5.2.1. Poems 1 - 63 (1572-1575)

THE EARL OF OXFORD TO THE READER (1572-1573)

1. The labouring man that tills the fertile soil

The Earl of Oxford to the Reader

The labouring man that tills the fertile soil,
And reaps the harvest fruit, hath not indeed
The gain, but pain, and if for all his toil
He gets the straw, the Lord will have the seed.
The manchet fine falls not unto his share,
On coarsest cheat his hungry stomach feeds,
The landlord doth possess the finest fare,
He pulls the flowers, th’ other plucks but weeds.
The mason poor that builds the lordly halls,
Dwells not in them, they are for high degree,
His cottage is compact in paper walls,
And not with brick or stone, as others be.
The idle drone that labours not at all,
Sucks up the sweet of honey from the bee;
Who worketh most to their share least doth fall,
With due desert reward will never be.
The swiftest hare unto the mastiff slow
Oft-times doth fall, to him as for a prey:
The greyh’nd thereby doth miss his game we know
For which he made such speedy haste away.
So he that takes the pain to pen the book,
Reaps not the gifts of goodly golden muse,
But those gain that, who on the work shall look
And from the sour the sweet by skill doth choose.
For he that beats the bush the bird not gets,
But who sits still and holdeth fast the nets.

Source: Cardanus Comforte, 1573

Introductory poem to Girolamo Cardanos' “Book of Consolation” (De Consolatione, Venezia 1542). Sir Thomas Bedingfield dated his translation of this work at January 1572 . However the book was not published until 1573. Thomas Bedingfield (c.1540 -1613) was one of Oxford’s best friends; in July 1574, on the orders of the Queen, Bedingfield searched in Flanders for the young Earl, caught him up in Zaltbommel on the river Waal and accompanied him to London.

Edmund Spenser (1552–1599) didn’t neglect the opportunity to feature the Earl of Oxford in his first work: The Shepheardes Calender (1580). The summary of the “Aegloga decima” (eclogue of October) begins:

In Cuddie is set out the perfect pattern of a Poet, which finding no maintenance of his state and studies, complayneth of the contempt of Poetry, and the causes thereof.

Spenser lets Cuddie say:

CUDDIE. To feed youthes fancy, and the flocking fry,
Delighten much: what I the bet for thy?
They han the pleasure, I a slender prise.
I beat the bush, the birds to them doe flie:
What good thereof to Cuddie can arise?

Another shepherd, Pierce answers: “Cuddie, the praise is better then the price, / The glory eke much greater then the gain.”

 

A HUNDRETH SUNDRIE FLOWRES (1573)

2. To scourge the crime of wicked Laius

JOCASTA. The argument of the Tragedy.

To scourge the crime of wicked Laius[1],
And wreak the foul incest of Oedipus,
The angry Gods stirred up their sons, by strife
With blades embrewed to reave each others life:
The wife, the mother, and the concubine[2],
(Whose fearful heart foredread their fatal fine,)
Her sons thus dead, disdaineth longer life,
And slays herself with selfsame bloody knife:
The daughter she, surprised with childish dread[3]
(That durst not die) a loathsome life doth lead,
Yet rather chose to guide her banished sire,
Than cruel Creon should have his desire.
Creon is King, the type of tyranny,
And Oedipus, mirror of misery.

Fortunatus Infoelix.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres chapt.II  (Jocasta), 1573

Poetical prologue to George Gasgoignes “Jocasta”, a free translation of Euripides' “Phoenician Women”. Gascoigne's work (after Ludovico Dolces adaption “Giocasta”, 1549) was premièred on the stage of the the legal faculty of Grey's Inn in 1566. - There is only one other work in the English literature of the 16th century, using poetry in sonnet form for the prologue: “Two households, both alike in dignity”. The play in question is: Romeo and Juliet (Chorus).

Two households both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene)
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life,
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, naught could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Oxford often made use of the sonnet form (with free variations on the rhyme patterns) as in numbers 4, 9, 11, 12, 15, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 36, 39, 47, 57, 60, 87, 92, 93, 98.

 

THE ADVENTURES OF MASTER F. I. (1573)

The poems of  “F. I.” make up the fiery nucleus of The Adventures of Master F[ortunatus] I[infoelix]. In a manner that reminds of how Dante's poems made up basis for the novella La Vita Nuova (1293).

 

3. Fair Bersabe the bright once bathing in a well

I have heard the Author say, that these were the first verses that ever
he wrote upon like occasion.

Fair Bersabe the bright, once bathing in a well[4],
With dew bedimm’d King David’s eyes that ruled Israel,
And Salomon himself, the source of sapience[5],
Against the force of such assaults could make but small defense:
To it the stoutest yield, and strongest feel like woe,
Bold Hercules and Samson both did prove it to be so.
What wonder seemeth then, when stars stand thick in skies,
If such a blazing star have power to dim my dazzled eyes?

                                    L'envoy.

To you these few suffice, your wits be quick and good,
You can conject by change of hue, what humors feed my blood.

                                                                                                        F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

Master F. I. manages the rickety, bumpy “poulter's metre” without serious injury (see also Nos. 17, 24, 25, 30, 41, 43, 44, 46, 50, 56, 59, 76, 77). The term “poulter's metre” is a play on the practice employed by poulterers of selling eggs by the dozen, giving the customer two eggs as a bonus. The number fourteen became known as “The poulter's dozen”.

Sternhold and Hopkins used the poulter's metre for the popular re-writes of the psalms in the fifties and the sixties of the sixteenth century (The Whole Boke of Psalmes, collected into Englishe metre by Thomas Sternhold, I. Hopkins, and others). Infuriated by there choice C.S. Lewis said: “The vices of that metre are two. The medial break in the alexandrine, though it may well do in French, quickly becomes intolerable in a language with such a tyrannous stress-accent as ours: the line struts. The fourteener has a much pleasanter movement, but a totally different one; the line dances a jig. Hence in a couplet made of two such yoke-fellows we seem to be labouring up a steep hill in bottom gear for the first line, and then running down the other side of the hill, out of control, for the second.“ (English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama, 1954, p. 232-33.)

 

4. Of thee dear Dame, three lessons would I learn

Terza sequenza, to sweet Mistress SHE.

Of thee dear Dame, three lessons would I learn[6]:
What reason first persuades the foolish fly
(As soon as she a candle can discern)
To play with flame, till she be burnt thereby?
Or what may move the mouse to bite the bait
Which strikes the trap, that stops her hungry breath?
What calls the bird, where snares of deep deceit
Are closely couched to draw her to her death?
Consider well, what is the cause of this,
And though percase thou wilt not so confess,
Yet deep desire, to gain a heavenly bliss,
May drown the mind in dole and dark distress:
  Oft is it seen (whereat my heart may bleed)
  Fools play so long till they be caught in deed.
And then
It is a heaven to see them hop and skip,
And seek all shifts to shake their shackles off:
It is a world, to see them hang the lip,
Who (erst) at love, were wont to scorn and scoff.
But as the mouse, once caught in crafty trap,
May bounce and beat against the boarden wall,
Till she have brought her head in such mishap
That down to death her fainting limbs must fall:
And as the fly once singed in the flame,
Cannot command her wings to wave away:
But by the heel, she hangeth in the same
Till cruel death her hasty journey stay:
  So they that seek to break the links of love
  Strive with the stream, and this by pain I prove.
For when
I first beheld that heavenly hue of thine,
Thy stately stature and thy comely grace,
I must confess these dazzled eyes of mine
Did wink for fear, when I first view’d thy face:
But bold desire did open them again,
And bad me look till I had looked too long,
I pitied them that did procure my pain,
And lov'd the looks that wrought me all the wrong:
And as the bird once caught (but works her woe)
That strives to leave the limed twigs behind:
Even so the more I strave to part thee fro,
The greater grief did grow within my mind:
  Remediless then must I yield to thee,
  And crave no more thy servant but to be.

                                    Till then and ever. HE.

                                                                            F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

The first narrative sonnet sequence (made up of three sonnets = terza sequenza) in the English language See, Poems No. 57 “This Apuleius was in Afric born”.

 

5. Love, hope, and death, do stir in me such strife

I have heard F. I. say that he borrowed th'invention of an Italian: but, were it
a translation or invention, (if I be judge) it is both pretty and pithy.

Love, hope, and death, do stir in me such strife,
As never man but I led such a life.
First burning love doth wound my heart to death,
And when death comes at call of inward grief,
Cold lingering hope doth feed my fainting breath
Against my will, and yields my wound relief:
So that I live, but yet my life is such,
As death would never grieve me half so much.
No comfort then but only this I taste,
To salve such sore, such hope will never want,
And with such hope, such life will ever last,
And with such life, such sorrows are not scant.
O strange desire, O life with torments tost
Through too much hope mine only hope is lost.

Even HE.

F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

This poem shows similarities to Petrarch, Canzoniere 184 (“Amor, Natura, et la bella alma humile”).

Love, Nature, and the lovely gentle soul,
where every noble virtue lives and reigns,
conspire against me now: Love racks his brains
to bring me to my death (his usual style);
Nature by bonds so slight to earth confines
Her slender form, a breath may break its chains;
And she, so much her heart the world disdains,
Longer to tread life's wearying round repines…

                                                                      (Transl. by A. S. Kline / Th. Campbell)

The particular poetical device in Oxford’s poem is known as anadiplosis, the repetition of the last word of a preceding clause (sore / hope / life / sorrows). See also, Nos. 31, 91 and 109.

 

6. In prime of lusty years, when Cupid caught me in

These verses are more in number than do stand with contentation of some judgments, and yet, the occasion thoroughly considered, I can commend them with the rest, for it is (as may be well termed) continua oratio, declaring a full discourse of his first love.

In prime of lusty years, when Cupid caught me in,
And nature taught the way to love, how I might best begin
To please my wand'ring eye in beauty’s tickle trade,
To gaze on each that passed by, a careless sport I made.

With sweet enticing bait I fish'd for many a dame,
And warméd me by many a fire, yet felt I not the flame:
But when at last I spied the face that please me most,
The coals were quick, the wood was dry, & I began to toast.

And smiling yet full oft, I have beheld that face[7],
When in my heart I might bewail mine own unlucky case,
And oft again with looks that might bewray my grief,
I pleaded hard for just reward, and sought to find relief.

What will you more? So oft my gazing eyes did seek
To see the Rose and Lily strive upon that lively cheek[8],
Till at the last I spied and by good proof I found
That in that face was painted plain the piercer of my wound.

Then, all too late aghast, I did my foot retire,
And sought with secret sighs to quench my greedy scalding fire:
But lo, I did prevail as much to guide my will,
As he that seeks with halting heel to hop against the hill.

Or as the feeble sight would search the sunny beam[9],
Even so I found but labor lost to strive against the stream.
Then gan I thus resolve, since liking forced love,
Should I mislike my happy choice before I did it prove?

And since none other joy I had but her to see,
Should I retire my deep desire? No, no, it would not be:
Though great the duty were, that she did well deserve,
And I poor man, unworthy am so worthy a wight to serve.

Yet hope my comfort stay’d, that she would have regard
To my good will that nothing crav’d but like for just reward:
I see the falcon gent sometimes will take delight[10]
To seek the solace of her wing and dally with a kite.

The fairest wolf will choose the foulest for her make,
And why? because he doth endure most sorrow for her sake.
Even so had I like hope when doleful days were spent,
When weary words were wasted well, to open true intent.

When floods of flowing tears had wash’d my weeping eyes,
When trembling tongue had troubled her with loud lamenting cries,
At last her worthy will would pity this my plaint
And comfort me, her own poor slave, whom fear had made so faint.
  Wherefore I made a vow, the stony rock should start
  Ere I presume to let her slip out of my faithful heart.

                                        L'envoy.

And when she saw by proof the pith of my good will,
She took in worth this simple song, for want of better skill.
And as my just deserts her gentle heart did move,
She was content to answer thus: I am content to love.

                                                                                             F. I. 

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

 

7. A cloud of care hath covered all my coast

This is but a rough metre, and reason, for it was devised in great disquiet of mind and written in rage, yet have I seen much worse pass the musters, yea, and where both the Lieutenant
and Provost Marshall were men of ripe judgment[11]: and as it is I pray you let it pass
here, for the truth is that F. I. himself had so slender liking thereof, or at least
of one word escaped therein, that he never presented it -- but to the matter.

A cloud of care hath covered all my coast,
And storms of strife do threaten to appear:
The waves of woe which I mistrusted most,
Have broke the banks wherein my life lay clear:
Chips of ill chance are fallen amid my choice,
To mar the mind that meant for to rejoice.

Before I sought, I found the haven of hap,
Wherin (once found) I sought to shrowd my ship,
But lowring love hath lift me from her lap,
And crabbed lot begins to hang the lip:
The drops of dark mistrust do fall so thick,
They pierce my coat, and touch my skin at quick.

What may be said, where truth cannot prevail?
What plea may serve, where will itself is judge?
What reason rules, where right and reason fail?
Remediless then must the guiltless trudge:
And seek out care, to be the carving knife,
To cut the thread that lingereth such a life.

                                                                             F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

See, Sir Thomas Wyatt’s translation of Petrarch, Canzoniere 189: “Passa la nave mia colma d’oblio.”

My galley charged with forgetfulness 
Through sharp seas in winter nights doth pass 
'Twene rock and rock; and eke mine enemy, alas 
That is my lord, steerth with cruelness 
And every oar a thought in readiness 
As though that death were light in such a case; 
An endless wind doth tear the sail apace 
Of forced sighs and trusty fearfulness 
A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain 
Hath done the wearied cords great hindrance 
Wreathed with error and eke with ignorance. 
The stars be hid that led me to this pain, 
  Drowned is reason that should me comfort, 
  And I remain despairing of the port. 

                                            (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 2.14)

 

8. Dame Cinthia herself that shines so bright

This Ballad, or howsoever I shall term it, percase you will not like, and yet in my judgment it hath great good store of deep invention, and for the order of the verse, it is not
common, I have not heard many of like proportion.

Dame Cynthia herself (that shines so bright
And deigneth not to leave her lofty place
But only then when Phoebus shows his face,
Which is her brother born and lends her light)
Disdain'd not yet to do my Lady right,
To prove that in such heavenly wights as she,
It sitteth best that right and reason be.
For when she spied my Lady’s golden rays,
  Into the clouds
  Her head she shrouds
And shamed to shine where she her beams displays.

Good reason yet that to my simple skill,
I should the name of Cynthia adore,
By whose high help I might behold the more
My Lady's lovely looks at mine own will,
With deep content to gaze, and gaze my fill:
Of courtesy and not of dark disdain,
Dame Cynthia disclos'd my Lady plain.
She did but lend her light (as for a light)
  With friendly grace
  To show her face
That else would show and shine in her despite.

Dan Phoebus he with many a low'ring look,
Had her beheld of yore in angry wise:
And when he could none other mean devise
To stain her name, this deep deceit he took
To be the bait that best might hide his hook:
Into her eyes his parching beams he cast,
To scorch their skins that gaz'd on her full fast:
Whereby when many a man was sunburnt so,
  They thought my Queen
  The sun had been,
With scalding flames which wrought them all that woe[12].

And thus when many a look had lookt so long,
As that their eyes were dim and dazzled both,
Some fainting hearts that were both lewd and loath
To look again from whence the error sprong,
Gan close their eye for fear of further wrong:
And some again once drawn into the maze,
Gan lewdly blame the beams of beauty’s blaze:
But I with deep foresight did soon espy
  How Phoebus meant
  By false intent
To slander so her name with cruelty.

Wherefore at better leisure thought I best
To try the treason of his treachery:
And to exalt my Lady’s dignity
When Phoebus fled and drew him down to rest
Amid the waves that walter in the west.
I gan behold this lovely Ladies face
Whereon dame nature spent her gifts of grace,
And found therein no parching heat at all,
  But such bright hue
  As might renew
An angel's joys in reign celestial.

The courteous moon that wish’d to do me good
Did shine to show my dame more perfectly,
But when she saw her passing jollity,
The moon for shame did blush as red as blood
And shrunk aside and kept her horns in hood:
So that now when Dame Cynthia was gone,
I might enjoy my Lady’s looks alone,
Yet honored still the Moon with true intent:
  Who taught us skill
  To work our will
And gave us place till all the night was spent.

                                                                           F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

The name Cynthia was given affectionately to Queen Elizabeth by her contemporaries. (See, Nos. 48 and 100.) “Mistress Ellinor”, to whom Master F.I. has dedicated this poem outshines Cynthia. In view of the fact that Mistress Ellinor is a twin sister of Elizabeth, this is no surprise.

 

9. That self same day, and of that day that hour

After he grew more bold & better acquainted with his Mistress’ disposition, he adventured one Friday in the morning to go unto her chamber, and thereupon wrote as
followeth, which he termed A Friday's Breakfast.

That self same day, and of that day that hour,
When she doth reign that mocks Vulcan the smith[13],
And thought it meet to harbour in her bower,
Some galant guest for her to dally with,
That blessed hour, that bliss and happy day,
I thought it meet, with hasty steps to go
Unto the lodge, wherin my Lady lay,
To laugh for joy, or else to weep for woe.
And lo, my Lady of her wonted grace,
First lent hir lips to me (as for a kiss)
And after that her body to embrace,
Wherein dame nature wrought nothing amiss.
  What followed next, guess you that know the trade,
  For in this sort, my Fridays feast I made.

                                                                                        F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

Mistress Ellinor commits adultery with Master F. I., THE FORTUNATE-UNHAPPY (See, William Shakespeare, Twelft Night, II/5.)

 

10. Beauty shut up thy shop

And surely I have heard F. I. affirm in sad earnest that he did not only love her, but was furthermore so ravished in ecstasies with continual remembrance of his delights that he made an idol of her in his inward conceit. So seemeth it by this challenge to beauty, which he wrote in her praise and upon her name.

Beauty shut up thy shop, and truss up all thy trash,
My Nell hath stolen thy finest stuff and left thee in the lash.
Thy market now is made, thy gains are gone god wot,
Thou hast no ware, that may compare with this that I have got.

As for thy painted pale and wrinkles surfled up:
Are dear enough, for such as lust, to drink of every cup:
Thy bodies bolster’d out with bombast and with bags,
Thy rowels, thy ruffs, thy cauls, thy coifs, thy jerkins and thy jags.

Thy curling and thy cost, thy frizzling and thy fare[14],
To court, to court with all those toys, and there set forth such ware
Before their hungry eyes, that gaze on every guest,
And choose the cheapest chaffer still, to please their fancy best.

But I whose steadfast eyes could never cast a glance,
With wandring look, amid the press, to take my choice by chance,
Have won by due desert a piece that hath no peer,
And left the rest as refuse all to serve the market there:

There let him choose that list, there catch the best who can:
A painted blazing bait may serve to choke a gazing man.
But I have slipt thy flower that freshest is of hue:
I have thy corn, go sell thy chaff, I list to seek no new:

The windows of mine eyes are glaz'd with such delight[15],
As each new face seems full of faults, that blazeth in my sight:
And not without just cause I can compare her so,
Lo here my glove, I challenge him that can, or dare say no.

Let Theseus come with club, or Paris brag with brand[16],
To prove how fair their Helen was, that scourg'd the Grecian land:
Let mighty Mars himself come armed to the field:
And vaunt Dame Venus to defend, with helmet, spear and shield.

This hand that had good hap, my Helen to embrace,
Shall have like luck to foil her foes, and daunt them with disgrace.
And cause them to confess by verdict and by oath,
How far her lovely looks do stain the beauties of them both.

And that my Helen is more fair than Paris’ wife,
And doth deserve more famous praise, than Venus for her life.
Which if I not perform, my life then let me leese,
Or else be bound in chains of change, to beg for beauty’s fees.

                                                                                                       F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

The poetic Earl delivers an amazing example of his skill with the otherwise awkward and clumsy “poulter’s measure” that he inherited from Surrey and Wyatt, given further meaning by its obvious similarities with Shake-speare’s: “The windows of mine eyes are glaz'd with such delight.”

 

11. The stately dames of Rome their pearls did wear

Of this Sonnet, I am assured that it is but a translation, for I myself have seen the invention of an Italian, and Master I. hath a little dilated the same, but not much besides
the sense of the first, and the addition very aptly applied:
wherefore I cannot condemn his doing therein.

The stately dames of Rome their pearls did wear
About their necks to beautify their name,
But she (whom I do serve) her pearls doth bear
Close in her mouth, and smiling shows the same.
No wonder then, though ev'ry word she speaks
A jewel seems in judgment of the wise,
Since that her sug'red tongue the passage breaks
Between two rocks bedeckt with pearls of price.
Her hair of gold, her front of ivory,
A bloody heart within so white a breast,
Her teeth of pearl, lips ruby, crystal eye,
Needs must I honour her above the rest,
  Since she is forméd of none other mould
  But ruby, crystal, ivory, pearl, and gold.

                                                                        F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

The poem is strongly influenced by Petrarch’s sonnet 157 (“Quel sempre acerbo et honorato giorno”):

Her locks were gold, her cheeks were breathing snow,
Her brows with ebon arch'd—bright stars her eyes,
Wherein Love nestled, thence his dart to aim:
Her teeth were pearls—the rose's softest glow
Dwelt on that mouth, whence woke to speech grief's sighs
Her tears were crystal—and her breath was flame.
                                                                      (Transl. by Wollaston)

At the same time, Oxford makes an ironic reference to the arsenal of Petrarchan topoi in the poems of Bembo, Serafino l'Aquilano, Mellin de Saint-Gelais, Du Bella,yDe Magny etc.  - William Shakespeare makes fun of these poetical devices in sonnet No.130: “My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun, / Coral is far more red, than her lips red...”

 

12. As some men say there is a kind of seed

This Sonnet treateth of a strange seed, but it tasteth most of rye, which is more common amongst men nowadays. Well, let it pass amongst the rest, & he that liketh it not, turn
over the leaf to another; I doubt not but in this register he may find some
to content him, unless he be too curious.

As some men say there is a kind of seed
Will grow to horns if it be sowed thick:
Wherwith I thought to try if I could breed
A brood of buds, well sharped on the prick:
And by good proof of learned skill I found,
(As on some speciall soil all seeds best frame)
So jealous brains do breed the battle ground,
That best of all might serve to bear the same.
Then sought I forth to find such supple soil,
And called to mind thy husband had a brain,
So that percase by travail and by toil,
His fruitful front might turn my seed to gain:
And as I groped in that ground to sow it,
Start up a horn, thy husband could not blow it.

F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

Master F. I. seduces Mistress Ellinor and he finds the fact that she is married more a reason for bragging than for shame. See, No. 9. - This poem was not included in the 1575 version of The Posies. - See, William Shakespeare, “The Forrester’s Song” in As You Like It (IV/2):

Take thou no scorn to wear the horn,
It was a crest ere thou wast born …

 

13. What state to man so sweet and pleasant were

This is the translation of Ariosto his 31th song, all but the last staff, which
seemeth as an allegory applied to the rest. It will please none
but learned ears, he was tied to the invention,
 troubled in mind &c.

 What state to man so sweet and pleasant were,
As to be tied in links of worthy love?
What life so bliss'd and happy might appear
As for to serve Cupid, that God above?
If that our minds were not sometimes infect
With dread, with fear, with care, with cold suspect,
With deep despair, with furious frenzy,
Handmaids to her whom we call jealousy.

For ev'ry other sop of sour chance
Which lovers taste amid their sweet delight
Increaseth joy and doth their love advance,
In pleasures place to have more perfect plight.
The thirsty mouth thinks water hath good taste,
The hungry jaws are pleas'd with each repast:
Who hath not prov'd what dearth by wars doth grow
Cannot of peace the pleasant plenties know.

And though with eye we see not ev'ry joy,
Yet may the mind full well support the same.
An absent life long led in great annoy
When presence comes doth turn from grief to game.
To serve without reward is thought great pain,
But if despair do not therewith remain,
It may be borne, for right rewards at last
Follow true service though they come not fast.

Disdains, repulses, finally each ill,
Each smart, each pain, of love each bitter taste,
To think on them gan frame the lovers will
To like each joy, the more that comes at last:
But this infernal plague, if once it touch
Or venom once the lovers mind with grouch,
All feasts and joys that afterwards befall,
The lover counts them light or nought at all.

This is that sore, this is that poisoned wound,
The which to heal nor salve nor ointments serve,
Nor charm of words, nor Image can be found,
Nor observance of stars can it preserve,
Nor all the art of Magic can prevail,
Which Zoroastes found for our avail.
Oh, cruel plague, above all sorrows smart,
With desperate death thou slay'st the lover's heart.

And me, even now, thy gall hath so infect
As all the joys which ever lover found
And all good haps that ever Troilus' sect
Achieved yet above the luckless ground:
Can never sweeten once my mouth with mell,
Nor bring my thoughts again in rest to dwell.
Of thy mad moods, and of naught else I think,
In such like seas fair Bradamant did sink.

                                                                        F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

The first five stanzas are translated from Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, Canto XXXI (“Che dolce più, che più giocondo stato / saria di quel d'un amoroso core?”)

 

14. I could not though I would: good Lady say not so

F. I. compiled in verse this answer following, upon these words contained
in her letter, I could not though I would.

I could not though I would: Good Lady, say not so,
Since one good word of your good will  might soon redress my woe.
Where would is free before, there could can never fail:
For proof, you see how galleys pass where ships can bear no sail.

The weary mariner when skies are overcast
By ready will doth guide his skill and wins the haven at last.
The pretty bird that sings with prick against her breast[17]
Doth make a virtue of her need: to watch when others rest.

And true the proverb is, which you have laid apart,
There is no hap can seem too hard  unto a willing heart.
Then, lovely Lady mine, you say not as you should,
In doubtful terms to answer thus: I could not though I would.

Yes, yes, full well you know your can is quick and good,
And willful will is eke too swift to shed my guiltless blood.
But if good will were bent as press'd as power is,
Such will would quickly find the skill to mend that is amiss.

Wherefore if you desire to see my true love spilt,
Command and I will slay myself, that yours may be the guilt.
But if you have no power to say your servant nay,
Write thus: I may not as I would, yet must I as I may.

                                                                                            F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

 

15. With her in arms that had my heart in hold

This Sonnet declareth that he began now to account of her as she deserved, for
it hath a sharp conclusion, and it is somewhat too general.

With her in arms that had my heart in hold,
I stood of late to plead for pity so.
And as I did her lovely looks behold,
She cast a glance upon my rival foe.
His fleering face provoked her to smile
When my salt tears were drowned in disdain:
He glad, I sad, he laugh'd; alas the while,
I wept for woe, I pin'd for deadly pain.
And when I saw none other boot prevail
But reason's rule must guide my skilful mind:
Why then, quoth I, old proverbs never fail,
For yet was never good cat out of kind:
  Nor woman true, but even as stories tell,
  Won with an egg, and lost again with shell[18].

                                                                        F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

 

16. And if I did what then?

And when he was in place solitary, he compiled these
following for a final end of the matter.

And if I did what then?
Are you agrieved therefore?
The sea hath fish for every man,
And what would you have more?

Thus did my Mistress once,
Amaze my mind with doubt:
And popped a question for the nonce,
To beat my brains about.

Whereto I thus replied,
Each fisherman can wish,
That all the seas at every tide
Were his alone to fish.

And so did I (in vain),
But since it may not be:
Let such fish there as find the gain,
And leave the loss for me.

And with such luck and loss[19],
I will content myself:
Till tides of turning time may toss,
Such fishers on the shelf.

And when they stick on sands,
That every man may see:
Then will I laugh and clap my hands,
As they do now at me.

                                                          F. I.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. III, The Adventures of Master F. I., 1573

 

DIVERS EXCELLENT DEVISES OF SUNDRY GENTLEMEN (1573)

The Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen in the anthology A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres (1573), correspond to the novella The Adventures of Master F.I. (Flowres III). Poems are used in the novella like prisms that both break up, and clarify the story. In Divers excellent Devices the poems form a lose chain of short, epic dramas, in their own right; whereby prose is merely used to guide the reader from one poem to the next.

 

17. When worthy Bradamant had looked long in vain 

                                                                Ariosto allegorised.

When worthy Bradamant had looked long in vain,
To see hir absent love and Lord, Ruggier, return again:
Upon her loathed bed her lustless limbs did cast,
And in deceitful dreams she thought, she saw him come at last.
But when with open arms, she ran him to embrace,
With open eyes she found it false, and thus complain’d her case.
That which me pleased (quod she) was dreams which fancy drew,
But that what me torments (alas) by sight I find it true.

My joy was but a dream, and soon did fade away,
But my tormenting cruel cares cannot so soon decay.
Why hear I not and see, since now I have my senses?
That which in feigned fading dreams appeared by pretences[20].
Or whereto serve mine eyes, if sights they so mistake,
As seem to see each joy in sleep, and woe when they awake.
The sweet and slumbering sleep did promise joy and peace,
But these unpleasant sights do raise such wars as never cease.

The sleep I felt was false, and seem’d to ease my grief,
But that I see, is all too true, and yields me no relief.
If truth annoy me then, and feigned fancies please me,
God grant I never hear nor see true thing for to disease me.
If sleeping yield me joy, and waking work me woe,
God grant I sleep, and never wake, to ease my torment so.
O happy slumbering souls, whom one dead drowsy sleep
Six months (of year) in silence shut, with closed eyes did keep.

Yet can I not compare such sleep to be like death,
Nor yet such waking, as I wake, to be like vital breath.
For why my lot doth fall, contrary to the rest,
I deem it death when I awake, and life while I do rest.
Yet if such sleep be like to death in any wise,
O gentle death come quick at call, and close my dreary eyes.
Thus said the worthy dame, whereby I gather this,
No care can be compared to that, where true love parted is.
                                           L’envoy.

Lo Lady if you had but half like care for me,
That worthy Bradamant had then her own Ruggier to see:
My ready will should be so pressed to come at call,
You should have no such sight or dream to trouble you withall.
Then when you list command, and I will come in haste,
There is no hap shall hold me back, good will shall run so fast.
                                                                                                        Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Oxford sets Ariost’s poem about the illusion of the joys of love as the leitmotif of his own poems. “When worthy Bradamant had looked long in vain” is the free tranlation of Orlando furioso, Canto XXXIII, stanzas 61-64. (“Fuggesi in questo il sonno, né veduto / è più Ruggier che se ne va con esso” etc.) - Compare to Philippe Desportes, Imitation de l’Arioste au Chant XXXIII (1572) : “Las! ce qui m’a tant pleu n’étoit rien qu’un faux songe”.

Once more Oxford makes use of the “ poulter’s metre” (See, Oxford’s Poems, No. 3), in which the alexandriner of six metrical feet alternates with the heptameter of seven feet. In doing this the poet is emulating one of his favourite poets; Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1516-1547).

 

18. The hateful man that heapeth in his mind

Written upon a reconciliation between two friends.

The hateful man that heapeth in his mind,
Cruel revenge of wrongs forepast and done,
May not (with ease) ye pleasant pathway find,
Of friendly verse which I have now begun,
Unless at first his angry breast untwined
The crooked knot which cankered choler knit,
And then recoil with reconciled grace.
Likewise I find it said in holy writ,
If thou intend to turn thy fearful face,
To God above: make thine agreement yet,
First with thy brother whom thou didst abuse,
Confess thy faults, thy frowardness and all,
So that the Lord thy prayer not refuse.
When I consider this, and then the brawl,
Which raging youth (I will not me excuse)
Did whilom breed in mine unmellowed brain,
I thought it meet before I did assay,
To write in rhyme the double golden gain,
Of amity: first yet to take away
The grudge of grief, as thou doest me constrain,
By due desert whereto I now must yield,
And drown for aye in depth of Lethes lake,
Disdainful moods from friendship cannot wield:
Pleading for peace which for my part I make
Of former strife, and henceforth let us write
The pleasant fruits of faithful friend’s delight.

                                                                              Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

A daring experiment in poetic form with four groups of five lines (a/b/a/b/a), one group of four lines and one group of two lines.

 

19. This vain avail which thou by Mars hast won

Two gentlemen did run three courses at the ring for one kiss, to be taken of a fair gentlewoman being then present, with this condition, that the winner should have the kiss, and the loser be bound to write some verses upon the gain or loss thereof. Now it fortuned that the winner triumphed, saying, he much lamented that in youth he had not seen the wars. Whereupon the loser compiled these following, in discharge of the condition above rehearsed.

This vain avail which thou by Mars hast won,
Should not allure thy flitting mind to field,
Where sturdy steeds in depth of dangers run,
By guts well gnawn by claps that canons yield.
Where faithless friends by warfare waxen wear,
And run to him that giveth best reward:
No fear of laws can cause them for to care,
But rob and reave, and steal without regard
The father’s coat, the brother’s steed from stall:
The dear friend’s purse shall picked be for pence,
The native soil, the parentes left and all,
With Tant tra tant the camp is marching hence.
But when bare beggary bids them to beware,
And late repentance rules them to retire,
Like hiveless bees they wander here and there,
And hang on them who (erst) did dread their ire.
This cut throat life (me seems) thou shouldst not like,
And shun the happy heaven of mean estate:
High Jove (perdie) may send what thou doest seek[21],
And heap up pounds within thy quiet gate.
Nor yet I would that thou shouldst spend thy days
In idleness to tear a golden time:
Like country louts which count none other praise,
But grease a sheep, and learn to serve the swine.
In vain were then the gifts which nature lent,
If Pan so press to pass Dame Pallas’ lore:
But my good friend, let thus thy youth be spent,
Serve God thy Lord, and praise him evermore.
Search out the skill which learned books do teach,
And serve in field when shadows make thee sure:
Hold with the head, and row not past thy reach,
But plead for peace which plenty may procure.
  And (for my life) if thou canst run this race,
  Thy bags of coin will multiply apace.

                                                                      Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

20. The feeble thread which Lachesis hath spun

Not long after the writing hereof: he departed from the company of his said
friend (whom he entirely loved) into the west of England, and feeling himself so
consumed by women’s craft that he doubted of a safe return: wrote before
his departure as followeth.

The feeble thread which Lachesis hath spun[22],
To draw my days in short abode with thee,
Hath wrought a web which now (well-near) is done,
The wale is worn[23]: and (all to late) I see
That lingering life doth dally but in vain,
For Atropos will cut the twist in twain.

I not discern what life but loathsome were,
When faithful friends are kept in twain by want:
Nor yet perceive what pleasure doth appear
To deep desires where good success is scant.
Such spite yet shows Dame Fortune (if she frown)
The haughty hearts in high mishaps to drown.

Hot be the flames which boil in friendly minds,
Cruel the care and dreadful is the doom:
Slipper the knot which tract of time untwindes,
Hateful the life and welcome were the tomb.
Blessed were the day which might devour such youth,
And cursed the want that seeks to choke such truth.

This wailing verse I bath in flowing tears,
And would my life might end with these my lines:
Yet strive I not to force into thine ears
Such feigned plaints as fickle faith resigns.
But high foresight in dreams hath stopped my breath,
And caused the swan to sing before his death.

For lo these naked walls do well declare
My latest leave of thee I taken have:
And unknown coasts which I must seek with care
Do well divine that there shall be my grave:
There shall my death make many for to moan,
Scarce known to them, well known to thee alone.

This boun of thee (as last request) I crave,
When true report shall sound my death with fame:
Vouchsafe yet then to go unto my grave,
And there first write my birth and then my name:
And how my life was shortened many years
By women’s wiles as to the world appears.

And in reward of grant to this request,
Permit, O God, my tongue these words, to tell
(Whenas his pen shall write upon my chest)[24]
With shrieking voice mine own dear friend farewell.
No care on earth did seem so much to me,
As when my corpse was forced to part from thee
[25].

                                                                                Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Stylistic similarities to Surrey's “If care do cause men cry” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 5.4), together with biographical references lead us to the assumption that young Oxford is narrating from the perspective of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1516-1547).  In his youth Surrey was befriended with Henry Fitzroy, Earl of Richmond (1519-1536), the illegitimate son of Henry VIII. Surrey and Fitzroy grew up together in Windsor Castle.

 

21. A hundreth suns (in course but not in kind)

He wrote to the same friend from Exeter, this Sonnet following.

A hundreth suns (in course but not in kind)
Can witness well that I possess no joy:
The fear of death which fretteth in my mind
Consumes my heart with dread of dark annoy.
And for each sun a thousand broken sleeps
Divide my dreams with fresh recourse of cares:
The youngest sister sharp her shear she keeps,

To cut my thread, and thus my life it wears.
Yet let such days, such thousand restless nights,
Spit forth their spite, let fates eke show their force:
Death’s daunting dart where so his buffet lights,
Shall shape no change within my friendly course:
  But dead or live, in heaven, in earth, in hell
  I will be thine where so my carcass dwell[26].

                                                                   Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The young “Earl of Surrey”, according to the presentation of the situation, writes from Exeter, just before he sets off for France to his friend, Henry Fitzroy. Actually Surrey and Fitzroy spent the time between October 1532 and September 1533 in France, together. The use of the sonnet form (here and in the next two poems) is also reminiscent of the poetical style of the Earl of Surrey, the man who introduced the sonnet to England.

 

22. Not stately Troy though Priam yet did live

He wrote to the same friend from Fontaine Belle eau in France, this Sonnet in commendation of the said house of Fontaine Belle eau.

Not stately Troy though Priam yet did live,
Could now compare Fontaine Belle eau to pass:
Nor Syrian towers, whose lofty steps did strive
To climb the throne where angry Saturn was,
For outward show the ports are of such price,
As scorn the cost which Caesar spilt in Rome:
Such works within as stain the rare devise,
Which whilom he, Appelles[27], wrought on tomb.
Swift Tiber flood which fed the Roman pools,
Puddle to this where crystal melts in streams.
The pleasant place where Muses kept their schools[28]
(Not parched with Phoebe, nor banished from his beams)
  Yield to those Dames, nor sight, nor fruit, nor smell,
  Which may be thought these gardens to excel.

                                                                            Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Surrey and Fitzroy spent their year in France in the court of King François Premier in his palace at Fontainebleau. During their stay they became enamored with the new Renaissance style which King François had imported from Italy. Shortly after their return to England (1533), Fitzroy married Surrey’s sister, Mary Howard, and the Earl of Surrey married Oxford’s aunt Francis de Vere (1516-1577).

 

23. Lady receive, receive in gracious wise

He wrote unto a Scottish Dame whom he chose for his Mistress in the French Court,
as followeth.

Lady receive, receive in gracious wise,
This ragged verse, these rude ill scribbled lines:
Too base an object for your heavenly eyes,
For he that writes, his freedom (lo) resigns
Into your hands: and freely yields as thrall
His sturdy neck (erst subject to no yoke)
But bending now, and headlong press to fall,
Before your feet, such force hath beauty’s stroke.
Since then mine eyes (which scorn’d our English dames)
In foreign courts have chosen you for fair,
Let be this verse true token of my flames,
And do not drench your own in deep despair.
  Only I crave (as I nill change for new)
  That you vouchsafe to think your servant true.

                                                                               Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

A poetical fiction based on the person of the young Earl of Surrey.

 

24. I cannot wish thy grief, although thou work my woe

Written to a gentlewoman who had refused him and chosen a husband (as he thought) much inferior to himself, both in knowledge, birth, and personage, wherin he bewrayeth both their names in clouds, and how she was won from him with sweet gloves and broken rings.

I cannot wish thy grief, although thou work my woe,
Since I profess to be thy friend, I cannot be thy foe:
But if things done and past might well be called again,
Then would I wish the wasted words which I have spent in vain,
Were yet untold to thee, in earnest or in game,
And that my doubtful musing mind had never thought the same.
For whiles I thee beheld, in careful thoughts I spent
My liking lust, my luckless love which ever truly meant.
And whiles I sought a mean, by pity to procure,
Too late I found that gorged hawks do not esteem the lure.
This vantage hast thou then, thou mayst well brag and boast.
Thou mightst have had a lusty lad of stature with the most,
And eke of noble mind: his virtues nothing base,
Do well declare that he descends, of ancient worthy race.
Save that I known’t his name, and though I could it tell,
My friendly pen shall let it pass, because I love him well.
And thou hast chosen one of meaner parentage,
Of stature small and therewithal, unequal for thine age.
His thews unlike the first, yet hast thou hot desire
To play thee in his flitting flames, God grant they prove not fire.
Him holdest thou as dear, and he thy Lord shall be,
(Too late alas) thou lovest him, that never loved thee.
And for just proof hereof, mark what I tell is true,
Some dismal day shall change his mind, and make him seek a new.
Then wilt thou much repent, thy bargain made in haste,
And much lament those perfumed gloves which yield such sour taste;
And eke the falsed faith which lurks in broken rings,
Though hand in hand say otherwise, yet do I know such things.
Then shalt thou sing and say, farewell my trusty squire,
Would God my mind had yielded once unto thy just desire.
Thus shalt thou wail my want, and I thy great unrest,
Which cruel Cupid kindled hath within thy broken breast.
Thus shalt thou find it grief which erst thou thoughtest game,
And I shall hear the weary news, by true reporting fame:
Lamenting thy mishap, in source of swelling tears,
Hardning my heart with cruel care which frozen fancy bears.
And though my just desert thy pity could not move,
Yet will I wash in wailing words, thy careless childish love.
And say as Troilus said, since that I can no more [29],
Thy wanton will did waver once, and woe is me therefore.

                                                                                               Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

25. If men may credit give to true reported fames

In praise of a gentlewoman who though she were not very fair,
 yet was she as hard favoured as might be.

If men may credit give, to true reported fames,
Who doubts but stately Rome had store of lusty, loving dames?
Whose ears have been so deaf, as never yet heard tell,
How far the fresh Pompeïa for beauty did excel.
And golden Marcus he, that swayed the Roman sword,
Bare witness of Boemia[30], by credit of his word.
What need I mo rehearse? since all the world did know,
How high the floods of beauty’s blaze within those walls did flow.
And yet in all that choice a worthy Roman knight,
Antonius who conqueréd proud Egypt by his might,

Not all to please his eye, but most to ease his mind,
Chose Cleopátra for his love[31], and left the rest behind.
A wondrous thing to read, in all his victory,
He snapt but her for his own share, to please his fantasy.
She was not fair, God wot, the country breeds none bright,
Well may we judge her skin the foil, because her teeth were white.
Percase her lovely looks some praises did deserve,
But brown, I dare be bold, she was, for so the sol did serve.
And could Antonius forsake the fair in Rome?
To love his nutbrown Lady best[32], was this an equal doom?
I dare well say, dames there did bear him deadly grudge,
His sentence had been shortly said, if Faustine had been judge[33].
For this I dare avow, (without vaunt be it spoke)
So brave a knight as Anthony, held all their necks in yoke:
I leave not Lucrece out, believe in her who list,
I think she would have lik'd his lure, and stooped to his fist.
What mov'd the chieftain then, to link his liking thus?
I would some Roman dame were here, the question to discuss.
But I that read her life, do find therein by fame,
How clear her courtesy did shine, in honour of her name.
Her bounty did excel, her truth had never peer,
Her lovely looks, her pleasant speech, her lusty, loving cheer.
And all the worthy gifts, that ever yet were found,
Within this good Egyptian Queen, did seem for to abound.
Wherefore he worthy was, to win the golden fleece,
Which scored the blazing stars in Rome, to conquer such a piece.
And she to quite his love, in spite of dreadful death,
Enshrined with snakes within his tomb, did yield her parting breath.

                                           Allegoria.

If fortune favour’d him, then may that man rejoice,
And think himself a happy man by hap of happy choice.
Who loves and is belov'd of one as good, as true,
As kind as Cleopátra was, and yet more bright of hue.
Her eyes as grey as glass, her teeth as white as milk,
A ruddy lip, a dimpled chin, a skin as smooth as silk.
A wight what could you more, that may content man’s mind,
And hath supplies for ev'ry want, that any man can find.
And may himself assure, when hence his life shall pass,
She will be stong to death with snakes, as Cleopátra was.

                                                                                              Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

26. Were my heart set on high

He began to write by a gentlewoman who passed by him with her arms set bragging
 by her sides, and left it unfinished as followeth.

Were my heart set on high as thine is bent,
Or in my breast so brave and stout a will:
Then (long ere this) I could have been content,
With sharp revenge thy careless corpse to kill.
For why thou knowst (although thou know not all)
What rule, what reign, what power, what seigniory,
Thy melting mind did yield to me (as thrall)
When first I pleased thy wandring fantasy.
What lingering looks bewray'd thine inward thought,
What pangs were published by perplexity,
Such wreaks the rage of love in thee had wrought
And no gramercy for thy courtesy[34].
I list not vaunt, but yet I dare avow
(Had been my harmless heart as hard as thine)
I could have bound thee then for starving now,
In bonds of bale, in pangs of deadly pine.
For why by proof the field is eath to win,
Where as the chieftains yield themselves in chains:
The port or passage plain to enter in
Where porters list to leave the key for gains[35].
But did I then devise with cruelty,
(As tyrants do) to kill the yielding prey?
Or did I brag and boast triumphantly,
As who should say the field were mine that day?

Did I retire myself out of thy sight
To beat afresh the bulwarks of thy breast?
Or did my mind in choice of change delight,
And render thee as refused with the rest?
No tiger no, the lion is not lewd,
He shows no force on seely wounded sheep,

etc.

                                                                       Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

In the poems Nos. 26 through 28 the common factor is that of love which turns to hatred and contempt. (A theme that we often see in Oxford’s works.)

 

27. How long she looked that looked at me of late

Whiles he sat at the door of his lodging, devising these verses above rehearsed, the same Gentlewoman passed by again and cast a long look towards him, whereby he left his former invention and wrote thus.

How long she looked that looked at me of late,
As who would say, her looks were all for love:
When God he knows they came from deadly hate,
To pinch me yet with pangs which I must prove.
But since my looks her liking may not move,
Look where she likes, for lo this look was cast,
Not for my love, but even to see my last.

                                                                       Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

28. I looked of late and saw thee look askance

Another Sonnet written to the same Gentlewoman, upon the same occasion.

I looked of late and saw thee look askance,
Upon my door, to see if I sat there.
As who should say: If he be there by chance,
Yet may he think I look him everywhere.
No cruel, no, thou knowst and I can tell,
How for thy love I laid my looks aside:
Though thou (percase) hast looked and liked well,
Some new found looks amid this world so wide.
But since thy looks my love have so enchained
That in my looks thy liking now is past:
Look where thou likest, and let thy hands be stained
In true love’s blood which thou shalt lack at last.
  So look, so lack, for in these toys thus tossed,
  My looks thy love, thy looks my life have lost.

                                                                              Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

29. The thriftless thread which pamper’d beauty spins

Enough of this Dame. And let us peruse his other doings which have come to my hands, in such disordred order, as I can best set them down. I will now then present you with a
Sonnet written in praise of the brown beauty which he compiled for
the love of Mistress E. P. as followeth.

The thriftless thread which pamper’d beauty spins,
In thralldom binds the foolish gazing eyes:
As cruel spiders with their crafty gins,
In worthless webs do snare the simple flies.
The garments gay, the glittring golden gite,
The ticing talk which flows from Pallas’ pools:
The painted pale, the (too much) red made white,
Are smiling baits to fish for loving fools[36].
But lo, when eld in toothless mouth appears,
And hoary hairs instead of beauties blaze:
Then Had I wist doth teach repenting years,
The tickle track of crafty Cupid’s maze.
Twixt fair and foul therefore, twixt great and small,
A lovely nutbrown face is best of all[37].

                                                                        Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

30. When danger keeps the door of Lady Beauty’s bower

Written to a Gentlewoman in Court, who (when she was there placed) seemed to disdain him,
contrary to a former profession.

When danger keeps the door of Lady Beauty’s bower,
When jealous toys have chased trust out of her strongest tower:
Then faith and truth may fly, then falsehood wins the field,
Then feeble naked faultless hearts for lack of fence must yield.
And then prevails as much to hop against the hill,
As seek by suit for to appease a froward Lady’s will.
For oaths and solemn vows are wasted then in vain,
And truth is counted but a toy, when such fond fancies reign.
The sentence soon is said, when will itself is judge,
And quickly is the quarrel picked, when Ladies list to grudge.
This sing I for myself, (which wrote this weary song)
Who justly may complain my case, if ever man had wrong.
A Lady have I serv'd, a Lady have I lov'd,
A Lady’s good will once I had, her ill will late I prov'd.
In country first I knew her, in country first I caught her,
And out of country now in court, to my cost have I sought her.
In court where Princes reign, her place is now assigned,
And well were worthy for the room, if she were not unkind.
There I (in wonted wise) did show myself of late,
And found that as the soil was chang'd, so love was turned to hate.
But why? God knows, not I: save as I said before,
Pity is put from porter’s place, and danger keeps the door.
If courting then have skill to change good Ladies so,
God send each willful Dame in court some wound of my like woe.
That with a troubled head she may both turn and toss,
In restless bed when she should sleep and feel of love the loss.
And I (since porters put me from my wonted place)
And deep deceit hath wrought a wile to wrest me out of grace:
  Will home again to cart, as fitter were for me,
  Than thus in court to serve and starve, where such proud porters be.

                                                                                     Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The court life leading to falsehood and deception is detrimental to the development of true love. See, No. 99: “Faction that ever dwells”. In spite of the fact that it is written in the monotonous rhythmic chant of the “poulter’s measure” (Compare to No. 3), the poem has a lively and varied character.

 

31. Thou with thy looks on whom I look full oft

From this I will skip to certain verses written to a Gentlewoman whom he liked very well, and yet had never any oportunity to discover his affection, being always bridled by jealous looks which attended them both, and therefore guessing by her looks, that she partly also liked him: he wrote in a book of hers as followeth.

Thou with thy looks on whom I look full oft,
And find there in great cause of deep delight:
Thy face is fair, thy skin is smooth and soft,
Thy lips are sweet, thine eyes are clear and bright,
And every part seems pleasant in my sight.
Yet wot thou well, those looks have wrought my woe,
Because I love to look upon them so.

For first those looks allured mine eye to look[38],
And straight mine eye stirred up my heart to love:
And cruel love with deep deceitful hook,
Choked up my mind whom fancy cannot move,
Nor hope relieve, nor other help behove:
But still to look, and though I look too much,
Needs must I look because I see none such.

Thus in thy looks my love and life have hold,
And with such life my death draws on apace:
And for such death no medcine can be told,
But looking still upon thy lovely face[39],
Wherin are painted pity, peace and grace,
Then though thy looks should cause me for to die,
Needs must I look, because I live thereby.

Since then thy looks my life have so in thrall,
As I can like none other looks but thine:
Lo here I yield my life, my love, and all
Into thy hands, and all things else resign,
But liberty to gaze upon thine eyne.
Which when I do, then think it were thy part,
To look again, and link with me in heart.

      Si fortunatus infoelix.

With these verses you shall judge the quick capacity of the Lady: for she wrote therunder this short answer.

Look as long as you list, but surely if I take you looking,
I will look with you.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

32. I cast mine eye and saw ten eyes at once

And for a further proof of this Dame’s quick understanding, you shall now understand, that soon after this answer of hers, the same Authour chanced to be at a supper in her company, where were also her brother, her husband and an old lover of hers by whom she had been long suspected. Now, although there wanted no delicate viandes to content them, yet their chief repast was by enterglancing of looks. For G.G. being stong with hot affection, could none otherwise relieve his passion but by gazing. And the Dame of a courteous inclination deigned (now and then) to requite the same with glancing at him. Her old lover occupied his eyes with watching: and her brother perceiving all this could not abstain from winking, whereby he might put his sister in remembrance, least she should too much forget herself. But most of all her husband beholding the first, and being evil pleased with the second, scarce contented with the third, and misconstruing the fourth, was constrained to play the fifth part in froward frowning. This royal banquet thus passed over, G.G. knowing that after supper they should pass the time in propounding of riddles and making of purposes: contrived all this conceit in a riddle as followeth. The which was no sooner pronounced, but she could perfectly perceive his intent, and drove out one nail with another, as also ensueth.

His riddle.

I cast mine eye and saw ten eyes at once,
All seemly set upon one lovely face:
Two gaz'd, two glanc'd, two watched for the nonce,
Two winked wiles, two frowned with froward grace.
Thus every eye was pitched in his place.

And every eye which wrought each others woe,
Said to itself,  alas why looked I so
And every eye for jealousy did pine,
And sigh'd and said, I would that eye were mine.

                                                                                 Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The construction of poetic conundrums (which weren’t always difficult to solve) was a form of parlour game. We see it described in Baldassare Castiglione’s famous work Il Libro del Cortegiano (1528).

With the intention of misleading the reader, Oxford writes a poem, pretending to be G. G. (George Gascoigne). He only however adopts the abbreviation of Gascoigne’s name, not his literary characteristics. The poem is clearly written in Oxford’s style. - The strategy of adopting different names was part of a game of hide and seek that Oxford played with his readers. (See, 5.0 Introduction.)

 

33. What thing is that which swims in bliss

In all this lovely company was not one that could and would expound the meaning hereof. At last the Dame herself answered on this wise. Sir, quod she, because your dark speech is much too curious for this simple company, I will be so bold as to quit one question with another. And when you have answered mine, it may fall out peradventure, that I shall somewhat the better judge of yours.


Her Question.

What thing is that which swims in bliss,
And yet consumes in burning grief:
Which being placed where pleasure is,
Can yet recover no relief.
Which sees to sigh, and sighs to see,
All this is one, what may it be?

Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The solution to the riddle: The kiss. - See, No. 58: “A Lady once did ask of me”.

 

34. I groped in thy pocket, pretty peat

He held himself herewith contented: and afterwards when they were better acquainted, he chanced once (groping in her pocket) to find a letter of her old lover’s: and thinking it were better to wink than utterly to put out his eyes, seemed not to understand this first offence: but soon after finding a lemon (the which he thought he saw her old leman put there) he devised thereof thus, and delivered it unto her in writing.

I groped in thy pocket, pretty peat,
And found a leman which I looked not:
So found I once (which now I must repeat)
Both leaves and letters which I liked not.
Such hap have I to find and seek it not,
But since I see no faster means to bind them
I will (henceforth) take lemans as I find them.

                                                                         Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Word play on leman (sweetheart, unlawful lover) and lemon. - See, W. Shakespeare: „I sent thee sixpence for thy lemon: hadst it?“ (Twelfth Night, II/3).


35. A lemon (but no leman) Sir you found

The Dame within very short space did answer it thus.

A lemon (but no leman) Sir you found,
For lemans bear their name to broad before:
The which since it hath given you such a wound,
That you seem now offended very sore:
Content yourself you shall find (there) no more.
But take your lemans henceforth where you lust,
For I will show my letters where I trust.

                                                                       Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

36. When steadfast friendship (bound by holy oath)

This Sonnet of his shall pass (for me) without any preface

When steadfast friendship (bound by holy oath)
Did part perforce my presence from thy sight,
In dreams I might behold how thou wert loath
With troubled thought to part from thy delight.
When Poplar walls enclosed thy pensive mind,
My painted shadow did thy woes revive:
Thine evening walks by Thames in open wind,
Did long to see my sailing boat arrive.
But when the dismal day did seek to part
From London walls thy longing mind for me,
The sugared kisses (sent to thy dear heart)
With secret smart in broken sleeps I see.
Wherefore in tears I drench a thousand fold,
Till these moist eyes thy beauty may behold.

                                                                             Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

This poem was not included in the 1575 version of The Posies. It’s overall mood along with its tone bears a resemblance to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 27 (“Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed”). - The question is: what does the author mean by “Poplar walls”?

Poplar was situated in the parish of Stepney just east of London. “The supposition is that Poplar’s name came simply from the large number of poplar trees which in olden times, nurtured by the moist riverside soil, were to be seen here. Dr. Woodward, who seems to have been the first to call attention to this now generally accepted derivation of the name, declares that when he wrote in 1720, many of these poplars were still standing ‘as testimonials to the truth of that etymology’.” (Official Guide to the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar, 1927.)

The situation is confusing. The parish of “Poplar” (so named after the many poplar trees that grew there) was on one side of the Thames. In the midst stood an impressive mansion, once bequeathed to Sir Gilbert Dethick (c.1510-1584) by Henry VIII. – However , on the other side of the Thames was built a far more impressive dwelling; Grenwich Palace, also known as “The Manor of Pleasance.” It stood at the bottom-right of the U-shaped dip formed by the southward projection of land which included the ‘Isle of Dogs’ – and the ‘Poplar walls’.

Which side of the river does the woman live on whom Oxford serenades so passionately? At the time in question the Dethick family does not have a beautiful woman to boast of. When Queen Elizabeth looked out of the window of her castle in Greenwich, her gaze fell on the poplar trees of the parish of Poplar. Could it be that, whilst strolling of an evening, her eyes searched for a young man who sometimes moved from one river bank to another, causing him to say:

Thine evening walks by Thames in open wind,
Did long to see my sailing boat arrive.

That is not all. We are allowed to accompany the young poet when he crosses the river in his boat.  In:  “This tenth of March when Aries receiv’d” (No. 40) we find the words:

In pleasant garden (placed all alone)
I saw a Dame who sat in weary wise,
With scalding sighs she uttered all her moan,
The rueful tears down rained from her eyes:
Her lowering head full low on hand she laid,
On knee her arm: and thus this Lady said.
Alas (quod she) behold each pleasant green,
Will now renew his sommers livery,
The fragrant flowers which have not long been seen,
Will florish now (ere long) in bravery …
The lusty
Ver which whilom might exchange
My grief to joy, and then my joy’s increase,
Springs now elsewhere and shows to me but strange...

 

37. Of all the birds that I do know

He wrote (at his friends request) in praise of a Gentlewoman, whose name
was Phillip, as followeth.

Of all the birds that I do know,
Phillip my sparrow hath no peer:
For sit she high or lie she low,
Be she far off, or be she near,
There is no bird so fair, so fine,
Nor yet so fresh as this of mine.

Come in a morning merrily,
When Phillip hath been lately fed,
Or in an evening soberly,
When Phillip list to go to bed:
It is a heaven to hear my Phip,
How she can chirp with cheery lip.

She never wanders far abroad,
But is at hand when I do call:
If I command she lays on load,
With lips, with teeth, with tongue and all.
She chants, she chirps, she makes such cheer,
That I believe she hath no peer.

And yet besides all this good sport,
My Phillip can both sing and dance[40]:
With new found toys of sundry sort,
My Phillip can both prick and prance:
As if you say but fend cut phip[41],
Lord how the peat will turn and skip.

Her feathers are so fresh of hue,
And so well proined every day:
She lacks none oil, I warrant you:
To trim her tail both trick and gay,
And though her mouth be somewhat wide,
Her tongue is sweet and short beside.

And for the rest I dare compare,
She is both tender, sweet and soft:
She never lacketh dainty fare,
But is well fed and feedeth oft:
For if my phip have lust to eat,
I warrant you Phip lacks no meat.

And then if that her meat be good,
And such as like do love alway:
She will lay lips theron by th’ rod [42],
And see that none be cast away:
For when she once hath felt a fit,
Phillip will cry still, yit, yit, yit.

And to tell truth he were to blame,
Which had so fine a bird as she,
To make him all this goodly game,
Without suspect or jealousy:
He were a churl and knew no good,
Would see her faint for lack of food.

Wherefore I sing and ever shall,
To praise as I have often prov'd
There is no bird amongst them all,
So worthy for to be belov'd.
Let other praise what bird they will,
Sweet Phillip shall be my bird still.

                                                            Si fortunatus infoelix.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The author is familiar with two famous poems from Catcull, Carmina 2 and 3 (Sparrow, favorite of my girl and My girl's sparrow is dead), and with the poem Phyllip Sparowe from the Poet laureate and tutor to Prince Henry (later Henry VIII) , John Skelton (c.1460-1529). - The sparrow was generally used as a symbol of wantonness. The „birds“ of Master Fortunatus Infoelix are fun-loving young girls.

 

38. The partridge in the pretty merlin’s foot

Now to begin with another man, take these verses written to be sent with a ring,
wherein were engraved a partridge
in a merlin’s foot.

The partridge in the pretty merlin’s foot,
Who feels her force suppressed with fearfulness,
And finds that strength nor strife can do her boot,
To scape the danger of her deep distress:
These woeful words may seem for to rehearse
Which I must write in this waymenting verse.

What helpth now (sayeth she) Dame Nature’s skill,
To dye my feathers like the dusty ground?
Or what prevails to lend me wings at will
Which in the air can make my body bound?
Since from the earth the dogs me crave perforce,
And now aloft the hawk hath caught my course.

If change of colours could not me convey,
Yet mought my wings have scaped the dogs despite:
And if my wings did fail to fly away,
Yet mought my strength resist the merlin’s might.
But nature made the merlin me to kill,
And me to yield unto the merlin’s will.

My lot is like (dear Dame) believe me well,
The quiet life which I full closely kept,
Was not content in happy state to dwell,
But forth in haste to gaze on thee it leapt.
Desire the dog did spring me up in haste,
Thou wert the hawk, whose talents caught me fast.

What should I then, seek means to fly away?
Or strive by force, to break out of thy feet?
No, no, perdie, I may no strength assay,
To strive with thee iwis, it were not meet.
Thou art that hawk whom nature made to hent me,
And I the bird, that must therewith content me.

And since Dame Nature hath ordained so,
Her happy hest I gladly shall embrace:
I yield my will, although it were to woe,
I stand content to take my grief for grace:
And scale it up within my secret heart,
Which seal receive, as token of my smart[43].

                                                                       Spraeta tamen vivunt.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

This is a reference to the old story of the falcon and the partridge. The merlin catches a partridge and holds her in his talons so that she can keep him warm through the night and that he can let her go the next morning (perhaps). - In his own unique style Oxford writes a variation on the sonnet “Like as the lark within the merlins foot” from Songes and sonettes, 1557 (2nd edition), the first collection of poems from Henry Howards, Earl of Surrey, and Sir William Wyatts.

Like as the lark within the merlin’s foot
With piteous tunes doth chirp her yielden lay:
So sing I now, seeing none other boot,
My rendering song, and to your will obey.
Your vertue mounts above my force so high.
And with your beauty seized I am so sure:
That there avails resistance none in me,
But patiently your pleasure to endure
For on your will my fancy shall attend:
My life, my death, I put both in your choice:
And rather had this life by you to end,
Than live, by other always to rejoice.
And if your cruelty do thirst my blood:
Then let it forth, if it may do you good.

 

39. You must not wonder though you think it strange

To a Dame which challenged the author because he held his head always down, and looked not upon her in his wonted wise.

You must not wonder though you think it strange,
To see me hold my lowering head so low:
And that mine eyes take no delight to range,
About the gleams which on your face do grow.
The mouse which once hath broken out of trap[44],
Is seldom ticed with the trustless bait,
But lies aloof for fear of more mishap,
And feedeth still in doubt of deep deceit.
The scorched fly which once hath scaped the flame,
Will hardly come to play again with fire.
Whereby I learn that grievous is the game
Which follows fancy dazzled by desire.
  So that I wink or else hold down my head,
  Because your blazing eyes my bale have bred.

                                                                             Spraeta tamen vivunt.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

40. This tenth of March when Aries receiv’d

A loving Lady being wounded in the spring time, and now galled eftsoons with the remembrance of the spring, doth therefore thus bewail.

This tenth of March when Aries receiv’d,
Dan Phoebus rays into his horned head:
And I myself by learned lore perceiv'd,
That Ver approached and frosty winter fled:
I crossed the Thames to take the cheerful air,
In open fields, the weather was so fair.

And as I rowed fast by the further shore,
I heard a voice which seemed to lament:
Whereat I stay'd, and by a stately door
I left my boat, and up on land I went:
Till at the last by lasting pain I found,
The woeful wight which made this doleful sound.

In pleasant garden (placed all alone)[45]
I saw a Dame who sat in weary wise,
With scalding sighs she uttered all her moan,
The rueful tears down rained from her eyes:
Her lowering head full low on hand she laid,
On knee her arm: and thus this Lady said.

Alas (quod she) behold each pleasant green,
Will now renew his sommers livery,
The fragrant flowers which have not long been seen,
Will florish now (ere long) in bravery:
The tender buds, whom cold hath long kept in,
Will spring and sprout, as they do now begin.

But I (alas) within whose mourning mind
The grafts of grief are only given to grow,
Cannot enjoy the spring which others find,
But still my will must wither all in woe:
The cold of care so nips my joys at root,
No sun doth shine that well can do them boot.

The lusty Ver which whilom might exchange[46]
My grief to joy, and then my joy’s increase,
Springs now elsewhere and shows to me but strange,
My winters woe therefore can never cease:
In other coasts his sun full clear doth shine,
And comforts lends to ev'ry mould but mine.

What plant can spring that feels no force of Ver?
What flower can florish where no sun doth shine?
These bales (quod she) within my breast I bear,
To break my bark and make my pith to pine:
Needs must I fall, I fade both root and rind,
My branches bow at blast of ev'ry wind.

This said: she cast a glance and spied my face,
By sight whereof, Lord how she changed hue?
So that for shame I turned back apace
And to my home myself in haste I drew:
And as I could her woeful words rehearse,
I set them down in this waymenting verse.

Now Ladies you, that know by whom I sing,
And feel the winter of such frozen wills:
Of courtesy yet cause this noble spring
To send his sun above the highest hills:
And so to shine upon her fading sprays
Which now in woe do wither thus always.

                                                                        Spraeta tamen vivunt.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573 [Spraeta tamen vivunt.]; Thomas Watson, The Tears of Fancie, 1593

On the coming of spring 1572 Eduard de Vere writes a poem which is both a game of hide and seek and a revelation. The Julian calendar was ten days behind the Gregorian calendar, so the official first day of spring was on 10th March according to the Julian calandar, and 20th March according to the Gregorian calendar (introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582). 1572 was a leap year which meant that the first day of spring fell on 10th March. (In the years 1570 and 1571 the first day of spring fell on 11th March.)

Ver, Latin for spring, crosses the Thames in his boat and hears the lament of a young lady, „being wounded in the spring time, and now galled eftsoons with the remembrance of the spring“, because he who made spring so joyful now “springs” elsewhere. – With this, Oxford counteract the eighth sestet of Petrarch „Là ver' l'aurora, che sí dolce l'aura“ („Towards the dawn when the sweet breeze“, Canzoniere, 239). However, in the place of Petrarch's devotional reflection we find that Oxford declares himself to be the immortal irresistible spring and would have the lady sing. - This scenario reminds us of a famous poem from the Earl of Surrey: “When summer took in hand the winter to assail” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 1.5).

There might I see how Ver had every blossom hent,
And eke the new betrothed birds, ycoupled how they went.

Without knowing (?) the identity of the author, George Puttenham criticised this poem with the following words: „His intent was to declare how upon the tenth day of March he crossed the river of Thames, to walke in Saint Georges field, the matter was not great as ye may suppose... First, the whole matter is not worth all this solemne circumstance to describe the tenth day of March, but if he had left at the two first verses, it had bene inough. But when he comes with two other verses to enlarge his description, it is not only more than needes, but also very ridiculous, for he makes wise, as if he had not bene a man learned in some of the mathematickes (by learned lore) that he could not have told that the x. of March had fallen in the spring of the yeare: which every carter, and also every child knoweth without any learning. Then also, when he saith Ver approcht, and frosty winter fled though it were a surplusage (because one season must needes give place to the other) yet doeth it well inough passe without blame in the maker.“ (George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, 1589; p. 216)

 

41. Now have I found the way to weep and wail my fill

The careful lover combered with pleasure[47], thus complaineth.

Now have I found the way to weep and wail my fill,
Now can I end my doleful days and so content my will.
The way to weep enough, for such as list to wail,
Is this: to go aboard ye ship, where pleasure beareth sail.
And there to mark the jests of every joyful wight,
And with what wind and wave they fleet, to nourish their delight.
For as the stricken deer that seeth his fellows feed
Amid the lusty herd (unhurt), and feels himself to bleed
Or as the seely bird that with the bolt is bruised,
And lieth aloof among the leaves, of all her peers refused,
And hears them sing full shrill, yet cannot she rejoice,
Nor frame one warbling note to pass out of her mournful voice:
Even so I find by proof  that pleasure doubleth pain[48]
Unto a wretched wounded heart which doth in woe remain.
I pass where pleasure is, I hear some sing for joy,
I see some laugh, some other dance, in spite of dark annoy.
But out, alas, my mind amends not by their mirth,
I deem all pleasures to be pain that dwell above ye earth.
Such heavy humours feed ye blood that lends me breath,
As merry medcines cannot serve, to keep my corpse from death.

                                                                                                       Spaeta tamen vivunt.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

42. Thy birth, thy beauty, nor thy brave attire

The lover being disdainfully abjected by a dame of high calling, who had chosen (in his place) a play fellow of baser condition: doth therfore determine to step aside, and before his departure giveth her this farewell in verse.

Thy birth, thy beauty, nor thy brave attire,
(Disdainful Dame which doest me double wrong)
Thy high estate which sets thy heart on fire,
Or new found choice which cannot serve thee long
Shall make me dread with pen for to rehearse
Thy skittish deeds in this my parting verse.

For why thou knowst, and I myself can tell,
By many vows how thou to me wert bound:
And how for joy thy heart did seem to swell,
And in delight how thy desires were drowned:
When of thy will the walls I did assail,
Wherin fond fancy fought for mine avail.

And though my mind have small delight to vaunt,
Yet must I vow, my heart to thee was true:
My hand was always able for to daunt
Thy slandrous foes, and keep their tongues in mew.
My head (though dull) was yet of such devise,
As might have kept thy name always in price.

And for the rest my body was not brave,
But able yet of substance to allay
The raging lust, wherein thy limbs did rave,
And quench the coals which kindled thee to play.
Such one I was, and such always will be
For worthy Dames, but then I mean not thee.

For thou hast caught a proper paragon,
A thief, a coward and a peacock fool:
An ass, a milksop and a minion
Which hath none oil thy furious flames to cool,
Such one he is, a fere for thee most fit,
A wandring guest to please thy wavering wit.

A thief I count him for he robs us both,
Thee of thy name, and me of my delight:
A coward is he noted where he goeth,
Since every child is matched to him in might.
And for his pride no more, but mark his plumes,
The which to prink he days and nights consumes.

The rest thyself in secret sort can judge,
He rides not me, thou knowst his saddle best:
And though these tricks of thine mought make me grudge
And kindle wrath in my revenging breast:
Yet of myself, and not to please thy mind,
I stand content my rage in rule to bind.

And far from thee now must I take my flight,
Where tongues may tell, (and I not see) thy fall:
Where I may drink these drugs of thy despite,
To purge my melancholic mind with all.
In secret so my stomack will I sterve,
Wishing thee better than thou doest deserve.

                                                                           Spraeta tamen vivunt.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The rejection of the lady by Spraeta tamen vivunt resembles, in its vehemence and severity, that of Master F[ortunatus]. I[nfoelix] by his lover Mistress Ellinor. The thief, coward and peacock fool, the ass, milksop and minion is reminiscent of the tirade that Master F. I. directed against Ellinor’s dwarf secretary  (“of presumption a giant, of power a gnat, apishly witted, knavishly manner'd, & crabbedly favoured”).

 

43. Much like the seely bird which close in cage is pent

An absent Dame thus complaineth.

Much like the seely bird which close in cage is pent,
So sing I now, not notes of joy, but lays of deep lament.
And as the hooded hawk which hears the partridge spring,
Who though she feel herself fast tied, yet beats her bating wing:
So strive I now to show my feeble forward will,
Although I know my labour lost to hop against the hill.
The drops of dark disdain did never drench my heart,
For well I know I am belov'd, if that might ease my smart.

Ne yet the privy coals of glowing jealousy
Could ever kindle needless fear within my fantasy.
The rigour of repulse doth not renew my plaint,
Nor choice of change doth move my moan, nor force me thus to faint.
Only that pang of pain which passeth all the rest,
And canker-like doth fret the heart within the guiltless breast.
Which is if any be, most like the pangs of death,
That present grief now gripeth me and strives to stop my breath.

When friends in mind may meet, and heart in heart embrace,
And absent yet are fain to plain, for lack of time and place:
Then may I count their love like seed that soon is sown,
Yet lacking drops of heavenly dew with weeds is overgrown.
The greyhound is agriev'd, although he see his game,
If still in slip he must be stayed, when he would chase the same.
So fares it now by me, who know myself belov'd
Of one the best, in each respect, that ever yet was prov'd.

But since my luckless lot forbids me now to taste
The dulcet fruits of my delight, therefore in woes I waste.
And swallow-like I sing, as one enforced so[49],
Since others reap the gainful crop which I with pain did sow.
Yet you that mark my song, excuse my swallow’s voice,
And bear with her unpleasant tunes which cannot well rejoice.
Had I or luck in love, or lease of liberty,
Then should you hear some sweeter notes, so clear my throat would be.

But take it thus in gree, and mark my plainsong well,
No heart feels so much hurt, as that which doth in absence dwell.

                                                                                                           Spraeta tamen vivunt.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

This poetical lament about the separation of lovers is a reference to Surrey’s “Good Ladies, ye that have your pleasures in exile” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 1.19). Oxford, both the cousin and the literary successor of the Earl of Surrey, writes a variation on this rolling poem and chooses, to emphasize his literary stand point, the rumbling poulter’s metre  (alternating between alexandriner and heptameter). - Surrey made a reference to Ovid’s Heroides (2) and Ariost’s “Fuggesi in questo il sonno, né veduto” which Oxford translated. (See, No. 17.)

 

44. Despised things may live, although they pine in pain

This question being propounded by a Dame unto the writer thereof, to wit, why he should write Spraeta tamen vivunt, he answereth thus.

Despised things may live, although they pine in pain:
And things oft trodden under foot may once yet rise again.
The stone that lieth full low may clime at last full high:
And stand aloft on stately tow’rs, in sight of every eye.

The cruel axe which fells the tree that grew full straight:
Is worn with rust, when it renews, and springeth up on height.
The roots of rotten reeds in swelling seas are seen:
And when each tide hath tost his worst, they grow again full green.

Thus much to please myself, unpleasantly I sing
And shriek to ease my mourning mind, in spite of envy’s sting.
I am now set full light, who erst was dearly lov'd:
Some new found choice is more esteemed, than that which well was prov'd.

Some Diomede is crept into Dame Cresside’s heart[50]:
And trusty Troilus now is taught in vain to plain his part.
What resteth then for me? but thus to wade in woe:
And hang in hope of better chance, when change appointeth so.

I see no sight on earth, but it to change inclines:
As little clouds oft overcast the brightest sun that shines.
No flower is so fresh, but frost can it deface:
No man so sure in any seat, but he may lose his place.

So that I stand content (though much against my mind)
To take in worth this loathsome lot which luck to me assigned,
And trust to see the time, when they that now are up,
May feel the whirl of fortunes wheel, and test of sorrows cup.

God knoweth I wish it not, it had been bet for me:
Still to have kept my quiet chair in hap of high degree.
But since without recure, Dame change in love must reign:
I now wish change that sought no change, but constant did remain.

And if such change do chance, I vow to clap my hands,
And laugh at them which laught at me: lo thus my fancy stands.

                                                                                                      Spraeta tamen vivunt.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The subject in question is the return to the favours of a high born lady who had rejected him and with whom he avoided a personal discourse. We find an anology in No. 16: “And if I did what then?”:

And when they stick on sands,
That every man may See
Then will I laugh and clap my hands,
As they do now at me.

 

45. Amid my bale I bath in bliss

                                  A strange passion of another Author.

Amid my bale I bath in bliss,
I swim in heaven, I sink in hell:
I find amends for every miss,
And yet my moan no tongue can tell.
I live and love, what would you more:
As never lover liv'd before.

I laugh sometimes with little lust[51],
So jest I oft and feel no joy:
Mine ease is builded all on trust:
And yet mistrust breeds mine annoy.
I live and lack, I lack and have:
I have and miss the thing I crave.

These things seem strange, yet are they true,
Believe me, sweet, my state is such,
One pleasure which I would eschew,
Both slakes my grief and breeds my grutch.
So doth one pain which I would shun,
Renew my joys where grief begun.

Then like the lark that passed the night.
In heavy sleep with cares opprest:
Yet when she spies the pleasant light,
She sends sweet notes from out her breast.
So sing I now because I think
How joys approach, when sorrows shrink.

And as fair Philomene again
Can watch and sing when other sleep[52]:
And taketh pleasure in her pain,
To wray the woe that makes her weep.
So sing I now for to bewray
The loathsome life I lead alway.

The which to thee (dear wench) I write,
That know'st my mirth, but not my moan:
I pray God grant thee deep delight,
To live in joys when I am gone.
I cannot live, it will not be:
I die to think to part from thee[53].

                                                           Ferenda Natura.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Oxford signs with “Ferenda Natura” to indicate a reference to Queen Elizabeth in his poem. Elizabeth had been called “Ferenda Natura” or “The nature that must be endured” among others by George Gascoigne (Flowres V, Dan Bartholmew of Bathe) and Walter Raleigh. (See, Stephen Hamrick: The Catholic imaginary and the cults of Elizabeth, 1558-1582. Farnham 2009). - See, 3.2.1 Ferenda Natura.

In order to emphasise the connection, Oxford quotes from Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale: „His herte bathed in a bath of utter blisse“. - This often-used quote has its own special characteristic. The story is told by the Wife of Bath but it is actually about a Knight whose life is in danger. He is given a year to find out what women really want more than anything else. Shortly before his time is up an ugly old woman revealed the answer to him: What women really want most is sovereignty over their husbands. The Knight has to marry the old lady because she saved his life. In their marriage bed, the knight confesses that he is unhappy because she is ugly and low-born. She tells him that he can choose between her being ugly and faithful or beautiful and unfaithful. He leaves the choice up to her ; pleased with the mastery of her husband, she becomes fair and good (young, beautiful and faithful). “And whan the knyght saugh verraily al this,/ That she so fair was, and so yong therto,/ For joye he hente hire in his armes two./ His herte bathed in a bath of blisse“. - The purpose of this Chaucer quote, with reference to the Queen is to emphasise that the lover has found a woman who is both beautiful and good.

In the fifth chapter of the Flowres (“Certain devises of master Gascoigne”) George Gascoigne, in his own rather rough style, writes a revocation (or “Recantation”) of  “Amid my bale I bath in bliss”, whereby he claims authorship for himself. “Gascoine's Recantation”, however, is no match for the elegance of the lines that he revoked.

Now must I needs recant the words which once I spoke,
Fond fancy fumes so nigh my nose, I needs must smell the smoke:
And better were to bear a faggot from the fire,
Than willfully to burn and blaze in flames of vain desire.
(…)
I say then and profess, with free and faithfull heart,
That women’s vows are nothing else but snares of secret smart:
Their beauties’ blaze are baits which seem of pleasant taste,
But who devours the hidden hook, eats poison for repast:
Their smiling is deceit, their fair words train of treason,
Their wit always so full of wiles, it scorneth rules of reason.
Percase some present here have heard myself of yore
Both teach and preach the contrary, my fault was then the more:
(…)
Mine eyes so blinded were, (good people marke my tale)
That once I song, I bath in bliss amid my weary bale:
And many a frantic verse then from my pen did pass,
In waves of wicked heresy, so deep I drowned was.
All which I now recant, and here before you burn
Those trifling books, from whose lewd lore my tippet here I turn.
And henceforth will I write, how mad is that man’s mind,
Which is enticed by any train to trust in womankind.

 

46. The straightest tree that grows upon one only root

The Lover leaning only to his Lady’s promises, and finding them to fail,
doth thus lament.

The straightest tree that grows upon one only root:
If that root fail, will quickly fade, no props can do it boot.
I am that fading plant which on thy grace did grow,
Thy grace is gone wherefore I moan and wither all in woe.

The tallest ship that sails, if she to ancors trust:
When ancors slip and cables break, her help lies in the dust.
I am the ship myself, mine ancor was thy faith:
Which now is fled, thy promise broke, and I am driven to death.

Who climbeth oft on high, and trusts the rotten bough[54]:
If that bough break may catch a fall, such state stand I in now.
Me thought I was aloft, and yet my seat full sure:
Thy heart did seem to me a rock which ever might endure.

And see, it was but sand, whole seas of subtlety:
Have soaked so with wanton waves, that faith was forced to fly.
The floods of fickleness have undermined so
The first foundation of my joy, that mirth is ebb'd to woe.

Yet at low water marks, I lie and wait my time:
To mend the breach, but all in vain, it cannot pass the prime.
For when the prime flood comes, which all this rage begun:
Then waves of will do work so fast, my piles are overrun.

Duty and diligence which are my workmen there,
Are glad to take up tools in haste, and run away for fear.
For fancy hath such force, it overfloweth all,
And whispring tales do blow the blasts, that make it rise and fall.

Thus in these tempests tost, my restless life doth stand:
Because I builded on thy words, as I was borne in hand.
Thou wert that only stake, whereby I meant to stay:
Alas, alas, thou stoodst so weak, the hedge is borne away.

By thee I thought to live, by thee now must I die:
I made thee my physician, thou art my malady.
For thee I long’d to live, for thee now welcome death:

And welcome be that happy pang, that stops my gasping breath.
Twice happy were that axe would cut my roots down right:
And sacred were that swelling sea which would consume me quite.

Bless’d were that bough would break to bring down climbing youth,
Which cracks aloft and quakes full oft, for fear of thine untruth.

                                                                                                          Ferenda Natura.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The poet, alias “Ferenda Natura” (See, No. 45) offers an arsenal of images so as to (by means of positive warfare) turn his loved one’s infidelity around to tame devotion. The fact that Queen Elizabeth is the addressee is not even thinly disguised.

 

47. That self same tongue which first did thee entreat

The constancy of a lover hath thus sometimes been briefly declared.

That self same tongue which first did thee entreat
To link thy liking with my lucky love:
That trusty tongue must now these words repeat,
I love thee still, my fancy cannot move.
That dreadless heart which durst attempt the thought
To win thy will with mine for to consent,
Maintains that vow which love in me first wrought,
I love thee still, and never shall repent.
That happy hand which hardely did touch,
Thy tender body to my deep delight:
Shall serve with sword to prove my passion such
As loves thee still, much more than it can write.
  Thus love I still with tongue, hand, heart and all,
  And when I change, let vengeance on me fall.

                                                                                 Ferenda Natura.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen  [Ferenda Natura.]; Ms. Rawl. poet. 172, fol. 6r

The author impliments the device of “vers rapportés”, meaning he presents three images syntactically parallel to each other and brings them to a common conclusion. This resembles the “correlative sonnet”, like Étienne Jodelle (1532-1573) used to present it. ( See, Ètienne Jodelle, Les Œuvres et Mélanges poétiques, Paris, 1574). - With the choice of the pseudonym “Ferenda natura”, Oxford is obviously attempting to establish a connection to the Queen (who was also called “Ferenda natura”). See, No. 45: “Amid my bale I bath in bliss.”

There are six pages of small handwriting in the Bodelian Library (Oxford) which have been shamefully neglected by the established researching bodies: Ms. Rawl. poet. 172, fol. 2r-7v. This work seems to be from the period between 1586  and 1590. As well as lyric from Wyatt, Gascoigne, Peele, Sidney, Southwell and Tichborne, it also contains six poems from Oxford. (Nos. 47 / 58 / 83 / 86 / 95 / 96).

 

48. Desire of fame would force my feeble skill

Now I must desire you with patience to hearken unto the works of another writer,
who though he may not compare with the rest passed, yet such things as
he wrote upon sundry occasions, I will rehearse, beginning
with this praise of a Countess.

Desire of fame would force my feeble skill,
To praise a Countess by her due desert:
But dread of blame holds back my forward will,
And quenched the coals which kindled in my heart.
Thus am I plunged tween dread and deep desire,
To pay the due which duty doth require.

And when I call the mighty gods in aid
To further forth some fine invention:
My bashful spirits be full ill afraid
To purchase pain by my presumption.
Such malice reigns (sometimes) in heavenly minds[55],
To punish him that praiseth as he finds.

For Pallas first, whose filed flowing skill,
Should guide my pen some pleasant words to write,
With angry mood hath fram'd a froward will,
To dash devise as oft as I indite.
For why? if once my Lady’s gifts were known,
Pallas should lose the praises of her own.

And bloody Mars by change of his delight
Hath made Joves daughter now mine enemy:
In whose conceit my Countess shines so bright,
That Venus pines for burning jealousy:
She may go home to Vulcan now again,
For Mars is sworn to be my Lady’s swain.

Of her bright beams Dan Phoebus stands in dread,
And shames to shine within our horizon:
Dame Cynthia holds in her horned head,
For fear to lose by like comparison:
Lo thus she lives, and laughs them all to scorn,
Countess on earth, in heaven a goddess born.

And I sometimes her servant, now her friend,
Whom heaven and earth for her (thus) hate and blame:
Have yet presumed in friendly wise to spend,
This ragged verse, in honour of her name;
A simple gift compared by the skill,
Yet what may seem so dear as such good will.

                                                                            Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Mars is in love with the “Countess”, Venus is jealous of her, Phoebus is envious of her powerful light and Cynthia (the moon goddess) fearfully hides the celestial sickle from her. This is obviously a reference to Queen Elizabeth to whom the name Cynthia was also given affectionately by her contemporaries.

 

49. When first I thee beheld in colours black and white

The lover declareth his affection, together with the cause thereof.

When first I thee beheld in colours black and white,
Thy face in form well framed with favour blooming still:
My burning breast in cares did choose his chief delight,
With pen to paint thy praise, contrary to my skill:
Whose worthiness compar'd with this my rude devise,
I blush and am abashed, this work to enterprise.

But when I call to mind thy sundry gifts of grace,
Full fraught with manners meek in happy quiet mind:
My hasty hand forthwith doth scribble on apace,
Least willing heart might think, it meant to come behind:
Thus do both hand and heart these careful metres use,
Twixt hope and trembling fear, my duty to excuse.

Wherefore accept these lines, and banish dark disdain,
Be sure they come from one that loveth thee in chief:
And guerdon me thy friend in like with love again,
So shalt thou well be sure to yield me such relief,
As only may redress my sorrows and my smart:
For proof whereof I pledge (dear Dame) to thee my heart.

                                                                                            Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The colours “black and white” and the choice of the “careful metres” indicate that the poem was addressed to Queen Elizabeth  (See, John Grange, The Golden Aphroditis, 1577: “For, as I have heard some say, these colours pretended virginity unto death.”)

 

50. If ever man yet found the bath of perfect bliss

Another shorter discourse to the same effect.

If ever man yet found the bath of perfect bliss[56],
Then swim I now amid the sea where nought but pleasure is.
I love and am beloved (without vaunt be it told)
Of one more fair than she of Grece for whom proud Troy was sold,
As bountiful and good as Cleopátra Queen:
As constant as Penelope unto her make was seen.
What would you more? my pen unable is to write
The least desert[57] that seems to shine within this worthy wight.
So that for now I cease, with hands held up on high,
And crave of God that when I change, I may be forced to die.

                                                                                          Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

George Gascoigne, the co-author of the Flowres, claims authorship of this poem in the Posies (1575), giving it the title Dan Bartholmewes his third Triumphe, thereby verifying that Oxford's poem was intended for Elizabeth. (Using the nom de plume “Dan Bartholmew” Gasgoigne describes his own successes and failures concerning Queen Elizabeth alias “Ferenda Natura”. – See 3.2.1 Ferenda Natura.)

 

51. The deadly drops of dark disdain

The dole of disdain, written by a lover disdainfully rejected

contrary to former promise.

The deadly drops of dark disdain[58],
Which daily fall on my desert,
The lingering suit long spent in vain,
Whereof I feel no fruit but smart:
Enforce me now this words to write:
Not all for love but more for spite.

The which to thee I must rehearse,
Whom I did honour, serve and trust,
And though the music of my verse
Be plainsong tune both true and just:
Content thee yet to hear my song,
For else thou doest me double wrong.

I must allege, and thou canst tell
How faithfully I vowed to serve,
And how thou seemst to like me well:
And how thou saidst I did deserve
To be thy Lord, thy Knight, thy King.
And how much more I list not sing.

And canst thou now (thou cruel one)
Condemn desert to deep despair?
Is all thy promise past and gone?
Is faith so fled into the air?
If that be so, what rests for me?
But thus in song to say to thee.

If Cresside’s name were not so known
And written wide on every wall:
If bruit of pride were not so blown
Upon Angelica withall:
For haught disdain thou mightst be she,
Or Cresside for inconstancy.

And in reward of thy desert,
I hope at last to see thee paid
With deep repentance for thy part,
Which thou hast now so lewdly play’d.
Medoro he must be thy make,
Since thou Orlando doest forsake.

Such is the fruit that growth always
Upon the root of ripe disdain:
Such kindly wages Cupid pays,
Where constant hearts cannot remain.
I hope to see thee in such bands,
When I may laugh and clap my hands.

But yet for thee I must protest
That sure the fault is none of thine,
Thou art as true as is the best
That ever came of Cresside’s line:
For constant yet was never none,
But in unconstancy alone.

                                             Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The theory that this is a veiled reference to Queen Elizabeth cannot be dismissed. Even though she is not the poem’s addressee, it contains a message for her. - The dark and ironical nature of “The deadly drops of dark disdain” is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 150 written to the “Dark Lady”:

O from what power hast thou this powerful might,
With insufficiency my heart to sway,
To make me give the lie to my true sight,
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day?

 

52. Both deep and dreadful were the seas

An absent lover (parted from his Lady by sea) thus complaineth.

Both deep and dreadful were the seas
Which held Leander from his love,
Yet could no doubts his mind appease,
Nor save his life for her behove:
But guiltless blood itself would spill,
To please the waves and work his will.

O greedy gulf,  O wretched waves,
O cruel floods, O sink of shames,
You hold true lovers bound like slaves,
And keep them from their worthy dames:
Your open mouth gapes evermore,
Till one or both be drowned therefore.

For proof whereof myself may sing,
And shriek to pierce the lofty skies,
Whose Lady left me languishing
Upon the shore in woeful wise,
And crossed the seas out of my sight,
Whereby I lost my chief delight.

She said that no such trustless flood,
Should keep our loves (long time) in twain:
She sware no bread should do her good,
Till she might see myself again.
She said and swore these words and mo,
But now I find them nothing so.

What resteth then for me to do,
Thou salt sea foam come say thy mind?
Should I come drown within thee too,
That am of true Leanders kind?
And headlong cast this corpse of mine
Into those greedy guts of thine?

No cruel, but in spite of thee,
I will make seas where erst were none,
My tears shall flow in full degree,
Till all my mirth may ebb to moan.
Into such drops I mean to melt,
And in such seas myself to swelt.

                       L’envoy.

Yet you dear Dame for whom I fade,
Thus starving still in wretched state:
Remember once your promise made,
Perform it now though all too late.
Come home to Mars who may you please,
Let Vulcan bide beyond the seas[59].

                                                                      Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Ovid tells the story of Hero and Leander in Heroides (18/19). See, The heroycall epistles of the learned poet Publius Ovidius Naso, in English verse set out and translated by George Turbervile, London, 1567.

 

53. Give me my lute in bed now as I lie

A Lady being both wronged by false suspect, and also wounded by the durance of her husband, doth thus bewray her grief.

Give me my lute in bed now as I lie,
And lock the doors of mine unlucky bower:
So shall my voice in mournful verse descry
The secret smart which causeth me to lower:
Resound you walls an echo to my moan,
And thou, cold bed wherein I lie alone,
Bear witness yet what rest thy Lady takes,
When other sleep which may enjoy their makes.

In prime of youth when Cupid kindled fire,
And warmed my will with flames of fervent love:
To further forth the fruit of my desire,
My friends devised this mean for my behove.
They made a match according to my mind,
And cast a snare my fancy for to blind:
Short tale to make: the deed was almost done,
Before I knew which way the work begun.

And with this lot I did myself content,
I lent a liking to my parents’ choice:
With hand and heart I gave my free consent,
And hung in hope for ever to rejoice.
I liv'd and lov'd long time in greater joy
Than she which held King Priam’s son of Troy[60]:
But three lewd lots have chang'd my heaven to hell
And those be these, give ear and mark them well.

First slander he which always beareth hate,
To happy hearts in heavenly state that bide:
Gan play his part to stir up some debate,
Whereby suspect into my choice might glide.
And by his means the slime of false suspect,
Did (as I fear) my dearest friend infect.
Thus by these twain long was I plunged in pain,
Yet in good hope my heart did still remain.

But now (ay me) the greatest grief of all,
(Sound loud my lute, and tell it out my tongue)
The hardest hap that ever might befall,
The only cause wherefore this song is song,
Is this alas: my love, my Lord, my Roy,
My chosen fere, my gem, and all my joy,
Is kept perforce out of my daily sight,
Whereby I lack the stay of my delight.

In lofty walls, in strong and stately towers,
(With troubled mind in solitary sort,)
My lovely Lord doth spend his days and hours,
A weary life devoid of all disport.
And I poor soul must lie here all alone,
To tire my truth, and wound my will with moan:
Such is my hap to shake my blooming time,
With winters blasts before it pass the prime.

Now have you heard the sum of all my grief,
Whereof to tell my heart (O) rends in twain:
Good Ladies, yet lend you me some relief[61],
And bear a part to ease me of my pain.
My sorts are such, that weighing well my truth,
They might provoke the craggy rocks to ruth,
And move these walls with tears for to lament,
The loathsome life wherein my youth is spent.

But thou my lute, be still, now take thy rest,
Repose thy bones upon this bed of down:
Thou hast discharg’d some burden from my breast,
Wherefore take thou my place, here lie thee down.
And let me walk to tire my restless mind,
Untill I may entreat some courteous wind
To blow these words unto my noble make,
That he may see I sorrow for his sake.

                                                                     Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

A role-playing poem whereby a woman complains about the absence of her lover (See, No. 43) reminiscent of Surrey’s famous lament: “O happy dames that may embrace” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 1.17), whereby a lady in waiting also addresses herself to the other ladies of the court.

 

54. Of all the letters in the crist-cross-row

Either a needless or a bootless comparison between two letters.

Of all the letters in the crist-cross-row,
I fear (my sweet) thou lovest B. the best[62],
And though there be good letters many mo,
As A.O.G.N.C.S. and the rest[63]
Yet such a liking bearest thou to B.
That few or none thou thinkest like it to be.

And much I muse what madness should thee move,
To set the cart before the comely horse:
Must A. give place to B. for his behove?
Are letters now so changed from their course?
Then must I learn (though much unto my pain,)
To read (a new) my crist-cross-row again.

When I first learned, A. was in high degree,
A captain letter, and a vowel too:
Such one as was always a help to B,
And lent him sound and taught him what to do.
For take away the vowels from their place,
And how can then the consonants have grace?

Yet if thou like a consonant so well,
Why should not G. seem better far than B?
G. spelleth God, that high in heaven doth dwell,
So spell we God and all good things with G.
B. serves to spell bold, bawdy, brainsick, bold,
Black, brown, and bad, yea worse than may be told.

In song, the G. cliff keeps the highest place,
Where B. sounds always (or too sharp or) flat:
In G. sol, re, ut: trebles have trim grace,
B. serves the base and is content with that.
Believe me (sweet) G. giveth sound full sweet,
When B. cries buzz, as is for bases meet.

But now percase thou wilt one G. permit,
And with that G. thou meanest B. to join:
Alas, alas, me thinks, it were not fit,
(To cloak thy fault) such fine excuse to coin.
Take double G. for thy most loving letter,
And cast off B. for it deserves no better.

Thus have I played a little with thy B.
Whereof the brand is thine, and mine the blame:
The wight which wounds thy wandring will is he,
And I the man that seek to salve thy name:
The which to think, doth make me sigh sometime,
Though thus I strive to jest it out in rhyme.

                                                                        Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

So as to once more lead the reader up the garden path, Oxford slips in to the role of his co-author George Gascoigne. Using the pen name:“G. G.” he teases a rival of Gascoigne who’s initials are: “B. G.”  This joke may well have been aimed at Barnabe Googe (1540-1594), a literary rival, though otherwise a friend of Gascoigne. (See, No. 32.)

 

55. Content thyself with patience perforce

An absent lover doth thus encourage his Lady to continue constant.

Content thyself with patience perforce:
And quench no love with drops of dark mistrust[64]:
Let absence have no power to divorce
Thy faithful friend which meaneth to be just.
Bear but a while thy constance to declare,
For when I come one inch shall break no square.

I must confess that promise did me bind,
For to have seen thy seemly self ere now:
And if thou knewst what griefs did galled my mind,
Because I could not keep that faithful vow,
My just excuse, I can myself assure,
With little pain thy pardon might procure.

But call to mind how long Ulysses was,
In lingering absence from his loving make:
And how she deigned then her days to pass,
In solitary silence for his sake.
Be thou a true Penelope to me[65],
And thou shalt soon thine own Ulysses see.

What said I? soon? yea soon I say again,
I will come soon and sooner if I may:
Believe me now it is a pinching pain
To think of love, when lovers are away.
Such thoughts I have, and when I think on thee,
My thoughts are there, whereas my bones would be[66].

The longing lust which Priam’s son of Troy[67],
Had for to see his Cresside come again:
Could not exceed the depth of mine annoy,
Nor seem to pass the pattern of my pain.
I freeze in hope, I thaw in hot desire[68],
Far from the flame, and yet I burn like fire.

Wherefore dear friend, think on the pleasures past.
And let my tears for both our pains suffice:
The lingering joys, when as they come at last,
Are bet then those which pass in posting wise.
And I myself, to prove this tale is true,
In haste, post haste, thy comfort will renew[69].

                                                                            Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

56. Receive you worthy Dame this rude and ragged verse

A letter devised for a young lover.

Receive you worthy Dame this rude and ragged verse,
Lend willing ear unto the tale which I shall now rehearse.
And though my witless words might move you for to smile,
Yet trust to that which I shall tell, and never mark my stile.
Amongst five hundreth Dames presented to my view[70],
I find most cause by due desert to like the best of you.
I see your beauty such as seemeth to suffice,
To bind my heart in links of love by judgement of mine eyes.
And but your bounty quench the coals of quick desire,
I fear that face of yours will set ten thousand hearts on fire.
But bounty so abounds above all my desert,
As that I quake and shrink for fear to show you of my smart.
Yet since mine eye made choice, my heart shall not repent,
But yield itself unto your will, and therewith stand content.
God knowth I am not great, my power it is not much,
The greater glory shall you gain to show your favour such.
And what I am or have, all that I yield to you,
My hand and sword shall serve always to prove my tongue is true.
Then take me for your own, and so I will be still,
Believe me now, I make this vow in hope of your good will.
Which if I may obtain, God leave me when I change,
This is the tale I meant to tell, good Lady be not strange.

                                                                                           Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Feigning to provide instructions for the composition of a love poem, the author makes fun of the very idea of writing such poems. We are reminded of Love’s Labours Lost, IV/2: “If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?”  The literary style of the courtiers is ridiculed.

 

57. This Apuleius was in Afric born

Three sonnets in sequence, written upon this occasion. The deviser hereof amongst other friends had named a gentlewoman his Bersabe[71], and she was content to call him her David. The man presented his Lady with a book of the Golden Ass[72], written by Lucius Apuleius, and in the beginning of the book wrote this sequence. You must confer it with the history of Apuleius, for else it will have small grace.

This Apuleius was in Afric born,
And took delight to travel Thessaly,
As one that held his native soil in scorn,
In foreign coasts to feed his fantasy.
And such again as wandring wits find out,
This younker won by will and weary toil,
A youth misspent, a doting age in doubt,
A body bruised with many a beastly broil,
A present pleasure passing on a pace,
And painting plain the path of penitence,
A frolic favour foild with foul disgrace,
When hoary hairs should claim their reverence.
  Such is the fruit that grows on gadding trees,
  Such kind of mell most moveth busy bees.
                                                                    For Lucius he,
Esteeming more one ounce of present sport
Than elders do a pound of perfect wit:
First to the bower of beauty doth resort,
And there in pleasure passed many a fit,
His worthy race he (reckless) doth forget,
With small regard in great affairs he reels,
No counsel grave, nor good advice can set
His brains in brake[73] that whirled still on wheels.
For if Byrrhena could have held him back[74],
From Venus’ court where he now nousled was,
His lusty limbs had never found the lack
Of manly shape: the figure of an ass,
  Had not been blazed on his blood and bones,
  To wound his will with torments all at once.
                                                                    But Photis she,
Who saw this Lording whittled with the cup
Of vain delight, whereof he gan to taste:
Poured out apace, and filled the mazer up[75]
With drunken dole: yea after that in haste,
She greased this guest with sauce of sorcery,
And fed his mind with knacks both quaint and strange:
Lo here the treason and the treachery
Of gadding girls, when they delight to range.
For Lucius thinking to become a fowl,
Became a fool, yea more than that, an ass,
A bobbing block, a beating stock, an owl,
Well wondred at in place where he did pass:
  And spent his time, his travail and his cost,
  To purchase pain and all his labour lost.
                                                                Yet I poor I [76],
Who make of thee my Photis and my friend,
In like delight my youthful years to spend:
Do hope thou wilt from such sour sauce defend,

                                                                        David thy King.

                                                                                                   Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Together with “Of thee dear Dame, three lessons would I learn” (No. 4) is this the first narrative sonnet sequence (made up of three sonnets: terza sequenza) in the English language (See, Dante, Vita Nuova, XIX and XXXI).

 

58. A Lady once did ask of me

A riddle.

A Lady once did ask of me,
This pretty thing in privity:
Good sir (quod she) fain would I crave,
One thing which you yourself not have:
Nor never had yet in times past,
Nor never shall while life doth last.
And if you seek to find it out,
You lose your labour out of doubt:
Yet if you love me as you say,
Then give it me, for sure you may.

                                                                           Meritum petere grave.

Source: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen  [Ferenda Natura.]; Ms. Rawl. poet. 172, fol. 3v

These lines were introduced as deliberately trivial chit chat between No. 56 (Receive you worthy Dame) and No. 59 (The cruel hate which boils) so as to distract from the connection between the two poems. - The riddle is a variation of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s  A riddle ot a gift given by a Lady:

A Lady gave me a gift she had not,
And I received her gift which I took not,
She gave it me willingly, and yet she would not,
And I received it, albeit, I could not,
If she give it me, I force not,
And if she take it again she cares not.
Conster what this is and tell not,
For I am fast sworn I may not.

(In a copy of Songes and sonettes, 1587  we find the hand written note: “I think it is a kysse”. See, Tottel’s Miscellany (1557-1587), ed. Hyder E. Rollins, Cambridge 1965.)

 

59. The cruel hate which boils within thy burning breast

To a Gentlewoman, who blamed him for writing his friendly advice in verse unto another lover of hers.

The cruel hate which boils within thy burning breast
And seeks to shape a sharp revenge on them that love thee best:
May warn all faithful friends in case of jeopardy,
How they shall put their harmless hands between the bark and tree.
And I among the rest which wrote this weary song[77],
Must needs allege in my defence that thou hast done me wrong.
For if in simple verse I chanc'd to touch thy name,
And touched the same without reproach, was I therefore to blame?
And if (of great good will) I gave my best advice,
Then thus to blame without cause why, me thinks thou art not wise.
Amongst old written tales this one I bear in mind[78],
A simple soul much like myself did once a serpent find.
Which (almost dead for cold) lay moiling in the mire,
When he for pity took it up and brought it to the fire.
No sooner was the snake recured of her grief,
But straight she sought to hurt the man that lent her such relief.
Such serpent seemest thou, such simple soul am I,
That for the weight of my good will am blam'd without cause why.
But as it best beseems the harmless gentle heart,
Rather to take an open wrong than for to plain his part:
  I must and will endure thy spite without repent,
  The blame is mine, the triumph thine, and I am well content.

                                                                                                 Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

 

60. If what you want, you (wanton) had at will

                                 An uncourteous farewell to an inconstant Dame.

If what you want, you (wanton) had at will,
A steadfast mind, a faithful loving heart:
If what you speak you would perform it still,
If from your word your deed did not revert:
If youthful years your thoughts did not so rule,
As elder days may scorn your friendship frail,
Your doubled fancy would not thus recoil
For peevish pride which now I must bewail.
For Cresside fair did Troilus never love
More dear than I esteemed your framed cheer,
Whose wavering ways (since now I do them prove)
By true report this witness with me bear:
  That if your friendship be not too dear bought,
  The prize is great that nothing gives for nought.

                                                                             Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

Had Queen Elizabeth thought that this poem was directed at her, she may well have been angered. - Oxford’s repeated identification with Troilus is reminiscent of John Marston’s satirical play Histriomastix that was premiered in 1599 and printed in 1610. In Marston’s play Troilus says to Cressida:

Come, Cressida, my Cresset light,
Thy face doth shine both day and night;
Behold behold, thy garter blue,
Thy knight his valiant elbow wears, 
That when he shakes his furious Speare
The foe in shivering fearful sort
May lay him down in death to snort.

With this image of Troilus brandishing the furious spear, Marston was obviously referring to Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida . The “garter blue” is the colour of the actual garter that the knights of the garter wear. Although Oxford (alias Shake-speare) dearly wished to be a knight of the garter, this honour was never bestowed on him.

 

61. I that my race of youthful years had run

A lover often warmed, and once again droven into fantastical flames by the chase of company, doth thus bewail his misfortunes.

I that my race of youthful years had run,
Always untied, and not (but once) in thrall,
Even I which had the fields of freedom won,
And liv'd at large and played with pleasure ball:
Lo now at last am tane again and taught,
To taste such sorrows, as I never sought.

I love, I love, alas I love in deed,
I cry alas but no man pities me:
My wounds are wide, yet seem they not to bleed,
And hidden wounds are hardly healed we see.
Such is my luck to catch a sudden clap
Of great mischance in seeking my good hap.

My mourning mind, which dwelt and died in dole,
Sought company for solace of the same:
My cares were cold, and craved comfort’s coal,
To warm my will with flakes of friendly flame.
I sought and found, I crav'd and did obtain,
I won my wish, and yet I got no gain.

For whiles I sought the cheer of company,
Fair fellowship did wonted woes revive:
And craving medcine for my malady,
Dame Pleasure’s plasters prov'd a corrosive.
So that by mirth, I reaped no fruit but moan,
Much worse I fear than when I was alone.

The cause is this, my lot did light too late,
The birds were flown before I found the nest:
The steed was stoln before I shut the gate,
The cates consumed, before I smelt the feast.
And I fond fool with empty hand must call
The gorged hawk which likes no lure at all.

Thus still I toil to till the barren land,
And grope for grapes among the bramble briers:
I strive to sail and yet I stick on sand,
I deem to live, yet drown in deep desires.
These lots of love are fit for wanton will,
Which finds too much, yet must be seeking still.

                                                                              Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

The fantastical object of the poet’s adoration is like the bird who got away, the horse that was stolen, the tasty meat that has already been eaten, the well fed falcon who refuses to hunt.

 

62. When I record within my musing mind

The lover encouraged by former examples, determineth
to make virtue of necessity.

When I record within my musing mind,
The noble names of wights bewitched in love:
Such solace for myself therein I find,
As nothing may my fixed fancy move:
But patiently I will endure my woe,
Because I see the heavens ordain it so.

For whiles I read and rifle their estates,
In every tale I note mine own annoy:
But whiles I mark the meanings of their mates,
I seem to swim in such a sugared joy[79],
As did (percase) entice them to delight,
Though turned at last to drugs of sour despite.

Peruse (who list) Dan David’s perfect deeds,
There shall he find the blot of Bersabe,
Whereon to think my heavy heart it bleeds,
When I compare my love like her to be:
Uriah’s wife before mine eyes that shines,
And David I, from duty that declines[80].

Then Salomon this princely prophet’s son,
Did Pharaos’ daughter make him fall or no?
Yes, yes, perdie his wisdom could not shun
Her subtil snares nor from her counsel go.
I nam (as he) the wisest wight of all,
But well I wot, a woman holds me thrall.

So am I like the proud Assirian knight,
Which blasphem'd God, and all the world defied:
Yet could a woman overcome his might
And daunt his force in all his pomp and pride.
I Holofern, am dronken brought to bed,
My love like Judith, cutting of my head[81].

If I were strong, as some have made account,
Whose force is like to that which Sampson had?
If I be bold, whose courage can surmount
The heart of Hercules which nothing dread?
Yet Delilah, and Deianira’s love[82]
Did teach them both such pangs as I must prove.

Well let these pass, and think on Naso’s name[83],
Whose skillful verse did flow in learned stile:
Did he (think you) not dote upon his Dame?
Corinna fair, did she not him beguile?
Yes God he knows, for verse nor pleasant rhymes
Can constant keep the key of Cresside’s crimes.

So that to end my tale as I began,
I see the good, the wise, the stout, the bold:
The strongest champion and the learnedst man
Have been and be  by lust of love controld.
Which when I think, I hold me well content
To live in love, and never to repent.

                                                                      Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

One of Oxford’s exaggerated, ironical laments. – See, No. 75.

 

63. L'Escü d'amour, the shield of perfect love

The absent lover (in ciphers) deciphering his name[84], doth crave some speedy relief as followeth.

L'Escü d'amour, the shield of perfect love,
The shield of love, the force of steadfast faith,
The force of faith which never will remove,
But standeth fast to bide the brunts of death:
That trusty targe hath long borne off the blows,
And broke the thrusts which absence at me throws.

In doleful days I lead an absent life
And wound my will with many a weary thought:
I plead for peace, yet starve in storms of strife,
I find debate where quiet rest was sought.
These pangs with mo unto my pain I prove,
Yet bear I all upon my shield of love.

In colder cares are my conceits consumed
Than Dido felt when false Eneas fled:
In far more heat than trusty Troilus fumed
When crafty Cresside dwelt with Diomed:
My hope such frost, my hot desire such flame[85],
That I both freeze and smoulder in the same.

So that I live and die in one degree,
Healed by hope and hurt again with dread:
Fast bound by faith when fancy would be free,
Untied by trust, though thoughts enthrall my head:
Reviv'd by joys when hope doth most abound,
And yet with grief in depth of dolours drownd.

In these assaults I feel my feebled force
Begins to faint, thus wearied still in woes:
And scarcely can my thus consumed course
Hold up this buckler to bear of these blows:
So that I crave, or presence for relief,
Or some supply to ease mine absent grief.

                         L’envoy.

To you (dear Dame) this doleful plaint I make,
Whose only sight may soon redress my smart:
Then show yourself, and for your servants sake,
Make haste post haste to help a faithful heart:
Mine own poor shield hath me defended long,
Now lend me yours, for else you do me wrong.

                                                                               Meritum petere grave.

Source. A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. IV, Divers excellent Devises of sundry Gentlemen, 1573

In this final poem Eduard de Vere reveals his identity; albeit in the form of a coded message. – See also, 5.0 Introduction.

In the age of chivalry, the knights would regard their ladies as being the overseers of their virtue and honour without necessarily having a close relationship, it was a “pure” form of love. A knight’s lady was often as important an inspiration as his religion or his allegiance to his king. Several knights had portraits of their ladies painted on to the inside of  their shields, along with depictions of Amor or other symbols of Love. Such a shield was termed: “L'Escue d'amour”. - Oxford uses the „shield of perfect love“ for his central theme, taking the concept from two epics: the French Lancelot–Grail or Prose Lancelot (13th century) and Boiardo’s Orlando Inamorato (1495) Book 1, Canto 26.

In the Lancelot-Grail Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, gives Queen Guinevere a magical split shield. One half of the shield depicted a knight and woman kissing, but their lips not touching one another because of the split in the shield. Once Lancelot and Guinevere consummate their passion, the shield will be made whole. Viviane’s message is as follows: “la plus sage pucele qui orendroit vive ... vous mande que vous gardés cest escu por amor de li et de’autrui que vous plus amés, et si vous mande que ele est la pucele du monde qui plus seit de vos pensés et plus s’i acorde, que ele aime chou que vous amés.” (The wisest woman alive today requests you to accept this shield thus bringing happiness to both her and to another whom you love even more- she says that she knows your inner thoughts better than any person in the world, and that she loves him whom you love.) On inspecting the shield, Guenevere saw that the man in the picture, he that could join the two halves of the shield, was none other than the unequalled Sir Lancelot.

In Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato (I/26) the beautiful Princess Angelica gives the hero Orlando two presents, one of them a helmet crest bearing the likeness of Amor, the other a shield with white ermine on a golden background, as a sign of her true love.

(10) She hugged the valiant warrior and asked, "Where are you going, knight? You swore to be my cavalier, that you would dedicate this fight. Therefore, to show you love me, wear  this helmet crest and this fine shield. Remember who remembers you, and do the best that you can do."

(11) She spoke and handed him a shield with a white ermine on gold field, then this fine crest: a naked boy  with wings, a quiver, and a bow. Orlando, often so ungentle, grew dizzy as he watched the damsel, and he felt such joy, such desire, such happiness, he thought he'd die.

(Orlando Innamorato. Orlando in Love. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Charles Stanley Ross. West Lafayette 2004.)

Oxford sees himself as the gracious Queen Guinevere's Lancelot, or as the second Orlando to the proud and haughty Princess Angelica with whom we had a brief encounter in “The deadly drops of dark disdain” (No. 51). A series of dramatical references give rise to the assumption that the poem is written for Queen Elizabeth.

In spite of the theories propagated by Prouty (1942), Pigman (2000) and Austen (2008), this poem has nothing whatever to do with the insignificant courtier Sir John Scudamore (1542–1623) who then used to write his name Skydemore.



NOTES:

[1] “To scourge the crime of wicked Laius”: Laius (Laios), the King of Thebes, kidnaps Chrysippos whereupon Chrysippos' father puts a solemn curse on the kidnaper. With Laius' marriage to Jocasta (Iokaste) the prophecy of the Delfi oracle became true that the king's son would murder his father and marry his mother.

[2] “The wife, the mother, and the concubine”: Jocasta commits suicide when she learns that her two sons Eteokles and Polyneikes (both fathered by Oedipus) have killed each other in a duel.

[3] “The daughter, she, surprised with childish dread”: Antigone accompanies her blind father in his banishment to Kolonos.

[4] “Fair Bersabe the bright once, bathing in a well”: In No. 57 (“This Apuleius was in Afric born”) we see “Meritum petere grave” as the ardent admirer of Bersabe, who for her part calls him “David”. - Bathsheba, "daughter of the oath"; was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and later of David, king of of Israel and Judah. The story of David's seduction of Bathsheba is told in 2 Samuel 11. David, while walking on the roof of his palace, saw Bathsheba, who was then the wife of Uriah, having a bath. He immediately desired her and later made her pregnant.

[5] “And Salomon himself, the source of sapience”: We encounter both King Solomon and Hercules again in No. 62; two men who’s strength and wisdom are legendary yet not much help where women are concerned. (“When I record within my musing mind”.)

[6] “Of thee dear Dame, three lessons would I learn”: See, Petrarch, Canzoniere 19 (“Son animali al mondo de sí altera”) and Canzoniere 141 (“A la dolce ombra de le belle frondi”.) Compare also with Sir Thomas Wyatts translation of Canzone 19: “How the Lover perisheth in his delight as the Fly in the fire” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 2.11).

[7] “And smiling yet full oft, I have beheld that face, / When in my heart I might bewail mine own unlucky case”: This amalgamation of laughter and tears can also be found in Petrarch, Canzoniere 102 and 134. – Canzoniere 102: “però, s'alcuna volta io rido o canto, / facciol, perch'i' non ò se non quest'una / via da celare il mio angoscioso pianto” (Therefore if you see me smile or sing, I do it since that is the only way to hide the anguish of my weeping.)  See, Oxford’s poems Nos. 45, 75. – Petrarch, Canzoniere 134: “Pascomi di dolor, piangendo rido; / egualmente mi spiace morte et vita” (Sir Thomas Wyatt’s translation: “I feed me in sorrow, and laugh in all my pain. / Lo, thus displeaseth me both death and life. And my delight is causer of this strife.” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 2.13).

[8] “To see the Rose and Lily strive upon that lively cheek”: In his poem: “Dan Bartholmew of Bath”, George Gascoigne, Oxfords co-author in A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, characterises the object of his admiration “Ferenda Natura” with similar words: “Upon her cheeks the Lily and the Rose, / Did intermeate, with equal change of hue.” The name “Ferenda Natura” implies Queen Elizabeth (See, 3.2.1 Ferenda Natura); the rose he mentions is the Tudor Rose, with “the lily” he is referring to “white”, the other Tudor colour. (See, No. 100: “The lily in the field.”) - In a similar manner No. 6 (as a part from The Adventures of Master F.I.) seems addressed to Queen Elizabeth. The Adventures, penned from Fortunaus Infoelix (‘THE FORTUNATE-UNHAPPY’), contain the story of an erotic conquest. The young Earl also wishes to seduce the Queen into “lending him her ear”.

[9] “Or as the feeble sight would search the sunny beam”: A reference to the sunny nature of “Mistress Ellinor”. (See No. 8: “They thought my Queen / The sun had been.”)

[10] “I see the Falcon gent sometimes will take delight”:  The noble Falcon is referred to as being female.

[11]yet have I seen much worse pass the musters, yea, and where both the Lieutenant and Provost Marshall were men of ripe judgment”: A joke; worse poems have got past the critical eyes of the councils of war.

[12] “Into her eyes his parching beams he cast, / To scorch their skins that gaz'd on her full fast:
Whereby when many a man was sunburnt so, / They thought my Queen / The sun had been”:

A thinly veiled reference to a mocking letter that Elizabeth’s enemy, Mary Queen of Scots, once wrote: “The Countess of Shrewsbury said to me ...that you took such great pleasure in flatteries beyond all reason that you were told for example that at times one dared not look full at you because your face shone like the sun that she and all the other ladies of the court were constrained to use such flatteries...” (quoted by  Chamberlin, Frederick, The Private Character of Queen Elizabeth, London 1921, p. 167.)

In No. 48 “Meritum petere grave” says in his praise of a Countess: “Of her bright beams Dan Phoebus stands in dread.”

[13] “When she doth reign that mocks Vulcan the smith”: The name Friday comes from the Old English Frigedæg, meaning the "day of Frigg", a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures... The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris or “day of Venus” such as vendredi in French, venerdi in Italian, viernes in Spanish.)

[14] “Thy rowels, thy ruffs, thy cauls, thy coifs, thy jerkins and thy jags / Thy curling and thy cost, thy frizzling and thy fare”:  See, W. Shakespeare, “The song of Autolycus” (A Winter’s Tale, IV/4)

Lawn as white as driven snow;
Cypress black as e'er was crow;
Gloves as sweet as damask roses,
Masks for faces and for noses:
Bugle-bracelet, necklace amber,
Perfume for a lady's chamber:
Golden quoifs and stomachers,
For my lads to give their dears:
Pins and poking-sticks of steel ...

[15] “The windows of mine eyes are glaz'd with such delight”: Oxford plays with the concepts of image and observer just as did Shakespeare, in Sonnet 24:

For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies,
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.

The metapher of the eyes being the windows of the soul may well have been taken from Platon’s Phaidros (255c): “So the stream of beauty passes back into the beautiful one through the eyes, the natural inlet to the soul … filling the soul of the loved one with love.”

The first use of this metaphor in the English language we find in Thomas Phaer’s Regiment of Life (1545) : “The eyes are the wyndowes of the mynde, for both ioye & anger are seene through them.” – See, William Shakespeare, Richard III, V/3.: “Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes.”

[16] “Let Theseus come with club, or Paris brag with brand”: The Greek hero Theseus kidnapped the twelve year old Helena; Paris abducted Helena and took her to Troja, although she was married to Melanos, albeit with her consent. This was the reason for the outbreak of the Trojan wars.

[17] “The pretty bird that sings with prick against her breast”: Refers to Philomela (or Philomena), who sang the story of her sufferings after her metamorphosis into a nightingale. - See, No. 45 (“And as fair Philomene again / Can watch and sing when other sleep…”)

[18] Won with an egg, and lost again with shell”: In Clarke’s Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina (1639) we find: “Won with the egg and lost with the shell.”

[19] “And with such luck and loss”: See, “My lucke is losse”, a variation on the name “Fortunatus Infoelix”. “My lucke is losse”was Oxford's nom de plume in the collection The Paradyse of Daynty Devises (1576).

[20] “Why hear I not and see, since now I have my senses? / That which in feigned fading dreams appeared by pretences”: Compare to W. Shakespeare, Sonnet 43 .

When most I wink then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected,
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.

[21] “High Jove (perdie) may send what thou doest seek”: One of Oxford’s jokes (in brackets).

[22] “The feeble thread which Lachesis hath spun”: Lachesis is the second of the three Fates (or Moirai). According to Greek mythology: Destiny, or the thread of life, was spun by Clothos, measured by Lachesis and cut by Atropos.

[23] “the wale”: A ridge or raised line (consisting of a thread or threads), also a structural pattern in woven cloth.

[24] “(Whenas his pen shall write upon my chest)”: Another “joke” in brackets.

[25] “No care on earth did seem so much to me, / As when my corpse was forced to part from thee”: See, Earl of Surrey, (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 5.4) : “And if my feeble corpse, through weight of woeful smart / Do fail, or faint, my will it is that still she keep my heart.”

[26] “But dead or live, in heaven, in earth, in hell / I will be thine where so my carcass dwell”: See, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 1.12):

Set me in heaven, in earth, or else in hell;
In hill, or dale, or in the foaming flood;
Thrall or at large, alive whereso I dwell,
Sick or in health, in evil fame or good:
Hers will I be, and only with this thought
Content myself although my chance be nought.

[27]Appelles”: According to Gautier de Châtillon, the author of Alexandreis (1200), Appelles was a Jewish sculptor and painter who built the tomb of King Dareios I. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) mentions Appelles in The Wife of Bath.

[28] “The pleasant place where Muses kept their schools”: “Fontainebleau” is, in all likelyhood, an out-of-the-way “Greenwich Palace” (“The Manor of Pleasance”).   

[29] “And say as Troilus said, since that I can no more”: This is a paraphrase of the last words from The Testament of Cresseid: “I can no more / She was untrewe, and woe is me therefore”. In 1532, the publisher William Thynne set the Testament of Cresseid at the end of Chaucer’s Troylus and Cresside; giving rise to the commonly occurring misconception that Chaucer was the author of The Testament. - The young Greek woman who grew up in the city of Troy, spends a night of passion with the Trojan Prince Troilus. As soon as the Greeks took her back to Athens she was unfaithful to Troilus - with Diomedes.

[30] “Bare witness of Boemia”: Based on the (mainly) ficticious Marc Aurel from Antonio de Guevara (1480-1545). See, The Golden Booke of Marcus Aurelius, translated by John Bourchier (1535) and The Diall of Princes, translated by Thomas North (1557).

[31] “Chose Cleopatra for his love”: The source ofthis unconventional portrayal of Cleopatra is Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Legend of Good Women.

[32] “To love his nutbrown Lady best”: Compare this with “The thrifless thread which pampered beauty spins” (No. 29).

[33] “if Faustine had been judge”: Faustina, the wife of Marc Aurel, is assumed to be the wife of Marcus Antonius.

[34] “And no gramercy for thy courtesy”: A polite social idiom from the chivalrous epic.

[35] “ The port or passage plain to enter in / Where porters list to leave the key for gains”: See, Pietro Bembo, Rime XXXV (Amor è, donne care, un vano e fello, 1530):

Un mal, che vive sempre e, se per sorte
talor l'ancidi, più grave rinasce;
un a gli amici suoi chiuder le porte
del cor, fidando al nemico la chiave,
e far i sensi a la ragione scorte.

(What’s Love? A stabbing pain that, when you consider it vanquished, returns in worsened form.  What’s Love? Taking away the key to your heart from your dear friend,  entrusting it to your loved enemy. Giving your reason over to your feelings.)

[36] “Are smiling baits to fish for loving fools”: Compare to No. 83 “And then we say when we their fancy try, / To play with fools, O what a fool was I.”

[37] “ A lovely nutbrown face is best of all”: A play on a 15th century ballad: “The nut-brown Maid”. The young woman in the ballad does not meet with the fashionable concept of beauty of the period, however, her character is superior to that of other women. (See, No. 25: Cleopatra as “nutbrown lady”.)

[38] “For first those looks allured mine eye to look”: See, Petrarch, Canzoniere 75, “I begli occhi ond’i’ fui percosso in guisa” (Those lovely eyes, that struck me in such guise).  And: Petrarch, 220, “Di qual sol nacque l'alma luce altera” (From what sun was that high kindly light born / of lovely eyes, from which came war and peace, / that seared my heart with ice and fire?) - Compare to William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 139:

Let me excuse thee, ah my love well knows,
Her pretty looks have been mine enemies,
And therefore from my face she turns my foes,
That they elsewhere might dart their injuries -

[39] “Thus in thy looks my love and life have hold, / And with such life my death draws on apace: / And for such death no medcine can be told, / But looking still upon thy lovely face”: An anadiplosis, the repetition of the last word of a preceding clause ( as in Nos. 5, 91, 109). - See, W. Shakespeare, Richard III, V/3:

My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.

[40] “My Phillip can both prick and prance”: to prance =to dance, gambol, caper.

[41] “As if you say but fend cut phip”: See, John Skelton, Phyllip Sparowe (115-120): „For my sparow is go. / It was so prety a fole, / It wold syt on a stole, / And lerned after my scole / For to kepe his cut, / With, “Phyllyp, kepe your cut! (Shut up!)”

[42] “She will lay lips theron by th’ rod”: She applies her lips to the rod.

[43] “Which seal receive, as token of my smart”: The seal of pain refers to the author’s new pen-name: “Spraeta tamen vivunt” (He who was rejected still lives on).

[44] “The mouse which once hath broken out of trap”: See, Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 4.11: “The mouse that shonnes the trap, doth shew what harme doth ly: / Within the swete betraying bait, that oft disceives the eye.”

[45] “In pleasant garden (placed all alone) / I saw a Dame who sat in weary wise”: If we consider “In pleasant garden (placed all alone) / I saw a Dame” in connection with: “Alas (quod she) behold each pleasant green”, we see that this is in all likelihood a reference to Greenwich Castle, “the Manor of Pleasance.” (So as not to portray the Queen of England as a lonely, pitiable spinster, Puttenham adds some disinformation to his version. How is he otherwise supposed to know that Oxford crossed the Thames “to walk in Saint George’s  field” ?)

The anonymous author of Willobie his AVISA (1594) describes how Avisa’s (= Queen Elizabeth’s) fifth suitor (H.W.) strolls past the “pleasant” green gardens.   

I saw your gardens, passing fine,
With pleasant flowers lately decked…
My grief is green and never springs …
Farewell that sweet and pleasant walk,
The witness of my faith and woe…

See, B. N. de Luna, The Queen Declined, 1970, p. 10 f. – Further, 3.2.2. Willobie his AVISA.

[46] “The lusty Ver which whilom might exchange”:  See, Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, Book 1: “whan comen was the tyme / Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede / With new grene, of lusty Ver the pryme, / And swote smellen floures whyte and rede.”

Nevertheless, Ver (mentioned three times in italics) is personified in a most charming manner. George Washington Pigman III, publisher of  “Gascoigne’s” Flowres (2000) mentions this when he makes, as he describes it, a wild guess: „The poem could be completely fictional, but I suspect that, like ‚Of all the letters’ [No. 54] and ‚L'Escü d'amour’ [No. 63], it concerns real people without naming them: in this case, a ldy in love with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who was admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1567, during Gascoigne’s second residence. The title shows that the poet knows this lady’s situation, since nothing in the complaint itself points to spring as an anniversary.“ (G. W. Pigman in: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, Oxford 2000, p. 611). – Pigman, who attributes the Flowres totally to George Gascoigne, grazes the truth but he doesn't manage to get to bottom of it, because the truth is in conflict with his own intentions. He neither acknowledges the De Vere-parallels in Oxford's “Sitting alone upon my thought” (No. 88), which verifies Oxford's authorship of  “This tenth of March when Aries receiv’d”, nor does he seem to know of Thomas Nashe’s burlesque Summer’s Last Will and Testament (1592), in which the impoverished young Earl of Oxford (Ver) plays the part of the wasteful spring with the words: “This world is transitory; it was made of nothing, and it must to nothing; wherefore, if we will do the will of our high Creator (whose will it is, that it pass to nothing), we must help to consume it to nothing.”  (See, The Works of Thomas Nashe, ed. by Ronald B. McKerrow, Vol. III, 1905.)

[47] “combered with pleasure”:Saint Blasius was tortured to death with wool combs in 316 A.D. Since then he has been known as the patron saint of wool combers.

[48] “that pleasure doubleth pain”: See, Earl of Surrey (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 5.4)

For where men do rejoice, since that I cannot so,
I take no pleasure in that place, it doubleth but my woe.
And when I hear the sound of song or instrument,
Methink each tune there doleful is, and helps me to lament.
And if I see some have their most desired sight,
Alas! think I, each man hath weal save I, most woeful wight.

[49] “And swallow-like I sing, as one enforced so”: This is a reference to poor Procne, whom Zeus turned in to a swallow.

[50] “Some Diomede is crept into Dame Cresside’s heart”: Cressida turned away from Trolius and favoured the Greek, Diomedes after her father brought her back to Athens. Chaucer wrote of this in his epic poem Troilus and Criseyde which in turn served as the inspiration for Shakespeare’s drama Troilus and Cressida. We find references to the Troilus-Cressida story in poems 17, 44, 48, 53, 55, 56 -- and also in George Gascoigne’s “Dan Bartholmew of Bathe” (A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres, chapt. VI). - Cresside  assumes characteristics of the withdrawn Queen increasingly.

[51] “I laugh sometimes with little lust”: referring to Petrarch, Canzoniere 134: “Pascomi di dolor, piangendo rido; / egualmente mi spiace morte et vita.” Sir Thomas Wyatt translated thes lines: “I feed me in sorrow, and laugh in all my pain. / Lo, thus displeaseth me both death and life” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 2.13). - See, Oxford No. 75.

[52] “And as fair Philomene again / Can watch and sing when other sleep: / And taketh pleasure in her pain”: In the 6th Book of Metamorphosis 438 ff Ovid tells the story of Philomela. Having been raped and miss-treated by Tereus, she firstly wrote of her plight by weaving letters in to fabric and then, after her metamorphosis to a nightingale she sang the same story of her sufferings in a sweet voice.

[53] “I cannot live, it will not be: / I die to think to part from thee”: See, W. Shakespeare, Sonnet 66: “Tir’d with all these, from these would I be gone, / Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.”

We find “be” rhymed with “thee” in the closing couplets of two of Oxford's poems (5, 45) and four of SHAKE-SPEARE's sonnets (1, 3, 4, 123).

[54] “Who climbeth oft on high, and trusts the rotten bough”: See, Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 4.11: “We see what falls they have that climb on trees unknown, / As they that trust to rotten boughs, must needs be overthrown”.

[55] “Such malice reigns (sometimes) in heavenly minds”: See, Vergil, Aeneas, I, 11:“tantaene animis caelestibus irae?” (Is there so much anger in the minds of the gods?)

[56] “If ever man yet found the bath of perfect bliss”: An allusion to Chaucers The Wife of Bath’s Tale: “His herte bathed in a bath of utter blisse.” (See, No. 45).

[57] “my pen unable is to write / The least desert”: The lady is so overwhelmingly and monumentally perfect that an attempt to describe even the lesser of her virtues would break his pen. When we try to picture the unfortunate author, sitting at his desk with a pile of broken pens, we can't help feeling that, in spite of his immense admiration for the lady in question, he was having a little joke with her. (See, No. 103: “Like sort my pen shall Gascoigne’s praise descry”.)

[58] “The deadly drops of dark disdain”: See, Thomas Wyatt: “A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain” (Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557, 2.14)- based on Petrarch’s Canzoniere 189. “Medoro he must be thy make, / Since thou Orlando doest forsake”: Angelica, Orlando and Medoro are figures from Ariosto’s Orlando furioso. Orlando is madly and unrequitedly in love with Angelica, the daughter of the king of Cathai. When he chances to sleep in the same bed that Angelica and her lover, the foot-soldier Medoro had previously slept together, he goes wild with jealousy.

[59] “Come home to Mars who may you please, / Let Vulcan bide beyond the seas”: The fable of Vulcan, whose wife Venus was unfaithful to him with Mars, had already been adapted by Fortunatus Infoelix in The Adventures of Master F. I.., when the beautiful Misstress Ellinor is unfaithful to her husband with Master F. I. (See, No. 9.)

[60] “in greater joy / Than she which held King Priam’s son of Troy”: See, Surrey’s “So cruel prison” (Songes and sonettes, 1557, 1.15):

So cruel prison how could betide, alas,
As proud Windsor? Where I in lust and joy
With a king's son my childish years did pass
In greater feast than Priam's sons of Troy.

[61] “Good Ladies, yet lend you me some relief”: See, Surrey’s version: “Good Ladies, help to fill my mourning voice” in O happy dames that may embrace.

[62] “I fear (my sweet) thou lovest B. the best”: This playfull use of the letters of the alphabet is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Richard III, I/1 (Clarence):

He hearkens after prophecies and dreams
And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,
And says a wizard told him that by G
His issue disinherited should be,
And, for my name of George begins with G,
It follows in his thought that I am he.

[63] “As A.O.G.N.C.S. and the rest”: A.O.G.N.C.S. = G.A.S.C.O.N.

[64] “Content thyself with patience perforce: / And quench no love with drops of dark mistrust”: Hardly a tender, passionate beginning for a love poem.

[65] “Be thou a true Penelope to me, / And thou shalt soon thine own Ulysses see”: Obviously a joke, because Olysses kept his wife waiting for years. The lady can now start to work out how much longer she's going to have to wait.

[66] “Such thoughts I have, and when I think on thee, / My thoughts are there, whereas my bones would be”: We find a similar turn of phrase in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:

VALENTIN. My thoughts do harbour with my Silvia nightly ...
I curse myself, for they are sent by me,
That they should harbour where their lord should be.

[67] “The longing lust which Priam’s son of Troy”: The depth of Troilus’ pain at being separated from Cressida is even greater than the poet’s desire to be with his mistress again. The man who kept his wife waiting so long compares himself to Troilus, husband of the unfaithful Cressida. This comparison to Cressida is a slap in the face to the woman he claims to love.

[68] “I frieze in hope, I thaw in hot desire, / Far from the flame, and yet I burn like fire”: The author is playing around with Petrach’s legendary topoi.

[69] “And I myself,  to prove this tale is true, / In haste, post haste, thy comfort will renew”: What woman in the world, be she Queen or be she milk-maid, could possibly give a response other than “On your bike!”

[70] “Amongst five hundreth Dames presented to my view”:  With this bizarre turn of phrase the author pokes fun at the “ardent young lover” for whom he is writing in proxy. However, at the same time, he makes a reference to an episode out of Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval, Le Conte du Graal which betrayed an extensive knowledge of literature: Gauvain arrived at a charmed castle (Roche de Chanpguin), he sees 500 windows and in each window stands a noblewoman each guarded by a squire. One of the noblewomen is his own mother. Gauvain has to pass the trial by magic bed. Five hundred bolts are fired at him with cross bows and he staves them all off with his shield. In the end he raises all of the 500 squires to the status of knighthood.

[71]The deviser hereof amongst other friends had named a gentlewoman his Bersabe”:  This deviser was in fact Master Fortunatus Infoelix in his first poem to Mistress Ellinor: “Fair Bersabe the bright once bathing in a well.” (See, Oxford’s Poems, No. 3.)

[72]with a book of the Golden Ass”:  Lucius Apuleius, The XI Bookes of the Golden Asse, trans. William Adlington, 1566.

[73] “His brains in brake”:  brake = bridle. See, Tottel’s Miscellany, Songes and sonettes, 1557: “The brake within the riders hande / Doth strain the horse.”

[74] “For if Byrrhena could have held him back”:Byrrhena warned Lucius against staying in Milo's house on account of Milo's wife, Pamphile, being a witch. Lucius is however eager to learn about magic and is furthermore in love with Pamphile's assistant, Photis. Lucius ignores Byrrhena's advice. Photis accidentally turns her friend Lucius into an ass.

[75] “and filled the mazer up”:  mazer = mazard, drinking bowl.

[76]Yet I poor I, / Who make of thee my Photis and my friend”: The author (in the role of David) has made a donkey of himself in front of Bathseba, by calling her his Photis. Gabriel Harvey took upon Oxford's identifying himself as being Lucius and made him “the old Ass” in Pierce’s Supererogation or A New Praise of the Old Ass (1593).

[77] “And I among the rest which wrote this weary song”: Probably the “weary song”, in which the author offers advice to another lover, is identical to No. 56 (A letter devised for a yong lover).

[78] “Amongst old written tales this one I bear in mind”:  Phaedrus’ version of Aesop’s tales (Aesop, 4, XX: Serpens Misericordi Nociva). – In his letter of 12 May 1583 to Lord Burghley, Walter Raleigh quotes from this fable in reference to the Earl of Oxford.: “I am content, for your sake, to lay the serpent before the fire, as much as in me lieth, that, having received strength, myself may be most in danger of his poison and sting.”

[79] “I seem to swim in such a sugared joy”: Sugared joy =gloating.

[80] “And David I, from duty that declines”: And I am David of the same bondage.

[81] “I Holofern, am dronken brought to bed, / My love like Judith, cutting of my head”:  See, Poems No. 75: “I, Hannibal that smile for grief; / And let you Caesar's tears suffice.”

[82] “Yet Delilah, and Deianira’s love”:  Delilah tricks Samson, Deianira betrays Hercules.

[83] “think on Naso’s name”: Publius Ovidius Naso.

[84]The absent lover (in ciphers) deciphering his name”: In 1926 the historian, Captain Bernhard M. Ward self taught academic lone wolf, suggested a method of reading which cannot be ignored. Just like Giovanni Battista della Porta (De furtivis literarum notis, vulgo de ziferis, 1563), one takes the first letter of each word in a poem, going first from left to right and then, on the next line going from right to left, and so on, in a so-called ox-turning, or “Boustrophedon” (rather suiting for the Earl of Oxford). Should we follow this procedure then we come to the name Edward de Vere with “E” and “V” both appearing as capital letters. If anyone has an idea which “codename”to try out, the code can be broken after a couple of attempts. The name “eduard de vere” ( albeit without capital letters) also emerges when we perform the same operation in reverse, beginning with the last word and following the oxen path in the opposite direction . (See, B. M. Ward, ed., A Hundreth sundrie flowres: From the original edition, London 1926. - Richard J. Kennedy, The Scudamore Cipher, 2011. – 5.0. Introduction, 4. A POETIC CRYPTOGRAM by Martin Peake.)

It should be noted that William Shakespeare used cryptography to conceal the dedication of Sonnets 26 and 76 to Henry Wriothesley. (See, A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare. The Sonnets. Ed. by Hyder Edward Rollins. Philadelphia & London, 1944. Volume II, p. 192). The last three lines of Sonnet 26 contains a perfect anagram:

Til then, not show my head where thou maist prove me =
Henrie Wriothesley, South-Hampton, made me th’t vow.

[85] “My hope such frost, my hot desire such flame”: The topos of  “icy fire” has its origins in Petrarch's Canzoniere 17: “gli ardenti miei desiri” and “gli spiriti miei s’aghiaccian”  - “my ardent desires” and “it freezes my spirits”. See, Master F. I.’s phrase “I have found fire in frost” in his first letter to Mistress Ellinor (The Adventures of Master F. I .).