Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 7. TWO CANTOS OF MUTABILITY, by EDMUND SPENSER



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THE FAERIE QUEENE: BOOK 7. TWO CANTOS OF MUTABILITY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What man that sees the ever-whirling wheele
Last Line: O that great sabbaoth god graunt me that sabaoths sight!
Alternate Author Name(s): Clout, Colin
Subject(s): Chaucer, Geoffrey (1342-1400); Country Life; England; Fables; Knights & Knighthood; Language; Morality; Poetry & Poets; Sleep; Virtue; English; Allegories; Words; Vocabulary; Ethics


TWO CANTOS OF MUTABILITIE

WHICH, BOTH FOR FORME AND MATTER, APPEARE TO BE PARCELL OF
SOME FOLLOWING
BOOKE OF THE

FAERIE QUEENE

UNDER THE LEGEND

OF
CONSTANCIE

NEVER BEFORE IMPRINTED

CANTO VI

Proud Change (not pleasd in mortall things
Beneath the moone to raigne)
Pretends, as well of gods as men,
To be the soveraine.

I

WHAT man that sees the ever-whirling wheele
Of Change, the which all mortall things doth sway,
But that therby doth find, and plainly feele,
How Mutability in them doth play
Her cruell sports, to many mens decay?
Which that to all may better yet appeare,
I will rehearse that whylome I heard say,
How she at first her selfe began to reare
Gainst all the gods, and th' empire sought from them to beare.

II

But first, here falleth fittest to unfold
Her antique race and linage ancient,
As I have found it registred of old
In Faery Land mongst records permanent.
She was, to weet, a daughter by descent
Of those old Titans that did whylome strive
With Saturnes sonne for heavens regiment;
Whom though high Jove of kingdome did deprive,
Yet many of their stemme long after did survive.

III

And many of them afterwards obtain'd
Great power of Jove, and high authority:
As Hecate, in whose almighty hand
He plac't all rule and principality,
To be by her disposed diversly,
To gods and men, as she them list divide;
And drad Bellona, that doth sound on hie
Warres and allarums unto nations wide,
That makes both heaven and earth to tremble at her pride.

IV

So likewise did this Titanesse aspire,
Rule and dominion to her selfe to gaine;
That as a goddesse men might her admire,
And heavenly honours yield, as to them twaine.
And first, on earth she sought it to obtaine;
Where she such proofe and sad examples shewed
Of her great power, to many ones great paine,
That not men onely (whom she soone subdewed),
But eke all other creatures, her bad dooings rewed.

V

For she the face of earthly things so changed,
That all which Nature had establisht first
In good estate, and in meet order ranged,
She did pervert, and all their statutes burst:
And all the worlds faire frame (which none yet durst
Of gods or men to alter or misguide)
She alter'd quite, and made them all accurst
That God had blest, and did at first provide
In that still happy state for ever to abide.

VI

Ne shee the lawes of Nature onely brake,
But eke of Justice, and of Policie;
And wrong of right, and bad of good did make,
And death for life exchanged foolishlie:
Since which, all living wights have learn'd to die,
And all this world is woxen daily worse.
O pittious worke of Mutabilitie!
By which we all are subject to that curse,
And death, in stead of life, have sucked from our nurse.

VII

And now, when all the earth she thus had brought
To her bebest, and thralled to her might,
She gan to cast in her ambitious thought
T' attempt the empire of the heavens hight,
And Jove himselfe to shoulder from his right.
And first, she past the region of the ayre,
And of the fire, whose substance thin and slight
Made no resistance, ne could her contraire,
But ready passage to her pleasure did prepaire.

VIII

Thence to the circle of the Moone she clambe,
Where Cynthia raignes in everlasting glory,
To whose bright shining palace straight she came,
All fairely deckt with heavens goodly story:
Whose silver gates (by which there sate an hory
Old aged sire, with hower-glasse in hand,
Hight Tyme) she entred, were he liefe or sory:
Ne staide till she the highest stage had scand,
Where Cynthia did sit, that never still did stand.

IX

Her sitting on an ivory throne shee found,
Drawne of two steeds, th' one black, the other white,
Environd with tenne thousand starres around,
That duly her attended day and night;
And by her side there ran her page, that hight
Vesper, whom we the evening-starre intend:
That with his torche, still twinkling like twylight,
Her lightened all the way where she should wend,
And joy to weary wandring travailers did lend:

X

That when the hardy Titanesse beheld
The goodly building of her palace bright,
Made of the heavens substance, and up-held
With thousand crystall pillors of huge hight,
Shee gan to burne in her ambitious spright,
Andt' envie her that in such glorie raigned.
Eftsoones she cast by force and tortious might
Her to displace, and to her selfe to have gained
The kingdome of the night, and waters by her wained.

XI

Boldly she bid the goddesse downe descend,
And let her selfe into that ivory throne;
For shee her selfe more worthy thereof wend,
And better able it to guide alone:
Whether to men, whose fall she did bemone,
Or unto gods, whose state she did maligne,
Or to th' infernall powers, her need give lone
Of her faire light and bounty most benigne,
Her selfe of all that rule shee deemed most condigne.

XII

But shee that had to her that soveraigne seat
By highest Jove assign'd, therein to beare
Nights burning lamp, regarded not her threat,
Ne yielded ought for favour or for feare;
But with sterne countenaunce and disdainfull cheare,
Bending her horned browes, did put her back:
And boldly blaming her for comming there,
Bade her attonce from heavens coast to pack,
Or at her perill bide the wrathfull thunders wrack.

XIII

Yet nathemore the Giantesse forbare:
But boldly preacing-on, raught forth her hand
To pluck her downe perforce from off her chaire;
And there-with lifting up her golden wand,
Threatned to strike her if she did withstand.
Where-at the starres, which round about her blazed,
And eke the Moones bright wagon, still did stand.
All beeing with so bold attempt amazed,
And on her uncouth habit and sterne looke still gazed.

XIV

Meane-while the lower world, which nothing knew
Of all that chaunced here, was darkned quite;
And eke the heavens, and all the heavenly crew
Of happy wights, now unpurvaide of light,
Were much afraid, and wondred at that sight;
Fearing least Chaos broken had his chaine,
And brought againe on them eternall night:
But chiefely Mercury, that next doth raigne,
Ran forth in haste, unto the king of gods to plaine.

XV

All ran together with a great out-cry
To Joves faire palace, fixt in heavens hight;
And beating at his gates full earnestly,
Gan call to him aloud with all their might,
To know what meant that suddaine lack of light.
The father of the gods, when this he heard,
Was troubled much at their so strange affright,
Doubting least Typhon were againe uprear'd,
Or other his old foes, that once him sorely fear'd.

XVI

Eftsoones the sonne of Maia forth he sent
Downe to the circle of the Moone, to knowe
The cause of this so strange astonishment,
And why shee did her wonted course forslowe;
And if that any were on earth belowe
That did with charmes or magick her molest,
Him to attache, and downe to hell to throwe:
But, if from heaven it were, then to arrest
The author, and him bring before his presence prest.

XVII

The wingd-foot god so fast his plumes did beat,
That soone he came where-as the Titanesse
Was striving with faire Cynthia for her seat:
At whose strange sight and haughty hardinesse
He wondred much, and feared her no lesse.
Yet laying feare aside to doe his charge,
At last he bade her (with bold stedfastnesse)
Ceasse to molest the Moone to walke at large,
or come before high Jove, her dooings to discharge.

XVIII

And there-with-all, he on her shoulder laid
His snaky-wreathed mace, whose awfull power
Doth make both gods and hellish fiends affraid:
Where-at the Titanesse did sternely lower,
And stoutly answer'd, that in evill hower
He from his Jove such message to her brought,
To bid her leave faire Cynthias silver bower;
Sith shee his Jove and him esteemed nought,
No more then Cynthia's selfe; but all their kingdoms sought.

XIX

The heavens herald staid not to reply,
But past away, his doings to relate
Unto his lord; who now, in th' highest sky,
Was placed in his principall estate,
With all the gods about him congregate:
To whom when Hermes had his message told,
It did them all exceedingly amate,
Save Jove; who, changing nought his count'nance bold,
Did unto them at length these speeches wise unfold:

XX

'Harken to mee awhile, yee heavenly powers:
Ye may remember since th' Earths cursed seed
Sought to assaile the heavens eternall towers,
And to us all exceeding feare did breed:
But how we then defeated all their deed,
Yee all doe knowe, and them destroied quite;
Yet not so quite, but that there did succeed
An off-spring of their bloud, which did alite
Upon the fruitfull earth, which doth us yet despite.

XXI

'Of that bad seed is this bold woman bred,
That now with bold presumption doth aspire
To thrust faire Phoebe from her silver bed,
And eke our selves from heavens high empire,
If that her might were match to her desire:
Wherefore, it now behoves us to advise
What way is best to drive her to retire;
Whether by open force or counsell wise,
Areed, ye sonnes of God, as best ye can devise.'

XXII

So having said, he ceast; and with his brow
(His black eye-brow, whose doomefull dreaded beck
Is wont to wield the world unto his vow,
And even the highest powers of heaven to check)
Made signe to them in their degrees to speake:
Who straight gan cast their counsell grave and wise.
Meane-while th' Earths daughter, thogh she nought did reck
Of Hermes message, yet gan now advise,
What course were best to take in this hot bold emprize.

XXIII

Eftsoones she thus resolv'd; that whil'st the gods
(After returne of Hermes embassie)
Were troubled, and amongst themselves at ods,
Before they could new counsels re-allie,
To set upon them in that extasie;
And take what fortune time and place would lend:
So forth she rose, and through the purest sky
To Joves high palace straight cast to ascend,
To prosecute her plot: good on-set boads good end.

XXIV

Shee there arriving, boldly in did pass;
Where all the gods she found in counsell close,
All quite unarm'd, as then their manner was.
At sight of her they suddaine all arose,
In great amaze, ne wist what way to chose.
But Jove, all fearelesse, fore't them to aby;
And in his soveraine throne, gan straight dispose
Himselfe more full of grace and majestie,
That mote encheare his friends, and foes mote terrifie.

XXV

That when the haughty Titanesse beheld,
All were she fraught with pride and impudence,
Yet with the sight thereof was almost queld;
And inly quaking, seem'd as reft of sense,
And voyd of speech in that drad audience;
Untill that Jove himselfe her selfe bespake:
'Speake, thou fraile woman, speake with confidence;
Whence art thou, and what doost thou here now make?
What idle errand hast thou, earths mansion to forsake?'

XXVI

Shee, halfe confused with his great commaund,
Yet gathering spirit of her natures pride,
Him boldly answer'd thus to his demaund:
'I am a daughter, by the mothers side,
Of her that is grand-mother magnifide
Of all the gods, great Earth, great Chaos child:
But by the fathers (be it not envide)
I greater am in blond (whereon I build)
Then all the gods, though wrongfully from heaven exil'd.

XXVII

'For Titan (as ye all acknowledge must)
Was Saturnes elder brother by birth-right;
Both, sonnes of Uranus: but by unjust
And guilefull meanes, through Corybantes slight,
The younger thrust the elder from his right:
Since which thou, Jove, injuriously hast held
The heavens rule from Titans sonnes by might;
And them to hellish dungeons downe hast feld:
Witnesse, ye heavens, the truth of all that I have teld.'

XXVIII

Whil'st she thus spake, the gods, that gave good eare
To her bold words, and marked well her grace,
Beeing of stature tall as any there
Of all the gods, and beautifull of face
As any of the goddesses in place,
Stood all astonied; like a sort of steeres,
Mongst whom some beast of strange and forraine race
Unwares is chaunc't, far straying from his peeres:
So did their ghastly gaze bewray their hidden feares.

XXIX

Till, having pauz'd awhile, Jove thus bespake:
'Will never mortall thoughts ceasse to aspire,
In this bold sort, to heaven claime to make,
And touch celestiall seates with earthly mire?
I would have thought that bold Procrustes hire,
Or Typhons fall, or proud Ixions paine,
Or great Prometheus tasting of our ire,
Would have suffiz'd the rest for to restraine,
And warn'd all men, by their example, to refraine:

XXX

'But now this off-scum of that cursed fry
Dare to renew the like bold enterprize,
And chalenge th' heritage of this our skie;
Whom what should hinder, but that we likewise
Should handle as the rest of her allies,
And thunder-drive to hell?' With that, he shooke
His nectar-deawed locks, with which the skyes
And all the world beneath for terror quooke,
And eft his burning levin-brond in hand he tooke.

XXXI

But, when he looked on her lovely face,
In which faire beames of beauty did appeare,
That could the greatest wrath soone turne to grace
(Such sway doth beauty even in heaven beare)
He staide his hand: and having chang'd his cheare,
He thus againe in milder wise began:
'But ah! if gods should strive with flesh yfere,
Then shortly should the progeny of man
Be rooted out, if Jove should doe still what he can.

XXXII

'But thee, faire Titans child, I rather weene,
Through some vaine errour, or inducement light,
To see that mortall eyes have never seene;
Or through ensample of thy sisters might,
Bellona, whose great glory thou doost spight,
Since thou hast seene her dreadfull power belowe,
Mongst wretched men, dismaide with her affright,
To bandie crownes, and kingdomes to bestowe:
And sure thy worth no lesse then hers doth seem to showe.

XXXIII

'But wote thou this, thou hardy Titanesse,
That not the worth of any living wight
May challenge ought in heavens interesse;
Much lesse the title of old Titans right:
For we by conquest of our soveraine might,
And by eternall doome of Fates decree,
Have wonne the empire of the heavens bright;
Which to ourselves we hold, and to whom wee
Shall worthy deeme partakers of our blisse to bee.

XXXIV

'Then ceasse thy idle claime, thou foolish gerle,
And seeke by grace and goodnesse to obtaine
That place from which by folly Titan fell;
There-to thou maist perhaps, if so thou faine,
Have Jove thy gratious lord and soveraigne.'
So having said, she thus to him replide:
'Ceasse, Saturnes sonne, to seeke by proffers vaine
Of idle hopes t' allure mee to thy side,
For to betray my right, before I have it tride.

XXXV

'But thee, O Jove, no equall judge I deeme
Of my desert, or of my dewfull right;
That in thine owne behalfe maist partiall seeme:
But to the highest him, that is behight
Father of gods and men by equall might,
To weet, the god of Nature, I appeale.'
There-at Jove wexed wroth, and in his spright
Did inly grudge, yet did it well conceale;
And bade Dan Phoebus scribe her appellation seale.

XXXVI

Eftsoones the time and place appointed were,
Where all, both heavenly powers and earthly wights,
Before great Natures presence should appeare,
For triall of their titles and best rights:
That was, to weet, upon the highest hights
Of Arlo-hill (Who knowes not Arlo-hill?)
That is the highest head (in all mens sights)
Of my old father Mole, whom shepheards quill
Renowmed hath with hymnes fit for a rurall skill.

XXXVII

And, were it not ill fitting for this file,
To sing of hilles and woods, mongst warres and knights,
I would abate the sternenesse of my stile,
Mongst these sterne stounds to mingle soft delights;
And tell how Arlo through Dianaes spights
(Beeing of old the best and fairest hill
That was in all this holy-islands hights)
Was made the most unpleasant and most ill.
Meane while, O Clio, lend Calliope thy quill.

XXXVIII

Whylome, when Ireland florished in fame
Of wealths and goodnesse, far above the rest
Of all that beare the British Islands name,
The gods then us'd (for pleasure and for rest)
Oft to resort there-to, when seem'd them best:
But none of all there-in more pleasure found
Then Cynthia, that is soveraine queene profest
Of woods and forrests, which therein abound,
Sprinkled with wholsom waters more then most on ground.

XXXIX

But mongst them all, as fittest for her game,
Either for chace of beasts with hound or boawe,
Or for to shroude in shade from Phoebus flame,
Or bathe in fountaines that doe freshly flowe,
Or from high hilles, or from the dales belowe,
She chose this Arlo; where shee did resort
With all her nymphes enranged on a rowe,
With whom the woody gods did oft consort:
For with the nymphes the satyres love to play and sport.

XL

Amongst the which there was a nymph that hight
Molanna, daughter of old Father Mole,
And sister unto Mulla, faire and bright,
Unto whose bed false Bregog whylome stole,
That Shepheard Colin dearely did condole,
And made her lucklesse loves well knowne to be.
But this Molanna, were she not so shole,
Were no lesse faire and beautifull then shee:
Yet as she is, a fairer flood may no man see.

XLI

For, first, she springs out of two marble rocks,
On which a grove of oakes high-mounted growes,
That as a girlond seemes to deck the locks
Of som faire bride, brought forth with pompous showes
Out of her bowre, that many flowers strowes:
So, through the flowry dales she tumbling downe,
Through many woods and shady coverts flowes
(That on each side her silver channell crowne)
Till to the plaine she come, whose valleyes shee doth drowne.

XLII

In her sweet streames Diana used oft
(After hersweatie chace and toilesome play)
To bathe her selfe; and after, on the soft
And downy grasse, her dainty limbes to lay
In covert shade, where none behold her may:
For much she hated sight of living eye.
Foolish god Faunus, though full many a day
He saw her clad, yet longed foolishly
To see her naked mongst her nymphes in privity.

XLIII

No way he found to compasse his desire,
But to corrupt Molanna, this her maid,
Her to discover for some secret hire:
So her with flattering words he first assaid;
And after, pleasing gifts for her purvaid,
Queene-apples, and red cherries from the tree,
With which he her allured and betraid,
To tell what time he might her lady see
When she her selfe did bathe, that he might secret bee.

XLIV

There-to hee promist, if shee would him pleasure
With this small boone, to quit her with a better;
To weet, that where-as shee had out of measure
Long lov'd the Fanchin, who by nought did set her,
That he would undertake for this to get her
To be his love, and of him liked well:
Besides all which, he vow'd to be her debter
For many moe good turnes then he would tell;
The least of which this little pleasure should excell.

XLV

The simple maid did yield to him anone;
And eft him placed where he close might view
That never any saw, save onely one,
Who, for his hire to so foole-hardy dew,
Was of his hounds devour'd in hunters hew.
Tho, as her manner was on sunny day,
Diana, with her nymphes about her, drew
To this sweet spring; where, doffing her array,
She bath'd her lovely limbes, for Jove a likely pray.

XLVI

There Faunus saw that pleased much his eye,
And made his hart to tickle in his brest,
That, for great joy of some-what he did spy,
He could him not containe in silent rest;
But breaking forth in laughter, loud profest
His foolish thought. A foolish Faune indeed,
That couldst not hold thy selfe so hidden blest,
But wouldest needs thine owne conceit areed!
Babblers unworthy been of so divine a meed.

XLVII

The goddesse, all abashed with that noise,
In haste forth started from the guilty brooke;
And running straight where-as she heard his voice,
Enclos'd the bush about, and there him tooke,
Like darred larke, not daring up to looke
On her whose sight before so much he sought.
Thence forth they drew him by the hornes, and shooke
Nigh all to peeces, that they left him nought;
And then into the open light they forth him brought.

XLVIII

Like as an huswife, that with busie care
Thinks of her dairie to make wondrous gaine,
Finding where-as some wicked beast unware
That breakes into her dayr' house, there doth draine
Her creaming pannes, and frustrate all her paine,
Hath, in some snare or gin set close behind,
Entrapped him, and caught into her traine,
Then thinkes what punishment were best assign'd,
And thousand deathes deviseth in her vengefull mind:

XLIX

So did Diana and her maydens all
Use silly Faunus, now within their baile:
They mocke and scorne him, and him foule miscall;
Some by the nose him pluckt, some by the taile,
And by his goatish beard some did him haile:
Yet he (poore soule!) with patience all did beare;
For nought against their wils might countervaile:
Ne ought he said, what ever he did heare;
But hanging downe his head, did like a mome appeare.

L

At length, when they had flouted him their fill,
They gan to cast what penaunce him to give.
Some would have gelt him, but that same would spill
The wood-gods breed, which must for ever live:
Others would through the river him have drive,
And ducked deepe; but that seem'd penaunce light:
But most agreed, and did this sentence give,
Him in deares skin to clad, and in that plight
To hunt him with their hounds, him selfe save how hee might.

LI

But Cynthia's selfe, more angry then the rest,
Thought not enough to punish him in sport.
And of her shame to make a gamesome jest;
But gan examine him in straighter sort,
Which of her nymphes, or other close consort,
Him thither brought, and her to him betraid.
He, much affeard, to her confessed short
That't was Molanna which her so bewraid.
Then all attonce their hands upon Molanna laid.

LII

But him (according as they had decreed)
With a deeres-skin they covered, and then chast
With all their hounds, that after him did speed;
But he, more speedy, from them fled more fast
Then any deere: so sore him dread aghast.
They after follow'd all with shrill outcry,
Shouting as they the heavens would have brast:
That all the woods and dales, where he did flie,
Did ring againe, and loud recccho to the skie.

LIII

So they him follow'd till they weary were;
When, back returning to Molann' againe,
They, by commaund' ment of Diana, there
Her whelm'd with stones. Yet Faunus (for her paine)
Of her beloved Fanchin did obtaine,
That her he would receive unto his bed.
So now her waves passe through a pleasant plaine,
Till with the Fanchin she her selfe doe wed,
And (both combin'd) themselves in one faire river spred.

LIV

Nath'lesse, Diana, full of indignation,
Thence-forth abandond her delicious brooke;
In whose sweet streame, before that bad occasion,
So much delight to bathe her limbes she tooke:
Ne onely her, but also quite forsooke
All those faire forrests about Arlo hid,
And all that mountaine, which doth overlooke
The richest champian that may else be rid,
And the faire Shure, in which are thousand salmons bred.

LV

Them all, and all that she so deare did way,
Thence-forth she left; and parting from the place,
There-on an heavy haplesse curse did lay,
To weet, that wolves, where she was wont to space,
Should harbour'd be, and all those woods deface,
And thieves should rob and spoile that coast around.
Since which, those woods, and all that goodly chase,
Doth to this day with wolves and thieves abound:
Which too-too true that lands in-dwellers since have found.

CANTO VII

Pealing from Jove to Natur's bar,
Bold Alteration pleades
Large evidence: but Nature soone
Her righteous doome areads.

I

AH! whither doost thou now, thou greater Muse,
Me from these woods and pleasing forrests bring?
And my fraile spirit (that dooth oft refuse
This too high flight, unfit for her weake wing)
Lift up aloft, to tell of heavens king
(Thy soveraine sire) his fortunate successe,
And victory in bigger noates to sing,
Which he obtain'd against that Titanesse,
That him of heavens empire sought to dispossesse?

II

Yet sith I needs must follow thy behest,
Doe thou my weaker wit with skill inspire,
Fit for this turne; and in my feeble brest
Kindle fresh sparks of that immortall fire
Which learned minds inflameth with desire
Of heavenly things: for who but thok alone,
That art yborne of heaven and heavenly sire,
Can tell things doen in heaven so long ygone,
So farre past memory of man that may be knowne?

III

Now, at the time that was before agreed,
The gods assembled all on Arlo hill;
As well those that are sprung of heavenly seed,
As those that all the other world doe fill,
And rule both sea and land unto their will:
Onely th' infernall powers might not appeare;
Aswell for horror of their count'naunce ill,
As for th' unruly fiends which they did feare;
Yet Pluto and Proserpina were present there.

IV

And thither also came all other creatures,
What-ever life or motion doe retaine,
According to their sundry kinds of features;
That Arlo scarsly could them all containe;
So full they filled every hill and plaine:
And had not Natures sergeant (that is Order)
Them well disposed by his busie paine,
And raunged farre abroad in every border,
They would have caused much confusion and disorder.

V

Then forth issewed (great goddesse) great Dame Nature,
With goodly port and gracious majesty,
Being far greater and more tall of stature
Then any of the gods or powers on hie:
Yet certes by her face and physnomy,
Whether she man or woman inly were,
That could not any creature well descry:
For, with a veile that wimpled every where,
Her head and face was hid, that mote to none appeare.

VI

That, some doe say, was so by skill devized,
To hide the terror of her uncouth hew
From mortall eyes, that should be sore agrized;
For that her face did like a lion shew,
That eye of wight could not indure to view:
But others tell that it so beautious was,
And round about such beames of splendor threw,
That it the sunne a thousand times did pass,
Ne could be seene, but like an image in a glass.

VII

That well may seemen true: for well I weene
That this same day, when she on Arlo sat,
Her garment was so bright and wondrous sheene,
That my fraile wit cannot devize to what
It to compare, nor finde like stuffe to that:
As those three sacred saints, though else most wise,
Yet on Mount Thabor quite their wits forgat,
When they their glorious Lord in strange disguise
Transfigur'd sawe; his garments so did daze their eyes.

VIII

In a fayre plaine upon an equall hill
She placed was in a pavilion;
Not such as craftes-men by their idle skill
Are wont for princes states to fashion:
But th' Earth her self, of her owne motion,
Out of her fruitfull bosome made to growe
Most dainty trees, that, shooting up anon,
Did seeme to bow their bloosming heads full lowe,
For homage unto her, and like a throne did shew.

IX

So hard it is for any living wight
All her array and vestiments to tell,
That old Dan Geffrey (in whose gentle spright,
The pure well head of poesie did dwell)
In his Foules Parley durst not with it mel,
But it transferd to Alane, who he thought
Had in his Plaint of Kinde describ'd it well:
Which who will read set forth so as it ought,
Go seek he out that Alane where he may be sought.

X

And all the earth far underneath her feete
Was dight with flowres, that voluntary grew
Out of the ground, and sent forth odours sweet;
Tenne thousand mores of sundry sent and hew,
That might delight the smell, or please the view;
The which the nymphes from all the brooks thereby
Had gathered, which they at her foot-stoole threw;
That richer seem'd then any tapestry,
That princes bowres adorne with painted imagery.

XI

And Mole himselfe, to honour her the more,
Did deck himself in freshest faire attire,
And his high head, that seemeth alwaies hore
With hardned frosts of former winters ire,
He with an oaken girlond now did tire,
As if the love of some new nymph late seene
Had in him kindled youthfull fresh desire,
And made him change his gray attire to greene:
Ah, gentle Mole! such joyance hath thee well beseene.

XII

Was never so great joyance since the day
That all the gods whylome assembled were
On Haemus hill in their divine array,
To celebrate the solemne bridall cheare
Twixt Peleus and Dame Thetis pointed there;
Where Phoebus self, that god of poets hight,
They say did sing the spousall hymne full cleere,
That all the gods were ravisht with delight
Of his celestiall song, and musicks wondrous might.

XIII

This great grandmother of all creatures bred,
Great Nature, ever young yet full of eld,
Still mooving, yet unmoved from her sted,
Unseene of any, yet of all beheld,
Thus sitting in her throne, as I have teld,
Before her came Dame Mutabilitie;
And being lowe before her presence feld,
With meek obaysance and humilitie,
Thus gan her plaintif plea, with words to amplifie:

XIV

'To thee, O greatest goddesse, onely great,
An humble suppliant loe! I lowely fly,
Seeking for right, which I of thee entreat,
Who right to all dost deale indifferently,
Damning all wrong and tortious injurie,
Which any of thy creatures doe to other
(Oppressing them with power, unequally)
Sith of them all thou art the equall mother,
And knittest each to each, as brother unto brother.

XV

'To thee therefore of this same Jove I plaine,
And of his fellow gods that faine to be,
That challenge to themselves the whole worlds raign;
Of which the greatest part is due to me,
And heaven it selfe by heritage in fee:
For heaven and earth I both alike do deeme,
Sith heaven and earth are both alike to thee;
And gods no more then men thou doest esteeme:
for even the gods to thee, as men to gods, do seeme.

XVI

'Then weigh, O soveraigne goddesse, by what right
These gods do claime the worlds whole soverainty,
And that is onely dew unto thy might
Arrogate to themselves ambitiously:
As for the gods owne principality,
Which Jove usurpes unjustly, that to be
My heritage, Jove's self cannot deny,
From my great grandsire Titan unto mee
Deriv'd by dew descent; as is well knowen to thee.

XVII

'Yet mauger Jove, and all his gods beside,
I doe possesse the worlds most regiment;
As, if ye please it into parts divide,
And every parts inholders to convent,
Shall to your eyes appeare incontinent.
And first, the Earth (great mother of us all)
That only seems unmov'd and permanent,
And unto Mutability not thrall,
Yet is she chang'd in part, and eeke in generall.

XVIII

'For all that from her springs, and is ybredde,
How-ever fayre it flourish for a time,
Yet see we soone decay; and, being dead,
To turne again unto their earthly slime:
Yet, out of their decay and mortall crime,
We daily see new creatures to arize,
And of their winter spring another prime,
Unlike in forme, and chang'd by strange disguise;
So turne they still about, and change in restlesse wise.

XIX

'As for her tenants, that is, man and beasts,
The beasts we daily see massacred dy,
As thralls and vassals unto mens beheasts:
And men themselves doe change continually,
From youth to eld, from wealth to poverty,
From good to bad, from bad to worst of all:
Ne doe their bodies only flit and fly;
But eeke their minds (which they immortall call)
Still change and vary thoughts, as new occasions fall.

XX

'Ne is the water in more constant case;
Whether those same on high, or these belowe.
For th' ocean moveth stil from place to place;
And every river still doth ebbe and flowe:
Ne any lake, that seems most still and slowe,
Ne poole so small, that can his smoothnesse holde,
When any winde doth under heaven blowe;
With which the clouds are also tost and roll'd;
Now like great hills; and streight, like sluces, them unfold.

XXI

'So likewise are all watry living wights
Still tost and turned with continuall change,
Never abyding in their stedfast plights.
The fish, still floting, doe at randon range,
And never rest, but evermore exchange
Their dwelling places, as the streames them carrie:
Ne have the watry foules a certaine grange
Wherein to rest, ne in one stead do tarry;
But flitting still doe flie, and still their places vary.

XXII

'Next is the ayre: which who feeles not by sense
(For of all sense it is the middle meane)
To flit still? and, with subtrill influence
Of his thin spirit, all creatures to maintaine
In state of life? O weake life! that does leane
On thing so tickle as th' unsteady ayre;
Which every howre is chang'd, and altred cleane
With every blast that bloweth fowle or faire:
The faire doth it prolong; the fowle doth it impaire.

XXIII

'Therein the changes infinite beholde,
Which to her creatures every minute chaunce:
Now, boyling hot: streight, friezing deadly cold:
Now, faire sun-shine, that makes all skip and daunce:
Streight, bitter storms and balefull countenance,
That makes them all to shiver and to shake:
Rayne, hayle, and snowe do pay them sad penance,
And dreadfull thunder-claps (that make them quake)
With flames and flashing lights that thousand changes make.

XXIV

'Last is the fire: which, though it live for ever,
Ne can be quenched quite, yet, every day,
Wee see his parts, so soone as they do sever,
To lose their heat, and shortly to decay;
So makes himself his owne consuming pray.
Ne any living creatures doth he breed.
But all that are of others bredd doth slay,
And with their death his cruell life dooth feed;
Nought leaving, but their barren ashes, without seed.

XXV

'Thus all these fower (the which the ground-work bee
Of all the world, and of all living wights)
To thousand sorts of change we subject see:
Yet are they chang'd (by other wondrous slights)
Into themselves, and lose their native mights:
The fire to aire, and th' ayre to water sheere,
And water into earth: yet water fights
With fire, and aire with earth, approaching neere:
Yet all are in one body, and as one appeare.

XXVI

'So in them all raignes Mutabilitie;
How-ever these, that gods themselves do call,
Of them doe claime the rule and soverainty:
As Vesta, of the fire aethereall;
Vulcan, of this, with us so usuall;
Ops, of the earth; and Juno, of the ayre;
Neptune, of seas; and nymphes, of rivers all:
For all those rivers to me subject are;
And all the rest, which they usurp, be all my share.

XXVII

'Which to approven true, as I have told,
Vouchsafe, O goddesse, to thy presence call
The rest which doe the world in being hold:
As times and seasons of the yeare that fall:
Of all the which demand in generall,
Or judge thy selfe, by verdit of thine eye,
Whether to me they are not subject all.'
Nature did yeeld thereto; and by-and-by,
Bade Order call them all before her majesty.

XXVIII

So forth issew'd the seasons of the yeare:
First, lusty Spring, all dight in leaves of flowres
That freshly budded and new bloosmes did beare
(In which a thousand birds had built their bowres,
That sweetly sung, to call forth paramours):
And in his hand a javelin he did beare,
And on his head (as fit for warlike stoures)
A guilt engraven morion he did weare;
That, as some did him love, so others did him feare.

XXIX

Then came the jolly Sommer, being dight
In a thin silken cassock coloured greene,
That was unlyned all, to be more light:
And on his head a girlond well beseene
He wore, from which, as he had chauffed been,
The sweat did drop; and in his hand be bore
A boawe and shaftes, as he in forrest greene
Had hunted late the libbard or the bore,
And now would bathe his limbes, with labor heated sore.

XXX

Then came the Autumne, all in yellow clad,
As though he joyed in his plentious store,
Laden with fruits that made him laugh, full glad
That he had banisht hunger, which to-fore
Had by the belly oft him pinched sore.
Upon his head a wreath, that was enrold
With eares of corne of every sort, he bore:
And in his hand a sickle he did holde,
To reape the ripened fruits the which the earth had yold.

XXXI

Lastly came Winter, cloathed all in frize,
Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill,
Whil'st on his hoary beard his breath did freese,
And the dull drops, that from his purpled bill
As from a limbeck did adown distill.
In his right hand a tipped staffe he held,
With which his feeble steps he stayed still:
For he was faint with cold, and weak with eld;
That scarse his loosed limbes he hable was to weld.

XXXII

These, marching softly, thus in order went,
And after them the monthes all riding came:
First, sturdy March, with brows full sternly bent,
And armed strongly, rode upon a ram,
The same which over Hellespontus swam:
Yet in his hand a spade he also hent,
And in a bag all sorts of seeds ysame,
Which on the earth he strowed as he went,
And fild her womb with fruitfull hope of nourishment.

XXXIII

Next came fresh Aprill, full of lustyhed,
And wanton as a kid whose horne new buds:
Upon a bull he rode, the same which led
Europa floting through th' Argolick fluds:
His hornes were gilden all with golden studs,
And garnished with garlonds goodly dight
Of all the fairest flowres and freshest buds
Which th' earth brings forth, and wet he seem'd in sight
With waves, through which he waded for his loves delight.

XXXIV

Then came faire May, the fayrest mayd on ground,
Deckt all with dainties of her seasons pryde,
And throwing flowres out of her lap around:
Upon two brethrens shoulders she did ride,
The twinnes of Leda; which on eyther side
Supported her like to their soveraine queene.
Lord! how all creatures laught, when her they spide,
And leapt and daunc't as they had ravisht beene!
And Cupid selfe about her fluttred all in greene.

XXXV

And after her came jolly June, arrayd
All in greene leaves, as he a player were;
Yet in his time he wrought as well as playd,
That by his plough-yrons mote right well appeare:
Upon a crab he rode, that him did beare
With crooked crawling steps an uncouth pase,
And backward yode, as bargemen wont to fare
Bending their force contrary to their face,
Like that ungracious crew which faines demurest grace.

XXXVI

Then came hot July boyling like to fire,
That all his garments he had cast away:
Upon a lyon raging yet with ire
He boldly rode, and made him to obay:
It was the beast that whylome did forray
The Nemaean forrest, till th' Amphytrionide
Him slew, and with his hide did him array:
Behinde his back a sithe, and by his side
Under his belt he bore a sickle circling wide.

XXXVII

The sixt was August, being rich arrayd
In garment all of gold downe to the ground:
Yet rode he not, but led a lovely mayd
Forth by the lilly hand, the which was cround
With eares of corne, and full her hand was found:
That was the righteous virgin which of old
Liv'd here on earth, and plenty made abound;
But, after wrong was lov'd and justice solde,
She left th' unrighteous world and was to heaven extold.

XXXVIII

Next him September marched eeke on foote:
Yet was he heavy laden with the spoyle
of harvests riches, which he made his boot,
And him enricht with bounty of the soyle:
In his one hand, as fit for harvests toyle.
He held a knife-hook; and in th' other hand
A paire of waights, with which he did assoyle
Both more and lesse, where it in doubt did stand,
And equall gave to each as justice duly scann'd.

XXXIX

Then came October full of merry glee:
For yet his noule was totty of the must,
Which he was treading in the wine-fats see,
And of the joyous oyle, whose gentle gust
Made him so frollick and so full of lust:
Upon a dreadfull scorpion he did ride,
The same which by Dianaes doom unjust
Slew great orion: and eeke by his side
He had his ploughing-share and coulter ready tyde.

XL

Next was November; he full grosse and fat,
As fed with lard, and that right well might seeme:
For he had been a fatting hogs of late,
That yet his browes with sweat did reek and steem,
And yet the season was full sharp and breem;
In planting eeke he took no small delight.
Whereon he rode, not easie was to deeme;
For it a dreafull centaure was in sight,
The seed of Saturne and faire Nais, Chiron hight.

XLI

And after him came next the chill December:
Yet he, through merry feasting which he made,
And great bonfires, did not the cold remember;
His Saviours birth his mind so much did glad:
Upon a shaggy-bearded goat he rade,
The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender yeares,
They say, was nourisht by th' Idaean mayd;
And in his hand a broad deepe boawle he beares,
Of which he freely drinks an health to all his peeres.

XLII

Then came old January, wrapped well
In many weeds to keep the cold away;
Yet did he quake and quiver like to quell,
And blowe his nayles to warme them if he may:
For they were numbd with holding all the day
An hatchet keene, with which he felled wood,
And from the trees did lop the needlesse spray:
Upon an huge great earth-pot steane he stood,
From whose wide mouth there flowed forth the Romane floud.

XLIII

And lastly came cold February, sitting
In an old wagon, for he could not ride;
Drawne of two fishes for the season fitting,
Which through the flood before did softly slyde
And swim away: yet had he by his side
His plough and harnesse fit to till the ground,
And tooles to prune the trees, before the pride
Of hasting Prime did make them burgein round.
So past the twelve months forth, and their dew places found.

XLIV

And after these there came the Day and Night,
Riding together both with equall pase,
Th' one on a palfrey blacke, the other white:
But Night had covered her uncomely face
With a blacke veile, and held in hand a mace,
On top whereof the moon and stars were pight,
And Sleep and Darknesse round about did trace:
But Day did beare, upon his scepters hight,
The goodly sun, encompast all with beames bright.

XLV

Then came the Howres, faire daughters of high Jove
And timely Night, the which were all endewed
With wondrous beauty fit to kindle love;
But they were virgins all, and love eschewed,
That might forslack the charge to them fore-shewed
By mighty Jove; who did them porters make
Of heavens gate (whence all the gods issued)
Which they did dayly watch, and nightly wake
By even turnes, ne ever did their charge forsake.

XLVI

And after all came Life, and lastly Death:
Death with most grim and griesly visage seene,
Yet is he nought but parting of the breath;
Ne ought to see, but like a shade to weene,
Unbodied, unsoul'd, unheard, unseene:
But Life was like a faire young lusty boy,
Such as they faine Dan Cupid to have beene,
Full of delightfull health and lively joy,
Deckt all with flowres, and wings of gold fit to employ.

XLVII

When these were past, thus gan the Titanesse:
'Lo! mighty mother, now be judge, and say
Whether in all thy creatures more or lesse
Change doth not raign and beare the greatest sway:
For who sees not that Time on all doth pray?
But times do change and move continually:
So nothing here long standeth in one stay:
Wherefore, this lower world who can deny
But to be subject still to Mutabilitie?'

XLVIII

Then thus gan Jove: 'Right true it is, that these,
And all things else that under heaven dwell,
Are chaung'd of Time, who doth them all disseise
Of being: but who is it (to me tell)
That Time himselfe doth move and still compell
To keepe his course? Is not that namely wee,
Which poure that vertue from our heavenly cell
That moves them all, and makes them changed be?
So them we gods doe rule, and in them also thee.'

XLIX

To whom thus Mutability: 'The things
Which we see not how they are mov'd and swayd
Ye may attribute to your selves as kings,
And say they by your secret powre are made:
But what we see not, who shall us perswade?
But were they so, as ye them faine to be,
Mov'd by your might, and ordred by your ayde;
Yet what if I can prove, that even yee
Your selves are likewise chang'd, and subject unto mee?

L

'And first, concerning her that is the first,
Even you, faire Cynthia, whom so much ye make
Joves dearest darling; she was bred and nurst
On Cynthus hill, whence she her name did take:
Then is she mortall borne, how-so ye crake;
Besides, her face and countenance every day
We changed see, and sundry forms partake,
Now hornd, now round, now bright, now brown and gray;
So that as changefull as the moone men use to say.

LI

'Next Mercury, who though he lesse appeare
To change his hew, and alwayes seeme as one,
Yet he his course doth altar every yeare,
And is of late far out of order gone:
So Venus eeke, that goodly paragone,
Though faire all night, yet is she darke all day;
And Phoebus self, who lightsome is alone,
Yet is he oft eclipsed by the way,
And fills the darkned world with terror and dismay.

LII

'Now Mars, that valiant man, is changed most:
For he some times so far runs out of square,
That he his way doth seem quite to have lost,
And cleane without his usuall sphere to fare;
That even these star-gazers stonisht are
At sight thereof, and damne their lying bookes:
So likewise grim Sir Saturne oft doth spare
His sterne aspect, and calme his crabbed lookes:
So many turning cranks these have, so many crookes.

LIII

'But you, Dan Jove, that only constant are,
And king of all the rest, as ye do clame,
Are you not subject eeke to this misfare?
Then let me aske you this withouten blame:
Where were ye borne? Some say in Crete by name,
Others in Thebes, and others other-where;
But wheresoever they comment the same,
They all consent that ye begotten were
And borne here in this world, ne other can appeare.

LIV

'Then are ye mortall borne, and thrall to me,
Unlesse the kingdome of the sky yee make
Immortall and unchangeable to be:
Besides, that power and vertue which ye spake,
That ye here worke, doth many changes take,
And your owne natures change: for each of you,
That vertue have, or this or that to make,
Is checkt and changed from his nature trew,
By others opposition or obliquid view.

LV

'Besides, the sundry motions of your spheares,
So sundry waies and fashions as clerkes faine,
Some in short space, and some in longer yeares;
What is the same but alteration plaine?
Onely the starrie skie doth still remaine:
Yet do the starres and signes therein still move,
And even it self is mov'd, as wizards saine.
But all that moveth doth mutation love:
Therefore both you and them to me I subject prove.

LVI

'Then since within this wide great universe
Nothing doth firme and permanent appeare,
But all things tost and turned by transverse:
What then should let, but I aloft should reare
My trophee, and from all the triumph beare?
Nowjudge then (O thou greatest goddesse trew!)
According as thy selfe doest see and heare,
And unto me addoom that is my dew;
That is the rule of all, all being rul'd by you.'

LVII

So having ended, silence long ensewed;
Ne Nature to or fro spake for a space,
But, with firme eyes affixt, the ground still viewed.
Meane while, all creatures, looking in her face,
Expecting th' end of this so doubtfull case,
Did hang in long suspence what would ensew,
To whether side should fall the soveraigne place:
At length, she, looking up with chearefull view,
The silence brake, and gave her doome in speeches few:

LVIII

'I well consider all that ye have sayd,
And find that all things stedfastnes doe hate
And changed be: yet being rightly wayd,
They are not changed from their first estate;
But by their change their being doe dilate:
And turning to themselves at length againe,
Doe worke their owne perfection so by fate:
Then over them Change doth not rule and raigne;
But they raigne over Change, and doe their states maintaine.

LIX

'Cease therefore, daughter, further to aspire,
And thee content thus to be rul'd by me:
For thy decay thou seekst by thy desire:
But time shall come that all shall changed bee,
And from thenceforth none no more change shall see.'
So was the Titaness put downe and whist,
And Jove confirm'd in his imperiall see.
Then was that whole assembly quite dismist,
And Natur's selfe did vanish, whither no man wist.

THE VIII. CANTO, UNPERFITE

I

WHEN I bethinke me on that speech whyleare
Of Mutability, and well it way,
Me seemes, that though she all unworthy were
Of the heav'ns rule, yet, very sooth to say,
In all things else she beares the greatest sway:
Which makes me loath this state of life so tickle,
And love of things so vaine to cast away;
Whose flowring pride, so fading and so fickle,
Short Time shall soon cut down with his consuming sickle.

II

Then gin I thinke on that which Nature sayd,
Of that same time when no more change shall be,
But stedfast rest of all things, firmely stayd
Upon the pillours of eternity,
That is contrayr to Mutabilitie:
For all that moveth doth in change delight:
But thence-forth all shall rest eternally
With Him that is the God of Sabbaoth hight:
O that great Sabbaoth God graunt me that Sabaoths sight!




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