Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE INNER TEMPLE MASQUE, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE INNER TEMPLE MASQUE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Steer hither, steer, your winged pines
Last Line: He stay'd not longer here, but ran to be more idly spent.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Sirens (mythology); Sailing & Sailors

The Description of


On one side the hall towards the lower end was discovered a cliff of the sea
done over in part white according to that of Virgil, lib.5.

Jamque adeo scopulos sirenum advecta subibat,
Difficiles quondam multorumque ossibus albos.

Upon it were seated two sirens as they are described by Hyginus and
Servius, with their upper parts like women to the navel and the rest like a
hen. One of these at the first discovery of the scene (a sea being done in
perspective on one side the cliff) began to sing this Song, being as
lascivious proper to them and beginning as that of theirs in Hom. lib.
μ. Οδ. Δενρ' αγ ιων
Οδνσεε, μνγα
κνδος 'Aχαιων.

STEER hither, steer, your winged pines,
All beaten mariners,
Here lie Love's undiscover'd mines,
A prey to passengers;
Perfumes far sweeter than the best
Which make the Phœnix' urn and nest.
Fear not your ships,
Nor any to oppose you save our lips,
But come on shore,
Where no joy dies till love hath gotten more.

The last two lines were repeated as from a grove near by a full Chorus, and
the siren about to sing again, Triton (in all parts as Apollonius,
lib.4. Argonautic. shows him) was seen interrupting her thus:


Leave, leave, alluring siren, with thy song
To hasten what the Fates would fain prolong:
Your sweetest tunes but groans of mandrakes be;
He his own traitor is that heareth thee.
Tethys commands, nor is it fit that you
Should ever glory you did him subdue
By wiles whose policies were never spread
Till flaming Troy gave light to have them read.
Ulysses now furrows the liquid plain
Doubtful of seeing Ithaca again.
For in his way more stops are thrust by time,
Than in the path where virtue comes to climb:
She that with silver springs for ever fills
The shady groves, sweet meadows, and the hills,
From whose continual store such pools are fed
As in the land for seas are famoused.
'Tis she whose favour to this Grecian tends,
And to remove his ruin Triton sends.


But 'tis not Tethys, nor a greater power,
Cynthia, that rules the waves; scarce he (each hour)
That wields the thunderbolts, can things begun
By mighty Circe, daughter to the Sun,
Check or control; she that by charms can make
The scaled fish to leave the briny lake,
And on the seas walk as on land she were;
She that can pull the pale moon from her sphere,
And at mid-day the world's all-glorious eye
Muffle with clouds in long obscurity;
She that can cold December set on fire,
And from the grave bodies with life inspire;
She that can cleave the centre, and with ease
A prospect make to our Antipodes;
Whose mystic spells have fearful thunders made,
And forc'd brave rivers to run retrograde.
She without storms that sturdy oaks can tear
And turn their roots where late their curl'd tops were.
She that can with the winter solstice bring
All Flora's dainties, Circe, bids me sing;
And till some greater power her hand can stay,
Whoe'er commands, I none but her obey.


Then Nereus' daughter thus you'll have me tell.


You may.


Think on her wrath.


I shall. Triton! farewell.


Vain was thy message, vain her hest, for I
Must tune again my wanton melody.
Here she went on with her Song thus:
For swelling waves our panting breasts,
Where never storms arise,
Exchange; and be awhile our guests:
For stars gaze on our eyes.
The compass love shall hourly sing,
And as he goes about the ring,
We will not miss
To tell each point he nameth with a kiss.


Then come on shore,
Where no joy dies till love hath gotten more.

At the end of this song Circe was seen upon the rock, quaintly attired,
her hair loose about her shoulders, an anadem of flowers on her head, with a
wand in her hand; and then, making towards the sirens, called them thence with
this speech:

Sirens, enough; cease; Circe hath prevail'd;
The Greeks which on the dancing billows sail'd,
About whose ships a hundred dolphins clung
Rapt with the music of Ulysses' tongue,
Have with their guide by pow'rful Circe's hand
Cast their hook'd anchors on Æœa's strand.
Yond stands a hill crown'd with high waving trees,
Whose gallant tops each neighb'ring country sees,
Under whose shade an hundred silvans play,
With gaudy nymphs far fairer than the day;
Where everlasting spring with silver showers
Sweet roses doth increase to grace our bowers;
Where lavish Flora, prodigal in pride,
Spends what might well enrich all earth beside,
And to adorn this place she loves so dear,
Stays in some climates scarcely half the year.
When would she to the world indifferent be,
They should continual April have as we.
Midway the wood and from the levell'd lands
A spacious yet a curious arbour stands,
Wherein should Phœbus once to pry begin,
I would benight him ere he get his inn,
Or turn his steeds awry, so draw him on
To burn all lands but this like Phaeton.
Ulysses near his mates by my strong charms
Lies there till my return in sleep's soft arms:
Then, sirens, quickly wend we to the bower
To fit their welcome, and show Circe's power.


What all the elements do owe to thee
In their obedience is perform'd in me.


Circe drinks not of Lethe: then away
To help the nymphs who now begin their lay.


While Circe was speaking her first speech, and at these words, "Yond
stands a hill, &c.," a traverse was drawn at the lower end of the hall, and
gave way for the discovery of an artificial wood so near imitating nature that I
think, had there been a grove like it in the open plain, birds would have been
faster drawn to that than to Zeuxis' grapes. The trees stood at the climbing of
an hill, and left at their feet a little plain, which they circled like a
crescent. In this space upon hillocks were seen eight musicians in crimson
taffety robes, with chaplets of laurel on their heads, their lutes by them,
which being by them touched as a warning to the nymphs of the wood, from among
the trees was heard this Song. . . .


WHAT sing the sweet birds in each grove?
Nought but love.
What sound our echoes day and night?
All delight.
What doth each wind breathe as it fleets?
Endless sweets.


Is there a place on earth this Isle excels,
Or any nymphs more happy live than we?
When all our songs, our sounds, and breathings be,
That here all love, delight, and sweetness dwells.

By this time Circe and the sirens being come into the wood, Ulysses
was seen lying as asleep, under the covert of a fair tree, towards whom
Circe coming bespake thus:—


Yet holds soft sleep his course. Now, Ithacus,
Ajax would offer hecatombs to us,
And Ilium's ravish'd wives, and childless sires,
With incense dim the bright ethereal fires,
To have thee bound in chains of sleep as here;
But that thou may'st behold, and know how dear
Thou art to Circe, with my magic deep
And powerful verses thus I banish sleep.


Son of Erebus and Night,
Hie away; and aim thy flight
Where consort none other fowl
Than the bat and sullen owl;
Where upon the limber grass
Poppy and mandragoras
With like simples not a few
Hang for ever drops of dew.
Where flows Lethe without coil
Softly like a stream of oil.
Hie thee thither, gentle Sleep:
With this Greek no longer keep.
Thrice I charge thee by my wand;
Thrice with moly from my hand
Do I touch Ulysses' eyes,
And with the jaspis: Then arise,
Sagest Greek. . . . .

Ulysses (as by the power of Circe) awaking thus began:


. . . . Thou more than mortal maid,
Who when thou lists canst make, as if afraid,
The mountains tremble and with terror shake
The seat of Dis; and from Avernus' lake
Grim Hecate with all the Furies bring
To work revenge, or to thy questioning
Disclose the secrets of th' infernal shades,
Or raise the ghosts that walk the under-glades!
To thee, whom all obey, Ulysses bends.
But may I ask, great Circe, whereto tends
Thy never-failing hand? Shall we be free?
Or must thine anger crush my mates and me?


Neither, Laertes' son: with wings of love
To thee, and none but thee, my actions move.
My art went with thee and thou me may'st thank
In winning Rhesus' horses ere they drank
Of Xanthus' stream; and when with human gore
Clear Hebrus' channel was all stained o'er;
When some brave Greeks, companions then with thee,
Forgot their country through the lotus-tree;
I tyn'd the firebrand that (beside thy flight)
Left Polyphemus in eternal night;
And lastly to Æœa brought thee on,
Safe from the man-devouring Læstrigon.
This for Ulysses' love hath Circe done,
And if to live with me thou shalt be won
Aurora's hand shall never draw away
The sable veil that hides the gladsome day,
But we new pleasures will begin to taste,
And, better still, those we enjoyed last.
To instance what I can: Music, thy voice,
And of all those have felt our wrath the choice
Appear; and in a dance 'gin that delight
Which with the minutes shall grow infinite.

Here one attired like a woodman in all points came forth of the wood and going
towards the stage sung this song to call away the first Antimasque.


COME ye whose horns the cuckold wears,
The witol too with asses' ears;
Let the wolf leave howling,
The baboon his scowling,
And Grillus hie
Out of his sty.
Though grunting, though barking, though braying, ye come,
We'll make ye dance quiet and so send ye home.
No gin shall snare you,
Nor mastive scare you,
Nor learn the baboon's tricks,
Nor Grillus scoff
From the hog trough,
But turn again unto the thicks.
Here's none ('tis hop'd) so foolish scorns
That any else should wear the horns;
Here's no cur with howling,
Nor an ape with scowling,
Shall mock or moe
At what you show.
In jumping, in skipping, in turning, or ought
You shall do to please us, how well or how nought.
If there be any
Among this many,
Whom such an humour steers,
May he still lie
In Grillus' sty,
Or wear for ever the asses' ears.

While the first staff of this song was singing out of the thickets on either
side the boscage came rushing the Antimasque, being such as by Circe were
supposed to have been transformed (having the minds of men still) into
these shapes following:

2. With parts, heads and bodies as Actæon is pictur'd.
2. Like Midas with asses' ears.
2. Like wolves as Lycaon is drawn.
2. Like baboons.
Grillus (of whom Plutarch writes in his Morals) in the shape of a hog.

These together dancing an antic measure towards the latter end of it missed
Grillus, who was newly slipped away, and whilst they were at a stand, wondering
what was become of him, the woodman stepped forth and sung this song:


GRILLUS is gone; belike he hath heard
The dairy-maid knock at the trough in the yard:
Through thick and thin he wallows,
And weighs nor depths nor shallows.
Hark how he whines!
Run all ere he dines;
Then serve him a trick
For being so quick,
And let him for all his pains
Behold you turn clean off
His trough,
And spill all his wash and his grains,

With this the triplex of their tune was played twice or thrice over, and by
turns brought them from the stage; when the woodman sung this other staff of the
last song, and then ran after them:

And now 'tis wish'd that all such as he
Were rooting with him at the trough or the tree.
Fly, fly, from our pure fountains,
To the dark vales or the mountains.
List, some one whines
With voice like a swine's,
As angry that none
With Grillus is gone,
Or that he is left behind.
O let there be no stay
In his way,
To hinder the boar from his kind.


How likes Ulysses this?


. . . . Much like to one
Who in a shipwreck being cast upon
The frothy shores, and safe beholds his mates
Equally cross'd by Neptune and the Fates.
You might as well have ask'd how I would like
A strain, whose equal Orpheus could not strike,
Upon a harp whose strings none other be
Than of the heart of chaste Penelope.
O let it be enough that thou in these
Hast made most wretched Laertiades:
Let not the sad chance of distressed Greeks
With other tears than Sorrow's dew your cheeks!
Most abject baseness hath enthrall'd that breast
Which laughs at men by misery oppress'd.


In this, as lilies, or the new-fall'n snow,
Is Circe spotless yet. What though the bow,
Which Iris bends, appearing to each sight
In various hues and colours infinite,
The learned know that in itself is free,
And light and shade make that variety?
Things far off seen seem not the same they are;
Fame is not ever truth's discoverer;
For still where envy meeteth a report
Ill she makes worse, and what is good come short.
In whatsoe'er this land hath passive been,
Or she that here o'er other reigneth queen,
Let wise Ulysses judge. Some, I confess,
That tow'rds this Isle not long since did address
Their stretched oars, no sooner landed were,
But, careless of themselves, they here and there
Fed on strange fruits, envenoming their bloods,
And now like monsters range about the woods.
If those thy mates were, yet is Circe free:
For their misfortunes have not birth from me.
Who in th' apothecary's shop hath ta'en,
Whilst he is wanting, that which breeds his bane,
Should never blame the man who there had plac'd it,
But his own folly urging him to taste it.


Æœa's Queen and great Hyperion's pride,
Pardon misdoubts; and we are satisfied.


Swifter the lightning comes not from above,
Than do our grants borne on the wings of love.
And since what's past doth not Ulysses please,
Call to a dance the fair nereides,
With other nymphs which do in every creek,
In woods, on plains, on mountains, simples seek
For powerful Circe, and let in a song
Echoes be aiding, that they may prolong
My now command to each place where they be,
To bring them hither all more speedily.

Presently in the wood was heard a full music of lutes, which descending to the
stage had to them sung this following song, the Echoes being placed in several
parts of the boscage:


CIRCE bids you come away.
Echo: Come away, come away.
From the rivers, from the sea.
Echo: From the sea, from the sea.
From the green woods every one.
Echo: Every one, every one.
Of her maids be missing none.
Echo: Missing none, missing none.
No longer stay, except it be to bring
A med'cine for love's sting.
That would excuse you and be held more dear
Than wit or magic, for both they are here.
Echo: They are here, they are here.

The Echo had no sooner answered to the last line of the song, They are here,
but the second Antimasque came in, being seven nymphs, and were thus

Four in white taffeta robes, long tresses, and chaplets of flowers, herbs and
weeds on their heads, with little wicker baskets in their hands, neatly painted.
These were supposed to be maids attending upon Circe, and used in gathering
simples for their mistress's enchantments.— (Pausanias in prioribus

Three in sea-green robes, greenish hair hanging loose, with leaves of coral
and shells intermixed upon it. These are by Ovid affirmed to help the nymphs
of Circe in their collections by these.

Nereides nymphæque simul quæ vellera motis
Nulla trahunt digitis, nec fila sequentia ducunt,
Gramina disponunt; sparsosque sine ordine flores
Secernunt calathis, variisque coloribus herbas.
Ipsa, quod hæ faciunt, opus exigit—

These having danced a most curious measure to a softer tune than the first
Antimasque (as most fitting) returned as they came; the nereides towards
the cliffs and the other maids of Circe towards the woods and plains, after
which Ulysses, thus:


Fame adds not to thy joys, I see in this,
But like a high and stately pyramis
Grows least at farthest. Now, fair Circe, grant,
Although the fair-hair'd Greeks do never vaunt,
That they in measur'd paces ought have done,
But where the god of battles led them on;
Give leave that (freed from sleep) the small remain
Of my companions on the under plain
May in a dance strive how to pleasure thee
Either with skill or with variety.


Circe is pleas'd. Ulysses, take my wand
And from their eyes each child of sleep command;
Whilst my choice maids with their harmonious voices,
Whereat each bird and dancing spring rejoices,
Charming the winds when they contrary meet,
Shall make their spirits as nimble as their feet.



Circe with this speech delivering her wand to Ulysses rests on the lower
part of the hill, while he going up the hill and striking the trees with his
wand, suddenly two great gates flew open, making as it were a large glade
through the wood, and along the glade a fair walk; two seeming brick walls on
either side, over which the trees wantonly hung: a great light (as the sun's
sudden unmasking) being seen upon this discovery. At the further end was
descried an arbour, very curiously done, having one entrance under an architrave
borne up by two pillars with their chapters and bases gilt; the top of the
entrance beautified with postures of satyrs, wood-nymphs, and other antick work;
as also the sides and corners: the covering archwise interwove with boughs, the
back of it girt round with a vine, and artificially done up in knots towards the
top; beyond it was a wood seen in perspective, the fore part of it opening at
Ulysses his approach; the maskers were discovered in several seats leaning as


Doublets of green taffeta, cut like oaken leaves, as upon cloth of silver;
their skirts and wings cut into leaves, deep round hose of the same, both laid
with sprig lace spangled; long white silk stockings; green pumps, and roses done
over with silver leaves; hats of the same stuff, cut narrow-brimmed, and rising
smaller compass at the crown, white wreath hatbands, white plumes, egrettes with
a green fall, ruff, bands and cuffs.

Ulysses severally came and touched every one of them with the wand while this
was sung:


SHAKE off sleep, ye worthy knights,
Though ye dream of all delights;
Show that Venus doth resort
To the camp as well as court
By some well-timed measure,
And on your gestures and your paces
Let the well-composed Graces,
Looking like, and part with pleasure.
By this the knights being all risen from their seats were by Ulysses (the
loud music sounding) brought to the stage; and then to the violins danced
their first measure; after which this song brought them to the second.


ON and imitate the Sun,
Stay not to breathe till you have done:
Earth doth think as other where
Do some women she doth bear:
Those wives whose husbands only threaten
Are not lov'd like those are beaten.
Then with your feet to suff'ring move her,
For whilst you beat earth thus, you love her.

Here they danced their second measure, and then this song was sung, during
which time they take out the ladies:


Choose now among this fairest number,
Upon whose breasts love would for ever slumber:
Choose not amiss since you may where you will,
Or blame yourselves for choosing ill.
Then do not leave, though oft the music closes,
Till lilies in their cheeks be turn'd to roses.


And if it lay in Circe's power,
Your bliss might so persever,
That those you choose but for an hour
You should enjoy for ever.

The knights with the ladies dance here the old measures, galliards, corantoes,
the brawls, &c., and then (having led them again to their places) danced
their last measure; after which this song called them away:


WHO but Time so hasty were
To fly away and leave you here?
Here where delight
Might well allure
A very Stoic from this night
To turn an Epicure.

But since he calls away; and Time will soon repent,
He stay'd not longer here, but ran to be more idly spent.

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net