Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
XIV. Sir Nicholas Breton
        From “A small Handfull of Fragrant Flowers, gathered out of the Lovely Garden of Sacred Scriptures, fit for any honorable or worshippfull Gentlewomen to smell to.”

DEARE 1 dames, your sences to revive,
  Accept these flowers in order heare:
Then, for the time you are alive,
  Renowne your golden dayes shall beare.
Marke therefore what they have to name,        5
And learne to imitate the same.
The first resembleth Constancie,
  A worthie budde of passing fame;
Which every gentle certeinlie
  Delightes to chuse of, for the name.        10
The cause is, that, the truth to tell,
It sents and savours passing well.
*        *        *        *        *
This pleasaunt braunche in Sarae’s brest
  Was dayly used for a showe;
So that her fayth among the rest        15
  Thereby did bountifullie growe:
And she extolled was therefore,
As noble matrone evermore.
*        *        *        *        *
The second budde is Modestie,
  Which Triata did much delight,        20
And furnished the companie
  Of many a Roman matrone bright;
So that no blemish there did growe,
As long as they the same could showe.
The third is vertuous Exercise;        25
  The fourth is called Humilitie;
The fifth, to set before your eyes
  The feare of God most reverently;
The sixth, obedience to the crowne,
And princes’ lawes, with great renowne.        30
The seventh is Pacience, for to beare
  The crosse of Christe continually;
The eyght is liberall talke to heare,
  And use the same indifferently;
The ninth is called Chastitie;        35
The tenth to put up injurie.
The eleventh is, to sustayne the poore;
  The twelfth to aide the comfortlesse,
And to endeavour more and more
  To trayne your steppes to godlynes:        40
The thirtenth, that is cheefest skill,
Which we doo call—do good for ill.
The fourtenth is, to love the trouth,
  And flatterie wholy for to shunne;
The feftenth, barre the chaire of slouth,        45
  Whereby full many are undoune:
For idleness doth shame but wynne,
And is the entraunce unto sinne.
The sixtenth flower is willing zeale
  Unto the sacred veritie,        50
Which is a lanterne to your feete,
  To leade you to sinceritie:
The sevententh blossom fresh of hue,
In wordes and deedes for to be true.
The eyghtenth is, for to restore        55
  That by oppression hath ben gotte;
The niententh, for to cure that sore
  Which careless conscience makes to rotte:
The twenteth is sweet Charitie,
The fruites whereof begin to dye.        60
There are, besides these, godly love;
  Whose leaves though they be not so greene,
Yet who to plucke thereof wyl prove,
  Shall with Lucrecia soone be seene
To shine in wordes and deedes as bright        65
As when the moone doth yeelde her lyght.
Loe, gentles! this small bunch of Flowres
  It is that may encrease your fame;
For they be watered with the showres
  That Sacred Scriptures have to name:        70
You may discerne them by the seedes,
Full much vnlike to worldly weedes.
Note 1. XIV. Sir Nicholas Breton.—Little is known of this poet, but Bishop Percy says he was of some fame in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He is known to be the author of several works, and many are ascribed to him which appeared anonymously. Those from which the annexed specimens are derived are entitled: “A small Handfull of Fragrant Flowers gathered out of the louely garden of Sacred Scriptures, fit for any honorable or worshippfull gentlewomen to smell to;” “An Olde Mans Lesson;” “An excellent Poeme upon the longing of a blessed heart: which loathing the world, doth long to be with Christ;” “The Soule’s immortall Crown; consisting of seaven glorious graces. 1. Virtue. 2. Wisdome. 3. Love. 4. Constancie. 5. Patience. 6. Humilitie. 7. Infiniteness;” with a conclusion entitled Gloria in Excelsis Deo; and a small volume of sonnets, entitled “The Soule’s Harmony.” [back]

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