Ralph Knevet Poems >>
Rhodon And Iris. Act I

SCEN. 1.
Poneria, Agnostus.
Ag.   Is the worlds eye not yet asleepe?

Po.   Hath Jove not yet put on his starry night-cap?
  No; nor Juno her spangl'd smocke?

Ag.   What, hath Hesperus forgot to light heavens tapers up?
  Or be the Charret wheeles of Night o're loaden
  with the leaden waights of sleepe,
  That she delayes to throw her misty veyle
  upon the face of things?

Po.   Blind Ignorance that grop'st in Cymerian darknesse,
  That lyest invelop'd in the shad[e]s of everlasting night,
  That want'st those glorious spectacles of Nature,
  Those Chrystalline spheres that should illumine
  Thy Microcosmus,  
  Why dost thou thus maligne the guiltlesse light,
  She being the fairest Creature that Nature ever made?

Ag.   I hate her because she is light: I say she is
  The Mistris of disquiet and unrest, and breeds
  More troubles in the world then one of my young
  Hungry Lawyers doth in a Common-wealth,
  Or a schismatical selfeconceited Coxcombe in an
  antient Corporation.
  Oh that I could Ulysses-like burne out the eye
  Of that Celestiall Polypheme;
  Or raise dull Chaos from Demogorgons Cell
  To quench the worlds unnecessary luminaries.

Po.   Bold Ignorance, thou Idoll of these times
  That o're a woollen wit, oft wear'st a sattin Cap;
  And sometimes at our Bacchanalian feasts
  Appear'st as brave as a Canonicall Saint
  In a Kalender: I hug thy resolution, stupid divell,
  That dost with generous malice amply supply
  What is defective in thy intellect:
  But if thou'lt give my faithfull Counsell leave
  For to divert the torrent of thy wrath,
  Then lend a facile eare to my advice.
  Bend not thy bootlesse hate against that Orbe of light,
  Whose mighty flames will scorch the impious wings
  Of those Nocturnall birds, that shall attempt
  With talons most prophane, to injure his bright beauty.
  A meaner object than this, shall satisfie
  Thy wrath, and my displeasure.
  This is the day whereon the new society of
  Florists, have determined to keepe their annual festivals:
  Whose pompous Celebration hath wont to eclipse
  All feasts besides: th' Olympian games,
  And Isthmian playes, with all those Ludicrous
  And Ludibrious Combats, are but meere Puppet playes  
  To this grand feast, for Art and nature both have try'd
  To make this Feast surpasse all feasts beside.
  Unite thy force with mine, then ten to one
  We shall disturbe their mirth, e're we have done.

Ag.   Then mischiefe lend me all thy guilty nerves:
  Let flames of boundlesse fury quite dispell
  Lethaean dulnesse from my Clouded braine.
  Assist our great designe, ye subterraneous powers,
  That utterly abhorre to view the glaring light:
  Let not the weakenesse of my Craz'd intellectuals,
  Nor yet this loath'd deficience of my sense,
  Be prejudiciall to the bent of our designe:
  Poneria, act thy part, for I am thine.

SCEN. 2.
Rhodon, Acanthus.
Aca. (Rhodon)   my honor'd, soule-united friend
  Cast off that dusky melancholy veyle.
  Too vile a robe for thy majesticke brow,
  Blast not the pride of Hyblas happinesse
  With thy offensive passion.

Rho.   Nay, good Acanthus, did love ere offend any?

Aca.   And art not thou the map of loves calamity?
  Witnesse those cristall bowles of thy bright eyne,
  Which I have seene sweld up with brinish teares,  
   Prepar'd for sorrowes bitter beverage:
   Witnesse those frequent tempests of thy sighes,
   Which made thy brest a fiery sea of dolour:
   Witnesse those palled cheekes, whose glorious hue
   Aurora late envy'd, and quite despairing
   To reach thy beauties height, with Cupid treated,
   And him suborn'd to wound thy generous heart,
   (Which no base passion ever durst assault)
   That now like pale Narcissus on the brinke
   Of the beguilding streame, thou lyest a dying.

Rho.   I tell thee (brazen Colosse) marble statue,
   Whose heart loves darts could never penetrate;
   Love is the Prince of all affections,
   And like the element of fire transcends
   His brothers in activity and splendour.

Aca.   It is a fire indeed, that doth consume
   All vertuous actions; that feeds upon mens soules
   Like the fiend Eurynomus upon dead carkases;
   That makes the microcosmus a meere Chaos.
   It is the Remora of all noble enterprises,
   And the Lernaean fenne which breeds a Hydra,
   Crested with a thousand inconveniences.
   Let me nere inherit more then my Fathers hempland,
   Or nere be owner of more wit then some elder brothers,
   If I think not Cupid the most pernicious deity
   Among all the Olympian Senators.
   Oh that I had but Stentors lungs,
   To thunder out the vanity of that idoll.

Rho.   Now I hope you have rail'd your self out of breath,
   And therefore I may now have time to speake:
   Thus 'tis, deare friend Acanthus, I confesse
   That once I lov'd the Lady Eglantine,
   Whose rare endowments both of art and nature,
   Well corresponding with high birth and fortune,  
   Did moderately attract my sincere love,
   Which love conspiring with a strong desire,
   To see the Customes of some forraine Nations,
   And know the manners of people farre remote,
   Made me to greet the Princely Dame
   With a personall visitation.
   Then my indulgent starres did me advise,
   For to suspend my suit: whose Counsell I obey'd.
   But trust me, friend, thou wert too much mistaken,
   To thinke that love had scorch'd or sing'd so much
   The wings of reason; that I must needs fall,
   And perish in the fornace of despaire.
   Thou art a bad constructer of my thoughts,
   If that thou think'st 'tis love which makes me sad:
   Yea, thou, oft-times, dost take thy marks amisse,
   To think me sad; perhaps, when as my minde
   (Uprais'd above the sphere of terrene things)
   Is ravish'd with Celestiall Contemplation;
   For earthly passion hath no power at all
   To worke upon an elevated soule.
   Passions are starres to lower orbs confin'd;
   Scorching an earthly, not a heavenly mind.
   Yet am I not so much a Stoicke, or a Stocke,
   To plume the pinions of th' immortall soule,
   Who while she's Cloyster'd in this Cell of Clay,
   Moves with the wings of the affections:
   But lest she, like to heedlesse Icarus,
   Should soare too high a pitch; or like young Phaeton,
   Should shape her Course too low, Jove hath appointed
   Wise Vertue for to regulate her flight.
   Of these affections, love the Empresse is;
   Who, while she stands submisse to reasons lore,
   Doth keepe the Fabricke of the little world in frame.
   Love is the geniall goddesse, the Lucina
   Which doth produce each honourable atchievement,  
   Which this true axiome evidently proves,
   Nobilitas sub amore iacet.
   Had not the spritefull flames of love, egg'd on
   That Theban Kilcrow mighty Hercules.
   To brave adventures; he, perhaps, had dy'd
   As much inglorious as did base Thersites.
   Had not the faire Andromache beheld,
   From Trojan Towers, Hectors valiant acts
   Among the Greeks, amid the Phrygian fields;
   The gallant Dames of Troy then might, perchance,
   Most justly have preferr'd Achilles farre before him.
   Tis this heroicall passion that incends
   The sparkes of honour in each noble minde;
   Making dull sluggards study industry;
   And animating each unlearned head
   To toyle in Arts and liberall Sciences,
   Even to the high degree of rare proficience.
   Then cease Acanthus with thy lawlesse tongue,
   True loves Condition to maligne or wrong.

Ac.   Thou zealous patron of the winged Boy,
   Well hast thou pleaded thy blind Archers Case;
   Pray Jove thou maist deserve a lusty fee
   For this Herculean labour of thy tongue.

Rho.   Surcease these malapert invectives, friend,
   Cupid is arm'd with fire and arrowes keene,
   To be avenc'd on those that shall him spleene.

Ac.   When Sol shall make the Easterne Seas his bed,
   When Wolves and Sheepe shall be together fed;
   When Starres shall fall, and planets cease to wander,
   When Juno proves a Bawd, and Jupiter a Pander;
   When Venus shal turn Chast, and Bacchus become sober,
   When fruit in April's ripe, that blossom'd in October;
   When Prodigals shall money lend on use,
   And Usurers prove lavish and profuse;  
   When Art shal be esteem'd, and golden pelfe laid down,
   When Fame shal tel all truth, & Fortune cease to frown
   To Cupids yoke then I my necke will bow;
   Till then, I will not feare loves fatall blow.

Rho.   Wert thou a meere spirit, then I confesse,
   And thinke, this resolution might endure;
   But so long as thy soule weares robes of earth,
   Lac'd all with veynes, that o're a Crimson deepe,
   Set forth an Azure bright; needs must thy heart
   Yeeld to the force of Cupids golden dart.

SCEN. 3.
Clematis, Eglantine.
Cle.   Oh impotent desires, allay the sad consort
   Of a sublime Fortune, whose most ambitious flames
   Disdaine to burne in simple Cottages,
   Loathing a hard unpolish'd bed;
   But Coveting to shine beneath a Canopy
   Of rich Sydonian purple; all imbroider'd
   With purest gold, and orientall Pearles;
   In tesselated pavements, and guilded roofes,
   Supported by proud artificiall Columnes,
   Of polish'd Ivory and Marble; doth love delight
   There; doth he, like a mighty Tyrant, rage,
   Subverting the whole edifice of reason
   With his impetuous conflagration:
   That this is true, the gentle Shepheardesse  
   Faire Eglantine doth evidently shew:
   For she, a sister to the great Cynosbatus,
   Was Courted lately by the Shepheard Rhodon:
   Whose suit she entertain'd with due respect,
   Requiting love with love: but Fate (it seemes)
   Not condescending that great Hymen should
   Accomplish their desires; forbade the Banes,
   And Rhodon hath relinquished his suit;
   And is return'd to Hybla sweet; whose flowry vales
   Began to droope, and wither in his absence.
   But Eglantine remaines disconsolate;
   Like to a Turtle that hath lost her mate.
   See where she comes, expressing in her face
   A perfect Map of mellancholy:
   I will retire, because I well descry,
   Shee's out of love with all society.
Enter Eglant. with her Lute.
Eg.   Addresse thy selfe sweet warbling Instrument,
   My sorrowes sad Companion; to tune forth
   Thy melancholly notes; somewhat to slake
   Those furious flames that scorch my tender heart. She sings and playes upon the Lute.

   Upon the blacke Rocke of despaire
   My youthfull joyes are perish'd quite,
   My hopes are vanish'd into ayre,
   My day is turn'd to gloomy night:
   For since my Rhodon deare is gone,
   Hope, light, nor comfort, have I none.
   A Cell, where griefe the Landlord is,
   Shall be my palace of delight;
   Where I will wooe with votes and sighes,
   Sweet death to end my sorrowes quite;  
   Since I have lost my Rhodon deare,
   Deaths fleshlesse armes why should I feare?
Enter Cle.
Cle.   What time shal end thy sorrowes, sweetest Eglantine?

Egl.   Such griefe as mine cannot be cur'd by time.
   But when the gentle fates shall disembogue
   My weary soule, and that Celestiall substance free
   From irkesome manacles of clay; then may I finde,
   If not a sweet repose in blest Elysium,
   Yet some refrigeration in those shades,
   Where Dido and Hypsiphile do wander.
Exit Egl.
Cle.   Thou gentle goddesse of the woods & mountains,
   That in the woods and mountaines art ador'd,
   The Maiden patronesse of chaste desires,
   Who art for chastity renowned most,
   Tresgrand Diana, who hast power to cure
   The rankling wounds of Cupids golden arrowes;
   Thy precious balsome deigne thou to apply,
   Unto the heart of wofull Eglantine;
   Then we thy gracious favour will requite
   With a yong Kid, than new falne snow more white.

SCEN. 4.
Cynosbatus, Martagon.
Cy.   My honor'd friend, most noble Martagon,
   Who whilom didst with thy imperiall power  
   Command the mountaines proud, and humble plaines
   Of happy Thessaly: who hath eclips'd
   The splendour of thy light, and clipp'd those wings
   That did ore-shade these fields from East to West.
   Each Shepheard that was wont to feed his flocks
   Upon these fertile meads, was wont whilere
   To pay the tribute of his primest lambs.
   But now as one coup'd in an angle up,
   Thou art compell'd to satisfie thy selfe,
   With a small portion of that soveraignty
   Which thou didst earst enjoy.

Ma.   Deare friend Cynosbatus, if that the world
   Had bin compos'd in a cubicke forme
   And not orbicular; or if this globe
   Were destin'd to be ought else then fortunes ball,
   By alterations racket banded to and fro;
   Then justly might'st thou wonder to behold
   My present state, so short of my precedent height.
   Nor doth this monster, Change, beare sway alone,
   Ore elements, men, beasts, and plants,
   But those celestiall bodies that are fram'd
   Of purer constitutions, are compell'd
   To be obedient to her awfull doome.
   Reare up thy eyes unto the spangl'd cope,
   And there behold Joves starre-enchased belt,
   The glittering Zodiacke wonderfully chang'd
   In a few thousand yeares:
   For those fixt stars, which like a Diamond cleare,
   Adorne the baudricke of the Thunderer,
   Have wander'd from their former stations.
   Witnesse the golden Ram who now is gone astray,
   And shoulder'd hath the Cretian Bull; and he
   Those twins of Jove so sore hath butted,
   That they have crush'd the Crab, and thrust him quite  
   Into the den of the Nemaean Lyon.
   Thus by the change of these superiour bodies,
   Strange alterations in the world are wrought,
   Great Empires maim'd, & Kingdoms brought to naught.
   And that auspicious lampe, who freely lends
   His light to lesser fires, the prince of generation,
   Even Sol himselfe, is five degrees declin'd,
   Since learned Ptolome did take his height.
   But if Egyptian wisards we may trust,
   Who in Astrologie wont to excell;
   By them tis told, that foure times they have seene
   That glorious Charrioter flit from his place:
   Twice hath he rose (they say) where now he sets,
   And Twice declined where he now doth rise.
   If these Celestiall powers, whose influence
   Commands terrestriall substances,
   Be object to mutation, then needs must
   Sublunar things, submit themselves to change.
   Then wonder not good friend Cynosbatus,
   To see my state and power diminish'd thus.

Cy.   Tis true deare Martagon, experience showes
   That alteration every day brings forth
   A new birth of effects.

Ma.   But I prethe friend, satisfie me in one thing.

Cy.   My bosome's yours, take from that Cabinet
   The choisest secret that can pleasure you:
   Tell me in what your will's to be resolv'd.

Ma.   There is a rumour spred through Thessaly,
   That your faire sister, Madame Eglantine,
   Shall be espoused to the Shepherd Rhodon,
   The prince of all the Swaines that dwell on Hybla.

Cy.   From no ill grounds this rumor sprang, though
   The Fates did crosse what was by us intended.  

Ma.   Then there's no expectation of my Nuptial rites.

Cy.   No; all's dissolv'd.

Ma.   I thanke my Starres for that.

Cy.   Your reason, Noble friend.

Ma.   A kin he is to that male spirited Dame,
   That stout Virago, that proud Shepheardesse
   Call'd Violetta: who complaines of wrongs
   Late suffer'd at my hands:
   And hee's the man by whom she hopes
   To be aveng'd on me, for this pretended injury;
   And had he matcht your sister, sweet Eglantine,
   Then might I have had cause for to suspect
   Your love not to be sound, since you accepted
   So great a foe of mine, for your neere friend.

Cy.   Then I am glad the Fates would not agree
   That I should lose so true a friend as thee.

SCEN. 5.
Rhodon, Anthophotus, Acanthus, Iris, Panace.
An.   Never till now, did my Hymettus flourish:
   More blest effects hath thy sweet presence wrought,
   (Honour'd Rhodon) then could have beene produc'd
   By moist-wing'd Zephyrus, or Favonius,
   Who fanns our flowers with his gentle breath.

Rho.   Thankes, good Anthophotus:

An.   Nor doth our sister Iris hold her selfe
   Meanely engag'd to you, for this your gracious visit.  

Rho.   To be the meanest servant of so sweet a saint,
   Is the full height and scope of my ambition.

Ir.   Faire Sr. I wish you would be pleas'd t'imploy
   Your service on an object of more worth.

Rho.   Dissemble not, admired Shepheardesse;
   For thou art she, that art as farre beyond
   That light peece of beauty, Hellen of Greece,
   In outward perfections; as shee was short of thee in inward graces.
   Yea, had those fifty Kings that did for her
   Engage themselves in a long tedious warre,
   Seene but the Modell of thy rare beauty,
   Drawne by the hand of but a rude painter,
   Doubtlesse, they had their honours forfeited,
   And broke that sacred oath which they had tane.
   Their worke in hand they had relinquish'd quite,
   And left the walls of wretched Troy untoucht;
   For each attracted with thy beauties splendor,
   Nor Seas nor perils would have left unpast,
   To finde thee in the furthest angle of the world.

Ir.   Could my perfections, valu'd at the highest rate,
   But countervaile a dramme of your great worth,
   Then should I think my selfe borne under starres
   Most happy and auspicious.

An.   Surcease your Complements, deare Rhodon,
   Let empty Caskes, and hollow Cymbals speake
   That ayrie language, which unworthy is
   Of your reallities.

Rho.   Pardon me, gentle Sir: this radiant starre,
   My judgements feeble eyes did dazle so,
   That I was forc'd to speake what passion did informe me.
Enter a Messenger.
Messen.   Which is the Shepheard Rhodon?  

Rho.   I am the man.

Messen.   Then you are he whom Violetta greets.

Rho.   How fares my sister?

Messen.   This letter shall relate what I can never utter.
Exit Messen.
Rho.   Pray Jove we have good newes, me thinks I saw
   A pallid horrour setl'd in the face
   Of the sad Messenger: be't good or ill,
   We are resolv'd to see it, come what will. He opens and reads the Letter.
   I Violetta much distrest
   By Martagon my mortall foe,
   Your succour humbly doe request,
   To set me free from servile woe.
   Our flowers he hath trampled on,
   Our Gardens turn'd to thickets wilde;
   Our fields and Meads he hath ore-run,
   That we are forc'd to live exil'd.
   We therefore doe your aide implore,
   Us to our freedome to restore.
   Your distressed sister,
   Violetta, Violetta.
   'Twas for no good, that the late shag hair'd Comet
   With his erected staring lookes, did over-looke
   Our frighted flocks, who all amaz'd poore wretches
   At such a horrid unexpected sight,
   Ere Hesperus gan from the west to peepe,
   Halfe empty, did retire unto their folds againe:
   Nor were those idle fires which late we saw,  
   Hang like a flaming canopie above us,
   When we did walke the round about our folds,
   To keepe the warwolfe from our Lambs by night.
   But is't possible that man should be so savage,
   To vent his rage upon a silly woman?

An.   It is no wonder gentle sir at all:
   For when Prometheus form'd his man of clay,
   Tis said that he did to his stomacke adde,
   The raging fury of a Lyon fierce.

Rho.   Tis true: but histories report that a Lyon did,
   The suppliant Getulian virgin spare;
   Scorning to make so innocent a creature
   His pray or quarry.

An.   Foule shame and infamy it is, god wot
   That manly might should women weake oppose,
   Whom they by right for life ought to defend.

Acan.   (Rhodon) doe thou but say Amen: and I will in
   An instant raise our spritefull youth,
   And lead them on with such a vigorous force
   Against the most unhumane Martagon;
   That we will pull the Craven from his nest,
   Disrobing him of all his borrowed plumes,
   And repossessing Violetta of her owne.

Rho.   In actions of such consequence as this,
   We must not be too precipicious,
   Mature deliberation must conclude
   What shall be done in such a maine designe:
   The stately Steed that with a full careere
   Attempts to mount the brow of the steepe hill,
   Oft breaks his winde, ere he can reach the height.
   But the slow snayle without or harme, or perill,
   In time ascends unto the mountaines top,  
   For that true love we owe to Thessaly,
   In which affection all we are ingag'd;
   We by a friendly treaty will endevour
   To bring th' usurper to a restitution.
   But if the Olive branch will doe no good,
   Then let the scourge of warre it selfe disclose;
   They that our friendship scorne, must be our foes.

An.   And if my right hand faile to second thee,
   Then for a Peasant let me counted be.
Exeunt Rho. Antho. Iris. Panace offers to goe out, and is stayed by Acanthus.
Ac.   Nay, stay faire Nimph, I would request
   A private Conference with you.

Pa.   If that I could with my affaires dispense,
   I gladly should imbrace your Conference:
   But my occasions bid mee hast away;
   Sweet Sr, adieu; I can no longer stay.
Exit Pa.
Ac.   I that of late was made of Scythian snow,
   And Hyperborean ice, am now quite thaw'd
   In the uncessant flames of hot desire.
   A new Vesuvius burnes within my brest,
   But shall I overturne those noble trophies
   Which I most firmely have on vertue founded;
   Or shall I singe the wings of reason so,
   In the outragious flames of passion;
   That I must needs fall downe and perish quite
   In the blacke hideous gulfe of deepe despaire,
   No: no: I will not,
   Of this I am resolv'd whatso're befall,
   Or not to love too much, or not at all.