Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THREE PASTORAL ELEGIES: 2, by WILLIAM BASSE



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THREE PASTORAL ELEGIES: 2, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When janiuere in s' one and thirtith age
Last Line: The message of hir musicall adewes.
Subject(s): Love - Cultural Differences; Shepherds & Shepherdesses


Anetor seeing, seemes to tell
The beauty of faire Muridell,
And in the end, he lets hir know
Ananders plaint, his loue, his woe.

WHEN Ianiuere in 's one and thirtith age
Had late embrac'd the wintring Feuerill,
And March, departed with his windy rage,
Presented time with honny'd April,
And Shepheards to their lasses layd to gage
The yellow Cowslip and the Daffadill;
When flocks gan to be lusty, lambes to skip,
That ioy'd the well yscape of Winters nip:

The dayes were wealthie in a greater store,
Of temp'rate minutes, and of calmer weather;
The Welkin blast was milder then before,
The winde and Sunne was blended so togither;
The spready Beech, and dangling Sycomores
Were clad in tender leaues and shady shiuer,
Where was by Sheapheards toyle and Shepheards wit,
Banks vnder-set, for Nimphes to vnder-sit.

Morne-walking Feiries, halfe gods of the woods,
Trip through the plenty of our flowery plots,
Gracing our Medowes, hallowing our floods,
With wholesome blessings to our gladsome flocks;
Chearing their colours, chearing of their bloods,
Their milky vdders and their milke-white locks:
All ioy the lib'rall sweetenes of the aire,
Beauty's renewed, and all things now looke faire.

Now Proserpine besets her comely locks
With such perfumes as Ætnaes woods can yeeld,
And Ceres with hir rolle and weeding hookes
Betrims the Infant huswifery of her field,
And Ocean calls in his immounded brookes
From spoyling where Triptolemus hath til'd;
Our master Pan seekes Syrinx in the reedes,
Poynts out our Pastures, and diuides our feedes.

This sacred Time inuited to the hill,
This hill where I my louing Lambes do feede,
That comely mistris of vnhappy will,
In whom that Court'ers comforts first did breed,
Though with vnkinde succession of that ill
That, wrought by hir, in him did more exceed:
The Infant Spring breath'd out his youthful aire,
A gratefull thing to Ladies yong and faire.

Now as mine eyes did stretch their curious looke,
Ouer the spreading heardlam of my worth,
Eu'n from that king, the formost of my troupe,
That beares the ringing triumph of their mirth,
Vnto that poorest Lambe that seemes to droope
Through weaknes, youth, and latternes of birth,
With many blessings to my wandring flocke,
And wishes of amendance to their stocke;

I might afarre discerne a princely crew
Of twenty Ladies, (pera'uenture more),
A hie on yonder greene where dayses grew,
And sommers mistresse kept her flowers in store;
Too heau'nly prospect for so poore a view,
And yet a case in vulgar sence forbore;
The eyes themselves haue euer bene thus free,
What things must needes be seene, they must needs see.

No man at all to guard this louely traine,
Where Peeres and Princes might haue guardants beene,
Saue one faire youth of a pure modest graine,
That neuer yet desirous dayes had seene,
Nor neuer greater thoughts besieg'd his braine,
Then what belongs to one of seuenteene,
Brought vp a purpose for this mayden taske,
One that would shame to loue, and blush to aske.

And by his nouice lookes, and childish grace,
Cast on himselfe wherein was all his glory,
I saw he made a poorer vse on's place
Then wou'd that worthy causer of my Story,
That sober sad Anander, if in case
His Muridella were not peremptory:
Who now that grace, that fauour, and that ioy,
That longs vnto her man, she giues hir boy.

This feate yong stripling, guided by the will
And wandring finger of his Ladies hand,
Thus leades his blessed Army o're the hill,
Yet not where he list, but where they command,
A thing that taught me one faire point of skill,
That my rude dayes yet did not vnderstand,
The last may haue the first in seruile dreade,
And some are led, although they seeme to leade.

And as they stood aloofe beyond my heard,
Marking the homely ioyes of them and mee,
With many curteous smiles, and much good word
To their encrease and my prosperitie,
To quittance all the graces they affoord,
I went aside, where I vnseene may see
These walking Saints, and giue them secret praise,
Since tis not good to stand in sight and gase.

And as I note their faces, iudge their yeares,
Compare their Beauties to discerne the best;
One saw I gone, betwixt two women peares,
Two gentles Lady-like, and maides profest,
Who, by youre leaue, if she had not beene there
That for hir state their seruices possest,
For comlines and beauty might haue got
The vndissembled verdict of my thought.

But she, whose Armes were folded vp in theirs,
(Three gracefull fadams twisted all in one),
—Like Pallas led twixt Iunos hand and Ceres,
Where nothing but the midst is look't vpon—
So rich yclad in beauties pomp appeares,
Besides the wonders cost she had put on,
That when I look't vpon no more but she,
I cou'd ha wisht ther had beene no more to see.

But O! what eye can be contented in
So straight a compasse, or so small a round,
But that some sparkle of his sight shall sinne
In glauncing here, or there, or vp, or downe?
So did these dazeled circles neuer linne
To looke on all, till they the fairest found:
Then fixe themselues, still to behold the best;
Some peeuish light wou'd swarue and see the rest.

On cloudy sullen implement of blacke,
Ycald a maske, or some such hideous name,
Vpon hir face: whether it was for lacke
Of things more fit, more gracefull then the same,
Or whether careles might she be to take
A vesture that the place so ill became,
I wot not: But, in conscience, God forbid
That things so worthy sight should e're be hid.

This enuious visard—glories needles Iaile,
Deformed enemy of Beauties praise;
This new-inuented Night, that so doth vaile
The mingled looks of Natures holy dayes;
This artificiall Morphew, that assailes
The seemely obiect of our mortall ioyes;
This cloud, this face-case, this attire of Chance,
This ougly outside of a countenance—

Did thus, as in despightfull bondage, hold
The wondrous feature of so blest a looke,
Till beautie snuffing to be so control'd,
Nor wou'd her slaue to be hir mistresse brooke,
This strange garment aboue hir browe did fold,
And thereby hir deserued freedome tooke;
And as in taske I kept mine eyes to see
If shee so beaut'ous might as comely bee.

Like to Queene Morning when she fresh appear'd
To Cephalus vpon th' Hymetian hill,
Or Wisedome, when she lookt from skie, and rear'd,
The barb'rous kin that did each other kill,
Or smiling Loue, when in hir armes she chear'd
That beauteous youngling that the Bore did kill:
So look't she out, to giue hir eyes such scope
As Appias do's when heauens windowes ope.

How blessed are you flocks and fieldes (quoth I)
To be perus'd with such Immortall view?
How can thou but excell in Iolitie,
When fairer sight then heau'n doth visit you?
Yet did I speake these words but whisperingly,
As one that had not mate to tell them to,
With eager griefe that I had none with me
To sooth me in the praise of that I see.

Like to some banke, whose grounds of Lillies white
Was here and there with roses inter-set;
Empaled in with flowers of faire delight,
As if Cibèle were in Floraes debt,
And, to incurre more wonder to the sight,
Fronted with veines of Azure violet:
So did she seeme, if I may like a face
So excellent vnto a thing so base.

But how much do I weaken and depriue
Those honours great that in hir greatnes are,
When like my selfe, fond shepheard, I do striue
To bring such beautie into rude compare;
Knowing full well, that nothing is aliue
That mought be reckon'd like to one so faire:
Yet pardon, Beauty, me vnskilfull wight,
That wrong thee in desire to do thee right.

So long bewitched with this mateles hiew
Of th' unbeguiling beautie of hir face,
Mine earnest eies with teares at length withdrew,
And wandring, wonder at another grace
That in hir necke and bosome was to view,
That ioyned plot, that admirable place:
And while to maze at that I had desier,
Contentles sight woo'd still be gasing hier.

So long as yet I haue the keeper bin,
Of these faire meades (starres be my witnes true;)
No winters snow that euer fell therein,
Or summers Affodill that euer grew,
Passed the Natiue whitenes of her skin,
So mixt with bashfull red and vaynie blue:
Yet dare I brag, that neuer shepheard moe
Saw fairer flowres then I, or whiter snowe.

O creature blessed, mot'st thou neuer die;
For if thou should'st with mortalls breathe thy last,
Where find we Pearle to fashion such an eye,
Or whither shall we send for Aliblast',
Or seeke for Iuory of so white a die
Wherein thy Bosom's Picture may be cast?
When thy names highnes, and thy beauties newnes,
Should be sepulchred in the truest truenes.

This Bosome is Loues owne delightfull walke,
When coming from hir eye, his princely nest,
He wanders downe to dally and to talke
With Chastitie that dwelleth in hir brest:
Where, like a Lambe vpon a bed of chalke,
Lies downe, and whites himselfe and takes his rest;
The Iourney is so delicate, vpon
The way twixt his and hir pauilion.

Then comes he to that double-fronted place,
The temple of a chaste and prudent feare,
In whose bright out-side he beholds hir face,
As if Loue asked here, and answered there;
But the beguiled boys in no such grace,
As for Ananders sake I wish he were:
Tho leaue him there, and I the while be telling
This brest, of Chastitie the sumptuous dwelling.

It is as cleere as is the finest glasse,
And men would think it easie to be broken,
But when the violence of intreat wou'd passe,
The substance doth no brittlenes betoken,
But still it stands as close and firme as brasse,
Yet is so pure, that one wou'd iudge it open;
And by this day (forgiue me, heau'ns, to sweare,)
Those that disdaine to loue, why are they faire?

Anander (oh) that thou wer't Porter here,
To walke the entrance of this Castle dore;
And I the Vicar of thine office were,
When thou bee'st feeble, and can toile no more:
But let me blush, I was too sawcie there,
Yet in thy quarraile, dare I say therefore:
Faire is the Portall, but the house is hate,
Poorest the Almes, though purest is the gate.

Before this gate there are two fountaines built,
Of ycie Cristall and of Diamond,
Whose Cisternes siluer be, whose Conduits gilt,
And in them sweeter wines then Nectar stond:
Yet neuer was (they say) one spoonfull spilt,
Nor neuer any drop that from them run'd;
Nor neuer shall, till th'are vnlock't below,
But who doth keep the key therof, God know.

Oft hath Anander in loues likenes shot
His hardy shaftes against this Castle great,
Where, though he made frank warre and battry hot,
The end of all was euer meere retreat:
That I say this in ieasting thinke ye not,
Farre is from me the wanton of conceit,
Punish me, heauens, if I meane nought,
More then his earnest loue, and hir chast thought.

Next to her brest, that faire and beauteous strond,
(Describe I now by guesse, and not by sight)
That white empaled walke, that spacy laund,
That smooth, and milky high-way of delight,
Where the same loue walks at his owne commaund
To make experience lower of his might,
Whenas himselfe vnworthily hath borne,
From hir hard brest, this great repulse of scorne.

But in the midst, or neere the lower end
Of this faire belly-walke, a marke is set,
And further then the same he may not wend,
Where want of liberty doth make him fret,
And where he may not come, his shafts doth send;
But where they light was neuer heard on yet,
For if they did, t'would quickely be appearant,
For where Loue woundeth, Loue is like to heare on't.

Nature hirselfe did set that limit there,
To curb young Cupids freakish Infancy,
As often as his boyship durst come neere,
Or enter his assault so sawcily,
Upon the hidden blis of that place, where
Hirselfe doth liue in secret secrecy:
And yet there is no doubt, but loue shall dwell
Hereafter there, if he please Nature well.

Now sober thought shall silently passe o're,
Without rude language or immodest wrong,
The things that reason euer hath forbore,
Cause they surpasse the eloquence of tongue;
While I pursue the meaner dainties lower:
And so in faire Content I passe along;
For where the eye doth leade, the lips are bold,
But what was neuer seene must not be told.

When I haue then bethought hir veinie thighne,
Hir smooth and dainty leg, hir handsome knee,
The pillers of this euer-worthy shrine,
Where Chastnes, Beauty, Wit, enrooded bee,
Who can perswade me, that hir foot's not fine,
When these adoring eyes the shooe did see,
That for his length, might of the sixes bee,
But sure for bredth, it cou'd be but the three.

To tell how faire and straight this vnder-part
Held vp the rest to bright and goodly hie,
Would make the heau'n-supporting Atlas start,
And in a rage let fall the mighty skie,
And whisper to himselfe within his hart,
How base and euerlasting slaue am I,
Whom this eternall drudgery contents,
While meaner props beare fairer elements!

How comely, Lord, (me thinks) hir backe was made,
How right hir shoulders to the same were knit;
How excellently both hir sides were laide;
How straight, how long hir armes were, and how fit:
How white hir hand was, and how vndecai'd,
And what faire fingers ioyned were to it:
How delicately euery limme was plac't,
And euery member by another grac't.

No painter that did euer pensill dip
In oryent Russet or in sable die,
Ha's pow'r to match the rednes of hir lip,
Or the three-colour'd harts-ease of hir eie:
Pygmalion at her cheekes and chin wou'd trip,
And at hir browes would blush and looke awry:
And for hir Nose, Nature would doe as much,
For heauen and earth yields not another such.

A wounden wreathe she had of Baies and Firre,
That had y'clipt hir formost locks in greene;
Whose trembling Leafe the mildest blast would stirre,
Vnlesse the winde had much forbearefull beene:
And for hir haire, except you look on hir
I'm sure there is no more such to be seene:
And all hir head was dressed in that haire;
So might it best, no dressing is so faire.

Hir band about hir necke was plaine y'spread,
Withouten doubles, settes, but falling flat;
And all vpon it, wrought in golden thread,
Roses, vines, pances, and I wot not what:
A curled locke, descending from hir head,
Hung on her shoulder, partly hiding that:
On hir left shoulder: Shoulders that do beare
Somthing: what? Nothing, but the things they weare.

She wore withall a Tyrian mantle, made
Of silken yearne, with strippe of siluer mixt;
Of the same webbe that young Appollo had;
For certainely went but the sheares betwixt:
Hir vpper-part was in a Doublet clad,
Wrought o're with cloudes, and golden planets fixt,
And skirted like a man, but that before
Hir buttons, and hir girdle, came much lowre.

Hir buttons were great store, and very small,
In colour like vnto hir doublet wrought;
Hir Belt was finer geare, but yet withall
As semblant to the rest as might be thought,
Saue that it was with pearle as round as ball,
With aggets, and with glimsy saphyres fraught:
And all was like hir doublet to hir hand,
Sauing hir cuffes, and they were like hir band.

Hir kirtle was an equall minglement
Of diuers silks in diuers beauties dide;
And with a tucke it was, that, as she went,
Her middle-leg the fringe did scarcely hide;
And to this tucke brode lace in order spent,
One from another not a finger wide:
And from hir ankle to hir knee did rise
Gamashaes of the best of Jasons prise.

Of silken greene hir nether stocks were knit;
One of her garters cou'd I hardly see,
For she aboue the ioynt had twisted it,
Yet seem'd it like to that below the knee,
Because I saw the endes were sembled fit,
With broydery as like as like might bee:
Hir shooe was lowe, because she did defie
Any aditions to make hir hie.

As I a while was standen in a weare,
In ill conceit of my vnworthy state,
Whether I mote presume to let hir heare
What of hirselfe was told to me so late,
I sodainly might see approaching neere
A handsome bonny Virgin that did waite
Vpon this lady: and in hand she led
A milke-white Steede, and richly furnished.

Withouten bashfull dread, or further thought,
I crosst aloofe vnto this comely Maide,
And hauing bid hir welcome as I ought
And broke into a homely speech, and sayde:
Faire Mistresse, you are she that I haue sought,
But certes for no harme, be not afraide:
If you a mayde to Muridella be,
Pray tell me, is she here, and which is she?

This Damsell seeming proud and angry too,
Snuffes at my plainenesse, flouts, and walkes awry;
I follow on, and for an answere wooe,
But for my heart I cou'd haue no reply:
What shall it boote me then in vaine to sue?
If thou be thus, what is thy Dame? thought I,
Or mayst thou be, as ancient tales expresse,
A Mayde more dainty then thy Misteresse?

But yet (anon) because she would not stay,
Nor I thinke of her any worse then well,
She threw this minsing Answere in my way;
I am: she's here: that's she, and so farewel.
But which (quoth I) is that you meane I pray?
Whoo then (she sayth) go looke, I will not tell.
With this we part, and both our wayes we keepe;
And she leades on hir Horse, and I my sheepe.

And well I was that I so much cou'd know,
And for the same I gaue hir faire God-speed,
And after that preparde myselfe to go
To meete with hir whom I shou'd meete indeed,
I meane the lady that I praysed so,
The Mistresse of the Mayde and of the Steed;
Ananders goddes and his loue for aye,
My goddes and my Mistresse for to day.

Now look'd I on my selfe what must be don,
And rub'd my garments cleane in euery seame;
My face, that long had basked in the Sunne,
I made it handsome in the gentle streame;
I combd my bustled locks, and wipt my shoon,
And made myselfe as tricke as Polypheme,
When he first kept his heardlam neere the Sea,
For loue and sake of constant Galate.

The gentle Ladies, when they did behold
My rude approch, anon began to fleere;
Ether th' occasion was to see me bold,
To venter in a Swaynish guise so neere,
Or else they highly wonderd what I would,
Or what might be the bus'nes I had there,
Yet feared not, for they full well did know,
The Country to the Court was neuer foe.

The princocke youth, (as I alate did tell,)
That mand this goodly sort along the hil,
In his pure wisdome thought I did not well,
(Though I had sworne in thought to do no ill:)
And therefore meetes me with a count'nance fell,
And this disdaineful question: What's your will?
No harme sweet maister (sed I) but to see,
My Land-lady, if any here be she.

These are the Ladies of the court (quoth he,)
Whose pleasure is to walke vpon this greene;
Whose honour'd offices and high degree,
Is daily waiting on our Soueraigne Queene:
(And with that word his head vncouer'd he),
And all his youthfull yellow locks were seene:
And I kneeld downe and cride, O heauens so deare!
Preserue hir grace and all her Ladies here.

With that on gentle Lady mong them all,
Partly resolu'd I had some tale to tell,
With becking hand, the Image of a call,
Examins what I would, and where I dwell:
Quoth I, my wonning is in yonder stall,
And I would speake with beauteous Muridell:
All honour be to euery one of you,
But she is whom my message longs vnto.

Whose faire respect in such abundance wrought,
And curtesie did in such sort supplie,
That euery grace, and euery gentle thought,
Did seeme to be assembl'd in hir eie,
When with a piercing smiling glaunce it sought
The arrand of the homely stander by:
And did inspire the mouing lips to say,
What newes to Muridella, (Shepheards boy.)

If shepheards then may dare to be so bolde
With such estates as yours, I gan to say,
Or if Loues Message may be rudely tolde,
(As better know my betters what it may)
Duty and promise vrge me to vnfolde
That on this greene I met vpon a day
Youthfull Anander, that in Court doth dwell,
As you well know, if you be Muridell.

And that aboue the world he loues you deare,
If be to you vnthought of, or vnknowne,
Once trust my oth vpon it (if I sweare)
Wherein I yet haue bene vntrue to none:
If euer Loues did by the lookes appeare,
Or euer miseries were declar'd by mone,
Anander is as farre in loue with you
As he on this side death ha's powre to goe.

But are you sure (she saith) it is to me?
As sure as I am sure y'are Muridell:
But are you sure (she sayth) that that was hee?
As sure as I am sure he loues you well:
But are you sure (she sayth) that I am shee?
That is (quoth I) the thing I least can tell;
But that's the name I'm sure he do's adore,
And shee that owes that name he honours more.

Be-like (she saith) your message doth pertaine
To Muridella; and that's I indeed:
But that those loues and honors that you saine,
And those high thoughts that from his heart proceed,
Are done to me, it is a Jest but vaine;
And let it be no member of your creed:
T'was he, I know't: he loues, I know it too:
But whom he loues, he knowes, not I, nor you.

For thee to sweare what thou hast heard him vow,
Is but the childish error of thy youth;
For me to trust things sworne I wot not how
Might argue fondnes, lightnes, and vntruth:
And therefore, (Shepheard) what a foole are thou,
To thinke that euery teare proceedes of ruth,
When men that other causes doe lament,
Will burden loue with all their Discontent?

Be thou not then so lightly borne away,
With euery idle tale that men professe;
And looke how much the more of Loues they say,
Be wise inough to credit them the lesse:
For if in sooth they are enclind that way,
Thy pitty do's but adde to their distresse:
But if they doe not meane the things they say,
What foole are you, and what dessemblers they?

Downe halts the beggar when he seekes to moue
The mistresse of the Almes-house to be kinde;
And craft is sickly when he meanes to proue
The lib'rall pitty of the innocent minde;
And light beliefe is but the Asse of Loue,
That beares his oathes before, his mocks behinde,
And neuer trauels with an empty poke,
Vntill all mockes be spent, all oathes be broke.

Mens vowes to us haue beene of small import,
Since Ioue put on Dianas moony cap,
And in the louely woods of chast disport
Opprest Calysto with a dire mishap;
Since Ilian outlawes came to Carthage Court,
And false Iulus play'd in Didoes lap:
No wily Loues into our hearts shall creepe,
(O word full ill to speake, full hard to keepe.)

All shamefac'd as I stood at this defense,
With all my wittes astounded in a muse;
I had a suddaine hap to call to sence,
Anander told me how she wou'd excuse
Hir drery hardnes, and unkind offence,
A thing she so familiarly did vse,
That to a meane and single vnderstander,
The fault of Loue seem'd rather in Anander.

Herewith the gentle silence of hir tongue,
Giues more tune to my message and his cause;
This feeble answer, from affection strong,
Fild vp the empty minutes of that pause:
Faire Lady, mote it please you, do no wrong,
Though for his Loue you guiden all the Lawes;
Nor him of fayning or false oathes condemne,
For sure that hart did neuer harbor them.

To count those vowes before me he did take,
To tell the teares that he did lauish here,
To call to minde the praises he did make
Of you his Muridella, you his deare;
What griefes, what thoughts, what labors for your sake,
What discontent, what fury he did beare;
Would make me (Lady) more distraught to tell,
Then is the maddest Eumenis of hell.

But since the Euening hastes, let all things rest,
Till please it you to meet him on this hill;
That happy heau'ns may make your hart possest,
With gentle pitty of Ananders ill,
And by a wished change restore him blest,
With Muridellaes gentles and good-will:
And if that then the fault in him shalbe,
Let me curse him, and you abandon me.

To this request hir greatness mildely spake,
Much is the Loue Anander might haue won,
If other courses he had pleas'd to take,
Then thus abroade haue cry'd himselfe vndon,
And by his open blames, a Tyrant make
Of me, that wisht him as I wou'd my son;
Though I confesse the loues he would haue had
I did denie, but not to make him mad.

For let our weakenes as it well hath need,
Resolue it selfe vpon profound aduise,
For when consent is made with too much speed,
Entreating Loue esteemes it of no price:
Such weighty bargaines are not soone agreed:
A substance is too much to play at twice:
The loue's but small that is too yong to know
That all the hope's not past when wee say no.

But on the day that I him here shall meete,
(The fairest day of all the fairest dayes),
I learne him shal how to be more discreete
And curteous in the bruite of my disprayse:
And then (if heau'ns ordaine it not vnmeete)
Vnarmed Loue shall part our lingring fraies,
And where the most vnkindenesse then shall bee,
There the iust sentence shall be giu'n by thee.

For I do know Anander young and faire,
And much I thinke, and much I wou'd doe for him,
And that it is my euerlasting care,
That discontent of loue should neuer marre him:
Witnes thy selfe (young shepheard boy) that are
The onely iudge to whom I shal referre him:
And so I must be gon, the night is neere;
Time stayes no longer at the Court then here.

With that the lightnes of hir nimble foote
Withdrew it selfe into a silent trace,
And all hir veiny limmes consenting to't
Made a faire turne and vanisht hence apace,
With all the comely troupe; leauing me mute
And languisht in the loosing of hir face,
While does the aire into mine eares infuse
The message of hir musicall adewes.





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