Archive for ‘16th Century’

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Patria Cuique Chara*: To Richarde Cotton, Esquier by Geoffrey/Geffrey Whitney

The bees at lengthe retourne into their hive,
When they have suck’d the sweete of FLORAS bloomes;
And with one minde their worke they doe contrive,
And laden come with honie to their roomes:
A worke of arte; and yet no arte of man,
Can worke, this worke; these little creatures can.

The maister bee, within the midst dothe live,
In fairest roome, and most of stature is;
And everie one to him dothe reverence give,
And in the hive with him doe live in blisse:
Hee hath no stinge, yet none can doe him harme,
For with their strengthe, the rest about him swarme.

Lo, natures force within these creatures small,
Some, all the daye the honie home doe beare.
And some, farre off on flowers freshe doe fall,
Yet all at nighte unto their home repaire:
And everie one, her proper hive doth knowe,
Althoughe there stande a thousande on a rowe.

A Comon-wealthe, by this, is right expreste;
Bothe him, that rules, and those, that doe obaye:
Or suche, as are the heads above the rest,
Whome here, the Lorde in highe estate dothe staye:
By whose supporte, the meaner sorte doe live,
And unto them all reverence dulie give.

Which when I waied: I call’d unto my minde
Your CUMBERMAIRE, that fame so farre commendes:
A stately seate, whose like is harde to finde,
Where mightie JOVE the horne of plentie lendes:
With fishe, and foule, and cattaile sondrie flockes,
Where christall springes doe gushe out of the rockes.

There, fertile fieldes; there, meadowes large extende:
There, store of grayne: with water, and with wood.
And, in this place, your goulden time you spende̱,
Unto your praise, and to your countries good:
This is the hive, your tennaunts, are the bees:
And in the same, have places by degrees.

And as the bees, that farre and neare doe straye,
And yet come home, when honie they have founde:
So, thoughe some men doe linger longe awaye,
Yet love they best their native countries grounde.
And from the same, the more they absent bee,
With more desire, they wishe the same to see.

Even so my selfe; throughe absence manie a yeare,
A straunger meere, where I did spend my prime.
Nowe, parentes love dothe hale mee by the eare,
And sayeth, come home, deferre no longer time:
Wherefore, when happe, some goulden honie bringes?
I will retorne, and rest my wearie winges.

*Patria cuique chara – To each a native land is dear.

From: Whitney, Geoffrey and Green, Henry (ed.), Whitney’s “Choice of Emblemes”, A Fac-simile Reprint, 1866, Lovell Reeve & Co: London, pp. 200-201.

Date: 1586

By: Geoffrey/Geffrey Whitney (c1548-c1601)

Friday, 16 December 2022

Epitaphe upon the worthy and Honorable Lady, the Lady Knowles by Thomas Newton

Death with his Darte hath us berefte,
A Gemme of worthy fame,
A Pearle of price, an Ouche of praise,
the Lady Knowles by name.

A Myrroure pure of womanhoode,
a Bootresse and and a stay,
To all that honest were, she was
I say both locke and kaye.

Among the Troupes of Ladies all,
and Dames of noble race,
She counted was, (and was indeede)
in Ladie Fortunes grace.

In favoure with our noble Queene,
above the common sorte,
With whom she was in credit greate,
and bare a comely porte.

There seemde between our Queene & Death,
Contencion for to be,
Which of them both more entier love,
to her could testifie.

The one in state did her advaunce,
and place in dignitie,
That men thereby might knowe, to doe,
what princes able be.

Death made her free from worldly carke,
from sicknes, paine and strife,
And hath ben as a gate, to bringe
her to eternall life.

By Death therfore she hath receivde,
a greater boone I knowe:
For she hath made a chaunge, whose blisse,
no mortall wight can showe.

She here hath loste the companie,
of Lords and Ladies brave,
Of husband, Children, frendes and kinne,
and Courtly states full grave.

In Lieu wherof, she gained hath
the blessed companie
Of Sainctes, Archangels, Patriarches,
and Angelles in degree.

With all the Troupes Seraphicall,
which in the heavenly Bower,
Melodiously with one accord,
Ebuccinate Gods power.

Thus are we sure: for in this world
she led a life so right,
That ill report could not distaine,
nor blemish her with spight.

She traced had so cunningly,
the path of vertues lore,
Prefixing God omnipotent,
her godly eyes before:

And all her dedes preciselie were,
so rulde by reasons Squire,
That all and some might her beholde,
from vice still to retire.

The vertues all, the Muses nine,
and Graces three agreed,
To lodge within her noble breast,
while she in Earth did feede.

A head so straight and beautified,
with wit and counsaile sounde,
A minde so cleane devoide of guyle,
is uneth to be founde.

But gone she is, and left the Stage
of this most wretched life,
Wherin she plaid a stately part,
till cruell Fates with knife:

Did cut the line of life in twaine,
who shall not after goe?
When time doth come, we must all hence,
Experience teacheth so.

Examples daily manifolde,
before our eyes we see,
Which put us in remembraunce,
of our fragilitie.

And bid us watch at every tide,
for Death our lurking foe,
Sith dye we must, most certainely,
but when, we do not knowe.

Som which today are lusty Brutes,
of age and courage ripe,
Tomorow may be layd full lowe,
by Death his grevous gripe.

Respect and parcialitie
of persons is there none,
For King, or Kaiser, rich or poore,
wise, foolish, all is one.

God graunt that we here left behinde,
this Ladies steppes may treade,
To live so well, to die no worse,
Amen, as I have saide.

Then maugre Death, we shall be sure,
when corps in earth is closde,
Amonge the joyes celestiall,
our Soule shal be reposde.


Date: 1569

By: Thomas Newton (c1542-1607)

Saturday, 3 December 2022

Or Thus by Edmund Elviden

Thou must determine so to live and thee for to behave:
As every night thou didst suppose a bed to be thy grave.
It is thy duety so to guide thy selfe in every thing:
That al thy deedes may serve thy helth and not delites to bring.

For it thou weigh the happy plight thy nature doth adorne:
Thou shalt perceave how fonde excess thy nature seemes to scorne.
But how, it measure doth esteme which neyther doth suppresse
Thy natures health ne maintenance but scornes as much excesse.

If therfore thou wouldst faine preserve thy selfe and kepe thee cleane:
Thou must indevour for to get in every thing the meane.
When thou beginnest any thing remember in thy brayne
That death may visite thee before the ende thou canst attayne.

From: Elviden, Edmund, The closet of counsells conteining the aduice of diuers wyse philosophers, touchinge sundry morall matters, in poesies, preceptes, prouerbes, and parrables, translated, and collected out of diuers aucthors, into Englishe verse. Wherunto is anexed a pithy and pleasant discription of the abuses: and vanities of the wworlde, 1569, Thomas Colwell, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 1569

By: Edmund Elviden (fl. 1569-1570)

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

The Answer Quhilk Schir David Lindesay Maid to the Kingis Flyting by David Lyndsay with rough rendering into more modern English and notes by flusteredduck

Redoutit roy, your ragment I have red,
Quhilk dois perturb my dull intendement:
From your flyting, wald God that I wer fred,
Or ellis sum tygerris toung wer to me lent.
Schir, pardone me thocht I be impacient,
Quhilk bene so with your prunyeand pen detractit,
And rude report, from Venus court dejectit.

Lustie ladyis, that your libellis lukis
My cumpanie dois hald abhominable,
Commandand me beir cumpanie to the cukis;
Moist lyke ane devill, thay hald me detestable.
Thay banis me, sayand I am nocht able
Thame to compleis, or preis to thare presence.
Apon your pen I cry ane loud vengeance!

Wer I ane poeit, I suld preis with my pen
To wreik me on your vennemous wryting.
Bot I man do as dog dois in his den —
Fald baith my feit, or fle fast frome your flyting.
The mekle devil may nocht indure your dyting.
Quharefor cor mundum crea in me I cry,
Proclamand yow the prince of poetry.

Schir, with my prince pertenit me nocht to pley.
Bot sen your grace hes gevin me sic command
To mak answer, it must neidis me obey.
Thocht ye be now strang lyke ane elephand,
And in till Venus werkis maist vailyeand,
The day wyll cum, and that within few yeiris,
That ye wyll draw at laiser with your feiris.

Quhat can ye say forther, bot I am failyeit
In Venus werkis, I grant schir, that is trew;
The tyme hes bene, I wes better artailyeit
Nor I am now, bot yit full sair I rew
That ever I did mouth thankles so persew.
Quharefor tak tent and your fyne powder spair,
And waist it nocht bot gyf ye wit weill quhair.

Thocht ye rin rudelie, lyke ane restles ram,
Schutand your bolt at mony sindrie schellis,
Beleif richt weill, it is ane bydand gam.
Quharefore bewar with dowbling of the bellis,
For many ane dois haist thair awin saule knellis,
And speciallie quhen that the well gois dry,
Syne can nocht get agane sic stufe to by.

I give your counsale to the feynd of hell
That wald nocht of ane princes yow provide,
Tholand yow rin schutand frome schell to schell,
Waistand your corps, lettand the tyme overslyde.6
For lyke ane boisteous bull ye rin and ryde
Royatouslie, lyke ane rude rubeatour,
Ay fukkand lyke ane furious fornicatour.

On ladronis for to loip ye wyll nocht lat,
Howbeit the caribaldis cry the corinoch.
Remember how, besyde the masking fat,
Ye caist ane quene overthort ane stinking troch?
That feynd, with fuffilling of hir roistit hoch,
Caist doun the fat, quharthrow drink, draf and juggis
Come rudely rinnand doun about your luggis.

Wald God the lady that luffit yow best
Had sene yow thair ly swetterand lyke twa swyne!
Bot to indyte how that duddroun wes drest —
Drowkit with dreggis, quhimperand with mony quhryne —
That proces to report, it wer ane pyne.
On your behalf, I thank God tymes ten score
That yow preservit from gut and frome grandgore.

Now schir, fairwell, because I can nocht flyte,
And thocht I could, I wer nocht tyll avance
Aganis your ornate meter to indyte.

Bot yit, be war with lawbouring of your lance:
Sum sayis thar cummis ane bukler furth of France,
Quhilk wyll indure your dintis, thocht thay be dour.
Fairweill, of flowand rethorik the flour!

Quod Lindesay in his flyting
Aganis the Kingis dyting.

The Answer which Sir David Lindsay made to the King’s Scolding

Redoubtable king, your composition I have read,
Which does perturb my dull understanding:
From your scolding, would God that I were freed,
Or else that a tiger’s tongue were to me lent.
Sir, pardon me though I be impatient,
Who is being with your sharpened pen detracted,
And rude report, from Venus’ court dejected.

Lovely ladies, that your letters consult
My company do hold abominable,
Commanding me bear company to the cooks;
Most like a devil, they hold me detestable.
They banish me, saying I am not able
Them to please, or hasten to their presence.
Upon your pen I cry a loud vengeance!

Were I a poet, I should strive with my pen
To avenge me on your venomous writing.
But I must do as a dog does in his den—
Fold both my feet, or flee fast from your scolding.
The great devil may not endure your writing.
Wherefore “cor mundum crea in me” I cry,
Proclaiming you the prince of poetry.

Sir, with my prince it befits me not to contend.
But since your grace has given me such a command,
To make answer, it must needs me to obey.
Though you be now strong like an elephant,
And in all Venus’ works most valiant,
The day will come, and that within a few years,
That you will be at leisure with your friends.

What can you say further, but I am a failure
In Venus’ works, I grant, sir, that is true;
The time has been, I was better armed
Nor I am now, but yet full sore I rue
That ever I did mouth thankless so pursue.
Wherefore take heed and your fine powder spare,
And waste it not but well you know where.

Though you run rudely, like a restless ram,
Shooting your bolt at many sundry targets,
Belief right well, it is a biding game.
Wherefore beware of the doubling of the bells,
For many a one hastens their own soul’s knell,
And specially when that the well goes dry,
Such stuff cannot again be bought.

I give your council to the fiend of hell
That would not of any princess you provide,
Suffering you to run shooting from target to target,
Wasting your body, letting the time pass by.
For like a roaring bull you run and ride
Riotously, like a rude scoundrel,
Always fucking like a furious fornicator.

On whores you will not cease leaping,
Although the bitches cry out,
Remember how, beside the mashing vat,
You cast a wench across the stinking trough?
That fiend, with the jerking about of the back of her thigh,
Cast down the vat, resulting in the drink, dregs, and swill
Came rudely running down about your ears.

Would God the lady that loved you best
Had seen you there, wallowing like two swine!
But to indite how that slut was dressed
(Drenched with dregs, whimpering with many whines),
That to describe and report it were a pain.
On your behalf, I thank God times ten score
That you were preserved from gout and syphilis.

Now sir, farewell, because I cannot scold,
And though I could, I would not advance
Against your ornate meter to indite.
But yet be wary with the labouring of your lance:
Some say there comes a shield out of France,
Which will endure your strokes, though they be hard.
Farewell, of flowing rhetoric the flower!

Said Lindsay in his scolding
Against the King’s writing.


Cor munum crea in me is from Psalm 50 and translates as “create in me a clean heart”.

This poem is full of sexual innuendo with only the very obvious innuendos translating easily. One innuendo that is probably very unclear is “mouth thankless” which is a reference to a vagina.

Some of the terms Lindsay has used to describe the women the king (James V of Scotland) was enjoying are of unclear and debated meaning, although the derogatory nature of them is clear. I have therefore used modern terms (like whores and bitches) in their stead.

A mashing vat was used in the creation of ales and beers.

At the time Lindsay was writing, gout was used as a term for a venereal disease. Syphilis was known to be a venereal disease and was considered separate to whatever disease was referred to as gout.

And, finally, as with all my attempts at putting very old English/Scots into a modern version, I have resisted the temptation to use less archaic words when the original word is still in use and have tried to retain the original syntax as much as possible even when a reordering or change of the words would improve the flow. I also resisted keeping “flyting” (and “dyting”) and used more modern equivalents even though some of the nuance was lost. I used the online Dictionaries of the Scots Language ( to confirm original word meanings.


Date: c1536

By: David Lyndsay (c1490-c1555)

Thursday, 10 May 2012

If This Be Love, To Draw A Weary Breath by Samuel Daniel

If this be love, to draw a weary breath,
To paint on floods till the shore cry to th’air,
With downward looks, still reading on the earth
The sad memorials of my love’s despair;
If this be love, to war against my soul,
Lie down to wail, rise up to sigh and grieve,
The never-resting stone of care to roll,
Still to complain my griefs whilst none relieve;
If this be love, to clothe me with dark thoughts,
Haunting untrodden paths to wail apart;
My pleasures horror, music tragic notes,
Tears in mine eyes and sorrow at my heart.
If this be love, to live a living death,
Then do I love and draw this weary breath.


Date: 1592

By: Samuel Daniel (1562-1619)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

A Strange Description of A Rare Garden Plot by Nicholas Breton

My garden ground of griefe: where selfe wils seeds are sowne,
Whereof comes vp the weedes of wo, that ioies haue ouergrown:
With patience paled round, to keep in secret spight:
And quickset round about with care, to keepe out all delight.

Foure quarters squared out, I finde in sundrie sort;
Whereof according to their kindes, I meane to make report:
The first, the knot of loue, drawne euen by true desier,
Like as it were two harts in one, and yet both would be nier.

The herbe is calde Isop, the iuice of such a taste,
As with the sowre, makes sweete conceits to flie away too fast:
The borders round about, are set with priuie sweete,
Where neuer bird but nightingale, presumde to set hir feete.

From this I stept aside, vnto the knot of care,
Which so was crost with strange co[n]ceits, as tong cannot declare:
The herbe was called Time, which set out all that knot:
And like a Maze me thought it was, when in the crookes I got.

The borders round about, are Sauerie vnsweete:
An herbe not much in my conceit, for such a knot vnmeete:
From this to friendships knot, I stept and tooke the view,
How it was drawne, and then againe, in order how it grew.

The course was not vnlike, a kinde of hand in hand:
But many fingers were away, that there should seeme to stand:
The herbe that set the knot, was Pennie Riall round:
And as me seem’d, it grew full close, and nere vnto the ground.

And parched heere and there, so that it seemed not
Full as it should haue been in deed, a perfect friendship knot:
Heerat I pawsd awhile, and tooke a little view
Of an od quarter drawne in beds, where herbs and flowers grew.

The flowres were buttons fine, for batchelers to beare,
And by those flowres ther grew an herb, was called maiden hear.

Amid this garden ground, a Condit strange I found,
Which water fetcht from sorows spring, to water al the ground:
To this my heauie house, the dungeon of distresse,
Where fainting hart lies panting still, despairing of redresse.

Whence from my window loe, this sad prospect I haue,
A piece of ground wheron to gaze, would bring one to his graue:
Lo thus the welcome spring, that others lends delight,
Doth make me die, to thinke I lie, thus drowned in despight,

That vp I cannot rise, and come abrode to thee,
My fellow sweet, with whom God knowes, how oft I wish to bee:
And thus in haste adieu, my hart is growne so sore,
And care so crookes my fingers ends, that I can write no more.


Date: 1593

By: Nicholas Breton (?1545-?1626)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Accurst Be Love, and Those That Trust His Trains! by Thomas Lodge

Accurst be Love, and those that trust his trains!
He tastes the fruit whilst others toil;
He brings the lamp, we lend the oil;
He sows distress, we yield him soil;
He wageth war, we bide the foil.

Accurst be Love, and those that trust his trains!
He lays the trap, we seek the snare;
He threat’neth death, we speak him fair;
He coins deceits, we foster care;
He favoureth pride, we count it rare

Accurst be Love, and those that trust his trains!
He seemeth blind, yet wounds with art;
He vows content, he pays with smart;
He swears relief, yet kills the heart;
He calls for truth, yet scorns desart.
Accurst be Love, and those that trust his trains!
Whose heaven is hell, whose perfect joys are pains.


Date: 1593

By: Thomas Lodge (?1558-1625)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Farewell to Arms (To Queen Elizabeth) by George Peele

His golden locks Time hath to silver turn’d;
         O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!
His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurn’d,
         But spurn’d in vain; youth waneth by increasing:
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.

His helmet now shall make a hive for bees;
         And, lovers’ sonnets turn’d to holy psalms,
A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees,
         And feed on prayers, which are Age his alms:
But though from court to cottage he depart,
His Saint is sure of his unspotted heart.

And when he saddest sits in homely cell,
         He’ll teach his swains this carol for a song,–
‘Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well,
         Curst be the souls that think her any wrong.’
Goddess, allow this aged man his right
To be your beadsman now that was your knight.


Date: 1590

By: George Peele (1556-1596)

Monday, 23 April 2012

What Cunning Can Express by Edward de Vere

What cunning can express
The favour of her face
To whom in this distress
I do appeal for grace?
     A thousand Cupids fly
    About her gentle eye.

From whence each throws a dart
That kindleth soft sweet fire
Within my sighing heart,
Possessèd by desire.
    No sweeter life I try
    Than in her love to die.

The lily in the field
That glories in his white,
For pureness now must yield
And render up his right.
    Heaven pictured in her face
    Doth promise joy and grace.

Fair Cynthia’s silver light
That beats on running streams
Compares not with her white,
Whose hairs are all sunbeams.
    Her virtues so do shine
    As day unto mine eyne.

With this there is a red
Exceeds the damask rose,
Which in her cheeks is spread,
Whence every favour grows.
    In sky there is no star
    That she surmounts not far.

When Phoebus from the bed
Of Thetis doth arise,
The morning blushing red
In fair carnation wise,
    He shows it in her face
    As queen of every grace.

This pleasant lily-white,
This taint of roseate red,
This Cynthia’s silver light,
This sweet fair Dea spread,
    These sunbeams in mine eye,
    These beauties make me die!


Date: 1593

By: Edward de Vere (1550-1604)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

How the Lover Perisheth in his Delight as the Fly in the Fire by Thomas Wyatt

Some fowls there be that have so perfect sight,
Against the sun their eyes for to defend ;
And some, because the light doth them offend,
Never appear but in the dark or night :
Other rejoice to see the fire so bright,
And ween to play in it, as they pretend,
But find contrary of it, that they intend.
Alas ! of that sort may I be by right ;
For to withstand her look I am not able ;
Yet can I not hide me in no dark place ;
So followeth me remembrance of that face,
That with my teary eyen, swoln, and unstable,
    My destiny to behold her doth me lead ;
    And yet I know I run into the glead.


Date: 1557 (published)

By: Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)