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TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE AND MOST VERTUOUS LADIES,
THE LADIE MARGARET,
COUNTESSE OF CUMBERLAND;
AND THE LADIE MARIE,
in the greener times of my youth, composed these former two Hymnes in the praise of Love and Beautie, and finding that the same too much pleased those of like age and disposition, which, being too vehemently carried with that kind of affection, do rather sucke out poyson to their strong passion, then honey to their honest delight, I was moved, by the one of you two most excellent Ladies, to call in the same; but, being unable so to do, by reason, that many copies thereof were formerly scattered abroad, I resolved at least to amend, and, by way of retraction, to reforme them, making (instead of those two Hymnes of earthly or naturall love and beautie) two others of heavenly and celestiall; the which I doe dedicate joyntly unto you two honorable sisters, as to the most excellent and rare ornaments of all true love and beautie, both in the one and the other kind; humbly beseeching you to vouchsafe the patronage of them, and to accept this my humble service, in lieu of the great graces and honourable favours which ye dayly shew unto me, until such time as I may, by better meanes, yeeld you some more notable testimonie of my thankfull mind and dutifull devotion. And even so I pray for your happinesse. Greenwich this first of September, 1596. Your Honors most bounden ever,
In all humble service,
AN HYMNE IN HONOUR OF LOVE.
that since hast to
Perforce subdude my poor captived hart,
And, raging now therein with restlesse stowre,
Doest tyrannize in everie weaker part,
Faine would I seeke to ease my bitter smart
By any service 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 wide wounds embrewed,
And by thy cruell darts to thee subdewed.
Onely I fear my wits enfeebled late,
Through the sharp sorrowes which thou hast me bred,
Should faint, and words should faile me to relate
The wondrous triumphs of thy great god-hed:
But, if thou wouldst vouchsafe to overspred
Me with the shadow of thy gentle wing,
I should enabled be thy actes to sing.
Come, then, O come, thou mightie God of Love!
Out of thy silver bowres and secret blisse,
Where thou dost sit in Venus lap above,
Bathing thy wings in her Ambrosial kisse,
That sweeter farre than any Nectar is;
Come softly, and my feeble breast inspire
With gentle furie, kindled of thy fire.
And ye, sweet Muses! which have often proved
The piercing points of his avengefull darts;
And ye, fair Nimphs! which oftentimes have loved
The cruel worker of your kindly smarts,
Prepare yourselves, and
For to receive the triumph of your glorie,
That made you merie oft when ye were sorie.
And ye, faire blossoms of youths wanton breed!
Which in the conquests of your beautie bost,
Wherewith your lovers feeble eyes you feed,
But sterve their harts that needeth nourture most,
Prepare your selves to march amongst his host,
And all the way this sacred Hymne do sing,
Made in the honor of your soveraigne King.
GREAT 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 scornfull game,
And in their roring taking great delight;
Who can expresse the glorie of thy might?
Or who alive can perfectly declare
The wondrous cradle of thine infancie,
When thy great mother Venus first thee bare,
Begot of Plenty and of Penurie,
Though elder then thine own nativitie,
And yet a chyld, renewing still thy yeares,
And yet the eldest of the heavenly Peares?
For ere this worlds still moving mightie masse
Out of great Chaos ugly prison crept,
In which his goodly face long hidden was
From heavens view, and in deep darknesse kept,
Love, that had now long time securely slept
In Venus lap, unarmed then and naked,
Gan reare his head, by Clotho being waked: