Rehearse to me ye sacred Sisters nine:
The golden brood of great Apolloes wit,
Those piteous plaints and sorrowful sad tine,
Which late ye powred forth as ye did sit
Beside the siluer Springs of Helicone,
Making your musick of hart-breaking mone.
For since the time that Phoebus foolish sonne
Ythundered through Ioues auengefull wrath,
For trauersing the charret of the Sunne
Beyond the compasse of his pointed path,
Of you his mournfull Sisters was lamented,
Such mournfull tunes were neuer since inuented.
Nor since that faire Calliope did lose
Her loued Twinnes, the dearlings of her ioy,
Her Palici, whom her vnkindly foes
The fatall Sisters, did for spight destroy,
Whom all the Muses did bewaile long space;
Was euer heard such wayling in this place.
For all their groues, which with the heauenly noyses,
Of their sweete instruments were wont to sound,
And th’ hollow hills, from which their siluer voyces
Were wont redoubled Echoes to rebound,
Did now rebound with nought but rufull cries,
And yelling shrieks throwne vp into the skies.
The trembling streames, which wont in chanels cleare
To romble gently downe with murmur soft,
And were by them right tunefull taught to beare
A Bases part amongst their consorts oft;
Now forst to ouerflowe with brackish teares,
With troublous noyse did dull their daintie eares.
The ioyous Nymphes and lightfoote Faeries
Which thether came to heare their musick sweet,
And to the measure of their melodies
Did learne to moue their nimble shifting feete;
Now hearing them so heauily lament,
Like heauily lamenting from them went.
And all that els was wont to worke delight
Through the diuine infusion of their skill,
And all that els seemd faire and fresh in sight,
So made by nature for to serue their will,
Was turned now to dismall heauinesse,
Was turned now to dreadfull vglinesse.
Ay me, what thing on earth that all thing breeds,
Might be the cause of so impatient plight?
What furie, or what feend with felon deeds
Hath stirred vp so mischieuous despight?
Can griefe then enter into heauenly harts,
And pierce immortall breasts with mortall smarts?
Vouchsafe ye then, whom onely it concernes,
To me those secret causes to display;
For none but you, or who of you it learnes
Can rightfully aread so dolefull lay.
Begin thou eldest Sister of the crew,
And let the rest in order thee ensew.
Heare thou great Father of the Gods on hie
That most art dreaded for thy thunder darts
And thou our Syre that raignst in Castalie
And mount Parnasse, the God of goodly Arts:
Heare and behold the miserable state
Of vs thy daughters, dolefull desolate.
Behold the fowle reproach and open shame,
The which is day by day vnto vs wrought
By such as hate the honour of our name,
The foes of learning, and each gentle thought;
They not contented vs themselues to scorne,
Doo seeke to make vs of the world forlorne.
Ne onely they that dwell in lowly dust,
The sonnes of darknes and of ignoraunce;
But they whom thou, great Iove, by doome vniust
Didst to the type of honour earst aduaunce;
They now puft vp with sdeignfull insolence,
Despite the brood of blessed Sapience.
The sectaries of my celestiall skill,
That wont to be the worlds cheife ornament,
And learned Impes that wont to shoot vp still,
And grow to hight of kingdomes gouernment
They vnderkeep, and with their spredding armes
Do beat their buds, that perish through their harmes.
It most behoues the honorable race
Of mightie Peeres, true wisedome to sustaine,
And with their noble countenaunce to grace
The learned forheads, without gifts or gaine:
Or rather learnd themselues behooues to bee;
That is the girlond of Nobilitie.
But (ah) all otherwise they doo esteeme
Of th’heauenly gift of wisedomes influence,
And to be learned it a base thing deeme;
Base minded they that want intelligence:
For God himselfe for wisedome most is praised,
And men to God thereby are nighest raised.
But they doo onely striue themselues to raise
Through pompous pride, and foolish vanitie;
In th’eyes of people they put all their praise,
And onely boast of Armes and Auncestrie:
But vertuous deeds, which did those Armes first giue
To their Grandsyres, they care not to atchiue.
So I, that doo all noble feates professe,
To register, and sound in trump of gold;
Through their bad dooings, or base slothfulnesse,
Finde nothing worthie to be writ, or told:
For better farre it were to hide their names,
Than telling them to blazon out their blames.
So shall succeeding ages haue no light
Of things forepast, nor moniments of time,
And all that in this world is worthie hight
Shall die in darknesse, and lie hid in slime:
Therefore I mourne with deep harts sorrowing,
Because I nothing noble haue to sing.
With that she raynd such store of streaming teares,
That could haue made a stonie heart to weep,
And all her Sisters rent their golden heares,
And their faire faces with salt humour steep.
So ended shee: and then the next [in rew],
Began her greiuous plaint as doth ensew.
O who shall powre into my swollen eyes
A sea of teares that neuer may be dryde,
A brasen voice that many with shrilling cryes
Pierce the dull heauens and fill the ayer wide,
And yron sides that sighing may endure,
To waile the wretchednes of world impure?
Ah, wretched world the den of wickednesse,
Deformd with filth and fowle iniquitie;
Ah wretched world the house of heauinesse,
Fild with the wreaks of mortall miserie:
Ah wretched world, and all that is therein,
The vassals of Gods wrath, amd slaues of sin.
Most miserable creature vnder sky
Man without vnderstanding doth appeare;
For all this worlds affliction he thereby,
And Fortunes freakes is wisely taught to beare:
Of wretched life the onely ioy shee is,
And th’only comfort in calamities.
She armes the brest with constant patience
Against the bitter throwes of dolours darts,
She solaceth with rules of Sapience
The gentle minds, in midst of worldlie smarts:
When he is sad, shee seeks to make him merie,
And doth refresh his sprights when they be werie.
But he that is of reasons skill bereft,
And wants the staffe of wisedome him to stay,
Is like a ship in midst of tempest left
Withouten helme or Pilot her to sway,
Full sad and dreadfull is that ships euent:
So is the man that wants intendiment.
Whie then doo foolish men so much despize
The precious store of this celestiall riches?
Why doo they banish vs, that patronize
The name of learning? Most vnhappie wretches,
The which lie drowned in deep wretchednes,
Yet doo not see their owne vnhappines.
My part it is and my professed skill
The Stage with Tragick buskin to adorne,
And fill the Scene with plaint, and outcries shrill
Of wretched persons, to misfortune borne:
But none more tragick matter I can finde
Then this, of men depriu’d of sense and minde.
For all mans life me seemes a Tragedy,
Full of sad sights and sore Catastrophees;
First comming to the world with weeping eye,
Where all his dayes like dolorous Trophees,
Are heapt with spyles of fortune and of feare,
And he at last laid forth on balefull beare.
So all with rufull spectacles is fild,
Fit for Megara or Persephone;
But I, that in true Tragedies am skild,
The flowre of wit, finde nought to busie me:
Therefore I mourne, and pitifully mone,
Because that mourning matter I haue none.
Then gan she wofully to waile, and wring
Her wretched hands in lamentable wise:
And all her Sisters thereto answering,
Threw forth lowd shrieks and drerie dolefull cries.
So rested she: and then the next in rew,
Began her grieuous plaint as doth ensew.
Where be the sweete delights of learnings treasure,
That wont with Comick sock to beautefie
The painted Theaters, and fill with pleasure
The listners eyes, and eares with melodie;
In which I late was wont to raine as Queene,
And maske in mirth with Graces well beseene?
O all is gone, and all that goodly glee,
Which wont to be the glorie of gay wits,
Is layd abed, and no where now to see;
And in her roome vnseemly Sorrow sits,
With hollow browes and greisly countenaunce,
Marring my ioyous gentle dalliaunce.
And him beside sits ugly Barbarisme,
And brutish Ignorance, ycrept of late
Out of dredd darknes of the deepe Abysme,
Where being bredd, he light and heauen does hate:
They in the mindes of men now tyrannize,
And the faire Scene with rudenes foule disguize.
All places they with follie haue possest,
And with vaine toyes the vulgare entertaine;
But me haue banished, with all the rest
That whilome wont to wait vpon my traine,
Fine Counterfesaunce, and vnhurtfull Sport,
Delight, and Laughter deckt in seemly sort.
All these and all that els the Comick Stage
With season’d wit and goodly pleasance graced;
By which mans life in his likest image
Was limned forth, are wholly now defaced;
And those sweete wits which wont the like to frame,
Are now despizd, and made a laughing game.
And he the man, whom Nature selfe had made
To mock her selfe, and Truth to imitate,
With kindly counter vnder Mimick shade,
Our pleasant Willy, ah is dead of late:
With whom all ioy and iolly meriment
Is also deaded, and in dolour drent.
In stead thereof scoffing Scurrilitie,
And scornfull Follie with Contempt is crept,
Rolling in rymes of shameles ribaudrie
Without regard, or due Decorum kept,
Each idle wit at will presumes to make,
And doth the Learneds taske vpon him take.
But that same gentle Spirit, from whose pen
Large streames of honnie and sweete Nectar flowe,
Scorning the boldnes of such base-borne men,
Which dare their follies forth so rashlie throwe;
Doth rather choose to sit in idle Cell,
Than so himselfe to mockerie to sell.
So am I made the seruant of the manie,
And laughing stocke of all that list to scorne,
Not honored nor cared for of anie;
But loath’d of losels as a thing forlorne:
Therefore I mourne and sorrow with the rest,
Vntill my cause of sorrow be redrest.
There with she lowdly did lament and shrike,
Pouring forth stremes of teares abundantly,
And all her Sisters with compassion like,
The breaches of her singul[t]s did supply.
So rested she: and then the next in rew
Began her grieuous plaint, as doth ensew.
Like as the Dearling of the Summers pryde,
Faire Philomele, when winters stormie wrath
The goodly fields, that earst so gay were dyde
In colours diuers, quite despoyled hath,
All comfortlesse doth hide her chearlesse head
During the time of that her widowhead:
So we, that earst were wont in sweet accord
All places with our pleasant notes to fill,
Whilest fauourable times did vs afford
Free libertie to chaunt our charmes at will:
All comfortlesse vpon the bared bow,
Like wofull Culuers doo sit wayling now.
For far more bitter storme than winters stowre
The beautie of the world hath lately wasted,
And those fresh buds, which wont so faire to flowre,
Hath marred quite, and all their blossoms blasted:
And those yong plants, which wont with fruit t’ abound,
Now without fruite or leaues are to be found.
A stonie coldnesse hath benumbd the sence
And liuelie spirits of each liuing wight,
And dimd with darknesse their intelligence,
Darknesse more than Cymerians daylie night?
And monstrous error flying in the ayre,
Hath mard the face of all that semed fayre.
Image of hellish horrour Ignorance,
Borne in the bosome of the black Abysse,
And fed with furies milke, for sustenaunce
Of his weake infancie, begot amisse
By yawning Sloth on his owne mother Night;
So hee his sonnes both Syre and brother hight.
Her armd with blindnesse and with boldnes stout,
(For blind is bold) hath our fayre light defaced;
And, gathering vnto him a ragged rout
Of Faunes and Satyres, hath our dwellings raced
And our chast bowers, in which all vertue rained,
With brutishnesse and beastlie filth hath stained.
The sacred springs of horsefoot Helicon,
So oft bedeawed with our learned layes,
And speaking streames of pure Castalion,
The famous witnesse of our wonted praise,
They trampled haue their fowle footings trade,
And like to troubled puddles haue them made.
Our pleasant groues, which planted were with paines,
That with our musick wont so oft to ring,
And arbors sweet, in which the Shepheards swaines
Were wont so oft their Pastoralls to sing,
They haue cut downe, and all their pleasaunce mard,
That now no pastorall is to bee hard.
In stead of them fowle Goblins and Shreikowles
With fearfull howling do all places fill;
And feeble Eccho now laments and howles,
The dreadfull accents of their outcries shrill.
So all is turned into wildernesse,
Whilest Ignorance the Muses doth oppresse.
And I whose ioy was earst with Spirit full
To teach the warbling pipe to sound aloft,
My spirits now dismayd with sorrow dull,
Doo mone my miserie with silence soft.
Therefore I mourne and waile incessantly,
Till please the heauens afford me remedy.
Therewith she wayled with exceeding woe,
And piteous lamentation did make,
And all her sisters seeing her doo soe,
With equall plaints her sorrowe did partake.
So rested shee: and then the next in rew,
Began her grieuous plaint, as doth ensew.
Who so hath in the lap of soft delight
Beene long time luld, and fed with pleasures sweet,
Feareles through his owne fault or Fortunes spight,
To tumble into sorrow and regreet,
Yf chaunce him fall into calamitie,
Finds greater burthen of his miserie.
So wee that earst in ioyance did abound
And in the bosome of all blis did sit,
Like virgin Queenes with laurell garlands cround
For vertues meed and ornament of wit,
Sith ignorance our kingdome did confound,
Bee now become most wretched wightes on ground:
And in our royall thrones which lately stood
In th’ hearts of men to rule them carefully,
He now hath placed his accursed brood,
By him begotten of fowle infamy;
Blind Error, scornefull Follie, and base Spight,
Who hold by wrong, that wee should haue by right.
They to the vulgar sort now pipe and sing,
And make them merrie with their fooleries,
They cherelie chaunt and rymes at randon fling,
The fruitfull spawne of their ranke fantasies:
They feede the eares of fooles with flattery,
And good men blame, and losels magnify:
All places they doo with their toyes possesse,
And raigne in liking of the multitude,
The schooles they fill with fond new fanglenesse,
And sway in Court with pride and rashnes rude;
Mongst simple shepheards they do boast their skill,
And say their musicke matches Phoebus quill.
The noble hearts to pleasures they allure,
And tell their Prince that learning is but vaine,
Faire Ladies loues they spot with thoughts impure,
And gentle mindes with lewd delights distaine:
Clerks they to loathly idlenes entice,
And fill their bookes with discipline of vice.
So euery where they rule and tyrannize,
For their vsurped kingdomes maintenaunce,
The whiles we silly Maides, whom they dispize,
And with reproachfull scorne discountenance,
From our owne natiue heritage exilde,
Walk through the world of euery one reuilde.
Nor anie one doth care to call vs in,
Or once vouchsafeth vs to entertaine,
Vnlesse some one perhaps of gentle kin,
For pitties sake compassion our paine:
And yeeld vs some reliefe in this distresse:
Yet to be so relieu’d is wretchednesse.
So wander we all carefull comfortlesse,
Yet none doth care to comfort vs at all;
So seeke we helpe our sorrow to redresse,
Yet none vouchsafes to answere to our call:
Therefore we mourne and pittilesse complaine,
Because none liuing pittieth our paine.
With that she wept and wofullie waymented,
That naught on earth her griefe might pacifie;
And all the rest her dolefull din augmented
With shrikes and goanes and grieuous agonie.
So ended shee: and then the next in rew,
Began her piteous plaint as doth ensew.
Ye gentle Spirits breathing from aboue,
Where ye in Venus siluer bowre were bred,
Thoughts halfe deuine, full of the fire of loue,
With beawtie kindled and with pleasure fed,
Which ye now in securitie possesse,
Forgetfull of your former heauinesse:
Now change the tenor of your ioyous layes,
With which ye vse your loues to deifie,
And blazon foorth an earthlie beauties praise,
Aboue the compasse of the arched skie:
Now change your praises into piteous cries,
And Eulogies turne into Elegies:
Such as ye wont whenas those bitter stounds
Of raging loue first gan you to torment,
And launch your hearts with lamentable wounds
Of secret sorrow and sad languishment,
Before your Loues did take you vnto grace;
Those now renew as fitter for this place.
For I that rule in measure moderate
The tempest of that stormie passion,
And vse to paint in rimes the troublous state
Of Louers life in likest fashion,
Am put from practise of my kindlie skill,
Banisht by those that Loue with leawdnes fill.
Loue wont to be schoolmaster of my skill,
And the sweet deuicefull matter of my song;
Sweete Loue deuoyd of villanie or ill,
But pure and spotles, as at first he sprong
Out of th’Almighties bosome, where he nests;
From thence infused into mortall brests.
Such high conceipt of that celstiall fire,
The base-borne brood of blindnes cannot gesse,
Ne euer dare their dunghill thoughts aspire
Vnto so loftie pitch of perfectnesse,
But rime at riot, and doo rage in loue;
Yet little wot what doth thereto behoue.
Faire Cytheree the Mother of delight,
And Queene of beautie, now thou maist go pack;
For lo thy Kingdome is defaced quight,
Thy scepter rent, and power put to wrack;
And thy gay Sonne, that winged God of Loue,
May now goe prune his plumes like ruffed Doue.
And ye three Twins to light by Venus brought,
The sweete companions of the Muses late,
From whom what euer thing is goodly thought
Doth borrow grace, the fancie to aggrate;
Go beg with vs, and be companions still
As heretofore of good, so now of ill.
For neither you nor we shall anie more
Find entertainment, or in Court or Schoole:
For that which was accounted heretofore
The learneds meed, is now lent to the foole,
He sings of loue, and maketh louing layes,
And they him heare, and they him highly prayse.
With that she powred foorth a brackish flood
Of bitter teares, and made exceeding mone;
And all her Sisters seeing her sad mood,
With lowd laments her answered all at one.
So ended she: and then the next in rew
Began her grieuous plaint, as doth ensew.
TO whom shall I my euill case complaine,
Or tell the anguish of my inward smart,
Sith none is left to remedie my paine,
Or deignes to pitie a perplexed hart;
But rather seekes my sorrow to augment
With fowle reproach, and cruell banishment.
For they, to whom I vsed to applie
The faithfull seruice of my learned skill,
The goodly off-spring of Ioues progenie,
That wont the world with famous acts to fill;
Whose liuing praises in heroick style,
It is my cheife posession to compyle.
They, all corrupted through the rust of time,
That doth all fairest things on earth deface,
Or through vnnoble sloth, or sinfull crime,
That doth degenerate the noble race;
Haue both desire of worthie deeds forlorne,
And name of learning vtterly doo scorne.
Ne doo they care to haue the auncestrie
Of th’ old Heroës memorizde anew,
Ne doo they care that late posteritie
Should know their names, or speak their praises dew:
But die forgot from whence at first they sprong,
As they themselues shalbe forgot ere long.
What bootes it then to come from glorious
Forefathers, or to haue been nobly bredd?
What oddes twixt Irus and old Inachus,
Twixt best and worst, when both alike are dedd;
If none of neither mention should make,
Nor out of dust their memories awake?
Or who would euer care to doo braue deed,
Or striue in vertue others to excell;
If none should yeeld him his deserued meed,
Due praise, that is the spur of dooing well?
For if good were not praised more than ill,
None would choose goodnes of his owne freewill.
Therefore the nurse of vertue I am hight,
And golden Trompet of eternitie,
That lowly thoughts lift vp to heauens hight,
And mortall men haue powre to deifie:
Bacchus and Hercules I raisd to heauen,
And Charlemaine, amongst the Starris seauen.
But now I will my golden Clarion rend,
And will henceforth immortalize no more:
Sith I no more find worthie to commend
For prize of value, or for learned lore:
For noble Peeres whom I was wont to raise,
Now onely seeke for pleasure, nought for praise.
Their great reuenues all in sumptuous pride
They spend, that nought to learning they may spare;
And the rich fee which Poets wont diuide,
Now Parasites and Sycophants doo share:
Therefore I mourne and endlesse sorrow make,
Both for my selfe and for my Sisters sake.
With that she lowdly gan to waile and shrike,
And from her eyes a sea of teares did powre,
And all her sisters with compassion like,
Did more increase the sharpnes of her showre.
So ended she: and then the next in rew
Began her plaint, as doth herein ensew.
What wrath of Gods, or wicked influence
Of Starres conspiring wretched men t’ afflict,
Hath powrd on earth this noyous pestilence,
That mortall mindes doth inwardly infect
With loue of blindnesse and of ignorance,
To dwell in darknesse without souerance?
What difference twixt man and beast is left,
When th’ heauenlie light of knowledge is put out,
And th’ ornaments of wisdome are bereft?
Then wandreth he in error and in doubt,
Vnweeting of the danger hee is in,
Through fleshes frailtie, and deceit of sin.
In this wide world in which they wretches stray,
It is the onelie comfort which they haue,
It is their light, their loadstarre and their day;
But hell, and darknesse and the grislie graue,
Is ignorance, the enemie of grace,
That mindes of men borne heauenlie doth debace.
Through knowledge we behold the worlds creation,
How in his cradle first he fostred was:
And iudge of Natures cunning operation,
How things she formed of a formlesse mas:
By knowledge wee doo learne our selues to knowe,
And what to man, and what to God wee owe.
From hence wee mount aloft vnto the skie,
And looke into the Christall firmament,
There we behold the heauens great Hierarchie,
The Starres pure light, the Spheres swift mouement,
The Spirites and Intelligences fayre,
And Angels waighting on th’ Almighties chayre.
And there with humble minde and high insight,
Th’eternall Makers maiestie wee viewe,
His loue, his truth, his glorie, and his might,
And mercie more than mortall men can vew.
O soueraigne Lord, ô soueraigne happinesse
To see thee, and thy mercie measurelesse:
Such happiness haue they, that do embrace
The precepts of my heauenlie discipline;
But shame and sorrow and accursed case
Haue they, that scorne the schoole of arts diuine,
And banish me, which do professe the skill
To make men heauenly wise, through humbled will.
How euer yet they mee despise and spight,
I feede on sweet contentment of my thought,
And please my selfe with mine owne selfe-delight,
In contemplation of things heauenlie wrought:
So loathing earth, I looke vp to the sky,
And being driuen hence I thether fly.
Thence I behold the miserie of men,
Which want the blis that wisedom would them breed,
And like brute beasts doo lie in loathsome den,
Of ghostly darkenes, and of gastlie dreed:
For whom I mourne and for my selfe complaine,
And for my Sisters eake whom they disdaine.
With that shee wept and waild so pityouslie,
As if her eyes had been two springing wells:
And all the rest her sorrow to supplie,
Did throw forth shrieks and cries and dreery yells.
So ended shee, and then the next in rew,
Began her mournfull plaint as doth ensew.
A DOLEFULL case desires a dolefull song,
Without vaine art or curious complements,
And squallid Fortune into basenes flong,
Doth scorne the pride of wonted ornaments.
Then fittest are these ragged rimes for mee,
To tell my sorrowes that exceeding bee:
For the sweet numbers and melodious measures,
With which I wont the winged words to tie,
And make a tuneful Diapase of pleasures,
Now being let to runne at libertie
By those which haue no skill to rule them right,
Haue now quite lost their naturall delight.
Heapes of huge words vphoorded hideously,
With horrid sound though hauing little sence,
They thinke to be chiefe praise of Poëtry:
And thereby wanting due intelligence,
Haue mard the face of goodly Poësie,
And made a monster of their fantasie:
Whilom in ages past none might professe
But Princes and high Priests that secret skill,
The sacred lawes therein they wont expresse,
And with deepe Oracles their verses fill:
Then was shee held in soueraigne dignitie,
And made the noursling of Nobilitie.
But now nor Prince nor Priest doth her maintayne,
But suffer her prophaned for to bee
Of the base vulgar, that with hands vncleane
Dares to pollute her hidden mysterie,
And treadeth vnder foote hir holie things,
Which was the care of Kesars and of Kings.
One onelie liues, her ages ornament,
And myrrour of her Makers maiestie;
That with rich bountie and deare cherishment,
Supports the praise of noble Poësie:
Ne onelie fauours them which it professe,
But is herselfe a peereles Poëtresse.
Most peereles Prince, most peereles Poëtresse,
The true Pandora of all heauenly graces,
Diuine Elisa, sacred Emperesse:
Liue she for euer, and her royall P’laces
Be fild with praises of diuinest wits,
That her eternize with their heauenlie writs.
Some few beside, this sacred skill esteme,
Admirers of her glorious excellence,
Which being lightned with her beawties beme,
Are thereby fild with happie influence:
And lifted vp aboue the worldes gaze,
To sing with Angels her immortall praize.
But all the rest as borne of saluage brood,
And hauing beene with Acorns alwaies fed;
Can no whit fauour this celestiall food,
But with base thoughts are into blindnesse led,
And kept from looking on the lightsome day:
For whome I waile and weepe all that I may.
Eftsoones such store of teares she forth did powre,
As if shee all to water would haue gone;
And all her sisters seeing her sad stowre,
Did weep and waile and make exceeding mone,
And all their learned instruments did breake:
The rest vntold no louing tongue can speake.
F I N I S.
Rehearse to me ye sacred Sisters nine: