Dunstan Gale

(1560-1660 / England)

Pyramvs And Thisbe - Poem by Dunstan Gale

Neere to the place where Nilus channels runne,
There stood a town by loue long since vndone
For by a chance that hapned in the same,
The town's forgot, & with the towne the name.
Within which towne (for then it was a towne)
Dwelt two commanders of no small renowne,
Daughter to one, was Thisbe smooth as glasse
Fairer then Thisbe neuer woman was.
Sonne to the other, Pyramus the bright
Yong Thisbe's play-feare, Thisbe his delight
Both firme in loue, as constant and were any,
Both crost in loue, as proud Loue crosseth many.
For in the pride of sommers parching heat,
When children play and dally in the street,
Yong Thisbe seuerd from the common sort,
As gentle nurture lothes each rusticke sport,
Went to an arbour, arbours then were greene,
Where all alone, for feare she should be seene,
She gatherd violets and the Damaske rose,
And made sweet nosegaics, from the which she chose,
One of the sweetest. Sweet were all the rest,
But that which pleasd her wanton eye the best.
And this (quoth she) shall be my true loues fauor
Her tender nonage did of true loue fauor.

No sooner spake, but at her speech she blusht
For on the sudden Pyramus in rusht,
Hauing but newly cropt the spredding pine,
And other branches that were greene and fine,
Of which to passe his idle time away,
The boy made wreaths and garlands that were gay,
And spying Thisbe, Thisbe made him start,
And he her blush, so tender was her heart
She blusht, because another was so neere,
He started, for to finde another there;
Yet looking long, at last they knew each other,
For why, they lov'd like sister and like brother.
When they left looking, for they lookt awhile,
First Pyramus, last Thisbe gan to smile,
I was afraide, thus Thisbe straight began
Faint (he replied) a maid and feare a man?
I feard (quoth she) but now my feare is past.
Then welcome me (quoth Pyramus) at last.
Welcome (quoth she) and then she kist his lips,
And he from her, sweet Nectar drops out sips
She pats his lips, he pals her milke white skin.
Thus children sport, and thus true loue begins
But they as children, not as louers gamed,
For loue (alas) twixt them was neuer named.

Oft would he take her by the lillie hand,
Cirkling her middle, straight as any wand,
And cast her downe, but let her lye alone,
For other pastime Pyramus knew none.
Then vp she starts and takes him by the necke,
And for that fall giues Pyramus a checke
Yet at the length she chanst to cast him downe,
Though on the green she neuer gaind a gowne,
But rose againe, and hid her in the grasse,
That he might tract the place where Thisbe was,
And finding her (as children vse) imbrace her,
For being children nothing could disgrace her.
But marke the issue, of their sportiue play,
As this sweet couple in the coole shade lay,
Faire Venus posting whom to Paphos Ile,
Spied their sports, nor could she chuse but smile,
Wherefore she straight vnyok't her siluer teame,
And walkt on foot along the Chrystall streame,
And enuying that these louers were so bold,
VVith iealous eyes she did them both behold.
And as she lookt, casting her eye awry,
It was her chance (vnhappy chance) to spy,
VVhere squint-eyd Cupid fate vpon his quiuer,
Viewing his none-eyd body in the riuer.

Him straight she cald, being cald he made no stay,
But to his mother tooke the neerest way.
Yet ere he came, she markt the tother two,
Playing as oft to sore th'er wont to do
And then she sware, yong Pyramus was faire,
Thisbe but browne, as common women are
Anon she wisht yong Pyramus was neere,
That she might bind loue in his golden haire,
And loue him too, but that she cald to mind,
That yong Adonis proued so vnkinde.
But Cupid came, his comming causd her hate them,
And in a heat, proud Venus gan to rate them.
Seest thou my sonne (quoth she) and then she fround,
Those brattish elues, that dally on the ground?
They scorne my kingdome, and neglect my minde,
Contemne me as inconstant as the winde.
Then shoot (quoth she) and strike them so in loue,
As nought but death, their loue-dart may remoue.
At this he lookt, the boy was loth to shoot,
Yet strucke them both so neere the hearts sweet root,
As that he made them both at once to cry
(Quoth he) I loue, for loue (quoth she) I die.
Of this both Venus, and her blind boy bosted,
And thence to Paphos Isle in triumph posted.

Now was the time, when shepheards told their sheep,
And weary plow-men ease themselues with sleepe,
When loue-prickt Thisbe no where could be found,
Nor Pyramus, though seruants sought them round.
But newes came straight, that Pyramus was seene,
Sporting with Thisbe lately in the euen
Like newes to both their Parents soone was brought;
Which newes (alas) the louers downfals wrought.
For though they lov'd, as you haue heard of yore,
Their angry parents hate was ten times more,
And hearing that their children were together,
Both were afraide least each had murthered other.
When they came home, as long they staid not forth,
Their storming parents fround vpon them both,
And charg'd them neuer so to meet againe,
Which charge to them, God knows was endles paine
For yeres came on, and true loue tooke such strength,
That they were welnigh slaine for loue at length
For though their parents houses ioynd in one,
Yet they poore peats, were ioynd to liue alone.
So great and deadly was the daring hate,
Which kept their moody parents at debate,
And yet their hearts as houses ioynd together,
Though hard constraint, their bodies did disseuer.

At length they found, as searching louers find,
A shift (though hard) which somwhat easd their mind
For lo a time-worne creuis in the wall,
Through this the louers did each other call,
And often talke, but softly did they talke,
Least busie spy-faults should find out their walke
For it was plast in such a secret roome,
As thither did their parents seldome come.
Through this they kist, but with their breath they kist,
For why the hindring wall was them betwixt,
Somtimes poor souls, they talkt till they were windles
And all their talke was of their friends vnkindnes.
When they had long time vsd this late found shift,
Fearing least some should vndermine their drift,
They did agree, but through the wall agreed,
That both should hast vnto the groue with speed,
And in that arbour where they first did meet,
With semblant loue each should the other greet.
The match concluded, and the time set downe,
Thisbe prepar'd to get her forth the towne,
For well she wot, her loue would keepe his houre,
And be the first should come vnto the bowre
For Pyramus had sworne there for to meete her,
And like to Venus champion there to greet her.

Thisbe and he, for both did sit on bryers,
Till they enioyd the height of their desires
Sought out all meanes they could to keep their vow,
And steale away, and yet they knew not how.
Thisbe at last (yet of the two the first)
Got out, she went to coole loues burning thirst,
Yet ere she went (yet as she went) she hide,
She had a care to decke her vp in pride,
Respecting more his loue to whom she went,
Then parents feare, though knowing to be shent,
And trickt her selfe so like a willing louer,
As purblind Cupid tooke her for his mother.
Her vpper garment was a robe of lawne,
On which bright Venus siluer doues were drawne
The like wore Venus, Venus robe was white,
And so was Thisbes, not so faire to sight,
Nor yet so fine, yet was it full as good,
Because it was not stain'd with true loues bloud.
About her waste, she wore a scarfe of blew,
In which by cunning needle-worke she drew
Loue-wounded Venus in the bushie groue,
VVhere she inheated, Adon scornd her loue.
This scarfe she wore, (Venus wore such another)
And that made Cupid take her for his mother.

Nymph-like attyr'd (for so she was attyr'd)
She went to purchase what true loue desyr'd,
And as she trode vpon the tender grasse,
The grasse did kisse her feet as she did passe
And when her feet against a floure did strike,
The bending floures did stoope to doe the like
And when her feet did from the ground arise,
The ground she trod on, kist her heele likewise.
Tread where she would, faire Thisbe could not misse,
For euery grasse would rob her of a kisse.
And more the boughs wold bend, for ioy to meet her
And chanting birds, with madrigals would greet her.
Thus goes this maidlike Nimph, or Nimphlike maid,
Vnto the place afore appointed laid,
And as she past the groues and fountaines cleere,
Where Nymphs vsd hunting, for Nymphs hunted there,
They sware she was Diana, or more bright.
For through the leauie boughs they tooke delight,
To view her daintie footing as she tript
And once they smil'd, for once faire Thisbe slipt,
Yet though she slipt, she had so swift a pace,
As that her slipping wrought her no disgrace
For of the Nymphs (whose coy eyes did attend her)
Of all was none, of all that could amend her.

VVhen she had past Dianes curious traine,
The crooked way did bending turne againe,
Vpon the left hand by a forrest side,
Where (out alas) a woe chance did betide
For loue-adoring Thisbe was so faire,
That bruitish beasts at her delighted are
And from the rest as many beasts did rome,
A lamb deuouring Lion forth did come,
And hauing lately torne a sillie Lambe,
The full gorg'd Lion sported as it came,
To him a sport, his sport made Thisbe hie her,
For why, she durst not let the beast come nie her.
Yet still it came, to welcome her it came,
And not to hurt, yet fearefull is the name,
The name more then the Lion, her dismayd,
For in her lap the Lion would haue playd.
Nor meant the beast to spill her guiltlesse bloud,
Yet doubtfull Thisbe in a fearefull moode,
Let fall her mantle, made of purest white,
And tender heart, betooke her straight to flight,
And neere the place where she should meet her loue,
Shee slipt, but quickely slipt into a groue,
And lo a friendly Caue did entertaine her,
For feare the bloudy Lion should haue slaine her.

Thisbe thus scap't, for thus she scap't his force,
Although (God wot) it fell out farther worse
The Lion came yet meant no harme at all,
And comming found the mantle she let fall,
VVhich now he kist, he would haue kist her too,
But that her nimble footmanship said no.
He found the robe, which quickly he might find,
For being light, it houered in the winde
VVith which the game-some Lion long did play,
Till hunger cald him thence to seeke his prey
And hauing playd, for play was all his pleasure,
He left the mantle, Thisbes chiefest treasure.
Yet ere he left it, being in a mood,
He tore it much, and stain'd it ore with bloud,
Which done, with rage he hasted to his prey,
For they in murther passe their time away.
And now time-telling, Pyramus at last,
(For yet the houre of meeting was not past)
Got forth (he would haue got away before)
But fate and fortune sought to wrong him more
For euen that day, more fatall then the rest,
He needs must giue attendance at a feast,
Ere which was done (swift time was shrewdly wasted)
But being done, the louely stripling hasted.

In hast he ran, but ran in vaine God wot,
Thisbe he sought, faire Thisbe found he not,
And yet at last her long loue robe he found
All rent and torne vpon the bloody ground.
At which suspicion told him she was dead,
And onely that remained in her stead
Which made him weepe, like mothers, so wept he,
That with their eyes their murthered children see;
And gathering vp the limbes in peecemeale torne,
Of their deare burthen murtherously forlorne
So Pyramus sicke thoughted like a mother,
For Thisbes losse, more deare then any other.
Or who hath seene a mournefull Doe lament
For her young Kid, in peecemeale torne and rent,
And by the poore remainders sit and mourne,
For loue of that which (out alas) is gone?
Let him behold sad Pyramus, and say,
Her losse, his loue, doth equall euery way.
For as a man that late hath lost his wits,
Breakes into fury and disaster fits,
So Pyramus in griefe without compare,
Doth rend his flesh, and teare his golden haire,
Making the trees to tremble at his mourning,
And speechlesse beasts to sorrow with his groaning.

Alas (quoth he) and then he tore his flesh,
Gone is the sunne that did my Zone refresh,
Gone is the life, by which I wretch did liue,
Gone is my heauen, which hopefull blisse did giue,
To giue me heat, her selfe lyes nak't and cold,
To giue me life, to death her selfe she sold,
To giue me ioy, she bale alas did gaine,
My heat, life, ioy, procur'd her death, bale, paine
Had I beene here, my loue had not beene dead,
At least the beasts had torne me in her stead,
Or would they yet teare me for company,
Their loue to me would slacke their tyranny.
And then he cast his eyes vpon the ground,
And here and there where bloudie grasse he found;
Sweet bloud (quoth he) and then he kist the bloud,
And yet that kisse God wot did little good,
Couldst thou being powr'd into my halfe slaine brest,
Reuiue againe, or purchase Thisbes rest,
This hand should teare a passage through the same,
And yet that bloud from Thisbe neuer came.
And then he gatherd vp the bloudie grasse,
And looking grieu'd, and grieuing cryde alas,
Where shall I hide this bloud of my deare louer,
That neither man nor beast may it discouer?

Then in the mantle he the grasse vp tide,
And laid it close vnto his naked side
Lie there (quoth he) deare to me as my hart,
Of which thy mistresse had the greater part.
Tut she is dead, and then he vow'd and swore,
He would not liue to murther loue no more
Which spoke, he drew his Rapier from his side,
Of which the loue-slaine youth would then haue dy'd,
But that he thought, that pennance too too small,
To pacifie faire Thisbes Ghost withall
Wherefore he rag'd, and ragingly exclaimed,
That he true loue, and true loue him had maimed.
And then his Rapier vp againe he tooke,
Then on the mantle cast a grieuous looke.
For me (quoth he) faire Thisbe lost this bloud,
She dead, my life would doe me little good,
And well he thought he could endure the smart
Of death, and yet he could not harme his heart
For why his hand being guiltlesse of the deed,
Deny'd to make his harmelesse heart to bleed,
And like a trembling executioner,
Constrain'd to slay a guiltlesse prisoner,
His hand retired still, further backe and further,
As lothing to enact so vile a murther.

But Pyramus like to a raging Iudge,
Seeing his executioner flinch, and grudge
To do the duty he enioyn'd him do,
Reply'd, dispatch, or Ile cut thee off too.
At which the trembling hand tooke vp the blade,
But when the second profer it had made,
It threw it downe, and boldly thus replyed,
He was not cause that louely Thisbe dyed,
Nor would I slay thee, knew I she were dead
Then be the bloud vpon thy guiltie head.
Of these last words young Pyramus dispences,
And cald a synodie of all his seuer'd sences.
His conscience told him, he deserv'd not death,
For he deprav'd not Thisbe of her breath
But then suspicion thought, he causd her dye,
But conscience swore, suspition told a lye.
At this suspicion prompted loue in th'eare,
And bad him shew his verdict, and come neare,
Which soone he did, and sate among the rest,
As one whom Pyramus esteemed best
For when proud Loue gaue in his faultie plea,
He askt if he were guiltie, Loue said yea,
And with the youth, fond youth by loue entangled,
Agreed his guiltlesse body should be mangled.

Resolv'd to die he sought the pointed blade,
Which erst his hand had cast into the shade,
And see, proud Chance, fell Murthers chiefest frend,
Had pitcht the blade right vpwards on the end,
Which being loth from murther to depart,
Stood on the hilt, point-blanke against his hart
At which he smil'd, and checkt his fearefull hand,
That stubbornely resisted his command.
And though (quoth he) thou scorn'd to doe my will,
What lets me now my minde for to fulfill?
Both Fate and Fortune to my death are willing,
And be thou witnesse of my minds fulfilling.
With that he cast himselfe vpon the sword,
And with the fall his tender brest through gor'd
The angry bloud, for so his bloud was sheed,
Gusht out, to finde the author of the deed,
But when it none but Pyramus had found,
Key cold with feare it stood vpon the ground,
And all the bloud, I meane that thus was spilt,
Ran downe the blade, and circled in the hilt,
And presently congeald about the same,
And would haue cald it by some murtherous name,
Could it haue spoke, nere sought it any further,
But did arrest the Rapier of the murther.

And as the child that seeth his father slaine,
Will runne (alas) although he runne in vaine,
And hug about the shedder of his bloud,
Although God wot, his hugging do small good,
Euen so his bloud, the ofspring of his heart,
Ran out amaine, to take his fathers part,
And hung vpon the rapier and the hilt,
As who should say, the sword his bloud had spilt
Nor would depart, but cleaue about the same,
So deare it lov'd the place from whence it came
For sure it was poore Pyramus was murthered,
Nor by pursute, could his poore bloud be furthred.
When this was done, as thus the deed was done,
Begun, alas, and ended too too soone,
Faire Thisbe strucken pale with cold despaire,
Came forth the Caue into the wholsome aire
And as she came, the boughs would giue her way,
Thinking her Venus in her best array.
But she (alas) full of suspicious feare,
Least that the late feard Lion should be there,
Came quaking forth, and then start backe againe,
Fearing the beast, and yet she fear'd in vaine.
She fear'd the Lion, Lions then were feeding,
And in this feare, her nose gusht out a bleeding.

Her sudden bleeding argued some mischance,
Which cast her doubtfull senses in a trance,
But of the Lion troubled Thisbe thought,
And then of him, whom fearefully she sought
Yet forth she went, replete with iealous feare,
Still fearing, of the Lion was her feare
And if a bird but flew from forth a bush,
She straightwaies thought, she heard the Lion rush.
Her nose left bleeding, that amaz'd her more
Then all the troublous feare she felt before
For sudden bleeding argues ill ensuing,
But sudden leauing, is fell feares renewing.
By this she came into the open wood,
Where Pyramus had lost his dearest bloud,
And round about she rolles her sun bright eyes
For Pyramus, whom no where she espies
Then forth she tript, and nearly too she tript,
And ouer hedges oft this virgin skipt.
Then did she crosse the fields, and new mown grasse,
To find the place whereas this arbour was
For it was seated in a pleasant shade,
And by the shepheards first this bowre was made.
Faire Thisbe made more haste into the bower,
Because that now was iust the meeting hower.

But comming thither, as she soone was there,
She sound him not, which did augment her feare
But straight she thought (as true loue think, the best)
He had beene laid downe in the shade to rest,
Or of set purpose hidden in the reeds,
To make her seeke him in the sedgie weeds,
For so of children they had done before,
Which made her thoughts seeme true so much the more
But hauing sought whereas she thought he was,
Shee could not finde her Pyramus (alas)
Wherefore she back return'd vnto the arbor,
And there reposd her after all her labor.
To one that's weary drowsie sleepe will creepe,
Weary was Thisbe, Thisbe fell asleepe,
And in her sleepe she dreamt she did lament,
Thinking her heart from forth her brest was rent,
By her owne censure damn'd to cruell death,
And in her sight bereft of vitall breath.
When she awak't, as long she had not slept,
She wept amaine, yet knew not why she wept
For as before her heart was whole and sound,
And no defect about her could be found,
She dreamt she hurt, no hurt could she discouer,
Wherefore she went to seeke her late lost louer.

Suspicious eyes, quick messengers of wo,
Brought home sad newes ere Thisbe farre could go
For lo, vpon the margent of the wood,
They spy'd her loue, lye weltring in his bloud,
Hauing her late lost mantle at his side,
Stained with bloud, his hart bloud was not dry'd.
VVisty she lookt, and as she lookt did cry,
See, see, my hart, which I did iudge to dye
Poore hart (quoth she) and then she kist his brest,
VVert thou inclosd in mine, there shouldst thou rest
I causd thee die poore heart, yet rue thy dying,
And saw thy death, as I asleepe was lying.
Thou art my hart, more deare then is mine owne,
And thee sad death in my false sleepe was showne
And then she pluckt away the murtherous blade,
And curst the hands by whom it first was made,
And yet she kist his hand that held the same,
And double kist the wound from whence it came.
Himselfe was author of his death she knew,
For yet the wound was fresh, and bleeding new,
And some bloud yet the ill-made wound did keepe,
VVhich when she saw, she freshly gan to weepe,
And wash the wound with fresh tears down distilling,
And view'd the same (God wot) with eyes vnwilling.

She would haue spoke, but griefe stopt vp her breath,
For me (quoth she) my Loue is done to death,
And shall I liue, sighes stopt her hindmost word,
When speechlesse vp she tooke the bloudy sword,
And then she cast a looke vpon her Loue,
Then to the blade her eye she did remoue,
And sobbing cride, since loue hath murthred thee,
He shall not chuse but likewise murther me
That men may say, and then she sigh'd againe,
I him, he me, loue him and me hath slaine.
Then with resolue, loue her resolue did further
With that same blade, her selfe, her selfe did murther.
Then with a sigh, she fell vpon the blade,
And from the bleeding wound the sword had made,
Her fearefull bloud ran trickling to the ground,
And sought about, till Pyramus it found
And hauing found him, circled in his corse,
As who should say, llegard thee by my force.
And when it found his bloud, as forth it came,
Then would it stay, and touch, and kisse the same,
As who should say, my mistresse loue to thee,
Though dead in her, doth still remaine in me.
And for a signe of mutuall loue in either,
Their ill shed bloud congealed both together.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 18, 2010



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