Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Epithalamium
By Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)
 
LET 1 Mother Earth now deck herself in flowers,
To see her offspring seek a good increase,
Where justest love doth vanquish Cupid’s powers,
And war of thoughts is swallowed up in peace,
    Which never may decrease,        5
    But, like the turtles fair,
  Live one in two, a well-united pair:
    Which that no chance may stain,
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
O Heaven! awake, show forth thy stately face;        10
Let not these slumbering clouds thy beauties hide,
But with thy cheerful presence help to grace
The honest Bridegroom and the bashful Bride;
    Whose loves may ever bide,
    Like to the elm and vine,        15
  With mutual embracements them to twine:
    In which delightful pain,
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
Ye Muses all! which chaste affects allow
And have to Thyrsis shewed your secret skill,        20
To this chaste love your sacred favours bow;
And so to him and her your gifts distill
    That they all vice may kill,
    And, like to lilies pure,
  May please all eyes, and spotless may endure:        25
    Where that all bliss may reign,
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
Ye Nymphs which in the waters empire have!
Since Thyrsis’ music oft doth yield you praise,
Grant to the thing which we for Thyrsis crave:        30
Let one time—but long first—close up their days,
    One grave their bodies seize;
    And, like two rivers sweet
  When they though divers do together meet,
    One stream both streams contain!        35
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
Pan! father Pan, the god of silly sheep!
Whose care is cause that they in number grow,—
Have much more care of them that them do keep,
Since from these good the others’ good doth flow;        40
    And make their issue show
    In number like the herd
  Of younglings which thyself with love hast reared,
    Or like the drops of rain!
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!        45
 
Virtue, if not a God, yet God’s chief part!
Be thou the knot of this their open vow:
That still he be her head, she be his heart;
He lean to her, she unto him do bow;
    Each other still allow,        50
    Like oak and mistletoe;
  Her strength from him, his praise from her do grow!
    In which most lovely train,
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
But thou, foul Cupid, sire to lawless lust!        55
Be thou far hence with thy empoisoned dart,
Which, though of glittering gold, shall here take rust,
Where simple love, which chasteness doth impart,
    Avoids thy hurtful art,
    Not needing charming skill        60
  Such minds with sweet affections for to fill:
    Which being pure and plain,
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
All churlish words, shrewd answers, crabbèd looks,
All privateness, self-seeking, inward spite,        65
All waywardness which nothing kindly brooks,
All strife for toys and claiming master’s right,—
    Be hence aye put to flight;
    All stirring husband’s hate
  ’Gainst neighbours good for womanish debate        70
    Be fled, as things most vain!
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
But above all, away vile jealousy,
The evil of evils, just cause to be unjust!
How can he love, suspecting treachery?        75
How can she love, where love cannot win trust?
    Go, snake! hide thee in dust;
    Nor dare once show thy face
  Where open hearts do hold so constant place
    That they thy sting restrain!        80
  O Hymen! long their coupled joys maintain!
 
The Earth is decked with flowers the Heavens displayed;
Muses grant gifts, Nymphs long and joinèd life;
Pan, store of babes, virtue their thoughts well stayed;
Cupid’s lust gone, and gone is bitter strife.        85
    Happy man! happy wife!
    No pride shall them oppress,
  Nor yet shall yield to loathsome sluttishness;
    And jealousy is slain,
  For Hymen will their coupled joys maintain!        90
 
Note 1. From Arcadia, 1598. [back]
 
 
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