Seven Minor Epics of the English Renaissance (1596-1624)
by Dunstan Gale
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Philos and Licia (1624) by Anonymous

Pyramus and Thisbe (1617) by Dunstan Gale

The Love of Dom Diego and Ginevra (1596) by Richard Lynche

Mirrha (1607) by William Barksted

Hiren (1611) by William Barksted

Amos and Laura (1613) by Samuel Page

The Scourge of Venus (1613) by H.A.




Gainesville, Florida SCHOLARS' FACSIMILES & REPRINTS 1967


1605 N. W. 14th Avenue

Gainesville, Florida, 32601, U.S.A.

Harry R. Warfel, General Editor

To Mary Joan

L. C. Catalog Card Number: 67-10125



Introduction VII

A Pleasant and Delightfull Poeme of Two Lovers, Philos and Licia. 1

Pyramus and Thisbe. By Dunstan Gale. 37

The Love of Dom Diego and Ginevra. By Richard Lynche. 61

Mirrha the Mother of Adonis: or, Lustes Prodegies. By William Barksted. 103

Hiren: or The Faire Greeke. By William Barksted. 169

The Love of Amos and Laura. By Samuel Page. 213

The Scourge of Venus. By H.A. 229


Professor Elizabeth Story Donno, in her recent Elizabethan Minor Epics (New York, 1963), has made an important contribution to both scholarship and teaching. Not only has she brought together for the first time in one volume most of the extant Elizabethan minor epics, but in so doing, she has hastened the recognition that the minor epic, or "epyllion" as it has often been called in modern times,[1] is a distinctive literary genre as deserving of study as the sonnet, the pastoral, or the verse satire.

The purpose of the present volume is to supplement and complement Professor Donno's collection by making available in facsimile seven minor epics of the English Renaissance omitted from it. With the publication of these poems all the known, surviving minor epics of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods will for the first time be made available for study in faithful reproductions of the earliest extant editions.

Of the seven minor epics included here, three—A Pleasant and Delightfull Poeme of Two Lovers, Philos and Licia, STC 19886 (1624); Dunstan Gale's Pyramus and Thisbe, STC 11527 (1617); and S[amuel] P[age's] The Love of Amos and Laura (1613)[2]—have not previously been reprinted in modern times. And of these three, one, Philos and Licia, though listed in the Short-Title Catalogue, seems not to have been noticed by Renaissance scholars, nor even by any of the principal bibliographers except William C. Hazlitt, who gives this unique copy bare mention as a book from Robert Burton's collection.[3]

The remaining four books—R[ichard] L[ynche's][4] The Amorous Poeme of Dom Diego and Ginevra published with Lynche's Diella, Certaine Sonnets, STC 17091 (1596); William Barksted's Mirrha The Mother of Adonis: Or, Lustes Prodegies, STC 1429 (1607), published with Three Eglogs by Lewes Machin; Barksted's Hiren: or The Faire Greeke, STC 1428 (1611); and H. A's The Scourge of Venus, or, The Wanton Lady. With the Rare Birth of Adonis, STC 968 (1613)—have been edited by the "indefatigable" Alexander B. Grosart in Occasional Issues of Very Rare Books (Manchester, 1876-77), limited to 50 copies each and hence extremely scarce today.[5] Dom Diego and Ginevra was also reprinted by Edward Arber in An English Garner, VII (Birmingham, 1883), 209-240. With the exception of Philos and Licia, these poems are printed in their approximate order of composition from 1596 to 1613.[6]


As befits the paucity of their known literary productions, the authors of these poems have in common chiefly their anonymity, or a degree of obscurity approaching it. The authors of Philos and Licia and of H. A's The Scourge are unknown. Though the authors of the other poems are known, little is known about them. The mystery of the authorship of The Scourge was compounded in the nineteenth century by its incorrect attribution to one Henry Austin. Grosart, for example, argued that the H. A. on the title page and on the address "To the Reader" of the 1614 impression, and the A. H. on the corresponding pages of the 1620 impression, STC 970, was the Austin denounced by Thomas Heywood for stealing his translations of Ovid's Ars Amatoria and De Remedio Amoris. Arthur Melville Clark, in correcting this error, pointed out that these stolen translations of Ovid should not be confused with The Scourge, an original poetic composition based on Book X of a quite different work by Ovid, The Metamorphoses. Clark concluded that "H. A. or A. H. was probably the editor, not the author, although he may have made certain corrections and additions, as the title-page of the second edition states."[7]

However, H. A.—not A. H.—was almost certainly the author of The Scourge, as evidenced, among other details, by the title page of the 1613 Scourge,[8] unknown to Clark, which unequivocally states: "Written by H. A." As to the initials H. A. appended to the address "To the Reader" of the 1614 impression and the A. H. on the title and address pages of the 1620 impression, they were probably printer's errors, arising in the 1614 impression from the printer's careless assumption that the address "To the Reader" was the work of the author rather than the bookseller, and in the impression of 1620 from a simple typographical metathesis of the letters H and A.[9]

The authorship of the remaining five poems, together with such relevant facts of the authors' lives as are known, is as follows. Pyramus and Thisbe is by one Dunstan Gale (fl. 1596), about whom nothing else is known. Dom Diego and Ginevra has long been attributed to Richard Lynche (fl. 1601), otherwise chiefly known for his Diella, a conventional sonnet sequence accompanying Dom Diego, and for his translation of Cartari's Le Imagini, Englished as The Fountaine of Ancient Fiction (1599). Mirrha and Hiren are by William Barksted (fl. 1611), "one of the servants of his Majesties Revels," as the title page of Hiren proclaims. Barksted is believed to have completed The Insatiate Countess after Marston's withdrawal from the stage in 1608 or 1609. This play, bearing Barksted's name in one issue of the 1631 edition, contains a number of lines and phrases identical with lines and phrases in Mirrha and Hiren.[10]

Amos and Laura has been attributed, probably correctly, to Samuel Page (1574-1630),[11] who is mentioned by Meres as "most passionate among us to bewaile and bemoane the perplexities of Love,"[12] and by his fellow-Oxonian Anthony a Wood as long-time Vicar of Deptford.[13] Although a few additional facts are known about these authors, none seems to contribute to an understanding of the poems reprinted, and all may be found under the appropriate authors' names in the DNB.


Traditionally the storyhouse of minor epic source materials has been classical mythology, but inevitably, as suitable classical myths were exhausted, Renaissance poets turned to such sources as the Italian novella, or even—romantic heresy—to comparatively free invention. As if to compensate for these departures from orthodoxy, the later epyllionists leaned ever more heavily on allusions to classical mythology. Of the seven poems included here only three (Pyramus and Thisbe, Mirrha, and The Scourge) are based on a classical source (Ovid's Metamorphoses). Of the remaining four tales, two are drawn from Bandello apparently by way of Painter, and the last two (Philos and Licia, Amos and Laura), though greatly indebted to Hero and Leander overall, seem not to have drawn their characters or actions directly from either a classical or more contemporary source. These last two poems, then, from a Renaissance point of view, are comparatively free inventions. But both, and especially Philos and Licia, are a tissue of allusions to classical mythology.

Gale in Pyramus and Thisbe expands Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, IV, from some 130 to 480 lines, Barksted expands less than 300 lines of Golding's Ovid, X, to nearly 900, and H. A. enlarges the same tale to about 950 lines.[14] It should be emphasized, however, that these are not mere amplified translations, but reworkings of the classics, with significant departures from them. Gale, for example, prefaces the romance of Pyramus and Thisbe with their innocent meeting out-of-doors in an arbor, amid violets and damask roses. He has Venus, enraged at seeing these youngsters engaging in child-like rather than erotic play, command Cupid to shoot his arrows at them "As nought but death, their love-dart may remove" (Stanza 8). There is no counterpart to this opening scene in Golding's Ovid.

Similarly Barksted departs at length from Ovid in the beginning of his tale, where the Renaissance poet undertakes to explain why Mirrha is cursed with love for her father. While she listens to the sweet, sad songs of Orpheus, Cupid,[15] falling in love with her, courts her and is rejected; his parting kiss "did inspire/her brest with an infernall and unnam'd desire" (p. 123). Golding's Ovid, specifically denying that Cupid had anything to do with Mirrha's unnatural love, suggests that Cinyras' daughter must have been blasted by one of the Furies.[16] Other inventions of Barksted include a picture of her father with which Mirrha converses (pp. 126-127), pictures of her suitors (p. 128), a picture of her mother, over which she throws a veil (p. 128) and a description of Mirrha herself (pp. 131-132). Later in the story Mirrha meets a satyr named Poplar (unknown to Ovid), who makes free with her (pp. 148-155). As punishment for such goings on in Diana's sacred grove, he is to be metamorphosed into the tree that now bears his name (even as Mirrha is subsequently transformed into the tree that produces myrrh).

The Scourge of Venus, though following Ovid's story more closely than Mirrha, expands Golding by more than 600 lines, to a little more than the average length of the Elizabethan minor epic. In the process, Mirrha is assigned lustful dreams not found in Ovid (p. 246), and is impelled to write a long letter to her father (pp. 247-250). Shortly thereafter, the author introduces an emphatically Christian digression on the horror of Mirrha's "fowle incestious lust" and on the importance of reading "Gods holy Bible" as a salve for sin (p. 253), and invents the Nurse's prolix arguments against such "filthy" love as Mirrha desires (pp. 258-261).[17] The fact that the author follows Ovid's story as closely as he does should be taken as a commentary on his limited powers of invention rather than on his devotion to the art of translation.

Bandello, I, 27, Belleforest, 18, Whetstone's Rocke of Regard, 2, Fenton's Tragicall Discourses, 13, and Painter's Palace of Pleasure, II, 29[18] have all been listed as possible sources for Dom Diego and Ginevra.[19] Grosart regarded Fenton's work, 1579, as the source from which Lynche got the bare bones of his story, and Arber agreed.[20] But though Jeannette Fellheimer could find no evidence that Lynche knew Belleforest's or Fenton's version of the tale, she demonstrated, on the basis of two very close parallels, that he knew Painter's.[21] In support of Fellheimer's view, one notes that Lynche follows Painter in employing the form "Cathelo[y]gne"[22] (p. 63) rather than Fenton's "Catalonia."[23]

Barksted may have known ballads on the subject of Hiren, alluded to in stanza 34 of his poem, as well as Peele's lost play The Turkish Mahomet and Hyren the fair Greek. But like Lynche, he seems heavily indebted to a tale by Painter, in this case "Hyerenee the Faire Greeke."[24] Among other equally striking but less sustained correspondences between Painter's prose narrative and Barksted's minor epic verse, one notes the following, in which Mahomet's confidant Mustapha attempts to reanimate his leader's martial spirit, drowned in uxoriousness: "But nowe I cannot revive the memorie of your father Amurate, but to my great sorow and griefe, who by the space of XL. yeres made the sea and earth to tremble and quake ... [and so cruelly treated the Greeks] that the memorie of the woundes do remaine at this present, even to the mountaines of Thomao and Pindus: he subjugated ... all the barbarous nations, from Morea to the straits of Corinthe. What neede I here to bring in the cruel battell that he fought with the Emperour Sigismunde and Philip duke of Burgundia wherein he overthrew the whole force of the Christians, toke the emperour prisoner, and the duke of Burgundie also ... or to remember other fierce armies which he sent into Hungarie."[25]

Barksted versifies this speech in stanzas 1 and 2, putting it at the beginning instead of toward the end, where it comes in Painter's novella. By a poetic license, Barksted credits all these achievements to the son, none to the father. Barksted follows Painter's story quite closely, but he cuts, amplifies and invents in order to develop its minor epic potentialities. Thus, in addition to turning Painter's prose into the sixains of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, he cuts the length of Painter's tale by about two-thirds. In the process, much of Painter's attention to historical detail, his complication of plot, and his tedious moralizing are mercifully lost. By way of amplification in the minor epic mode, Barksted expands as follows Mahomet's brief command in Painter that Hiren should "adorne herselfe with her most precious jewels, and decke her with the costliest apparell shee had" (see stanza 100).[26] Also, in order to bring out Mahomet's realization of the enormity of his crime of slaying Hiren, the consummation of all his amorous dreams, Barksted invents a second killing—Mahomet's killing of Mustapha, who had driven his lord to perform the first execution.


Like the poems reprinted by Professor Donno, these establish their identity as minor epics by the erotic subject matter of their narration, however symbolized or moralized, and by their use of certain rhetorical devices that came to be associated with the genre. These include the set description of people and places; the suasoria, or invitation to love; and the formal digression, sometimes in the form of an inset tale, such as the tale of Poplar in Mirrha (pp. 148-155). Other rhetorical devices cultivated in the epyllion are the long apostrophe, and the sentence or wise saying. Also, these poems employ numerous compound epithets and far-fetched conceits. (Dom Diego goes hunting with a "beast-dismembring blade" [p. 64], and Cinyras incestuous bed in The Scourge "doth shake and quaver as they lie,/As if it groan'd to beare the weight of sinne." [p. 271].)

The average length of these, like other Renaissance minor epics, is about 900 lines. Although the length of Renaissance minor epics is not rigidly prescribed, it is noteworthy that several of these poems have almost the same number of lines. Philos and Licia, Mirrha, and Hiren, for example, running to about 900 lines, vary in length by no more than 16 lines. (Amos and Laura, however, the shortest with about 300 lines, is some 650 lines shorter than The Scourge, the longest, with about 950.)

As well as echoing Marlowe's Hero and Leander and Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis in particular words and phrases, these poems reveal a much more general indebtedness to what Professor Bush has aptly called "the twin peaks of the Ovidian tradition in England."[27] The majority employ one of two prosodic patterns—the Marlovian couplet popularized in Hero and Leander, or the six-line stanza used by Lodge but soon after taken over by Shakespeare in Venus and Adonis and thereafter associated with his poem.[28]

In addition to the couplet, a common mark of Marlovian influence in the poems is the etiological myth, sometimes expanded into a tale. Thus, in Mirrha, for instance, the growth of rare spices and perfumes in Panchaia is explained by the story of how Hebe once spilled nectar there (p. 147).

Comparable marks of Shakespearean influence are the aggressive female like Mirrha, reminiscent of Shakespeare's Venus; the hunting motif in Dom Diego and Amos and Laura, recalling Adonis' obsession with the hunt; and the catalog of the senses in Philos and Licia, pp. 15-16, and Hiren, stanzas 75-79, which imitates Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, ll. 427-450. Only Mirrha among these poems, however, makes specific acknowledgment of a debt to Shakespeare (see p. 177). Finally, Dom Diego's plangent laments at Ginevra's cruelty recall Glaucus' unrestrained weeping at Scylla's cruelty in Lodge's Scillaes Metamorphosis. But whereas the "piteous Nimphes" surrounding Glaucus weep till a "pretie brooke" forms,[29] "the fayre Oreades pitty-moved gerles" that comfort Dom Diego are loath to lose the "liquid pearles" he weeps. Consequently they gather (and presumably preserve) them with "Spunge-like Mosse" (p. 95). Lynche extends his debt to Lodge by establishing at the end of his poem a link between Ginevra and the Maiden he professes to love. But, whereas Lodge in the Envoy to his poem uses Scylla on the rocks as a horrible example of what may happen to unyielding maids, Lynche holds up Ginevra, who finally marries her lover, as an example to be followed by the poet's disdainful Diella of the accompanying sonnets (see p. 101).

It would probably be impossible, even if it were desirable, for any given minor epic to follow all the conventions of the genre, or even all its alternative conventions. Yet all the poems included here adhere so closely to most of the important minor epic conventions that there should be no question as to the minor epic identity of any.[30]


Philos and Licia, though entered on October 2, 1606 and presumably printed soon thereafter, survives only in the unique copy of the 1624 edition printed by W. S. [William Stansby?] for John Smethwick. (No record of transfer of this poem from William Aspley, who entered it, exists, though Aspley and Smethwick were associated, along with William Jaggard, in the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio of 1623.)

Robert Burton bequeathed this copy of Philos and Licia, along with many of his other books, to the Bodleian Library in 1639. Under the terms of his will the Bodleian was to have first choice of his books, unless it already had duplicates, and Christ Church, Burton's college, second choice. Along with Philos and Licia, the Bodleian received the following other minor epics from Burton's collection: Pigmalion's Image (1598), Venus and Adonis (1602), Samacis and Hermaphroditus (1602), and Hero and Leander (1606).[31] Burton regularly wrote his name in full, some abbreviation thereof, or at least his initials, on the title page of his books, usually across the middle. In Philos and Licia, Burton's heavily and distinctively written initials RB are written a bit below the middle of the title page, on either side of the printer's device.[32] Also in its typical location at the bottom of the title page is found "a curious mark, a sort of hieroglyphic or cypher," which Burton almost always affixed to his books. The significance of this device remains obscure; it "has usually been supposed to represent the three 'R's' in his name joined together."[33]

Although the dedication of Dunstan Gale's Pyramus and Thisbe is dated November 25, 1596, no copy of an earlier edition than that printed in 1617 for Roger Jackson is extant. The unsophisticated, highly imitative style of the piece, the date of the dedication, and the fact that the printer's device in the 1617 edition is an old one, used previously in 1586-87 by Ralph Newbery,[34] to whom Jackson was apprenticed from 1591-99,[35] suggests that the poem was originally published by Newbery about 1596. Probably this first edition had the same device as the edition of 1617, and a similar title page. According to Newbery's will, Roger Jackson and John Norcott were to receive his stock of books on Fleet Street, but McKerrow, citing the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 30, Hudlestone as his authority, says the offer seems not to have been taken up.[36] Gale's poem would seem to constitute an exception to this generalization.

Pyramus and Thisbe was also issued with Greene's Arbasto in 1617. On Jan. 16, 1625/26 Gale's poem was transferred from Roger Jackson's widow to Francis Williams,[37] who had it printed for the last time in 1626.

Nothing of note has been turned up with regard to the first and only early edition of Lynche's Dom Diego and Ginevra (1596).

According to their first modern editor, A. B. Grosart, the first and only early editions of Mirrha and Hiren are notorious for their wretched typography and printing errors of various kinds.[38] He writes, "In all my experience of our elder literature I have not met with more carelessly printed books. Typographical and punctuation errors not only obscure the meaning but again and again make places absolutely unintelligible."[39] Their author Barksted must share the blame, Grosart opines, for some of the poem's errors would seem to show that he was "ill-educated and unpractised in composition."[40] Henry Plomer agrees with Grosart that Edward Allde, the printer of Mirrha, was guilty of poor type and workmanship.[41] Perhaps the grossest example in Mirrha of the kind of thing Plomer may have had in mind is the tipping of the type on the title page of the two copies of this poem which have come to my attention.[42] Another example would be the awkward separation of the "A" in "Adonis" on one line of the title page from the rest of the word on the next.

But although Mirrha is indeed a printer's nightmare, it strikes me that Grosart is far too severe in his strictures against Hiren, which was quite attractively and reasonably accurately printed, probably by Nicholas Okes,[43] who also printed The Scourge. Indeed Grosart has "corrected" a number of details of punctuation in the poem which might better have been left standing, in view of the generally light punctuation of Barksted's day. In two instances Grosart has even "corrected" details which, as "corrected," follow the unique copy of Hiren, the Bodleian copy which he consulted.[44]

Page's Amos and Laura was first published in 1613,[45] a second time in 1619. Finally, in 1628, a second impression of the edition of 1613, with slight variants from it, was printed.

In the nineteenth century Amos and Laura was remarked upon chiefly for its dedicatory verses to Izaak Walton in the unique copy of the 1619 edition at the British Museum, verses found neither in the then only known, imperfect British Museum copy of the 1613 edition, nor in the impression of 1628. These verses have long been thought to constitute the first reference to Walton in print. But three additional copies of the 1613 edition have by now come to light, at the Folger, the Huntington, and at the British Museum.[46] All three copies, though variously imperfect, contain the dedicatory verses.[47]

A word remains to be said about the way in which the second impression of the 1614 Scourge, "corrected, and enlarged, by H. A." differs from the first edition of 1613. Though long thought to be identical with the first edition,[48] the second impression, besides being corrected in a number of details, is "enlarged" by the following two stanzas after the line on p. 262, "Helpe Nurse, else long I cannot live."[49]

Some say (and you can tell the truth likewise) When women once have felt that they cal sport, And in their wombe a Tympanie doth rise For things peculiar they do oft import: And though most odious it do seeme to some, Yet give it them or they are quite undone.

And so my case most desperate standes you see, I long for this yet know no reason why, Unlesse a womans will a reason bee, We'le have our will although unlawfully, It is most sweete and wholsome unto mee, Though it seeme bad and odious unto thee.

The third impression of 1620 follows the edition of 1613 but prints three stanzas to a page instead of four.


Much of the literary value of these poems, it should be recognized, is historical. Like Henry Petowe's romance, The Second Part of Hero and Leander (1598), they are fully as interesting as reflections of the poetic genius of Marlowe and/or Shakespeare, mirrored in the works of their less gifted contemporaries, as they are in themselves. Apart from their historical significance, however, all these poems have intrinsic interest, and several, including Dom Diego, Mirrha and Hiren as well as Philos and Licia, have a considerable degree of literary merit as well. Whoever the author of Philos and Licia may have been, he was one who had thoroughly assimilated the conventions of the minor epic, especially those employed in Hero and Leander.[50] Unlike Page, whose imitation of Marlowe is for the most part blind, this author is skillful in working many of these conventions, and even particular words and phrases from other minor epics, into the context of his poem, somewhat as the bards of major epic are supposed to have done. Surprisingly, in view of this technique of composition, the poem is well integrated, and consistently smooth and fluent in its versification.[51]

As much as this unknown poet must have admired Marlowe's verse, he evidently could not stomach the elder poet's conception of a hostile universe, or his glorification of unwedded bliss. Accordingly he constructed in Philos and Licia a world in which all goes well provided one follows the rules, and where one of the key rules is that Hymen's rites must precede love's consummation. One of Licia's chief responsibilities, in addition to summing up all feminine perfections, is to enforce this rule. Philos, though severely tempted to violate it, soon yields to Licia's virtuous admonitions, for he is, let it be known, a pliant youth, almost as devoted to Licia's will as the knight in Chaucer's Wife of Bath's tale to the Loathly Lady's. The poem ends happily, with the gods attending the lovers' nuptials. The result of this too easily ordered union of souls and bodies, unhappily for this otherwise charming poem, is an insufficiency of conflict. Aside from the poem's un-Marlovian insistence on matrimony, its most notable feature is its skillful and sustained use of light and dark imagery, recalling Chapman's much less extensive treatment of such imagery in his conclusion of Marlowe's poem and in Ovid's Banquet of Sense.

Gale's Pyramus and Thisbe begins with a moderately engaging portrayal of the youngsters' innocent friendship; it soon falls into absurdity, from which it never subsequently gets entirely clear. Gale seems to have had no inkling of the ridiculous possibilities of "serious" verse. Consequently, he is able to write of Pyramus and Thisbe "sit[ting] on bryers,/Till they enjoyd the height of their desires," (Stanza 13), with no sense of the incongruity of the image employed. With similar ill effect in its pathetic context, Thisbe's nose bleed is introduced as an omen of disaster (Stanza 33), and Pyramus' "angry" blood, by a ridiculously far-fetched conceit, is said to gush out "to finde the author of the deed,/But when it none but Pyramus had found,/ Key cold with feare it stood upon the ground" (Stanza 30).

Dom Diego, though a pleasant, occasionally charming imitation of Lodge's Scillaes Metamorphosis, employs fewer of the epyllionic conventions than Philos and Licia, and uses them less imaginatively. Though it never achieves a style of its own, it is quite successful in recapturing the lachrymose artificiality that marks Lodge's poem.

Despite its oblique opening and occasionally awkward style, Barksted's Mirrha is a poem of more power than Dom Diego. Among its more affecting passages are a vivid portrayal of a "gloomy gallerie" lined with portraits of Mirrha's suitors (p. 128) and an inventive account of Hebe's spilling the nectar that rained spices on Panchaia (p. 147). Barksted's early and unqualified recognition of Shakespeare's greatness, and his humbly accurate assessment of his own limited powers, compared to "neighbor" Shakespeare's, are quite disarming. One gets the uncomfortable sense, however, that Barksted in both Mirrha and Hiren, like H. A. in The Scourge after him, is a moral fence straddler, enjoying vicariously the lasciviousness he so piously reprehends.

Hiren as treated by Barksted is also deficient in imagination of a high order, but is a more absorbing story than Mirrha. As signaled by his undertaking a more intricately rhymed stanza than he attempted in his first poem, Barksted's versification and composition in the second poem are superior. The poet achieves his most telling effects in Hiren not from invention but from the elaboration of such source materials in Painter as permit him to capture the distinctive glittering artifice of minor epic. His catalog of the senses (Stanzas 75-79) serves as an example of this power of embellishment at its best.

Page's Amos and Laura, like Gale's Pyramus and Thisbe, falls into bathos near the end when Amos, in an extended comparison, likens Laura's refusal to cure his love wound to an avaricious doctor's refusal to set a poor man's leg. Page's failure as a poet is not a result of temporary lapses, as here, but of his inability to invent significant conflict. As Amos says, with unintentional irony on page 235:

There are no Seas to separate our joy, No future danger can our Love annoy.

This is precisely the problem. But in spite of the poem's obvious weakness, one is drawn to the man who wrote it for his obviously sincere, self-deprecatory references to his "weake wit" and "inferiour stile." Fully aware of his limitations, Page, like Barksted and many another unexceptional talent of his age, was nevertheless drawn to the composition of poetry like a moth to the flame.

The Scourge is a straightforward and lively but undistinguished redaction, in sing-song verse, of the well-worn Mirrha story. Its chief but nevertheless dubious merit, over against the epyllionic tradition, is its no-nonsense approach to the art of minor epic narration. Although it expands Ovid's speeches and descriptions where feasible and introduces a degree of invention en route, it is singularly barren of such adornments as epithets, set descriptions, and formal digressions. In consequence, it lacks the distinctive hard, bejewelled brilliance of minor epic that characterizes Barksted's poetry at its best.

In summation, then, we see that although Pyramus and Thisbe and Amos and Laura have slight literary value, The Scourge, while failing to score very high as a minor epic, yet has a certain crude, narrative vitality. And Dom Diego, Mirrha, Hiren, and Philos and Licia, by virtue of their charm, inventiveness, or skillful adaptation of minor epic conventions to their expressive needs, form a hierarchy of increasing literary value that raises them as a group well above the level of the merely imitative.

For permission to reproduce Philos and Licia (for the first time), Mirrha, and Hiren, I am much indebted to the Bodleian Library; for permission to reproduce Dom Diego and Ginevra I am similarly indebted to the Trustees of the British Museum. I am also under heavy obligation to the Folger Library for permission to reprint Pyramus and Thisbe, Amos and Laura, and The Scourge of Venus (1613), all for the first time.

I also wish to express my thanks to The British Museum, the Bodleian Library, the University of Michigan, and the Ohio State University libraries for generous permission to use their collections, and to the Board of College Education of the Lutheran Church in America for a six-week summer study grant, which enabled me to gather research materials for this project.

For help and encouragement in a great variety of ways I am grateful to the following mentors and colleagues: Professor John Arthos, who first introduced me to the beauty of minor epic, the late Professor Hereward T. Price, and Professor Warner G. Rice, all from the University of Michigan; Professor Helen C. White of the University of Wisconsin; librarians Major Felie Clark, Ret., U. S. Army, of Gainesville, Florida, and Professor Luella Eutsler of Wittenberg University; and Dr. Katharine F. Pantzer of the Houghton Library, Harvard University, editor of the forthcoming, revised Short-Title Catalogue.

Paul W. Miller

Wittenberg University Springfield, Ohio December, 1965


[1] See in this connection my article "The Elizabethan Minor Epic," SP, LV (1958), 31-38, answered by Walter Allen, Jr., pp. 515-518. My chief concern in this article was to show that the kind of poetry described therein, though in years past loosely and variously referred to by such terms as "Ovidian poetry" or "mythological love poetry," and often lumped together indiscriminately with other kinds such as the complaint, the tragical history, and the verse romance, actually constitutes a distinct genre recognized in practice by Renaissance poets. Whether or not there is classical authority for use of the term "epyllion," though a significant point of scholarship, is not the main issue here. Either the term "minor epic" or "epyllion" is satisfactory, provided its referent is clear, and accurately described.

[2] Published with I. C's [John Chalkhill's?] Alcilia, Philoparthens Loving Folly. Whereunto is Added Pigmalion's Image ... and Also Epigrammes by Sir I. H. [John Harington] and Others, STC 4275.

[3] Bibliographical Collections and Notes, 1893-1903 (London, 1903; reprinted 1961 by Burt Franklin), p. 301.

[4] Or Linche's.

[5] Actually Grosart edited the second impression of The Scourge, STC 969 (1614), the earliest impression he knew at the time, though by 1883 he had become aware of the unique Huth copy of the 1613 edition. (See pp. 49-50 issued with copy no. 38 of Grosart's edition of The Scourge.)

[6] Philos and Licia was probably not composed much before Oct. 2, 1606, when it was entered in A Transcript of the Registers ... 1554-1640, ed. Arber, III (London, 1876), 330. I have placed it first, however, because of the undeserved neglect from which it has suffered over the years and because of its literary superiority to the other poems in the collection. I have placed Pyramus and Thisbe second because, though not known to have been published prior to 1617, it was doubtless composed by Nov. 25, 1596, the date given in the dedication, and probably printed shortly thereafter in an edition now lost.

[7] "Thomas Heywood's Art of Love Lost and Found," The Library, III (1922), 212.

[8] The Francis Freeling-Henry Huth-W. A. White copy, here reproduced by courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

[9] These evident errors appear to have been corrected in ink on the Bodleian copy of the 1620 impression, of which I have seen a microfilm.

[10] Gerald Eades Bentley has gleaned and summarized a few additional facts about Barksted in The Jacobean and Caroline Stage, II (Oxford, 1941), 357-358. For an account of the correspondences between The Insatiate Countess and the poems, see R. A. Small, "The Authorship and Date of The Insatiate Countess," Harvard Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature, V (1896), 279-282. For a more recent survey of Barksted's probable contribution to The Insatiate Countess see A. J. Axelrad, Un Malcontent Elizabethain: John Marston (Paris, 1955), pp. 86-90.

[11] The attribution was made by Thomas Corser in Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, LII (Manchester, 1860), 24-25, and has been generally accepted. In further support of Corser's attribution, one might mention the anecdote in Amos and Laura about a merchant seaman, followed by a vivid description of a storm at sea (pp. 228-229). Such a tale and description are appropriate in a poem by Page, who had been a naval chaplain and who published several sermons and other devotional works for seamen.

[12] Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia (1598). Introduction by Don Cameron Allen (New York, 1938), p. 284.

[13] Anthony a Wood, Athenae Oxonienses and Fasti Oxonienses, 2 vols. in one (London, 1691), 467. Page was vicar of St. Nicholas Church in Deptford from 1597 until his death in 1630.

[14] Shakespeare's Ovid Being Arthur Golding's Translation of the Metamorphoses, ed. W. H. D. Rouse (London, 1904; reprinted Carbondale, Ill. 1961), IV, 67-201; X. 327-605.

[15] Not Orpheus, as stated by Professor Douglas Bush in Mythology and the Renaissance Tradition (Minneapolis, 1932), p. 183.

[16] Shakespeare's Ovid, X, 343-346.

[17] Despite these departures from Ovid, the British Museum Catalogue continues to list this as a "translation" of Ovid's Metamorphoses, X. For a somewhat later example of an actual translation of this tale, considerably amplified, see James Gresham's (not Graham's, as in STC) The Picture of Incest, STC 18969 (1626), ed. Grosart (Manchester, 1876). In idiomatic English, occasionally ornamented with such triple epithets as "azure-veyned necke" and "Nectar-candied-words," Gresham expands Golding's Ovid by more than 300 lines. Although he invents a suitable brief description of Mirrha's nurse, whom he calls "old trott," and throws in a few erotic tid-bits quite in the spirit of the minor epic, he never departs from Ovid's story line and never introduces descriptive detail of which there is not at least a hint in Ovid.

[18] No. 95 in the edition cited below.

[19] Mary A. Scott, Elizabethan Translations from the Italian (Boston, 1916), pp. 20, 144.

[20] Poems by Richard Linche, Gentleman (1596), ed. Grosart, p. x; The Love of Dom Diego and Gynevra, ed. Arber in An English Garner, VII (Birmingham, 1883), 209.

[21] "The Source of Richard Lynche's 'Amorous Poeme of Dom Diego and Ginevra,'" PMLA, LVIII (1943), 579-580.

[22] William Painter, The Palace of Pleasure, IV (London, 1929), 74. (Actually, "Catheloigne" in Painter.)

[23] Certain Tragical Discourses of Bandello, trans. Geffraie Fenton anno 1567. Introd. by Robert Langton Douglas, II (London, 1898), 239.

[24] Painter, I, No. 40, 153-158.

[25] Painter, I, 156.

[26] Painter, I, 157.

[27] Bush, p. 139.

[28] Two (Philos and Licia, Amos and Laura) employ the Marlovian couplet, two (Dom Diego and The Scourge) the Shakespearean sixain, and Barksted's two employ eight-line stanzas, with Mirrha rhyming ababccdd (the Shakespearean stanza plus a couplet), and Hiren rhyming ababbcac, a more tightly knit departure from Shakespeare's stanza. The last, Pyramus and Thisbe, suggests its debt to both masters—or plays both ends against the middle—by employing a 12 (2x6)-line stanza composed of couplets, with the last couplet having a double rhyme probably designed to echo the concluding couplet of the Shakespearean sixain.

[29] Thomas Lodge, Scillaes Metamorphosis in Elizabethan Minor Epics, ed. Donno, p. 35, stanza 71.

[30] Yet Dom Diego seems not to have been previously identified as a minor epic. The late C. S. Lewis, a few pages before his brilliant discussion of Hero and Leander as an epyllion, refers to Lynche's poem as a "stanzaic novella." See Lewis' English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama (Oxford, 1954), p. 479, pp. 486-488.

[31] For a complete list of Burton's books in the Bodleian and Christ Church libraries, numbering 581 and 473 items respectively, see "Lists of Burton's Library," ed. F. Madan, Oxford Bibliographical Society Proceedings & Papers, I, Part 3 (1925; printed 1926), 222-246.

[32] No. 376 in Ronald B. McKerrow, Printers' & Publishers' Devices in England & Scotland 1485-1640 (London, 1913), p. 144. According to McKerrow, the bird in this handsome device, with the word "wick" in its bill, is probably a smew, with a pun intended on the name of the owner of the device, Smethwick.

[33] For these notes I am indebted to an excellent article, "The library of Robert Burton," ed. F. Madan, p. 185 especially, in the Oxford Bibliographical Society volume listed above.

[34] No. 240 in McKerrow, Printers' Devices, p. 92. "Framed device of a lion passant crowned and collared, a mullet for difference, on an anchor; with Desir n'a repos, and the date 1586."

[35] A Dictionary of Printers and Booksellers, ed. R. B. McKerrow (London, 1910), p. 151.

[36] Ibid., p. 199.

[37] Arber, A Transcript, IV, 149.

[38] Contributing to the unattractive appearance of the Bodleian copy of Mirrha, which Grosart consulted, is the close cropping of its upper margins.

[39] The poems of William Barksted, ed. Grosart (Manchester, 1876), p. x.

[40] Barksted, p. xiv.

[41] Henry Plomer, A Short History of English Printing (London, 1900), p. 163.

[42] The Oxford and Folger copies, of which only the first is listed in the STC. There is a third, imperfect copy at Trinity College, Cambridge, from the Edward Capell collection. According to Mr. L.W. Hanson, Keeper of Printed Books at the Bodleian, the tipping of the type in the Bodleian copy represents a fault at binding.

[43] Though the printer's name is not given, the printer's device, a fleur-de-lis, no. 251 in McKerrow, was used by Okes about this time.

[44] Grosart, p. xiii, n. 17, stanza 20, line 7, which has "adoration[e]" in both the original and Grosart's "corrected" version, and p. xiii, n. 19, stanza 41, line 6, "graces" in both copies.

[45] The printer was Thomas Creede, as revealed by the printer's device, no. 299 in McKerrow, p. 117: "Framed device of Truth being scourged by a hand from the clouds. Between her feet the initials T. C. The motto Viressit vulnere veritas."

[46] The presence of these dedicatory verses in the Huntington copy has been noted by Franklin Williams in his Index of Dedications and Commendatory Verses (London, 1962), p. 193.

[47] The Folger copy, here reproduced, is complete except for Sig. L4 (pp. 235-236), which have been supplied from another copy.

[48] This error goes back to the first entry in A Catalogue of the Library of Henry Huth (London, 1880), which says the second edition is the same as the first.

[49] The first word of the next stanza is changed from "And" in the 1613 edition to "Then" in the second impression.

[50] Rather surprisingly, in view of its silent emulation of Marlowe's poem, Philos and Licia pays lavish tribute to Sidney. But since tributes to Sidney were common in the period, this one may be no more than a conventional recognition of his greatness.

[51] Occasionally, though, it introduces odd off-rhymes such as "forth" and "mouth" (p. 5), "vaines" and "streames" (p. 6), "either" and "fairer" (p. 8).



Printed by W. S. for Iohn Smethwick, and are to bee sold at his Shop in Saint Dunstanes Church-yard in Fleete-streete, vnder the Dyall. 1624.

To the Reader

Gentlemen; hauing beene (with the ouerthrow giuen to my best opposed forces) violently taken with the ouerflowing delights of hart-rauishing Poesie, the common infection of easie youth, and commending manie idle houres to these papers, and these to the Presse, I commit both to your fauorable censures. In which, if there be any thing (yet I feare I am not to attend so high a blisfulnesse) which may yeeld you the least content, my fortune hath brought forth the intended end of my labours, and I desire no other happinesse.


No sooner had the Sun chas'd night away, And that the Worlds discouerer, bright-eyd day, Poasting in triumph through the enameld skie, Had to the people showne this victorie, But that poore Philos (in himselfe forlorne) Hasted to tell his Loue that it was morne. The milke-white path that leadeth vnto Ioue, Whereon the Gods continually doe moue, Compar'd with that, which leadeth to her bed, Was not so white, nor so enameled. A paire of milke-white staires, whiter than white, Was the next way vnto his chiefe delight: Vp those he mounted; and as by he paste, Vpon a wall were sundry stories plaste: Sweet weeping Venus, crying out amaine For the dear boy that by the bore was slaine: Skie-ruling Ioue lamenting ore a Cow, That seemd to weepe with him the sweetest Io: And there the picture of proud Phaeton, Mounting the chariot of the burning Sun, Was portraied, by which Apollo stood, Who seemd to check his hot sonnes youthful blood: One hand had holde, and one legge was aduanst, To climbe his longing seat; but yet it chanst, That warned by his father so, he staid A while, to heare whose teeres might well perswade; Which with such plenty answerd his desires, As though they striu'd to quench ensuing fires: Hanging so liuely on the painted wall, That standers by haue sought to make them fall. The chamber, where his hearts delight did lie, Was all behung with richest Tapistrie; Where Troies orethrow was wrought, & therwithall The goddesses dissent about the ball. Bloud-quaffing Hector all in compleat steele, Coping Achilles in the Troian feeld, Redoubling so his sterne stroaks on his head, That great Achilles left the field, and fled; Which was so liuely by the Painter done, That one would sweare the very cloth did runne. Trecherous Vlysses bringing in that horse, Which proued a fatall coffin for Troies corse. False-hearted Synon groueling on the mire, Whose oily words prou'd fewell to Troies fire. Flint-brested Pyrrhus with an iron mace Murdring the remnants of great Priams race. Vertuous AEneas, with the armes of Greece, Venturing for Troy as Iason for his fleece. And vpward if you lookt, you might behold The roofe of it all wrought in burnisht gold: Whereon was figur'd heauen; and there anent The Gods in state riding to Parliament. Gold-showring Ioue vpon a milke-white steed Rode first in ranke; on whose imperiall head A triple crowne was plac't, at which before Two matchlesse diamonds for worth he wore: On whose right hand Idalian Ganymed A massie scepter strongly carried: But on his left, swift-winged Mercurie A dreadfull thunderbolt (earths feare) did whurrie. Next Ioue, Apollo came: him followed Fame Baring a lawrell, on which sweet Sydneys name In golden letters, plainly to be read, By the Nine Muses had beene charrectred: On whose each side Eternitie and Praise Enroll'd mens deeds, and gaue them fame to raise. Then furious Mars came next with sulphure eies, Flashing forth fire as lightning from the skies; Whose vncontrolled crest and battered shield Greeke-wounding Hector and AEneas held. Light-headed Bacchus with a cup of golde Brimfull of wine, next Mars his place did holde; The which quaft off, one reeling on before Filled againe, and still supplied more. Him followed sicknesse, by excesse, being lead, With faint weake hands holding his pained head. Thus was the roofe adorn'd: but for the bed, The which those sacred limmes encanaped, I could say much: yet poised with her selfe, That gorgeous worke did seeme but drossy pelfe. All-conquering Loue inspire my weaker Muse, And with thy iocund smiles daigne to infuse Heauen-prompted praises to my vntaught story, That I may write her worth, and tell thy glory. Vpon her backe she lay (o heauenly blisse!); Smiling like Ioue, being couzend of a kisse; The enuious pillow, which did beare her head, Was with it selfe at warre, and mutined: For if the midst receiu'd her chaste impression, Then the two ends would swell at such a blessing; And if she chanst to turne her head aside, Gracing one end with natures only pride, The rest for enuy straight would swell so much, As it would leape asunder for a touch. Her Sun-out-shining eyes were now at set, Yet somewhat sparkling through their cabinet; Her scorne white forehead was made vp by nature, To be a patterne to succeeding creature Of her admiring skill: her louely cheeke, To Rose, nor Lyllie, will I euer leeke, Whose wondrous beautie had that boy but prou'd, Who died for loue, and yet not any lou'd, Neuer had riuer beene adorned so, To burie more then all the world could shew. Her sweetest breath from out those sweeter lips, Much like coole winde which from the valleys skips In parching heat of Summer, stealeth forth, Wandring amongst her haire; her wel formd mouth: No art hath left vs such proportion, To modell out so true perfection. Her smoothe moist hands the sheets kept from his sight, Lest by comparing, they should staine their white. As thus she lay like Venus in her pride, (Tempting sweet Adon, lowring by her side) Philos approcht, who with this sight strooke dumbe Came stealing on to see, and being come, His greedie eye, which on the sudden meets So many various and delicious sweets, As rackt with pleasure (neuer hauing fill) Would faine looke off, and yet would looke on still. Thus do we surfet on our sudden ioyes, And ranck-fed pleasure thus it selfe destroyes: For when his eye doth light vpon her hand, He then protests, that that is whitenesse land; But when the whitenesse of her whiter brow Doth steale his eye from thence, he sweareth now Her brow is fellowlesse without all peere; When being snatcht off vnto her fairer haire, He vowes, the Sun, which makes trees burnisht gold, Is not so faire, nor glorious to behold: The viewing the strains which through those cheeks appeare, And that pure whitenesse which triumpheth there, Mixt with those azure Saphire passing vaines, Which are insert like siluer running streames, Watring those golden apples of the brests, Where heauens delight & earths contentment rests, His full-fed eye orecome with such excesse, Sweares and forsweares, denies and doth confesse: Then doth he touch her lips, Natures rich treasure, And musing thinks which is the greatest pleasure To kisse or see; for to resolue which doubt, Againe he kisses, whence comes stealing out So sweet a breath as doth confound his sence; For rarest obiects hurt with excellence: Then doth he seise her hand with softest straine, Whose moist rebound doth easily detaine A willing guest, who purposely could wish Noother food, but such a well-grac't dish. Whiles thus poore Philos kisses, feeles and sees, Heauen-staining Licia opes her sparkling eyes, And askt the hopelesse Louer, if mornes eye Had out-stript night. Philos made answer, I. And thus the Louer did continuallie: For why, such lustre glided from her eie, Which darkt the Sun, whose glory all behold, So that she knew not day, till some man told. Which office she to Philos had assign'd, Because she had him alwayes most in mind: Which had he knowne, he would not so haue spent The restlesse nights in drery languishment, Tumbling and tossing in his lothsome bed, To flie from griefe, yet that still followed. Then rising vp, and running here and there, As if he could outrun or lose his care; But being vp, and finding no reliefe, Lookt in his heart, and there he found out griefe. How cam'st thou hither (then amaine he cries) To kil my heart? Griefe answerd, Through his eyes. Mine eyes (quoth he) subornd to murder me? Well, for their treason they no more shall see. With that a floud of teeres gush out amaine; But griefe sends sighs to beat them backe againe: So that the hurt he meant to do his eies, Heart-murdring griefe resists, and it denies. Whereat amazd, as one bereft of sence, His eies fixt fast on her, as if from thence His soule had gone, he cri'd: oh, let this moue, Loue me for pitie, or pitie me for loue. Though I am blacke, yet do me not despise, Loue looks as sweet in blacke as faire mens eies. The world may yeeld one fairer to your view; Not all the world fairer in loue to you. A iewell dropt in mire to sight ilfauoured, Now, as before, in worth is valued; An orient pearle hung in an Indians eare, Receiues no blemish, but doth shew more faire; One Diamond, compared with another, Darks his bright lustre, & their worth doth smother; Where poised with a thing of light esteeme, Their worth is knowen, and their great beauty seene. Set white to white, and who commendeth either? Set white to blacke, and then the white's the fairer. The glorious Sunne, when in his glittring pride, Scowring the heauens, in progresse he doth ride, Who runnes to see? or who his sight doth lacke? But if he chance to shute himselfe in blacke, Then the earths people couet him to see, As if he were some wondrous prodegie. The worlds perfection, at the highest rated, Was of a blacke confused thing created. The sight, wherewith such wonders we behold, The ground of it all darke, and blacke the mold. Since then by blacke, perfection most is knowne, Loue, if not for my sake, yet for your owne. Mole gracing Venus neuer shewed so faire, When as Vulcan the black-fac'd god was there, As thou by me: the people, as we pace, By my defects shall wonder at thy grace; And seeing me so swarthie and so tawnie, Shall haue more cause for to admire thy beautie: And all shall thinke (by whom our charriots go) That tis thy beautie which hath tann'd me so. Thy dangling tresses, if compar'd with mine, Glitter like heauen with lustre from thine eine: And those immortall eies, which like the Sunne, The lookers on with his bright rayes doth burne, If mine be nie, will seeme to shine more cleere, Than glittering Venus in her Hemisphere. So thy rich worth, compared with my pelfe, Will in excelling others match thy selfe: Euen as Merchant that hath out at sea His wealth, the hope of his posteritie, And hauing heard by flying newes, at home, That all is lost by some tempestuous storme; Comming to after-knowledge in the bay, It is arriu'd, and nothing cast away, But with redoubled wealth is backe returnd, For whose supposed losse he oft hath mournd; Is scarse himselfe, with ioy of what he heares, And yet retaines some of his former feares It should proue false, recalling to his mind The certaine tokens which some had assign'd Of his more certaine wracke: So fareth she, Possest with ioy (euen to the highest degree) Of what she heard; and yet in this extreame, Was halfe affrayd she was but in a dreame: For well she knew, that some nights did present As pleasing visions to her owne content; Yet in the morne, when golden sleepe had left her, Of her supposed ioyes it had bereft her. With this conceit, her iuory hand put forth, Drawes wide the curtaines which eclips'd her worth, And then she surely thinks she sees his face, (For none but his could glory of such grace) The same maiesticke courage which was wont To place it selfe vpon his gracefull front; That speaking cheeke, and that same sparkling eie; That powrfull arme, and that same lustie thie; With all those parts, so well compact together, That Nature erd in all for him, or rather Some higher power concurr'd to beautifie So sweet a patterne of humanitie: For neuer Nature (since the world began) Could shew so true a perfect well shap't man. While these conceits busi'd her wit-fraught braine, Poore Philos, who imagines through disdaine She will not speake, in these words doth beseech, She will transforme her breath into her speech: Natures chiefe wonder, and the worlds bright eie, Which shrowds Elysium in humanitie, Idea of all blisse, oh let me heare Those well tun'd accents which thy lips do beare: Pronounce my life or death: if death it be, Thrise happy death, the which proceeds from thee. O let those corall lips inricht with blisses, A while forbeare such loue-steept amourous kisses, And part themselues, to story to mine eares The sad misfortune which my poore heart feares. If all my loue must be repayd with hate, And I ordaind to be vnfortunate; If my poore heart being consecrate to thee, (Where thy sweet image sits in maiestie) Must turne to ruine; and my teere-spent eies Wholly possest with gripple auarice, Hourding the riches of the blessed sight Which they haue stolne from thee, must shade in night Their deerest chrystals of vnualued price, Since they haue glassd themselues within thine eies: Yet let me craue one happy-making boone, Though farre too worthy for so meane a groome, That thine owne voice may swanlike (ere I die) Relate the storie of my miserie. Poore Licia fain would speake, & faine would tell him He needs not doubt, for she well doth loue him; Yet fearing he (as Chapmen vse to doo) Would hold aloofe, if Sellers gin to woo, Her tongue entreats of her vnwilling heart, She may a while forbeare, and not impart Her loue-sicke passions to his couetous minde, Lest he disdainfull proue, and so vnkinde. O wonder worker (Loue) how thou doest force Our selues against our selues! and by that course Seem'st to erect great Trophies in our brests, By which thou tak'st away our easefull rests, Nurse to thy passions, making seeming-hate Fewell to loue, and iealousie the bate To catch proud hearts, fearefull suspition Being forerunner to thy passion! Who most doth loue, must seeme most to neglect it, For he that shews most loue, is least respected. What vertue is inioyd, thats not esteemd; But what meane good we want, thats highly deemd: Which is the cause that many men do rate Their owne wiues vertues at a meane estate; Their matchlesse beautie and vnualued worth Seemes nothing in their eyes, nor bringeth forth Effects of loue, when to a meaner farre, Whose birth nor beautie comparable are; With that he's cloid, his passions will admire The very place whereon her footsteps were. The life of sweets is kild without varietie, One beautie still enioyd, breeds loathd satietie; And kindnesse, whose command lies in our power, We seldome relish; but if labourd for, Our very soule is rauisht with delight, It is so pleasing to our appetite. Vrg'd by these reasons, she would faine conceale The hid affection which her heart did feele; And yet compassion of her louers state (Whose outward habit shewd his inward fate) Perswade with her to lend him some by-taste, Lest through his loues griefe she his loues life waste. Thrise happy daies (quoth she) and too soone gone, When as the deed was coupled with the tongue, And no deceitfull flattry nor guile Hung on the Louers teere-commixed stile; When now-scornd vertue was the golden end, By which all actions were performd and scand; And nothing glorious held, but what was free From vassall guilt and staind impietie. In those gold-times poore maidens might relie (Heauens sweetest treasure, dearer chastitie) Vpon mens words: but since that age is fled, And that the staining of a lawfull bed Is youths best grace, and all his oaths and passion Must still be taken on him as a fashion, To busie idle heads: oh, who can blame If maids grow chary, since slie men want shame! Say I should loue, and yet I know not why I should make any such supposes, I; Not that I am of such relentlesse temper, Whose heart nor vowes, nor sighs, nor teeres can enter; Nor am I only she, who thinks it good To sprinckle Loues rites with their Louers blood. Poore women neuer yet in loue offended, But that too quicke to loue they condescended: Their fault is pitie, which beleeues too soone Mens heart void tongue-delighted passion. Could women learne but that imperiousnesse, By which men vse to stint our happinesse, When they haue purchac'd vs for to be theirs By customary sighs and forced teeres, To giue vs bits of kindnesse lest we faint, But no abundance; so we euer want, And still are begging, which too well they know Endeares affection, and doth make it grow. Had we these sleights, how happy were we then, That we might glory ouer loue-sicke men! But arts we know not, nor haue any skill To faine a sower looke to a pleasing will; Nor couch our secretst loue in shew of hate: But if we like, must be compassionate. Say that thy teere-discoloured cheeke should moue Relenting pitie and that long liu'd loue. If ere thy faith should alter, and become Stranger to that which now it oft hath sworne, How were I wrapt in woe! No time to be Would euer end my datelesse miserie. Ay me (quoth Philos) what man can despise Such amourous looks, sweet tongues, & most sweet eies? Or who is glutted with the sight of heauen, Where still the more we looke, the more is seene? To the world of beauties Nature lent, And in each beautie worlds of loues content, Wherein delight and state moues circuler, Pleasure being captaine to thy Hemisphere. Say that the eie, wandring through white and red, Long hauing viewd Loues tower, thy wel built head, Passing those iuory walks where gentlest aire Fannes the sweet tresses of thy scorn-gold haire, Admiring oft those redder strawberries, Ript by the Sun-shine of thy loue-blest eyes, Should in this maze of pleasure, being led, Grow weary, with much time satisfied: Then might the eare be rapt with melodie Surpassing farre the seuen-spheard harmonie Deliuerd from thy pearle-enuirond tongue, Each word being sweeter then a well tun'd song. But for the touch, all ages that are past, And times to come, would steale away, and waste Euen like a minute; and no time suffice To melt the Louer in such rarities: Each day would adde to other such excesse Of Nectar-flowing sweets, that Happinesse Would be too meane a word for to dilate The enuied blisse of his vnequall state. No more (quoth Licia) thou enough hast sayd Fo to deceiue a sillie witted maid: But to the God of Loue I will reueale, How that thou keepst a tongue maids harts to steale, Whose fatall arrow with the golden head, Which (as some write) makes all enamoured, May be compared well (without offence) Vnto thy sweet tongue guilt with eloquence, Whose powrfull accents, so constraining loue, Had they beene knowen to Thunder-darting Ioue, He neuer needed to haue vs'd such shapes For to commit his slie stolne headdy rapes: Or to Apollo, when his harebraind sonne, The proud aspiring lucklesse Phaeton, Would guide the lampe of heauen he then had staid, And to his Sires graue counsels had obaid: Beast-mouing Orpheus, and stones void of sence, Ore which his musicke had preheminence, Did not inchant so by his power diuine, As doth that Adamantine tongue of thine. Iudge me not light, that I so soone do yeeld To part from that which I so deerely held; For where a likely beautie doth request, Euen at the first, Loue ransacketh the brest: And though maids seem coy, yet the heart is strooke At the first glancing of an amourous looke: For from the Louer to the loued eie Passeth the visuall beames, which gendred nie Vnto the heart, they thither hie amaine, And there her bloud do secretly inflame With strange desires, faint hopes, and longing feares, Vnheard of wishes, thoughts begetting teares, That ere she is aware she's farre in loue, Yet knowes no cause that should affection moue. I could be froward, techie, sullen, mute, And with loue-killing looks repell thy sute; Contemne the speaking letters which thou sends; Command thine absence, and reiect thy friends; Neglect thy presents, and thy vowes despise; And laughing at thy teeres, force teeres arise; Making thee spend a deale of precious time To get that heart which at the first was thine. More I could say. But he content with this, Closd vp the sentence with a sugred kisse. She seemd displeasd, till kissing her againe, Achilles like, he tooke away her paine: And then in close coucht termes would faine desire Loues highest blisse, than which there is no higher: But yet the bashfull boy knew not what art, What termes to vse, or how for to impart His secret meaning; for he blusht for shame To thinke what he should aske; & then would faine Haue made his bolder hand supply the roome Of his tongues office, which was mute and dumbe; The which he layes vpon her siluer brest, Where little Cupid slumbring takes his rest; Betweene the which an amourous streame doth run, That leads the way vnto Elysium. I wonder much (quoth he) when Ioue did make A treble night for faire Alcmenaes sake, She nere perceiued that the night was long, Since all eyes wait vpon the rising sunne: But sure some melting pleasure did detaine Her willing senses, and did so enchaine Her captiue minde, that time vnthought of fled, Long nights in sweets being swiftly buried. Might I such dalliance craue, as great Ioue did Of faire Alcmena; or when he lay hid In the swannes shape; how happy were I then, And how farre blest aboue all other men! For this, the gods themselues haue often woed, Courted, adored, kneeld vnto and sued, Left heauen, their glory, pompe and maiestie, And put aside their glittring deitie, To get this iewell, which yeelds true content. When that seuerer state perhaps gan ornament Of inward woe, let mortals be excus'd, When deities such amourous tricks haue vs'd. O wit abusing boy (sweet Licia cried;) The gods for that were neuer deified: Though they did vse it, and obserue it well, When ere they did it (as all Poets tell) They from their godheads long before were turnd, And to some monstrous beast they were transformd, And in that shape did act lasciuiousnesse: For lust transformes vs beasts, and no whit lesse Do we than they, but yet deserue more blame, We hauing reason, whose reproofe should tame Rebell-affection, and not to let it grow, To worke his owne vntimely ouerthrow. Insatiate lust as Spring-frosts nips the growth Of Natures fairest blossomes, crops the worth Of her best hopes, nay's foe vnto delight, Dulling the keene edge of our appetite, Whose rancke desire, much like the Ocean, Whose swelling ridges no bound can containe, Oreflowes whole sands, and in her emptie wombe Buries them all; Euen so doth lust intombe All disrancke thoughts, sin-breeding interuiewes, Disordred passions, all dishonest shewes Of what may fatten vice; like thriftlesse heires Lusts champians are, which kill their dearest Sires For their possessions, to giue both life and growth To helborne riot. So lasciuious youth, Courting our beauties, cares not to pollute Our soules for that, though left heauens substitute To bridle passion. Gentle boy refraine, And quench vnlawfull heat till Hymens flame With sacred fire hath warmd vs, and her rites Fully performd do warrant those delites. By this the Soueraigne of heauens flaming beame Had got the full height of the starrie heauen, And she requests the boy, that for a while He will depart the roome, she may beguile The clothes of her blest presence. He obaid, And in a chamber next to hers he staid. He being gone, the sheets away she flung, Which loth to let her go, about her clung; And as she stroue to get out from the sheet, The vpper clothes imprisond both her feet; Yet out she whips, and them away she throwes, Couering her beauties with the ioyfull clothes: Her purple veluet gowne with gold-starres mixt, And euery starre with spangles set betwixt Of purest siluer, with a twist of gold, Would much amaze the gazers to behold. This starrie garment did she first put on, Which tooke light from her face as from the Sun. Her mantle was of richest taffatie, Where Iupiter was seruing Danae, So liuely wrought by Vestaes chastest Nun, As much delighted the sweet lookers on. Her stomacher was all with diamonds set, Ore which a fall was plac'd with pearles with net, And at each pearle (which seemd to darke the skie) Hung glistring Rubies and rich Porpherie. A bracelet all of pearle her hands did grace; For to her hands all orients are but base. A scarfe of maiden-blush did seeme to hide her, Wherein Diana when Acteon spide her, Herselfe had wrought, looking with such disdaine, As witnest well his after-following paine; One end whereof had yong Leanders shape, When through the swelling main (whose waues did gape) He sought his chastest Hero, beating from him The waues, which murmuring stroue for to com nere him: And at the other, matchlesse Hero stood Viewing Leander tossed by the flood, And how the churlish billowes beat that head On which herselfe was so enamoured; Praying to Neptune, not to be so cruell, But to deliuer vp her dearest iewell: To figure to the world whose shining eies She set two diamonds of highest prise. Vpon her head she ware a vaile of lawne, Eclipsing halfe her eyes, through which they shone As doth the bright Sun, being shadowed By pale thin clouds, through which white streaks are spred. Poore Philos wondred why she staid so long, And oft lookt out and mus'd she did not come. What need she decke her selfe with art (quoth he) Or hide those beauties with her brauerie, Which addeth glory to the meanst attire? What if she went in her loose flagging haire, Spread at his full length, that the Easterne winde Might tie loue-knots for Cupid to vntwinde, With some trasparent garment ore her skin, Through which her naked glory might be seene: Then as Diana a hunting might she goe; But she nor needs her arrowes nor a bow: For all the beasts that should but see her passe, With wōdring straight would leaue the perled grasse And feed their eyes, while with her snowy hand She take what beasts she please; nor more command Needs she to keepe them: for her iuory palme Commandeth more than any iron chaine. But now she's come, at whose thrise radiant light As all amazd he shunnes her glorious sight, Like those which long in darke, chance to espie A candles glimmering, if it come but nie, Can not endure that weake and feeble shine, But straightway shut their dim and dazled eine. No maruell then, though in great extasie His spirits are, at glittring maiestie. She feares the worst, and to her Louer skips, Claps his plumpe cheeks, and beats his corall lips, And seeing him fall breathlesse to the earth, She seeks with kisses to inspire his breath. At last his eye-lids he vp heaues againe, And feeling her sweet kisses, gins to faine; Shuts his bright eyes, and stops his rosie breath, And for her kisses counterfeits his death. With that poore Licia both her hands vpholds, And those let fall, her wofull armes enfolds, With cast vp eyes in labour with her teares, Which ioy did weep for woe to leaue those spheares Which downe her face made paths vnto her necke, And setling there shewd like a carquenet; Anon she teares her haire, away it flings, Which twining on her fingers shewd like rings; Then she assayes to speake, but sighs and teares Eats vp her words and multiplies her feares. Why wert thou borne (quoth she) to die so soone, And leaue the world poore of perfection; Or why did high heauen frame thee such a creature, So soone to perish: o selfe-hurting Nature, Why didst thou suffer death to steale him hence, Who was thy glory and thy excellence. What are the Roses red, now he is gone, But like the broke sparks of a diamond, Whose scattred pieces shadow to the eye What the whole was, and adde to miserie? Such this faire casket of a fairer iem, Whose beautie matchlesse now, what was it then When that his precious breath gaue life and sent To those dead flowers whose feruor now is spent? O starueling Death, thou ruiner of Kings, Thou foe to youth and beautie-sealed things, Thou friend to none but sepulchers and graues, High reared monuments, lasting Epitaphs, Poore Clearks & Sextons, and some thriftlesse heires, Depriued Priests, and a few Courtiers, Who hauing liuings in reuersion, Do dayly pray for quicke possession; Who had offended thee, that blinde with rage Thou strookst at him, for whom succeeding age Will curse thy bones? Physitians be thy baine, And chase thee hence to lowest hell againe. He hearing this, from pleasing death reuiues, And drunke those teeres from her immortall eies, Which drop by drop sought other to displace, That each might kisse that sweet and daintie face. Nor doth the Soueraigne of heauens golden fires, After a storme so answer mens desires, When with a smiling countenance he orelooks The flowrie fields and siluer streaming brooks, As Licia in his life was comforted, Whom new before she thought for to be dead: She locks her fingers in his crisped haire, And pulles it out at length, which leauing there, The haire bands backe at it for ioy had leapt, To be a prisoner to hand so white: And then she stroaks his alabaster skin, And chucks the boy on his immortall chin, Glassing herselfe within his matchlesse eyes, Where little Cupids conquering forces lies. Faire Deere (quoth he) to night now wil I leaue you, But in your charge my heart I will bequeath you; Securely sleepe, lest in your troubled brest If you chance sigh, you keepe my heart from rest; Which I protest hath many a tedious night Counted times minutes for your absent sight: What for the nuptials will seeme requisit, That to your charge (faire creature) I commit, Which ere the bright Sun with his burning beame Hath twice more coold his tresses in the maine, Shall be performd. This sayd, away he's gone. Farewell (quoth she:) and at that word a groane Waited with sighs and teeres, which to preuent, For feare his sweet heart she should discontent, Vnto her needle in all haste she goes, For to beguile her passions and her woes. She first begins a smocke, of greater cost Than Helen wore that night when as she lost Her husbands fame and honour, and thereby Had almost kept our now lost dignitie: For Paris first, when as he came to bed, On that rich smocke was so enamoured, And so attentiuely beheld the same, That he forgot almost for what he came: For on the coller and the seame before Was big-bon'd Hercules and the Minetaure, Both wrought so liuely, that the bloud which came From that deformed beast, did seeme to staine Her smocke below; which running here and there Workt in red silke, did new and fresh appeare; Which made yong Paris doubt, and thinke indeed She was not well, and askt and she did bleed; And would needs see: but wide the curtains drawn, There was some iewell sparkled through the lawn, Which pleasd him so, that he had quite forgot The curious working of the rich wrought smocke. But loue-blest Licia in her smocke delights To worke of pleasing tales and marriage rites, Of louers sweet stolne sports, and of the rapes Of gods immortall, and of maidens scapes: There might you see Mars conquering Venus shrowd, Sea-torne AEneas in a foggie cloud Making for Carthage; entring all vnseene To the rich temple where the Tyrian Queene (Flashing forth beautie from her star-like eies) Sate in her throne to heare the Troians cries. Beneath this same she wrought a boistrous storme, Whereas the mercy-wanting winds had torne The tops of loftie trees, and rent the roots Of stately Cedars and of aged oakes: The horrid thunder with his dreadfull claps Made yawn the mouth of heauen, from whose great gaps The fearefull lightning flasht: and then againe Ioue squeesd the clouds, & powrd down snow & rain. In this same storme she wrought the Tyrian Queene And great AEneas, who that day had beene Hunting the fallow deere, and thither came To shrowd themselues from tempest and raine. Into a bushie caue hard by they got, Which thicke set trees did couer ore the top; In which the Carthage Queene AEneas led, Who there deceiu'd her of her maidenhead. A scarfe besides she made of cunning frame, Whereas Alcides club and armour throwne, His lion skin put off, in maids attire He grad the wheele at Omphales desire. And all this night she banisht sleepe by worke, Who in her chamber priuily did lurke, Tempting her eye-lids to conspire with him, Who often times would winke and ope again: But now bright Phoebus in his burning car Visits each mortall eye and dimmes each star, The nights sole watch-man, when she casts aside Her curious worke, and doth in haste prouide: For the faire fountaine which not far off stands, Whose purling noise vpon the golden sands Inuites each weary wandring passenger To see and taste those streames which are so cleare. The louing banks like armes seeme to embrace it, Vpon the which there grew (the more to grace it) All sorts of coloured flowers, which seemd to looke And glasse themselues within that siluer brooke. Plentie of grasse did euery where appeare, Nurst by the moisture of the running riuer, Which euer flourishing still a beautious greene, Shewd like the palace of the Summers Queene: For neither frost nor cold did nip those flowers, Nor Sunburnt Autumne parch those leafie bowers: And as she goes to bathe, the tender grasse Twineth about her, loth to let her passe: Here loue-strucke brambles plucke her by the gown, There roses kisse her as she walks along. When being come vnto the riuer side, Looking about, for feare she should be spide, She stript her naked, standing on the brinke, When the deere water, who ten yeeres did thinke Till she was in, conspired with the banke, That downe it fell, and all vnwares she sanke Vp to the brests; then it inclos'd her round, Kisses each part, and from the purling ground The vnder-streames made haste to come and view Those beauties which no earth could euer shew. The slimy fishes with their watry finnes Stand gazing on her, and close by her swimmes, And as she mou'd they mou'd, she needs no bait, For as when Orpheus plaid, so do they wait. And purple Titan, whom some fogs did shrowd, Perforce brake forth from his imprisond cloud To gaze vpon her, whose reflecting beames When hot she felt, she leaues the watry streames; Which they perceiuing, lessened her strength, To make her stay; yet out she got at length: For which the waters are at enmitie With the Sunnes bright and glorious maiestie, And euery morning, ere Apollo rise, They send blacke vapours vp to his darke eies, And maske his beautie, that he be not seene To hinder them of such a blessed blessing. Now vp she gets, and homeward fast she goes, And by the way is musing of the ioyes To morrowes day should yeeld, and wisht it come; But her swift wishes ouergoe the Sunne, Which to her thinking, like a tired man Heauily loaden, vp a hill doth come. Ay me (quoth she) had Thetis Daphnes grace, Then wouldst thou ierke thy horses, and apace Scowre through the azurd skie: but for she's old, Wanting white snowy armes for to enfold Thy golden body, therefore thou doest moue (As though new parted from some amorous loue) Not like a man trudging with more than haste, That he might clip his louers melting waste. Were I the ruler of that fierie teame, Bloud would I fetch, and force them leape amaine Into the sea, and ouerspread the skie With pitchie clouds, their darkesome liuerie. Yet home she hies in hope to finde the boy Which soone would turne those sorrowes into ioy: But he was absent; for much time he spent To make his horse fit for the Turnament, Which with his curtelax and drery lance He meant to holde her beautie to aduance: When missing him, she knew not how to spend The weary day, nor bring it to end; But calls her maid to beare her companie, And willed her to tell some historie Which she had read or heard, to mocke the time; Who with a sober smile did thus beginne: In Crete there dwelt a boy of so good grace, So wondrous beautie, such a louely face, An eye so liuely, such a cherrie lip, So white a belly and so strait a hip, So well shapt, faire, in euery part and lim, That Nature was in loue with making him. This boy would oft resort vnto the Lawnes, To rouse the Satyres and the nimble fawnes, That he might chase them; but the fearefull deere Loue-taken by his presence, would not stirre: So he was faine (when he would haue some play) Himselfe to run, and then they scud away And follow him, and in the place he stands Come lightly tripping for to licke his hands: And if the lion chanst for to espie him, He would away, looke back, but not come nie him, Lest he should feare him, and complaine of Nature, That she had made him such a horrid creature, And wish himselfe to be the gentle hare, The timorous sheepe, or any beast that were, So he might gaze on him, and not beasts king, To be depriu'd of so endeerd a blessing. And many times the wood nymph in a ring Would girt the boy about, and being hemd in, Ere he get out, a kisse to each must giue, Or being so inchaind, so must he liue. As thus the boy did often times resort Vnto the woods to finde some friendly sport, One day amongst the rest he chanst to spie A virgin huntresse comming that way by, With light thin garments tuckt vp to the knees, Buskins about her legs, through which he sees A skin so white, that neuer did his eie Beholde so chaste, so pure, so sweet a die: Her vpper bodies when he did beholde, They seemd all glistring to be made of gold, But he perceiued, being somewhat nere, It was the beautie of her dangling haire, Which from her head hung downe vnto her waste, And such a bright and orient colour cast. About her necke she ware a precious stone, A high pris'd, matchlesse, sparkling diamond, But poising it with her transpiercing eye, Shewd like a candle when the Sun is by. The louely boy was taken with the hooke, The more he gazd, the more still was he strooke; A thousand amourous glances he doth throwe, And those recoild, seconds a thousands moe. At last the boy being danted by her feature, Makes his speech prologue to so admir'd a creature: Celestiall goddesse, sprung from heauenly race, Ioues sweetest offpring, shew me but what place Thou doest inhabit, where thy Temple stands, That I may offer with vnspotted hands On thy deere Altar; and vpon thy praise Sing glorious hymnes and sweet tun'd roundelays; But o most happy if I were thy Priest, To celebrate thy vigils and thy feast. If it be Paphos and thou loues sweet Queene, Rose cheekt Adonis would that I had beene; Or if nights gouernesse, the pale-fac'd Moone, For thy sake would I were Endymion: But if no goddesse, yet of heauenly birth, And not disdainst poore men that liue on earth, If thou hast any Loue, would I were he, Or if thou wantst one, fix thy loue on me. With that she blusht, and smiling lookt vpon him; But here she left: for Philos comming in, Brake off her tale, and then they all deuise For state and show, how they may solemnise Their nuptials: each minute seemes a day, Till the slow houres had stolne the night away: But morne being come, theres none can tell the blis That they conceiu'd, without the like were his. The golden Sun did cherish vp the day, And chas'd the foggie mists and slime away, And gentle Zephyre with perfumed breath Stealing the sweets from off the flowry earth, Doth mildly breathe among the enamord trees, Kissing their leafie locks, which like still seas Waue vp and downe: and on the sprigs there stood The feathred Quiristers of the shadowy wood, Warbling forth layes of piercing melodie, Measuring the dances of the wind-wau'd tree. Swift-winged Mercurie hearing the report Of these same nuptials, trudg'd vnto the Court, And there vnto the bench of Deities Vnfolds this newes, who altogether rise, And on the battlements of the azure skie They seat themselues to see these two passe by. Afore him went a troupe of gallant youth, Of the best feature and of perfect growth; He followed in a cloake of cloth of gold, Larded with pearles, with diamonds enrold; His vpper vestment was cut out in starres, (Such wore great Mars when as he left the warres, And courted Venus) vnder which was drawne Cloth all of tyssue couered ore with lawne. Next came the Bride, like to the Queene of light, Drawne by her dragons to adorne the night: When she is richly dect and all things on, Going to court her sweet Endymion, Attended by a shining companie Of louely damsels, who together hie Vnto the Temple, where the sacred Priest In all his hallowed vestments being drest, With each consent, ioyning the louers hands, Knit them together in Hymens sacred bands.

Pyramus and Thisbe,


Printed for Roger Iackson, and are to be sold at his shop neere Fleet Conduit. 1617.

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