Biography of Stephen Hawes
Stephen Hawes (died 1523), was a popular English poet during the Tudor period who is now little known. He was probably born in Suffolk owing to the commonness of the name in that area and, if his own statement of his age may be trusted, was born about 1474. He was educated at Oxford and travelled in England, Scotland and France. On his return his various accomplishments, especially his most excellent vein in poetry, procured him a place at court. He was Groom of the Chamber to Henry VII, as early as 1502. According to Anthony Wood, he could repeat by heart the works of most of the English poets, especially the poems of John Lydgate, whom he called his master. He was still living in 1521, when it is stated in Henry VIII's household accounts that £6, 13s. 4d. was paid to Mr Hawes for his play, and he died before 1530, when Thomas Field, in his Conversation between a Lover and a Jay, wrote "Yong Steven Hawse, whose soule God pardon, Treated of love so clerkly and well". His capital work is The History of Graunde Amour and la Bel Pucel, conteining the knowledge of the Seven Sciences and the Course of Mans Life in this Woride or The Passetyme of Pleasure, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1509, but finished three years earlier. It was also printed with slightly varying titles by the same printer in 1517, by J. Wayland in 1554, by Richard Tottel and by John Waley in 1555. Tottels edition was edited by T. Wright and reprinted by the Percy Society in 1845.
The Passetyme of Pleasure is a long allegorical poem in seven-lined stanzas of mans life in this world. It is divided into sections after the manner of Le Morte d'Arthur and borrows the machinery of romance. Its main motive is the education of the knight, Graunde Amour, based, according to Mr W. J. Courthope (Hist. of Eng. Poetry, vol. I. 382), on the Marriage of Mercury and Philology, by Martianus Capella, and the details of the description prove Hawes to have been well acquainted with medieval systems of philosophy. At the suggestion of Fame, and accompanied by her two greyhounds, Grace and Governance, Graunde Amour starts out in quest of La Bel Pucel. He first visits the Tower of Doctrine or Science where he acquaints himself with the arts of grammar, logic, rhetoric and arithmetic. After a long disputation with the lady in the Tower of Music he returns to his studies, and after sojourns at the Tower of Geometry, the Tower of Doctrine, the Castle of Chivalry, etc., he arrives at the Castle of La Bel Pucel, where he is met by Peace, Mercy, Justice, Reason and Memory. His happy marriage does not end the story, which goes on. to tell of the oncoming of Age, with the concomitant evils of Avarice and Cunning. The admonition of Death brings Contrition and Conscience, and it is only when Remembraunce has delivered an epitaph chiefly dealing with the Seven Deadly Sins, and Fame has enrolled Graunde Amours name with the knights of antiquity, that we are allowed to part with the hero. This long imaginative poem was widely read and esteemed, and certainly exercised an influence on the genius of Edmund Spenser.
Hawes' poetry sought to revive the earlier medieval romances and allegorical poems which he much admired. Other works of Hawes include The Conversyon of Swerers (1509) and A Joyfidi Medytenon to all Englonde, a coronation poem (1509).
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Stephen Hawes Poems
The True Knight
FOR knighthood is not in the feats of warre, As for to fight in quarrel right or wrong, But in a cause which truth can not defarre: He ought himself for to make sure and strong,
The Example of Vertu : Cantos VIII.-XIV.
Dame Sapyence taryed a lytell whyle Behynd the other saynge to Dyscrecyon And began on her to laugh and smyle
The Pastime of Pleasure
The good Dame Mercy with Dame Charyte My body buryed full ryght humbly In a fayre temple of olde antyquyte, Where was for me a dyryge devoutely
The Example of Vertu : Cantos I.-VII.
Whan I aduert in my remembraunce The famous draughtes of poetes eloquent Whiche theyr myndes dyd well enhaunce Bokes to contryue that were expedyent
The Cōuercyon of Swerers
The fruytfull sentence & the noble werkes To our doctryne wryten in olde antyquyte By many grete and ryght notable clerkes
The Cōforte of Louers
The gentyll poetes/vnder cloudy fygures Do touche a trouth/and clokeit subtylly Harde is to cōstrue poetycall scryptures
The Pastime of Pleasure : The First Part...
Ryyght myghty prynce / & redoubted souerayne Saylynge forthe well / in the shyppe of grace Ouer the wawes / of this lyfe vncertayne
The Tower of Doctrine - (from the Histor...
I loked about, and sawe a craggy roche Farre in the west, neare to the element; And as I dyd then unto it approche,
Go lytell treatyse deuoyde of eloquence Tremblynge for drede to approche the maieste Of our souerayne lorde surmountynge in excellence
A Ioyfull medytacyon to all Englonde of ...
The prudent problems/& the noble werkes Of the gentyll poetes in olde antyquyte Unto this day hath made famous clerkes
O MORTAL folk, you may behold and see How I lie here, sometime a mighty knight; The end of joy and all prosperitee Is death at last, thorough his course and might:
Go lytell treatyse deuoyde of eloquence
Tremblynge for drede to approche the maieste
Of our souerayne lorde surmountynge in excellence
But vnder the wynge of his benygnyte
Submyttynge the to his mercyfull pyte
And beche his grace to pardon thy rudenes
Whiche of late was made to eschewe ydylnes.