Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
 
Stanzas from “Troia Brittanica, or Great Britaine’s Troy”
LXXXI. Thomas Heywood
 
THIS 1 vniverse, with all therein conteined,
Was not at first of water fashioned,
Nor of the fire, as others oft haue feyned,
Nor of the ayre, as some have vainly spred,
Nor the foure elements in order train’d,        5
Nor of vacuitie and atoms bred;
Nor hath it been eternall, as is thought
By naturall men, that haue no further sought.
 
Neither hath man in perpetuity bin,
And shall on earth eternally perseuer        10
By endlesse generation, running in
One circuit, in corruption lasting euer:
Nor did that nation first on earth begin
Vnder the mid equator: some indeauour
So to perswade, that man was first begunne        15
In the place next to the life-giuing sunne.
 
Neither was he of earth and water framed,
Tempered with liuely heat, as others write;
Nor were we in a former world first named,
As in their curious problems some recite.        20
Others, more ripe in iudgement, haue proclaimed
Man fram’d of clay, in fashion exquisite,
In whom were breathed sparkes of celestiall fire,
Whence he still keepes his nature, to aspire.
 
But this most glorious vniuerse was made        25
Of nothing,—by the great Creator’s will:
The ocean bounded in, not to inuade
Or swallow vp the land; so resteth still
The azure firmament, to ouershade
Both continent and waters, which fulfill        30
The Maker’s word: one God doth sole extend,
Without beginning, and shall see no end.
 
That powerfull Trinity created man,
Adam, of earth, in the faire field Damaske;
And of his rib he Euah formed than,        35
Supplying them with all things they can aske.
In these first two humanity began,
In whom confined Jehovah’s six daies’ taske.
From Adam, then, and Euah’s first creation,
It follows we deriue our British nation.        40
 
Inspire me in this task, Ihoue’s seede, I pray;
With Hippocrenes’ drops besprinke my head,
To comfort me vpon this tedious way,
And quicken my cold braine, nigh dull and dead;
Direct my wandering spirits when they stray,        45
Least foreen and forbidden paths they tread:
My iourney’s tedious, blame not then my feares;
My voyage dymes at many thousand yeares.
 
Oh, giue me leaue from the world’s first creation
The ancient names of Britons to deriue,        50
From Adam to the world’s first invndation,
And so from Noah to us that yet suruiue;
And hauing of Troye’s worthies made relation,
Your spurs the chariot of my Muse must driue
Through all past ages and precedent times,        55
To fill this new world with my worthless rymes.
 
Oh, may these artlesse numbers in your eares,
Renowmed James, seem musically strung,—
Your fame, oh Ioue’s-star’d Prince, spread euerywhere,
First giue my still and speechlesse Muse a tung;        60
From your maiestike vertues, prised deare,
The infant life of these harsh meeters sprung.
Oh take not then their industrie in skorne,
Who, but to emblaze you, had yet been vnborne.
 
Nor let your princely peeres cold in disdaine        65
To haue their auncestry stilde and inrolde
In this poore register: a higher straine
Their merits aske, since brazen leaues vnfold
Their neuer-dying fame; yet thus much daine,
Not to despise to heare your vertues told        70
In a plaine style, by one whose wish and heart
Supplies in zeale his want both of skill and art.
 
Times faithfully conferd the first inuention
Of most thinges now in vse: heare you shall finde,
Annex’t with these, the vse and comprehention        75
Of poesie, once to the goddes desceind.
Suffer our bluntnesse then, since our intention
Is to good vse, sent from a zealous mind:
If stones, in lead set, keep their vertues, then
Your works the same, though blazde by a rude pen.        80
 
Note 1. LXXXI. Thomas Heywood.—In 1609 this author published “Troica Britanica: or Great Britain’s Troy; a Poem divided into seventeen severall cantons, intermixed with many pleasant poeticall Tales, concluding with an Universall Chronicle from the Creation untill these present Times.” In 1635 he also published “The Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels,” in both of which works there are many passages sublime in style and sentiment, though rude in metre. [back]
 
 
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