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Regard the progress with which the handsome swan is borne by the Thames’ waters as it comes from the city of the Isis, and how a chorus peacefully follows its exultant leader. It will fill its banks with its resounding song, and happily praise King Henry’s name to high heaven. Let the musical listener lend an attentive ear. For it is rare to hear a swan singing, albeit a throng of learned men proclaims that they have sung and carried off first prize for their tuneful voice.


UCH is the fame and glory of your name, conjoined with majesty (most illustrious king), that its greatness might easily deter me as I write. But then again, when I reflect on the friendliness, kindness, benevolence, candor, and openness with which Nature in her wisdom has endowed you, be assured that I cannot restrain my pen from offering up some specimen whereby I might attest my good disposition and dutifulness towards you. Learn, therefore, what gift I offer at this time. As a youth I was wholeheartedly afire with love for the Muses, and my ardor drove me to write with great diligence (but am unsure whether with similar eloquence, success, and grace) three books of epigrams. To the first I gave a Greek title, namely Encomiasticon, but the second was called by the Latin title Sales. The third, too, was entitled in Greek Epikedion. And, not content that I had thus deserved well of the Muses, I attempted an ambitious work to celebrate the birthday of your incomparable son Edward. Although, due to my lack of talent, this little volume could not gain the graces, delights, and elegances that express that certain inimitable majesty of antiquity, it nevertheless cherishes the hope that, such being the esteem of that Ascanius of yours whom it praises, whom it reveres and whom it worships, that it will easily gain, if not great praise, at least some manner of approval and longetivity from learned posterity. After the publication of that little work I had decided to “remove my hand from the painting” and leave the Muses to our learned youth. For a new concern for history had already summoned me elsewhere, as had a zeal for British antiquity, which I perceive to be oppressed, not only by negligence and sloth, but even by the disdain of certain men, and wrapped in a more than Cimmerian darkness. Calliope, that first of the Muses, perceived that I was, if not exactly a deserter, at least an idler, and advised me that, if I had quite decided to embrace more serious pursuits, I should sing some swan-song as I departed and dedicate it to the Muses, medley-wise. And, since she was making such a reasonable request, I could not refuse her my efforts. But meanwhile, when I was carefully seeking where best to make my song’s beginning, I bethought myself of the Thames, that foremost of all the rivers which water Britain. I once made a most careful survey of it, from its very sources, together with its banks, curves, twistings and turnings, meanderings and mid-river islands, and committed this all to memory. Nobody does not know that the Thames is the greatest nourisher and supporter of swans, particularly at the islands hard by that city which it embraces at the ford of the Isis, well-known even to high heaven for its erudition and goodly letters. Since I had lately been sent by you to the swans there, not without an honorable responsibility, I was so delighted by the pleasantness and grace of the place that I justly rejoice to have at length gained an opportunity to celebrate, admire, and revere the swans and the Thames as their dignity deserves; and you too have been born and bred along its banks under the happiest of stars. So accept this swan, swimming downstream from the ford of the Isis as far as your lofty palace at Greenwich, telling many things about the Thames drawn from the secret storehouses of antiquity, and finally singing of your achievements, with that face with which you smile on those who describe even the smallest features of your majesty.
2. And so that you may thoroughly understand the contributions authors of the brightest reputation have made to my swan-song, I shall set forth the pronouncements writers both Greek and Latin have made about it. In the first place, Vergil, that greatest glory of Roman poets, writes thus in the tenth Book of the Aeneid:

For they say that Cycnus, singing a lament for his darling Phaeton amidst the poplar leaves, the shades of Phaeton’s sisters, consoling his love with his sad Muse, and bringing old age over his soft plumage, left this earth and sought the stars with his song.

Ovid sings the same in Book Two of the Metamorphoses, describing the swan’s appearance most elegantly:

The man’s voice faded, white feathers hid his hair, and his long neck stretched forth from his body. His red fingers became conjoined with webs, wings covered his side, and a blunt beak his mouth.

And in that same Book he mentions the song of the swan:

And the birds which celebrate the Maeonian banks in their song grew hot in the midstream of the Cayster.

Likewise, in Book XIV of the same work he says these words about King Picus’ singing wife:

There she poured forth her sad words of grief in a quiet voice, just as the swan sometimes sings its own dirge in dying.

Add to these those verses from a letter of the Heroides:

Thus, when the Fates summon, the white swan, sad on the waters, sings to the banks of the Meander.

And elsewhere:

As the swan sings after the cruel arrow has transfixed its brow.

Finally, in Book IV of the Tristia he writes thus:

As the bird of the Cayster, lying on the bank, is said to mourn its death with a failing voice.

Lucretius, too, writes of swans singing at the moment of their death in his Book IV:

And when swans, torn away from Helicon by their death, make their sad-voiced liquid moan.

Likewise in this distich of his Xenia the poet Martial mentions the swan-song:

The singing swan sings sweet songs of its own death.

The Englishman Alexander Necham magnificently describes the song of the swan in his Praise of Divine Wisdom:

Playfully it flaps its wings a little and cleaves the parting waters with its wet breast. Atropos, it freely submits to your commands when it sees its final day is at hand. Its song sounds sweet, it strives to appease the gods in song It greets its familiar waters with a mellifluous voice. Disdainful of honors, it sings its own funeral-dirge and is happy to herald its own demise. It rejoices in abandoning the tediums of this present life, and gladly submits to deaths tranquil doom. Now, bidding farewell to Lachesis, it chooses heaven as its tomb, and advises the other birds to scorn the Fates.

3. The philosophers expound that this is the reason for such melodious sounds, namely that the air must struggle to burst through the swan’s slender, narrow neck. Pythagoras opined that the souls of swans are immortal, so they rejoice and sing at their death. But (if any faith is to be placed in the judgment of Aelian the Greek) swans do not sing unless Zephyrus, that genial wind, is blowing. There are some who maintain that swans were sacred to Apollo. Hence Alexander Necham sings thus:

What of the fact that this is Apollo’s prophetic bird? And Jove himself remained hidden under the guise of his swan.

Nor is there any dearth of writers who say that swans were the children of Venus, among whom was the lyric poet Horace, as is plainly evident from this verse:

She visits Paphus with her yoked swans.

This is endorsed by Statius, in the third Book of his Silvae:

And golden Venus drives her soft swans.

Nor will it be beside the point if I should point out that the swan-song was proverbial not only among Greek writers, but with Latin ones as well, as is shown by Erasmus’ admirable work on proverbs, in which place he cites Athenaeus (an imitator of Chrysippus in this respect), Aelian, and other witnesses. They affirm that this agrees with old men who sing honeyed things as their final utterances. For old men have a certain mature familiarity with memorable things, gained by long experience, which completes their circle and fills our ears with the harmony of their work, excellently begun and happily concluded. In speaking of Lucius Crassus in Book III of De Oratore Cicero, that glory of Roman eloquence, appears to insinuate as much in these words: “That speech was like that divine man's swan-song. As if hoping to hear it, we used to go to the Senate house to look at the spot where he had been standing.” Then too, Jerome, who translated Holy Scripture, says that “old men sing I know not what swanlike thing,” just as if he were saying “something perfect in all respects.”
4. So much for the song of the swan. I have further added (as if as a colophon) the names of some ancient writers and an interpretative catalogue, so that from this an understanding of British antiquity (so often anxiously sought by many, yet not found), will now seem to be discovered. For the moment I am offering the learned reader only a taste of my daily-growing work, and if I perceive it gives pleasure to their refined palates, I shall write in such a detailed and painstaking way that someday I shall seem to be welcome and useful to the nation (if only I find a fair-minded judge). And you, kindest of all the princes on whom the sun looks down, and likewise the most learned, with a friendly hand accept these small gifts, of whatever quality they may be, of your subject, who is, if not eloquent, certainly one who wishes you the best. Thus may you continue as you have victoriously begun, and smite, lay low, and at length most prosperously conquer that race of oath-breaking Scotsmen and the French, the ancient enemies of your most noble line and of your rule. Farewell, you bulwark and sweet glory of Britain. London, June 29.


May you live, you father of your nation, you brightest king of kings. And may your Ascanius flourish throughout all the world.


My sovereign, I pray you continue to sail with favorable winds: Father Ocean, Neptune himself, and his bevy of Nereids demand this. Happy Victory promises supreme triumphs as an enduring reward for your effort. I congratulate you on your spirit, fortunate victor: thus one makes one’s way to the stars.


My father was a swan, more pale than the privets, who begot me in April, when the white birds adore their Venus, the Zephyr blows, and a new spring casts multi-hued color on the flowers. The mother who gave birth to me was a swan, whiter than snow or whey, named after the place where Isis has its sonorous ford [Oxford]. While I, handsome, slowly cruised here in mid-stream and amidst the curved byways of its branches, fending off hunger by happily feeding on plants and little fishes (a sweet meal), for some unknown reason a great desire overcame my idle heart, and by many means it gave me the kindly advice that I should eagerly study the greeny banks of the Isis with keen eyes and a new care, down to the point where they receive the salt waters of the inflowing sea. When I had carefully thought this over, I was overcome by an urge to migrate. Therefore, to outfit my expedition magnificently I chose an escort of twelve companions as a proud retinue, and as a kindly father I commended all the others to the trusty protection of the Isis with the following speech:
“You swans, my love and my glory, you happy birds who justly dwell by the pleasant islands of the Isis, and enlarge our race with your fair numbers, now hear my argument with happy ears, and help it with your advice. I am led by some divine spirit to go downstream and visit the lower banks of the falling Isis and its receding curves.” The chorus of sweet-singing swans eagerly clapped their snow-white wings, and their tuneful applause delighted me. So I washed my broad beak in the deep current, and addressed my company with words such as these: “You must stoutly defend this kingdom of ours, our blessed islands and crowded nests surrounded by a circle of grey-green willows from those impious bandits, nor allow your lovely consorts to be defiled by any seducers newly come to this river.” Immediately they all sounded their approval of these admonitions, weaving for my head a garland studded here and there with gleaming gems, and wrapping my snow-white neck with multiple circles of gold chain, in the end they sang “farewell, farewell.”
Shining with such splendor of elegance, surrounded by my twelve birds, I was borne in the direction where the water’s current eternally flows. Thus with constant effort I glided along, leaving the buildings of Abbandunum [Abingdon], familiar to Cissa, that lord of the Saxons. Soon I espied Hydropolis [Dorchester], where Birinus was once bishop, and the confluence of the Isis and the Thames, and also the fallen towers of the ancient fortification of Sinodum. Then, a little lower, the ever-famous city of the Atrebates presented itself to me, rejoicing in the ancient name of Caleva [Wallingford], and holy place of Chausega [Cholsey], which the raging Danes harried in wretched wise. Next, carried along by the rapid current, I saw a town that, if memory serves, was once called Pontes [Reading], where a trophy celebrated great Alfred, where unquiet Cunetio [Kennet] is carried, and likewise Sunningum [Sonning], Henlega [Henley], an ancient market-town well known to folk of the region. Next appeared Hurstelega [Hurtley], abundant for its woods, and fair Mediamnis [Medmenham]. This happy place belonged to the Atrebates, and faces towards farmers of the Cattieuchlani. Further along on the right shines serene Bustelli Domus [Bisham], the noble tomb of the noble Montagues.
Afterwards I majestically swam to the banks where lies the village of Alaunus [Maidenhead], and at length in my swift course I arrived at the bridge of Windelesora [Windsor], which joins together the borders of two peoples. Here I stayed my wings, and while at rest I turned my eyes towards the heavenly palace, admiring the place and its location, its stout towers and holy chapel, and I heard the sweet music of the heavens, such as the famous swans sing as they roam the waters of the Cayster. Then, soon going around to the left bank I caught sight of a second massive structure, the elegant school of King Henry VI, to which the ancients gave the name of Aquaedon [Eton]. Once more I spread my wings, and with a welcome effort I arrived at the famous place that used to be called the Island of the Stag, where the pious priest Erchenwald consecrated a church to God’s perpetual service. And soon, flying downstream, I gave a friendly greeting to Ankerwyke and the hamlet of Stenum [Staines]. Next, hastening along in my swift course, I came to the conspicuous palace of high Avona [Hampton Court]. Here scarlet Cardinals’ caps do not shine as once they were wont to do. Rather, crosses and bejeweled columns stand and crowns shine, honoring their Edward, that unique darling of the British race, whose hand will put down Scottish upheavals and put hard manacles on the Frenchmen’s hands. But I return to my subject. Is this that famous Regiodunum [Kingston-upon-Thames], which crowned three kings? It is pleasant to behold its greeny banks. And now the topmost roofs of proud Sheen shine proudly from afar, where our serene King Henry VII built a palace and called by the name of a rich mountain [Richmond], after some small province of the Brigantes to which he was heir by paternal right.
Now the swift current of the deep Thames sped me to the left bank, where the heavenly home of Sion gleams like a handsome crown. Here the great Henry V founded a church for God Almighty, the one who conquered the French peoples with his mighty hand. Next, observing the ford of the River Brent, I caught sight of goodly islands that do their duty by providing swans’ nests. The swans who crowded the river channel admired my elegance and my escort, and raised their feathery crests. Yet I, prudently and with full assurance (for my Zephyr was blowing favorably) was borne by my propitious swimming to Cheva [Kew], well known for having given its hospitality to Mary, that pious mistress of the French. Next came Mortlake, giving the appearance of a proud manor, a well-known house. The friendly Swan Island gleamed, which nourishes birds of my race, and also bright, pleasant Putney, past which I was carried by my eager strength as I hastened my speed. Then Volucrum Domus [Fulham] showed its front, a manor familiar many centuries ago to the belligerent Danes. But while I was intent on happily looking up at it, gleaming with the large houses of noblemen, Battersea called me away, that elegant inhabitant of a curve in the river, as did Chelfega [Chelsea], a place that wears the leading crown thanks to the arrival of King Henry. Like a swift-sailing yacht, I was carried to the right in the peaceful stream, gawking at Lomithis [Lambeth], bright with its lofty title of palace of the Bishop of Dovernum [Canterbury].
To the left is a place surrounded by plashing water, called Thornega [Westminster] by our ancestors. Here mighty kings built themselves and their families a home, which after the passage of the years has achieved every glory of splendor. But Henry VIII, singlehandedly doing as much as all of them put together, has borne the expense of the works, with Papist Cardinals driven from their thrones and its spaces and palaces enhanced with wonderful elegance. Why should I recount the great splendors of its many halls which now glitter with their radiant light, where a higher cliff overhangs the bank and looks down on the blue waters of the nymph which favors it? Here and there gleamed the turreted manor which Anthony Bec, that honor of the city of Durham, constructed to be worthy indeed of plumed coronets, but lately belonging to our serene Prince Edward. Then shone forth the lofty manor of Savoy, once dedicated to noblemen, but now a house consecrated to paupers by the pious effort of Henry VII. Nor us that handsome house lacking in its praises to which Bath gave name. Next the ruins of the ancient Temple began to raise their head, and that proud structure wonderfully displays its splendor to which Brigit’s fountain supplied a name [Bridewell].
Now I came to Trenovantum’s [London's] lofty walls, where to the west a stream called there swells a stream called the Fleet, at the mouth of which there used to be seen a fortress with a menacing facade on all sides. But its glory wholly perished, and gave birth to the new honors of Baynard’s Castle, shining with much splendor. Like a gawking tourist, I was borne along the water, and gazed up at the church consecrated to St. Paul and its famous steeple, the top of which touches the sky. Soon I easily glimpsed the houses of nobles on the greeny bank. Then I remembered that that there was a dweller here, who was blessed by a swan’s great gift, but in the end death took off that fellow with its bloody hand. And as I wandered the river here and piously nodded my greetings to the Germans carefully handling their wares, I came to the mighty Bridge, rising from its nineteen arches, which support the high roofs of houses. There are writers of proven worth who relate that this was a work of the reign of Richard the Lion-hearted. But after a fire had ruined it, behold how John, enhanced by his brother’s power and the generous contributions of good citizens, rebuilt the work out of solid stone, worthy indeed of the praise it constantly garners. The current, flowing down from higher up the river with a great roar, did not allow me to linger here, so I swam through an arch. Hail Southwark, famed for many reasons! You have produced a swan, and an elegant one at that, where stands the bright house which Queen Mary’s powerful husband Brandon built out of a great enthusiasm for brilliance. With your hospitality you cherished the sons of Winchester, mindful of your old patron Giffard, and of your patron Peter des Roches. With your fair kindness you happily tend to famed island of Bermundsey and the house of your prelates. I am summoned to the curve of Bellinus, crowded with ships, and the high king’s turreted home, the capacious armory of great Mars. Here, towards the east, the Tower brings to a close the city walls, rejoicing in its great strength of stone, a source of dread to our enemies, with so many bronze serpents of every caliber readied to shoot their savage thunder.
But now, the city wholly left behind, I had to find the harbor, notable both as a riding-place for ships and for its mansions, constructed with great effort. Lo, the breeze of favoring Zephyr was blowing, and now Radcliffe called me to its banks with a seductive whisper. That manor is a genuine paradise, crowned by its elegant structure, and displaying roses sweeter than those Paestum and all manner of lilies. Here is a fountain, and a grove sacred to the Muses. Here there is a pious crew of singing swans. Here it would be pleasant to stay forever. But Limodomus [Limehouse] desired to see me: it would be so, since I desired to see it too. The water seemed to sense this, thus I was swept downstream. Burning smoke wafted before my nostrils. Here the white clay is controlled by constant fire, and all the bank glows white. I cast my sails to the wind, and followed the bend in the river with my leisurely swim, until I reached the deep Pool.
Now I seemed to be seeing the fleet: if you are wise, Frenchmen, get ready to flee. I came closer and observed a goodly number of men o’ war. The first and largest kept for itself the name of Henry, and the second is called the fair Katherine. The third bears the name of Mary, shining forth among the other girls, a heroine worthy for the bed of demigods. The fourth rejoices in the name of Peter, and the fifth boasts the emblems of a lion. Here is the Primrose, here the Swallow, the Sweepstake, the Barque, the swift Galeass, and the new warship whose captain had been my friend Wyatt, that famed devotee of the Oceanids, and also of the Muses, the martial darling of our age. Why recount more? I enjoyed examining the harbor and the fleet. Kindly Gonson, my shining glory who in so many sea-battles overcame the Geats and the French, that proud race, lives in a nearby home. There I would have entered in, had not my voyage’s ultimate goal summoned me to Greenwich. As if spreading a sail I outstretched my wings. The river continued to aid me, and my Zephyr supplied a wind.
See how the place I was seeking shone forth like the house of a celestial cathedral! What multicolored roofs! What windows! What turrets reaching toward the stars! And what pleasure gardens and ever-flowing fountains! Handsome flowers cover the bend in the river, furnishing the delights of a bright garden. The man who bestowed this neatly appropriate name to this riverbank was a discriminating judge. Etheldred was a British prince who was often harried by the Danish enemy in woeful ways, and was compelled to protect himself within the city. Meanwhile savage bands of Danes pillaged, and savagely dragged that holy prelate Alfege to the familiar place of Greenwich, where they put him to death, ah, an axe applied to his head. Next, after a lengthy period of time, blessed Humphrey, that glory of the nobility, strengthened by his Claudian power, was the first to erect a magnificent manor here, and he fitly called it by the illustrious name of Placentia, a nice judge of both languages. But when the court took it away from him thanks to Pole’s deceit, Suffolk’s wiles, and it was abandoned and crestfallen, then, mourning their master, his gardens, worthy of Adonis, perished, with which he had inauspiciously decorated his windows, as if they had been happier badges. No doubt he knew that honors are transitory and changes in human affairs unlasting. Gown-wearing France rightly remembers such a great man, as does the sweet choir of swans who dwell by the ford of the Isis, to whom he donated a great number of goodly books, and, divine in his zeal, founded a theater for their School, of a kind which seems great in our time, and perhaps will in the future as well. What about the fact that with their due piety the citizens of St. Albans continue to make their patron brighter than the sun itself? Then Edward IV dwelt here, after the bloody death of Henry VI. In the end Henry VII, having gained the citadel of the realm, restored this place to its glory, and excellently enhanced the palace with the comely brilliance of its facade and its splendid battlements, in memory of his famed kinsman, a good man. Its construction indicates how successfully things went for that king, and his mighty son Henry VIII, that exalted imitator of his father, made it more magnificent than any ruler had ever done or, if I am not mistaken, will do in the future. Now let Greenwich itself speak through me, let it speak of its high titles, its ample honors, and its lofty turrets.
Harmonious music strikes my ears. Am I mistaken or is Greenwich resounding in its own recess in the river? It is acknowledged that tuneful swans live here, who praise to high heaven the fame and consummate glory of their master. And therefore, you companions in my journey, you select number, you see that, now that the effort by which I have come here is fully complete, it is my part to celebrate with my eager sound the praises of Henry, the father of the British nation. I do not want you to be concerned for my sake, that I shall be singing my final songs. I assure you I shall not die, but rather that I am going to seek out the stars, destined to dwell in a home gleaming in high heaven, among the very inhabitants of heaven, there where our fostering Phoebus shines forth. You have seen the chambers and curving recesses of your kindred Isis, and you should not regret this journey. Someday it will be your pleasure to remember it. But now I begin my song, with Phoebus’ support, and with the bevy of the Muses lending their approval to my fame.
Happy the day which was the first to shed its serene light on that noble boy Henry, it deserves to be thrice to be marked with snow-white gems. ’ Happy the parents who gave birth to such a son under a prosperous star. And happy Greenwich for having such a child. The elements smiled when such a sun arose to shed its light on the world. Lucky the nursemaid who offered him her swollen breasts. Lucky and four times blessed the little boys playmates. But when he had passed his young years and grown to be a man, he shone like Hesperus among the lesser stars. When he had been born, every man and woman, old and young alike, predicted great things for him with God’s help, and Fortune’s ever-favorable wheel brought this to pass. The sole survivor of all his brothers, he alone inherited the glory of the realm, together with the wealth of a Midas, which his father’s just care had amassed for future uses. Who knows how to fittingly describe the lavish estate of his coronation, as he made his brilliant way through the city? What skilled Muse can sufficiently express his generous bounty, or the strength of his arms? For he has enriched many born to poverty, and, returning victoriously from the city of the Morini, he has gained a crown of laurels as the reward of his effort. In bloody warfare a famed Earl of the realm subdued the evil-minded race of the Scots, and King James fell in that assault, a tyrant paying a heavy forfeit for his perfidy. Oh well done! The king conquered in absentia; of the Howards, the father gained a green wreath by his glory, and the son by his virtue; and the victory of Henry, that conqueror of evil men, will happily endure. Meanwhile, having victoriously gained Tournai, he laid the deep foundations for an enduring camp.
Nor should I omit that large bevy of noblemen with which he hospitably received Charles V by the high walls of Durovernum [Canterbury]. And a little thereafter this famous interview gave birth to a one yet more famed. A brilliant throng of Frenchmen and Englishmen flocked together in a green valley between Guines and Ardres, which was henceforth called Gold from the unwanted splendor of what transpired. Here with snow-white candor the kings met and provided a display of royal estate such as no man had given since the fall of the Roman Empire. The elegant beauty of the pavilions put up by Henry stupefied the French King’s bewitched eyes with their charm. Charles V, brilliant with his imperial honor, came to the port of Ictium [Calais]. Here there quickly transpired another display. The splendid English king commanded a theater to be constructed, and a famous name was given the place, fitly bestowed because this miraculous event. Some years later mighty Caesar revisited the blond-haired Britons, and, with Henry escorting him, saw the high walls of the famed City of London.
If I should also wish to describe in detail in my singing his war-imitating jousts both at home and abroad, I could scarcely do so in a lengthy song. But meanwhile I can say that genuine combats accompanied these feigned ones. Thrice a hostile Henry took up the sword — a bloody one, indeed — attacked his French foe, and gained the victor’s wreath, laden down with so many ample spoils. Then Fortune began to play the stepmother to the King of France, and immediately became so ill-disposed that she handed him over to the victorious Emperor as a captive. Albeit he was an enemy, the fair-minded King of England pitied his downfall and negotiated with Caesar on his behalf. Thanks to his intervention, the French king was restored to his realm. Henceforth, surely, the French king could not do a bad turn for a friend who had done him such a good one? The English king, striving with his welcome effort to return to the King of France his sons, who were being held hostage, paid no mean sum of gold to a demanding Charles. As a result, the kings entered into a stable peace and clasped hands, surrounded by crowds of their noblemen, where the Morini inhabit their proud cities.
The King of England, responsible for such tranquility, rejoices in the gift of this peace he has introduced. He supports all manner of accomplished artisans, on the condition that they expend their goodly effort on restoring the decayed fabric of his palaces and bestow on them a new splendor with their innovations. Hence the crowning glory of Greenwich and the right lovely home at Hundesdena [Hunsden, Herts.] have increased. Hence Beaulieu [New Hall, Essex] has begun to shed the lights of its serene exterior, as has the holy Fons Brigidae [Bridewell], a festive hall of magnificent elegance. Hence old Thornega [Westminster], that splendid dwelling of sovereigns, has enhanced its honors; likewise has the bright home at Shelfega [Chelsea], with its pennants flying in the wind and its white crest. Avona [Hampton Court] is like a star, Otland raises its roofs aloft, as does the manor called Nonesuch, which lifts its head to the shining sky.
Thus the commonwealth, thriving in its peace, has devoted itself to the polite studies. And, flourishing in these, the Gospel Law has “put off the old man,” and, restored to its strength, it has become filled with the divine godhead and garnered increase and goodly fruits. To this, with an easy and useful effort, Henry, the most prudent of all sovereigns who have ever existed or exist today, has set his mighty hand. From this, too, a question has arisen about the supreme power of the Bishop of Rome. Our sacred Parliament has asserted that this power is common to prelates, and equal for them all. Then the Church of England began to set no stock by Roman wares, and, supported by the public will, our great-minded king cast off that insupportable yoke, and so our long-sought liberty returned to its theater, happily having bid adieu to the gentlemen of Rome. Their frauds, sedition, wiles and slanders thundered horrible wars at our sovereign. But our sovereign, mighty in his good counsel, conquered their frauds, sedition, wiles and slanders. God Himself willed it so.
Straightway he prudently ordered fortresses to be constructed on our high shores at all points. Pendennis holds the lofty peak of a steep mountain, frequently firing its guns. A round castle also sits atop St. Mawes, and shoots with furious rage at the gates of the port of Falensis [Falmouth]. Next, Portunia [Portland] menaces the enemy, bold with its new fort and thundering cannon, where there is an easy crossing by rowboat to the broken shores of the Durotriges [men of Dorset], though there is no fearful citadel further along, since beginning at that point great rocks just forth which make evil pirates keep their distance. Two thundering Coves flash forth, one to the west, one to the east, where Newport provides an entry to steep Wight. Threatening Hurst covers the mouth of the Avon, and Vinchelsega [Winchelsea] protects its gulf where the Limenus [Brede] discharges its copious waters. Doris [Dover] stands above the two-horned shore, threatening the proud French with its guns. Famous Dela {Dea;] boasts of its new castle, a place well known because of Caesar’s trophies. The high castle of Regius Burgus [Queenborough] has received its dire artillery, protecting the islanders from all attacks. Nor does round Greva [Gravesend] lack its garrison, there were many a traveler seeks out its city with a swift skiff. The honor of handsome Regiodunum [Kingston-upon-Hull] flourishes, as with happy eyes it looks up at the new shape of its castle and celebrates its new bridge, fearing no cataclysm from the flood-swollen Hull. Thus the warlike folk of Deir [Yorkshire] can go to their nearby market and fields. Luguballa {Carlisle}, that town of the Novantes, has garnered a threefold gain, and high Tuesis [Berwick] has got a greater. Moreover, the port of Iccius [Calais] has gathered stronger powers in the form of high towers. Guinessus [Guines] shines, being surrounded on all sides with a new ditch and stout wall.
I have just described the shore, now I shall sing of the interior, and of Henry’s elegant constructions. He built a splendid edifice at Durovernum [Canterbury], and at Durobrevum [Rochester] a yet more delightful one for himself and his family. Likewise at Isuri [Aldborough, Yorks.] he built a palace on the bank, one of decent size. Furthermore, in his zeal for easy tranquility he put up a splendid home at St. James, and lately he has laid the new foundations of a yet more lovely one by a ford of the flowing river Derent [Dart]. He has built new homes for pious prelates, and piously founded learned schools. Hence Deva [Chester] thinks itself more blessed, and lovely Venta [Winchester] has raised its head, which the Avon washes with its cool streams. Hence, also, the populous city of Claudia [Gloucester] has raised its head aloft and shows its light, and peaceful Peterborough gleams. What of the fact that, thanks to the piety of erudite Henry, the Granta [the Cam, i. e. Cambridge], consecrated to the nine Muses, now shines with learning in the elegant languages, celebrating its sons of Cheke and learned band of Smith’s students? Moreover, it approves and supports Ponet, that austere student of philosophy, and also Heveddunum, most highly praised for his Ciceronian diction, and sings of Carr, Christopher and Ascham. Then too, in his benevolence he has restored all their splendor to the islands of the Isis, and has created a large choir of singing swans, whence the glory of our race has increased. Happy this ford of the Isis for having such a patron! Tried and true evidence of this are Shepevus, a glory of both languages, Hoker, splendor of the goodly arts, Colus, who graces the courtroom, Cheadsegus, the pillar of the resounding School, Weston, the senior man of a sacred cathedral, Bruerne, the bright light of the Hebrew choir, Caius, an orator and elegant poet, Peter, the fruitful olive-tree of cosmography, eloquent Curio, that son of Minerva, Harpesfield, a facile translator of the Attic tongue, learned and fit for his work. Furthermore Harding, that polished student of sacred eloquence, enhances their number.
While he was making these magnificent preparations, his chastisement subdued the Wild Irish, shattered everywhere, and sweetly taught them to bear the yoke of English law. This was a victory comparable to his great ones. The King of Scots learned that the lot of prosperous Fortune favored uncle, his and feared him. The King of France sensed this and grew afraid: how much should Henry’s triumph grow? They met in conference, and clasped hands in the usual way, and the Scottish king himself was the first to take up arms. Dice cast by Mars are always uncertain. The riverbed of the Ouse grew hot with spilt Scottish blood. A throng of their nobles were taken prisoner and unhappy James promptly died of chagrin. The King of France, although wounded by the tyrant, hatched all manner of malign schemes. But the King of England, all-powerful in war, trampled down all his enemy’s power. Finally he demanded and received the lily, let down from a the peaceful sky. The Scots paid heavy forfeits for their treachery. Leith is prostrate, wholly reduced to sad ashes, and their threatening fleet has been made our prey. Then too, that castle which takes its famous name from maidens, has been thrice stricken by steel and fire, suffering unadulterated defeat, and a similar slaughter has been suffered by the fierce Morini. Proud Boulogne has witnessed this, now helplessly calling on the Fates, the gods and her cruel stars, now that the fortune of the King of France, lately its pillar, have been humbled, its beaches are drenched with noble blood, and du Biez has sought safety in flight. Ardres has suffered frequent defeat, and Neptune favors his British.
Let this be the end of my song, I have no desire to tarry longer on the water. Farewell to Henry, that bright ornament of kings. May Katherine live a hundred years as the greatest ornament of her chaste husband. May lovely Edward also flourish and at length, having gained his ancestral throne, let him reign as a lofty and pious sovereign. Now farewell forever, Greenwich, lauds and garlands await you. Heaven seeks me as I shrilly sing, but meanwhile remember your singing swan. Farewell, Thames, my beloved support, cherish my swans. And farewell to you, my chicks, you snow-white crew, I entrust you to the nymphs of the Isis and to the westerly wind, Come now, let each and every one of you happily return to your island.


Those of you who live along the high banks of the Isis, worshiping its divinity in your silent hearts, receive these returning swans with their shrill song that strikes the golden stars with its resounding note. Thus may glory constantly accompany you as you celebrate your triumphs, and may fostering Fortune grant you all prosperity.


Vergil, that most famous poet, sang “see these twelve swans, rejoicing in a row.” You should understand the prophecy of the great bard and embrace its result wholeheartedly. These twelve swans who are returning to their familiar haunts bring with them the fair tokens of the Muses, and will establish their realm forever at the ford of the Isis.