, manifests itself in your bracelets, the fair divinity of your hair,
Or at least that the odor of your garments has touched his sense of smell with the sweetest of fragrances? What remedies the heart experiences! How swiftly! If you would not only direct the peaceful beams of your eyesight at a guest, but also address him in person, oh, with what charm of the Graces and of the Muses, who imbibe their sweet draughts, would you not immediately affect your adopted son?
Your lordly dignity, ample puissance, and ruddy crown, your royal majesty and that glowing splendor which, it is agreed, could surpass even the heavenly fires of Hyperion, might overwhelm my timid soul, save that your learning and the ability of your intellect, as well as the kindness which moderates your gravity, your ability with languages, and your love of lyric poetry encourages my mind: thus great, divine lady, is your ability.
What nation, what land or race of men will ever be said to have given birth to such a one? Where in the world will we find your like, or somebody who comes close to you? You and you alone are worthy of being praised to your face. Who could imagine that America, unequal to Europe, shall ever grant what neither Asia nor the African land has produced for government? To you alone, your majesty, the east and the west accords a reputation, and your fame is greater and brighter than Pindar, Vergil, or wise Homer could express.
The queen who came to Jerusalem out of the rich lands of Araby, together with a large company, is said to have been sagacious at solving riddles with their various snares. But surely not even that lady can be compared to you, even though she is thought to have greatly outwitted Solomon. By heaven, there scarcely is, or will be, a person who denies that your thoughts, and the good endowments of your mind are better.
I shall not speak of the huge contents of your overflowing treasury, the heaps of wealth which Plutus has showered on you, enriching you in every conceivable way. Can anyone doubt that that grove with its golden fruit, over which an ever-watchful dragon was set as a guardian, and that fleece, once gained by the swift ship of Jason, and the mass of treasures taken from the dark Indians, have been brought as spoils to this island? Furthermore, an abundant plenty of property and income has enriched it yet further by many a prosperous mile.
Let be permitted no man, I pray you, to attack this island by Greek deceit or harm it by open violence. Should Cyrus, mighty at arms, attempt this, come, let him learn by an agonizing death that you are a Rhodopean Tomyris. Wage wars, wage them, if the gods so desire: let your insulted hand snatch up the sword more boldly, let your thrice-challenged soldier be stronger in dealing a blow, henceforth safe in battle. If needs must me, you will imitate the brave Amazons with their Getic targes.
Depart hence, Mars, depart! You have no business in these realms. Why not take to your heels and ingloriously seek out the huts of the Moors? Trust me, no wakeful watchman will crave to break faith, nor will our native-born inhabitants violate their sacred oath with impunity, even if you have urged this on the treacherous, impious Phoenician. Burdensome Ireland has not learned to act thus, nor the noble race of Britons.
For many a year France has unhappily burned with many fires. So has Belgium, and even now the embers have not been quenched in its flaming furnaces. But you, Britain, enjoy quiet days and henceforth will enjoy them, with your virgin ruling you, where a lot in life free of evil loves to dwell. I pray this security endures forever, and that this peace, useful for the nation, be eternal. Oh, let my wishes be granted! They are auspiciously seconded by the white flock of honking swans along the Thames.
Hail, land of Albion, blessed with your good things, and likewise London, you glory of cities, famed for the splendor of your court. And hail to you, you pearl more priceless than pearls, you rose brighter than the roses of Amathus, oh you lady, you flower of flowers, you crown supreme among all manner of crowns. You are escorted by a surrounding bevy of high lords gleaming in their scarlet, just as the lesser stars in heaven accompany Cynthia as she progresses.
It is a delight to behold your magnificent palaces. It is a pleasure to visit your noblemen and clasp the eager hands of your leading lords. It gratifies my heart, learned lady, it gratifies it affectionately to swap verses with you. Oh you protecting gods, defend this nation. Thus advance this state, flourishing in accordance with the will of Jehovah, that its enhanced posterity will become famous. And you, divine lady, love this bard, as long as things worthy of yourself are sung.
3. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
When with ardent steps I was following the holy beings who possess the fountains of Aganippe to our Tempe by the Saale, where with an eager mind I was drinking in Stigel’s instructive Latin words, not without approval, when lo, suddenly the news began to assault both my ears that a weakened state of affairs had taken on a new shape and aspect, Elisa, and that very recently, by favor of the Thunderer, you had occupied the royal throne of your father’s England and were wielding its ancestral scepter. How my heart leapt within me with joy! What a celebratory hope of praising you was aroused and struck my breast with its thrysus! Now you have gained your honor, now you are ruling, you lady of the sea, you to whom the Clarian choir, the fair Graces, and Pallas, that patroness of intellects who once, with more elegance, possessed a suitable mansion at Athens, and, in sum, the entire assembly of the supernals and favorable stars, granted all gifts and endowments by their common consent. Now, I imagine, you do not remember that dark time and unspeakable imprisonment, nor the very grave plots which Deceit’s wantonness was wont to manufacture, threatening (oh, the sin!) to give over your neck to destruction by a hasty death. just as when a hideous hailstorm, assembled thickly in the air, chances to muster dense battle0lines of icy clouds to assault men’s heads and strike the backs of beasts, and many die a sad death. Oh woe! I trust, divine lady, that the serene springtime of your eyes has by now put to rest the dire storms of the sky and the gales of its winds. When you direct those eyes towards your people and the security of your nation, the days will flow by with better sunlight, the climate will be more welcome. With the clouds dispelled, the pure image of the sun will shine forth, a pleasure and a delight to those who dwell on the land and in the sea. As a prophet, I forecast in your lifetime a golden age will henceforth return, and both islands will hear verses justly sung in your praise, verses memorable for posterity. Your honor will move their hearts thanks to these, as they hymn you forever.
4. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Alas, what Fury arms ruffians for your destruction? What frenzy inspires the savage hands of assassins to deadly crimes, with murder?
Now the agents of dire butchery have been apprehended many times, Elisa, and yet the manner of the punishment inflicted on them fails to daunt their impious authors.
Thus far, God Almighty’s divine care has kept you safe from perils, with a trusty guard set over your life, and a watchful eye.
Henceforth, should any danger impend, He will stoutly defend your breast against a hostile blow.
Thus, assuredly, I hope, and no less do I pray that it come about. For my part, I cheerfully confess that I am one who pours forth prayers and orisons from my inmost heart
For the thriving safety of your person and the secure condition of the realm, hoping in advance for the joys of a happy outcome and gladdening good fortune.
May I not justly appeal to Jehovah on your behalf, Elisa, bright queen of British religion, than whom olden times has produced none more learned,
Or wiser and more eloquent, and no returning age will have to offer? Learn of this disposition, learn of this love, and also that of many men who in their awe-stricken minds support you
And your scepter. But as for whose who wretchedly crave your death with doom’s presence, when they have been arrested you must requite their damages, you must requite their doom.
5. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
You should know that the books you are reading, queen, bearing proof of my disposition, this work by which I have passed the idle hours of twenty-five years,
This effort of the pen required by the style of musical meter, as you see, is entirely dedicated to you, because you are learned,
And well-versed in various languages down to your fingertips, so that you have swept me away with the love of yourself, lady, and with a great longing to behold you.
How chattering my discourse is amidst its mediocrity! This sheet of paper does not aspire to be spoken of with a lofty name!,
Nevertheless, read my books at their first beginnings, in the middles, and at their endings. Good heavens, no page will be lacking in the fanfare of your praise.
And I shall promise that this will henceforth be the case. For I have now wholly dedicated myself to you, your majesty, and to your praise, being a newcomer and a guest.
Who will forbid — I am advised by Minerva’s urging — that by constant zeal I might employ a favorable shuttle to finish the fabric I have begun to weave?
6. TO EDWARD STAFFORD, THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND’S AMBASSADOR AT THE COURT OF THE KING OF FRANCE
Many an ambassador haunts the courts of princes and kings, and throngs of legates put on the faces required by the their high responsibilities.
This one visits the Emperor Rudolph, that one attempts to mollify Murad, that tyrant of Asia. Another pours forth words to the Spanish Pyrenees.
A well-considered discourse bids some to go to northerly parts and the region of Denmark. Now, Edward, populous Paris
Is witnessing you exercising your vigilant effort in executing your instructions at the court of the French king, pursuing your requisite enterprises, and sending reports of your bailiwick to the British world.
For unless your gravity and the faithfulness of your heart were particularly well known to the queen, your proven honesty and Stafford virtue,
Which, though through many years it was splendid in wars since its hand dreaded to be overcome, you made more conspicuous, shining in the sunlight in your armor,
Such a great weight would not have been entrusted to your shoulders, nor would such a responsibility have been charged to you.
Being canny at discovering secrets and new developments close at hand, and at perceiving their inner causes with your perceptive eye, you garner
A great store of gratitude, not without praise, and you are destined to earn well-deserved honors now you have completed three years of service.
Now it is as if I were seeing you with my own eyes, when you have received your mistress’s letters, which reflect her will and serene desire at the rightful moment,
When you are come back safe and sound, armed with Douglas’ prosperous splendor, and, returned, duly greeted your mother, still in the pink of health,
Who sleeps on a bed hard by your mistress in her chaste apartment, a great glory of those women
Whom nowadays the river Thames harbors along its customary shores. Oh henceforth expedite the noble transactions of your affairs, and with firm strength bear up
Under their great weights, weights such as eager Atlas bears upon his back in high heaven. The less you succumb, the greater the glory that awaits you.
7. AS HE IS ABOUT TO SAIL TO ENGLAND
You wandering currents of the ocean and you, you divinities of the sea’s currents, and you who governs the winds as you ride over the deep floods, Aeolus, by swift routes guide into harbor the ship on which I am being borne. Thus the choir of the Nereids may bring you a thousand green garlands, and I myself shall set up tokens of my grateful mind on the grassy shoreline. Open your bosom, oh open it, Dromo, let a more prosperous wind speed my sails. I desire to visit remarkable London and its outstanding palace, and the Queen of Britain: all the world has nothing more splendid, nothing nobler. She is not born of human seed, nor (believe me) is she like a mortal woman: she has traced her pedigree from heaven. For the Northern Pole attests that she is born of gods. The Milky Way awaits her return. To her Cassiopia, where you have seen the rays of a bright light shining thirteen years ago, will gladly yield her golden throne. For she loves to be a neighbor of Perseus, holding the Gorgon’s head in his left hand, and a gleaming sword in his right. Those of you who live at ancient Cambridge and who cross the threshold of lovely Oxford in your delightful leisure, you bards, you best of hearts, maintain the goddess of your songs, noble with their quill, until, after this age, this old man begins to cross the threshold of his second century. After that, like an eagle, let him see himself grow youthful once more with handsome cheeks. Then let my store of remaining time suffice for new praises and provide me with ample subject-matter, and likewise for honoring the right famous queen with richer verses, whose virtues I must strive to dwell upon in noble eulogies. And now we are cleaving the waves close to the harbor. Now the captain is furling his sails. You, my lyre, must restrain your seductive strings with their pairs of alternating lines.
8. TO THE THAMES
Lordly river, father of swans, nobler than the streams of the Cayster, tell me why you possess all these harmless birds,
Whiter than fresh milk and the snow of Parrhasia? Nowhere else does the swan like to dwell in such numbers as the flock in your riverbed. And this is is an augury of good omen. This is a breed that is wont to debar lesser chicks from these banks.
There is an ancient myth that, after Phaeton’s downfall, when his sisters had been covered over with the bark of white poplar, their weeping tears transformed into amber,
Cycnus, who reigned over the towns of Liguria, had his white breast transmuted into a bird. Mythology tells that this same thing befell the son of the ruler of the sea,
Achilles’ strength pinned him to the ground, angered when he could not wound him with a sword, and vexed him as he lay on the earth. Then his father is said to have changed him into a bird
Of the same name, transformed his hands into wings, and covered his skin with white feathers. I could believe that by swift flight
The both of them brought their handsome shapes here, balancing themselves through the void, and enhanced the glory of their breed with many offspring, with which, stream of the Thames,
You still abound, not without great delight in their loveliness and the pleasure of beholding this chaste flock. Leda’s swan, that elegant sire of the two eggs
From which noble Castor and the beauty of Clytamnestra, and likewise Pollux and his sister Helen came into this world,
Was scarce as handsome. Oh would that I had the voice of a swan in my throat, or a tongue singing with similar skill, and that it could sound forth verse! I would desire to
Tell of Elisa’s royal splendor, and of her beauty, equal to that of the supreme celestials, her countenance, full of majesty, not without those dear shining eyes.
Twin stars which make the sunlight seem dim. I would add the honeyed eloquence of her learned speech, and her use of discourse, richer than that limited to her native tongue.
Being talented, how many languages she knows, in addition to Greek and Latin! With how many endowments granted by fortune and Minerva, and with what excellent
Stores of virtues does she thrive! Gods grant that, at least on her behalf, my Muse might assume the honeyed streams of her speech, and my lyre might be able
To imitate the pleasant sweetness of her lovely tongue, that champion of the goodly arts. Oh, how blessed I would think my voice and lyre to be!
How blessed I think myself to be, since it is granted me to die, singing like a sway of the splendid endowments and bright virtues of my lady!
9. TO THOMAS BROMLEY, CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND
You perform a task ever full of troubles, oh Bromley, you balance-scale of British justice, and offer counsel to your nation, and I fancy this requires neither a man, nor human nature, but rather a god or someone born of a god. Can any man be said to suffice for such great labors, such great matters of business, to be able to bear such a very heavy burden on unbent shoulders, and to support its arduous weight on firm legs? You see how not even Atlas, although possessed of a mighty frame, could have been able to keep the vast machinery of this world balanced on its pole, had he not sensed that Hercules’ arms had come to his aid. Nor do the turrets of towers and steeples of cathedrals endure , their rank of joints intact, unless the undamaged condition of these structures’ battlements is reinforced by buttresses built on strong foundations. But all is well. Divine Themis, Astraea, come back from heaven, and trusty Eunomia support you and keep you sound, just as caryatids hold up the domed roof of an edifice and its rooms. Hence you keep our laws safe and sound, and prop up the realm with your steadfast assistance. You energetically support the British queen on her golden throne, she who rejoices in granting carefree holidays to her well-deserving people, and in adorning the doorways of her loyal subjects with the olive-branches of peace. May goodly Prosperity dwell with the both of you for more than a single century!
10. TO WILLIAM CECIL BARON BURGHLEY, LORD HIGH TREASURER OF ENGLAND
Cecil, known through the various expanses of Europe, not just famous in England, or the land of Germany, or throughout noble France,
Should I admire your virtues, your wisdom, and your experience with great matters of state, not without a great helping of learning, as if
I were a foreign guest in this island, or as a citizen in his own proper right? For the Queen of mighty Britain looked around, bestowed
Such a great thing in recognition of your merits, and entrusted so great a responsibility to your good faith, which proved adequate to the task, so that you are an old man lauded to high heaven,
Should I be the only man left behind, slow in pronouncing your praises, although otherwise I am willing to publish the memorable glory of men
With a ready, prompt, everlasting song of my Muses? For indeed, if the piety of your mind, your incorruptible old age, and your faith, springing from an upright heart untainted by deceitful pretense, is to be considered,
A single one of these Muses will suffice to render you equal to the gods and to consecrate you among the English race with enduring sheets of paper,
Such as after three centuries the members of your Cecil family, mindful of your honest fame, will rejoice in eagerly perusing, and they will teach them to the future scions of your house.
What is finer or more noble than to bequeath the glory you have gained by your outstanding merits to the noble line of your descendants?
11. TO CHARLES HOWARD, LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF ENGLAND
Howard, you scion of Dukes of Norfolk, while I wander your island as a guest, and daily visit its royal court,
Should I not greet you, should I not pay you the reverence due to your high estate? You do not only show yourself to me as a mild and kindly in companionship,
And display lights of singular grace, but by this very fact give constant proof of the one thing and of the other. This is assuredly the supreme praise of the native nobility,
That they constantly show themselves affable and affectionate to foreigners and sojourners. Your liberal nature teaches you this, and the inborn
Candor of your polished manners, the gentleness of your golden kindness, suffused with the liquor of sweet wine and honeyed nectar, and drops of ambrosia.
Entranced, I always adore this sweetness and gentle poultice for my heart, and the pure delights of your speech, just as sometimes
I find out that there are countless false and feigned things said by men spendthrift with their noises of duty and obedience.
Quite to the contrary, I greatly loathe vainglory and hearts of haughty pride, in the manner of savage of beasts, imitative of hard cliffs.
Being gentle, you calmly shun puffed-up things, Charles. Being modest, you shun the inflated. Hence the Muses and the Graces undertake to celebrate you above all others.
12. TO ROBERT DUDLEY, EARL OF LEICESTER AND ENGLAND’S MASTER OF THE HORSE
The power of kingdoms, guaranteed by stable fortune, strength not lacking in Herculean might, and a happy condition for mankind — from whom or what source will these things be sought if not from the will of God? Scepters and the fasces of lofty rule are the concerns of the beings of heaven. It is thanks to the supernals that the pivot holds strong, so that things do not grow feeble and go to ruin. This is something for which God must be thanked. With His blessing, the powerful sword unsheathes itself in inviolable government of affairs, wielded by a mighty hand, not knowing how to be touched by the ways of barbaric tyranny, the eyes and mind of which is not duly affected by that which is pious and just, and the savage heart of which is not mollified by sweet amity. Rather, like an unbridled horse, its intolerable strength does everything according to whim, and urges one to act or be acted upon in accordance with evil counsels, bringing down destruction on itself and ultimate ruin for its subject people. Lift up your eyes, oh lift them up through the hurly-burly of affairs, and look across the glassy abysses of the widespread sea. Do you seek an example? The gods have looked out for Britain, which the puissant hand of our great-hearted virgin rules with a zeal for peace, with better destinies, and I pray she may continue to rule in tranquility May His favor smile on her in her worthiness from the paternal tracts of heaven, so that that many new colonists may be able to migrate to the faraway tracts of the New World and seek out a new universe in their sail-bearing ships, a universe bordering on the southern clime and the gentle winds of its Zephyr. May the strong British virgin, our divinity, occupy these places and establish peoples there with protections, and may this new soil take its name from the flower of her maidenly girdle, the name of Virginia.
13. TO THOSE ILLUSTRIOUS GENTLEMEN, PHILIP AND ROBERT SIDNEY
Philip, you glory of Phoebus, the Muses, and your Pleiad breeding, and Robert, you honor of Pallas and verdant flower of the Graces, you ornaments of the English court,
You both are darlings to all the goddesses and dear to every god. You both are adjudged worthy of Dione’s kisses and Diana’s embrace.
Pray impart your gentle breath to my Muses and blow on me the soft breeze of your grace, but only I and they are worthy.
They were born with their cheeks flushed with bashfulness, they are afraid to enter into public view, not being mature, nor yet fit for love.
Their father is afraid lest they not be sufficiently polished and polite. But they refuse to use crimson, powder, cosmetics, rouge greasy ointment, Greek chalk,
Or vermilion to adulterate their girlish faces with concoctions. They despise all paints and borrowed colors,
And so you will adore the glory of their innate beauty all the more. You will approve of their appearances, being pure and upright.
Every nature imitates what is its own. If these daughters reflect the simple intellect of their father, it is enough. It is enough, if nothing else is at hand to lend its support.
14. TO FRANCIS WALSINGHAM AND ROBERT BEALE, PRIVY MEMBERS OF THE ENGLISH ROYAL COURT
To be able to penetrate to foreign climes and survive the roaring storms of the deep sea on an enduring ship, suffering no loss,
and then to return safe to one’s native soil and friends after three or four times five years, having experienced countless things, is the mark of a noble man
and of a mind brave in the face of adversities. Is good luck, delivering favorable omens from a friendly Olympus, to be thanked by those about to set such experiences behind them?
Neither Proteus, nor Vertumnia Morphe, nor Happenstance, nor Fortune, nor the spinning of that wheel rashly whirling Ixion with its doubtful revolution
safely supplies the well-born with a companion or guide. Rather that lovable God, the King of heaven, thanks to Whose help and covenanted favor
evils depart and dangers take to their heels, justly demands that first place be attributed to Himself in every matter, and in every place, and likewise at any time.
To you, right noble Walsingham, and to you, honored Beale, this is more than sufficiently clear. I have decided, after I have visited your lands,
nearly exhausted, to make an end of my travels and varied hardships. I shall seek out haunts that are very delightful and quite secure for my Muses,
Just as long as the beings of heaven look favorably on the wishes I have long cherished in my heart, and Fate does not cut off my good hope
of finding repose, either in my ancestral fields or in foreign parts. For why should I constantly wander around in this lengthy promenade?
15. TO DANIEL ROGERS, AN AMBASSADOR OF THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND
While I survive and enjoy this life, Rogers, you glory of England, with a gladsome mouth I shall sing the well-deserved praises of the British queen, a woman worthy of my gladly dedicating myself and what is mine, being her servant through whatever remains to me of life. I shall do the same after I have seen my final day, when the brazen strength of fleeting Fate and the Parca, yet more powerful, demand the return of the breath of life that was granted me as a gift of the gods. What shall I do then, you ask? I shall humbly beg Jove on high, and humbly beseech Apollo, father of the Muses, that after my death my spirit might return to life and join the snow-white swans who inhabit the Thames, the limpid Thames, made yet famous by my song. For to the degree that it will constantly nourish its flock of many swans and their many beaks make a racket, to that same degree I shall honk forth my song from a happy neck. And whoever sees or hears these prophetic swans will say, “Melissus lives on in these swans.”
16. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Oh divine lady, you who rules renowned England, having the power to bless the men you choose, those worthy of royal favor, pray accept with a serene brow
These songs I freely dedicate to your godhead. Thus may your guardian spirit thrive forever in the sweet measures of my tuneful Thalia.
Thus I shall be known throughout the world as the herald of your praise, where loud Boreas roars and where the gentle south wind blows, and where the sun shines
At its rising and setting. I wish witnesses of my songs to be the two Sidneys and Rogers, and Gilpin,
Whom I met in the city of Augustus, watered by the blue streams of the Schwabian Lech, where Rudolph, acting as their common umpire, had summoned the lords of the Empire to gather
In a diet to consult on a matter of state and ensure the public revenue by voting subsidies. He will carry my words to you. I hope that in future this lyre will put me in your good graces. Pray let this be beneficial for my Muses, your majesty, that, should you command, I am willing to undertake a full work
About yourself, as perfect in all its measures as I can make it, down to its fingertips. And let it be to my advantage that for these thirty years none of my pages have been silent about you.
17. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Do you value me so, your majesty, that you are willing to ask where in the world I live?
Do you value me so, your majesty, that you lovingly accept my Muses into your private apartment,
And then command great thanks to be given me, as if I had deserved any thanks?
Perhaps you will also ask who my Rosina is. Believe me, I myself
Have no idea. For I have never laid eyes on Rosina, of whom I sing, of whom I have sung and shall sing again.
“So are you clutching at shadows, oh Melissus?” By all means, since Rosa’s body
Is far from here, under I know not what Utopian sky. “So you are wasting Rosina, and also
Yourself and your time, Frenchman?” What about it? As long as the images of my Rose do not go to waste.
18. TO A GARDEN FOUNTAIN OF QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Oh fountain, bright with silvery rivulets, clear with cold little pieces of ice, what nymph of this place draws you forth from a cool cave of your hollow cliff,
So rich with flowing waters? How often sweet Elisa, that jewel of Britain, admires you from your grassy border!
How often you dispel her thirst when she is weary! You feed the eyes with your bright image, you satisfy the ears with your murmur, and you water the lips with your liquor.
I consecrate to you my mouth, ears, and eyes, you sweet little fountain, brighter than the glass of Cypriot crystal, sweeter than the waters of the fountain of Elysium.
Pray show me, come pray show me your nymph. I would cheerfully place her in charge of the noble choir of the Naiads, being nobler
Than Cymodoce, Erotion, or Amyntias, bright with her snow-white arms. Thus may your vein never run dry or grow parched.
Thus may luxurious grasses adorn your bank. Thus may the shade of a verdant apple tree protect you from the heat of the Dog-Star.
19. ON THE GARDEN OF QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Oh you verdant ornament of the British queen, the supreme delight of your mistress when she is in residence, you little garden, abounding with dense forests of trees and shrubs,
What elegant bard would deny your elegant self a poem? What man wreathed with Apollo’s garland would refuse to sing a little for you?
With a willing ear let the mighty lady imbibe the placid risings of my tune. Here, amidst the roses and the white lilies,
Where water leaps up from its clean pipes and, skilled with its tuneful throat, the nightingale weaves its song of day and night.
While I sing of the enclosed recesses of a glade, oh warbler, either fall silent and hold your peace a little while, you who are adroit at using your voice to invoke your Daulian schoolmistress,
Or join me in celebrating the deserved praises of this garden, but in such a way that these praises spill over into prayers for its kindly mistress in every age of the world.
Of a kind such as I scarcely think the cultivated fields of the Hesperides to have been, nor the hanging gardens of Cyrus, or lovely Tempe,
Decorated with the leafy ornaments of Adonis and Alcinous, we shall sing, by heaven, that such and even greater decorate your fields with foliage-bearing branches, little garden.
Here is an aroma such as a man of Sabaea enjoys. a splendor such as Semiramis sought after, here is color sufficient to make Plenty smile with her blessed Horn.
It is sweet to stroll here in the pre-dawn morning air, it is pleasant to spend one’s noon here, and at evening it is delightful to feast one’s eyes as the sun departs.
It is good to sleep here, good to loiter, and better to be free of busy work. But it is sweetest and best of all to weave together merry songs and poems.
The diligent gardener points out the names, both old and new, of the plants and flowers, of the underground roots, and the individual tree-trunks.
Then, like a Macer come back to earth, by his research he seeks out the salubrious power that belongs to each of them, its strength, its power and virtue.
It is no part of my task to investigate each one of these various plants in all its detail. I would prefer that the resounding Muse of some native poet perform this service,
Whose wandering wits a learned labyrinth of errors might lead through its abstruse windings. Oh, offer a Pierian fountain to this weary singer.
Enough to have essayed these things under the light shade of a grapevine. Thrice, four times farewell, little garden, and you should thrive in security, your majesty, for three hundred years.
20. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
You have read the strophes I gave you in Pindaric measures, you have read three other Books of lyric poetry, of which the first, Elisa, embraces the noble divinities of the great Caesars,
Kings and commanders whom I celebrate. The second boasts of the title of Earls and an illustrious band of men, distinguished above others.
The third thrives, being consecrated to chaste maidens and also the ladies of Helicon. Among these your virtue shines just as brightly
As you have more nobly earned distinction with your novel praiseworthiness, outshining other ladies just as Venus blazes with its fiery torch among the lesser stars.
Now Book Four follows its companions, completing the sequence of time in due order, and youthful in its years. I have sung of each of my subjects while filled with Boeotian waters,
Not intoxicated with beer or the cups of Bacchus. For sober Nephalia has given me pure water drawn from the sober fountain of Clytorium,
Urging me to moderate the force of my wit and talent with gentle restraint. This force rushes headlong like Isax beyond the Alps,
Which rushes along, rolling a wall of foam and many a rock. Often, forgetful of itself, this force has ill-advisedly prompted my inner vein of talent,
With which it been eager to fill the void of my mouth in any manner at all, and, all too confusedly, it has assaulted men’s ears with pointless sound, in the way that a goose
Honks from its naughty neck as it idly flies through the clouds in the sky, a reproach to the sweet-singing swans. You, your majesty, should applaud my whispered trifles
In such a way that you do not count them so much as you weigh in your scales these songs, played on a Latin lyre, which not only publish your praises through the populous towns of Europe,
But even (if my guardian spirit favor these undertakings) through Asia and through the huts of Libya’s shore and the many climes of the New World,
Borne on the swift wings of Fame, and, in the opinion of all bards, so memorable for future ages that posterity will proclaim that men living now had a share of a Golden Age, the age of a poet who assigned you to Olympus in his ever-living screeds.
21. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
If you have the leisure, Elisa, you lovely maiden, freely direct your placid attention to my customary song, take into your liberal mind my lyric, which strives with its sounds to rival the parrots and chattering magpies. And yet do not chide this bard’s tongue for speaking. Once I fell silent and checked my words behind unspeaking lips, and silently hung up my jingling lyre on an idle wall. As soon as I had done so, you could have seen Mercury immediately begrudging my idle quill its leisure. Without delay, he took up the vacationing lyre, tuned its strings with its creaking pegs, flexed his interlaced fingers, and produced chirping sounds. Venus stood hard by, and with his golden mouth Cynthius, clad in bright garments, dictated sweet measures, such as those with which the Thracian musician is said to have summoned forth the beloved form of his Eurydice out of the Underworld, when he had stilled the wheel and the rock, amazed by the song of his lyre. The hook-beaked bird did not peck at Tityus’ liver, nor did Tantalus thirst for his water, nor was the burden of his chains harsh for Pirithous, nor did the hole-pierced cask gape open to be refilled, nor did the tooth of the braying donkey chew at its twisted rope, nor did monstrous Anubis bark at the darkness. Oh, would that I had such songs! You learned goddesses of the Clarian choir, pray look favorably on my powers, so that my songs might return to this life that Charitusa, buried in a sad sepulcher near the rugged hill of Mirtulis, if this be possible. If not, let my mind dream of such things and believe that, by the consent of her guardian spirit, the erstwhile strength of her soul has been entirely restored to such a beloved person.
22. TO AURORA
Aurora, you fair splendor of the sun, by which which the serene sky is seen to glow ruddy in the morning and the evening, beautiful daughter of brightest Jove, oh hail, three, four or more times. As often as I have seen you with in your beauty with my happy eyes, I have imagined myself to be beholding Elisa, that learned, cultured British queen, a queen famous for being included in so many songs, celebrated in a thousand poet’s verses, and in her living image to have been beholding my Rosina (to my great favor, and to the grace of my lady). What fairer and lovelier thing in all the world than you, Aurora? What more splendid, what ever more bright, splendid and royal thing than you, Elisa? What thing in the world more worthy, more well-known and familiar than you, Aurora?
23. TO PHILIP SIDNEY, QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND’S AMBASSADOR TO THE HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR
Sidney, renowned for your services to the Muses, whose father is Lord Deputy of the Irish island, you will sail down the Rhine, returning to your native shores,
Over the ample breast of the vast ocean. The famed queen of your Britain burns to know what you have to report, an ambassador returned from the court of the Emperor.
Oh, if Nereus and his Nereids could see me as a partner on your voyage, conversing as our sailed ship cleaved the lengthy waters!
As a passenger, I would dave no fear of black gales, nor the monstrosities of swimming whales, and the quarrel of the east wind with those of the northerlies or southerlies.
For, Philip, your piety would keep us safe and sound, and that voice of yours, which could soothe the Emperor’s mouth and tongue,
Would do the same to the raging sea-gods and the blasts of those dire winds as they confusedly rushed over the booming sea.
Even if the savage force of the south wind were to drive us to the waters of the remote Orkneys, we should plow through the salt sea with impunity, as our oars overcame their floods,
And we would be able to spread our sails for a voyage back home and disembark at our longed-for harbor with happy steps. But now I have left Mirtiletum and am obliged
To make my way over the hard rocks of the Alps and their chasms that gape with fearful jaws. May the gods speed our journeys to the places we seek, and favor
Our wishes. May London, that splendid darling of cities, quickly receive you in its paternal embrace, and may seven-hilled Rome cheer me, a cowboy having been my guide!
24. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Twelve years ago, when I could have set sail from the shore of Brabant or that of the French and, being borne across the sea, could have examined the British and admired your face, great lady, and at the same time visited Oxford and Cambridge, those two great lights of your realm, and become more familiar with their Pierian companies, joining them in singing your praises on a lasting lyre, Fortune (ever varied, subject to change, and rashly mutable) begrudged me that voyage, joined by Bad Luck, that brother of Change, and a sister of Proteus. And furthermore, savage-hearted Mars was raging with mad fury, and, raging at all things everywhere, barred my way and prevented my coming. We witnessed towns and villages going up in smoke and defiled churches collapsing, their saint banished. We saw fields awash with blood and undeserving men consigned to punishment by wild acts of daring, dark misfortune — a terrible thing — and the hazards of war resounding, as civilians were vainly issuing their complaints. As I pass through these groans and sad complaints, will my sorrow heal their wounds? Will the water which streams from these ladies’ eyes like a river, together with their womanish howls and breast-beatings, quench the burning flames with their copious liquids? After escaping the fearful dangers of those plunderers, we made our sacrifices at the altar of Portunus. Now we enjoyed the climate of Venice and left behind us the great city of Quirinus and Siena, and returned to the hills of Euganeo and Abano Terme with Polemo and his friends, and grew habituated to savoring the delights of the brianna and the malvasia of Castell’Arquato in the fresh springtime. But my longing at being so long separated from the English shore more urgently impels me and fires my inward marrow, my heart aflame, and yet calms my mind with better hope that the time is at hand when I can behold your realms, my lady, and the eulogies, the praises, and the honor of your ever-enduring name. Oh would that, after the passage of as few new moons as possible, your island would find me alongside the Thames, safe and sound in body and beholding the rising light of the sun, and comparing your divine face to the dawn! What would be more blessed than my single self? What would be more famous than you alone?
25. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
As often as, in my absence, I remember in my mind the delight of the shores of Lago di Garda, oh goddess (and I remember them frequently), I seem to myself to be living there, and all night long I dream of their sun-dappled hills. Now Salò comes into sight, now Garda with its ridges, and now Toscolano, lying on the right hand for those passing by the little banks of the serene lake, set amidst fragrant greenery. Now appears smiling Sirmione, that fair darling of peninsulas and islands, where once Catullus set aside the anxiety of his burdened heart after his journey to Bithynia, and where the family of the Scaligeri, those noble Tyrolian princes, sought out a safe retreat when while were freed from affairs of state. How everything is pleasantly green and leafy! How wonderfully their shaded gardens win hearts! Their hills are covered with Pallas. Lyaeus adores his vine-bearing realms on their steep hillsides. The lowland is occupied by the gleam of little orange-groves, golden apples, the shrubbery of lemons, and thick forests of pomegranate trees, not without an abundance of Daphne’s laurel and Dione’s myrtle. How the lordly Mincio rolls its pellucid waters to the narrow opening of its pass! Greetings, all you Oreads who possess these places, you Hamadryads and fairest nymphs who possess the ambit of this pleasant lake. I pray you have such a climate in England and such weather in your gardens, you goddess, flower of virginal chastity. May the fruit of your orchard smile, and likewise your living hedges, and all the shoots of your seeds, soothed by Zephyr’s gentle blast. And you, oh Elisa, flourish forever in safety, and thrive like a young male laurel.
26. TO FRANCIS WALSINGHAM, SECRETARY TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
More or less seven years ago I sent a rich feast of rhapsodies to your mistress, little products of my youth. Now I have no fear of sending to Albion’s distant island sheaves of riper corn to replenish her barn. Whatever this may be, or of whatever quality, Walsingham, it commends itself to your sweet favor and to the grace you reciprocate to me. Seizing upon a timely opportunity, make sure that it come to the Queen’s most fair hands, and before her star-like eyes. She will not disdain the praises that are her due and the illustrious glory of unquenchable glory, nor keep at arm’s length lofty encomia of her honor. Albeit they come from a foreign bard, they assuredly come from no less a loving one than if he had been born a subject of Britain’s golden scepter, and subject to the just rule of your people’s laws. Steadfast in her justice in accordance with her heart’s singular wisdom as she strives above all things for peace and tranquility, that nurse of citizens and protector of the realm, she preserves Themis undamaged, as she does her flourishing cities and the sound body of her citizenry. But why am I lingering long in these parts, vainly loading the river Lech with my songs? Am I wrong, or is the water of the Thames not already awaiting the arrival of a French swan to its familiar waters, determined to grant it a welcome home amidst its very white birds? I shall go and, abandoning this German clime, as a guest I shall cross the ocean and breathe in British air. Perhaps that which I have long sought will be discovered and offer itself to me there.
27. TO ROBERT BEALE, PRIVY SECRETARY TO THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Beale, you wonderful admirer of the Germans, since the time when you were sent to the bank of the River Neckar, to the crowded court of the Palatine Prince,
Have you remembered Melissus, and do you retain in your honest mind, as if engraved in pure bronze or gleaming diamond, my image, which all that longed-for throng of my friends cherish and all those companions of mine preserve in their unchangeable hearts?
Day and night, I crave to see your face on English soil, and the fine library you have assembled,
Most rich in old volumes, and all manner of artfully-printed newer ones. How long will these savage wars hold me back? Why do you put me off for such a long time. savage wars?
Why am I being driven away? And yet my desire remains to kiss gentle Beale and see Walsingham, Cecil himself,
And Bromley, and likewise Howard and the rest of the lords of great repute at court, born of high blood.
I particularly love to earn Elisa’s venerable good will by my polished verses, verses intended to proclaim the great weight of her tridents through the world, to her honor.
Gods, favor my aspirations and my undertakings. Who knows whether Fortune’s favor will reward my journey with greater profit, because it is delayed a little while?
28. TO GEORGE GILPIN, THE QUEEN’S AMBASSADOR TO THE DIET AT AUGSBURG
Gilpin, you who are privy to our British lady’s secrets, you alone who have been found fit to follow the Emperor Rudolph’s court to its retreat alongside the flowing Lech,
For a long distance cutting through the lands of the Vindelici, since the great savagery of his enemies had arrested undeserving Rogers, that light of the Muses,
And long kept him in close confinement. Do you consent, or do you stubbornly resist my request? By Hercules, you consent, and grant room
For my wishes. You will either give or transmit to our divine lady my Pindaric ode, and strive to recommend those of my Muses of better note.
Now the sun’s fierce horses have traversed the Zodiac fifteen times with their speedy hooves, from the time when I began ceaselessly to write things that make for neat
Latinity, I mean as an imitator of polished things and terse elegance. What better renders a poem lovely
Than a sculptor’s polisihing file? What does anything do to words more than art? Amidst this work I undertook to heap praises on your noble lady, the mighty mistress
Of the sea and of Albion, and indeed to attempt a complete work, finished with resounding verses, full of her eulogies,
If the lady were to supply its subject and the means of pursuing this project. Meanwhile I pray you, Gilpin, that with your happy pen you indicate what the Queen commands,
What she bids me undertake. I pledge myself, to the best of my ability, to celebrate her fame, entirely ready to obey the English.
29. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Oh your majesty, we have come to the end of time. In a brief while the most perfect machinery of the universe will be dissolved and whoever had chosen
To live his life on this earth forever, rather than direct the inner sanctums of his mind to the place from whence he derived his first beginning,
places unconquerable by Vulcan’s rapid fires, will fear lest it be consumed with flame. Regard the heaven’s dome. Regard the setting
of the stars. We have promised ourselves a longer lifespan, but the Parcae are able to bring reversals. All elements bring destruction to things
that have grown exhausted, which with a heavy groan attest to the sudden assault of their weight. And yet the Pope of Rome is particularly concerned
with correcting the error of the year by adopting better means. What is the advantage of observing with careful eyes
Phoebus’ revolutions and the monthly signs of the moon, and yet pursuing things that are not straightforward? Everywhere the minds of the people, ignorant of reason and the proper measure, are torn asunder.
Two-faced Janus, you should teach them the right way as they study the irrevocable passage of the years and heaven’s swift revolution.
For you are knowledgable about the old and the new system of measuring time. Let the Julian scheme return to today’s calendars, lest the equinoxes and
two solstices might not occur with greater assurance. Let each month have its Kalends, Nones and Ides in accordance with the memorable custom of the City,
And let the stars not have questionable risings nor unsure settings. And let those of us who are distinguished from the pagans not merely by one single sign, in that we profess our faith in Christ and His laws,
be joined to each other like members of a single body by our united hearts and minds, down to the doom of the Last Day.
But you, Elisa, whether or not you prefer to adhere to the new way of tracking the bright stars, you should live in such a way that, albeit nobody on this earth
is like you, your mind would be so disposed concerning the fragile condition of this life that you should believe that, after the passage of a few days,
the sound of the angelic Trumpet is going to fall on human ears. He who thinks over such things in his wise mind should hope to enjoy happy auspices
throughout the new year thanks to the beings of heaven, finding these things, not on earth, but rather in the evergreen Gardens of Paradise.
30. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
For four years, Elisa, I spent my quickly-passing hours idly in the Muses’ secluded repose where the Pegnitz scours the tawny sands and enters the walls of a Bavarian city with its corners, and, dividing into two arms as it flows through the fields, washes the island on either side. There I fed the my minds of my dear friends with such welcome nourishment that they felt rather helpless concerning my departure and my reason for going to climes far from the lands of my beloved homeland, in obedience to the command of heaven’s King. Farewell, you very upright band of friends! Farewell to the harmonious agreement of our minds! Setting forth as a traveler and enjoying favorable omens, I sought out French lands, remembering you in my heart, always loving and cherishing you with my well-proven good faith. Thus you must live well with those same good omens, and do not be silent about the fact that by my songs I have conferred singular glory on the Bavarians and deservedly celebrated its fine diet, so that future times will cannot be ignorant of these things. And reverently proclaim my zeal for my friends, the hospitality of Nuremberg’s citizens, and the merit of its patrician family, whom my Muse first began to please, having been less well-known before. Cheering this, she yearned to soar higher aloft on freer wings, and dared to approach the peaks of Perrhabean Pindus and lay hands on the patron-god’s nourishing gifts, that never abandon his devotees.
Lo, Paris drew nearer, the high roofs of its lofty towers and the pointed spires of its palace revealed themselves. Here, if my life did not fail me, I would renew my old familiarity with learned gentlemen, whose names a favorable Apollo has bequeathed to enduring fame. Hence, if the friendly gods would be propitious, I had a fixed to desire to sail to England from the harbor of Dieppe, and to behold you, oh you virgin who are the fairest of all things, obeyed by Britain, by London, that capital of your realm, by Ireland, and and by the wide waters of the vast sea with its bevy of Nereids and its German Neptune, who gladly speeds ships to their intended shores. And after seeing our ship put in safely to Albion’s coast, entering its gleaming harbor, and setting foot in your court, Elisa, accompanied by the Sidneys and the fine Russells, what could I offer to your household other than my collection of songs, my Schediasmata, newly come from the press with greater care, since, your majesty, you are best and greatest, and also supreme among the women who are enjoying the breath of life in this world today? Permit them to have a tiny place in your home since they are lowly, and not very good.
MELISSUS GREETS QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
HAVE elected, Elizabeth, most distinguished Queen, to observe the same order and method as in the first part of my Schediasmata, not just in these second and third ones, but also in all the following parts: namely that, once I have dedicated and consecrated myself and my all to your divinity, in addition to the beginning of the entire work, the beginning of each section and also the frontispieces of its individual volumes should bear your name, the most famous in the world. Just as from my earliest youth I have industriously aimed at celebrating your unique virtue (not just in the hope of gaining some trifling laurel, but for its own sake), so afterwards I have directed the course of my pursuits, just as archers aim at some definite target, to the single goal of attributing to you praise in this manner of writing, so that whatever brilliance and splendor I have furtively borrowed from you might be seen to be repaid with interest. I have indeed attempted no small amount, and devoted myself to it daily, so that Ι might do justice, if not in every part (which would entirely be an impossibility), at least in some measure, to your merits. Meanwhile everyone who reads my verses will readily appreciate that I have adopted this plan, namely that by this means I might give public testimony to the fact I have desired to enter into your good graces. And, my most excellent lady, if you have thought me worthy of the smallest shred of this grace, then, by Hercules, I will think I have received a greater favor than if all the gods and goddesses who are celebrated by the devotees of the poetic art were to deem me worthy of their embraces, or of exchanging kisses after admitting me into their intimate company and into the inner sanctums of their holiest shrines. However the matter falls out, I shall nevertheless regard myself as happier and more blessed to have you pass your good and careful judgment on these pursuits, being right learned. right skilled in many tongues, and proficient in the Latin language. Farewell, and live and thrive as long as possible for our benefit. Paris, 1585 A. D., in the month of August.
PAULUS MELISSUS, GERMAN AND FRENCHMAN,
COUNT PALATINE AND KNIGHT
31. THE FIRST HEXAMETER POEM, TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
If piety, fear of the gods, virtue, good faith, and steady firmness of mind, free of fear whether misfortune has brought adversities, or good fortune has conferred favorable circumstances, deserve praise and bright honor; if anyone worthy of being included in the history-books will be steadfast and worthy of gaining a memorable name for being a great-hearted man, so that his noble fame will go a-flying to our late descendants, this man too posterity will deem to have been outstanding for his outstanding enterprises, being loaded down with good merits, as you adjudge, Elisa (than whom no wiser queen exists, nobody better endowed with the goods of the mind, so that the British justly love, adore and worship you as their mistress, and whom in my various songs I have represented as equal to the gods themselves); such a hero, I say, posterity too will someday select and account among the number of those whose praise has gained an immortal name, and a glory destined never to perish due to the misfortunes of any age of the world. His virtue will stand as an example, undaunted by warfare, and younger men will learn and imitate his virtue.
Above all, they will admire how he stood alone against all men, loving good faith, daring to expose his neck to dangers, restoring peace after treaties have been broken, and defending his nation with his mighty arms. A thousand would not have hesitated to rob him of of his life by the cruel sword. They will admire how he, being one man, could not be taken prisoner by them all, nor be overcome, although the enemies who bore their standards against him outnumbered his meager battalions more than tenfold. Thus much did a good cause encourage them, and their anger gave strength to their hands, until in the final storm of deadly battle his injured horse, its flanks pierced by savage wounding, stumbled, failed to heed its reins, and threw its rider. The earth groaned, his armor loudly crashed. In vain did he try to mount the beast’s back once more, surrounded by the forces of the hostile army.
As when a cloud from the north, mingled with sleet, wind, and rain, rushes on and pours down from on high with its violence, not otherwise was this bravest of heroes suddenly overcome by the loud violence of the attacking horsemen's armed might. When he was captured and taken. their countless companies would still have lacked the strength to overwhelm him with death, since he greatly struggled and hurled himself against their hostile arms, being so powerful with his great might of body and spirit, if Deceit had not proven to be yet stronger, fighting with no virtue, and Fraud overcame him from behind as he feared nothing of the kind, since pledges of good faith had been exchanged, shooting him through the head with the weight of a deadly ball. He fell, spattering the ground and his armor with gore, giving up his gasping life in the shameful dust.
Thus on the leafy summit of a pine-bearing mountain an oak with its sturdy trunk, or a yet harder mountain-ash, which has long struggled against the north wind blowing out of Poland, and has scorned the might of raging southeasterlies and northwesterlies, since it has survived protracted perils, secure from evils, in the end falls, giving up its life when cut down by an axe, and topples headlong in a great collapse. The nearby caves and valleys resound with its great crash. At its downfall the fawns and horned satyrs, those gods of the forest, and the company of the Dryads flee, stricken with chill dread in their hearts.
Ah you prince, beloved to God but hateful to the Furies, did this kind of end take you away? Did this ending chance to await your head and your heart, so praiseworthy? Oh if the Muses had granted me such power in my songs as is required to extol excellent men and god-descended heroes to the stars! Then I would include the recollection of your virtues’ splendid deeds in my sublime thrysus But Buchanan, that bard of whom the Scottish land, most famed for its Caledonian woods, does not undeservedly boast, he who drinks in abundance full drafts of Aonian Aganippe, will do this better. You will do this, learned Rogers, you whom England claims as her firstfruits, and whom fostering Albion, destined to bear you, acknowledges as her son. Likewise, alongside the waters of the tawny Rhine, a Dutchman will do this of his own free will (since he shall be born for sacred pursuits), not without the happy heat of the Muses: Dousa will undertake this work, imitating the words of antiquity, ever worthy of immortality. And you, Florent, you friend to the Greek and Latin Muses, skilled at bringing the Loire to a halt with your divine songs, and to challenge Phoebus with a tune, and other poets, their throats well watered from the Pierians’ fountain, their hair bound with victors’ ivy, must carve your verses into long-lived cedars. Did you ever let Timoleon depart with no comment? Let it suffice for me to sing a final song for him, for the sake of his funeral, upon my slender lyre, my eyes drenched with sad tears, there where the great Lake Geneva exerts its power to check the Rhone, rushing along with its noisy current. But it has been no disgrace for you, you pious company of bards whose task it is to record accomplishments in the annals, for you to have added much more, and to insert this man into the company of the gods. For the room for praising this man is without limit, a room which cannot be traversed by the chariot of Pindar.
Come, Elisa, be mindful to weave these things into the Cumaean screeds, destined to endure for a long time through the coming years, and by the reputation that survives him translate Timoleon to heaven: his piety and his exertions have earned this.
32. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
A sober nymph first brought me to the sacred waters where the fountain of the Muses of Mount Helicon richly flows with its liquid. Those who have once wet their lips with these waters cannot help falling in love with the song of the gentle lyre. I drank such liquor from boyhood, your majesty, my throat was entirely drenched by the Clarian streams, and without delay, my tuneful talent began to pour forth verses joined in unequal measures. Once it was touched, such love snatched away my heart that, I driven to the Muses and to the Graces by this gadfly, and I would have disdained the gods’ nectar in comparison to the sweetness of Aonian water. Whether the blazing sun’s chariot was bringing back the day, or the moon returning the night with her dark horses, an ardent desire so fired my heart to join words in Latin meters that I seemed quite forgetful of meat and drink, and was often heedless of sleep and of myself, since I was bidden vigorously to direct all my strength and powers to this single pursuit. The race-horse, panting in the dust of Elis did not race to the finish-line before him, eager to bear off the victor’s palm, and swiftly outrunning its companions, speed with the same effort as my ardor then bade me ascend the peaks of the Pierian ridge, making my way with rapid steps in my competition against my fellow youths. For whoever desires to gain the leafy crown cannot be sluggish in the race nor sit idly.
And I recall how, whenever the cycles of the revolving year would come around so that the constellations of my birthday shone bright, Wolfius, that student of the stars, and Robellus himself would descry very clear omens from their fair signs. When they had scanned the causes of my destined lot, both of them said, “Pegasus and the Swan, those luckiest of constellations, are flying thus from the eastern region. Consonant with its diverse strings, the Thracian Lyre so shines for you in mid-heaven, oh our Frenchman Melissus, that — and the trustworthiness of constellations is assured — that if an equal harmony befalls any man at his birth, unless the jealous Parca bars the way, he cannot help but be a good poet and a good musician. Poets are born by destiny, not made by art, such is the great power of innate talent.”
Thus they spoke. And indeed, Elisa (if you trust me at all), I feel my breast being inspired by divine influence. I am moved by celestial flames, and, by the sun’s influence, my marrow is fired by living torches. Divine Melpomene, if your placid eyes gazed into mine at the time of my birth, exertions of boxing at the Isthmian Games will not make me famous I shall not crow about gaining some praiseworth glory with my fists. Glory in the pancratium will not make me renowned, nor will my four-horse team pull me as a victor in my Greek chariot. Nor will martial fame attend me as a general going to the lofty Capitoline, having defeated great-hearted sovereigns in fierce wars or baffling king’s threats, my well-deserving locks crowned with Apollo’s laurel. Rather, the pure water of the Straeon, which bathes Alphipolis, and the water gushing from my ancestral springs, and glades and groves, and gardens with their fragrant herbs will make me a familiar figure, and not just for a single poem. Rome, that mistress of the world, judges me and numbers me as a bard belonging to Apollo’s choir, and learned Paris gives me such applause that now I am less gnawed by the tooth of jealousy. Oh, you sweet goddess who governs the varied sound of the golden lyre with equal temperament, oh you who, if you choose, can bestow the song of the swan or the girl of Daulis on mute fish, this gift is entirely your doing. That I am known everywhere as a player of the Roman lyre, and the German one, that people point at me as I pass through the city precincts, that I breathe and give pleasure (if I do give pleasure), this all is your doing.
33. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
After midnight, while studying and admiring the starry regions of the sky, decorated by its countless fires, and its various omens wheeling through their risings and settings in their familiar circuit, I seemed to be bodily snatched up to lofty Olympus and with my divine mind to touch God Himself, the creator of the universe, while the golden circuit was providing the sure changes of its revolving flow through fixed constellations. And, Elisa, while I was contemplating the stars set before me in their various shapes and having their distinct critical times, it especially pleased me to understand those which were fixed of position, and their influences, together with their rays, at my natal hour, at the time when my mother Otilia bore me alongside the glassy waters of my ancestral Straeon: as Pisces shone its stars, wet from its rising, and you, Draco, flying headlong with your beneficial head, and the hoof of swift Bellerophon shone hard by, andalso the milky feather of the snow-white Swan. I saw how Chiron rode up in the mid-sky so that he might climb higher and decorate the southern quarter with a crown, and how tuneful Lyra, set in its proper place, conferred on me the sweet tunes of the Ismarian bard. And I studied the sun’s power in the houses of his friends, together with Venus and the light of hot Mercury. Then, as it came into Taurus in the second house, I discovered what manner of marriage the lucky moon would bring me, and I saw Saturn, holding the Scales, and Mars, possessing Erigone. By their power they were both obstructing the seventh house, while in the sixth a retrograde Jupiter, borne by the the Crab, robbed its [...] wealth of its honor. Then I perceived the strength of Orion’s shoulder, and of Fate, situated in the lowest part of the dark sky.
As I contemplated these things and scanned the stars with a roving eye, and as the heaven showed me a thousand images, fostering Astraea, that glory of Jove, presented herself to me, a chaste Virgin bearing bearing a noble ear of corn in one hand, and in the other an equal-balanced scales, in which were contained the decrees of my destiny. Now was revealed the appearance of Cassiopia, seated on an ivory throne, in whose grasp flourished a palm-frond in her fingers. You display yourself as resembling them both, you British goddess, so that I might wholly believe that the gods have infused your mind with the virtues of both those constellations, and that, by the will of the heavenly beings, you have fallen to this earth to give venerable laws to land and sea.
While I was thus imbibing these visions in the night, amazed by the clear images of my mind, I reflected, your majesty, that you are destined to rejoice in revisiting these regions — but may you do so as late as possible! Now Urania was seen to appear, wearing an Arcadian crown on her ruddy head. Am I mistaken, or was she bearing a sphere in her right hand, and in her left a mirror with rings, and wearing no unseemly costume? “My young astrologer,”she said, ”you who wakefully study the mystic destinies of the ancient sky, I will gladly tell you a few secrets of the Thunderer, and you must store up my words deep in your mind. Do you see Andromeda’s mother, gleaming on her throne? I tell you that a new star is destined to appear in this. Someday you will wonder at this new star arisen in it, brighter than Jupiter’s fire, brighter than that of Venus. Trust me, its fires will remain no longer than ten years, by which time this manifest thing will have created complete faith.
“This blazing star portends the coming of a leader, outstanding for his great enterprises and good deserts, resembling Solomon’s father and doing famous deeds like those of Israel’s champion Hezekiah, who was beloved to Jehovah in the integrity of his holy worship. He will restored public laws by procuring agreements. Borne to the lofty peak of power, his enemies overcome, he will give his peoples welcome repose, and will establish the honor of God’s only-begotten Son. He will be well known as far as the Euxine Sea, as far as the ocean. Then fair Peace will return to our fields and cities, Peace with her shining hair garlanded with olive. Fostering Faith will turn back her steps to her old ways, never grown wan because of broken pacts. Golden Liberty will be at hand, that sweetest of all things, happily carrying her neck freed from it base yoke. And who will doubt that Eunomia, who clings to the good and the upright, will be there, and doom-pronouncing Themis? Above all the rest, Piety, handsome with her chaste countenance, will seek to have first place in the churches. This man is the hero under whose rule the golden ages will return, worthy of the love of God on high. This is the man who is the great source of fear and dread to tyrants, adored alike by the morning star in the east and the setting one in the west. This is the man whose descendants, living in perpetual peace, will rejoice to establish their progeny in their myriads. No man is better than him, not even if one were to compare the ancients and modern scions of royal pedigree produced by an earlier age, or whom the present produces, or the future will yield. Many a nation will send him its ambassadors, and his own soil has no need humbly to search for him. Hook-beaked birds and fearsome lions will gladly consent to submit to his rule. The rest will be taught you, down to the last detail, by Deiphobe’s knowing page.”
Thus the learned Muse spoke, producing the glass mirror from her snow-white bosom, in which I saw the very face of that prince, expressed to the life. I saw the man’s adornments, his arms, sturdy for war, and his heart, strengthened by heaven’ might. A helmet gleamed on his brow, shining in the light of that bright star. A stout brazen breastplate defended his chest, his side was armed with a sword, his shoulder with a baldric, and his hand with a spear. When I had beheld these things, the goddess sprinkled a light dew over my eyes, dew derived from the Milky Way. Without delay, Morpheus tightly bound my blinking eyes with his sleep-inducing poppies, bringing, peaceful sleep through my weary limbs, until rosy Aurora brought the golden day.
34. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Let other sublime men seek the heights by great enterprises, and let them amass much money by garnering great profits. men driven by light-minded ambition or great love of possessions, or those who nurse pride in their puffed-up hearts. Let the simplicity of my honest life bear me along, while a favorable wind gently speeds my voyage, and you, your majesty, cheerfully embrace my Muses. Grant me a place, my lady, among men held in honor. May the Parca not forestall this but rather, if I deserve it, permit me to continue enjoying the welcome gift of the light of day. As a musician. I for my part will sing smooth songs with gentle sweetness, and verses bound with adroit meter. For whatever song my new ardor makes resound is entirely consecrated to God’s praises, and I pay my worship, whether this is the lovely gift of a learned bard, or because a man gains a name from the Muses by being their friend. Son of God, let any age of my life always serve You, being no stranger to churches, and let my consecrated gifts be placed at Your solemn altars — ah, let Your Father’s wrath not terrify the guilty! Thus celestial minds bear You welcome gifts, You Who were once a mortal, but now are free of death. Now they delight in running over the easily-resounding strings of the lyre, now in singing songs with resonant voices. They celebrate You alone, you whom the company of musicians justly beseeches: oh, be propitious and good to men who are Yours! Now I cannot imitate the heavenly throngs with my song, nor can I equal the winged choir. And yet I should feel no shame at essaying my humble attempts beneath a leafy shade, by the flowing waters of a passing stream. Nor should I be ashamed to have attempted figures of harmony or to have used my fingers to touch Apollo’s lyre. I should not be embarrassed to have produced sweet songs in charming measures of Greek or Latin.
In the past, men sang without any fixed rule, with no reason ruling their measure or their art. Rather, the evil confusion of their joined voices assaulted men’s hearts with their silly bawling. The high notes quarreled with the low, the major with the minor, and often their voices rose up in discordant sounds. Melpomene bade them tune their voices in accordance with fixed laws, and to devise a new music. Melpomene, that chaste mistress of the holy choir, taught them to observe fit numbers. This same goddess chastely imparted to the Muses her musical precepts, commanding them to love these sacred measures, and forbidding them to resort to obscene and disgraceful music at all times: it always behooves them to be clean goddesses. Oh may he go to ruin, he who befouls a sacred church and pollutes his mouth with wanton noises! Rather, how worthy he is of praise who, by singing worthy hymns to the celestials, makes those hymns acceptable to their tender ears! This man the Graces and Loves adore. Furnishing him with sweet tunes, friendly Apollo is his supporter. I have perceived how in the past bards have preferred that their songs be agreeable to goodly purposes. With his peaceful art, Orpheus made gentle fearsome tigers, raging lions, and savage beasts, by which I mean he tamed wild minds and ferocious men, and, once they were calmed, he gave them mild hearts. Amphion was once able to move hard rocks by the sound of his sweet lyre, and so they say (although this surpasses belief) that of their own free will the walls of Thebes fell apart and collapsed. What such bards could you not see being followed by groves and forests, taking unaccustomed steps from their settled places?
What should I say of the son of Jesse? As often as he was summoned by Saul and touched the strings of his mind-swaying instrument, immediately the devil who had visited the king with black rages was commanded to depart by the power of the lyre, and he vanished. Whatever music has, whatever divine poetry possesses, it is right to credit this all to God. How delightful to hear the Aonian company singing, to join hands with the Muses’ band, and how peaceful to follow them wherever the fruitful earth grows soft grass and pursue after flowers in the warm springtime! How delightful to overhear the thousand battles of birds in a forest, and learn their thousand ways of singing, and at length to die, when one’s mature years have sped by, amidst harmony and lutes! May these things befall me! Let the man whose mind is preoccupied by zeal for gain be avaricious, let him seek out lofty things. What do I care? Let it not weary me to listen to the Muses themselves. Begin, and set free your words with soft sound. Let us sing good words such as pious usage will approve, in harmony agreeable in its numbers. Let nobody create disturbance with a racket, the Muses love quiet things. Whoever is present, man and boy, keep a silent tongue.
35. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
It is the business of bards to seek out delights, pleasures, and an agreeable passage through the free air. A forest, a green grove, a garden fragrant with flowers, these affect their hearts with wonderful enticement. Now they choose to compose a song to the plashing of flowing water, as they sit on the bank of a river or the marge of a fountain, and now to give cheer to deep valleys or the peaks of a high mountain by joining their unequal verses. A fair retreat delights a writer, Elisa, and caves hidden by mossy turf, where the whisper of the blessed air goes a-running through silent leaves beneath the noonday sun. Protected by the foliage of an ash tree, the chattering nightingale repeats its sounds with a shrill mouth. Thus too the chaffinch thrives, exulting in its sweet song, and with its loud throat the thrush challenges the other birds. In another quarter, the turtledove complains of its mate’s dark fate, redoubling the mournful work of its sad voice. Resounding Echo, lacking her own voice, imitates it and repeats its complaint and issues similar groans. The earth is moved and, by way of consolation, resounds from deep within, and the caves and glades imbibe this mixture of sounds.
Oh how often a crew of friendly Dryads sees me hunting out these haunts in the warm springtime! Oh often I have called out your name, and that of Rosina, hidden away in my isolated retreats! I have devoted a thousand measures, a thousand songs, to singing of you and of my intended, the very familiar contents of which the fickle satyrs and horned Fauns have learned by heart, swapping verses with me. As often as they have begun to blow on their rustic little hemlock pipes, their flutes have produced sweet song. To their measure an Oread trips a dance with both, while the shrill flute plays in the Phrygian mode. I have seen lofty pines sway their tops, while mountain-ashes raise up their dark heads: thus much does the spirit of this harmony they hear sway the very cliffs and the knotty oak trees! The rich Jura can bear witness on my behalf, and the forest of Thuringia, and Aeolus, often howling in the closely-packed Alps. The pine-bearing mountain itself, which attracts men’s eyes with its four rivers, can bear witness, and the rough border of the Harz massif. Oh greetings, pine-bearer, touching the clouds with your peak, you provide the source for twice two rivers. Towards the west flows the Main, and eastward the Eger, to the north the Saale, and to the south the Naab. Hail, you who deserve to be acknowledged as the father of the Varisci, produce your fountains with their perpetually-flowing waters. If my Phyllis has pleased your cypress-bearing Silvanus, and likewise Thestylis has delighted your native Pan, bring it about that you inscribe my songs, frequently sung in the shade, on the tender bark of strawberry-trees. And make all the ancestral gods who inhabit your leafy forests sing the venerable name of Elisa, particularly the Naiads and the happy Napaeae who are nourished by the shady turf of your foothills, where both of the limpid sources of the Main well forth, combining with their bountiful waters. From there the Main rolls through the fields of the Franconians and their beautiful valley, gathering speed thanks to its many tributaries. It waters many a town, and finally flows into the streams of the Rhine with its serried ranks of swollen waves.
But you, you long-lived lady who wields a mighty scepter, worthy of a triple song of the Pindaric trumpet, I pray you not to despise the pipings of my slender reed, which ineptly plays for me my simple songs. I am obeying my nature, not the proper commands of art: pray consent to make room for our native reeds. The grander bugle does not always delight ears, often a humble Muse deserves great glory. Glory is not always discerned in great deeds, for there is much grace even in small things.
36. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
When I ponder the future centuries of our offspring, and, ruminating on Fate’s sure habit of bringing change, discover that variable Fortune’s feet are never planted forever in the same places on her wheel, it becomes fixed in my heart how some future age of this degenerating universe, beset in so many woeful ways, will wonder at the happy times of our century in which it befell you to live, and call fortunate those men who were able to behold your face and glory with their blessed eyes, and not only examine your appearance, but also to enjoy the golden peace in which this harmonious island is gripped. For you provide secure repose for the British race, and you make its tranquil day glide gently by, days such as antiquity once possessed during the reign of Saturn, when unsullied good faith was highly valued. Indeed, he who loves the arts of enduring peace is wiser than those who foolishly wage unspeakable wars. Oh unhappy peoples whose slumber is disturbed by the horrible sound of hands beating drums! Treacherous Mars, you foolish madness of a blind mind, what fury is always driving men’s spirits headlong? Why resort to the sword’s edge? Why this rabid zeal for taking the field, this blood shed for three lustra? Oh the crimes wildly committed by these nefarious enterprises! Oh the great crimes of broken treaties!
Where are you rushing, you mad crew? You are fighting against Olympus, and taking up arms against a just Jove, just as once those cloud-born creatures of double form, huge monsters, attempted that yet greater task with their might, but they could not bring it to a conclusion and experienced the forked shafts of a stern Jove. Alas, how many great-hearted captains have fallen, killed by the steel, and will continue to die in savage wars! Deceit will work its wiles under a show of pledged friendship, treachery will seek after the fragile scepters of kingdoms. That Celtic Jason will be destroyed by stealth, his life cut off by dire poisons. He thanks to whose leadership Belgium carries its neck freed from the yoke will die, shot with a ball in his guts. Envy will attempt by a questionable feat of arms to rob the Portuguese of the fasces of their new empire. Dreadful perils likewise await others whom untrustworthy Chance places in lofty positions.
You, my lady, must beware for yourself as best you can. No few robbers and thieves design your savage death. Now I would prefer to change my body and be taken to the cliffs of the Caucasus, or be driven through the harsh crags of the Apennines, so that I might not witness such wrong in the world. Oh, that I might turn into stone amidst rocks and sharp boulders, like Phineus, like bold Eryx! How could I not befoul my eyes, welling over with weeping, and melt into floods of tears? Oh my guardian spirit since birth, shining in your white garb, be a faithful protector and leave this side of mine, so that Elisa’s safety might be enhanced by you and she might experience the help of your divine hand. Whoever is watched over by a guardian angel cannot be harmed by steel, poison, or any violence. Even if I had a hundred such spirits, and the same number of Minervas dedicated to helping humanity, I would have this winged company serve you alone, all duly prepared to do you your bidding. Why should I deny you anything, whatever it might be, your majesty, since I would die for you, if you would permit? You yourself would know that these protecting ranks had now abandoned my breast, their service having been discarded. What would you do? You would ensure that, under a safe sovereign my affairs would be safe, protected by your patronage, and that I myself, if I deserved such, would be protected by your strong aegis, given to you by Pallas to wear. I should worship you, I should adore you, I should do my proper duty for you, and manifestly love you with all my heart. Then I should justly say “Elisa is my one great power, she is my one divinity on this earth.”
MELISSUS GREETS QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
N all my volumes, most excellent Queen Elizabeth, my intention is the same, as is my ardor. For they want to go to you, indeed, they have already gone, having crossed the sea, undaunted by your majesty. Would that I could someday go as quickly and finally behold your most longed-for countenance! By Hercules, I would account that as the height of felicity! For the most bright beams of your eyes, peacefully aimed at these eyes of mine, would so brighten my mind and my Minerva that I would seem almost reborn as someone different from myself. Then the inexpressibly wonderful facility of your tongue would render myself and my Mercury somewhat more eloquent. Furthermore, from your royal style and elegance something more neat and polished would accrue to my Muses, so that they would prove more cultured and acceptable. And finally, an open indication of your very honeyed grace and most sweet favor would inspire my Apollo with new powers for fashioning songs. I would hope that the pleasure of those songs would so entrance your most delicate ears, that you would think them, if not the equal of other men’s tunes and exercises, at least not to be kept apart from those in which there is some sweet delight, so that I could clearly rea;oze that I have written verse for which I need feel no embarrassment or shame. And if I know that these verses of mine, of whatever quality they may be, are not always destined to be helpful to some, I am sure they will not be harmful to any. By the dedication of my volumes I wished to do something welcome to you, my Queen, to you alone, I say. If they have pleased you, I shall rejoice; if not, I deeply regret having rudely bothered you. Nonetheless I trust that, whatever these small efforts amount to, you will take and read them with a serene mind. Farewell, and live forever in my Muses. Paris, the month of August, 1585 A. D.
37. THE AUTHOR TO HIS MUSES
Go with favorable omens, go happily, my Muses, and visit the Queen under a good star. She will embrace you with most kindly arms, that leading British maiden of the Castalian choir. How justly you will rejoice at directing your steps into her court, you crew dear to her chaste band! How justly you, accompanied by a number of the Graces, will experience the kindly expression of my bountiful mistress! I indeed believe you will swear yourselves worthy of no other sovereign, neither now, nor in the past, nor in the future. And at the same time you will have gained great love by your modest efforts. Oh, what a grand thing it is that small things are pleasing to a great goddess!
38. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
When the Emperor was waging war on behalf of his ancestral hearth and home, the arms rattling through the Orient south of Thrace made me a poet — if any honor still attaches to that ancient word — amidst bugles and commotions, a poet of whatever quality he may be, whom you are reading as he feebly sings in his unequal measures. When goodly peace returned, that poetic frenzy fell upon me once more, together with a generous infusion of Clarian waters, and a French girl smeared my lips with sugared juice which elicited sounds sweetened once more. Thus, with equal harmony, thanks to the Muses and favorable Apollo, Mars sings things fit for the soldier’s cloak, and Peace things that suit the civilian’s toga.
39. TO ROSINA
You follow at the train of the British Queen, and, being dutiful, stand busily at her snow-white hand, and this you do at the bidding of Cleo and the command of her Sisters, fair Rosina, child of Apollo’s choir. Should I despise your position as a handmaid, my lady, or scorn your sweet service from afar? God forbid: all your honorable condition, together with your outstanding modesty, springs from your being a well-born girl. I do not speak of your breeding. Apollo, Diana, and Jove are well aware of it, and you too know that you are a sister of learned Pallas. Should you discard your title, oh most beautiful of all things, what would you find fairer than it?
40. TO ROBERT EARL OF LEICESTER AND PHILIP SIDNEY
Princely babes traditionally have three godparents, but (since my misfortune is playing the stepmother) no pious godmother has been found for these my nine children. They are poverty-stricken, but the wealthy British queen can keep them in some position. If I should die, they will need a guardian, being sadly bereft of their father. Who could play the part of their protector? While still living, I commend them to the both of your equally. You must be the companion of their ninefold choir, Captain Robert, and you too, Philip. Should they not make a gentle entry into the women’s quarters, having gained a generous companion and a generous guide?
41. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
You whose noble fame shines brightly amidst the world’s darkness as far as the sun’s swift horses are driven, it behooves me to hold my silence, your majesty, concerning your praise and the proclamation of your honor, rather than to speak of it in a few words. If your praise and your honor were like a river, overflowing with a number of praiseworthy features, the abundance of subject-matter would not be able to overwhelm my tongue, nor would that store of swift-running water break my pen. But (oh you, who are divine rather than human), the great fund of your virtues makes them seem like waves on the widespread ocean, and I am drowned in this boundless sea. For your praise has no shoreline, your high honor no coast.
42. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Once, by legal right, the honor of being called Father of the Nation was conferred on great Caesars and noble rulers, and likewise on private subjects for their good services to their people’s holy religion and pious hearths. Who, lady, thinking over your praiseworthy accomplishments can add titles worthy of your merits? Now you are reviving the nation which created you, as great as you are, and are the darling and the salvation of your race. More fittingly and with better right, could not every Briton rightly call you the Mother of the Nation?
43. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Your majesty, I advise that nobody should think my fountain the equal of the Danube, nor compare it to the vast ocean. The Danube is muddier, Doris is too salty. Let my water be pure, I want it to be sweet. Let no great crashing of a plunging stream drive it like the cataracts of the Nile or the current of the Sicilian Strait. Great rivers are rarely thirsted after, nor does a large downpour benefit a parched field. A little stream issues from this fountain with peaceful whispers, provoking eager thirst with its liquid nature. This does one good, this is like honey. You should drink this pure, sweet water: a public source satisfy the common run of mankind.
44. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Liber is lord of the vine, nourishing Ceres mistress of the crops. She only demands an ear of corn, and he a cluster. Grass pleases Pales, flowers Chloris, and the laurel Phoebus, and likewise meal sprinkled with a drop of milk delights the god of the household. Nereus is content with the gift of a hanging votive tablet, and hospitality is enough for Jove Protector of Strangers. Serene queen, you rival of the gods, take this gift of sweet honey from my combs, friendly honey in which the Grace has mixed little bitterness, which I offer you as a drink with no gall. I have no fear of Momuses, since I have not given you many gifts or large ones, but I have given you all I could.
45. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
If a man were to call you Venus, Juno, and Pallas, I do not think he would be speaking amiss. Likewise the man who would call you a Grace and a Muse. Indeed, you are a Muse of Muses, a Grace of Graces. Forgive me, your majesty, if I say less than I should. What an abundance of praise is yours! Juno yields to you in wealth, Venus in beauty, Pallas in her character, the Grace in her endowment, the Muse in her reputation. You by yourself can surpass all Junoes, Venuses, Graces, Muses, and Minervas. Who would blame me, British virgin, if I were to say that you were born out of all those goddesses as a unique Panthea?
46. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
I have no castles, no villages, manors, or forests, my horse is not sweating for having ridden over a hundred acres. These are the possessions of demigods, for whom both Frances preserve the wealth they have gained. Holy Apollo has thrown the temples of Parnassus open for me, and I greatly enjoy the choirs of the Graces and Muses. Nymphs grant me water, a Dryad the honey of Hybla, and the Napaeae garlands, and here my bees are permitted to fly about, so that the Ausonians and French drink my lovely honey. Just be kind and grant shelter to their hives. If your grace grants me Elisa for a patron, lo, the king of the bees will always be your grateful dependent.
47. ABOUT ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Cease searching elsewhere on this earth for Pallas, the Graces, and the choir of the Muses, you bards. Behold, Pallas holds court in the heart of the British queen alone, as do the Graces and the Pierian choir.
48. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Will any traveler deny there are perverse places where one can experience heat and cold both in summer and in winter? These money-bags of mine can attested this: well-equipped with these and a wealthy man, I started a journey which spanned both seasons. But in mid-summer my pockets could not be kept closed because of their excessive chill, and in mid-winter all my coins burned as hot as if they were fresh from a blazing furnace. Thus all the strength my travel-money was squandered, as if sapped of its power by a parching fever. Now, your majesty, my wallets are flabby. Oh those cold summers! Oh those hot winters!
49. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
The British island willingly adores you, the gods and goddesses of the Irish Sea worship you. Why, your majesty, do you live in a celibate bed without a partner, and drag out such a length of time in the manner of a widow? Why does no husband who pleases you say, “My light and life, oh wife, my greatest pleasure?” Fate is a mysterious thing. Surely it has not been denied to you to find your equal amongst all those kings and Caesars? May you might find an equal! Your virtue surpasses all other women, just as the sun surpasses all the stars with its lights. So you must remain chaste and wed to yourself, or become the bride of your guardian spirit. Thus, as you alone are worthy of yourself, your guardian spirit alone will be worthy to enter your bed.
50. ON ROSINA AND THE QUEEN
So that the Loves might love the Queen and Erato love Rosina, lo, I in my turn love Erato and the Loves. Should the Queen or Rosina dislike it, to the best of my ability all my love will fall to the Queen.
51. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
A woman either loves or hates, there’s no in-between: how badly her hate turns out, how well her love! I should think the same can be said about the Muses, whether they want to sing reproaches or praises. Glory adheres to those they praise, disgrace to those they blame, and both kinds of music are very familiar to posterity. He who is wise will avoid having a poet for an enemy, this is taught us by Hipponax and Archilochus. You hold the Muses dear and cultivate them, your majesty, and they love you in return, and quite properly cultivate you. How well such love turns out for a poet and for yourself. Oh the genius! Oh the intellect of a learned sovereign!
52. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
When first I heard word of your great fame, your majesty, I was scarce minded to believe it. But I have experience based on better proof, when the divine majesty of the British queen shines forth in my presence. Read the history of the world, you will find no women equal to or resembling you in the virtues, not even the wise girl of Sheba who once came to the house of Solomon. Divine Queen, I am reduced to silence at the sight of you, my mind is stunned by your brilliance, my shaking hand can scarcely write because of this. What women, what manner of woman, how great a woman is this, for which no place in this world has had, has, or will have an equal?
53. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Inspired by generous heaven, the stars, bent on bestowing perfect divinity from their perfect summit upon you at your birth, shed on you all riches from the lofty sky. Nothing in the sky did not impart its goodly fires to you, particularly Jupiter with the sun, and the fostering morning star, favoring Mercury, and the moon, that mistress of fortune. Happy the eyes which behold such a lady! Happy the people who observe your laws! Whatever you are, you are thanks to destiny, your realms are due to your destiny. Oh long remain on this earth, golden goddess. You must depart? Splendor departs. What would the penalty be, should ruinous confusion bring back black darkness?
54. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Poets know how to sing of nothing other than Phoebus and the Muses, they speak of nothing other than Pallas. The invent for themselves I know not what deities, and are in the habit of using their vain minds to manufacture false gods. Loo here, sweet Elisa, I’ll tell you something truer than truth, which posterity can safely believe. You are my deity, and something greater than that. If you deny both these things, I shall nevertheless proclaim you to be a deity.
55. TO PHILIP SIDNEY
If a single little sheet of paper could comprehend all your virtues and the good points of your genius, no sheet of paper, small thought it may be, would be more fit for all men to read, a wee tiny sheet with its tiny folds. For I think that you have as many good points in you as the hollow machinery of heaven contains blazing stars. And, Sidney, you shine like the sun at its rising, whose pure path the goddess that goes before makes serene. What man of good sense would attempt to enclose such a sun and such stars in small sheets of paper?
55. TO DANIEL ROGERS, ABOUT ROSINA’S SINGING
Whether Rosina sings with her unaccompanied voice, like a twittering nightingale, or plies her lute with a skilled thumb, or makes music with both at once, with tongue and fingers fitly married, I am transported. The tuneful sound grips my heart and my marrow, and my mind is borne aloft into thin air. Now I seem to be carried through heaven’s stars, hearing a choir of singing spirits, while my girl rehearses psalms with the wonderful bending of her voice and activity of her hand. In astonishment I exclaim, “Oh Rogers, this singer is either Harmony herself or is bred of the company of angels, or assuredly an angel is doing these things by her means.”
57. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Thus far, your majesty, I have spoken your praises as best I could among the Aonian maidens, I have been a bard in writing of you in verse. Now, in accordance with my scheme, I would become a painter, now a sculptor I would try to paint you and sculpt you as you deserve. But should I attempt something that no man can achieve? For there is no adequate Apelles, no Praxiteles, no Vergil himself who can paint you, sculpt you, or sing of you. But, oh virgin, may you approve of my dutiful desire. For whom can pledge his talent beyond the scope of his powers?
58 TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND
Although not all of these epigrams may be first-rate, I nevertheless took no small care to make them such. I suspect that better will be devised by others, although others will be pleased with worse and more trite ones. I do what I can, and yet in these matters I am never satisfied with myself, and I reproach my willingness to be satisfied. If I could do all I wanted, trust me, no epigram would exist to equal my verses, in which I would sing of you, your majesty. But I am wrong, but he is wrong who imagines that what I think is possible. Would that all my wishes were possible! But it is impossible for me to write an epigram to match your merits.
59. TO QUEEN ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND ˘
Elisa, you wholly gleam with bright gold with regard to the borders and shores. Lo, golden Rosina comes next to your brilliance.
60. TO ROSINAM
Hey, Rosina, go ahead for once, for once go ahead, though you have always followed the footsteps of the queen. Now I am hastening to bring the little works of my published document to a close, ending it with the virgin with whom I began. I would have you love me always, as I have always loved you, and henceforth you must nurse love’s tinder. Thus I may begin some volumes of more recent stamp in the manner I ended some of my old ones. You supply my talent, you supply my reputation. Am I not blessed, when Rose gives me this immortal prize?
61. TO ELIZABETH QUEEN OF ENGLAND
We have arrived at the end of Book Nine, your majesty, and my weary Muse bids me come to a halt. I humor her. Perhaps I will be said to have been an excessive chatterbox, unnaturally, in a novel fashion. But I deny I have been excessive in praising you, divine lady, so that I am heatedly lavish in your praise. If my life permits, I am minded to continue this praise in the rest of my books. Drawn into this labyrinth of great praise, what am I do to extricate myself by the use of my own wit, if my Calliope knows not how to find a beginning, apply any middle, or make a conclusion?