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JOHN STRADLING’S EPIGRAMS
1. ON HIS BOOKS. TO THE BOOKSELLER
That his books will sell the better, a bookseller makes trial of all the arts. He requests that a distinguished patron be sought out, he proposes more alluring titles, he seeks for a poem of commendation, and his prentices shout over and over before your doors, Paul, “Hey, will any learned man buy a slim volume on the cheap? It’s refined, elegant, novel, and crammed with jokes.” There’s a profit (for such a master of these arts you are) in whetting the keen edge of wit for fools. I forbid you to hawk my books this way, I want them to be printed tersely and elegantly. If they have anything in them of undiluted sweetness, they will require less ivy garlands to be draped over them.
2. ON MOMUS
You snigger at elegant poets, more laughable yourself. For you have a silly, inelegant head.
3. TO SIR EDWARD STRADLING, ON HIS COMBAT WITH THE SEVERN
“Nothing is fair but that which is difficult.” It befits great men to conquer arduous things, but small men to undertake small things. Being very troublesome, the water of the sea which is your neighbor aroused your mind and your wit. The farmsteads where they touch the rivers Ogmor and Thaw as they descend, here was the greatest casus belli. Here the water was snatching, there it was spitefully casting up yellow sand, but, bested in this tract, it yielded to you on both counts. Then it furiously raged closer at hand, and it made an attempt on the borders of St. Donat’s, but receded, being routed by hard work. With its waves it washed the nearby walls, and your garden was drenched with the spray which it spewed with an ill will. Here it was partially conquered, but in part the victorious water triumphed, and savagely shook off the yoke that had been placed upon it. Lo, here a trusty quay had been constructed for boats, a great work! But the sea, being greater, defeated this work. Then, content with its freedom, it quickly subsided, nor marched against your authority. Thus peace between it and you exists (and may it last forever). It holds its own, and you must hold yours.
4. TO HIS DEAREST
Since man and woman are one, it would be the mark of a fool to praise himself, or to rail at a misbehavior. Perhaps my verses cannot pronounce your praises (through they be) without blame. If it is a crime to speak or write the truth, let it be so. Yet it would be a greater fault for me to have held my silence, even if your own virtue speaks for itself, so that it is enough to speak a few words in summary. I scarce know what is to be praise first, or what second. In you, each of the virtues is the greatest, none is second.
5. ON MARIANUS
You exclaim that I err in uttering solecisms, Marianus. Ipsa ego is a wife, alter ego is a friend. I admit that there is a solecism about you and your wife. For you are fidus (faithful) to nobody, nor is she fida to you.
6. TO ANNE G., HIS WIFE’ SISTER
The beauty scarce to be scorned by chaste girls, the sobriety which is a matron’s greatest praise, these both you show you to be a matron and a girl. The one is acquired, the other innate.
7. TO THE COLLEGE AT BRISTOL DEDICATED TO ST. AUGUSTINE
Here, where was the first school of my wanton youth, take to yourself the firstfruits of my study. Lo, I give you the firstfruits, and I rightly owe you the second. If there is anything in me of art or judgment, it is yours.
8. TO THE KING
You have as many lions, James, as you have kingdoms. But one lion rightly presides over these four. Who is so great a lion? You? No, but One who protects you and yours. You, Christ, are a lion of the tribe of Judah.
9. TO THE RIGHT REVEREND TOBIE MATTHEW OF BRISTOL, BISHOP OF DURHAM
From the throne upon which you learnedly sit you give precepts to the congregation, which your mind and zeal are prompt to follow. Teaching by word and example, you perform the two duties of a great doctor, not without the highest praise.
10. TO THE RIGHT REVEREND DR. GERVASE BABINGTON, BISHOP OF WORCESTER AND VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL COUNCIL IN THE MARCHES OF WALES. 1605
You are a prelate for a clergy and a vice-president for the laity, and you mould them both with your precepts and govern them with your judgment. The reward for you is double, and the praise owed to you is twofold. For the labor is double, and your care is twofold.
11. TO THE RIGHT REVEREND (AND JUSTLY REVERED BY THE POET) DOMINUS FRANCIS GODWIN, BISHOP OF LLANDAFF
Prelate, you rule God’s flock, of which you are yourself a part, and pasture your tender sheep on green grass. When the great Prelate comes, the Shepherd of souls, he will give you safe pasturage amidst your sheep.
12. TO PREACHERS OF HOLY THINGS
God’s harvest is bountiful, the rewards of being busied with it are great. Therefore you must toil, nor can you ever speak enough. It is not nothing to transmit mysteries to the congregation, and to say what things must be piously done. But to have taught others that which you do not do yourselves is to construct an ark for other men, and for you yourself to die in the wave of the sea.
13. ON MARCUS
As a suitor, Marcus, you have often pursued many girls. So far not one has yielded to your wishes. You are wealthy and young, handsome, sturdy, and bold. Yet fortune alone (as you suppose) is hostile to you. He struggles in vain, you say, who fights against the fates. You complain that to you the Fates are always unkind. Thus at length, compelled to end your life with a noose, you exclaim that the Fates are harsh on you!
14. ON RUFINUS
When your quarreling neighbor calls you a donkey, “Not so!” says your wife. For you wear horns.
15. ON ROWLAND, A PRACTICING PHYSICIAN
Lately a horse-leech, Rowland are you not a skilled man, when you become a physician? Doling out his drugs to the commons and the ignorant folk, he who was a doctor of horses is now a doctor of donkeys.
16. ON BARBARA
Barbara is my friend, but this friend is not barbarous, my Barbara is wholly free of barbarity. The name sounds of barbarism, but the thing is most elegant. The thing is elegant, though the name is rather horrid. My Barbara subsists per se, she is pure girl. What does not subsist, I deny to be my girl. I am speaking grammatically, my Barbara is not a barbarian. Mine is a proper noun, ergo she’s a good girl.
17. ON LUCILLA
Lucilla walks chastely and talks modestly. Maidenly in her gait, girlish in her voice — that suffices.
18. ON MARCUS
Marcus’ wit provides him with clothing and food. His with supplies the wealth, Satan supplies the wit.
19. ON LIPPUS, PLACED IN THE STOCKS
Having committed a crime, Largus lamented when clapped in the stocks, and many tears fell from his eyes. His wife said, “My husband, many a citizen more honest than you has sat here before now.” What a consolation!
20. BENEATH THE PRINCE’S COAT OF ARMS IN THE HALL OF THE STRADLING’S CASTLE ST. DONAT’S IN WALES
Long bereft, happy with Prince Henry. By him, I trust, Wales will be an everlasting light.
21. TO JAMES, MOST AUGUST MONARCH OF BRITAIN. 1603
Inasmuch as Britain is divided from the whole world, it should therefore be more undivided in itself. The empire which, torn into scraps, countless toparchs possessed, you rightly possess united as a monarch. For that the harmonious Britons might become a single race is due, King James, to your genius.
22. ΒΑΣΙΛΙΚΟΝ ΔΩΡΟΝ. 1603
Greatest king, by giving your small son the greatest gifts, you teach him how he may be the greatest. To be schooled well and born well, these are the two greatest things, and in this world it is a rare father that bestows them both. You are like Solomon, instructed in every art. Your genius is an ocean, King James. Though rivers may stream from them both, the return, and, with others filled, both remain full. Learn, lad, the things that such a great professor and father teaches, so that you may be like your father.
23. TO THE MOST NOBLE HENRY, FIRST TO BE HAILED BY THE ENGLISH AS PRINCE AFTER TEN LUSTRA
What does it matter if, after so many lustra have past, no prince (whom they might love in return) has been in the mouths of the Welsh? Since God gives an accomplish one to all these numbers, it is sufficient to have him after lengthy delays.
24. TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS SIR WILLIAM, EARL OF PEMBROKE, MOST HONORED BY THE POET
Wit does not suffice for the experienced bard, the deeds of heroes should provide a subject. To fob off untrue things as true is an effort for a lying poet, but a shame for an honest one. I may speak of you whatever my Muse may wish in a finished poem, without effort or shame. In you (as located in their proper residence) reside religion, old-time faith, prudence, and the conjoined virtues. In many men it is an effort to discover one, but it is an effort to extricate one out of your many.
25. TO LADY ANNE, HIS SOLE SISTER, A MOST NOBLE GIRL, IN POOR HEALTH
What many have learned at the risk of the souls, you learn by the harm of your body: to scorn this transitory world, to aspire to higher things, how lightly death comes to the weary, these you learn before death.
26. TO SIR THOMAS EGERTON, SOLDIER, THE RIGHT NOBLE BARON ELLESMERE, LORD CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND
Although it may seem wrong for the statutes to be coerced, and always to deny the laws their power, yet this is made your highest power, so that you may impose a limit on laws. Without you as judge, justice would sometimes be unjust, and by giving laws to the laws you make them fair. Nearest to the first, you ply the laws’ reins, and do not allow straight laws to take a curving path.
27. TO SIR JOHN POPHAM, SOLDIER, CHIEF JUSTICE OF ENGLAND, A MOST KEEN AVENGER OF WRONGDOING, TO WHOM THE POET IS OBLIGED FOR MANY A REASON
Among the labors of Hercules this one is reported, that he boldly overcame the Maenalian boar. But many an Erymanthian ravaging our fields has yielded to you. Thus in this you are greater than Hercules.
28. TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS SIR HENRY, EARL OF SOUTHAMPTON
You have experienced good fortune and bad. Every prudent, brave man has borne both.
29. ON GELLIUS
You ask what kind of reader I want, Gellius? An honorable one, unlike yourself.
30. TO THE EXCELLENT POET EDMUND SPENCER, ON CERTAIN MANUSCRIPTS BURNED BY FIRE BY IRISH OUTLAWS DURING THE IRISH REBELLION
I knew that your genius is such a river, that I imagined it could scarce be consumed by flames. Butt fire has in part swallowed the river of your genius. What kind fire was it that could devour a river? A forest people cast on it forest fires. No rivers withstand such conflagrations.
31. TO SAMUEL DANIEL, A MOST CELEBRATED POET
You too are a bard not least among our bards, laurel wreaths are due your brow. While you sing of Mars, Mars becomes fiercer than himself. And when you sing of Venus, Venus more graceful.
32. TO MICHAEL DRAYTON, AN EXCELLENT POET
Your first Muse came to greet James, this was not your last glory as a bard. Singing of heroes and heroines, your Clio places them among the semigods and semigoddesses. And what you grant to them rebounds upon yourself: as it is given them to live through you, so through them you yourself cannot die.
33. TO THE DEVONIANS
Troy flourished with its Hector, Greece with its Homer. You have many a Hector, many a son of Maeon.
34. ON GELLIA
Gellia does not lie save when business is involved, and she believes that to lie about her business is no crime.
35. ON MARCUS
Oh the shame, armed you attack your unarmed wife, since she has no horns, and you have great ones.
36. ON BALBUS
You call the epigrams I write trifles. What then? Am I not permitted to write what you do?
37. ON IDA AND MOPSA, FOUNDLINGS
Neither Mopsa nor Ida is assigned to the feminine class, no matter how the rule of grammar opposes. They both are of uncertain class, since they have no idea what parents, family, or ancestors they have had.
38. π - ο - η. A MAN OF THREE LETTERS. ON BATTUS
You boast that you are designated by these three letters, Battus. Assume this is so, see how your name is written in three.
39. NUMBER FOR NUMBER. ON MARIANUS
Going abroad, Marianus, you gave your wife a maid. Returning, you found two men. She encountered you in your wrath: “My husband, rhetoric is a fine thing — number for number, gender for gender.”
40. TO A POET
That you may have a candid reader, let your stuff be candid. Write with black ink, but without a black mind.
41. A TESTAMENT
I bequeath my soul to Christ, my body to the tomb, my sons to my nation, my wife and little daughters to their management. I consign my epigrams to water and fire (and the rest of my goods to the clergy), if in any way they please bad men, or displease good.
42. TO FURIA
You ask that I write something of you, Furia, and that your name be in my verses. And so, that the wish of such a sweet friend not be in vain, here I insert these things about you, Furia, and your name.
43. TO THE SAME
I have no idea what to write about you, good Furia, save this one thing, that you have nothing worthy to be commemorated.
44. TO CALVUS
All things are full of fools, but everything is not full for you. For your head is empty.
45. ON GELLIA
Everything hidden is unknown, unknown is everything that hides. Hiding, Gellia, you alone are very well known.
46. ON POLLUS
You go lean thanks to the wives and maids of your neighbors. Ah you sin, you are an unpopular man. But your stallion grows fatter in your neighbor’s cultivated fields, he is not an unpopular horse.
47. TO HIS FRIEND THOMAS LEYSON, PHYSICIAN OF BATH
Tell me what’s the part of the world where cold things are hot? The splendid city of Bath issues warm waters. But you ask where hot things are cold? Everywhere brotherly love waxes cold, which ought to be warm.
48. ON BOASTFUL MAURUS
Maurus often recounts to his friends all the battles he fought as a youth, and the wounds he suffered. Then, in what lands he earned his wages as a soldier, how much he accomplished on foot, and how much as a brave cavalryman. Unhappy Maurus, why not describe the squabble which you lately had with fair Phyllis? It was a doubtful battle, the outcome was damaging to both: she lost her fingernails, he his hair.
49. FOR HIS NEPHEW EDWARD STRADLING, A LAD OF EXCELLENT HOPE TAKEN OFF BY PLAGUE
I had the highest hopes for you, but the crop withered while still in its shoots, and my hope was dashed. Yet in you I was not deceived; deceiving death, envious of your beginnings, imposed on me. But though it is deceptive, death is deceived. For I have the highest hopes for you, and now this hope is not vain.
50. ON HIS KINSMAN THOMAS STRADLING, A YOUTH OF EXCELLENT HOPE
Another Stradling has fallen! Another hope of the Stradlings has perished! Alas, he has fallen, he has perished. Thus, death ripe and unripe, do you often snatch old men and boys on the same terms? Ah, you spare nobody. Nobody has been helped by age, wit, strength, glory, candor, or wealth. Thus, since death spares nobody, our sole hope is thus to live that you have no concern about dying.
51. FOR ELIZABETH, LATELY THE MOST PUISSANT QUEEN OF ENGLAND &c
He who understands much in few words may say “Elisa.” A great virgin lies beneath this small marble.
52. ALLEGORY. ON AEMILIANUS
You exist amidst bees, Aemilianus, yet you are a drone. You have neither a sting in your tail, or honey in your mouth.
53. ON A CERTAIN GREAT MAN, DEAD
In life, a bevy of Gnathos pursued you, now when your dead not one is at hand. The worms you fed in life have abandoned you, only the worm attends such a great funeral.
54. ON GALLA
Galla, you never sleep on your back. But, keeping awake at nights, you often lie on your back.
55. TO MACRINUS
You compare your wife to an eel. Angrily she shouts back, “Every fish is mute, but I talk.”
56. TO THE READER LEARNED AND UNLEARNED
Learned and unlearned, we all write poetry. Why not? Whatever manner of man you are, reader, you have verse fit for yourself.
57. THE SHIPWRECKED MERCHANT
Fleeing poverty over the sea I am made destitute, the unstable wave does not stabilize my estate.
58. ON CARINUS
Since nature abhors a vacuum, why are your purse and your head empty? Nature erred when you created you, a monstrosity, but the defect of the other, Carinus, is your own fault.
59. TO HIS FRIEND THOMAS LEYSON, ABOUT SOME VERSES SCRIBBLED ON A JOURNEY
Like the dog running along the Nile who loses most of what he carries, what wonder if he begets blind puppies?
60. ON BALBA, A BASTARD
You are not born only for yourself. Part of your birth is due to your father, part to your nation, and part to your people.
61. TO PAUL, CLERGYMAN AND PHYSICIAN
While you wish to be a deemed a healer of souls and bodies, you ruin the bodies and souls of many a man.
62. ON A CERTAIN MAN BOASTING HE IS AN EXTEMPORIZING POET
All the poems you give us you pour forth ex tempore. Of what quality (by the Muses) will be the ones you have prepared?
Solomon was not the eighth wise man, but the first. For he by himself was more learned than the other seven.
64. CHRIST THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. TO HIS INTIMATE FRIEND R. A.
I recall that you call that you call the sun the eye and light of the world. I see that the greatest error is in these words. Two govern by turns, the sun and the moon, she more dimly the night, he more brightly the day. Christ is the light of the world. Only those things shine which have anything of light within themselves. Omnipotent, He thus brightens the shadows with light, that both the night and the day are equal in brightness.
65. SANCTIFY THE SABBATH
You do not sanctify the Sabbath by doing nothing, but the whole day ought to be spent in doing good. Since it is right for holy people to live sacredly every day, thus for the pious every day is a Sabbath.
Grammarians err when they write “religion” in the plural, for religion is singular. Theologians err in making the word in the second person, when it should only be in the first.
When religion shuns moderation and the Mean, and rests on vain things, it is made into superstition.
68. THE APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL
You shaped the Jews and the gentiles into a single faith. Ah, why do we refuse to follow what these men have taught?
69. CHRISTIAN FREEDOM. TO HIS FRIEND DOMINUS ROBERT ROBINSON
Slavery to Christ is the greatest freedom. The world’s freedom is the mind’s ruinous yoke.
70. CHRIST AND MOSES
The one is the Master of the house, the other the greatest of His servants. I have trust in the other, but, Christ, I place my faith in You.
71. FAITH AND WORKS. TO HIS FRIEND DOMINUS ROBERT ROBOTHAM
Faith without works is nothing, and the other is nothing without it. And they are both nothing, Christ, without Your merits.
72. A PARADOX ABOUT SIN. TO A CERTAIN FRIEND
You call seven sins mortal, and many designate all sins by this title. No sin is mortal. Sins live and thrive. We sinners die, they do not.
73. FOUR EXILES FROM HEAVEN
These four do not get into heaven: the miser, the heretic, the adulterer, the savage murderer.
74. CAIN AND ABEL
Once there was only one brother in the world who had a brother, and the two were not able to live in brotherly love. Rather, a brother polluted his hand with fraternal blood. Lo, once the friendship of brothers was rare!
75. FASTING AND PRAYER. TO HIS KINSMAN HENRY WYNDHAM
Why does Scripture often associate fasting with prayer? Nobody is free at one time both for the flesh and the spirit.
76 PIOUS USURY. ON CAMILLUS
“Give your goods to the poor,” a fellow religionist urges Camullus, “you will receive back a hundredfold with interest.” Thus the vain fellow twists the devotee’s pious words: “I do not care to be enriched by interest.”
One traitor among twelve disciples. Out of many men scarce one is loyal.
78. FOR JUDAS AND THE SIMONIAC
Depraved Judas sold Christ for money, the Simoniac wants to sell the Holy Ghost. Buyer and seller are both depraved, Judas-like. Whoever sells or buys the sacred is sacrilegious.
79. TO CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR, GOD AND MAN
By joining human nature to the divine, You are made man and God, yet You are one. You are wholly man and wholly God, wholly one. For the pious, these things are to be believed, not rejected.
80. CHRIST’S CROSS
The ancients called the cross the “baleful wood.” But the unhappy tree is happy because of Your blood, Christ.
81. CHRIST’S MIRACLES
Since Jesus healed the deaf and the blind with a word, oh you men are blind who are unmoved by these amazing signs!
82. ON PONTICUS
By abjuring faith what does Ponticus lose? He had no faith. See, he’s lost nothing.
Your death is death for death. You live, it is life. Nor do You ever allow those You revive to die.
84. CHRIST AND THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
A virgin, mother of God, Son without a Father, You acknowledge her as Your mother, she worships You as God. Oh how great it is to have given birth to God! But with the Judge born, it was more for the mother to believe than to have given birth.
85. THE HOLY MARTYRS
Holy band, legion hateful to dire tyrants, this is for you to vanquish your enemies — to suffer. No victory is more splendid, the enemies are bested by your blood, and receive a wound by your wounding.
86. ST. STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR
Stephen the first martyr, receive this garland of martyrdom. Like an augury, this name possesses an omen.
Bloody man, by befouling your hand with the blood of children, when you imagine you are strengthening your reign, you hasten ruin for your miserable self, with Christ the avenger, and in vain you strive to go against God.
Guiltily condemning innocent Christ without guilt, why do you wash your hands as if they were cleaned? Clean as your hand may be, for you in your wretchedness your mind is polluted. The more you wish to dissimulate, the more you are sinful.
89. FAITH IS RARE
Why is faith rare in the world. Because these are now the last times, there is scarcely a faithful man in the world. A royal prophet once exclaimed this with his voice. This modern world falls into a worst condition than that one was.
90. ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE
That Christ’s resurrection might be more assured to us, in the beginning you refused to let it be assured to you.
91. ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
The Baptist was the greatest of those born of men, by whose washing You were willing to be touched, Christ. Although he was greater than others, was is far less than You alone. He was great in this, that he has served You more.
92. ST. PETER THE APOSTLE
“Feed my sheep and lambs.” Christ said thrice, “This man will be a witness of unfeigned love for Me.” Pastors, feed your flock, not yourselves. The see of St. Peter befits learned, good men.
93. ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE
By a change of name, you were transformed from Saul to Paul, great in fact though that name has the sound of smallness (paulum). With you the teacher, the profane nations learned a faith thrice holy, and gave their hearts to Christ our God.
94. THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
A virgin mother gave birth to a boy, but without a father. What a mother she was, and what a boy was he! A man lacking a father, God with a mother. To comprehend such great mysteries is the work of faith, not reason.
95. ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST
Beloved servant of God, belovedness resounds in your writings. Christ ordained this, and you yourself teach it.
96. THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL. TO RICE MORGANS, CLERGYMAN AND FRIEND
Do not the Law and the Gospel enjoin contrary things, when the Law says “do this,” and the Gospel “believe this”? There is one goal for them both. Neither thing avails us, work without faith, faith without action.
97. “IT IS WRITTEN.” TO MORGAN JOHNES, CLERGYMAN AND FRIEND
“It us written,” the Tempter thrust upon Christ, and, answering him, the Lord likewise said it is written. Satan, mutilating Scripture and twisting its sense, moves heretics to argue by this logic. Christ teach His own to answer, and that by Scripture they undo Satan’s sophisms.
98. HEROD AND PILATE (LUKE 23:12 )
These two were joined in friendship when the fought against Christ, their hatred was not worse than this shameful love. Thus the concord of sinners is hurtful to God, as the amity of brothers is amiable to a pious father.
99. THE THIEF ON THE CROSS
The pious thief nailed on the cross nailed his faith upon Christ. Faith is rare, so he was more dear. When all waver, one believed more. Oh faith never too much commemorated! He believed, and confessed in Christ, which nobody admitted at that point. Hence he got the point of religion.
100. JOSHUA, DAVID, MACCABEE
Famous men of the sacred nation, thanks to your virtue the face of God shone for the profane nations. Supreme, you fought Jehovah’s sacred battles, and the reprobate throng fled from the pious people. With God the avenger, your hand smote the rebels, and you destroyed false gods in the dancing fire.
101. NOAH’S ARK
The ark is like Christ’s Church, this one and that are borne on heaving waves. Their condition is the same. That one is full of clean and unclean animals, here is the pious, but here the deceitful hypocrite lurks. Outside of that one, there is no hope of safety, no hope of salvation outside this. This one is one, as that is unique. That one was built at God’s command, whatever is in this one that Christ did not ordain is an evil.
102. TO THE KING
Your virtues are as many as your kingdoms, one virtue scarce suffices for you, ruling one kingdom. Yet you with these four virtues suffice to have ruled the whole world, but it is not more sufficient for you.
103. ERASMUS AND A LITTLE MOUSE
You were a great mouse, and he a small one. But whether the one of these was larger, or the other smaller, is obscure.
104. ON ZOILUS
You rail against my friends applauding my verse, you accuse them of laughing at pure folly. You growl but you never grin. So you are not a laughing animal. What then? An ape or a puppy.
If woman is not involved in it, an epigram is the same as a woman herself when her husband lacks his procreative part.
106. THE MALE AND FEMALE READER
If only every woman who reads this is candid, what matters whether the male reader will be white or black?
107. ON TWO HARLOTS SQUABBLING OVER A FLEECE
Why are you thus squabbling over a black fleece, fair ladies? Whether the wool be hers or yours, it merely comes from a goat.
108. ON GELLIA, ABOUT COMPLEXIONS
Tell me, ye learned, what is this element which clever Gellia wears on her false cheeks. The ancients counted four, but Gellia carries about a fifth, which the pharmacist supplied.
109. ON LARGA
Praised modesty commends Larga, because not unwillingly she underlies her man.
110. PHYSICIANS, SURGEONS, POETS
What if epigrams use wit to poke fun at fictitious persons? We attack morals, not men. It is permitted surgeons and physicians to hurt poets with impunity, are poets not permitted to poke fun at them?
111. ON LUCIUS, A PETTIFOGGING LAWYER
First lawsuits gave birth to you, and soon (in a marvelous and new manner) you engendered your own parent.
112. ON ZOILUS
You’re bursting with envy because the people read me. But I pity you as much as you envy me.
113. ON A CERTAIN POPULAR MAN
By the esteem of the people you furtively rise on high, and the popularity you pursue feeds you. Your reputation is neither inherited or acquired. It is manufactured, and wholly lacks reason and substance. Thus as your glory has grown out of nothing, thus it has returned to nothing, because it was nothing before.
114. COMPARISONS OF INCOMPARABLES
Hector, Alexander, Caesar, three great men. But Aristotle, Homer, and Hippocrates were greater than them.
When with raucous voice the frog (RANA) croaks its GAMMA, it thus sings a completely reversed ANAGRAM.
116. ON SEXTILIANUS
When you don’t praise me, you praise me. For, Sextilianus, the greatest praise is not to be praised by you.
117. ON LUCIUS, A CERTAIN FOREIGN AND CLEVER MAN
Lucius, who learned the ways and the cities of men, is ignorant of his own character. Such great shadows lurk in his heart that he is unknown to others and to himself.
118. TO A CERTAIN MAN ENNOBLED BECAUSE OF HIS OWN VIRTUE
Your nobility is not bequeathed by birth, but earned. Your descendants will garner great rewards from your virtue.
119. TO A CERTAIN PAUPER
You wish suddenly to be transformed from a pauper to a rich man. You have no idea what a ruinous thing is suddenly to become enriched.
120. THE STATE OF THE REPUBLIC
The republic is compared to a ship: the tumults of the unstable rabble will be the wind and wave.
121. ON GALLUS, A PLATONIC MAN
Gallus courted a wife, and the resisting woman replied she wished to marry a man, not a bird, and demanded proof that he was human. To whom he replied, “Don’t you see I’m a featherless biped?”
122. ON A BALD POET
Since sordid baldness deforms you as a bard, if you are smart you should wreath your head with laurel.
123. ON A CERTAIN MAN TRANSFORMED FROM A COMIC ACTOR TO A PHYSICIAN. AN ANAGRAM
He who laughed at you as a comic actor would repeat “ha ha ha,” now, with you his doctor, groans out “ah ah ah.”
124. TO AN ENTIRELY TONE-DEAF MAN
Although modulated music can bewitch the senses of beasts, and drag along with itself trees and rocks, how savage you are that it does not move you! You are harder than the very trees, rocks, and savage tigers.
125. TO A LADY FRIEND
We are taught that one should not sport with the saints, nor with the female ones. This injunction does not pertain to you.
126. TO HIS MISTRESS JULIA
If I have adored you as a goddess, if I have dedicated myself wholly to you and fallen down before your image, I seem to be guilty of heresy, and so it befits me to be purged of this sin with fire. Send against me the flame of your kindled love, Julia, let my sin be purged by your flames.
Why mention to me the joys of the coming life? Give to me today, I’ll bestow tomorrow on you.
128. ON A MAN SMALL YET GREAT-MINDED
Great is your mind, in a body not great. One may rightly call you a midget, yet great-minded.
129. ON A ONE-EYED MAN, GREAT AND SLUGGISH
Your mind is burdened by the weight of your body. A one-eyed man has small acuity in a great body.
130. ON HIS FRIEND HUGH ATWILL, COMMONLY CALLED CAVERLEY, CLERGYMAN AND A NOBLE PHYSICIAN FOR PAUPERS
This reason persuades me that you are not a good physician, that you do not heal thyself. You give all gratis and take nothing. Tell me, doctors, is this good medicine for yourselves? Follow my advice, and henceforth sell it to the wealthy, but give it to the poor.
131. THE PATRON SAINTS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE. TO THE KING
Patrick, David, Andrew, Denys, and George. The ancients placed these over your kingdoms. When you alone preside over all of these as a monarch, divine king, this pentarchy defines your empire.
132. TO AN ADULTERER AND ADULTERESS, BURIED TOGETHER
Trust me, you who have often lain together illicitly, there is no guilt in your lying together here.
133. TO SIR JOHN HANNE, KNIGHT, KINSMAN AND FRIEND. ON THE EXOTIC SMOKE TOBACCO
So that in future you will have less enthusiasm for tobacco, recall the true story of Dahanada. Tanto imbibed these fumes with the mad prince, disappeared in a thunderclap, and was thought to be a god.
134. THE FIRST OF JANUARY
Pollus and Hallus competed in sending gifts, anxious to see which one could send the more splendid gifts. Both of them protested that their gifts were given from the heart, and either one revealed his heart’s nature.
Although death, greedy for all things, snatches at everything, she commits no theft. For, bidden by her Master, she seeks to recover what is hers.
136. ON ARNUS THE ATHEIST
A priest, telling moribund Arnus of the joys of heaven, said, “All these things will be granted the believer.” The impure fellow croaked, “Let everything be granted to you, a believer. Let it be granted me to enjoy in peace the things I can see.”
137. VENOM, VENUS
The ancients used to speak of venom creeping through the veins. How little Venus herself differs from this etymology!
138. ON A BALD MAN
My books will be much in your debt, bald sir. For your baldness supplies them with much matter.
139. ON MARIANUS
Who could deny you exist in nature? I do not know what you used to be, I know you’re nothing now. You are constantly drunk, you live by drinking, you eat nothing. So why should I not deny you exist?
140. GOOD AND BAD. TO A CERTAIN FRIEND
We say that good and bad disagree between themselves as much as contraries can. Certain apples are good, but bad things are never good. Give me the long syllable, you take the short.
141. ON A BALD MAN
Winter does not drive the hairs from you, as leaves from trees, an opposite power harms them and you. Sirius dries out the humors from your burning head, lording it over the naked orb of your brow. Hence a constant summer sits upon your face, and winter occupies the hidden places of your body.
142. TO RICHARD TOTT, A LOW-DOWN CLERGYMAN
Tell me, Tott, how many offices of the sacred clergy do you have? You purchased them, therefore you say that as many as you have belong to you.
143. TO THE ILLUSTRIOUS CHARLES BLUNT, LORD MOUNTJOY, LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND, ON HIS VICTORY OVER TYRONE AT KINSALE. 1603
With English blood spilt, rejoicing was conducted in Irish, Ireland waxed proud, elated by the splendid little spoils of its mistress. It people, ignorant of law and right, preened itself. The mob, so given to base flight, rose in revolt. Alas, the woodland folk thronged together from all sides as they sensed the reins on their wantonness to have been loosened, the people rushed into every manner of right and wrong, a rustic band of wild beasts. Sent to the aid of these renegades, the Spaniard rose up, and with vain hope arrogantly promised himself all of Ireland. With martial bloodshed, the fight was long conducted by both sides, and the die of shifting fate was doubtfully cast. After various calamities, after so many dangers to our affairs, you, our darling Charles, were despatched, and made all their hopes, and all our fears to be vain. The rebel throng was drenched with its own blood, with a small victorious band you triumphed over many. Aquila the Spaniard, fierce and an enterprising foe, who had a noble heart and a mind shut to base shame, when he saw his allies’ disgrace and their ignoble war, their treacherous nature, and that their efforts were fruitless, entered into a treaty with you, and departed under fair terms, scorning these fleeing refugees. Thus a Golden Age has returned to the yellow Irish, and with you the avenger, the entire island exults in fostering peace.
144. HENRY, THE ROSES. THE ROSE WITHOUT THE THORN. TO THE MOST NOBLE PRINCE HENRY
Both the white and the red roses had their thorns, and, thorny, were sodden with their own blood. The white and the red, joined together by you, mingled their colors, and lacked the thorns they had possessed. The virtue and color of the united roses was stronger, and their odor remains better than it was before. You most peacefully remove whatever was thorny, and there is no sharp thorn in your roses.
145. EDINBURGH, CITY OF DELIGHTS
Whence this name, that you are called the city of delights? Was there a second paradise among the Scots? This high title did not arise by chance for you, whence flow the delights of the human race. Most bright, you have nothing to do with the dark shadows of Scotland, the entire island shines with your beams.
146. ON THOMAS HAMMAN, A SOT
If ever our farmers have a happy vintage, and a returning sailor brings home good wines, Hamman exclaims, “My mind turns to new things (pure wines),” and quickly his innate form is renewed.
147. TO AN IMPROVISATORY VERSIFIER
Why do you hasten to produce verses poured forth ex tempore? Verses must be altered beforehand ten times and nine. You are a versifier, will you ever become a poet? Take care that what you pour out is produced more nicely with art.
148. ON A BOASTFUL POET
You say your Muse imitates no man. And have no doubt that in after time no Muse will imitate yours.
149. HENRY THE ROSES, JAMES THE KINGDOMS. WHAT GOD HAS BROUGHT TOGETHER LET NO MAN REND ASUNDER. MAY GOD PROTECT THEM UNITED
God has joined together kingdoms and roses. Who will separate them? Only God Who joins and associates. James joined the roots, Henry, flower of the kingdoms, joined the flowers, but with God guiding. Thus may God protect the united realms under a single king, so that there will be a unity for people, empire, and religion.
150. TO KING JAMES, ON HIS MOST PEACEFUL ACCESSION TO THE BRITISH THRONE. 1603
Out of four hundred prophets who predicted that there would be some commotion in this great empire, scarce one was truthful, the greatest part of the seers were liars. Evil men were hopeful, but good men were afraid. Heaven-granted, you are able (the whirlwind banished) to deprive of the evil of their hopes, and the good of their fears.
151. TO KING JAMES, ON THE UNION OF THE KINGDOMS OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND INTO AN ABSOLUTE MONARCHY
You do nothing new, James, in making two kingdoms into one empire. This is a great thing, but I deny it is a novelty. You are renewing what once existed. One man divided it, countless men were unable to unite it. So great a labor it was to join the British race, that James was alone in the joining!
152. THE MAGNIFICENCE OF LONDON
If ever my business brings me to the marketplace of the world (but the countryside pleases me more), in my curious mind’s firm coffers I store up a bit about the many choice things there. Here I first look up at those two churches consecrated to Sts. Peter and Paul, the world has no fairer than them. Then I am borne in a skiff over the waters of the Thames, and Whitehall strikes my eyes, a house worthy of a Caesar. Yet on all sides gleam the shining homes of our magnates, rivals in pride to this great palace. My mind is captured and goes flying to the Tower, and perceives its miracles, but it wanders and does not remain in one place. I seek the city’s interior, and likewise its delights and riches, while I walk through the Burse. It is full enough of those, but the vain Exchange recedes in the distance: whoever comes there full leaves empty. So I return home, my money spent, brooding on the splendor and magnificent wealth of the City, its crowds of people, such great commerce and hubbub. As I pass through small hamlets, should I shout out, “London thus surpasses all you small towns as the high cypress is wont to overtop the lazy viburnums”?
153. TO THE VERY ILLUSTRIOUS THOMAS, EARL OF DORSET, THE HIGH TREASURER OF ENGLAND
Although treasures of the realm are entrusted to you alone, this is not done rashly, nor does it lack reason. Previously you knew how to manage your private wealth well, a sign that under you public matters would be safe.
154. TO THE VERY DISTINGUISHED SIR ROBERT CECIL, EARL OF SALISBURY, THE KING’S PRINCIPAL SECRETARY
The care of the realm and its secrets are charged to you. The commodities of this are abundantly obvious to your kingdom and king. The laudable things hidden in you are great. You would wish them to stay hidden, but against your will they are manifest. The force of your virtue is like fire: the more it is suppressed, the brighter it shines.
155. TO THE VERY NOBLE BROTHERS WILLIAM, EARL OF PEMBROKE, AND PHILIP, EARL OF MONTGOMERY
Noble pair of brothers, to distinguish your praises here (since you two are as one) would be an error. Of your praises (which are not few), the greatest is, that you are equal in fraternal love: the same nobility, equal virtue, a similar lot in life, one mind, one heart, bodies alone that are two. Continue, like those brothers of the Swan-born, two stars, shining to illuminate the world with the light of your pairing.
156. TO SIR HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF NORTHAMPTON, MOST NOBLE IN PEDIGREE AND VIRTUE
A perfect twofold nobility shines in you, though in many men even a single one is defective. You have received the one from your ancestors, your virtue grants you the other, and conjoined they give more delight because they are less often wont to exist. In this I am mistaken. I realize that both virtues are ancestral: let it be ample enough praise for you that you enjoy the virtues of your forefathers.
157. TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS LADY ELIZABETH, COUNTESS OF RUTLAND, SIR PHILIP SIDNEY’S DAUGHTER AND SOLE HEIR
Your father disgorged so many gifts on such great friends, that I should imagine nothing from him would remain for you. But to you are bequeathed what were bestowed on the others, everything of your fathers that was distinguished and fair is yours. Nature gave what she could, your virtue supplies the rest, so that you may be your father’s sole heir.
158. TO THE MOST NOBLE SIR ROBERT SIDNEY, VISCOUNT DE L’ISLE
Why should I recall your race and stock, your earlier forebears, although it would be possible to list these distinguished men? A man who could serve for many, let that Philip be more distinguished than the rest, that noble brother of yours. You are the heir masculine of so great a brother, and his masculine virtue is wholly your own. Like him, you are well-disposed towards Mercury and Mars. You love and cherish the sons of this god and of that.
159. TO HIS CONSORT, LADY BARBARA, THE SOLE HEIR OF THE GAMAGES, A NOBLE LADY, ESPECIALLY TO BE REVERED BY THE POET
As it may keep silent about the rest, if my Muse were to keep silent about you, it would be unreasonably lazy or invidious. A great part of your tender youth was passed here, so one may count you among the citizens of St. Donat’s. Here Sidney first embraced you in honeyed love, and happily garnered love’s rewards. You gave him a splendid patrimony, since your virtue and beauty served as a lavish dowry.
160. TO HIS DAUGHTER CATHERINE, SWEETEST CONSORT OF HIS KINSMAN AND FRIEND SIR LEWIS MANSEL, KNIGHT
Fair lady, to whom it befalls to draw out your life’s remaining thread among maternal friends, drawn away by good auspices, enhanced by your mother’s virtues, receive the praises which she engendered.
161. TO HIS KINSMEN WILLIAM AND ROBERT SIDNEY, NOBLE YOUNG BROTHERS
You two brothers are the foundations of the Sidney name, and it is your responsibility that that house rises. It behooves you first to plant firm foundations, lest the structure built atop them turn out amiss. Above these, whatever fair, and whatever handsome is erected will not fall, shaken by any gale. So, good men, devote yourselves to such pursuits, so that in the end you both will be equal to your ancestral glories.
162. TO THE RIGHT NOBLE HENRY, LORD HERBERT OF RAGLAN
Learned, you enter into a contest with yourself, no contest can be fairer. Genius strives to best fortune, virtue strives to defeat power. You can never win with greater praise.
163. ON RUFA
Rufa, I praise your good fortunes and your genius, for, if you are not chaste, you know how to please a man discreetly, and you deceitfully give birth to sons that resemble their father, of whom the madman imagines himself to be father. For as often as your adulterous lover sins, he thinks only about your husband, and hence your sons are made to look like him.
164. AN EXPERIMENT FOR THE PURGATION OF BILE
A wanton wife suffering (as she feigned) from black bile, imperiously bade the physicians be fetched. They flocked from all sides. She paid lavishly, but got no advantage from this. She retained her previous disposition. Her husband was impatient with such an expense and such efforts, and yellow bile, unfeigned, took hold of him. Angrily, he administered a drubbing to his wife and the doctors, and thus he removed the black bile from her, the yellow from himself.
165. MARS AND MINERVA
Thraso the soldier proposed marriage to a most learned girl, and the maiden readily agreed with his wishes. He thus displayed his womanly genius: “I am Mars, you are Pallas, we are sister and brother. May we marry?” She answered “Why not? She is daughter of Jove, he of Juno, but you must know they share no blood.”
166. ON SEXTILIANUS, A BALD MAN
Reading the witty epigrams you have written, praising the poet’s judgment, I recognized his genius. I was surprised that you wrote no epigram about Calvus, whom the poets traditionally tease. This assured reason finally occurred to me, that Sextilianus, who did the writing, was bald himself.
167. A PECUNIARY METAMORPHOSIS
In the old days, money was so called from “cow,” for excessive love of this thing transforms those it seizes into cattle.
168. TACITURNITY AND LOQUACITY. TO HIS BROTHER HENRY FOX
To say much in few words is a manly virtue. You will find few men who speak in this manner. To say little in many words is a womanly vice, and you will find many men who speak this way.
169. ON FAUNUS
Your greatest glory is your grey hairs, Faunus. Is such praise due to grey hairs? And he soothes himself with his morality. Oh you, luckily grey in your hair and in your morals!
170. A WIFE EXPERT IN THE LAW. TO SIR RICHARD TREVOR, DOCTOR OF LAWS, KINSMAN AND FRIEND
A young lawyer took a wife who had a keen enough wit and an eloquent tongue, a hand ready with a pen, a breast trained to understand, all she lacked was practice and experience. Day and night the man practiced cases with her, until she might become a learned mistress. When a quarrel arose (as often occurs between friend), he learnedly admonished his wife of her duty. He expounded that she was not to fuss, not to talk back, but that she should be subject to her own husband. Roaring, she unexpectedly made answer, “I deny the bill, because your indictment wrongly applies to me in the absence of this.”
171. FOR THAT NOBLE MAN EDWARD GAGE, KNIGHT, GRANDFATHER TO THE POET’S WIFE
The wife who once used to make your bed and your feather pillows now sadly prepares this tomb, made of marble, and has given turf for your head. Although his queen made a tomb for King Mausolus, proud and more splendid, the loyalty of both wives is the same, the same desire for honoring their husbands. Rest alone beneath this tomb, old man, in after time your wife will sleep with you. Though it may be late, she will come though the Fates detain her. She is not deserting you, but is being detained.
172. FOR THE LADY ELIZABETH HIS WIFE, A MOST UPRIGHT MATRON
Lo, at length the matron follows her husband, advanced enough in years, and sleeps with him. As a bride, she desired this one man, widowed, she lived for this deceased man alone. She only demanded this marble as her little bed, which she had modestly built as a common tomb for herself and her husband, at no great expense. Oh how she is worthy of a more noble tomb! But with you as her host, this is noble enough.
173. FOR DAVID STRADLING, GENTLEMAN, BROTHER OF SIR EDWARD STRADLING, KNIGHT, OF ST. DONAT’S, A DISTINGUISHED MATHEMATICIAN
Do you lie buried beneath this mass here, Stradling? Does its inert weight press down upon your bones? I would have imagined that earth and heaven would hardly have imprisoned you when buried, for both of them yielded to you in life. Should earth be able to imprison him, whom the sky could scarce contain? Your art (may it be right to say this) was greater than either. Your genius traversed above the stars and beneath the earth’s penetrable center. How can a small tomb hold you? Your body had the character of earth, but your mind, aspiring after heavenly things, disdained the earth, and possesses the sky for which it yearned.
174. FOR HENRY PORTMAN, KNIGHT, AND LADY JANE HIS WIFE, MY MOTHER’S SISTER
You, traveler, who unwisely call me rude marble and inhospitable stone, lo, see the inscriptions with which I am adorned on my front, and what guests lie beneath. Portman and his consort (oh happy pair!) lie beneath my covering. I do not hunt after other titles, my glory grows from these noble guests. Both filled Somerset with their fame and their deeds, good to known and unknown alike. Like their life, their death was pious, pure, blessed, acceptable to men and to God.
175. AN EPITAPH FOR FRANCIS STRADLING, A LITTLE INFANT
Coming into this world (mundus) unclean (immundus), having been cleansed of your filth in the sacred font, quickly you fled to the beings above. So that mud (lutum) would not afterwards befoul you now washed (lotum), you are there, clean, where only cleanliness (mundities ) exists.
176. TO EDWARD, LORD ZOUCH, OF NOBLEST BREEDING AND VIRTUE, RIGHT WORTHY PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL COUNCIL IN THE MARCHES OF WALES
Your manly virtue has declared war on vices, and vice has constantly resisted virtue. Your victory has kindled envy, there can be no surer testimony to virtue. When you have the choice of being good or having been pleasing to the bad, you should prefer to be good than to have pleased the bad.
177. ON LOLIANUS
Lolianus, in a brief space you skim the few poems I have written with no small effort. Here the matter displeases you, there the method. This epigram is over-long, that one too short. You, branding many of my poems with your stigma, stigmatize my book — as you are you yourself.
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