« PreviousContinue »
Eternall God, in his almightie powre,
To make ensample of his heavenly grace,
In Paradize whylome did plant this Flowre;
Whence he it fetcht out of her native place,
And did in stocke of earthly flesh enrace,
That mortall men her glory should admyre.
In gentle Ladies breste and bounteous race
Of woman-kind it fayrest Flowre doth spyre,
And beareth fruit of honour and all chast desyre.
And crowne your heades with heavenly coronall, Such as the Angells weare before God's tribunall!
Fayre ympes of beautie, whose bright shining beames 53 Adorne the world with like to heavenly light,
And to your willes both royalties and Realmes Subdew, through conquest of your wondrous might; With this fayre Flowre your goodly girlonds dight Of Chastity and Vertue virginall,
That shall embellish more your beautie bright,
To youre faire selves a faire ensample frame
Of this faire Virgin, this Belphabe fayre;
To whom, in perfect love and spotlesse fame
Of Chastitie, none living may compayre:
Ne poysnous Envy justly can empayre
The prayse of her fresh-flowring Maydenhead;
Forthy she standeth on the highest stayre
Of th' honorable stage of womanhead,
That Ladies all may follow her ensample dead.
In so great prayse of stedfast Chastity
Nathlesse she was so courteous and kynde,
Tempred with Grace and goodly Modesty,
That seemed those two vertues strove to fynd
The higher place in her heroick mynd:
So striving each did other more augment,
And both encreast the prayse of womankynde,
And both encreast her beautie excellent :
So all did make in her a perfect complement.
ELL may I weene, faire Ladies, all this while
Ye wonder how this noble Damozell
So great perfections did in her compile,
Sith that in salvage forests she did dwell,
So farre from Court and royall Citadell,
The great schoolmaistresse of all Courtesy:
Seemeth that such wilde woodes should far expell
All civile usage and gentility,
And gentle sprite deforme with rude rusticity.
But to this faire Belphabe in her Berth
The hevens so favorable were and free,
Looking with myld aspéct upon the earth
In th' Horoscope of her nativitee,
That all the gifts of grace and chastitee
On her they poured forth of plenteous horne:
Jove laught on Venus from his soverayne see,
And Phabus with faire beames did her adorne,
And all the Graces rockt her cradle being borne.
Her Berth was of the wombe of Morning dew,
And her conception of the joyous Prime;
And all her whole creation did her shew
Pure and unspotted from all loathly crime
That is ingenerate in fleshly slime.
So was this Virgin borne, so was she bred;
So was she trayned up from time to time
In all chaste vertue and true bountihed,
Till to her dew perfection she were ripened.
Her mother was the faire Chrysogonee,
The daughter of Amphisa, who by race
A Faerie was, yborne of high degree:
She bore Belphabe; she bore in like cace
Fayre Amoretta in the second place:
These two were twinnes, and twixt them two did share
The heritage of all celestiall grace;
That all the rest it seemd they robbed bare Of bounty, and of beautie, and all vertues rare.
It were a goodly storie to declare
By what straunge accident faire Chrysogone
Conceiv'd these infants, and how them she bare
In this wilde forrest wandring all alone,
After she had nine moneths fulfild and gone:
For not as other wemens commune brood
They were enwombed in the sacred throne
Of her chaste bodie; nor with commune food,
As other wemens babes, they sucked vitall blood:
But wondrously they were begot and bred
Through influence of th' hevens fruitfull ray,
As it in antique bookes is mentioned.
It was upon a Sommers shinie day,
When Titan faire his beamës did display,
In a fresh fountaine, far from all mens vew,
She bath'd her brest the boyling heat t' allay;
She bath'd with roses red and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowers that in the forrest grew:
Till faint through yrkesome wearines adowne
Upon the grassy ground herselfe she layd
To sleepe, the whiles a gentle slombring swowne
Upon her fell all naked bare displayd :
The sunbeames bright upon her body playd,
Being through former bathing mollifide,
And pierst into her wombe; where they embayd
With so sweet sence and secret powre unspide,
That in her pregnant flesh they shortly fructifide.
Miraculous may seeme to him that reades
So straunge ensample of conception;
But reason teacheth that the fruitfull seades
Of all things living, through impression
Of the sunbeames in moyst complexion,
Doe life conceive and quickned are by kynd:
So, after Nilus inundation,
Infinite shapes of creatures men doe fynd Informed in the mud on which the Sunne hath shynd.
Great father he of generation
Is rightly cald, th' authour of life and light;
And his faire sister for creation
Ministreth matter fit, which, tempred right
With heate and humour, breedes the living wight.
sprong these twinnes in womb of Chrysogone ;
Yet wist she nought thereof, but sore affright
Wondred to see her belly so upblone,
Which still increast till she her terme had full outgone.
Whereof conceiving shame and foule disgrace,
Albe her guiltlesse conscience her cleard,
She fled into the wildernesse a space,
Till that unweeldy burden she had reard,
And shund dishonor which as death she feard:
Where, wearie of long traveill, downe to rest
Herselfe she set, and comfortably cheard;
There a sad cloud of sleepe her overkest,
And seized every sence with sorrow sore opprest.
It fortuned, faire Venus having lost
Her little sonne, the winged god of love, Who for some light displeasure, which him crost, Was from her fled as flit as ayery Dove, And left her blisfull bowre of joy above; (So from her often he had fled away, When she for ought him sharpely did reprove, And wandred in the world in straunge aray, [wray;) Disguiz'd in thousand shapes, that none might him be
Him for to seeke, she left her heavenly hous,
The house of goodly formes and faire aspects,
Whence all the world derives the glorious
Features of beautie, and all shapes select,
With which High God his workmanship hath deckt;
And searched everie way through which his wings
Had borne him, or his tract she mote detect:
She promist kisses sweet, and sweeter things,
Unto the man that of him tydings to her brings.
She then the Cities sought from gate to gate,
And everie one did aske, Did he him see?
And everie one her answerd, that too late
He had him seene, and felt the crueltee
Of his sharpe dartes and whot artilleree :
And every one threw forth reproches rife
Of his mischievous deedes, and sayd that hee
Was the disturber of all civill life,
The enimy of peace, and authour of all strife.
First she him sought in Court, where most he us'd
Whylome to haunt, but there she found him not;
But many there she found which sore accus'd
His falshood, and with fowle infamous blot
His cruell deedes and wicked wyles did spot:
Ladies and Lordes she every where mote heare
Complayning, how with his empoysned shot
Their wofull harts he wounded had whyleare,
And so had left them languishing twixt hope and feare.
Then in the Countrey she abroad him sought,
And in the rurall cottages inquir'd;
Where also many plaintes to her were brought,
How he their heedelesse harts with love had fir'd,
And his false venim through their veines inspir'd;
And eke the gentle shepheard swaynes, which sat
Keeping their fleecy flockes as they were hyr'd,
She sweetly heard complaine both how and what
Her sonne had to them doen; yet she did smile thereat.