❧ The twelfth Song.
✼ THE ARGUMENT.
The Muse, that part of Shropshire plyes
he haughty Cambrian Hills enamor’d of their praise
(As they who onely sought ambitiously to raise
The blood of god-like Brute) their heads do proudly beare:
And having crown’d themselves sole Regents of the Ayre
(An other warre with Heaven as though they meant to make)
Did seeme in great disdaine the bold affront to take,
That any petty hill upon the English side,
Should dare, not (with a crouch) to vale unto their pride.
When Wrekin, as a hill his proper worth that knew,
And understood from whence their insolencie grew,
For all that they appear’d so terrible in sight,
Yet would not once forgoe a jote that was his right.
And when they star’d on him, to them the like he gave,
And answer’d glance for glance, and brave againe for brave:
That, when some other hills which English dwellers were,
The lustie Wrekin saw himselfe so well to beare
Against the Cambrian part, respectlesse of their power;
His eminent disgrace expecting every howre,
Those Flatterers that before (with many cheerfull looke)
Had grac’t his goodly site, him utterly forsooke,
And muffled them in clowds, like Mourners vayl’d in black,
Which of their utmost hope attend the ruinous wrack:
That those delicious Nymphs, fayre Tearne and Rodon cleere
(Two Brooks of him belov’d, and two that held him deare;
Hee, having none but them, they having none but hee,
Which to their mutuall joy, might eithers object be)
Within their secret breasts conceived sundry feares,
And as they mixt their streames, for him so mixt their teares.
Whom, in their comming downe, when plainly he discernes,
For them his nobler hart in his strong bosome earnes:
But, constantly resolv’d, that (dearer if they were)
The Britains should not yet all from the English beare;
Therfore, quoth he, brave Flood, though forth by d Cambria brought,
Yet as faire Englands friend, or mine thou would’st be thought
(O Severne!) let thine eare my just defence partake:
Which sayd, in the behalfe of th’English, thus he spake;
Wise Weever (I suppose) sufficiently hath said
Of those our Princes heere, which fasted, watcht, and pray’d,
Whose deepe devotion went for others ventrous deeds:
But in this Song of mine, hee seriously that reads,
Shall find, ere I have done, the Britaine (so extold,
Whose height each Mountaine strives so mainly to up-hold)
Matcht with as valiant men, and of as cleane a might,
As skilfull to commaund, and as inur’d to fight.
Who, when their fortune will’d that after they should scorse
Blowes with the big-boan’d Dane, eschanging force for force
(When first he put from Sea to forrage on this shore,
|d Out of Plinilimon, in the confines of Cardigan and Montgomery.|
Two hundred e yeeres distain’d with eithers equall gore;
Now this aloft, now that: oft did the English raigne,
And oftentimes againe depressed by the Dane)
The Saxons, then I say, themselves as bravely show’d,
As these on whom the Welsh such glorious praise bestow’d.
Nor could his angry sword, who Egbert over-threw
(Through which he thought at once the Saxons to subdue)
His kingly courage quell: but from his short retyre,
His reinforced troupes (newe forg’d with sprightly fire)
Before them drave the Dane, and made the Britaine runne
(Whom he by liberall wage here to his ayde had wonne)
Upon their recreant backs, which both in flight were slaine,
Till their huge murthered heapes manur’d each neighboring Plaine.
As, Ethelwolfe againe. his utmost powers that bent
Against those fresh supplies each yeere from Denmarke sent
(Which, proling up and downe in their rude Danish ores,
Heere put themselves by stealth upon the pestred shores)
In many a doubtfull fight much fame in England wan.
So did the King of Kent, courageous Athelstan,
|e See to the I. Song.|
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Which heere against the Dane got such victorious daies.
So, we the Wiltshire men as worthily may praise,
That buckled with those Danes, by Ceorle and Osrick brought.
And Etheldred, with them nine sundry Fields that fought,
Recorded in his praise, the conquests of one yeere.
You right-nam’d English then, courageous men you were
When Redding ye regain’d, led by that valiant Lord:
Where Basrig ye out-brav’d, and Halden, sword to sword;
The most redoubted spirits that Denmarke heere addrest.
And Alured, not much inferior to the rest:
Who having in his dayes so many dangers past,
In seaven brave foughten Fields their Champion Hubba chac’t,
And slew him in the end, at Abington, that day
Whose like the Sunne nere sawe in his diurnall way:
Where those, that from the Field sore wounded sadly fled,
Were wel-neere over-whelm’d with mountaines of the dead.
His force and fortune made the Foes so much to feare,
As they the Land at last did utterly forsweare.
And, when proud Rollo, next, their former powers repair’d
(Yea, when the worst of all it with the English far’d)
Whose Countries neere at hand, his force did still supply,
And Denmarke to her drew the strengths of Normandie,
This Prince in many a fight their forces still defy’d.
The goodly River Lee he wisely did divide,
By which the Danes had then their full-fraught Navies tew’d:
The greatnes of whose streame besieged Harford rew’d.
This Alfred whose fore-sight had politiquely found
Betwixt them and the Thames advantage of the ground,
A puissant hand thereto laboriously did put,
§. And into lesser Streames that spacious Current cut.
Their ships thus set on shore (to frustrate their desire)
Those Danish Hulkes became the food of English fire.
Great Alfred left his life: when Elflida up-grew,
That farre beyond the pitch of other women flew:
Who having in her youth of childing felt the woe,
§. Her Lords imbraces vow’d shee never more would know:
But differing from her sexe (as, full of manly fire)
This most courageous Queene, by conquest to aspire,
The puissant Danish powers victoriously pursu’d,
And resolutely heere through their thicke Squadrons hew’d
Her way into the North. Where, Darby having wonne,
And things beyond beliefe upon the Enemy done,
Shee sav’d besieged Yorke; and in the Danes despight,
When most they were up-held with all the Easterne might,
More Townes and Citties built out of her wealth and power,
Then all their hostile flames could any way devour.
See to the next Song, of
And, when the Danish heere the Country most destroy’d,
Yet all our powers on them not wholly were imploy’d;
But some we still reserv’d abroad for us to roame,
To fetch-in forraine spoyls, to helpe our losse at home.
And all the Land, from us, they neever cleerely wan:
But to his endlesse praise, our English Athelstan,
In the Northumbrian fields, with most victorious might
Put Alaffe and his powers to more inglorious flight;
And more then any King of th’English him before,
Each way from North to South, from West to th’Easterne shore,
Made all the Ile his owne; his seat who firmly fixt,
The Calidonian hills, and Cathnes poynt betwixt,
§. And Constantine their King (a prisoner) hither brought;
Then over Severns banks the warlike Britains sought:
Where he their Princes forc’t from that their strong retreat,
In England to appeare at his Imperiall seat.
But after, when the Danes, who never wearied were,
Came with intent to make a generall conquest here,
They brought with them a man deem’d of so wondrous might,
As was not to be matcht by any mortall wight:
For, one could scarcely beare his Ax into the field;
Which as a little wand the Dane would lightly wield:
And (to enforce that strength) of such a dauntlesse spirit,
A man (in their conceit) of so exceeding merit,
That to the English oft they offred him (in pride)
The ending of the warre by combate to decide:
Much scandall which procur’d unto the English name.
When, some out of their love, and some spurr’d on with shame,
By envy some provokt, some out of courage, faine
Would under-take the Cause to combate with the Dane.
But Athelstan the while, in settled judgement found,
Should the Defendant fayle, how wide and deepe a wound
It likely was to leave to his defensive warre.
Thus, whilst with sundry doubts his thoughts perplexed are,
It pleas’d all-powerfull heaven, that Warwicks famous Guy
(The Knight through all the world renown’d for Chivalrie)
Arriv’d from forraine parts, where he had held him long.
His honorable Armes devoutly having hong
In a Religious house, the offrings of his praise,
To his Redeemer Christ, his helpe at all assayes
(Those Armes, by whose strong proofe he many a Christian freed,
And bore the perfect marks of many a worthy deed)
Himselfe, a Palmer poore, in homely Russet clad
(And onely in his hand his Hermits staffe he had)
Tow’rds Winchester alone (so) sadly tooke his way,
Where Athelstan, that time the King of England lay;
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And where the Danish Campe then strongly did abide,
Neere to a goodly Meade, which men there call the Hide.
The day that Guy arriv’d (when silent night did bring
Sleepe both on friend and foe) that most religious King
(Whose strong and constant hart, all grievous cares supprest)
His due devotion done, betooke himselfe to rest.
To whom it seem’d by night an Angell did appeare,
Sent to him from that God whom hee invoak’t by pray’r;
Commaunding him the time not idly to for-slowe,
But rathe as hee could rise, to such a gate to goe,
Whereas he should not faile to find a goodly Knight
In Palmers poore attyre: though very meanly dight,
Yet by his comely shape, and limmes exceeding strong,
He easely might him know the other folke among;
And bad him not to feare, but chuse him for the man.
No sooner brake the day, but up rose Athelstan;
And as the Vision show’d, he such a Palmer found,
With others of his sort, there sitting on the ground:
Where, for some poore repast they onely seem’d to stay,
Else ready to depart each one upon his way:
When secretly the King revealed to the Knight
His comfortable dreames that lately passed night:
With mild and princely words bespeaking him; quoth hee,
Farre better you are knowne to heaven (it seemes) then mee
For this great Action fit: by whose most drad command
(Before a world of men) it’s lay’d upon your hand.
Then stout and valiant Knight, heere to my Court repaire,
Refresh you in my bathes, and mollifie your care
With comfortable wines and meats what you will aske:
And chuse my richest Armes to fit you for this taske.
The Palmer (gray with age) with countenance lowting lowe,
His head even to the earth before the King doth bow,
Him softly answering thus; Drad Lord, it fits mee ill
(A wretched man) t’oppose high heavens eternall will:
Yet my most soveraigne Liege, no more of me esteeme
Then this poore habit showes, a Pilgrim as I seeme;
But yet I must confesse, have seene in former dayes
The best Knights of the world, and scuffled in some frayes.
Those times are gone with me; and, beeing aged now,
Have offred up my Armes, to Heav’n and made my vow
Nere more to beare a Shield, nor my declining age
(Except some Palmers Tent, or homely Hermitage)
Shall ever enter roofe: but if, by Heaven and thee,
This Action be impos’d great English King on mee,
Send to the Danish Campe, their challenge to accept,
In some convenient place proclaiming it be kept:
Where, by th’Almighties power, for England Ile appeare.
The King, much pleas’d in mind, assumes his wonted cheere,
And to the Danish power his choicest Herault sent.
When, both through Campe and Court, this Combat quickly went.
Which suddainly divulg’d, whilst every listning eare,
As thirsting after newes, desirous was to heare,
Who for the English side durst under-take the day;
The puissant Kings accord, that in the middle way
Betwixt the Tent and Towne, to eithers equall sight,
Within a goodly Mead, most fit for such a fight,
The Lists should be prepar’d for this materiall prize.
The day prefixt once com’n, both Dane and English rise,
And to th’appointed place th’unnumbred people throng:
The weaker female sex, old men, and children young
Into the windowes get, and up on stalls, to see
The man on whose brave hand their hope that day must bee.
In noting of it well, there might a man behold
More sundry formes of feare then thought imagine could.
One looks upon his friend with sad and heavy cheere,
Who seemes in this distresse a part with him to beare:
Their passions doe expresse much pittie mixt with rage.
Whilst one his wives laments is labouring to asswage,
His little infant neere, in childish gibbridge showes
What addeth to his griefe who sought to calme her woes.
One having climb’d some roofe, the concourse to discry,
From thence upon the earth dejects his humble eye,
As since he thither came hee suddainly had found
Some danger them amongst which lurkt upon the ground.
One stands with fixed eyes, as though he were agast:
Another sadly comes, as though his hopes were past.
This harkneth with his friend, as though with him to breake
Of some intended act. Whilst they together speake,
Another standeth neere to listen what they say,
Or what should be the end of this so doubtfull day.
One great and generall face the gathered people seeme:
So that the perfect’st sight beholding could not deeme
What lookes most sorrow show’d; their griefes so equall were.
Upon the heads of two, whose cheekes were joynd so neere
As if together growne, a third his chin doth rest:
Another lookes or’e his: and others, hardly prest,
Lookt under-neath their armes. Thus, whilst in crowds they throng
(Led by the King himselfe) the Champion comes along;
A man well strooke in yeeres, in homely Palmers gray,
And in his hand his staffe, his reverent steps to stay,
Holding a comly pase: which at his passing by,
In every censuring tongue, as every serious eye,
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Compassion mixt with feare, distrust and courage, bred.
Then Colebrond for the Danes came forth in irefull red;
Before him (from the Campe) an Ensigne first display’d
Amidst a guard of gleaves: then sumptuously array’d
Were twenty gallant youths, that to the warlike sound
Of Danish brazen Drums, with many a loftie bound,
Come with their Countries march, as they to Mars should dance.
Thus, forward to the fight, both Champions them advance:
And each without respect doth resolutely chuse
The weapon that he brought, nor doth his foes refuse.
The Dane prepares his Axe, that pond’rous was to feele,
Whose squares were layd with plates, and rivited with steele,
And armed downe along with pykes; whose hardned poynts
(Forc’t with the weapons weight) had power to teare the joynts
Of Curas or of Mayle, or what-so-ere they tooke:
Which caus’d him at the Knight disdainfully to looke.
When our stout Palmer soone (unknowne for valiant Guy)
The cord from his straight loynes doth presently untie,
Puts off his Palmers weede unto his trusse, which bore
The staines of ancient Armes, but show’d it had before
Beene costly cloth of Gold; and off his hood he threw:
Out of his Hermits staffe his two-hand sword hee drew
(The unsuspected sheath which long to it had beene)
Which till that instant time the people had not seene;
A sword so often try’d. Then to himselfe, quoth hee,
Armes let me crave your ayde, to set my Country free:
And never shall my hart your help againe require,
But onely to my God to lift you up in pray’r.
Here, Colebrond forward made, and soone the Christian Knight
Encounters him againe with equall power and spight:
Whereas, betwixt them two, might easely have been seene
Such blowes, in publique throngs as used had they been,
Of many there the least might many men have slaine:
Which none but they could strike, nor none but they sustaine;
The most relentlesse eye that had the power to awe,
And so great wonder bred in those the Fight that saw,
As verily they thought, that Nature untill then
Had purposely reserv’d the utmost power of men,
Where strength still answerd strength, on courage courage grew.
Looke how two Lyons fierce, both hungry, both pursue
One sweet and selfe-same prey, at one another flie,
And with their armed pawes ingrappled dreadfully,
The thunder of their rage, and boystrous struggling, make
The neighboring Forrests round affrightedly to quake:
Their sad encounter, such. The mightie Colebrond stroke
A cruell blowe at Guy: which though hee finely broke,
Yet (with the weapons weight) his ancient hilt it split,
And (thereby lessened much) the Champion lightly hit
Upon the reverent brow: immediatly from whence
The blood dropt softly downe, as if the wound had sense
Of their much inward woe that it with griefe should see.
The Danes, a deadly blowe supposing it to bee,
Sent such an ecchoing shoute that rent the troubled ayre.
The English at the noise, wext all so wan with feare,
As though They lost the blood their aged Champion shed:
Yet were not these so pale, but th’other were as red;
As though the blood that fell, upon their cheekes had staid.
Here Guy, his better spirits recalling to his ayde,
Came fresh upon his foe; when mightie Colebrond makes
An other desperate stroke: which Guy of Warwick takes
Undauntedly aloft; and followed with a blowe
Upon his shorter ribs, that the excessive flowe
Stream’d up unto his hilts: the wound so gap’t withall,
As though it meant to say, Behold your Champions fall
By this proud Palmers hand. Such claps againe and cryes
The joyfull English gave as cleft the very skies.
Which comming on along from these that were without,
When those within the Towne receiv’d this cheerfull shout,
They answer’d them with like; as those their joy that knew.
Then with such eager blowes each other they pursue,
As every offer made, should threaten imminent death;
Untill, through heat and toyle both hardly drawing breath,
They desperatly doe close. Looke how two Boares, being set
Together side to side, their threatning tusks doe whet,
And with their gnashing teeth their angry foame doe bite,
Whilst still they shouldring seeke, each other where to smite:
Thus stood those irefull Knights; till flying back, at length
The Palmer, of the two the first recovering strength,
Upon the left arme lent great Colebrond such a wound,
That whilst his weapons poynt fell wel-neere to the ground,
And slowly he it rais’d, the valiant Guy againe
Sent through his cloven scalpe his blade into his braine.
When downeward went his head, and up his heeles he threw;
As wanting hands to bid his Countrimen Adieu.
The English part, which thought an end he would have made,
And seeming as they much would in his praise have said,
He bad them yet forbeare, whilst he pursu’d his fame
That to this passed King next in succession came;
That great and puissant Knight (in whose victorious dayes
Those knight-like deeds were done, no lesse deserving praise)
Brave Edmond, Edwards sonne, that Stafford having tane,
With as succesfull speed won Darby from the Dane.
|the twelfth Song.||203|
From Lester then againe, and Lincolne at the length,
Drave out the Dacian Powers by his resistlesse strength:
And this his England cleer’d beyond that raging * Flood,
Which that proud King of Hunnes once christned with his blood.
By which, great Edmonds power apparantly was showne,
The Land from Humber South recovering for his owne;
That Edgar after him so much disdain’d the Dane
Unworthy of a warre that should disturbe his raigne,
As generally he seem’d regardlesse of their hate.
And studying every way magnificence in State,
At Chester whilst he liv’d at more then kingly charge,
Eight tributary h Kings there row’d him in his Barge:
His shores from Pirats sack the King that strongly kept:
§. A Neptune, whose proud sayles the British Ocean swept.
But after his decease, when his more hopefull sonne,
§. By cruell Stepdam’s hate, to death was lastly done,
To set his rightfull Crowne upon a wrongfull head
(When by thy fatall curse, licentious Etheldred,
Through dissolutenes, sloth, and thy abhorred life,
As greevous were thy sinnes, so were thy sorrowes rife)
The Dane, possessing all, the English forc’t to beare
A heavier yoke then first those Heathen slaveries were;
Subjected, bought, and sold, in that most wretched plight,
As even their thraldome seem’d their neighbors to affright.
Yet could not all their plagues the English height abate:
But even in their low’st Eb, and miserablest state,
Courageously themselves they into action put,
§. And in one night, the throats of all the Danish cut.
And when in their revenge, the most insatiate Dane
Unshipt them on our shores, under their puissant Swane:
And swolne with hate and ire, their huge unweeldy force,
Came clustring like the Greeks out of the Woodden-horse:
And the Norfolcian Townes, the neer’st unto the East,
With sacriledge and rape did terriblest infest;
Those Danes yet from the shores we with such violence drave,
That from our swords, their ships could them but hardly save.
And to renew the warre, that yeere ensuing, when
With fit supplies for spoyle, they landed heere agen,
And all the Southerne shores from Kent to Cornwall spred,
With those disordred troupes by Alaffe hither led,
In seconding their Swane, which cry’d to them for ayde;
Their multitudes so much sad Ethelred dismay’d,
As from his Country forc’t the wretched King to flie.
An English yet there was, when England seem’d to lie
Under the heaviest yoke that ever kingdome bore,
Who washt his secret knife in Swane’s relentlesse gore,
|h See to the X. Song.|
Whilst (swelling in excesse) his lavish Cups he ply’d.
Such meanes t’redeeme themselves th’afflicted Nation try’d.
And when courageous Knute, th’late murther’d Swanus sonne,
Came in t’revenge that act on his great father done,
He found so rare a spirit that heere against him rose,
As though ordain’d by Heaven his greatness to oppose:
Who with him foot to foot, and face to face durst stand.
When Knute, which heere alone affected the Command,
The Crowne upon his head at faire South-hampton set:
And Edmond, loth to lose what Knute desir’d to get,
At London caus’d himselfe inaugurate to bee.
King Knute would conquer all, King Edmond would be free.
The kingdome is the Prize for which they both are prest:
And with their equall powers both meeting in the West,
The greene Dorsetian fields a deepe vermillion dy’d:
Where Gillingham gave way to their great hostes (in pride)
Abundantly their blood that each on other spent.
But Edmond, on whose side that day the better went
(And with like fortune thought the remnant to suppresse
That Sarum then besieg’d, which was in great distresse)
With his victorious troupes to Salsbury retires:
When with fresh bleeding wounds, Knute, as with fresh desires,
Whose might though some-what maym’d, his mind yet unsubdu’d,
His lately conquering Foe, courageously pursu’d:
And finding out a way, sent to his friends with speed,
Who him supply’d with ayde: and being helpt at need,
Tempts Edmond still to fight, still hoping for a day.
Towards Worstershire their Powers both well upon their way,
There, falling to the Field, in a continuall fight
Two dayes the angry hosts still parted were by Night:
Where twice the rising Sunne, and twice the setting, saw
Them with their equall wounds their wearied breath to draw.
Great London to surprize, then (next) Canutus makes:
And thitherward as fast King Edmond Ironside takes.
Whilst Knute set downe his siege before the Easterne gate,
King Edmond through the West, past in tryumphall state.
But this courageous King, that scorned, in his pride,
A Towne should be besieg’d wherein he did abide,
Into the fields againe the valiant Edmond goes.
Kanutus, yet that hopes to winne what he did lose,
Provokes him still to fight: and falling backe where they
Might field-roomth find at large, their Ensignes to display,
Together flewe againe; that Brentford, with the blood
Of Danes and English mixt, discoloured long time stood.
Yet Edmond, as before, went Victor still away.
When soone that valiant Knute, whom nothing could dismay,
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Recall’d his scattered troupes, and into Essex hies,
Where (as ill fortune would) the Dane with fresh supplies
Was lately come a-land, to whom brave Ironside makes;
But Knute to him againe as soone fresh courage takes:
And Fortune (as her selfe) determining to showe
That shee could bring an Eb, on valiant Edmonds Flowe,
And easely cast him downe from off the top of Chance,
By turning of her wheele, Canutus doth advance.
Where shee beheld that Prince which she had favor’d long
(Even in her proud despight) his murther’d troupes among
With sweat and blood besmear’d (Dukes, Earles, and Bishops slaine,
In that most dreadfull day, when all went to the Dane)
Through worlds of dangers wade; and with his Sword and Shield,
Such wonders there to act as made her in the Field
Ashamed of her selfe, so brave a spirit as he
By her unconstant hand should so much wronged be.
But, having lost the day, to Glocester hee drawes,
To raise a second power in his slaine souldiers cause.
When late-encourag’d Knute, whilst fortune yet doth last,
Who oft from Ironside fled, now followed him as fast.
Whilst thus in Civill Armes continually they toyle,
And what th’one strives to make, the other seeks to spoyle,
With threatning swords still drawne; and with obnoxious hands
Attending their revenge, whilst either enemie stands,
One man amongst the rest from this confusion breaks,
And to the irefull Kings with courage boldly speakes;
Yet cannot all this blood your ravenous out-rage fill?
Is there no law, no bound, to your ambitious will,
But what your swords admit? as Nature did ordaine
Our lives for nothing else, but onely to maintaine
Your murthers, sack, and spoyle? If by this wastfull warre
The Land unpeopled lye, some Nation shall from farre,
By ruine of you both, into the Ile be brought,
Obtayning that for which you twaine so long have fought.
Unlesse then through your thirst of Emperie you meane
Both Nations in these broyles shall be extinguisht cleane,
Select you Champions fit, by them to prove your right,
Or try it man to man your selves in single fight.
When as those warlike Kings, provokt with courage hie,
It willingly accept in person by and by.
And whilst they them prepare, the shapelesse concourse growes
In little time so great, that their unusuall flowes
Surrounded Severns banks, whose streame amazed stood,
Her Birlich to behold, in-Iled with her flood,
That with refulgent Armes then flamed; whilst the Kings,
Whose rage out of the hate of eithers Empire springs,
Both armed, Cap á Pe, upon their barred horse
Together fiercely flew; that in their violent course
(Like thunder when it speaks most horribly and lowd,
Tearing the ful-stuft panch of some congealed clowd)
Their strong hoofes strooke the earth: and with the fearfull shock,
Their speares in splinters flew, their Bevers both unlock.
Canutus, of the two that furthest was from hope,
Who found with what a Foe his fortune was to cope,
Cryes, noble Edmond, hold; Let us the Land divide.
Heere th’English and the Danes, from either equall side
Were Ecchoes to his words, and all aloud doe cry,
Courageous Kings divide; twere pitty such should die.
When now the neighboring Floods, will’d Wrekin to suppresse
His style, or they were like to surfet with excesse.
And time had brought about, that now they all began
To listen to a long told Prophecie, which ran
Of Moreland, that shee might live prosperously to see
A River borne of her, who well might reccon’d be
The third of this large Ile: which Saw did first arise
From Arden, in those dayes delivering prophecies.
The Druids (as some say) by her instructed were.
In many secret skills shee had been cond her lere.
The ledden of the Birds most perfectly shee knew:
And also from their flight strange Auguries shee drew;
Supreamest in her place: whose circuit was extent
From Avon to the Banks of Severne and to Trent:
Where Empresse like shee sate with Natures bounties blest,
And serv’d by many a Nymph; but two, of all the rest,
That Staffordshire calls hers, there both of high account.
The eld’st of which is Canke: though Needwood her surmount,
In excellence of soyle, by beeing richly plac’t,
Twixt Trent and batning Dove; and, equally imbrac’t
By their abounding banks, participates their store;
Of Britaines Forrests all (from th’lesse unto the more)
For finenesse of her turfe surpassing; and doth beare
Her curled head so high, that Forrests farre and neere
Oft grutch at her estate; her florishing to see,
Of all their stately tyers disrobed when they bee.
But (as the world goes now) ô wofull Canke the while,
As brave a Wood-Nymph once as any of this Ile;
Great Ardens eldest child: which, in her mothers ground
Before fayre Feck’nhams selfe, her old age might have crownd;
When as those fallow Deere, and huge-hancht Stags that graz’d
Upon her shaggy Heaths, the passenger amaz’d
To see their mighty Heards, with high-palmd heads to threat
The woods of o’regrowne Oakes; as though they meant to set
|the twelfth Song.||207|
Their hornes to th’others heights. But now, both those and these
Are by vile gaine devour’d: So abject are our daies.
Shee now, unlike her selfe, a Neatheards life doth live,
And her dejected mind to Country cares doth give.
But Muse, thou seem’st to leave the Morelands too too long:
Of whom report may speake (our mightie wastes among)
Shee from her chilly site, as from her barren feed,
For body, horne, and haire, as faire a Beast doth breed
As scarcely this great Ile can equall: then of her,
Why should’st thou all this while the prophecie defer?
Who bearing many Springs, which pretty Rivers grew,
Shee could not be content, untill shee fully knew
Which child it was of hers (borne under such a fate)
As should in time be rays’d unto that high estate.
(I faine would have you thinke, that this was long agoe,
When many a River, now that furiously doth flowe,
Had scarcely learn’d to creepe) and therefore shee doth will
Wise Arden, from the depth of her abundant skill,
To tell her which of these her Rills it was shee ment.
To satisfie her will, the Wisard answers; Trent.
For, as a skilfull Seer, the aged Forrest wist,
A more then usuall power did in that name consist,
Which thirty doth import; by which she thus divin’d,
There should be found in her, of Fishes thirty kind;
And thirty Abbeys great, in places fat and ranke,
Should in succeeding time be builded on her banke;
And thirtie severall Streames from many a sundry way,
Unto her greatnesse should their watry tribute pay.
This, Moreland greatly lik’t: yet in that tender love,
Which shee had ever borne unto her darling Dove,
Shee could have wisht it his: because the daintie grasse
That growes upon his banke, all other doth surpasse.
But, subject he must be: as Sow, which from her Spring,
At Stafford meeteth Penk, which shee along doth bring
To Trent by Tixall grac’t, the Astons ancient seat;
Which oft the Muse hath found her safe and sweet retreat.
The noble Owners now of which beloved place,
Good fortunes them and theirs with honor’d titles grace:
May heaven still blesse that House, till happy Floods you see
Your selves more grac’t by it, then it by you can bee.
Whose bounty, still my Muse so freely shall confesse,
As when she shall want words, her signes shall it expresse.
So Blyth beares easely downe tow’rds her deere Soveraigne Trent:
But nothing in the world gives Moreland such content
As her owne darling Dove his confluence to behold
Of Floods in sundry straines: as, crankling Many-fold
|Trent signifieth thirtie.|
The first that lends him force: of whose meandred waies,
And labyrinth-like turnes (as in the Mores shee straies)
Shee first receiv’d her name, by growing strangely mad,
Or’e-gone with love of Hanse, a dapper More-land Lad.
Who neere their crystall springs as in those wasts they playd,
Bewitcht the wanton hart of that delicious mayd:
Which instantly was turn’d so much from beeing coy,
That shee might seeme to doat upon the Morish boy.
Who closely stole away (perceiving her intent)
With his deare Lord the Dove, in quest of Princely Trent,
With many other Floods (as, Churnet, in his traine
That draweth Dunsmore on, with Yendon, then cleere Taine,
That comes alone to Dove) of which, Hanse one would bee.
And for himselfe he faine of Many-fold would free
(Thinking this amorous Nymph by some meanes to beguile)
He closely under earth convayes his head awhile.
But, when the River feares some policie of his,
And her beloved Hanse immediatly doth miss,
Distracted in her course, improvidently rash,
Shee oft against the Cleeves her crystall front doth dash:
Now forward, then againe shee backward seemes to beare;
As, like to lose her selfe by straggling heere and there.
Hanse, that this while suppos’d him quite out of her sight,
No sooner thrusts his head into the cheerfull light,
But Many-fold that still the Run-away doth watch,
Him (ere he was aware) about the neck doth catch:
And, as the angry Hanse would faine her hold remove,
They struggling tumble downe into their Lord, the Dove.
Thus though th’industrious Muse hath been imploy’d so long,
Yet is shee loth to doe poore little Smestall wrong,
That from her Wilfrunes Spring neere Hampton plyes, to pour
The wealth shee there receives, into her friendly Stowr.
Nor shall the little Bourne have cause the Muse to blame,
From these Staffordian Heathes that strives to catch the Tame:
Whom shee in her next Song shall greet with mirthfull cheere,
So happily arriv’d now in her native Shire.