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PROTHALAMION:*

OR,

A SPOUSALL VERSE.

CALME was the day, and through the trembling ayre Sweete-breathing Zephyrus did softly play

A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay 1

1

Hot Titans beames, which then did glyster fayre;
When I, (whom [whose] sullein care,

Through discontent of my long fruitlesse stay
In princes court, and expectation vayne
Of idle hopes, which still doe fly away,

5

Like empty shadows, did afflict my brayne,)

Walkt forth to ease my payne

10

Along the shoare of silver streaming Themmes;
Whose rutty 2 bank, the which his river hemmes,
Was paynted all with variable flowers,

1 Delay, temper, mitigate.

2 Rutty, rooty.

* "In the same year (1596) he produced his Prothalamion, in honor of the double marriage of Lady Elizabeth and Lady Catharine Somerset. This piece, though defective as a poem, contains a good deal of poetical imagery, but is chiefly distinguished for the peculiar melody of its stanzas."- Retrospective Review.

And all the meades adornd with dainty gemmes,

Fit to decke maydens bowres,

And crowne their paramours

Against the brydale day, which is not long1:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.

15

There, in a meadow, by the rivers side,

A flocke of Nymphes I chaunced to espy,

20

All lovely daughters of the Flood thereby,

With goodly greenish locks, all loose untyde,
As each had bene a bryde;

And each one had a little wicker basket,

Made of fine twigs, entrayled curiously,

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In which they gathered flowers to fill their flasket,3
And with fine fingers cropt full feateously 4

The tender stalkes on hye.

Of every sort, which in that meadow grew,

They gathered some; the violet, pallid blew,

30

The little dazie, that at evening closes,

The virgin lillie, and the primrose trew,
With store of vermeil roses,

To deck their bridegroomes posies

Against the brydale day, which was not long:

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Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.

With that I saw two Swannes of goodly hewe

Come softly swimming downe along the lee 5;
Two fairer birds I yet did never see;

The snow, which doth the top of Pindus strew,
Did never whiter shew,

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3 Flasket, vessel, basket. 5 Lee, stream. 4 Feateously, dexterously.

Nor Jove himselfe, when he a swan would be
For love of Leda, whiter did appeare;

Yet Leda was (they say) as white as he,
Yet not so white as these, nor nothing near;

So purely white they were,

That even the gentle stream, the which them bare,
Seem'd foule to them, and bad his billowes spare
To wet their silken feathers, least they might
Soyle their fayre plumes with water not so fayre,
And marre their beauties bright,

That shone as heavens light,

Against their brydale day, which was not long:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.

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Eftsoones, the Nymphes, which now had flowers their fill, Ran all in haste to see that silver brood,

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As they came floating on the cristal flood;

Whom when they sawe, they stood amazed still,
Their wondring eyes to fill;

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Them seem'd they never saw a sight so fayre,
Of fowles, so lovely, that they sure did deeme
Them heavenly borne, or to be that same payre
Which through the skie draw Venus silver teeme;
For sure they did not seeme

To be begot of any earthly seede,

But rather angels, or of angels breede;

Yet were they bred of Somers-heat, they say,

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In sweetest season, when each flower and weede

1 Eftsoones, immediately.

Ver. 67.- Somers-heat.] "A punning allusion to the surname of the ladies whose marriages this spousal verse celebrates."-TODD.

The earth did fresh aray;

So fresh they seem'd as day,

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Even as their brydale day, which was not long: Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.

Then forth they all out of their baskets drew

Great store of flowers, the honour of the field,

That to the sense did fragrant odours yield,
All which upon those goodly birds they threw,
And all the waves did strew,

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That like old Peneus waters they did seeme,

When downe along by pleasant Tempes shore, Scattred with flowres, through Thessaly they streeme, That they appeare, through lillies plenteous store, Like a brydes chamber flore.

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Two of those Nymphes, meane while, two garlands

bound

Of freshest flowres which in that mead they found,
The which presenting all in trim array,

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Their snowie foreheads therewithall they crownd,
Whilst one did sing this lay,

Prepar'd against that day,

Against their brydale day, which was not long:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song. 90

"Ye gentle Birdes! the worlds faire ornament,
And heavens glorie, whom this happie hower
Doth leade unto your lovers blissfull bower,
Ioy may you have, and gentle hearts content
Of your loves couplement;

And let faire Venus, that is Queene of Love,
With her heart-quelling Sonne upon you smile,

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