Seven Minor Epics of the English Renaissance (1596-1624)
by Dunstan Gale
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Why should it not then stand right so with him, Since of one nature we participate? What if with speech thou chance his loue to win Then maist thou write, No time is yet too late. What thou dost blush to speake, loue bids thee write Belieue me they read more thē we indite.

Resolu'd on this, with trembling hand she takes The pen and paper, framing for to write, Left hād holds way, whilst right the leter makes Composing what she did in minde indite. She writes, she doubts, she chageth this for that, She likes, dislikes, & notes she knows not what.

She casts away, and doth begin anew, Yet findes a want in that she framed last She blots, & then againe that thing doth view, And now the first more fits then all that's past. Father she writes, yet shame did blot it out, Then thus she writes, and casts away all doubt.

I know not what, sends to I know not whom Such health that thou maist only giue to me, Which if I want, my life cannot be long, Euen that same health thy louer sends to thee. I dare not tell thee who I am for shame, Nor (out alasse) once let thee heare my name.

And if thou aske of me what I desire, Or why so doubtfull I do write to thee, Would namelesse I might tell what I require, Till that my sweet were granted vnto me: Which if to know, thou wouldst make further triall A maiden asketh but a maids deniall.

In token of my wounded heart, I would Within these blotted lines there might apeare My colour pale, my body leane and cold, My watery eyes, my sighes and heauy cheere, Then mightst perceiue I were in loue with thee, And how the flames of loue tormenteth me.

I call the Gods as witnesse to the same Poore wretched wench, I stroue to flie the dart And did my best that out-rage for to tame Which Cupid had alotted for my smart, No wench bare more then did to me betide, Which forc'd me shew the cause that I would hide.

Then mercy at thy gentle hands I craue, In fearefull wise to thee I make my mone, Thou onely maist thy louer spill or saue, No enemy doth sue, but such a one That is aly'd most sweetly vnto thee, Yet in a neerer band would linked be.

My life is thine, and thou didst giue it me, Then loue thy selfe and thou wilt me affect, My beauty's much, and is deriu'd from thee, Then all thy owne be carefull to respect. O stop thy eares, and heare not Myrha's name, And shut thy eies whē thou dost read the same.

My youthfull yeares rash folly doth beseeme, The skill of law to aged folkes belong, And all is lawfull that we list, I deeme, We take no notice of the right or wrong, If it offend to take thy owne in't bed, Let that offence be layd vpon my head.

Then set apart the dread of worldly shame, And take the Gods, as presidents herein, My pregnant wit shall shun all future blame, Our pleasure scapes wel, hid with name of kin, And you may clip and kisse, and play with me, A daughters name me thinkes a cloke wil bee.

Haue mercy now, I haue my case exprest, Which loue inforst my fearefull hand to write: O grant thy daughter this her first request, That is the occasion of her chiefe delight, This Epitaph deserue thou not; I haue, The cruel father tooke the life he gaue.

And though my lines are blotted euery where, 'Twas with my teares that fell ere it was dry, And if my letters scribled do appeare, Whereby you thinke some other wrot to try Your mind: because my curious hand is mist, A fearefull minde, doth bring a shaking fist.

And so these scrambled lines I do commend Vnto your loue, be-blurred all with teares, With feruent hope they shall no whit offend, The minde is base, that stil continuall feares. And note you which is the greater blot, To get no childe or kill that you haue got.

Thus much this lustfull Lady writ in vaine, And seald it closely with a precious stone, A precious stone clos'd vp a filthy staine, Her trusty seruant forth she cals anone, And blushing bad him with a merry cheare, He should this letter to her father beare.

This scarcely said, old Cynaras did come, And then she cast her letter quite aside. Daughter (said he) you see the daily throng Of suters that do seeke thee for their bride: Here be their names my wench, thē come & show On which of them thou wilt thy selfe bestow.

Now for a space she silent did remaine, And onely gazed wishly in his face: She could her teares no longer then restraine, But they ran trickling down her cheeks apace Her father kisses her, and bids her peace, And thought it tender-hearted shamefastnes.

He dry'd her cheekes, and said, my wench be stil, Thy yeares of right, a husband now doth claime Thou shalt not liue a maid by my good will, Nor longer shalt a wanton bed refraine, Then what, or who wilt haue? come tell me now. At length she did reply; one like to you.

He did allow the choyce, and praisd the same, And kist and clipt her for her louing speech, Not deeming that it tended to their shame, It pleasd her well, & wisht that he would seech A further suit; and then made this request, Let me live still with you, let wooers rest.

Your company I most of all affect, Continue but your loue, it shall suffice, These wrangling husbands why should I respect? Her father thus againe to her replies, Thy godlinesse (at which she blushed red) I like, but thou must tast a Bride-groomes bed.

Thou dost not know the pleasure it affords, Nor wanton motions that therein abound. It not consisteth all of pleasant words, More gamesome tricks are there stil to be foūd A minde so chaste as thine cannot conceiue What pleasing sports one shall therby receiue.

It is no dreame, nor passion of the minde, But a substantiall pleasure there doth dwell, The practike part of dreames therein we finde, Which who so doth omit, leades Apes in hell. Why dost thou blush? I know your case, belieue, Maids must say nay, yet take when men do giue.

And now the sable horses of the night, Haue drawne a mantle ore the siluer sky, And all the stars doe shew their borrowed light, Each breathing thing oprest with sleep doth ly Saue Philomell, that sings of Terreus rape, And Myrha plotting some incestious scape.

No rest at all she tooke within her bed, The flames of Cupid burnt so in her brest, And many a fansie comes into her head, Which ouer-much her troubled soule opprest, She doubts, she hopes thē feare doth make repaire, Sh'l now attēpt, then shame doth bring despaire.

Looke how you see a pleasant field of Corne Moue here & there by gentle-breathing wind, Now vp and downe, as waues in sea are borne: So doubtfull thoughts had motion in her mind: Now shee'l surcease, and now to him repaire Instable, like a feather in the aire.

O fye vpon this fowle incestious lust, That very Nature greatly doth abhorre, Some plague will fall vpon all such I trust, If in this world there can be any more. I hope this little world well free-ed is Of Giants, and such monstrous beasts as this.

So God preserue it, if it be his will, And let the Gospell euer flourish here, Yet I do feare we haue some yet as ill, The pleasing fooles do with their folly beare: In Paradice I see wee cannot live, But we shall finde some foule seducing Eue.

My tongue doth stagger to repeate her name, So foule a blot a Christian cannot brooke, Go seeke a glasse to see this filthy shame, Upon Gods holy Bible daily looke: And there thou maist, as in a mirror see, No Alkeron can yeeld the like to thee.

There sucke the Nectar of his Holy Word, And begge thou pardon for thy foule abuse, For euery Sore it can a Salue afford. O Atheist! learne to make of it good use. Thou Christians blot, to leaue off further talke, Whilst thou hast light, endeuor there to walke.

And thou Paenchaia, rich in manys a thing, In Custus, Cynamon and Incense sweete, That out of trees aboundantly doth spring, Of Ammonie, and things for vses meete. Yet whilst thou yeeldest Myrrh, I wey thee not: For thereunto hath Myrha giuen a blot.

No measure in her filthy loue she found: No ease, no rest, but death doth like her now. Resolu'd on this she gets vp from the ground, And mindes to hang her selfe, her loue to shew, And then the noose about her necke she drawes, And said, o Cynaras! thou art the onely cause.

Farewell therfor, a thousand times farewell, Deere Cynaras thou mightst haue sau'd my life, And thinke then, this to me alone befell, Because I durst not loue thee as a wife. Farewell againe. Oh welcome gentle death! And then she went about to stop her breath.

A recompence fit for so foule a mind, But yet by chance her aged Nurse did lye Within a chamber that to hers adioyn'd, Who ouer-hearing this, to her did hye; And seeing her halfe murdered, so began To shrieke & screeme, & straight vnto her ran.

Who first did snatch her girdle from her necke, And powring teares vpon her plentuously, Did hold her in her aged armes, though weake, And kissing her did vrge the reason why She went about away herselfe to make, Or to her shame so base a course to take?

Quoth she, I pray thee tell the cause to me, Behold these empty dugs, and head all gray, These hands that pain haue took in rocking thee Let some, or all these, cause thee to bewray What cruel means haue broght thee in this case. At which the Lady turnd away her face.

O be not coy sweet! hide thou nought from me, I am thy Nurse, she said, and haue good skill In charms, & hearbs, & dreams, that powerful be, Of what thou wantst, Ile helpe thee to thy fill. Art thou in loue, or witcht by any wight? Il'e finde thee ease, or else will free the quite.

I haue bene wanton once as well as you, Now yet by age, am altogether dull, I haue beene loue-sicke, as you may be now, Of toyes and loue-trickes I was wondrous full, How strange so ere thy case do therefore stand, I can and will redresse it out of hand.

Thou art in Loue (my sweet) I well espy, If so, no lacke shalt finde in me, I sweare, The Lady in her armes sob'd bitterly, The Nurse replyd, and sayd; Why do not feare, Thy father shall not know of this at all: At which she starts, and on her bed doth fall.

And frantickly she tumbles on her face, And said, get hence (good Nurse) I pre'thee go, Constraine me not to shew my wicked case. That case (quoth she) I pray thee let me know. Get hence, she answer'd, or enquire lesse, 'Tis wickednesse thou wouldst haue me cōfesse.

'Tis such a thing, that if I want, I die, And being got, is nothing else but shame. The Nurse hereat did sigh most heauily, And on her knees besought to know the same, And holding vp her hands as she did kneele, Said; Madame, tell the priuie griefe you feele.

If you will not discouer this to me I will acquaint your father out of hand, How you had hang'd your selfe, wer't not for me; But if you tell, your trusty friend Il'e stand, And let your griefe of any nature be, It shall go hard, but Il'e finde remedy.

And if your case be ill, you need not feare The heauie load the wickednesse doth bring, I'le teach thee how most easily to beare, My age hath got experience in each thing. Tell me what 'tis that doth so neerely touch, One woman may perswade another much.

And now the Lady raisd her heauy head, Hanging vpon her Nurses bosome fast, As she did rise vp from her slothfull bed, Being prodigall, her christall teares to waste, Now she wold speak, & now her speech doth stay Thē shame doth cause her turne her face away.

A franticke fury doth possesse her now, And then she drawes her garment ore her face, And wrings her hands, & to her Nurse doth vow For to acquaint her with her wretched case. And shedding brinish teares into her breast, Thus much her griefe to her at last exprest.

Oh happy is my mothers happy state! That hath a husband Debonaire and faire, Vnhappy am I, most infortunate, At which he stopt, as one falne in dispaire. The Nurse soone found Senecdoche in this, And what the whole meant by a perfect gesse.

Her aged bones did shake and tremble fast, Her hoary haire stood staring vp on end, From forth her eyes a heauy looke she cast, And many a sigh her heart distrest did send; And pausing long, not knowing what to say, At last her tongue her minde did thus bewray.

In this I hope, good Lady, you but iest, To try your Nurses now-decaying wit; So foule a fault is not within your breast, Then tell me true the occasion of this fit. The Lady frown'd, & stopt her speaking farther, And said get hēce, is't shame to loue our father?

I she reply'd, in such a filthy sort, It is not loue, but lust that you professe, Necessity with true loue cannot sort; Your loue contaminates, you must confesse. A daughters loue then to your father show, Some loue good things but with bad loue, I know.

Or if your wanton flesh you cannot tame, Nor coole the burning of your hot desire, Then take some one that not augmets the shame And set apart to dote vpon your fire. It is most vile to stand in such a need, To make the actor baser then the deed.

Besides, his yeares can yeeld no such content, That blithsome wanton dames expect to haue, Herein your bargaine you will soone repent, Whē you shal find great want of that you craue: Are you so mad, o will you once beleeue Old men content to frolicke Dames can giue?

Take this example of me, from the Sky, Behold a shooting star from heauen fall Whose glimmering light you scarcely do espye But it is gone as nothing were at all; And so their sports being scarse begun doth leaue As in the aire concressions we perceiue.

Or as the bloomes vpon the Almond-tree, That vanish sooner the the mush-rums done: Or as the flies Haemere we do see, To leaue their breath their life being scarce begunne, Who thinks that tree whose roots decai'd by time Can yeeld like fruit to yong ones in their prime.

A rotten sticke more fit to burne then vse, I maruell what from age you do expect, Let my experience their defect accuse, And teach thee how thy equals to affect; When they should toy, iocund & sport with thee, Their gouts, coughs & cramps, wil hindrance be.

'Tis nor their fault, but incident to age, Which far more imperfections with it brings, As iealousie, suspicion, fury, rage, Dislike, disdaine, and other such like things, For can the fire, hot in nature, dwell With water cold, but they at length rebell.

Euen as in Summer one may aptly note, The fire and water in one cloud contain'd; And neither, yet, the mastery hauing got, Being opposits, their furie's not restrain'd, But do contend in strife and deadly warre, Til scolding Thunder do pronounce the iarre.

Choose from thy woers some peculiar one, Whose loue may fill the measure of thy hopes, And balonize thy wanton sports alone, Whose appetite with thy desire copes, Youth will be frolicke in a Maidens bed, Age is vnapt and heauy as the lead.

Youth hath his daliance and his kind embrace, Euen as the Elmes incircled with the Vine; Age loueth rest and quiet in this case, Saying, Oakes at such like Iuy gripes repine, Yuths pleasing weltun'd years sweet musick maks When for cōsort loue strings it strains or slakes.

Yet chuse thou one whose tongue's not set on wheeles Who eats his words before he brings thē forth That no decorum in his talking feeles, Such are but buzards, blabs of little worth: And for complexion, heerein mee beleeue, The perfect sanguine sweet content doth giue.

The Phlegmaticke is like the water cold, The Cholericke wants sap, like fire dry, And Melancholy, as age, is dull and old, But in the Sanguin moist warme iuice doth lie, Whose beauty feeds the eye with sweete delight, The rest do rather feare then please the sight.

What pleasure can a sterne grim face affoord, A swarfie colour or rough shagged haire, Or Rauen blacke? beleeue me at a word, They are too blame that do despise the faire: They please the eye, prouoke dull appetite, Resemble Gods, and do the minde delight.

Cease chatting gentle nurse, the Lady said, Or frame thy Tale to sute more with the time, My choice is made, therein I neede no aide Which may be compast by some help of thine, It is too late of abstinence too preach, Whē one is drunk, & notes not what you teach.

I seeke him not for lust, as you do deeme, For if my mind were onely bent thereto, I could find other men I might esteeme, You know the store of Suters come to woe: But 'tis some kind of naturall instinct, Or deuine flame that cannot be extinct.

What I do seeke I know is wondrous vile, And haue a will for to withstand the same, Yet can those motions by no meanes exile, So seeketh lust to bring me vnto shame, Be it worse thē nought to haue it flesh doth striue Helpe Nurse, else long I cannot liue.

And wish not to disswade me in this case, Nor giue me counsell to withdraw my minde It likes me well, I weigh not the disgrace, O teach me then to win him to be kind! Helpe me good Nurse in this my cruell state, All other meanes of comfort comes too late.

And since thou needs woldst vnderstand my sham Which I did grieue and blush to ope to thee, And had lear di'd then told thee of the same, Now be not slacke to lend thy helpe to me, Thou forst me for to open my disgrace, Then lend thy help to salue my wretched case.

You do not know good Nurse or haue forgot, What 'tis to loue, and cannot it obtaine, Of youths kind daliance age doth take no note, Forgetting it, and thinke all may abstaine: But tis not so, I to those thoughts reply, Then helpe me gentle Nurse, or else I die.

Liue still my sweete, quoth she, and do possesse, Yet name of (father) shame forc't her conceale And with a staggring speech the word represt, And all her helpe more amply to reueale, She made a vow, whereby herselfe she bound, To do the best that might in her be found.

The feasts of gentle Ceres now began, Which yearely they obseru'd, and held it ill, For thrice three nights to lye with any man, The wiues in white, apparrelled were still, And vnto Ceres, first fruit of the field, (As garlands made of eares of corne) did yeeld.

The Queen amongst these women did frequent These Rites, and would be absent at that time. The Nurse then to accomplish her intent, And finding Cynaras made blith with wine, The Syren most inchantingly did sing, And thus at last broke silence to the King.

Renowned King, but that your constant loue Restraines my tongue & holds my speeches in, A wanton question I would to thee moue? Speak on, quoth he, good Nurse thy speech begin, With Bacchus feasts do wanton sports agree, I know thou wouldst no ill thing vnto me.

Then thus, quoth shee, there is a gallant Maide Of Princely birth and Noble high degree, Who at this time would be right well apaide To kisse thy hand, shee is so in loue with thee, Such diuine beauty in her face doth lurke, That Gods enuy at Nature for the worke.

Without offence vnto your Queene and Wife, Vnto this Lady, she is a homely cate, I loue your Queene, and honour her as life, And but admire the others happy state, That's made so faire that none can like her bee, Your Queene is kind, abuse her not for mee.

But if you saw her face, as I haue done, And view'd the rest of her proportion'd limbs, You would contemne my Mistres face too soone, Yet loue thē both: it nought your honor dims, One as your wife, the next for beauties sake, So of them both a beauteous wife but make.

The glory of her haire is wonderous bright, Vpon her brows doth ebbe and flow content Her eies in motion do beget delight, Her cheekes a tincture to Aurora lent Her teeths no pearle, her eyes no rubies are, But flesh and bone, more red and white by far.

No lisping tongue that fondrels count a grace, But doth to well tun'd harmony incline, A necke inferior nought vnto the face, And breath most apt for to be prest by thine, Now if the vtter view so glorious proue, Iudge how the hidden parts procure loue.

The King who all this while lent listening eare, Being wrapt in admiration of her speech, Now did begin more liuely to appeare And for to know one thing of her did seech, Saying, of what yeeres may this Lady be? Iust of sweete Myrahs age, replied shee.

He said then, bring her to conferre with mee, That I may try if all be true you say. It is most true, as after you shall see, But said the Nurse, you now must let her stay, Perhaps shee'le blush, and be to coy by light, When she will yeeld more kindly in the night.

Such pretty Dames will hardly yeeld consent, For in their mouthes they alwaies carry nay, Yet if you giue, to take, they are content, And nere refuse, whatere their tongue doth say: For so they nature simple men abuse, When what they loue they most of all refuse.

If I do fable, put me vnto shame, In saying she resembles Myrha much, For 'tis so much, as if it were the same; And when you seeke to gaine the loue of such Let my experience thus much you assure They Fawlcon-like stoop to a ganey lure.

And now you may, voide of suspected crime, Dally with her in your lasciuious bed, The sacred Ceres feasts are at this time, And there your Queen is stil: this scarcely sed, Quoth Cyneras, bring her this night to mee, Whereto the Nurse replide, I do agree.

With hopefull newes the Nurse return'd againe, And cheer'd her chicke, & bad her not be sad, Her wished sute, she certaine should obtaine, The news wherof made Myrha wondrous glad. Yet as she ioy'd, she was opprest with feare, Such discords of affections in her were.

Away slips time and hasteneth on the night, And now the Beare's seene run about the Pole Conducted forward by Boaetes bright, The other stars about the axe-tree role: The Southerne images do shine as gold, Fit monuments for Hunters to behold.

At what time Myrha wickedly proceedes And takes in hand to act her base desire, The shamefull lust with cursed hopes she feeds Which quickly sets her heart vpon a fire, And thereupon resolueth on her shame, And not one thought to contradict it came.

At which the Sunne his glorious face did hide, Each Planet pulleth in his golden head, The other stars out of the heauens glide And Cynthia from her siluer Palace fled, The night is robbed of her wonted light, Each thing turn'd dark that formerly was bright.

Three times, by stumbling, Myrha was fore-told Of bad successe, if she did not retire; Three times the Owles like lessons did vnfold, Whose dolefull note do foule mishap require; Yet she crept on, regarding not the same, The want of light alayed much the shame.

The Nurse doth lead her by her owne left hand, The right doth grope the dark and desart way, As silent as the night they now do stand To heare the night-crows scrik, & goblins play The lich-foule beats, and at the window cries, For to come in, to stay the enterprise.

O gentle Nurse, said Myrha tell to me, What may these scremes & doleful scriks portend, The nurse reply'd, my child, no hurt to thee, They are but servants that on night attend, These goblins, lich-fouls, Owls, & night-crows to At murthers raile, with loue haue naught to do.

And then the Beldam leads the Lady on Through many roomes & other turning waies As in a laborinth they two had gone; And as they go, she to the Lady saies; Now cheere you vp, and get a iocund minde In thinking of the pleasures you shall finde.

At last shee brings her to the chamber dore Which softly she did ope, and led her in, The Lady fals to trembling more and more, Her very heart did to relent begin, The neerer to the wickednesse she went, The more to quake and shiuer shee was bent.

Looke how you see a blind man on the way Led by another through some desart place, Stagger and grope and at each trifle stay For feare least he should fall: euen in like case, The wretched nurse the fearefull Lady leads, Who shakes and starts at euery step she treads.

And now she doth her enterprise repent, And wish she might vnknowne returne againe, Vnto his bed the pawsing Nurse then went; And cal'd the King & told him thus much plaine Dread King awake, of pleasures take thy fill, This Ladie's thine, then vse her as you will.

The cursed father then his bowels takes Into his bed, o filthy blob and staine, His daughter shiuers in his armes, and quakes, This being done, the nurse returnes againe And said, make much of her, to weepe forbeare None wold weepe for that which you now feare.

The King then cheeres his daughter, in his arme, Why dost thou weep? be still my sweete, be stil, Come clip thy loue I meane to do no harme, My Kingly bed with pleasures shall thee fill, And to hide all that idle heads may moue, Hence-forth I call thee daughter and not loue.

Come kisse thy father, gentle daughter then, And learne to sport thee in a wanton bed; Is this the tricks (she softly said) of men? And counterfeiting speech vnknowne, she said, A daughters name, me thinkes, doth not agree, Ist well with your owne child in loue to be?

The King, not deeming who lay by his side, Replies, what hurt deere Lady can it be? No ill I know by that meanes can betide, The loue more firme thereby we common see: It is not ill though men the same not craue, For we want daughters till a wife we haue.

She did reply, and said, why put the case That I were Myrha for as men do say, My countenance resembleth much her face; Were't not offence, think you, with me to play? Misdeeming nought, againe, he doth reply; No more thē 'tis with thee, sweet wench, to lie.

O would, quoth Myrha, you could likewise proue Whereby I might but know some reafon why, It were not ill to grant to you my loue, That loue should then alone to you apply; Were I your daughter I might well consent, Say halfe so much for me I am content.

The King replies, my sweete, my will is law, And may command my subiects when I will, Besides all this, you furthermore do know You must obey, I call you daughter still; Then talke no more, she said, I do agree Thy daughter and thy subiect yeelds to thee.

Oh! now the father his owne child doth take, And of his owne he doth his owne beget, Of his owne loines another child doth make, Repugnant to the Law that nature set; May ones owne seed to procreation moue? No sure, unlesse it doth a monster proue.

Their musicke is the scriking of the Ow'es, As if the fiends came for to sunder them, The rauing dogs affright them with their howles, As all the fiends came forth to iniure them; The stars behind the clouds, a great way hence, Like spies lie peeping to disclose the offence.

Their bed doth shake and quauer as they lie, As if it groan'd to beare the weight of sinne, The fatall night-crowes at their windowes flie, And cries out at the shame they do liue in: And that they may perceiue they heauens frown, The Poukes & Goblins pul the couerings down.

The pillow that her cursed head doth beare, Which is a castle of accursed ill, The weighty burthen of the same doth feare, And therefore shrinketh inwards from her stil: Whilst both the ends high swelling with disdaine Like angry foe-men raise themselues amaine.

The bed, more kind then they religious are, Doth seeke to shroud their foule defiled act, And therefore lets them fall into it farre As in some vale for to conceale the fact: Like bulwarkes rising to defend their names, Or swelling mountains to obscure their shames.

O there they lie and glut themselues with sin, A iocund sin that doth the flesh delight, A filthy flesh that can reioyce herein, A silly ioy that gainst the soule doth fight, A fasting sport, a pleasure soone forgot, That bringeth shame with an eternall blot.

Thrice happy now, had wicked Myrha bene, If some foule swelling Eban cloud would fall, For her to hide her selfe eternall in, Or had the bed bene burnt with wilde fire all, And thereby moult the heauens golden frame That al things might haue ended with her shame.

And now reuenge, a souldier vnto lust, Comes scouring in, as it had bene beguil'd Accompanied with fame and foule distrust, And with disgrace, blacke luxures basest child, These threaten them and blaze abroad the fact, And like to Trumpets thunder out the act.

Not many nights they spending in this sort, But Cyneras at length desir'd to know Who 'twas affoorded him this pleasant sport, And freely did the curtesy bestow: And hauing done this taske vs'd euery night. Forth he doth steale and goes to seek the light.

O hide thee Myrha, 'tis not time to sleepe, A thunderbolt is leuel'd at thy head, Vnlesse thy eies prepare them for to weepe, With fire and sword thou art betrai'd in bed, Awaken wench, the day of doome bewray, And see the father his owne child betray.

And whither steales thou furious Cynaras? Why seekes a light to open thy owne shame? Who hop'st to finde in this accursed place? Make not such hast to spy thy ignoble game, Stay, stay thy feete, thou wilt repent to late, Mischiefe itselfe comes in with speedy gate.

What, sleepst thou Myrha? why thē sleep thou long Or else awake and welcome in thy woes, Another happy day will neuer come, Pale misery thy pleasure ouer-goes; Dreame sleeping, thou didst with thy father lie, Or wake, and see him reuenge the villany.

Confound thy head, and all thy parts with feare, And thinke the fiends incompasse thee about, Striuing with burning tongs thy flesh to teare, Pulling thy tongue and eies with tortures out; O thinke with raizors they do flea thy skin, Adding new tortures vnto euery sin.

Now comes the father, being fully bent For to disclose his loue with his faire light, Sleepe Myrha, thou hast time for to repent, Arise in care, passe many a weary night; Looke Cyneras, and spy disgrace too soone, Myrha awake, see what thy lust hath done.

Blush lustfull King, and see the end of lust, Behold thy owne dishonour and disgrace, Learne what it is to vse thy wife vniust, And lay a Strumpet in her Princely place, Sham follows thē reuēge hangs o're their heads That basely do defile their marriage bed.

It's like a tender flower nipt with frost, It euer after hangs his drooping head, And hath her wonted prime of glory lost, Or like the cup that hath his Nectar shed: Cracke you the richest pointed Diamond, And all his prise and glory's lost and gone.

Old Cynaras his daughter knowing well, For very anger could not speake a word, But into most outragious fury fell, And would have kil'd the Lady with a sword, But nimbly she, by helpe of cloudy night, Conueyes her selfe out of her fathers sight.

Most like a Lyon, ranging for a pray, Each corner of the house he madly lookes, No barre, or stop, doth hinder him, or stay, He rifles chambers, beds, and secret nookes. This Lyon seekes for her, the dart did throw, And quietly lets all the other go.

By this the Lady's in the Arabian fields, And fearefully doth range about the same, Which plenteously the bearing Date-tree yeelds, At length she also through Paenchaia came, Her fathers rage being something over-past, At Saba land she doth arriue at last.

The King not finding her, begins to fret, And vex himselfe with anguish, care & griefe, He scoulds with fortune, that this trap did set, And chides the Fates for yeelding no reliefe: Small sorrowes grew till they to greater came, Like little sparkes increasing into flame.

Euen as a river swelling ore her bounds, By daily falling of small drops of raine, Likewise his care continually abounds, By howerly thinking of his his fault againe, Content were found soone in calamity, The thought thereof raz'd out of memory.

Daughter, quoth he, with eyes full fraught with teares, What hast thou done? o foule accursed child! Why hast deceiu'd my aged blosom'd haires? Why didst thy Princely Father so beguile? Alasse! I erre, thou art no childe to me, Nor longer Il'e thy louing father be.

Go seeke some hole eternall to lye in, And neuermore behold the heauens light, Thou hast disgraced all thy name and kin, Then hide thee euerlasting from my sight, Thou hast not onely brought vs both to shame, But made thy father actor of the same.

How will thy mother thinke her selfe abus'd, That hast made her a quot-queane shamefully, Of filthy incest I do thee accuse, That Lemmon-like didst with thy father lye, Then hye to hell, haste to the Furies there, When raging parets witnesse gainst thee beare.

Oh but the fault thy owne was most of all, Poore Myrha thou didst meane no hurt to me, It wot: thou said'st (my selfe I witnesse call) Twas ill with your owne childe in loue to be. And vrg'd againe, what if she Myrha were, I basely said, there was no fault in her.

Then rent thy braines with terror of the deed, Confused thoughts burst thine accursed breast, As if thou did'st on deadly poyson feed, And in Elisium let thy soule nere rest, Rore seas, quake earth, till you deuoure him That hath defil'd his daughter with foule sin.

Yet she did know I was her father deere, What meant she then to seeke me in such sort? I did not know my daughter to be there, And therefore wished her no kind of hurt. She sin'd, and knew her father she abused, I sin'd, uncertaine who it was I vsed.

By this the Sunne neere past the Zodiaque ore, And thrice three signes had fully ouer-run, Returning tow'rd the point he was before, Ninty degrees wanting thereto to come, He had the Cliptike and one quadre gone, And in that space the child ripes in the womb.

When Myrha weeping much her barne to beare, Tired with wandring in the wood so long, Weary of life beginneth for to feare What shall hereafter on herselfe become. Now she perceiues the folly lust did bring, And may take time of penitence to sing.

Things done in haste, haue leasure to repent, A hasty braine is neuer wanting woe, Youth with Decorum seldome is content, Yong yeares and lust associat-like do goe, Youth hath no wit till it be deerely bought, And often times then it is good for nought.

Alasse! quoth Myrha, bursting out with cryes, What shall I do that haue so vilely erred? Let bellowing grones pierce vp into the skyes, That all the Gods to pitty may be stirred, O let some Trumpets voice from thee be driuen To waken mighty Iupiter in heauen.

You gentle Gods, that wonted were to heare The suppliant praiers of distressed soules, Now open wide your gracious listning eare, That I may win some pitty with my houles. O let it stand with your omnipotence, For to remit the sorrowfuls offence.

I do confesse my wickednesse is much, And there's no hope that I should fauour win. Yet your still-pardoning clemency is such, That vndeserued you forgiue our sin, We run in errors every day most ill, Yet you are apt to grant vs pardon still.

What haue I gain'd? my fathers foule disgrace, My owne dishonor, and my friends disdaine; What have I won? an imputation base, My mothers curse, and a perpetuall staine, I seldome see one mischiefe to arise, But it brings others at her heeles likewise.

And since my fault into such height is driuen That I deserue not in the earth to rest, Nor haue a place amongst the starres in heauen, You nightly powers grant me this request: That neither with the dead nor liue I do remain, And so no place in earth or heauen gaine.

To this her last request the Gods consent, And so the ground her feet did couer ore, Out from her toes the scrawling roots were sent Which by her travell she had bruised sore. These twining roots most plentuously abound, Till they had fixt her body to the ground.

Where be the walks that thou wast wont to haue The shady groues paued with Camomile? The rosie bowers that heate of Sunne did saue, And yeelded to thy sence a pleasant smile? Where be the pleasant roomes thou solast's in. Thou art dispoil'd thereof by thine owne sin.

Thou shalt no more within thy Chariot ride, Gazing vpon the people kneeling downe. No more will come to woe thee for a Bride, Lust hath defil'd the tipe of thy renowne, Those feet of thine, that to offence did lead, Imprisoned are, and not allow'd to tread.

By this the growing tree so far had past, That her faire bones to timber turned were: Her marow did conuert to pyth at last, And all her bloud the name of Sap doth beare, Her armes to bowes, her fingers branches be, Her skin to bark, and so she made a tree.

Where is the face that did all faces staine, But shrunke within a hard consolid barke? No one will sue to kisse it once againe, But must be hid perpetually in darke. That snow-white-neck, that men desir'd to tuch, Now they refuse to handle it as much.

Where are those eyes, those glassy eyes of thine, That lent the glorious Sun his chiefest light? Where is that Angels voyce, that voyce deuine, Whose wel-tun'd tōgue did al the gods delight? What, are they gone? doth time thy glory rust? No, they be spoiled with incestious lust.

Farewell thy armes, made kindly to embrace, But now a bough for birds to pearch upon, Farewell thy pretty fingers in like case, The curious Lute ordain'd to quauer on. Your wonted glory you shall see no more, Your filthy lust hath thrust you out of dore.

Now with her shape she lost her sences quite. For that and for her fault she weepeth still; Which teares are held in honor, price, & might, And daily do out of the tree distill, And from the gummy barke doth issue Myrrh, Which evermore shall beare the name of her.

At last the swelling wombe diuides the tree, The infant seeking for some passage out, No Nurse nor Mid-wife could the baby see, The vse of speech his mother is without, And could not therefore begge Lucina's aid, She might done well could she one prayer said.

And therefore sighes and grones most heauily, Bending most humbly to the ground below. Shedding from euery bow teares plenteously. At length the Gods some fauour did bestow. And so Lucina laid her hand thereon, And speaking words, receiu'd the words anon.

The watry Nymphs this pretty child take, And on soft smelling flowers laid him downe, Of which a curious cradle they did make, The hearbs perfumed were for more renowne. The Nymphs this boy affected more and more, And with his mothers teares stil washt him ore.

As yeares increase, so beauty doth likewise, And is more faire tomorrow then to day, His beauty more & more continuall doth arise, That enuy did delight, in him bewray, As Venus fell in loue with him at last, Who did reuenge his mothers lusting past.


Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italic font are indicated by italic.

Passages in bold font are indicated by bold.

Elongated "s" has been modernized.

The use of "VV" in place of "W" is intentional to represent the appearance of the original text.

Letters printed in the original text with macrons are indicated by x. The macrons are used to indicate missing letters, either "m" or "n".

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as presented in the original text.

Misprints corrected: "Glancus" corrected to "Glaucus" (page XVII) "he" corrected to "be" (page 102) "Appollo" corrected to "Apollo" (page 134) "haning" corrected to "hauing" (page 152) Stanza number "85" corrected to "45" (page 187) Stanza number "100" corrected to "102" (page 208) "ber" corrected to "her" (page 212) "hearr" corrected to "heart" (page 223)

Printing errors (such as unmatched quotation marks and parentheses, inconsistent spelling, punctuation, and capitalization) have been intentionally retained.


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