Selected Poems of Aemilia Lanyer

Poems from Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum(1611)

To the Queenes most Excellent Majestie.

Renowned Empresse, and great Britaines Queene,
Most gratious Mother of succeeding Kings;
Vouchsafe to view that which is seldome seene,
A Womans writing of divinest things:
        Reade it faire Queene, though it defective be,
         Your Excellence can grace both It and Mee.

For you have rifled Nature of her store,
And all the Goddesses have dispossest
Of those rich gifts which they enjoy'd before,
But now great Queene, in you they all doe rest.                 10 
         If now they strived for the golden Ball,
         Paris would give it you before them all

From Juno you have State and Dignities,
From warlike Pallas, Wisdome, Fortitude;
And from faire Venus all her Excellencies,
With their best parts your Highnesse is indu'd:
         How much are we to honor those that springs
         From such rare beauty, in the blood of Kings?

The Muses doe attend upon your Throne,
With all the Artists at your becke and call;                        20 
The Sylvane Gods, and Satyres every one,
Before your faire triumphant Chariot fall:
         And shining Cynthia with her nymphs attend
         To honour you, whose Honour hath no end.

From your bright spheare of greatnes where you sit,
Reflecting light to all those glorious stars
That wait upon your Throane; To virtue yet
Vouchsafe that splendor which my meannesse bars:
         Be like faire Phoebe who doth love to grace
         The darkest night with her most beauteous face.       30 

Apollo's beames doe comfort every creature,
And shines upon the meanest things that be;
Since in Estate and Virtue none is greater,
I humbly wish that yours may light on me:
         That so these rude unpollisht lines of mine,
         Graced by you, may seeme the more divine.

Looke in this Mirrour of a worthy Mind,
Where some of your faire Virtues will appeare;
Though all it is impossible to find,
Unlesse my Glasse were chrystall, or more cleare:            40 
         Which is dym steele, yet full of spotlesse truth,
         And for one looke from your faire eyes it su'th.

Here may your sacred Majestie behold
That mightie Monarch both of heav'n and earth,
He that all Nations of the world controld,
Yet tooke our flesh in base and meanest berth:
         Whose daies were spent in poverty and sorrow,
         And yet all Kings their wealth of him do borrow.

For he is Crowne and Crowner of all Kings,
The hopefull haven of the meaner sort,                              50 
Its he that all our joyfull tidings brings
Of happie raigne within his royall Court:
        Its he that in extremity can give
        Comfort to them that have no time to live.

And since my wealth within his Region stands,
And that his Crosse my chiefest comfort is,
Yea in his kingdome onely rests my lands,
Of honour there I hope I shall not misse:
         Though I on earth doe live unfortunate,
         Yet there I may attaine a better state.                        60 

In the meane time, accept most gratious Queene
This holy worke, Virtue presents to you,
In poore apparell, shaming to be seene,
Or once t'appeare in your judiciall view:
         But that faire Virtue, though in meane attire,
         All Princes of the world doe most desire.

And sith all royall virtues are in you,
The Naturall, the Morall, and Divine,
I hope how plaine soever, beeing true,
You will accept even of the meanest line                             70 
         Faire Virtue yeelds; by whose rare gifts you are
         So highly grac'd, t'exceed the fairest faire.

Behold, great Queene, faire Eves Apologie
Which I have writ in honour of your sexe,
And doe referre unto your Majestie,
To judge if it agree not with the Text:
         And if it doe, why are poore Women blam'd,
         Or by more faultie Men so much defam'd?

And this great Lady I have here attired,
In all her richest ornaments of Honour                               80 
That you faire Queene, of all the world admired,
May take the more delight to looke upon her:
         For she must entertaine you to this Feast,
         To which your Highnesse is the welcom'st guest.

For here I have prepar'd my Paschal Lambe,
The figure of that living Sacrifice;
Who dying, all th'Infernall powres orecame,
That we with him t'Eternitie might rise:
         This pretious Passeover feed upon, O Queene,
         Let your faire Virtues in my Glasse be seene.            90 

And she that is the patterne of all Beautie,                   The Lady 
The very modell of your Majestie,                                 Elizabeths 
Whose rarest parts enforceth Love and Duty,                Grace. 
The perfect patterne of all Pietie:
         O let my Booke by her faire eies be blest,
         In whose pure thoughts all Innocency rests.

Then shall I thinke my Glasse a glorious Skie,
When two such glittring Suns at once appeare;
The one repleat with Sov'raigne Majestie,
Both shining brighter than the clearest cleare:                   100 
         And both reflecting comfort to my spirits,
         To find their grace so much above my merits

Whose untun'd voyce the dolefull notes doth sing
Of sad Affliction in an humble straine;
Much like unto a Bird that wants a wing,
And cannot flie, but warbles forth her paine:
         Or he that barred from the Suns bright light,
         Wanting daies comfort, doth comend the night.

So I that live clos'd up in Sorrowes Cell,
Since great Elizaes favour blest my youth;                          110 
And in the confines of all cares doe dwell,
Whose grieved eyes no pleasure ever view'th:
         But in Christs suffrings, such sweet taste they have,
         As makes me praise pale Sorrow and the Grave.

And this great Ladie whom I love and honour,
And from my very tender yeeres have knowne,
This holy habite still to take upon her,
Still to remaine the same, and still her owne:
         And what our fortunes doe enforce us to,
         She of Devotion and meere Zeale doth do.                120 

Which makes me thinke our heavy burden light,
When such a one as she will help to beare it:
Treading the paths that make our way go right,
What garment is so faire but she may weare it;
         Especially for her that entertaines
         A Glorious Queene, in whome all woorth remains.

Whose powre may raise my sad dejected Muse,
From this lowe Mansion of a troubled mind;
Whose princely favour may such grace infuse,
That I may spread Her Virtues in like kind:                        130 
         But in this triall of my slender skill,
         I wanted knowledge to performe my will.

For even as they that doe behold the Starres,
Not with the eie of Learning, but of Sight,
To find their motions, want of knowledge barres
Although they see them in their brightest light:
         So, though I see the glory of her State,
         Its she that must instruct and elevate.

My weake distempred braine and feeble spirits,
Which all unlearned have adventur'd, this                          140 
To write of Christ, and of his sacred merits,
Desiring that this Booke Her hands may kisse:
         And though I be unworthy of that grace,
         Yet let her blessed thoghts this book imbrace.

And pardon me (faire Queene) though I presume,
To doe that which so many better can;
Not that I Learning to my selfe assume,
Or that I would compare with any man:
         But as they are Scholers, and by Art do write,
         So Nature yeelds my Soule a sad delight.                  150 

And since all Arts at first from Nature came,
That goodly Creature, Mother of Perfection,
Whom Joves almighty hand at first did frame,
Taking both her and hers in his protection:
         Why should not She now grace my barren Muse, (155)
         And in a Woman all defects excuse.

So peerelesse Princesse humbly I desire,
That your great wisedome would vouchsafe t'omit
All faults; and pardon if my spirits retire,
Leaving to ayme at what they cannot hit:                          160 
         To write your worth, which no pen can expresse,
         Were but t'ecclipse your Fame, and make it lesse.


click to view full image
Greek Gods and Goddesses
"For you have rifled 
Nature of her store,
And all the Goddesses 
have dispossest
Of those rich gifts 
which they enjoy'd before"

Line 1.  great Britaines Queene: Anne of Denmark (1574-1619), Queen to James I.
Line 11.  golden Ball: The golden apple given by Eris (Strife) as the prize in a contest for the fairest woman to be judged by Paris. His choice of Aphrodite over Hera (Juno) and Athena precipitated the Trojan War.
Line 12.  Paris: Son of Priam and Hecuba, King and Queen of Troy.
Line 13.  Juno: Roman Name for the Greek goddess Hera, sister and wife to Jupiter (Zeus).
Line 14.  Pallas: abbreviated form of Pallas Athena, identified by the Romans with Minerva.
Line 15.  Venus: Roman goddess identified with Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility.
Line 19.  Muses: Daughters of Zeus, patron spirits of the arts.
Line 21.  Sylvane Gods: Alternate spelling 'Silvan.' Rural deities akin to satyrs; the term derives from Silvanus, a god of the country who was half man and half goat.
Line 23.  Cynthia: a Roman name for the Greek goddess Artemis(or Diana), associated with the moon.
Line 29.  Phoebe: another alternative name for Artemis(Diana).
Line 31.  Apollo's: God of youth, poetry, music, often depicted driving a chariot, identified with the sun.
Line 73.  Eves Apologie: A section of Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. See below.
Line 85.  Paschal Lambe: Originally the lamb eaten on the Jewish Passover.
Line 89.  Passeover: The most important festival of the Jewish year. Commemorates the night of the tenth plague of Egypt when the firstborn of Israelite slaves who followed divine instructions were 'passed over' and spared from being slain by the Angel of Death.
Line 153.  Joves: Meaning the Classical Almighty, related to Yaweh, Iovis, Jupiter and Zeus.
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To all vertuous Ladies in generall

Each blessed Lady that in Virtue spends
Your pretious time to beautifie your soules;
Come wait on hir whom winged Fame attends
And in hir hand the Booke where she inroules
Those high deserts that Majestie commends:
     Let this faire Queene not unattended bee,
     When in my Glasse she daines her selfe to see.

Put on your wedding garments every one,
The Bridegroome stayes to entertaine you all;
Let Virtue be your guide, for she alone                              10 
Can leade you right that you can never fall;
And make no stay for feare he should be gone:
     But fill your Lamps with oyle of burning zeale,
     That to your Faith he may his Truth reveale.

Let all your roabes be purple scarlet white,
Those perfit colours purest Virtue wore,                    The roabes 
Come deckt with Lillies that did so delight                 that Christ 
To be preferr'd in Beauty, farre before                      wore before 
Wise Salomon in all his glory dight:                             his death. 
     Whose royall roabes did no such pleasure yield,           20 
     As did the beauteous Lilly of the field.

Adorne your temples with faire Daphnes crowne,
The never changing Laurel, alwaies greene;
Let constant hope all worldly pleasures drowne,      In token of 
In wise Minervaes paths be alwaies seene;                Constancie. 
Or with bright Cynthia, thogh faire Venus frown:
      With Esop crosse the posts of every doore, 
     Where Sinne would riot, making Virtue poore.

And let the Muses your companions be,
Those sacred sisters that on Pallas wait;                          30 
Whose Virtues with the purest minds agree,
Whose godly labours doe avoyd the baite
Of worldly pleasures, living alwaies free 
     From sword, from violence, and from ill report, 
     To these nine Worthies all faire mindes resort.

Annoynt your haire with Aarons pretious oyle,
And bring your palmes of vict'ry in your hands,
To overcome all thoughts that would defile
The earthly circuit of your soules faire lands;
Let no dimme shadowes your cleare eyes beguile:            40 
     Sweet odours, mirrhe, gum, aloes, frankincense, 
     Present that King who di'd for your offence.

Behold, bright Titans shining chariot staies,
All deckt with flowers of the freshest hew,
Attended on by Age, Houres, Nights, and Daies,
Which alters not your beauty, but gives you
Much more, and crownes you with eternall praise:
     This golden chariot wherein you must ride,
     Let simple Doves, and subtill serpents guide.

Come swifter than the motions of the Sunne,                   50 
To be transfigur'd with our loving Lord,
Lest Glory end what Grace in you begun,
Of heav'nly riches make your greatest hoord,
In Christ all honour, wealth, and beautie's wonne: 
      By whose perfections you appeare more faire
      Than Phoebus, if he seav'n times brighter were.

Gods holy Angels will direct your Doves,
And bring your Serpents to the fields of rest,
Where he doth stay that purchast all your loves
In bloody torments, when he di'd opprest,                        60 
There shall you find him in those pleasant groves 
      Of sweet Elizium, by the Well of Life, 
      Whose cristal springs do purge from worldly strife

Thus may you flie from dull and sensuall earth,
Whereof at first your bodies formed were,
That new regen'rate in a second berth,
Your blessed soules may live without all feare,
Beeing immortall, subject to no death:
     But in the eie of heaven so highly placed,
     That others by your virtues may be graced.                 70 

Where worthy Ladies I will leave you all,
Desiring you to grace this little Booke;
Yet some of you me thinkes I heare to call
Me by my name, and bid me better looke,
Lest unawares I in an error fall:
      In generall tearmes, to place you with the rest,
     Whom Fame commends to be the very best.

Tis true, I must confesse (O noble Fame)
There are a number honoured by thee,
Of which, some few thou didst recite by name,                 80 
And willd my Muse they should remembred bee;
Wishing some would their glorious Trophies frame:
      Which if I should presume to undertake,
      My tired Hand for very feare would quake.

Onely by name I will bid some of those,
That in true Honors seate have long bin placed,
Yea even such as thou hast chiefly chose,
By whom my Muse may be the better graced;
Therefore, unwilling longer time to lose,
     I will invite some Ladies that I know,                          90 
    But chiefly those as thou hast graced so.

English Noblewoman, 1644
". . . worthy Ladies, I will
leave you all, 
Desiring you to grace
this little Booke"
Line 4.  Inroules: enrolls.
Line 19.  Salomon:  Solomon, third king of Israel and second son of David (2 Sam. 12:18,24).
Line 22.  Daphne: A nymph with whom Apollo fell in love; as he pursued her she turned into laurel.
Line 25.  Minerva: The daughter of Zeus, goddess of wisdom, chastity, the arts and justice.
Line 27.  Esop: Aesop, Greek author of fables.
Line 35.  nine Worthies: Nine great historical and mythical figures consisting of three pagans (Alexander, Hector, and Julius Caesar), three Jews (Joshua, David and accabeus), and three Christians (Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon). Occasionally a corresponding list of worthy women was given.
Line 36.  Aarons pretious oyle: Aaron was Moses' brother in Hebrew tradition (Exod. 4:14) chosen for the
priesthood and anointed with holy oil (Lev.8:12).
Line 43.  Titans: The children of Uranus (Heaven) and Ge (Earth).
Line 56.  Phoebus: The epithet 'bright' of Apollo, connected him with the sun.
Line 62.  Elizium: Alternate spelling of 'Elysium,' the idyllic world where the souls of those honoured by the godsspend an afterlife of revelry, feasting or pleasant martial exercise.
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From Salve Deus Rex Judæorum [Eves Apologie]

Now Pontius Pilate is to judge the Cause 
Of faultlesse Jesus, who before him stands; 
Who neither hath offended Prince, nor Lawes, 
Although he now be brought in woefull bands: 
O noble Governour, make thou yet a pause, 
Doe not in innocent blood imbrue thy hands;                       750 
     But heare the words of thy most worthy wife, 
     Who sends to thee, to beg her Saviours life. 

Let barb'rous crueltie farre depart from thee, 
And in true Justice take afflictions part; 
Open thine eies, that thou the truth mai'st see, 
Doe not the thing that goes against thy heart, 
Condemne not him that must thy Saviour be; 
But view his holy Life, his good desert. 
     Let not us Women glory in Mens fall, 
     Who had power given to over-rule us all.                      760 

¶ Till now your indiscretion sets us free, 
And makes our former fault much lesse appeare; 
Our Mother Eve, who tasted of the Tree,                 Eves 
Giving to Adam what she held most deare,               Apologie
Was simply good, and had no powre to see, 
The after-comming harme did not appeare: 
     The subtile Serpent that our Sex betraide, 
     Before our fall so sure a plot had laide. 

That undiscerning Ignorance perceav'd 
No guile, or craft that was by him intended;                       770 
For, had she knowne of what we were bereavid, 
To his request she had not condiscended 
But she (poore soule) by cunning was deceav'd, 
No hurt therein her harmelesse Heart intended: 
     For she alleadg'd Gods word, which he denies, 
     That they should die, but even as Gods, be wise. 

But surely Adam can not be excus'd, 
Her fault, though great, yet hee was most too blame; 
What Weaknesse offerd, Strength might have refus'd, 
Being Lord of all, the greater was his shame:                     780 
Although the Serpents craft had her abus'd, 
Gods holy word ought all his actions frame: 
    For he was Lord and King of all the earth, 
    Before poore Eve had either life or breath. 

Who being fram'd by Gods eternall hand, 
The perfect'st man that ever breath'd on earth; 
And from Gods mouth receiv'd that strait command, 
The breach whereof he knew was present death: 
Yea having powre to rule both Sea and Land, 
Yet with one Apple wonne to loose that breath,                790 
     Which God hath breathed in his beauteous face, 
     Bringing us all in danger and disgrace. 

And then to lay the fault on Patience backe, 
That we (poore women) must endure it all; 
We know right well he did discretion lacke, 
Beeing not perswaded thereunto at all; 
If Eve did erre, it was for knowledge sake, 
The fruit beeing faire perswaded him to fall: 
     No subtill Serpents falshood did betray him, 
     If he would eate it, who had powre to stay him?           800 

Not Eve, whose fault was onely too much love, 
Which made her give this present to her Deare, 
That what shee tasted, he likewise might prove, 
Whereby his knowledge might become more cleare; 
He never sought her weakenesse to reprove, 
With those sharpe words, which he of God did heare: 
     Yet Men will boast of Knowledge, which he tooke 
     From Eves faire hand, as from a learned Booke. 

If any Evill did in her remaine, 
Beeing made of him, he was the ground of all;                   810 
If one of many Worlds could lay a staine 
Upon our Sexe, and worke so great a fall 
To wretched Man, by Satans subtill traine; 
What will so fowle a fault amongst you all? 
     Her weakenesse did the Serpents words obay; 
     But you in malice Gods deare Sonne betray. 

Whom, if unjustly you condemne to die, 
Her sinne was small, to what you doe commit; 
All mortall sinnes that doe for vengeance crie, 
Are not to be compared unto it:                                        820 
If many worlds would altogether trie, 
By all their sinnes the wrath of God to get; 
     This sinne of yours, surmounts them all as farre 
     As doth the Sunne, another little starre. 

Then let us have our Libertie againe, 
And challendge to your selves no Sov'raigntie; 
You came not in the world without our paine, 
Make that a barre against your crueltie; 
Your fault beeing greater, why should you disdaine 
Our beeing your equals, free from tyranny?                      830 
     If one weake woman simply did offend, 
     This sinne of yours, hath no excuse, nor end. 

To which (poore soules) we never gave consent, 
Witnesse thy wife (O Pilate) speakes for all; 
Who did but dreame, and yet a message sent, 
That thou should'st have nothing to doe at all 
With that just man; which, if thy heart relent, 
Why wilt thou be a reprobate with Saul
     To seeke the death of him that is so good, 
     For thy soules health to shed his dearest blood.          840 

Line 744.  Pontius Pilate: Fifth Roman governor of Judea, Sumeria and Idumaea 26-36 C.E. His involvement in the judgement of Jesus is recorded in Matt. 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:29-19:38; Acts 3:13,4:27,13:38 and Timothy 6:13.
Line 751.  worthy wife: Pilate's wife pleaded with him to have nothing to do with Jesus (Matt 27:19). Apocryphal texts name Pilate's wife Claudia Procla or Procula, and there is a tradition that she may have been a secret follower of Jesus. Pilate and Claudia were killed under Tiberius, and are recognized as saints by some Christian churches.
Line 838.  Saul: First king of Israel and principal figure in 1 Samuel. Anointed by the prophet Samuel, who laterdisowned him in favor of David. Wounded in battle, feeling God had turned against him, he took his own life.
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The Description of Cooke-ham

Farewell (sweet Cooke-ham) where I first obtain'd 
Grace from that Grace where perfit Grace remain'd; 
And where the Muses gave their full consent, 
I should have powre the virtuous to content: 
Where princely Palace will'd me to indite, 
The sacred Storie of the Soules delight. 
Farewell (sweet Place) where Virtue then did rest, 
And all delights did harbour in her breast: 
Never shall my sad eies againe behold 
Those pleasures which my thoughts did then unfold:                10 
Yet you (great Lady) Mistris of that Place, 
From whose desires did spring this worke of Grace; 
Vouchsafe to thinke upon those pleasures past, 
As fleeting worldly Joyes that could not last: 
Or, as dimme shadowes of celestiall pleasures, 
Which are desir'd above all earthly treasures. 
Oh how (me thought) against you thither came, 
Each part did seem some new delight to frame! 
The House receiv'd all ornaments to grace it, 
And would indure no foulenesse to deface it.                          20 
The Walkes put on their summer Liveries, 
And all things else did hold like similies: 
The Trees with leaves, with fruits, with flowers clad, 
Embrac'd each other, seeming to be glad, 
Turning themselves to beauteous Canopies, 
To shade the bright Sunne from your brighter eies: 
The cristall Streames with silver spangles graced, 
While by the glorious Sunne they were embraced: 
The little Birds in chirping notes did sing, 
To entertaine both You and that sweet Spring.                        30 
And Philomela with her sundry layes, 
Both You and that delightfull Place did praise. 
Oh how me thought each plant, each floure, each tree 
Set forth their beauties then to welcome thee! 
The very Hills right humbly did descend, 
When you to tread upon them did intend. 
And as you set your feete, they still did rise, 
Glad that they could receive so rich a prise. 
The gentle Windes did take delight to bee 
Among those woods that were so grac'd by thee.                   40 
And in sad murmure utterd pleasing sound, 
That Pleasure in that place might more abound: 
The swelling Bankes deliver'd all their pride; 
When such a Phnix once they had espide. 
Each Arbor, Banke, each Seate, each stately Tree, 
Thought themselves honor'd in supporting thee. 
The pretty Birds would oft come to attend thee, 
Yet flie away for feare they should offend thee: 
The little creatures in the Burrough by 
Would come abroad to sport them in your eye;                      50 
Yet fearefull of the Bowe in your faire Hand, 
Would runne away when you did make a stand. 
Now let me come unto that stately Tree, 
Wherein such goodly Prospects you did see; 
That Oake that did in height his fellowes passe, 
As much as lofty trees, low growing grasse: 
Much like a comely Cedar - streight and tall, 
Whose beauteous stature farre exceeded all: 
How often did you visite this faire tree, 
Which seeming joyfull in receiving thee,                                  60 
Would like a Palme tree spread his armes abroad, 
Desirous that you there should make abode: 
Whose faire greene leaves much like a comely vaile, 
Defended Phebus when he would assaile: 
Whose pleasing boughes did yeeld a cool fresh ayre, 
Joying his happinesse when you were there. 
Where beeing seated, you might plainley see, 
Hills, vales, and woods, as if on bended knee 
They had appeard, your honour to salute, 
Or to preferre some strange unlook'd for sute:                        70 
All interlac'd with brookes and cristall springs, 
A Prospect fit to please the eyes of Kings: 
And thirteene shires appear'd all in your sight, 
Europe could not affoard much more delight. 
What was there then but gave you all content, 
While you the time in meditation spent, 
Of their Creators powre, which there you saw, 
In all his Creatures held a perfit Law; 
And in their beauties did you plaine descrie, 
His beauty, wisdome, grace, love, majestie.                           80 
In these sweets woods how often did you walke, 
With Christ and his Apostles there to talke; 
Placing his holy Writ in some faire tree, 
To meditate what you therein did see: 
With Moyses you did mount his holy Hill, 
To know his pleasure, and performe his Will. 
With lovely David you did often sing, 
His holy Hymnes to Heavens Eternall King. 
And in sweet musicke did your soule delight, 
To sound his prayses, morning, noone, and night.                   90 
With blessed Joseph you did often feed 
Your pined brethren, when they stood in need. 
And that sweet Lady sprung from Cliffords race, 
Of noble Bedfords blood, faire steame of Grace; 
To honourable Dorset now espows'd, 
In whose faire breast true virtue then was hous'd: 
Oh what delight did my weake spirits find 
In those pure parts of her well framed mind: 
And yet it grieves me that I cannot be 
Neere unto her, whose virtues did agree                              100 
With those faire ornaments of outward beauty, 
Which did enforce from all both love and dutie. 
Unconstant Fortune, thou art most too blame, 
Who casts us downe into so lowe a frame: 
Where our great friends we cannot dayly see, 
So great a diffrence is there in degree. 
Many are placed in those Orbes of state, 
Parters in honour, so ordain'd by Fate; 
Neerer in show, yet farther off in love, 
In which, the lowest alwayes are above.                               110 
But whither am I carried in conceit? 
My Wit too weake to conster of the great. 
Why not? although we are but borne of earth, 
We may behold the Heavens, despising death; 
And loving heaven that is so farre above, 
May in the end vouchsafe us entire love. 
Therefore sweet Memorie doe thou retaine 
Those pleasures past, which will not turne againe: 
Remember beauteous Dorsets former sports, 
So farre from beeing toucht by ill reports;                             120 
Wherein my selfe did alwaies beare a part, 
While reverend Love presented my true heart: 
Those recreations let me beare in mind, 
Which her sweet youth and noble thoughts did finde: 
Whereof depriv'd, I evermore must grieve, 
Hating blind Fortune, carelesse to relieve. 
And you sweet Cooke-ham, whom these Ladies leave, 
I now must tell the griefe you did conceave 
At their departure; when they went away, 
How every thing retained a sad dismay:                                130 
Nay long before, when once an inkeling came, 
Me thought each thing did unto sorrow frame: 
The trees that were so glorious in our view, 
Forsooke both flowres and fruit, when once they knew 
Of your depart, their very leaves did wither, 
Changing their colours as they grewe together. 
But when they saw this had no powre to stay you, 
They often wept, though speechlesse, could not pray you; 
Letting their teares in your faire bosoms fall, 
As if they said, Why will ye leave us all?                               140 
This being vaine, they cast their leaves away, 
Hoping that pitie would have made you stay: 
Their frozen tops, like Ages hoarie haires, 
Showes their disasters, languishing in feares: 
A swarthy riveld ryne all over spread, 
Their dying bodies halfe alive, halfe dead. 
But your occasions call'd you so away, 
That nothing there had power to make you stay: 
Yet did I see a noble gratefull minde, 
Requiting each according to their kind;                                 150 
Forgetting not to turne and take your leave 
Of these sad creatures, powrelesse to receive 
Your favour, when with griefe you did depart, 
Placing their former pleasures in your heart; 
Giving great charge to noble Memory, 
There to preserve their love continually: 
But specially the love of that faire tree, 
That first and last you did vouchsafe to see: 
In which it pleas'd you oft to take the ayre, 
With noble Dorset, then a virgin faire:                                  160 
Where many a learned Booke was read and skand 
To this faire tree, taking me by the hand, 
You did repeat the pleasures which had past, 
Seeming to grieve they could no longer last. 
And with a chaste, yet loving kisse tooke leave, 
Of which sweet kisse I did it soon bereave: 
Scorning a senceless creature should possess 
So rare a favour, so great happinesse. 
No other kisse it could receive from me, 
For feare to give backe what it tooke of thee:                       170 
So I ingratefull Creature did deceive it; 
Of that which you vouchsaft in love to leave it. 
And though it oft had giv'n me much content, 
Yet this great wrong I never could repent: 
But of the happiest made it most forlorne, 
To shew that nothing's free from Fortune's scorne, 
While all the rest with this most beauteous tree, 
Made their sad consort Sorrowes harmony. 
The Floures that on the banks and walkes did grow, 
Crept in the ground, the Grasse did weep for woe.               180 
The Windes and Waters seem'd to chide together, 
Because you went away they knew not whither: 
And those sweet Brookes that ranne so faire and cleare, 
With griefe and trouble wrinckled did appeare. 
Those pretty Birds that wonted were to sing, 
Now neither sing, nor chirp, nor use their wing; 
But with their tender feet on some bare spray, 
Warble forth sorrow, and their owne dismay. 
Faire Philomela leaves her mournefull Ditty, 
Drownd in dead sleepe, yet can procure no pittie:                190 
Each arbour, banke, each seate, each stately tree, 
Lookes bare and desolate now for want of thee; 
Turning greene tresses into frostie gray, 
While in cold griefe they wither all away. 
The Sunne grew weak, his beames no comfort gave, 
While all greene things did make the earth their grave: 
Each brier, each bramble, when you went away, 
Caught fast your clothes, thinking to make you stay: 
Delightfull Eccho wonted to reply 
To our last words, did now for sorrow die:                          200 
The house cast off each garment that might grace it, 
Putting on Dust and Cobwebs to deface it. 
All desolation then there did appear, 
When you were going whom they held so deare. 
This last farewell to Cooke-ham here I give, 
When I am dead thy name in this may live, 
Wherein I have perform'd her noble hest, 
Whose virtues lodge in my unworthy breast, 
And ever shall, so long as life remaines, 
Tying my heart to her by those rich chaines.                         210


Birds in the countryside
"The little Birds in chirping
notes did sing"


click to view larger image
Birds by a Pond
"The pretty Birds would oft
come to attend thee,
Yet flie away for feare 
they should offend thee"

Title.  Cooke-ham: Country home where Aemilia Lanyer spent time with dedicatees of poem, Lady Margaret Clifford, Dowager Countess of Cumberland, and her daughter Anne, later Countess of Dorset.
Line 2.  perfit: perfect. 
Line 5.  indite: proclaim, archaic form of indict.
Line 11.  Mistris of that Place: Margaret Clifford, Dowager Countess of Cumberland.
Line 31.  Philomela: the nightingale. layes: strains or tunes.
Line 44.  Phnix: mythical bird of gorgeous plumage; by extension, a person of matchless beauty, a paragon.
Line 63.  Defended: ie. fended off. Phebus: the sun; from the Greek sun god, Phbus Apollo.
Line 70.  sute: suit, a plea for favours or benefits.
Line 78.  Held: maintained.
Line 85.  Moyses: Moses; leader of Israel (Ex., Lev., Num., Deut.).
Line 87.  David: King of Israel, singer, and psalmist; much of the book of Psalms is attributed to him (1 Sam., 2 Sam., 1 Kings).
Line 91.  blessed Joseph: sold into slavery by his brothers; came into favour and was made a ruler in Egypt.Famine forced his brothers' purchase of grain from his country. Joseph had their money placed in their grain sacks rather than accepting it, and invited them to dine with him (Gen. 37, 39-50).
Line 93.  Cliffords race: refers to the paternal lineage of Lady Anne Clifford; only surviving child of George, third earl of Cumberland.
Line 94.  Bedfords blood:  refers to Lady Anne's maternal ancestry; Margaret Clifford was born Lady MargaretRussell, third daughter of Francis, second earl of Bedford.
Line 95.  Dorset: refers to Lady Anne's marriage to the Earl of Dorset.
Line 108.  Parters: persons separated, taking leave of each other.
Line 112.  conster: construe. Line 119. beauteous Dorsets: see notes to title and line 95.
Line 131.  inkeling: inkling.
Line 145.  riveld: dried up, shrunken, shrivelled, as by heat.  ryne:obsolete form of rind.
Line 162.  skand: scanned.
Line 186.  spray: small or slender twigs of trees or shrubs.
Line 199.  Eccho: Echo, a nymph in classical mythology. She was cursed to speak only when spoken to, in repetition of others. Echo's love, Narcissus, spurned her since she only repeated his words. In her grief, Echo wasted away to a shadow, leaving only her voice.
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 E-mail Ron Cooley at
 University of Saskatchewan
 Department of English
 Revised September 3, 1998