Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
XXI. Abraham Fraunce
GOD, 1 th’ æternal God, noe doubt is good to the godly,
Giuing grace to the pure, and mercy to Israel holy:
And yet, alas! my feete, my faynte feet gan to be slyding,
And I was almost gone and fall’n to a dangerous error.
For my soul did grudg, my hart consumed in anger,        5
And myne eyes disdayng’d, when I saw that such men abounded
With wealth, health, and joy, whose myndes with myschif abounded,
Theyr body stowt and strong, theyr lyms still lyuely apearing,
Neyther feare any panges of death, nor feele any sicknes:
Some still mourne, they laughe: some lyue unfortunate euer,        10
They for ioy doe triumphe, and taste aduersity neuer;
Which makes them with pryde, with scornful pryde to be chayned,
And with blood-thirsting disdaigne as a roabe to be cou’red.
*      *      *      *      *      *      *
Tush! say they, can God from the highest heauens to the lowest
Earth vouchsaulf, thinck you, those prince-like eyes be bowing?        15
’Tis but a vaine conceipt of fooles to be fondly referring
Euery jesting trick and trifling toy to the Thundrer:
For loe these be the men whoe rule and reign with aboundance;
These, and who but these? Why then, what meane I to lift up
Cleane handes and pure hart to the heu’ns? what meane I to offer        20
Praise and thanksgeuing to the Lord? what meane I to suffer
Such plagues with patience? Yea, and almost had I spoken
Euen as they did speake, which thought noe God to be guyding.
But soe should I, alas! haue iudged thy folk to be luckless,
Thy sons forsaken, thy saints vnworthily haples.        25
Thus did I thinck and muse, and search what might be the matter:
But yet I could not, alas! conceaue so hidden a woonder,
Vntil I left myself, and all my thoughts did abandon,
And to thy sacred place, to thy sanctuary, lastly repayred.
There did I see, O Lord, these men’s vnfortunate endings;        30
Endings mute, and fit for their vngodly beginnings.
Then did I see how they did stand in slippery places,
Lifted aloft, that their downefalling might be the greater.
Lyving Lord, how soone is this theyr glory triumphant
Dasht, confounded, gone, drownd in destruction endless!        35
Their fame’s soone outworne, theyr names extinct in a moment,
Lyke to a dreame, that lyues by a sleep, and dyes with a slumber.
—Thus my soule did greeue, my hart did languish in anguish;
Soe blynde were myne eyes, my minde soe plunged in error,
That noe more than a beast did I know this mystery sacred.        40
Yet thou heldst my hande, and kepst my soule from the dungeon;
Thou didst guyde my feete, and me with glory receauedst.
For what in heau’n or in earth shall I loue, or woorthyly wonder,
But my most good God, my Lord and mighty Jehova?
Though my flesh oft faint, my hart’s oft drowned in horror,        45
God neuer fayleth, but will be my mighty protector.
Such as God forsake, and take to a slippery comfort,
Trust to a broken staffe, and taste of woorthy reuengement.
In my God, therefore, my trust is wholly reposed,
And his name wil I praise, and sing his glory renowmed.        50
Note 1. XXI. Abraham Fraunce.—He was a poet of some note in the age of Queen Elizabeth; but nothing is known of him beyond the simple fact, that he published in 1591 a volume entitled “The Countesse of Pembroke’s Yuychurch. Conteining the affectionate life and vnfortunate death of Phillis and Amyntas: that in a pastorall; this in a funerall; both in English hexameters;” and that to this was added a second part, entitled “The Countesse of Pembroke’s Emanuel. Conteining the Nativity, Passion, Buriall, and Resurrection of Christ: together with certeine Psalmes of Dauid: all in English hexameters.” The measure in which Fraunce wrote these productions was adopted by his contemporaries, Sir Philip Sidney and Richard Stanyhurst, but it is altogether foreign to our inflexible English language. Thomas Nash says of it: “The hexameter verse I grant to be a gentleman of an ancient house—so is many an English beggar;—yet this clime of ours he cannot thrive in: our speech is too craggy for him to set his plough in; he goes twitching and hopping like a man running upon quagmires, up the hill in one syllable and down the dale in another, retaining no part of that strictly smooth gait which he vaunts himself with among the Greeks and Latins.” The specimen derived from this author’s pages will illustrate the correctness of these sentiments. [back]

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