Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MAIDEN'S DREAM, by ROBERT GREENE

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A MAIDEN'S DREAM, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Methought, in slumber as I lay and dreamt
Last Line: That I awoke and start out of my dream.
Subject(s): Fortitude; Hospitality; Justice; Prudence; Religion; Temperance; Wealth; Caution; Theology; Prohibition; Riches; Fortunes

METHOUGHT, in slumber as I lay and dreamt,
I saw a silent spring rail'd in with jet,
From sunny shade or murmur quite exempt,
The glide whereof 'gainst weeping flints did beat;
And round about were leafless beeches set:
So dark it seem'd night's mantle for to borrow,
And well to be the gloomy den of sorrow.

About this spring, in mourning robes of black,
Were sundry nymphs or goddesses, methought,
That seemly sat in ranks, just back to back,
On mossy benches nature there had wrought;
And, 'cause the wind and spring no murmur brought,
They fill'd the air with such laments and groans
That echo sigh'd out their heart-breaking moans.

Elbow on knee, and head upon their hand,
As mourners sit, so sat these ladies all:
Garlands of eben-boughs, whereon did stand
A golden crown; their mantles were of pall;
And from their watery eyes warm tears did fall:
With wringing hands they sat and sigh'd, like those
That had more grief than well they could disclose,

I look'd about, and by the fount I spied
A knight lie dead, yet all in armour clad,
Booted and spurr'd; a falchion by his side,
A crown of olives on his helm he had;
As if in peace and war he were adrad:
A golden hind was placèd at his feet,
Whose vailèd ears bewray'd her inward greet.

She seemèd wounded by her panting breath;
Her beating breast with sighs did fall and rise:
Wounds were there none; it was her master's death
That drew electrum from her weeping eyes.
Like scalding smoke her braying throbs out-flies:
As deer do mourn when arrow hath them gall'd,
So was this hind with heart-sick pains enthrall'd.

Just at his head there sat a sumptuous queen;
I guess'd her so for why she wore a crown:
Yet were her garments parted white and green,
'Tir'd like unto the picture of Renown.
Upon her lap she laid his head adown:
Unlike to all, she smilèd on his face;
Which made me long to know this dead man's case.

As thus I look'd, gan Justice to arise,
I knew the goddess by her equal beam;
And dewing on his face balm from her eyes,
She wet his visage with a yearnful stream:
Sad, mournful looks did from her arches gleam;
And like to one whom sorrow deep attaints,
With heavèd hands she poureth forth these plaints.

The complaint of Justice.

"Untoward twins that temper human fate,
Who from your distaff draw the life of man,
Parcæ, impartial to the highest state,
Too soon you cut what Clotho erst began:
Your fatal dooms this present age may ban,
For you have robb'd the world of such a knight
As best could skill to balance justice right.

"His eyes were seats for mercy and for law,
Favour in one, and justice in the other:
The poor he smooth'd, the proud he kept in awe;
As just to strangers as unto his brother:
Bribes could not make him any wrong to smother,
For to a lord or to the lowest groom
Still conscience and the cause set down the doom.

"Delaying law, that picks the client's purse,
Ne could this knight abide to hear debated
From day to day (that claims the poor man's curse),
Nor might the pleas be over-long dilated:
Much shifts of law there was by him abated:
With conscience carefully he heard the cause,
Then gave his doom with short despatch of laws.

"The poor man's cry he thought a holy knell:
No sooner gan their suits to pierce his ears

But fair-ey'd pity in his heart did dwell;
And like a father that affection bears,
So tender'd he the poor with inward tears,
And did redress their wrongs when they did call;
But, poor or rich, he still was just to all.

"O, woe is me!" saith Justice, "he is dead;
The knight is dead that was so just a man,
And in Astræa's lap low lies his head
Who whilom wonders in the world did scan:
Justice hath lost her chiefest limb, what than?"
At this her sighs and sorrows were so sore,
And so she wept, that she could speak no more.

The complaint of Prudence.

A wreath of serpents 'bout her lily wrist
Did seemly Prudence wear; she then arose;
A silver dove sat mourning on her fist;
Tears on her cheeks like dew upon a rose;
And thus began the goddess' grief-ful glose:
"Let England mourn for why his days are done
Whom Prudence nursèd like her dearest son.

"Hatton,"—at that I started in my dream,
But not awoke,—"Hatton is dead," quoth she:
"O, could I pour out tears like to a stream,
A sea of them would not sufficient be!
For why our age had few more wise than he:
Like oracles as were Apollo's saws,
So were his words accordant to the laws.

"Wisdom sat watching in his wary eyes,
His insight subtle, if unto a foe;
He could with counsels commonwealths comprise:
No foreign wit could Hatton's overgo:
Yet to a friend wise, simple, and no mo.
His civil policy unto the state
Scarce left behind him now a second mate.

"For country's weal his counsel did exceed,
And eagle-ey'd he was to spy a fault:
For wars or peace right wisely could he rede:
'Twas hard for treachours 'fore his looks to halt;
The smooth-fac'd traitor could not him assault.
As by his country's love his grees did rise
So to his country was he simple-wise.

"This grave adviser of the commonweal,
This prudent counsellor unto his prince,
Whose wit was busied with his mistress' heal,
Secret conspiracies could well convince;
Whose insight piercèd the sharp-eyèd lynce;
He is dead!" At this her sorrows were so sore,
And so she wept, that she could speak no more.

The complaint of Fortitude.

Next Fortitude arose unto this knight,
And by his side sat down with steadfast eye[s]:
A broken column 'twixt her arms was pight:
She could not weep nor pour out yearnful cries;
From Fortitude such base affects nill rise;
Brass-renting goddess, she can not lament:
Yet thus her plaints with breathing sighs were spent.

"Within the Maiden's Court, place of all places,
I did advance a man of high desert,
Whom nature had made proud with all her graces,
Inserting courage in his noble heart:
No perils drad could ever make him start;
But, like to Scævola, for country's good
He did not value for to spend his blood.

"His looks were stern, though in a life of peace;
Though not in wars, yet war hung in his brows:
His honour did by martial thoughts increase:
To martial men living this knight allows,
And by his sword he solemnly avows,
Though not in war, yet if that war were here,
As warriors do, to value honour dear.

"Captains he kept, and foster'd them with fee;
Soldiers were servants to this martial knight;
Men might his stable full of coursers see,
Trotters whose manag'd looks would some affright;
His armoury was rich and warlike dight;
And he himself, if any need had crav'd,
Would as stout Hector have himself behav'd.

"I lost a friend whenas I lost his life":
Thus plainèd Fortitude, and frown'd withal:
'Cursèd be Atropos, and curs'd her knife
That made the captain of my guard to fall,
Whose virtues did his honours high install."
At this she storm'd, and wrung out sighs so sore,
That what for grief her tongue could speak no more.

The complaint of Temperance.

Then Temperance, with bridle in her hand,
Did mildly look upon this lifeless lord,
And like to weeping Niobe did stand:
Her sorrows and her tears did well accord;
Their diapason was in self-same cord.
"Here lies the man," quoth she, "that breath'd out this,—
'To shun fond pleasures is the sweetest bliss.'

"No choice delight could draw his eyes awry;
He was not bent to pleasure's fond conceits;
Inveigling pride, nor world's sweet vanity,
Love's luring follies with their strange deceits,
Could wrap this lord within their baleful sleights:
But he, despising all, said 'Man was grass,
His date a span, et omnia vanitas.'

"Temperate he was, and temper'd all his deeds:
He bridled those affects that might offend;
He gave his will no more the reins than needs;
He measur'd pleasures ever by the end:
His thoughts on virtue's censures did depend:
What booteth pleasures that so quickly pass,
When such delights are brickle like to glass?

"First pride of life, that subtle branch of sin,
And then the lusting humour of the eyes,
And base concupiscence which plies her gin;
These Sirens, that do worldlings still entice,
Could not allure his mind to think of vice;
For he said still, 'Pleasure's delight it is
That holdeth man from heaven's delightful bliss.'

"Temperate he was in every deep extreme,
And could well bridle his affects with reason.
What I have lost in losing him then deem:
Base Death, that took away a man so geason,
That measur'd every thought by time and season!"
At this her sighs and sorrows were so sore,
And so she wept, that she could speak no more.

The complaint of Bounty.

With open hands, and mourning locks dependant,
Bounty stept forth to wail the dead man's loss:
On her were Love and Plenty both attendant:
Tears in her eyes, arms folded quite across,
Sitting by him upon a turf of moss,
She sigh'd, and said, "Here lies the knight deceas'd,
Whose bounty Bounty's glory much increas'd.

"His looks were liberal, and in his face
Sat frank magnificence with arms display'd;
His open hands discours'd his inward grace;
The poor were never at their need denay'd:
His careless scorn of gold his deeds bewray'd:
And this he crav'd,—'no longer for to live
Than he had power and mind and will to give.'

"No man went empty from his frank dispose;
He was a purse-bearer unto the poor:
He well observ'd the meaning of this glose,—
'None lose reward that giveth of their store':
To all his bounty pass'd. Ay me, therefore,
That he should die!" With that she sigh'd so sore,
And so she wept, that she could speak no more.

The complaint of Hospitality.

Lame of a leg, as she had lost a limb,
Start up kind Hospitality and wept:
She silent sat a while and sigh'd by him;
As one half-maimèd, to this knight she crept:
At last about his neck this nymph she lept,
And, with her cornucopia in her fist,
For very love his chilly lips she kiss'd.

"Ay me," quoth she, "my love is lorn by death;
My chiefest stay is crack'd, and I am lame:
He that his alms frankly did bequeath,
And fed the poor with store of food, the same,
Even he, is dead, and vanish'd is his name,
Whose gates were open, and whose alms-deed
Supplied the fatherless' and widow's need.

"He kept no Christmas-house for once a year;
Each day his boards were fill'd with lordly fare:
He fed a rout of yeomen with his cheer,
Nor was his bread and beef kept in with care:
His wine and beer to strangers were not spare;
And yet beside to all that hunger griev'd
His gates were ope, and they were there reliev'd.

"Well could the poor tell where to fetch their bread:
As Baucis and Philemon were y-blest
For feasting Jupiter in stranger's stead,
So happy be his high immortal rest,
That was to hospitality addrest!
For few such live." And then she sigh'd so sore,
And so she wept, that she could speak no more.

Then Courtesy, whose face was full of smiles,
And Friendship, with her hand upon her heart,
And tender Charity, that loves no wiles,
And Clemency, their passions did impart:
A thousand Virtues there did straight up-start,
And with their tears and sighs they did disclose
For Hatton's death their hearts were full of woes.

The complaint of Religion.

Next, from the furthest nook of all the place,
Weeping full sore, there rose a nymph in black,
Seemly and sober, with an angel's face,
And sigh'd as if her heart-strings straight should crack:
Her outward woes bewray'd her inward rack.
A golden book she carried in her hand:
It was Religion that thus meek did stand.

God wot, her garments were full loosely tuck'd,
As one that careless was in some despair;
To tatters were her robes and vestures pluck'd;
Her naked limbs were open to the air:
Yet, for all this, her looks were blithe and fair:
And wondering how Religion grew forlorn,
I spied her robes by Heresy were torn.

This holy creature sat her by this knight,
And sigh'd out this: "O, here he lies," quoth she,
"Lifeless, that did Religion's lamp still light;
Devout without dissembling, meek, and free
To such whose words and livings did agree:
Lip-holiness in clergymen he could not brook,
No such as counted gold above their book.

"Upright he liv'd as Holy Writ him led:
His faith was not in ceremonies old;
Nor had he new-found toys within his head;
Ne was he luke-warm, neither hot nor cold:
But in religion he was constant, bold,
And still a sworn professèd foe to all
Whose looks were smooth, hearts pharisaical.

"The brainsick and illiterate surmisers,
That like to saints would holy be in looks,
Of fond religions fabulous devisers,
Who scorn'd the académies and their books,
And yet could sin as others in close nooks;
To such wild-headed mates he was a foe,
That rent her robes and wrong'd Religion so.

"Ne was his faith in men's traditions;
He hated Antichrist and all his trash:
He was not led away by superstitions,
Nor was he in religion over-rash:
His hands from heresy he lov'd to wash.
Then, base Report, 'ware what thy tongue doth spread:
'Tis sin and shame for to belie the dead.

"Heart-holy men he still kept at his table,
Doctors that well could doom of Holy Writ:
By them he knew to sever faith from fable,
And how the text with judgment for to hit;
For Pharisees in Moses' chair did sit."
At this Religion sigh'd, and griev'[d] so sore,
And so she wept, that she could speak no more.


Next might I see a rout of noblemen,
Earls, barons, lords, in mourning weeds attir'd:
I cannot paint their passions with my pen,
Nor write so quaintly as their woes requir'd;
Their tears and sighs some Homer's quill desir'd:
But this I know, their grief was for his death
That there had yielded nature, life and breath.


Then came by soldiers trailing of their pikes:
Like men dismay'd, their beavers were adown;
Their warlike hearts his death with sorrow strikes:
Yea, War himself was in a sable gown;
For grief you might perceive his visage frown:
And scholars came by with lamenting cries,
Wetting their books with tears fell from their eyes.


The common people they did throng in flocks,

Dewing their bosoms with their yearnful tears;
Their sighs were such as would have rent the rocks,
Their faces full of grief, dismay, and fears:
Their cries struck pity in my listening ears,
For why the groans are less at hell's black gate
Than echo there did then reverberate.

Some came with scrolls and papers in their hand;
I guess'd them suitors that did rue his loss:
Some with their children in their hand did stand;
Some poor and hungry with their hands across.
A thousand there sat wailing on the moss:
"O pater patriœ!" still they crièd thus,
"Hatton is dead; what shall become of us?"

At all these cries my heart was sore amov'd,
Which made me long to see the dead man's face;
What he should be that was so dear-belov'd,
Whose worth so deep had won the people's grace.
As I came pressing near unto the place,
I look'd, and, though his face were pale and wan,
Yet by his visage did I know the man.

No sooner did I cast mine eye on him
But in his face there flash'd a ruddy hue;
And though before his looks by death were grim,
Yet seem'd he smiling to my gazing view
(As if, though dead, my presence still he knew):
Seeing this change within a dead man's face,
I could not stop my tears, but wept apace.

I call'd to mind how that it was a knight
That whilom liv'd in England's happy soil:
I thought upon his care and deep insight
For country's weal, his labour and his toil
He took, lest that the English state might foil;
And how his watchful thought from first had been
Vow'd to the honour of the Maiden Queen.

I call'd to mind again he was my friend,
And held my quiet as his heart's content:
What was so dear for me he would not spend?
Then thought I straight such friends are seldom hent.
Thus still from love to love my humour went,
That pondering of his loyalty so free,
I wept him dead that living honour'd me.

At this Astræa, seeing me so sad,
Gan blithely comfort me with this reply:
"Virgin," quoth she, "no boot by tears is had,
Nor do laments aught pleasure them that die.
Souls must have change from this mortality;
For, living long, sin hath the larger space,
And, dying well, they find the greater grace.

"And sith thy tears bewray thy love," quoth she,
"His soul with me shall wend unto the skies:
His lifeless body I will leave to thee;
Let that be earth'd and tomb'd in gorgeous wise:
I'll place his ghost among the hierarchies;
For as one star another far exceeds,
So souls in heaven are placèd by their deeds."

With that, methought, within her golden lap,
The sun-bright goddess, smiling with her eye,
The soul of Hatton curiously did wrap,
And in a cloud was taken up on high.
Vain dreams are fond; but thus as then dreamt I,
And more, methought I heard the angels sing
An alleluia for to welcome him.

As thus ascendant fair Astræa flew,
The nobles, commons, yea, and every wight
That living in his life-time Hatton knew,
Did deep lament the loss of that good knight.
But when Astræa was quite out of sight,
For grief the people shouted sach a scream
That I awoke and start out of my dream.

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