Love | Beauty | Heavenly
Love | Heavenly Beauty
A Note on the Renascence Editions
This HTML etext of Fowre
Hymnes was prepared from The Complete Works in Verse and
Prose of Edmund Spenser [Grosart, London, 1882] by Risa S. Bear
at the University of Oregon. The
text is in the public domain. Markup is copyright © 1995
University of Oregon; this version is distributed for nonprofit use
Printed for VVilliam Ponsonby.
Ladies, the Ladie Margaret Countesse
Cumberland, and the Ladie Marie
Aving in the greener times of my youth, composed these
former two Hymnes in the praise of Loue and beautie, and finding that
the same too much pleased those of like age & dispositiõ,
which being too vehemently caried with that kind of affection, do
rather sucke out pyson to their strong passion, than hony to their
honest delight, I was moued by the one of you two most excellent
Ladies, to call in the same. But being vnable so to doe, by reason that
many copies thereof were formerly scattered abroad, I resolued at least
to amend, and by way of retractation to reforme them, making in stead
of those two Hymnes of earthly or naturall loue and beautie, two others
of heauenly and celestiall. The which I doe dedicate ioyntly vnto you
two honorable sisters, as to the most excellent and rare ornaments of
all true loue and beautie, both in the one and the other kinde, humbly
beseeching you to vouchsafe the patronage of them, and to accept this
my humble seruice, in lieu of the great graces and honourable fauours
which ye dayly shew vnto me, vntill such time as I may by better meanes
yeeld you some more notable testimonie of my thankfull mind and
And euen so I pray
for your happinesse.
Greenwich this first of September.
in all humble service.
Oue, that long since hast to thy mighty powre,
Perforce subdude my poore captiued hart,
And raging now therein with restlesse stowre,
Doest tyrannize in euerie weaker part;
Faine would I seeke to ease my bitter smart,
By any seruice I might do to thee,
Or ought that else might to thee pleasing bee.
And now t'asswage the
force of this new flame,
And make thee more propitious in my need,
I meane to
sing the praises of thy name,
And thy victorious conquests to areed;
By which thou madest many harts to bleed
Of mighty Victors, with wyde wounds embrewed,
And by thy cruell darts to thee subdewed.
Onely I feare my wits
Through the sharpe sorrowes, which thou hast me bred,
Should faint, and words should faile me, to relate
The wondrous triumphs of thy great godhed.
But if thou woulds vouchsafe to ouerspred
Me with the
shadow of thy gentle wing,
I should enabled be thy actes to sing[.]
Come then, ô
come, thou mightie God of loue,
Out of thy siluer bowres and secret blisse,
Where thou doest sit in Venus lap aboue,
Bathing thy wings in her ambrosiall kisse,
That sweeter farre then any Nectar is;
Come softly, and my feeble breast inspire
With gentle furie, kindled of thy fire.
And ye sweet Muses,
which haue often proued
points of his auengefull darts:
And ye faire Nimphs, which oft&etilde;times haue loued
The cruell worker of your kindly smarts,
Prepare your selues, and open wide your harts,
For to receiue the triumph of your glorie,
That made you merie oft, when ye were sorie.
And ye faire blossomes
of youths wanton breed,
Which in the conquests of your beautie bost,
Wherewith your louers feeble eyes you feed,
But sterue their harts, that needeth nourture most,
selues, to march amongst his host,
And all the way this sacred hymne do sing,
Made in the honor of your Soueraigne king.
Reat god of might, that reignest in the mynd,
And all the bodie to thy hest doest frame,
Victor of gods, subduer of mankynd,
That doest the Lions and fell Tigers tame,
Making their cruell rage thy scornefull game,
And in thy roring taking great delight;
Who can expresse the glorie of thy might?
Or who aliue
can perfectly declare,
The wondrous cradle of thine infancie?
When thy great mother Venus first thee bare,
Begot of Plentie and of Penurie,
Though elder then thine owne Natiuitie ;
And yet a chyld, renewing still thy yeares;
And yet the eldest of thy heauenly Peares.
For ere this worlds
still moving mightie masse,
Out of great Chaos vgly prison crept,
In which his goodly face long hidden was
view, and in deepe darknesse kept,
Loue, that had now long time securely slept
In Venus lap, vnarmed then and naked,
Gan reare his head, by Clotho being waked.
And taking to him wings
of his owne heate,
Kindled at first from heauens life-giuing fyre,
He gan to moue out of his idle seate,
VVeakly at first, but after with desyre
Lifted aloft, he gan to mount vp hyre,
And like fresh Eagle, make his hardie flight
that great wide wast, yet wanting light.
Yet wanting light to
guide his wandring way,
His owne faire mother, for all creatures sake,
Did lend him light from her owne goodly ray:
Then through the world his way he gan to take,
The world that was not till he did it make;
Whose sundrie parts he frõ them selues did seuer,
The which before had lyen confused euer,
The earth, the ayre,
the water, and the fyre,
Then gan to raunge them selues in huge array,
And with contrary forces to conspyre
Each against other, by all meanes they may,
Threatning their owne confusion and decay:
Ayre hated earth, and water hated fyre,
Till Loue relented their rebellious yre.
He then them tooke, and
tempering goodly well
Their contrary dislikes with loued meanes,
Did place them all in order, and compell
To keepe them selues within their sundrie raines,
Together linkt with Adamantine chaines;
Yet so, as that in euery liuing wight
They mixe themselues, & shew their kindly might.
So euer since they
firmely haue remained,
And duly well obserued his beheast;
Through which now all these things that are contained
Within this goodly cope, both most and least
Their being haue, and dayly are increast,
Through secret sparks of his infused fyre,
Which in the barraine cold he doth inspyre.
Thereby they all do
liue, and moued are
To multiply the likenesse of their kynd,
Whilest they seeke onely, without further care,
To quench the flame, which they in burning fynd:
But man, that breathes a more immortall mynd,
Not for lusts sake, but for eternitie,
Seekes to enlarge his lasting progenie.
For hauing yet in his
Some sparks remaining of that heauenly fyre,
He is enlumined with that goodly light,
Vnto like goodly semblant to aspyre:
Therefore in choice of loue, he doth desyre
That seemes on earth most heauenly, to embrace,
That same is Beautie, borne of heauenly race.
For sure of all, that
in this mortall frame
Contained is, nought more diuine doth seeme,
Or that resembleth more th'immortall flame
Of heauenly light, then Beauties glorious beame.
What wonder then, if with such rage extreme
Fraile men, whose eyes seek heauenly things to see,
At sight thereof so much enrauisht bee?
Which well perceiuing
that imperious boy,
Doth therwith tip his sharp empoisned darts;
Which glancing through the eyes with counenance coy,
Rest not, till they haue pierst the trembling harts,
And kindled flame in all their inner parts,
Which suckes the blood, and drinketh vp the lyfe
Of carefull wretches with consuming griefe.
Thenceforth they playne,
& make full piteous mone
Vnto the author of their balefull bane;
The daies they waste, the nights they grieue and grone,
Their liues they loath, and heauens light disdaine;
No light but that, whose lampe doth yet remaine
Fresh burning in the image of their eye,
They deigne to see, and seeing it still dye.
The whylst thou tyrant
Loue doest laugh & scorne
At their complaints, making their paine thy play;
Whlest they lye languishing like thrals forlorne,
The whyles thou doest triumph in their decay,
And otherwhyles, their dying to delay,
Thou doest emmarbel the proud heart of her,
whose loue before their life they doe prefer.
So hast thou often done
(ay me the more)
To me thy vassall, whose yet bleeding hart,
With thousand wounds thou mangled hart so sore
That whole remaines scarce any little part,
Yet to augment the anguish of my smart,
Thou hast enfrosen her disdainefull brest,
That no one drop of pitie there doth rest.
Why then do I this
honor vnto thee,
Thus to ennoble thy victorious name,
Since thou doest shew no fauour vnto mee,
Ne once moue ruth in that rebellious Dame,
Somewhat to slacke the rigour of my flame?
Certes small glory doest thou winne hereby,
To let her liue thus free, and me to dy.
But if thou be indeede,
as men the call,
The worlds great Parent, the most kind preseruer
Of liuing wights, the soueraine Lord of all,
How falles it then, that with thy furious feruour,
Thou doest afflict as well the not deseruer,
As him that doeth thy louely heasts despize,
And on thy subiects most doest tyrannize?
Yet herein eke thy
glory seemeth more,
By so hard handling those which best thee serue,
That ere thou doest them vnto grace restore,
Thou mayest well trie if they will euer swerue,
And mayest them make it better to deserue,
And hauing got it, may it more esteeme,
For things hard gotten, men more dearely deeme.
So hard those heauenly
beauties be ensyred,
As things diuine least passions doe impresse,
The more of stedfast mynds to be admyred,
The more they stayed be on stedfastnesse:
But baseborne mynds such lamps regard the lesse,
Which at first blowing take not hastie fyre,
Such fancies feele no loue, but loose desyre.
For loue is Lord of
truth and loialtie,
Lifting himselfe out of the lowly dust,
On golden plumes vp to the purest skie,
Aboue the reach of loathly sinfull lust,
Whose base affect through cowardly distrust
of his weake wings, dare not to heauen fly,
But like a moldwarpe in the earth doth ly.
His dunghill thoughts,
which do themselues enure
To dirtie drosse, no higher dare aspyre,
Ne can his feeble earthly eyes endure
The flaming light of that celestiall fyre,
Which kindleth loue in generous desyre,
And makes him mount aboue the natiue might
Of heauie earth, vp to the heauens hight.
Such is the powre of
that sweet passion,
That it all sordid basenesse doth expell,
And the refyned mynd doth newly fashion
Vnto a fairer forme, which now doth dwell
In his high thought, that would it selfe excell;
Which he beholding still with constant sight,
Admires the mirrour of so heauenly light.
Whose image printing in
his deepest wit,
He thereon feeds his hungrie fantasy,
Still full, yet neuer satisfyde with it,
Like Tantale, that in store doth sterued ly:
So doth he pine in most satiety,
For nought may quench his infinite desyre,
Once kindled through that first conceiued fyre.
Thereon his mynd
affixed wholly is,
Ne thinks on ought, but how it to attaine;
His care, his ioy, his hope is all on this,
That seemes in it all blisses to containe,
In sight whereof, all other blisse seemes vaine.
Thrise happie man, might he the same possesse;
himselfe, and doth his fortune blesse.
And though he do not
win his wish to end,
Yet thus farre happie he him selfe doth weene,
That heauens such happie grace did to him lend,
As thing on Earth so heauenly, to haue seene,
His harts enshrined faint, his heauens queene,
Fairer then fairest, in his fayning eye,
Whose sole aspect he counts felicitye.
Then forth he casts in
his vnquiet thought,
What he may do, her fauour to obtain;
exploit, what perill hardly wrought,
What puissant conquest, what aduenturous paine,
M[a]y please her best, and grace vnto him gaine:
He dreads no danger, nor misfortune feares,
His faith, his fortune, in his breast he beares.
Thou art his god, thou
art his mightie guyde,
Thou being blind, letst him not see his feares,
But cariest him to that which he hath eyde,
Through seas, through flames, through thousand swords and speares:
Ne ought so strong that may his force withstand,
With which thou armest his resistless hand.
in the Euxine waues,
And stout Æneas in the Troiane fyre,
Achilles preassing through the Phrygian glaiues,
And Orpheus daring to prouoke the yre
Of damned fiends, to get his loue retyre:
For both through heauen & hell thou makest way,
To win them worship which to thee obay.
And if by all these
perils and these paines,
He may but purchase lyking in her eye,
of ioy, then to himselfe he faynes,
Eftsoones he wypes quite out of memory,
What euer ill before he did aby,
Had it bene death, yet would he die againe,
To liue thus happie as her grace to gaine.
Yet when he hath found
fauour to his will,
He nathemore can so contented rest,
But forceth further on, and striueth still
T'approch more neare, till in her inmost brest,
He may enbosomd bee, and loued best;
And yet not
best, but to be lou'd alone,
For loue can not endure a Paragone.
The feare whereof,
ô how doth it torment
His troubled mynd with more than hellish paine!
And to his fayning fancie represent
Sights neuer seene, and thousand shadowes vaine,
To breake his sleepe, and waste his ydle braine;
Thou that hast neuer lou'd canst not beleeue,
Least part of th'euils which poore louers greeue.
The gnawing enuie, the
surmizes, the distrustfull showes,
The false reports that flying tales doe beare,
The doubts, the daungers, the delayes, the woes,
The fayned friends, the vnassured foes,
With thousands more then any tongue can tell,
Doe make a louers life a wretches hell.
Yet is ther one more
cursed then they all,
That canker worme, that monster Gelosie,
Which eates the hart, and feedes vpon the gall,
Turning all loues delight to miserie,
of loosing his felicitie.
Ah Gods, that euer ye that monster placed
In gentle loue, that all his ioyes defaced.
By these, ô Loue,
thou doest thy entrance make,
Vnto thy heauen, and doest the more endeere,
Thy pleasures vnto those which them partake,
As after stormes when clouds begin to cleare,
The Sunne more bright & glorious doth appeare;
So thou thy folke, through paines of Purgatorie,
Dost beare vnto thy blisse, and heauens glorie.
them placest in a Paradize
Of all delight, and ioyous happie rest,
Where they doe feede on Nectar heauenly Wize,
With Hercules and Hebe, and the rest
Of Venus dearlings, through her bountie blest,
And lie like Gods in yourie beds arayd,
With rose and lillies ouer them displayd.
There with thy daughter
Pleasure they doe play
Their hurtlesse sports, without rebuke or blame,
And in her snowy bosome boldly lay
heads, deuoyd of guilty shame:
After full ioyance of their gentle game,
Then her they crowne their Goddesse and their Queene,
And Decke with floures thy altars well beseene.
Ay me, deare Lord, that
euer I might hope,
For all the paines and woes that I endure,
To come at length vnto the wished scope
Of my desire, or might my selfe assure,
That happie port for euer to recure.
Then would I thinke these paines no paines at all,
And all my
woes to be but penance small.
Then would I sing of
thine immortall praise
An heauenly Hymne, such as the Angels sing,
Boue all the gods, thee onely honoring,
My guide, my God, my victor, and my king;
Till then, dread Lord, vouchsafe to take of me
This simple song, thus fram'd in praise of thee.
H whither, Loue, wilt thou now carrie mee?
What wontlesse fury dost thou now inspire
Into my feeble breast, too full of thee?
Whylest seeking to aslake thy raging fyre,
Thou in me kindlest much more great desyre,
And vp aloft aboue my strength dost rayse
The wondrous matter of my fyre to prayse.
That as I earst in
praise of thine owne name,
So now in honour of thy Mother deare,
Hymne I eke should frame,
And with the brightnesse of her beautie cleare,
The rauisht harts of gazefull men might reare,
To admiration of that heauenly light,
From whence proceeds such foule enchaunting might[.]
Therto do thou great
Goddesse, queene of Beauty,
Mother of loue, and of all worlds delight,
Without whose souerayne grace and kindly dewty,
Nothing on earth seemes fayre to fleshly sight,
Doe thou vouchsafe with thy loue-kindling light,
my dim and dulled eyne,
And beautifie this sacred hymne of thyne.
That both to thee, to
whom I mean it most,
And eke to her, whose faire immortall beame,
Hath darted fire into my feeble ghost,
That now it wasted is with woes extreame,
It may so please that she at length will streame
Some deaw of grace, into my withered hart,
After long sorrow and continuing smart.
Hat time this worlds great workmaister did cast
To make al
things, such as we now behold:
It seemes that he before his eyes had plast
A goodly Paterne to whose perfect mould,
He fashioned them as comely as he could,
That now so faire and seemely they appeare,
As nought may be amended any wheare.
That wondrous Paterne
wherefoere it bee,
Whether in earth layd vp in secret store,
Or else in heauen, that no man may it see
With sinfull eyes, for fear it to deflore,
Beautie, which all men adore,
Whose face and feature doth so much excell
All mortall sence, that none the same may tell.
Thereof as euery
earthly thing partakes,
Or more or lesse by influence diuine,
So it more faire accordingly it makes,
And the grosse matter of this earthly myne,
Which clotheth it, thereafter doth refyne,
Doing away the drosse which dims the light
Of that faire beame, which therein is empight.
infusion of celestiall powre,
The duller earth it quickneth with delight,
And life-full spirits priuily doth powre
Through all the parts, that to the lookers sight
They seeme to please. That is thy soueraine might,
O Cyprian Queene, which flowing from the beame
Of thy bright starre, thou into them doest streame.
That is the thing which
giueth pleasant grace
To all things faire, that kindleth liuely fyre,
Light of thy lampe, which shyning in the face,
Thence to the
soule darts amourous desyre,
And robs the harts of those which it admyre:
Therewith thou pointest thy Sons poysned arrow,
That wounds the life, & wastes the inmost marrow.
How vainely then doe
ydle wits inuent,
That beautie is nought else, but mixture made
Of colours faire, and goodly temp'rament
Of pure complexions, that shall quickly fade
And passe away, like to a sommers shade,
Or that it is but comely composition
Of parts well
measurd, with meet disposition.
Hath white and red in
it such wondrous powre,
That it can pierce through th'eyes vnto the hart,
And therein stirre such rage and restlesse stowre,
As nought but death can stint his dolours smart?
Or can proportion of the outward part,
Moue such affection in the inward mynd,
That it can rob both sense and reason blynd?
Why doe not then the
blossomes of the field,
Which are arayd with much more orient hew,
And to the
sense most daintie odours yield,
Worke like impression in the lookers vew?
Or why doe not faire pictures like powre shew,
In which oftimes, we Nature see of Art
Exceld, in perfect limning euery part.
But ah, beleeue me,
there is more then so
That workes such wonders in the minds of men.
I that haue often prou'd, too well it know;
And who so list the like assayes to ken,
Shall find by tryall, and confesse it then,
is not, as fond men misdeeme,
An outward shew of things, that onely seeme.
For that same goodly
hew of white and red,
With which the cheekes are sprinkled, shal decay,
And those sweete rosy leaues so fairely spred
Vpon the lips, shall fade and fall away
To that they were, euen to corrupted clay.
That golden wyre, those sparckling stars so bright
Shall turne to dust, and loose their goodly light.
But that faire lampe,
from whose celestiall ray
proceedes, which kindleth louers fire,
Shall neuer be extinguisht nor decay,
But when the vitall spirits doe expyre,
Vnto her natiue planet shall retyre,
For it is heauenly borne and can not die,
Being a parcell of the purest skie.
For when the soule, the
which deriued was
At first, out of that great immortall Spright,
By whom all liue to loue, whilome did pas
Downe from the top of purest heauens hight,
embodied here, it then tooke light
And liuely spirits from that fayrest starre,
Which lights the world forth from his firie carre.
Which powre retayning
still or more or lesse,
When she in fleshly seede is eft enraced,
Through euery part she doth the same impresse,
According as the heauens haue her graced,
And frames her house, in which she will be placed,
Fit for her selfe, adorning it with spoyle
Of th'heauenly riches, which she robd erewhyle.
comes, that these faire soules, which haue
The most resemblance of that heauenly light,
Frame to themselues most beautifull and braue
Their fleshly bowre, most fit for their delight,
And the grosse matter by a soueraine might
Tempers so trim, that it may well be seene,
A pallace fit for such a virgin Queene.
So euery spirit, as it
is most pure,
And hath in it the more of heauenly light,
So it the fairer bodie doth procure
To habit in,
and it more fairely dight
With chearefull grace and amiable sight.
For of the soule the bodie forme doth take:
For soule is forme, and doth the bodie make.
Therefore where euer
that thou doest behold
A comely corpse, with beautie faire endewed,
Know this for certaine, that the same doth hold
A beauteous soule, with faire conditions thewed,
Fit to receiue the seede of vertue strewed.
For all that faire is, is by nature good;
That is a
signe to know the gentle blood.
Yet oft it falles, that
many a gentle mynd
Dwels in deformed tabernacle drownd,
Either by chaunce, against the course of kynd,
Or through vnaptnesse in the substance fownd,
Which it assumed of some stubborne grown,
That will not yield vnto her formes direction,
But is perform'd with some foule imperfection.
And oft it falles (ay
me the more to rew)
That goodly beautie, albe heauenly borne,
abusd, and that celestiall hew,
Which doth the world with her delight adorne,
Made but the bait of sinne, and sinners scorne;
Whilest euery one doth seeke and sew to haue it,
But euery one doth seeke, but to depraue it.
Yet nathemore is that
faire beauties blame,
But theirs that do abuse it vnto ill:
Nothing so good, but that through guilty shame
May be corrupt, and wrested vnto will.
Nathelesse the soule is faire and beauteous still,
fleshes fault is filthy make:
For things immortall no corruption take.
But ye faire Dames, the
worlds deare ornaments,
And liuely images of heauens light,
Let not your beames with such disparagements
Be dimd, and your bright glorie darkned quight,
But mindfull still of your first countries sight,
Doe still preserve your first informed grace,
Whose shadow yet shynes in your beauteous face.
Loath that foule blot,
that hellish fierbrand,
lust, faire beauties foulest blame,
That base affectiõs, which your eares would bland,
Commend to you by loues abused name;
But is indeede the bondslaue of defame,
Which will the garland of your glorie marre,
And qu&etilde;ch the light of your bright shyning starre.
But gentle Loue, that
loiall is and trew,
Will more illumine your resplendent ray,
And adde more brightnesse to your goodly hew,
From light of his pure fire, which by like way
yours, your likenesse doth display,
Like as two mirrours by opposd reflexion,
Doe both expresse the faces first impression.
Therefore to make your
beautie more appeare,
It you behoues to loue, and forth to lay
That heauenly riches, which in you ye beare,
That men the more admyre their fountaine may,
For else what booteth that celestiall ray,
If it in darknesse be enshrined euer,
That it of louing eyes be vewed neuer?
But in your
choice of loues, this well aduize,
That likest to your selues ye them select,
The which your forms first source may sympathize,
And with like beauties parts be inly deckt:
For if you loosely loue without respect,
It is no loue, but a discordant warre,
Whose vnlike parts amongst themselues do iarre.
For Loue is a
Of likely harts composd of starres concent,
Which ioyne together in sweete sympathie,
To worke ech
others ioy and true content,
Which they have harbourd since their first desc&etilde;t
Out of their heauenly bowres, where they did see
And know ech other here belou'd to bee.
Then wrong it were that
any other twaine
Should in loues gentle band combyned bee,
But those whom heauen did at first ordaine,
And made out of one mould the more t'agree:
For all that like the beautie which they see,
Streight do no loue: for loue is not so light,
to burne at first beholders sight.
But they which loue
indeede, looke otherwise,
With pure regard and spotlesse true intent,
Drawing out of the obiect of their eyes,
A more refyned forme, which they present
Vnto their mind, voide of all blemishment;
Which it reducing to her first perfection,
Beholdeth free from fleshes frayle infection.
And then conforming it
vnto the light,
Which in it selfe hath remaining still
Of that first
Sunne, yet sparckling in his sight,
Thereof he fashions in his higher skill,
An heauenly beautie to his fancies will,
And it embracing in his mind entyre,
The mirrour of his owne thought doth admyre.
Which seeing now so
inly faire to be,
As outward it appeareth to the eye,
And with his spirits proportion to agree,
He thereon fixeth all his fantasie,
And fully setteth his felicitie,
fairer, then it is indeede,
And yet indeede her fairenesse doth exceede.
For louers eyes more
sharpely sighted bee
Then other mens, and in deare loues delight
See more then any other eyes can see,
Through mutuall receipt of beames bright,
Which carrie priuie message to the spright,
And to their eyes that inmost faire display,
As plaine as light discouers dawning day.
Therein they see
through amourous eye-glaunces,
loues still flying too and fro,
Which dart at them their litle fierie launces,
Whom hauing wounded, backe againe they go,
Carrying compassion to their louely foe;
Who seeing her faire eyes so sharpe effect,
Cures all their sorrowes with one sweete aspect.
In which how many
wonders doe they reede
To their conceipt, that others neuer see,
Now of her smiles, with which their soules they feede,
Like Gods with Nectar in their bankets free,
Now of her
lookes, which like to Cordials bee;
But when her words embassade forth she sends,
Lord how sweete musicke that vnto them lends.
Sometimes vpon her
forhead they behold
A thousand Graces masking in delight,
Sometimes within her eye-lids they vnfold
Ten thousand sweet begards, which to their sight
Doe seeme like twinckling starres in frostie night:
But on her lips like rosy buds in May,
So many millions of chaste pleasure play.
ô Cytherea, and thousands more
Thy handmaids be, which do on thee attend
To decke thy beautie with their dainties store,
That may it more to mortall eyes commend,
And make it more admyr'd of foe and frend;
That in mens harts thou mayst thy throne enstall,
And spred thy louely kingdome ouer all.
The Io tryumph,
ô great beauties Queene,
Aduance the banner of thy conquest hie,
That all this world, the which thy vassals beene,
May draw to
thee, and with dew fealtie,
Adore the powre of thy great Maiestie,
Singing this Hymne in honour of thy name,
Compyld by me, which thy poore liegeman am.
In lieu whereof graunt,
ô great Soueraine,
That she whose conquering beautie doth captiue
My trembling hart in her eternall chaine,
One drop of grace at length will to me giue,
That I her bounden thrall by her may liue,
And this same life, which first fro me she reaued,
May owe to
her, of which I it receaued.
And you faire Venus
dearling, my deare dread,
Fresh flowe of grace, great Goddess of my life,
Wh&etilde; your faire eyes these fearefull lines shall read,
Deigne to let fall one drop of dew reliefe,
That may recure my harts long pyning griefe,
And shew what wõdrous powre your beautie hath,
That can restore a damned wight from death.
Ove, lift me vp vpon thy golden wings,
From this base world vnto thy heauens hight,
Where I may see those admirable things,
Which there thou workest by thy soueraine might,
Farre aboue feeble reach of earthly sight,
That I thereof an heauenly Hymne may sing
Vnto the god of Loue, high heauens king.
Many lewd layes (ah woe
is me the more)
In praise of that mad fit, which fooles call loue,
I haue in th'
heat of youth made heretofore,
That in light wits did loose affection moue.
But all those follies now I do reproue,
And turned haue the tenor of my string,
The heauenly prayses of true loue to sing.
And ye that wont with
greedy vaine desire
To reade my fault, and wondring at my flame,
To warme your selues at my wide sparckling fire,
Sith now that heat is quenched, quench my blame,
And in her ashes shrowd my dying shame:
For who my
passed follies now pursewes,
Beginning his owne, and my old fault renewes.
Efore this worlds great frame, in which al things
Are now containd, found any being place,
Ere flitting Time could wag his eyas wings
About that mightie bound, which doth embrace
The rolling Spheres, & parts their houres by space,
That high eternall powre, which now doth moue
In all these things, mou'd in it selfe by loue.
It lou'd it selfe,
because it self was faire;
(For faire is
lou'd ;) and of it selfe begot
Like to it selfe his eldest sonne and heire,
Eternall, pure, and voide of sinfull blot,
The firstling of his ioy, in whom no iot
Of loues dislike, or pride was to be found,
Whom he therefore with equall honour crownd.
With him he raignd,
before all time prescribed,
in endlesse glorie and immortall might,
Together with that third from them deriued,
Most wise, most holy, most almightie Spright,
kingdomes throne no thought of earthly wight
Can cõpreh&etilde;d, much lesse my tr&etilde;bling verse
With equall words can hope it to reherse.
Yet ô most
blessed Spirit, pure lampe of light,
Eternall spring of grace and wisedome trew,
Vouchsafe to shed into my barren spright,
Some little drop of thy celestiall dew,
That may my rymes with sweet infuse embrew,
And giue me word equall vnto my thought,
To tell the marueiles by thy mercie wrought.
pregnant still with powrefull grace,
And full of fruitfull loue, that loues to get
Things like himselfe, and to enlarge his race,
His second brood though not in powre so great,
Yet full of beautie, next he did beget
An infinite increase of Angels bright,
All glistring glorious in their Makers light.
To them the heauens
Not this round heau&etilde;, which we frõ hence behold,
Adornd with thousand lamps of burning light,
And with ten
thousand gems of shyning gold,
He gaue as their inheritance to hold,
That they might serue him in eternall blis,
And be partakers of those ioyes of his.
There they in their
About him wait, and on his will depend,
Either with nimble wings to cut the skies,
When he them on his messages doth send,
Or on his owne dread presence to attend,
Where they behold the glorie of his light,
Hymnes of loue both day and night.
Both day and night is
vnto them all one,
For he his beames doth still to them extend,
That darknesse there appeareth neuer none,
Ne hath their day, ne hath their blisse an end,
But that their termelesse time in pleasure spend,
Ne euer should their happinesse decay,
Had not they dar'd their Lord to disobay.
But pride impatient of
long resting peace,
Did puffe them vp with greedy bold ambition,
That they gan
cast their state how to increase,
Aboue the fortune of their first condition,
And sit in Gods owne seat without commission:
The brightest Angell, euen the Child of light
Drew millions more against their God to fight.
Th' Almighty seeing
their so bold assay,
Kindled the flame of his consuming yre,
And with his onely breath them blew away
From heauens hight, to which they did aspyre,
To deepest hell, and lake of damned fyre;
Where they in
darknesse and dread horror dwell,
Hating the happie light from which they fell[.]
So that the next
off-spring of the Makers loue,
Next to himselfe in glorious degree,
Degendering to hate fell from aboue
Through pride; (for pride and loue may ill agree)
And now of sinne to all ensample bee:
How then can sinfull flesh in selfe assure,
Sith purest Angels fell to be impure?
But that eternall fount
of loue and grace,
forth his goodnesse vnto all,
Now seeing left a waste and emptie place
In his wyde Pallace, through those Angels fall,
Cast to supply the same, and to enstall
A new vnknowen Colony therein,
Whose root from earths base Groundworke shold begin.
Therefore of clay,
base, vile, and next to nought,
Yet form'd by wondrous skill, and by his might:
According to an heauenly patterne wrought,
Which he had fashiond in his wise foresight,
He man did
make most beautifull and fayre,
Endewd with wisedomes riches, heauenly, rare.
Such he him made, that
he resemble might
Himselfe, as mortall thing immortall could;
Him to be Lord of euery liuing wight,
He made by loue out of his owne like mould,
In whom he might his mightie selfe behould:
For loue doth loue the thing belou'd to see,
That like it selfe in louely shape may bee.
forgetfull of his makers grace,
No lesse then Angels, whom he did ensew,
Fell from the hope of promist heauenly place,
Into the mouth of death to sinners dew,
And all his off-spring into thraldome threw:
Where they for euer should in bonds remaine,
Of neuer dead, yet euer dying paine,
Till that great Lord of
Loue, which him at first
Made of meere loue, and after liked well
Seeing him lie like creature long accurst,
In that deepe
horror of desperyred hell,
Him wretch in doole would let no lenger dwell,
But cast out of that bondage to redeeme,
And pay the price, all were his debt extreeme.
Out of the bosome of
In which he reigned with his glorious fyre,
He downe descended, like a most demisse
And abject thrall, in fleshes fraile attyre,
That he for him might pay sinnes deadly hyre,
And him restore vnto that happie state,
In which he
stood before his haplesse fate.
In flesh at first the
guilt committed was,
Therefore in flesh it must be satisfyde:
Nor spirit, nor Angell, though they man surpas,
Could make amends to God for mans misguyde,
But onely man himselfe, who self did slyde.
So taking flesh of sacred virgins wombe,
For mans deare sake he did a man become.
And that most blessed
bodie, which was borne
Without all blemish or reproachfull blame,
gaue to be both rent and torne
Of cruell hands, who with despightfull shame
Reuyling him, that them most vile became,
At length him nayled on a gallow tree,
And slew the iust, by most vniust decree.
O huge and most
Of loues deepe wound, the pierst the piteous hart
Of that deare Lord with so entyre affection,
And sharply launching euery inner part,
Dolours of death into his soule did dart;
die, that neuer it deserued,
To free his foes, that from his heast had swerued.
What hart can feele
least touch of so sore launch,
Or thought can think the depth of so deare wound?
Whose bleeding sourse their streames yet neuer staunch,
But stil do flow, & freshly stil redound,
To heale the sores of sinfull soules vnsound,
And clense the guilt of that infected cryme,
Which was enrooted in all fleshly slyme.
O blessed well of loue,
ô floure of grace,
Morning starre, ô lampe of light,
Most liuely image of thy fathers face,
Eternall King of glorie, Lord of might,
Meeke lambe of God before all worlds behight,
How can we thee requite for all this good?
Or what can prize that thy most precious blood?
Yet nought thou ask'st
in lieu of all this loue,
But loue of vs for guerdon of thy Paine.
Ay me; what can vs lesse then that behoue?
Had he required life of vs againe,
Had it beene
wrong to aske his owne with gaine?
He gaue vs life, he it restored lost;
Then life we least, that vs so litle cost.
But he our life hath
left vnto vs free,
Free that was thrall, and blessed that was band;
Ne ought demaunds, but that we louing bee,
As he himselfe hath lou'd vs afore hand,
And bound therto with an eternall band,
Him first to
loue, that vs so dearely bought,
And next, our brethren to his image wrought.
Him first to loue,
great right and reason is,
Who first to vs our life and being gaue;
And after when we fared had amisse,
Vs wretches from the second death did saue;
And last the food of life, which now we haue,
Euen himselfe in his deare sacrament,
To feede our hungry soules vnto vs lent.
Then next to loue our
brethren, that were made
Of that selfe mould, and that selfe makers hand,
That we, and to the same againe shall fade,
shall haue like heritage of land,
How euer here on higher steps we stand;
Which also were with selfe same price redeemed
That we, how euer of vs light esteemed.
And were they not, yet
since that louing Lord
Commaunded vs to loue them for his sake,
Euen for his sake, and for his sacred word,
Which in his last bequest he to vs spake,
We should them loue, & with their needs partake;
Knowing that whatsoere to them we giue,
We giue to
him, by whom we all doe liue.
Such mercy he by his
most holy reede
Vnto vs taught, and to approve it trew,
Ensampled it by his most righteous deede,
Shewing vs mercie miserable crew,
That we the like should to the wretches shew,
And love our brethren; thereby to approue,
How much himselfe that loued vs, we loue.
Then rouze thy selfe,
ô earth, out of thy soyle,
In which thou wallowest like to filthy swyne,
And doest thy
mynd in durty pleasures moyle,
Vnmindfull of that dearest Lord of thyne;
Lift vp to him thy heauie clouded eyne,
That thou his soueraine bountie mayst behold,
And read through loue his mercies manifold.
Beginne from first,
where he encradled was
In simple cratch, wrapt in a wad of hay,
Betweene the toylefull Oxe and humble Asse,
And in what rags, and in how base aray,
The glory of our heauenly riches lay,
When him the
silly Shepheards came to see,
Whom greatest Princes sought on lowest knee.
From thence reade on
the storie of his life,
His humble carriage, his vnfaulty wayes,
His cancred foes, his fights, his toyle, his strife,
His paines, his pouertie, his sharpe assayes,
Through which he past his miserable dayes,
Offending none, and doing good to all,
Yet being malist both of great and small.
And looke at last how
of most wretched wights,
He taken was,
betrayd, and false accused,
How with most scornefull taunts, & fell despights
He was reuyld, disgrast, and foule abused,
How scourgd, how crownd, how buffeted, how brused;
And lastly how twixt robbers crucifyde,
With bitter wounds through hands, through feet & side.
Then let thy flinty
hart that feeles no paine,
Empierced be with pittifull remorse,
And let thy bowels bleede in euery vaine,
At sight of his most sacred heauenly corse,
So torne and
mangled with malicious forse,
And let thy soule, whose sins his sorrows wrought,
Melt into teares, and grone in grieued thought.
With sence whereof
whilest so thy softened spirit
Is inly toucht, and humbled with meeke zeale,
Through meditation of his endlesse merit,
Lift vp thy mind to th'author of thy weale,
And to his soueraine mercie doe appeale;
Learne him to loue, that loued thee so deare,
And in thy brest his blessed image beare.
With all thy
hart, with all thy soule and mind,
Thou must him loue, and his beheasts embrace,
All other loues, with which the world doth blind
Weake fancies, and stirre vp affections base,
Thou must renounce, and vtterly displace,
And giue thy selfe vnto him full and free,
That full and freely gaue himselfe to thee.
Then shalt thou feele
thy spirit so possest,
And ravisht with deuouring great desire
Of his deare selfe, that shall thy feeble brest
loue, and set thee all on fire
With burning zeale, through euery part entire,
That in no earthly thing thou shalt delight,
But in his sweet and amiable sight.
Thenceforth all worlds
desire will in thee dye,
And all earthes glories on which men do gaze,
Seeme durt and drosse in thy pure sighted eye,
Compar'd to that celestiall beauties blaze,
Whose glorious beames all fleshly sense doth daze
With admiration of their passing light,
eyes and lumining the spright.
Then shall thy ravisht
soule inspired bee
With heau&etilde;ly thoughts, farre aboue humane skil,
And thy bright radiant eyes shall planely see
Th'Idee of his pure glorie present still,
Before thy face, that all thy spirits shall fill
With sweete enragement of celestiall loue,
Kindled through sight of those faire things aboue.
Apt with the rage of mine own rauisht thought,
Through cõtemplation of those goodly sights,
And glorious images in heauen wrought,
Whose wõdrous beauty breathing sweet delights,
Do kindle loue in high conceipted sprights:
I faine to tell the things that I behold,
But feele my wits to faile, and tongue to fold.
Vouchsafe then, ô
thou most almightie Spright,
From whom all guifts of wit and knowledge flow,
To shed into
my breast some sparckling light
Of thine eternall Truth, that I may show
Some litle beames to mortall eyes below,
Of that immortall beautie, there with thee,
Which in my weake distraughted mynd I see.
That with the glorie of
so goodly sight,
The hearts of men, which fondly here admyre
Faire seeming shewes, and feed on vaine delight,
Transported with celestiall desyre
Of those faire formes, may lift themselues vp hyer,
And learne to
loue with zealous humble dewty
Th'eternall fountaine of that heauenly beauty.
Beginning then below,
with th'easie vew
Of this base world, subiect to fleshly eye,
From thence to mount aloft by order dew,
To contemplation of th'immortall sky,
Of the soare faulcon so I learne to fly,
That flags awhile her fluttering wings beneath,
Till she her selfe for stronger flight can breath.
Then looke who list,
thy gazefull eyes to feed
With sight of
that is faire, looke on the frame
Of this wyde vniuerse, and therein reed
The endlesse kinds of creatures, which by name
Thou canst not coũt, much lesse their natures aime:
All which are made with wondrous wide respect,
And all with admirable beautie deckt.
First th'Earth, on
adamantine pillars founded,
Amid the Sea engirt with brasen bands;
The th'Aire still flitting, but yet firmely bounded
On euerie side, with pyles of flaming brands,
consum'd nor quencht with mortall hands;
And last, that mightie shining christall wall,
Wherewith he had encompassed this All.
By view whereof, it
plainely may appeare,
That still as euery thing doth vpward tend,
And further is from earth, so still more cleare
And faire it growes, till to his perfect end
Of purest beautie, it at last ascend:
Ayre more then water, fire much more then ayre,
And heauen then fire appeares more pure & fayre.
Looke thou no
further, but affixe thine eye,
On that bright shynie round still mouing Masse,
The house of blessed Gods, which men call Skye,
All sowd with glistring stars more thicke th&etilde; grasse,
Whereof each other doth in brightnesse passe;
But those two most, which ruling night and day,
As King and Queene, the heauens Empire sway.
And tell me then, what
hast thou euer seene,
That to their beautie may compared bee,
Or can the sight that is most sharpe and keene,
Captains flaming head to see?
How much lesse those, much higher in degree,
And so much fairer, and much more then these,
As these are fairer then the land and seas?
For farre aboue these
heauens which here we see,
Be others farre exceeding these in light,
Not bounded, not corrupt, as these same bee,
But infinite in largenesse, and in hight,
Vnmouing, vncorrupt, and spotlesse bright,
That need no Sunne t'illuminate their spheres,
owne natiue light farre passing theirs.
And as these heauens
still by degrees arize,
Vntill they come to their first Mouers bound,
That in his mightie compasse doth comprize,
And carrie all the rest with him around,
So those likewise doe by degrees redound,
And rise more faire, till they at last ariue
To the most faire, whereto they all do striue.
Faire is the heauen,
where happie soules haue place,
In full enioyment of felicitie,
doe still behold, the glorious face
Of the diuine eternall Maiestie ;
More faire is that, where those Idees on hie
Enraunged be, which Plato so admyred,
And pure Intelligences from God inspyred.
Yet fairer is that
heauen, in which doe raine
The soueraine Powres and mightie Potentates,
Which in their high protections doe containe
All mortall Princes, and imperiall States;
And fayrer yet, whereas the royall Seates
And heauenly Dominations are set,
From whom all earthly gouernance is fet.
Yet farre more faire be
those bright Cherubins,
Which all with golden wings are ouerdight,
And those eternall burning Seraphins,
Which from their faces dart out fierie light;
Yet fairer then they both, and much more bright
Be th'Angels and Archangels, which attend
On Gods owne person, without rest or end.
These thus in faire
each other farre excelling,
As to the
Highest they approach more neare,
Yet is that Highest farre beyond all telling,
Fairer then all the rest which there appeare,
Though all their beauties ioynd together were:
How then can mortall tongue hope to expresse,
The image of such endlesse perfectnesse?
Cease then my tongue,
and lend vnto my mynd
Leaue to bethinke how great that beautie is,
Whose vtmost parts so beautifull I fynd,
How much more those essentiall parts of his,
his loue, his wisedome, and his blis,
His grace, his doome, his mercy and his might,
By which he lends vs of himselfe a sight.
Those vnto all he daily
And shew himselfe in th'image of his grace,
As in a looking glasse, through which he may
Be seene, of all his creatures vile and base,
That are vnable else to see his face,
His glorious face which glistereth else so bright,
That th'Angels selues can not endure his sight.
But we fraile
wights, whose sight cannot sustaine
The Suns bright beames, wh&etilde; he on vs doth shyne,
But that their points rebutted backe againe
Are duld, how can we see with feeble eyne,
The glory of that Maiestie diuine,
In sight of whom both Sun and Moone are darke,
Compared to his least resplendent spark?
The meanes therefore
which vnto vs is lent,
Him to behold, is on his workes to looke,
Which he hath made in beauty excellent,
And in same,
as in a brasen booke,
To reade enregistred in euery nooke
His goodnesse, which his beautie doth declare,
For all thats good, is beautifull and faire.
Thence gathering plumes
of perfect speculation,
To impe the wings of thy high flying mynd,
Mount vp aloft through heauenly contemplation,
From this darke world, whose damps the soule do blynd,
And like the natiue brood of Eagles kynd,
On that bright Sunne of glorie fixe thine eyes,
grosse mists of fraile infirmities,
Humbled with feare and
Before the footestoole of his Maiestie,
Throw thy selfe downe with trembling innocence,
Ne dare looke vp with corruptible eye,
On the dred face of that great Deity,
For feare, lest if he chaunce to looke on thee,
Thou turne to nought, and quite confounded be.
But lowly fall before
his mercie seat,
Close couered with the Lambes integrity,
From the iust
wrath of his auengefull threate,
That sits vpon the righteous throne on hy:
His throne is built vpon Eternity,
More firme and durable then steele or brasse,
Or the hard diamond, which them both doth passe.
His scepter is the rod
With which he bruseth all his foes to dust,
And the great Dragon strongly doth represse,
Vnder the rigour of his iudgement iust;
His seate is Truth, to which the faithfull trust;
whence proceed her beames so pure & bright,
That all about him sheddeth glorious light.
Light farre exceeding
that bright blazing sparke,
Which darted is from Titans flaming head,
That with his beames enlumineth the darke
And dampish aire, wherby al things are red:
Whose nature yet so much is maruelled
Of mortall wits, that it doth much amaze
The greatest wisards, which thereon do gaze.
But that immortall
light which there doth shine,
[thousand] times more bright, more cleare,
More excellent, more glorious, more diuine,
Through which to God all mortall actions here,
And euen the thoughts of men do plaine appeare:
For from th'eternall Truth it doth proceed,
Through heauenly virtue, which her beames doe breed.
With the great glorie
of that wondrous light,
His throne is all encompassed around,
And hid in his owne brightnesse from the sight
Of all that looke thereon with eyes vnsound:
vnderneath his feet are to be found,
Thunder, and lightning, and tempestuous fyre,
The instruments of his auenging yre.
There in his bosome Sapience
The soueraine dearling of the Deity,
Clad like a Queene in royall robes, most fit
For so great powre and perelesse maiestie.
And all with gemmes and iewels gorgeously
Adornd, that brighter then the starres appeare,
And make her natiue brightnes seem more cleare.
And on her
head a crowne of purest gold
is set, in signe of highest soueraignty,
And in her hand a scepter she doth hold,
With which she rules the house of God on hy,
And menageth the euer-mouing sky,
And in the same these lower creatures all,
Subiected to her powre imperiall.
Both heauen and earth
obey vnto her will,
And all the creatures which they both containe:
For of her fulnesse which the world doth fill,
partake, and do in state remaine,
As their great Maker did at first ordaine,
Through obseruation of her high beheast,
By which they first were made, and still increast.
The fairenesse of her
face no tongue can tell,
For she the daughters of all wemens race,
And Angels eke, in beautie doth excell,
Sparkled on her from Gods owne glorious face,
And more increast by her owne goodly grace,
That it doth farre exceed all humane thought,
Ne can on
earth compared be to ought.
Ne could that Painter
(had he liued yet)
Which pictured Venus with so curious quill,
That all posteritie admyred it,
Haue purtrayd this, for all his maistring skill;
Ne she her selfe, had she remained still,
And were as faire, as fabling wits do fayne,
Could once come neare this beauty souerayne.
But had those wits the
wonders of their dayes,
Or that sweete Teian Poet which did spend
vaine in setting forth her prayse,
Seene but a glims of this, which I pretend,
How wondrously would he her face commend,
Aboue that Idole of his fayning thought,
That all the world should with his rimes be fraught?
How then dare I, the
nouice of his Art,
Presume to picture so diuine a wight,
Or hope t'expresse her least perfections part,
Whose beautie filles the heauens with her light,
And darkes the earth with shadow of her sight?
Muse thou art too weake and faint,
The pourtraict of so heauenly hew to paint.
Let Angels which her
goodly face behold
And see at will, her soueraigne praises sing,
And those most sacred mysteries vnfold,
Of that faire loue of mightie heauens king.
Enough is me t'admyre so heauenly thing.
And being thus with her huge loue possest,
In th'only wonder of her selfe to rest.
But who so may, thrise
happie man him hold,
Of all on
earth, whom God so much doth grace,
And lets his owne Beloued to behold:
For in the view of her celestiall face,
All ioy, all blisse, all happinesse haue place,
Ne ought on earth can want vnto the wight,
Who of her selfe can win the wishfull sight.
For she out of her
Plentie of riches forth on him will powre,
Euen heauenly riches, which there hidden ly
With in the closet of her chastest bowre,
portion of her precious dowre,
Which mighty God hath giuen to her free,
Ant to all those which thereof worthy bee.
None thereof worthy be,
but those whom shee
Vouchsafeth to her presence to receaue,
And letteth them her louely face to see,
Whereof such wondrous pleasures they conceaue,
And sweete contentment, that it doth bereaue
Their soule of sense, through infinite delight,
And them transport from flesh into the spright.
In which they
see such admirable things,
As carries them into an extasy,
And heare such heauenly notes, and carolings
Of Gods high praise, that filles the brasen sky,
And feele such ioy and pleasure inwardly,
That maketh them all worldly cares forget,
And onely thinke on that before them set.
Ne from thenceforth
doth any fleshly sense,
Or idle thought of earthly things remaine,
But all that earst seemd sweet, seemes now offense,
And all that
pleased earst, now seemes to paine,
Their ioy, their comfort, their desire, their gaine,
Is fixed all on that which now they see,
All other sights but fayned shadowes bee.
And that faire lampe,
which vseth to enflame
The hearts of men with selfe consuming fyre,
Thenceforth seemes fowle, & full of sinfull blame;
And all that pompe, to which proud minds aspyre
By name of honor, and so much desyre,
Seemes to them basenesse, and all riches drosse,
And all mirth
sadnesse, and all lucre losse.
So full their eyes are
of that glorious sight,
And senses fraught with such satietie,
That in nought else on earth can they delight,
But in th'aspect of that felicitie,
Which they haue written in their inward ey;
On which they feed, and in their fastened mynd
All happie ioy and full contentment fynd.
Ah then my hungry
soule, which long hast fed
On idle fancies of thy foolish thought,
false beauties flattring bait misled,
Hast after vaine deceiptfull shadowes sought,
Which all are fled, and now haue left thee nought,
But late repentance through thy follies prief;
Ah cease to gaze on matter of thy grief.
And looke at last vp to
that soueraine light,
From whose pure beams al perfect beauty springs,
That kindleth loue in euery godly spright,
Euen the loue of God, which loathing brings
Of this vile world, and these gay seeming things;
sweete pleasures being so possest,
Thy straying thoughts henceforth for euer rest.