Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
Sonett from “Poetical Exercises”
I. King James I.
THE AZUR’D 1 vaulte, the crystall circles bright,
The gleaming fyrie torches powdred there,
The changing round, the shynie beamie light,
The sad and bearded fyres, the monsters faire;
The prodiges appearing in the aire,        5
The rearding thunders, and the blustering windes,
The fowles in hew, in shape, in nature raire,
The prettie notes that wing’d musiciens finds;
In earth the sau’rie flowres, the mettal’d minds,
The wholesome hearbes, the hautie pleasant trees,        10
The syluer streames, the beasts of sundrie kinds;
The bounded waves, and fishes of the seas:
  All these for teaching man the Lord did frame,
  To do his will whose glorie shines in thame.
Note 1. I. King James I.—Like his predecessor, King James I. wrote poetry. His majesty, indeed, was ambitious of being handed down to posterity as a royal poet. Two of his productions have afforded specimens for this Selection. One of these is entitled, “His Maiestie’s Poeticall Exercises at Vacant Hours.” This volume consists of a translation of the “Furies,” selected from Du Bartas, and the “Lepanto,” an original poem. The “Lepanto,” from which our extract is given, consists of about nine hundred lines, besides two chorusses at the end: the first, Chorus Venetus, and the second, Chorus Angelorum. The other volume alluded to is a translation of “The Psalms of King David,” which was first published at Oxford in 1631. It does not appear certain, however, that his Majesty was the author of that Psalter in the whole. In his address to the reader in the “Poeticall Exercises,” the Royal Author writes: “Rough and unpolished as they are, I offer them unto thee: which being well accepted, will move me to haste the presenting unto thee of my Apocalyps, and also such nomber of the Psalms as I have perfited, and encourage me to the ending of the rest.” His Majesty, however, was either not sufficiently encouraged, or his kingly care prevented him from completing his good design. Bishop Williams, in the sermon which he preached on the death of the royal Author, and which was published with the title of “Great Britain’s Salomon,” says, in allusion to the work under consideration: “This translation he was in hand with, when God called him to sing Psalms with the angels. He intended to have finished and dedicated it to the only saint of his devotion—the Church of Great Britain and that of Ireland. This work was staid in the one and thirtieth Psalm.” A MS. in the British Museum in the handwriting of King James, comprising versions more or less perfect of thirty-one Psalms, corroborates the bishop’s testimony; and the real truth appears to be concerning the entire Psalter which bears his name, that his Majesty wrote some of the Psalms, and that the rest were written by William Alexander, of Menstrie, earl of Stirling. Brown bears his testimony to this fact in his Introduction to the authorised Scotch Version. [back]

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