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Sweet Sun, when thou look’st on,

Pray her regard my moan !
Sweet birds when you sing to her

To yield some pity woo her!
Sweet flowers that she treads on,

Tell her, her beauty dreads one.
And if in life her love she nill agree me,
Pray her before I die, she will come see mc.


[From the Sixe Idillia.]

Like as the rising morning shows a grateful lightening,
When sacred night is past and winter now lets loose the spring,
So glittering Helen shined among the maids, lusty and tall.
As is the furrow in a field that far outstretcheth all,
Or in a garden is a Cypress tree, or in a trace
A steed of Thessaly, so she to Sparta was a grace.
No damsel with such works as she her baskets used to fill,
Nor in a diverse coloured web a woof of greater skill
Doth cut from off the loom ; nor any hath such songs and lays
Unto her dainty harp, in Dian's and Minerva's praise,
As Helen hath, in whose bright eyes all Loves and Graces be.
O fair, O lovely maid, a matron now is made of thee ;
But we will every spring unto the leaves in meadows go
To gather garlands sweet, and there not with a little woe,
Will often think of thee, O Helen, as the sucking lambs
Desire the strouting bags and presence of their tender dams,
We all betimes for thee a wreath of Melitoe will knit,
And on a shady plane for thee will safely fasten it,
And all betimes for thee, under a shady plane below,
Out of a silver box the sweetest ointment will bestow;
And letters shall be written in the bark that men may see
And read, Do humble reverence, for I am Helen's tree.


(Idyll 16.)

O Jupiter, and thou Minerva fierce in fight,
And thou Proserpina, who with thy mother hast renown
By Lysimelia streams, in Ephyra that wealthy town,
Out of our island drive our enemies, our bitter fate,
Along the Sardine sea, that death of friends they may relate
Unto their children and their wives, and that the towns opprest
By enemies, of th’ old inhabitants may be possest :
That they may till the fields, and sheep upon the downs may bleat
By thousands infinite and fat, and that the herd of neat
As to their stalls they go may press the lingering traveller.
Let grounds be broken up for seed, what time the grasshopper
Watching the shepherds by their flocks, in boughs close sing-

ing lies,
And let the spiders spread their slender webs in armories,
So that of war the very name may not be heard again.
But let the Poets strive, King Hiero's glory for to strain
Beyond the Scythian sea, and far beyond those places where
Semiramis did build those stately walls and rule did bear.
'Mongst whom I will be one: for many other men beside
Jove's daughters love, whose study still shall be both far and wide,
Sicilian Arethusa with the people to advance
And warlike Hiero. Ye Graces who keep resiance
In the Thessalian mount Orchomenus, to Thebes of old
So hateful, though of you beloved, to stay I will be bold
Where I am bid to come, and I with them will still remain,
That shall invite me to their house with all my Muses' train.
Nor you will I forsake : for what to men can lovely be
Without your company? The Graces always be with me.


[Born about 1555: died before 1616. His Diana was first published in 1592. An edition by Mr. W.C. Hazlitt was published by Pickering in 1859.]

Almost nothing is known of the life of Henry Constable. He belonged to a Yorkshire family ; he was educated at Cambridge ; he was acquainted with the Earl of Essex, with Anthony Bacon, with the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, with the Countess of Pembroke and Lady Rich. His sonnets to the soul of Sir Philip Sidney seem to prove that he was honoured with the friendship of the auther of the Defence of Poesie. As 'a Catholic and an honest man,' as he calls himself, Constable could not escape suspicion in the suspicious England of his time. He passed much of his life in exile, wandering in France, Scotland, Italy, and Poland, and was acquainted with prisons and courts.

The slight but graceful genius of Constable is best defined by some of the epithets which his contemporary critics employed. They spoke of his 'pure, quick, and high delivery of conceit.' Ben Jonson alludes to his 'ambrosiac muse.' His secular poems are 'Certaine sweete sonnets in the praise of his mistress, Diana,' conceived in the style of Ronsard and the Italians. The verses of his later days, when he had learned, as he says, “to live alone with God,' are also sonnets in honour of the saints, and chiefly of Mary Magdalene. They are ingenious, and sometimes too cleverly confuse the passions of divine and earthly love. In addition to the sonnets we have four pleasant lyrics which Constable contributed to England's Helicon. We select two of these pastorals, one being an idyllic dialogue between two shepherdesses ; the other, “The Shepherd's Song of Venus and Adonis.' These things have at once the freshness of a young, and the trivial grace of a decadent literature, so curiously varied were the influences of the Renaissance in England. Shakespeare and Constable begin where Bion leaves off. Constable was neither more nor less than a fair example of a poet who followed rather than set the fashion. His sonnets were charged and overladen with ingenious conceits, but the freshness, the music, of his more free and flowing lyrics remain, and keep their charm.




Fie on the sleights that men devise,

Heigh ho silly sleights :
When simple maids they would entice,
Maids are young men's chief delights.

Nay, women they witch with their eyes,

Eyes like beams of burning sun :
And men once caught, they soon despise ;
So are shepherds oft undone.

If any young man win a maid,

Happy man is he:
By trusting him she is betrayed ;

Fie upon such treachery.

If Maids win young men with their guiles,

Heigh ho guileful grief ;
They deal like weeping crocodiles,
That murder men without relief.

I know a simple country hind,

Heigh ho silly swain :
To whom fair Daphne proved kind,

Was he not kind to her again?
He vowed by Pan with many an oath,

Heigh ho shepherds God is he :
Yet since hath changed, and broke his troth,

Troth-plight broke will plagued be.

She hath deceived many a swain,

Fie on false deceit :
And plighted troth to them in vain,

There can be no grief more great.
Her measure was with measure paid,

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho equal meed : She was beguild that had betrayed,

So shall all deceivers speed.

If every maid were like to me,

Heigh-ho hard of heart :
Both love and lovers scorn'd should be,

Scorners shall be sure of smart.

If every maid were of my mind

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho lovely sweet :
They to their lovers should prove kind,
Kindness is for maidens meet.

Phillis. Methinks, love is an idle toy,

Heigh-ho busy pain :
Both wit and sense it doth annoy,
Both sense and wit thereby we gain.

Tush! Phillis, cease, be not so coy,

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, coy disdain :
I know you love a shepherd's boy,
Fie! that maidens so should feign !

Phillis, Well, Amarillis, now I yield,

Shepherds, pipe aloud : Love conquers both in town and field,

Like a tyrant, fierce and proud.

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