Bartholomew Griffin

From Fidessa, More Chaste than Kind (1596)commentary

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"Arraigned, poor captive at the bar I stand"

Arraigned, poor captive at the bar I stand,
The bar of beauty, bar to all my joys;
And up I hold my ever-trembling hand,
Wishing or life or death to end annoys.
And when the judge doth question of the guilt
And bids me speak, then sorrow shuts up words.
Yea, though he say, Speak boldly what thou wilt,
Yet my confused affects no speech affords.
For why, alas, my passions have no bound,
For fear of death that penetrates so near;
And still one grief another doth confound,
Yet doth at length a way to speech appear.
Then, for I speak too late, the judge doth give
His sentence that in prison I shall live.

"Compare me to the child that plays with fire"

Compare me to the child that plays with fire,
Or to the fly that dieth in the flame,
Or to the foolish boy that did aspire
To touch the glory of high heaven's frame;
Compare me to Leander struggling in the waves,
Not able to attain his safety's shore,
Or to the sick that do expect their graves,
Or to the captive crying evermore;
Compare me to the weeping wounded hart,
Moaning with tears the period of his life,
Or to the boar that will not feel his smart
When he is stricken with the butcher's knife:
No man to these can fitly me compare;
These live to die, I die to live in care.

"Care-charmer sleep, sweet ease in restless misery"

Care-charmer sleep, sweet ease in restless misery,
The captive's liberty, and his freedom's song,
Balm of the bruised heart, man's chief felicity,
Brother of quiet death, when life is too, too long!
A comedy it is, and now an history
What is not sleep unto the feeble mind!
It easeth him that toils and him that's sorry,
It makes the deaf to hear to see the blind.
Ungentle sleep, thou helpest all but me,
For when I sleep my soul is vexe'd most.
It is Fidessa that doth master thee;
If she approach, alas, thy power is lost.
But here she is. See, how he runs amain!
I fear at night he will not come again.

(See Samuel Daniel's "Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night...".)

"Fly to her heart, hover about her heart"

Fly to her heart, hover about her heart,
With dainty kisses mollify her heart,
Pierce with thy arrows her obdurate heart,
With sweet allurements ever move her heart,
At mid-day and at midnight touch her heart,
Be lurking closely, nestle about her heart,
With power (thou art a god) command her heart,
Kindle thy coals of love about her heart,
Yea, even into thyself transform her heart.
Ah, she must love! Be sure thou have her heart,
And I must die if thou have not her heart,
Thy bed, if thou rest well, must be her heart,
He hath the best part sure that hath the heart.
What have I not, if I have but her heart!

"I have not spent the April of my time"

I have not spent the April of my time,
The sweet of youth, in plotting in the air,
But do at first adventure seek to climb,
Whilst flowers of blooming years are green and fair.
I am no leaving of all-withering age,
I have not suffered many winter lours;
I feel no storm unless my love do rage,
And then in grief I spend both days and hours.
This yet doth comfort, that my flower lasted
Until it did approach my sun too near,
And then, alas, untimely was it blasted,
So soon as once thy beauty did appear.
But after all, my comfort rests in this,
That for thy sake my youth decayed is.

"Fair is my love that feeds among the lilies"

Fair is my love that feeds among the lilies,
The lilies growing in that pleasant garden
Where Cupid's mount, that well beloved hill is,
And where that little god himself is warden.
See where my love sits in the beds of spices,
Beset all round with camphor, myrrh, and roses,
And interlaced with curious devices,
Which her from all the world apart incloses.
There doth she tune her lute for her delight,
And with sweet music makes the ground to move,
Whilst I, poor I, do sit in heavy plight,
Wailing alone my unrespected love;
Not daring rush into so rare a place,
That gives to her, and she to it, a grace.

"Tell me of love, sweet Love, who is thy sire?"

Tell me of love, sweet Love, who is thy sire?
Or if thou mortal or immortal be
Some say thou art begotten by desire,
Nourished with hope, and fed with fantasy,
Engendered by a heavenly goddess' eye,
Lurking most sweetly in an angel's face;
Others, that beauty thee doth deify-
O sovereign beauty, full of power and grace!
But I must be absurd all this denying,
Because the fairest fair alive ne'er knew thee.
Now, Cupid, comes thy godhead to the trying:
'Twas she alone (such is her power) that slew me.
She shall be love, and thou a foolish boy,
Whose virtue proves thy power but a toy.

"Work, work apace, you blessed sisters three"

Work, work apace, you blessed sisters three,
In restless twining of my fatal thread.
O let your nimble hands at once agree
To weave it out and cut it off with speed.
Then shall my vexed and tormented ghost
Have quiet passage to the Elysian rest,
And sweetly over death and fortune boast
In everlasting triumphs with the blest.
But ah, too well I know you have conspired
A lingering death for him that loatheth life,
As if with woes he never could be tired;
For this you hide your all-dividing knife.
One comfort yet the heavens have assigned me,
That I must die and leave my griefs behind me.

"If great Apollo offered as a dower"

If great Apollo offered as a dower
His burning throne to beauty's excellence;
If Jove himself came in a golden shower
Down to the earth, to fetch fair Io thence;
If Venus in the curled locks were tied
Of proud Adonis not of gentle kind;
If Tellus for a shepherd's favor died,
The favor cruel love to her assigned;
If heaven's winged herald, Hermes, had
His heart enchanted with a country maid;
If poor Pygmalion were for beauty mad;
If gods and men have all for beauty strayed:
I am not then ashamed to be included
'Mongst those that love, and be with love deluded.