| ALetter to Doctor Ingelo, then with |
myLord Whitlock, Ambassador from
theProtector to the Queen of Sweden
T R A N S L A T I O N
[by A. B Grosart]
How now, dear exile to the northern zone,
Too late known Ingelo, too early gone?
Canst thou with furs the wintry star defy—
So infirm here, so weak beneath our sky?
What race of men, what scen'ry do you share?
Or are there men, or is there scen'ry there?
Does the vast pole, harsh-wheeling, waste the land?
Does snow the swift world bind on either hand?
Or better, does the plain with whitening ears
Bristle, and Labour crown the circling years? 10
A milder race, they say, holds these stern plains;
Industrious peace, stout arms, just judgment reigns;
There too are cities and a regal seat,
Haunts of the Muses, and God's temples meet:
For great Christina rules the stalwart race—
A virgin queen o'er men the sceptre sways;
And as the magnet draws the rigid stone,
That iron race delights her force to own.
Is't so: are we to trust deceitful Fame?
Brags she, or envious hints her silent blame? 20
If all be true, then since the world was young,
No equal to Christina has been sung;
Though our own boast, Eliza, came again,
She were her match, and might her meed attain.
I saw her limn'd, with chequer'd light and shade—
E'en in her picture seem'd she she goddess-maid!
Upon her brow (rare harmony!) there move
Modesty, Beauty, Majesty and Love;
Gustavus breathes from out her maiden face,
You mark his dash and spirit in her grace. 30
No star so bright upon its axis burn'd—
Not she who by her crime such prison earn'd:
Conscious, how oft her tearful light she veil'd,
As Parrhasis before the goddess quail'd!
And if the painter drew not from his mind,
Delia herself was not of rarer kind;
Except that Trivia's hair was unbedeck'd,
While hers is comb'd in fashion circumspect:
Forsooth, none lives so reverent of the right,
And e'en her locks must by fix'd laws be dight; 40
Alike the glory of the woods is she,
And flower of aye-inviolate Chastity.
So o'er her virgin bands tall Cynthia shows,
And leads her troop athwart the rocks and snows;
E'en so she bends her eyebrows' double bow,
As though keen arrows from her eyes she'd throw.
One doubts if with her eyes the beast she slew
Whose fur around her neck and breast we view.
Alcides' self girt with a lion's hide,
Bearing the wheeling globe, scarce with her vied. 50
And her fair throat, as white as northern snow,
But not as white as breasts half glimps'd below!
No more—scarce even this might there be seen:
Stern steel encas'd the bosom of my Queen.
Or did her mantle aid imperfect art,
Which then retired, unequal to its part?
Or with those three to vie does she disdain,
And Beauty's palm, though ne'er disrobed, would gain?—
Eager for Juno's, Pallas' glorious spoils,
Shrinking from Venus' captivating toils, 60
She reck'd no more the fleeting fame of looks,
But nightly gave her studious mind to books.
How oft her maids that sleepless soul would warn,
“Alas, the bloom once gone will ne'er return.”
Now Philomel her labour lulls in sleep,
And all the woods a restful silence keep,
More ardent still her busy care she plies,
And makes each learned work her welcome prize:
To know and keep within her sovereignty,
To learn what is, what was, and what shall be; 70
Avenging thus the rude Goth's barbarous fires,
She expiates the fury of her sires.
From her the docile tribes example take,
And into two-voiced speech their infants break;
The Latins yield themselves to Swedish bounds,
And every grove with Roman song resounds.
Upsala now with ancient Athens vies;
Here Pallas' shield, and here her chariot lies.
Ah, what clear stream shall hence our hopes fulfill,
When our Athene guards the sacred rill! 80
Their happy streams with milk and honey flow,
And Saal is ting'd with Issell's golden glow.—
Upsalian Muses, take a loftier flight,
And sing of matters none may rank too light.
'Tis said that Christ not even to His own
Reveal'd the mystery of that “white stone”;
And Him, Christina, whose blest name thou wearest
Graven within thy faithful heart thou bearest.
On this pure flame her virgin soul is fed,
Before this fire her inmost heart outspread. 90
Thou too, Christina, hast thy saintship won;
Bolsena's maid bears not the palm alone.
Learn then, ye kings, whom Heav'n has raised on high,
From this example, God to glorify:
Blush, being great, to compass childish things,
Vain trifles, and the wealth which sorrow brings;
See our brave British horseman pass them all,
No spoils of unarm'd flock before him fall,—
Fluttering the eagle in his German pine,
Driving the she-wolf from the Palatine. 100
Yet too combine your camps, and seek your prey;
Hedge-in with narrowing bonds this evil day;
Triumphant Cromwell lifts his helmless head.
Ready to lead, or follow nobly led.
Like Godfrey at the citadel of old,
Adown whose back the white locks thickly roll'd,
Christina can let loose the Finns and Lapps,
Whom Boreas in his prison close enwraps;
As fret the winds in their Æolian cave,
And strain to burst their narrow mountain-grave. 110
If SHE their veh'ment fury shouldunchain,
What storm would break on Austria and Spain!
But thou returning shalt account for all—
And speedy be the time of thy recall!
No longer then our tardy speech shall freeze;
Loos'd by the glowing sun and Spring's fresh breeze,
A Queen more powerful thaws the wintry ground,
And trebly frees the Pole which th' other bound.
They say she heard and piti'd our sad case,
Praising the clear faith of a sturdy race; 120
Refus'd the wily Dutchman's proffer'd pact,
And spurn'd to use insidious thought or act;
Eager a mutual treaty to ordain,
And loves the liberty which marks her reign.
Worthy that Solomon his praise should pay,
And Sheba's queen burn incense in her way.
Thou, Ingelo, wilt better chant her fame;
Thy lyre more sweetly may the honour claim.
Without thee listless on Thames' banks we rove,
And o'er the barren plains disbanded move. 130
The pipe discordant mocks our awkward throat,
And Roger's cithern will not yield a note.
Still, mindful, to our absent friend we sing;
And may our strains, though light, some pleasure bring!
A Letter to Dr. Ingelo: Nathaniel Ingelo went to Sweden in 1653 as chaplain
of an embassy from Oliver Cromwell to the young Queen Christina. Marvell's
letter to Ingelo contains an encomium obviously intended for her eyes.
The translation is by A. B. Grosart.
34. Parrhasis, is an Arcadian epithet for Callisto, a nymph of Diana
seduced by Zeus, and changed into Ursa Major, the brightest Northern
constellation. (Carl E. Bain)
36. Delia: Diana.
37. Trivia: Diana of the crossways.
50: Hercules for a time took Atlas' place as upholder of the heavens.
82. Saal . . . Issell: Swedish rivers.
92: St. Christina drowned in the Lake of Bolsena.
99: The Holy Roman Empire.
100: The Catholic Church.
105. Godfrey: Godfrey of Bulloigne, a heroic crusader, who put on
a crown of thorns before entering Jerusalem.
132. Roger: Benjamin Rogers, a composer whose music Ingelo had
performed before Queen Christina.
Marvell, Andrew.The Complete Poems.
George deF. Lord, Ed.
London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1984. 243-7.
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