Elisa, or an Elegie upon the Unripe Decase of Sr. Antonie Irby - Cant. 1


[CANT. I.]

Look as a stagge, pierc'd with a fatal bow,
(As by a wood he walks securely feeding)
In coverts thick conceales his deadly blow,
And feeling death swim in his endles bleeding,
(His heavy head his fainting strength exceeding)
Bids woods adieu, so sinks into his grave;
Green brakes and primrose sweet his seemly herse embrave:


So lay a gentle Knight now full of death,
With clowdie eyes his latest houre expecting;
And by his side, sucking his fleeting breath,
His weeping Spouse Elisa ; life neglecting,
And all her beauteous faires with grief infecting:
Her cheek as pale as his; 'twere hard to scanne,
If death or sorrows face did look more pale or wanne.


Close by, her sister, fair Alicia , sits;
Fairest Alicia , to whose sweetest graces
His teares and sighs a fellow passion fits:
Upon her eye (his throne) Love sorrow places;
There Comfort Sadnesse, Beautie Grief embraces:
Pitie might seem a while that face to borrow,
And thither now was come to comfort death & sorrow.

At length lowd Grief thus with a fearfull shriek
(His trumpet) sounds a battell, joy defying;
Spreading his colours in Elisa's cheek,
And from her eyes (his watch-tower) farre espying
With Hope Delight, and Joy, and Comfort flying,
Thus with her tongue their coward flight pursues,
While sighs, shrieks, tears give chace with never fainting crues:


Thou traitour Joy, that in prosperitie
So lowdly vaunt'st; whither, ah, whither fliest?
And thou that bragg'st never from life to flie,
False Hope, ah whither now so speedy hiest?
In vain thy winged feet so fast thou pliest:
Hope, thou art dead, and Joy in Hope relying
Bleeds in his hopelesse wounds, and in his death lies dying.


But then Alicia (in whose cheerfull eye
Comfort with Grief, Hope with Compassion lived)
Renews the fight; If Joy and Comfort die,
The fault is yours: so much (too much) you grieved,
That Hope could never hope to be relieved.
If all your hopes to one poore hope you binde,
No marvel if one fled, not one remains behinde.


Fond hopes on life, so weak a threed, depending!
Weak, as the threed such knots so weakly tying:
But heav'nly joyes are circular, ne're ending,
Sure as the rock on which they grow; and lying
In heav'n, increase by losse, live best by dying.
Then let your hope on those sure joyes depend,
Which live & grow by death, & waste not when they spend.


Then she; Great Lord, thy judgements righteous be,
To make good ill, when to our ill we use it:
Good leads us to the greatest good, to Thee;
But we to other ends most fond abuse it;
A common fault, yet cannot that excuse it:
We love thy gifts, and take them gladly ever:
We love them (ah too much!) more then we love the giver.


So falling low upon her humbled knees,
And all her heart within her eye expressing;
'Tis true, great Mercy, onely miseries
Teach us our selves, and thee: oh, if confessing
Our faults to thee be all our faults releasing,
But in thine eare, I never sought to hide them:
Ah! thou hast heard them oft, as oft as thou hast ey'd them.


I know the heart knows more then tongue can tell;
But thou perceiv'st the heart his foulnesse telling:
Yet knows the heart not half, so wide an hell,
Such seas of sinne in such scant banks are swelling:
Who sees all faults within his bosome dwelling?
Many my tenants are, and I not know them.
Most dangerous the wounds thou feel'st, and canst not show them.


Some hidden fault, my Father, and my God,
Some fault I know not yet, nor yet amended,
Hath forc't thee frown, and use thy smarting rod;
Some grievous fault thee grievously offended:
But let thy wrath, (ah!) let it now be ended.
Father, this childish plea (if once I know it)
Let stay thy threatning hand, I never more will do it.


If to my heart thou shew this hidden sore,
Spare me; no more, no more I will offend thee;
I dare not say I will, I would no more:
Say thou I shall, and soon I will amend me.
Then smooth thy brow, and now some comfort lend me;
Oh let thy softest mercies rest contented:
Though late, I most repent, that I so late repented.


Lay down thy rod, and stay thy smarting hand;
These raining eyes into thy bottle gather:
Oh see thy bleeding Sonne betwixt us stand;
Remember me a childe, thy self a father:
Or if thou mayst not stay, oh punish rather
The part offending, this rebellious heart.
Why pardon'st thou the worse, and plagu'st my better part?


Was't not thy hand, that ty'd the sacred knot?
Was't not thy hand, that to my hand did give him?
Hast thou not made us one? command'st thou not,
None loose what thou hast bound? if then thou reave him,
How without me by halves dost thou receive him!
Tak'st thou the head, and leav'st the heart behinde?
Ay me! in me alone canst thou such monster finde?


Oh why dost thou so strong me weak assail?
Woman of all thy creatures is the weakest,
And in her greatest strength did weakly fail:
Thou who the weak and bruised never breakest,
Who never triumph in the yeelding seekest;
Pitie my weak estate, and leave me never:
I ever yet was weak, and now more weak then ever.


With that her fainting spouse lifts up his head,
And with some joy his inward griefs refraining,
Thus with a feeble voice, yet cheerfull, s'ed;
Spend not in tears this little time remaining;
Thy grief doth adde to mine, not ease my paining:
My death is life; such is the scourge of God:
Ah, if his rods be such, who would not kisse his rod?


My deare, (once all my joy, now all my care)
To these my words (these my last words) apply thee:
Give me thy hand; these my last greetings are:
Shew me thy face, I never more shall eye thee.
Ah would our boyes, our lesser selves, were by thee!
Those my 'live pictures to the world I give:
So single onely die, in them twice-two I live.


You little souls, your sweetest times enjoy,
And softly spend among your mothers kisses;
And with your prettie sports and hurtlesse joy
Supply your weeping mothers grievous misses:
Ah, while you may, enjoy your little blisses,
While yet you nothing know: when back you view,
Sweet will this knowledge seem, when yet you nothing knew.


For when to riper times your yeares arrive,
No more (ah then no more) may you go play you:
Lancht in the deep farre from the wished hive,
Change of worlds tepests through blinde seas will sway you,
Till to the long-long'd haven they convey you:
Through many a wave this brittle life must passe,
And cut the churlish seas, shipt in a bark of glasse.


How many ships in quick-sands swallow'd been!
What gaping waves, whales, monsters there expect you!
How many rocks, much sooner felt then seen!
Yet let no fear, no coward fright affect you:
He holds the stern, and he will safe direct you,
Who to my sails thus long so gently blew,
That now I touch the shore, before the seas I knew.


I touch the shore, and see my rest preparing.
Oh blessed God! how infinite a blessing
Is in this thought, that through this troubled faring,
Through all the faults this guiltie age depressing
I guiltlesse past, no helplesse man oppressing;
And coming now to thee, lift to the skies
Unbribed hands, cleans'd heart, and never tainted eyes!


Life, life! how many Sylla's dost thou hide
In thy calm streams, which sooner kill then threaten!
Gold, honour, greatnesse, and their daughter, pride!
More quiet lives, and lesse with tempests beaten,
Whose middle state content doth richly sweeten:
He knows not strife, or brabling lawyers brawls;
His love and wish live pleas'd within his private walls.


The King he never sees, nor fears, nor prayes;
Nor sits court-promise and false hopes lamenting:
Within that house he spends and ends his dayes,
Where day he viewed first: his hearts contenting,
His wife, and babes; nor sits new joyes inventing:
Unspotted there, and quiet he remains;
And 'mong his duteous sonnes most lov'd and fearlesse reignes.


Thou God of peace, with what a gentle tide
Through this worlds raging tempest hast thou brought me!
Thou, thou my open soul didst safely hide,
When thousand crafty foes so nearely sought me;
Els had the endlesse pit too quickly caught me;
That endlesse pit, where it is easier never
To fall, then being fall'n to cease from falling ever.


I never knew or want or luxurie,
Much lesse their followers; or cares tormenting,
Or ranging lust, or base-bred flatterie:
I lov'd, and was belov'd with like consenting:
My hate was hers, her joy my sole contenting:
Thus long I liv'd, and yet have never prov'd
Whether I lov'd her more, or more by her was lov'd.


Foure babes (the fift with thee I soon shall finde)
With equall grace in soul and bodie fram'd:
And lest these goods might swell my bladder'd minde,
(Which last I name, but should not last be nam'd)
A sicknesse long my stubborn heart hath tam'd,
And taught me pleasing goods are not the best;
But most unblest he lives, that lives here ever blest.


Ah life, once vertues spring, now sink of evil!
Thou change of pleasing pain, and painfull pleasure;
Thou brittle painted bubble, shop o' th' devil;
How dost thou bribe us with false gilded treasure,
That in thy joyes we finde no mean or measure!
How dost thou witch! I know thou dost deceive me:
I know I should, I must, and yet I would not leave thee.


Ah death! once greatest ill, now onely blessing,
Untroubled sleep, short travel, ever resting,
All sicknesse cure, thou end of all distressing,
Thou one meals fast, usher to endlesse feasting;
Though hopelesse griefs crie out thy aid requesting,
Though thou art sweetned by a life most hatefull;
How is't, that when thou com'st, thy coming is ungratefull?


Frail flesh, why would'st thou keep a hated guest,
And him refuse whom thou hast oft invited?
Life thy tormenter, death thy sleep and rest.
And thou (poore soul) why at his sight art frighted,
Who clears thine eyes, and makes thee eagle-sighted?
Mount now my soul, & seat thee in thy throne:
Thou shalt be one with him, by whom thou first wast one.


Why should'st thou love this star, this borrow'd light,
And not that Sunne, at which thou oft hast guessed,
But guess'd in vain? which dares thy piercing sight,
Which never was, which cannot be expressed?
Why lov'st thy load, & joy'st to be oppressed?
Seest thou those joyes? those thousand thousand graces?
Mount now my soul, & leap to those outstretcht embraces.


Deare countrey, I must leave thee; and in thee
No benefit, which most doth pierce and grieve me:
Yet had not hasty death prevented me,
I would repay my life, and somewhat give thee:
My sonnes for that I leave; and so I leave thee:
Thus heav'n commands; the lord outrides the page,
And is arriv'd before: death hath prevented age.


My dearest Bettie , my more loved heart,
I leave thee now; with thee all earthly joying:
Heav'n knows, with thee alone I sadly part:
All other earthly sweets have had their cloying;
Yet never full of thy sweet loves enjoying,
Thy constant loves, next heav'n I did referre them:
Had not much grace prevail'd, 'fore heav'n I should preferre them.


I leave them, now the trumpet calls away;
In vain thine eyes beg for some times reprieving;
Yet in my children here immortall stay:
In one I die, in many ones am living:
In them, and for them stay thy too much grieving:
Look but on them, in them thou still wilt see
Marry'd with thee again thy twice-two Antonie .


And when with little hands they stroke thy face,
As in thy lap they sit (ah carelesse) playing,
And stammering ask a kisse, give them a brace;
The last from me: and then a little staying,
And in their face some part of me survaying,
In them give me a third, and with a teare
Shew thy deare love to him, who lov'd thee ever deare.


And now our falling house leans all on thee;
This little nation to thy care commend them:
In thee it lies that hence they want not me;
Themselves yet cannot, thou the more defend them;
And when green age permits, to goodnesse bend them:
A mother were you once, now both you are:
Then with this double style double your love and care.


Turn their unwarie steps into the way:
What first the vessel drinks, it long retaineth;
No barres will hold, when they have us'd to stray:
And when for me one asks, and weeping plaineth,
Point thou to heav'n, and say, he there remaineth:
And if they live in grace, grow, and persever,
There shall they live with me: els shall they see me never.


My God, oh in thy fear here let them live;
Thy wards they are, take them to thy protection:
Thou gav'st them first, now back to thee I give;
Direct them thou, and help her weak direction;
That reunited by thy strong election,
Thou now in them, they then may live in thee;
And seeing here thy will, may there thy glorie see.


Bettie , let these last words long with thee dwell:
If yet a second Hymen do expect thee,
Though well he love thee, once I lov'd as well:
Yet if his presence make thee lesse respect me,
Ah do not in my childrens good neglect me:
Let me this faithfull hope departing have;
More easie shall I die, and sleep in carelesse grave.


Farewell, farewell; I feel my long long rest,
And iron sleep my leaden heart oppressing:
Night after day, sleep after labour's best;
Port after storms, joy after long distressing:
So weep thy losse, as knowing 'tis my blessing:
Both as a widow and a Christian grieve:
Still live I in thy thoughts, but as in heav'n I live.


Death, end of old joyes, entrance into new,
I follow thee, I know I am thy debtour;
Not unexpect thou com'st to claim thy due:
Take here thine own, my souls too heavie fetter;
Not life, lifes place I change, but for a better:
Take thou my soul, that bought'st it: cease your tears:
Who sighing leaves the earth, himself and heaven fears.


Thus said, and while the bodie slumbring lay,
(As Theseus Ariadne's bed forsaking)
His quiet soul stole from her house of clay;
And glorious Angels on their wings it taking,
Swifter then lightning flew, for heaven making:
There happie goes he, heav'nly fires admiring,
Whose motion is their bait; whose rest is restlesse giring:


And now the courts of that thrice blessed King
It enters, and his presence sits enjoying;
While in it self it findes an endlesse spring
Of pleasures new, and never weary joying,
Ne're spent in spending; feeding, never cloying:
Weak pen to write! for thought can never feign them:
The minde that all can hold, yet cannot half contain the.


There doth it blessed sit, and looking down,
Laughs at our busie care, and idle paining;
And fitting to it self that glorious crown,
Scorns earth, where even Kings most serve by reigning;
Where men get wealth, and hell; so loose by gaining.
Ah blessed soul! there sit thou still delighted,
Till we at length to him with thee shall be united.


But when at last his Lady sad espies
His flesh of life, her self of him deprived;
Too full of grief, closing his quenched eyes,
As if in him, by him, for him she lived,
Fell dead with him; and once again revived,
Fell once again: pain wearie of his paining,
And grief with too much grief felt now no grief remaining.


Again reliev'd, all silent sat she long;
No word to name such grief durst first adventer:
Grief is but light that floats upon the tongue,
But weightie sorrow presses to the center,
And never rests till th' heavie heart it enter;
And in lifes house was married to life:
Grief made life grievous seem, and life enlivens grief:


And from their bed proceeds a numerous presse,
First shrieks, then tears & sighs the hearts ground renting:
In vain poore Muse would'st thou such dole expresse;
For thou thy self lamenting her lamenting,
And with like grief transform'd to like tormenting,
With heavie pace bring'st forth thy lagging verse,
Which cloath'd with blackest lines attends the mournfull herse.


The cunning hand which that Greek Princesse drew
Readie in holy fires to be consum'd,
Pitie and sorrow paints in divers hue;
One wept, he pray'd, this sigh'd, that chaf'd and fum'd;
But not to limme her fathers look presum'd:
For well he knew his skilfull hand had fail'd:
Best was his sorrow seen, when with a cloth 'twas vail'd.


Look as a nightingale, whose callow young
Some boy hath markt, and now half nak'd hath taken,
Which long she closely kept, and foster'd long,
But all in vain; she now poore bird forsaken
Flies up and down, but grief no place can slaken:
All day, and night her losse she fresh doth rue,
And where she ends her plaints, there soon begins anew:


Thus sat she desolate, so short a good,
Such gift so soon exacted sore complaining:
Sleep could not passe, but almost sunk i' th' floud;
So high her eye-banks swell'd with endlesse raining:
Surfet of grief had bred all meats disdaining:
A thousand times my Antonie , she cried,
Irby a thousand times; and in that name she died.


Thus circling in her grief it never ends,
But moving round back to it self enclineth;
Both day and night alike in grief she spends:
Day shews her day is gone, no sun there shineth:
Black night her fellow mourner she defineth:
Light shews his want, and shades his picture draw:
Him (nothing) best she sees, when nothing now she saw.
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