Verse > Anthologies > Elizabethan Sonnets > Parthenophil and Parthenophe
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Seccombe and Arber, comps.  Elizabethan Sonnets.  1904.
 
Parthenophil and Parthenophe
Ode 16. Before bright Titan raised his team
Barnabe Barnes (1569?–1609)
 
BEFORE bright TITAN raised his team
  Or lovely Morn with rosy cheek,
With scarlet dyed the Eastern stream,
  On PHŒBUS’ day, first of the week;
Early, my goddess did arise,        5
  With breath to bless the morning air.
O heavens, which made divine mine eyes!
  Glancing on such a Nymph! so fair!
Whose Hair, downspread in curled tresses,
  PHŒBUS his glitter and beams withstood:        10
Much like him, when, through cypresses,
  He danceth on the silver flood;
Or like the golden purlèd down,
  Broached upon the palmed-flowered willows,
Which downward scattered from her crown,        15
  Loosely dishevelled on love’s pillows.
Covering her swan-like back below
  Like ivory matched with purest gold;
Like PHŒBE when on whitest snow
  Her gilded shadow taketh hold.        20
Her Forehead was like to the rose
  Before ADONIS pricked his feet!
Or like the path to heaven which goes,
  Where all the lovely Graces meet!
CUPID’s rich Chariot stood under!        25
  Moist pearl about the wheels was set!
Grey agate spokes, not much asunder!
  The axletree of purest jet!
Her seemly Nose, the rest which graced,
  For CUPID’s Trophy was upreared!        30
Th’ imperial Thrones, where LOVE was placed
  When, of the world, he would be feared.
Where CUPID, with sweet VENUS sate
  Her cheeks with rose and lilies decked,
Nature upon the coach did wait,        35
  And all in order did direct.
Her Cheeks to damask roses sweet,
  In scent and colour were so like;
That honey bees in swarms would meet
  To suck; and, sometimes, She would strike        40
With dainty plume, the bees to fear!
  And being beaten, they would sting!
They found such heavenly honey there;
  CUPID, which there sate triumphing,
When he perceived the bee did sting her        45
  Would swell for grief, and curse that bee,
More than the bee that stinged his finger!
  Yet still about her they would flee!
Then LOVE to VENUS would complain
  Of Nature, which his chariot drest!        50
Nature would it excuse again,
  Saying, “She then shewed her skill best!”
When she drank wine, upon her face,
  BACCHUS would dance! and spring to kiss!
And shadow, with a blushing grace,        55
  Her cheeks, where lovers build their bliss:
Who, when she drank, would blush for shame
  That wanton BACCHUS she should use;
Who, VENUS’ brother, might defame
  Her, that should such acquaintance choose!        60
What gloss the scarlet curtains cast
  On a bedstead of ivory.
Such like, but such as much surpasst
  All gloss, her cheeks did beautify.
Her roseate Lips, soft lovely swelling,        65
  And full of pleasure as a cherry;
Her Breath of divine spices smelling,
  Which, with tongue broken, would make merry
Th’ infernal souls; and, with her voice,
  Set heaven gates open, hell gates shut,        70
Move melancholy to rejoice,
  And thralled in Paradise might put.
Her Voice, not human, when she speaketh
  I think some angel or goddess,
Into celestial tunes which breaketh,        75
  Speaks like her, with such cheerfulness.
All birds and instruments may take
  Their notes divine and excellent,
Melodious harmony to make,
  From her sweet voices’ least accent.        80
This we Love’s Sanctuary call!
  Whence Sacred Sentences proceed,
Rolled up in sounds angelical;
  Whose place, sweet Nature hath decreed,
Just under CUPID’s Trophy fixed,        85
  Where music hath its excellence
And such sweets, with Love’s spirit mixed,
  As please far more than frankincense,
Thence, issue forth Love’s Oracles
  Of Happiness, and luckless Teen!        90
So strange be Love’s rare miracles
  In her, as like have never been!
Her Neck that curious axletree,
  Pure ivory like, which doth support
The Globe of my Cosmography:        95
  Where, to my Planets I resort
To take judicial signs of skill,
  When tempests to mine heart will turn?
When showers shall my fountains fill?
  And extreme droughts mine heart shall burn?        100
There, in that Globe, shall I perceive
  When I shall find clear Element;
There, gloomy mists shall I conceive,
  Which shall offend the Firmament!
On this, my studies still be bent,        105
  Where even as rivers from the seas
In branches through the land be sent,
  And into crooked sinews press,
Throughout the globe such wise the veins
  Clear crystalline throughout her neck        110
Like sinuous, in their crooked trains,
  Wildly the swelling waves did check.
Thence, rise her humble seemly Shoulders.
  Like two smooth polished ivory tops;
Of Love’s chief Frame, the chief upholders,        115
  Whiter than that was of PELOPS!
Thence, CUPID’s five-grained mace out brancheth;
  Which fivefold, the five Senses woundeth.
Whose sight the mind of lookers lanceth.
  Whose force, all other force astoundeth.        120
Thence, to that bed, where LOVE’s proud Queen,
  In silent majesty, sweet sleepeth;
Where her soft lovely pillows been,
  Where CUPID, through love’s conduits creepeth.
Pillows of VENUS’ turtles’ down!        125
  Pillows, than VENUS’ turtles softer!
Pillows, the more where LOVE lies down
  More covets to lie down and ofter!
Pillows, on which two sweet Rosebuds,
  Dewed with ambrosial nectar lie;        130
Where Love’s Milk-Way, by springs and floods,
  Through violet paths, smooth slideth by.
But now, with fears and tears, proceed
  LOVE’s Place of Torture to declare!
Which such calamity doth breed        135
  To those which there imprisoned are;
Which, once in chains, are never free!
  Which still for want of succour pine!
Dry sighs, salt-wat’ry tears, which be
  For dainty cakes and pleasant wine!        140
Immured with pure white ivory,
  Fetters of adamant to draw,
Even steel itself, if it be nigh!
  A bondage without right or law!
With poor ACTEON overthrown        145
  But for a look! and with an eye
In his clear arms, LOVE’s Sergeant known,
  Arrests each lover that goes by.
This is her Heart! Love’s Prison called!
  Whose conquest is impregnable.        150
Whence, who so chance to be enthralled,
  To come forth after, are unable.
Further to pass than I have seen,
  Or more to shew than may be told;
Were too much impudence! I ween:        155
  Here, therefore, take mine anchor hold!
And with the Roman Poet, deem
  Parts unrevealed to be most sweet;
Which here described, might evil beseem
  And for a modest Muse unmeet.        160
Such blessed mornings seldom be!
  Such sights too rare when men go by!
Would I but once the like might see;
  Then I might die, before I die!
 
 
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