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Aemilia Lanyer

(1569-1645 / England)

The Description Of Cooke-ham


Farewell (sweet Cooke-ham) where I first obtain'd
Grace from that Grace where perfit Grace remain'd;
And where the Muses gaue their full consent,
I should haue powre the virtuous to content:
Where princely Palace will'd me to indite,
The sacred Storie of the Soules delight,
Farewell (sweet Place) where Virtue then did rest,
And all delights did harbour in her breast:
Never shall my sad eies againe behold
Those pleasures which my thoughts did then vnfold:
Yet you (great Lady) Mistris of that Place,
From whose desires did spring this worke of Grace;
Vouchsafe to think vpon those pleasures past
As fleeting worldly Ioyes that could not last:
Or, as dimme shadowes of celestiall pleasures,
Which are desir'd aboue all earthly treasures.
Oh how (me thought) against you thither came,
Each part did seeme some new delight to frame!
The House receiu'd all ornaments to grace it,
And would indure no foulenesse to deface it.
The Walkes put on their summer Liueries,
And all things else did hold like similies:
The Trees with leaues, with fruits, with flowers clad,
Embrac'd each other, seeming to be glad,
Turning themselues to beauteous Canopies,
To shade the bright Sunne from your brighter eies:
The cristall Streames with siluer spangles graced,
H 2

While by the glorious Sunne they were embraced:
The little Birds in chirping notes did sing,
To entertaine both You and that sweet Spring.
And Philomela with her sundry layes,
Both You and that delightfull Place did praise.
Oh how me thought each plant, each floure, each tree
Set forth their beauties then to welcome thee!
The very Hills right humbly did descend,
When you to tread vpon them did intend,
And as you set your feete, they still did rise,
Glad that they could receiue so rich a prise.
The gentle Windes did take delight to bee
Among those woods that were so grac'd by thee.
And in sad murmure vtterd pleasing sound,
That Pleasure in that place might more abound:
The swelling Bankes deliuer'd all their pride,
When such a Phoenix once they had espide.
Each Arbor, Banke, each Seate, each stately Tree,
Thought themselues honor'd in supporting thee.
The pretty Birds would oft come to attend thee,
Yet flie away for feare they should offend thee:
The little creatures in the Burrough by
Would come abraod to sport them in your eye;
Yet fearefull of the Bowe in your faire Hand
Would runne away when you did make a stand.
Now let me come vnto that stately Tree,
Wherein such goodly Prospects you did see;
That Oake that did in height his fellowes passe,
As much as lofty trees, low growing grasse:
Much like a comely Cedar streight and tall,
Whose beauteous stature farre exceeded all:
How often did you visite this faire tree,
Which seeming joyfull in receiuing thee,
Would like a Palme tree spread his armes abroad,
[H 2 verso]

Desirous that you there should make abode:
Whose faire greene leaues much like a comely vaile,
Defended Phebus when he would assaile:
Whose pleasing boughes did yeeld a coole fresh ayre,
Ioying his happinesse when you were there.
Where beeing seated, you might plainely see,
Hills, vales, and woods, as if on bended knee
They had appeard, your honour to salute,
Or to preferre some strange vnlook'd for sute:
All interlac'd with brookes and christall springs,
A Prospect fit to please the eyes of Kings:
And thirteene shires appear'd all in your sight,
Europe could not affoard much more delight.
What was there then but gaue you all content,
While you the time in meditation spent,
Of their Creators powre, which there you saw,
In all his Creatures held a perfit Law;
And in their beauties did you plaine descrie,
His beauty, wisdome, grace, loue, maiestie.
In these sweet woods how often did you walke,
With Christ and his Apostles there to talke;
Placing his holy Writ in some faire tree,
To meditate what you therein did see:
With Moyses you did mount his holy Hill,
To know his pleasure, and performe his Will.
With louely Dauid did you often sing,
His holy Hymnes to Heauens Eternall King.
And in sweet musicke did your soule delight,
To sound his prayses, morning, noone, and night.
With blessed Ioseph you did often feed
Your pined brethren, when they stood in need.
And that sweet Lady sprung from Cliffords race,
Of noble Bedfords blood, faire steame [sic] of Grace;
To honourable Dorset now espows'd,
H 3

In whose faire breast true virtue then was hous'd:
Oh what delight did my weake spirits find,
In those pure parts of her well framed mind:
And yet it grieues me that I cannot be
Neere vnto her, whose virtues did agree
With those faire ornaments of outward beauty,
Which did enforce from all both loue and dutie.
Vnconstant Fortune, thou art most too blame,
Who casts vs downe into so lowe a frame:
Where our great friends wee cannot dayly see,
So great a diffrence is there in degree.
Many are placed in those Orbes of state,
Parters in honour, so ordain'd by Fate;
Neerer in show, yet farther off in loue,
In which, the lowest alwayes are aboue.
But whither am I carried in conceit?
My Wit too weake to conster of the great.
Why not? although we are but borne of earth,
We may behold the Heauens, despising death;
And louing heauen that is so farre aboue,
May in the end vouchsafe vs entire loue.
Therefore sweet Memorie doe thou retaine
Those pleasures past, which will not turne againe:
Remember beauteous Dorsets former sports,
So farre from beeing toucht by ill reports;
Wherein my selfe did alwaies beare a part,
While reuerend Loue presented my true heart:
Those recreations let me beare in mind,
Which her sweet youth and noble thoughts did finde:
Whereof depriu'd, I euermore must grieue,
Hating blind Fortune, carelesse to relieue.
And you sweet Cooke-ham, whom these Ladies leaue,
I now must tell the griefe you did conceaue
At their departure; when they went away,
[H 3 verso]

How euery thing retaind a sad dismay:
Nay long before, when once an inkeling came,
Me thought each thing did vnto sorrow frame:
The trees that were so glorious in our view,
Forsooke both flowres and fruit, when once they knew,
Of your depart, their very leaues did wither,
Changing their colours as they grewe together.
But when they saw this had no powre to stay you,
They often wept, though speechlesse, could not pray you;
Letting their teares in your faire bosoms fall,
As if they said, Why will ye leaue vs all?
This beeing vaine, they cast their leaues away,
Hoping that pitie would haue made you stay:
Their frozen tops, like Ages hoarie haires,
Showes their disaster, languishing in feares:
A swarthy riueld ryne all ouer spread,
Their dying bodies half aliue, halfe dead.
But your occasions call'd you so away,
That nothing there had power to make you stay:
Yet did I see a noble gratefull minde,
Requiting each according to their kind,
Forgetting not to turne and take your leaue
Of these sad creatures, powrelesse to receiue
Your fauour, when with griefe you did depart,
Placing their former pleasures in your heart;
Giuing great charge to noble Memory,
There to preserue their loue continually:
But specially the loue of that faire tree,
That first and last you did vouchsafe to see:
In which it pleas'd you oft to take the ayre,
With noble Dorset, then a virgin faire:
Where many a learned Booke was read and skand
To this faire tree, taking me by the hand,
You did repeat the pleasures which had past,
[H 4]

Seeming to grieue they could no longer last.
And with a chaste, yet louing kisse tooke leaue,
Of which sweet kisse I did it soone bereaue:
Scorning a sencelesse creature should possesse
So rare a fauour, so great happinesse.
No other kisse it could receiue from me,
For feare to giue backe what it tooke of thee:
So I ingratefull Creature did deceiue it,
Of that which you vouchsaft in loue to leaue it.
And though it oft had giu'n me much content,
Yet this great wrong I neuer could repent:
But of the happiest made it most forlorne,
To shew that nothing's free from Fortunes scorne,
While all the rest with this most beauteous tree,
Made their sad consort Sorrowes harmony.
The Floures that on the banks and walkes did grow,
Crept in the ground, the Grasse did weepe for woe.
The Windes and Waters seem'd to chide together,
Because you went away they knew not whither:
And those sweet Brookes that ranne so faire and cleare,
With griefe and trouble wrinckled did appeare.
Those preety Birds that wonted were to sing,
Now neither sing, nor chirp, nor vse their wing;
But with their tender feet on some bare spray,
Warble forth sorrow, and their owne dismay.
Faire Philomela leaues her mournefull Ditty,
Drownd in dead sleepe, yet can procure no pittie:
Each arbour, banke, each seate, each stately tree,
Lookes bare and desolate now for want of thee;
Turning greene tresses into frostie gray,
While in cold griefe they wither all away.
The Sunne grew weake, his beames no comfort gaue,
While all greene things did make the earth their graue:
Each brier, each bramble, when you went away,
[H 4 verso]

Caught fast your clothes, thinking to make you stay:
Delightfull Eccho wonted to reply
To our last words, did now for sorrow die:
The house cast off each garment that might grace it,
Putting on Dust and Cobwebs to deface it.
All desolation then there did appeare,
When you were going whom they held so deare.
This last farewell to Cooke-ham here I giue,
When I am dead thy name in this may liue
Wherein I haue perform'd her noble hest,
Whose virtues lodge in my vnworthy breast,
And euer shall, so long as life remaines,
Tying my heart to her by those rich chaines.
FINIS

Submitted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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