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TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE AND MOST VERTUOUS LADIES, THE LADIE MARGARET, Countesse of CumberLAND; AND THE LADIE MARIE, COUNTESSE OF WARWICK.
AVING, 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 caried 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 doe, by reason that many copies thereof were formerly scattered abroad, I resolved at least to amend, and, by way of retractation, to reforme them, making, in stead 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 kinde; 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
Perforce subdude my poore captived hart,
And raging now therein with restlesse
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 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 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 doest sit in Venus lap abovę,
Bathing thy wings in her ambrosiall 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 cruell worker of your kindly smarts,
Prepare your selves, and open wide your harts
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 scornefull 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 deepe darknesse kept, 60
Love, that had now long time securely slept
In Venus lap, unarmed then and naked,
Gan reare his head, by Clotho being waked:
And taking to him wings of his own heate,
Kindled at first from heavens life-giving fyre,
He gan to move out of his idle seate;
Weakely at first, but after with desyre
Lifted aloft, he gan to mount up hyre,
And, like fresh Eagle, made his hardie flight
Through all that great wide wast, yet wanting light.
Yet wanting light to guide his wandring way,
His own 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 from them selves did sever,
The which before had lyen confused ever.
The earth, the ayre, the water, and the fyre,
Then gan to raunge them selves 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 Love relented their rebellious yre.
He then them tooke, and, tempering goodly well
Their contrary dislikes with loved meanes,
Did place them all in order, and compell
To keepe them selves within their sundrie raines,
Together linkt with adamantine chaines;
Yet so, as that in every living wight
They mix themselves, and shew their kindly might.
So ever since they firmely have remained,
And duly well observed his beheast;
Through which now all these things that are contained
Within this goodly cope, both most and least,
Their being have, and daily are increast
Through secret sparks of his infused fyre,
Which in the barraine cold he doth inspyre.
Thereby they all do live, and moved 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 having yet in his deducted spright
Some sparks remaining of that heavenly fyre,
He is enlumind with that goodly light,
Unto like goodly semblant to aspyre:
Therefore in choice of love he doth desyre
That seemes on earth most heavenly to embrace;
That same is Beautie, borne of heavenly race.
For sure, of all that in this mortall frame
Contained is, nought more divine doth seeme,
Or that resembleth more th' immortall flame
Of heavenly light, than Beauties glorious beam.
What wonder then, if with such rage extreme
Fraile men, whose eyes seek heavenly things to see,
At sight thereof so much enravisht bee!
Which well perceiving, that imperious boy
Doth therewith tip his sharp empoisned darts,
Which glancing thro the eyes with countenance coy
Rest not till they have pierst the trembling harts,
And kindled flame in all their inner parts,
Which suckes the blood, and drinketh up the lyfe,
Of carefull wretches with consuming griefe.