Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: How great and comprehendles is the minde
Last Line: The session broke and the whole senat' rose.
Subject(s): Goddesses & Gods; Mythology; Women


Great Ioue a Court doth summon
About th'ascended Woman.
The Fates desire her roome,
The Gods pronounce her doome.

HOW great and comprehendles is the Minde!
How far, how high (for knowledge) she presumes,
When she herselfe with vertue arm'd doth finde,
And lightly borne vp with desirefull plumes!
One world containes her not: nor yet would she
Be held in more, if more there were then be.

Water her hopefull pinions not benums:
The curiasse of her boldnes is to thick
For aire to peirce: and when to fire she comes,
Her more light flames & feathers are too quick.
And thus this Dame (that represents this minde)
Leaues all the well-rank'd Elements behinde.

Till by the power of her celestiall charme,
With no lesse fortune, hauing pas'd the seauen
Next circuits of the Gods, she caus'd alarme
In th'inner guards of the supremer heauen
Where Mars, great Captaine both of watch & war,
Had plac'd a Centinell in every star.

Who through their loup-holes when they chanc'd to view
This fugitiue with such a fervour mount
To this sublimitie, jn all hast drew
Themselues into a head; and made account
Strait to discharge against this earthly wonder
Their harquebushes charg'd with dreadfull thunder.

But some (whose better wisdomes sway'd the rest)
Perswaded them their vollyes to with-hold,
Vntill amongst themselues they first had gues'd
What creature it might be that was so bold:
For throughout all the guard there was not one
That euer had a woman seene or knowne.

They saw that she was none of Titan's race
Who by pretence of eldership layd clayme
And title to expulsed Saturne's place;
For they long since by Ioue were overcame:
Nor of those Earth-borne gyants that rebell'd
Against the Gods: the Gods had them repell'd.

She was no Meteor'd shape, nor airy sp'rite
Begot by th' agitation of the Spheres,
Nor Comet (though both caudate and crinite);
For all those things fled from her in such feares
As did the monsters from Silenus Asse
That stellified for that good service was.

No Semi-Diety, nor seed of Pan,
Nayad nor Nymph, (for loue had them confin'd
Vnto terrestriall mansion), No Man
They by her face her flight and fashion finde,
No ghost, nor fiend: no goblin good or evill,
Nor bird, nor beast, nor goddesse, god, nor devill.

And as they descant thus, all while she striues
Their warlike walls and bullworkes to ascend,
They are no wiser when she there arriues,
But still her essence, state, and cause suspend;
And though their martiall lawes were so severe
No vnknowne seede of earth might enter there,

Yet since they found her arme-les armes pretending
No outward treason to the state at all,
(Her strangenes much but beauty more befreinding)
They brought her safe into th'Olympian hall;
For she such count'nance had, as might procure
Favour at hell's, much more at heavens dore.

This Noveltie to all th' assembly seene,
They from their severall Thrones in murmur rise;
Some stand amaz'd: some that on earth had been
A Woman! cryed: a Woman skal'd the skies!
Sterne Iupiter most highly was displeas'd,
Although her lookes some others much appeas'd.

Some of the Court are angry, some are glad,
The elder frowne, the younger flock about her,
But (of all other) Iuno was horne-mad,
She of great Ioue did so extreamly doubt her:
And Venus waxed leane, with strong suspect
That Mars would favour this, & her neglect.

Cupid, as busye as his nature was,
That Young-Deceipt, Old-youth! who (if he listed)
Could all haue told: but not a word doth pas
His lips, wherin his preiudice consisted.
For well he hop'd to finde in her fayre lookes
Sweete baytes enough to furnish all his hookes.

What with the loue of some, the feare of some,
Others partialitie, others jealousie,
A great confusion was in heau'n become,
And like to be a greater mutinie,
If out of hand was not determin'd on
What with this new-come stranger should be done.

For scarse the Sunne had number'd vp the day
Of her ascention, to the waxing yeare,
But she her wanton parts began to play
In such perfection of allurement there,
As if the world had plotted some device,
The flower of all the Gods from heau'n t'entice.

But the graue Rectour of Olympus hath
Summon'd therfore a present Parliament;
And all the Gods along the Lactean-path
Vnto the Pallace of the Thunderer went,
From forth their fayre & jvory cloysters built
On that fayre street were Iuno's milke was spilt.

The Court all plac'd vppon their marble seats
Below the awfull Sires supremest Throne,
His jvory Scepter twice or thrice he beats
About those curled tresses of his owne,
Whose fearfull motions doe displace & stir
Heau'ns hinges, and Earths firme diameter.

And thus he speakes; "This wretched woman here,
"I know by what vnhappy accident
"Wherof (by all jnfernall gulphes I sweare)
"I would be veng'd with dreadfull discontent,
"But that I see the natiue jnnocence
"Of heau'n it selfe euen stayn'd w@5th this offence.

"For I presage that those vngracious boyes
"I sent abroade, too humanly affected
"In female formes, haue spent the tyme in toyes,
"And my com¯ands so cursedly neglected
"That she this vantage wins of their vniust
"Carriage and carelesse weakenes of their lust.

"And I confesse that this audacious Dame
"This Iapet's daughter (as I well may call her)
"That comes like him that came to steale our flame,
"Deserues no meaner vengeance to befall her
"Then hundred-handed Giges, whom I slew,
"Or he that out of heau'n by th' heeles I threw.

"But, brothers, that in Counsell sit with me,
"Wee but vniust in our owne justice were,
"If we should plague the poore mortalitie,
"For that wherof ourselues are not all cleere,
"Before our subiects we with rigour vrge,
"It bootes vs we our owne example purge.

"Therfore whersoe're we venture to bestow
"This dangerous companion, Now shee's here
"She must in no wise be sent back below,
"Lest her loose tongue (that nothing holds) blab there
"Amongst vnworthy mortalls, mysteries
"Peculier to jmmortall eares and eyes."

This speech the speech of all the rest depriues,
Vntill the crooked Fates, who in a hole
Sate windeing vp the bottoms of frayle liues
And only durst the words of Ioue controule,
This contradiction from their anxious Cell
With open mouth and earnest fury yell.

"Downe with the woman, downe with her againe
"To sinfull earth as lowe as she was borne,
"Vnles thou art dispos'd (great Soveraigne)
"To make thy glorious Realme to men a scorne
"By everlasting jarres and breach of lawes,
"Which her proud spirit eternally will cause.

"If thou wilt needs doe her base world that grace
"As to detayne her here, then send vs thither,
"For thou shalt finde that state in cursed case
"Where Fates and Women domineer together.
"Where we are (Ioue) there needs no such as she:
"Where she is, needs no other destinie."

This opposition 'twixt th'incensed Fates
And Ægis-arm'd Saturnides divides
The sage opinions of the Starry-states
Into so potent faction on both sides,
They neither judge her to exile nor death,
Nor fit for heau'n nor (from heau'n) fit for earth.

Till the Cyllenian wing'd and witty God
Betwixt those two extreames, bethinking soone
Some middle place; propounded her abode
Within th'enclosure of the glorious Moone.
And all applauding what he did propose
The Session broke and the whole Senat' rose.

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net