Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
Lines from “The History of Samson”
XXI. Francis Quarles
The Argument.
He goes to Timnah: as he went
He slew a lyon by the way;
He sues, obtaines the maid’s consent,
And they appoint the marriage-day.

WHEN 1 the next day had with his morning light
Redeem’d the East from the dark shades of night,
And with his golden rayes had overspred
The neighb’ring mountaines, from his loathed bed
Sick-thoughted Samson rose, whose watchfull eyes        5
Morpheus that night had with his leaden keyes
Not power to close: his thoughts did so incumber
His restlesse soule, his eyes could never slumber;
Whose softer language by degrees did wake
His father’s sleep-bedeafned eares, and spake;        10
“Sir, let your early blessings light upon
The tender bosome of your prosprous sonne,
And let the God of Israel repay
Those blessings, double, on your head this day:
The long since banisht shadowes make me bold        15
To let you know the morning waxes old;
The sun-beames are growne strong, their brighter hiew
Have broke the mists and dride the morning dew;
The sweetness of the season does invite
Your steps to visit Timnah, and acquite        20
Your last night’s promise.”
With that the Danite and his wife arose,
Scarce yet resolved; at last they did dispose
Their doubtfull paces to behold the prize
Of Samson’s heart, and pleasure of his eyes.        25
They went, and when their travell had attain’d
Those fruitfull hils whose clusters entertain’d
Their thirsty palats with their swelling pride,
The musing lover being stept aside
To gaine the pleasure of a lonely thought,        30
Appear’d a full-ag’d lyon, who had sought
(But could not find) his long-desired prey.
Soone as his eye had given him hopes to pay
His debt to nature, and to mend that fault
His empty stomack found, he made assault        35
Vpon th’ unarm’d lover’s breast, whose hand
Had neither staffe nor weapon to withstand
His greedy rage; but he whose mighty strength
Or sudden death must now appeare, at length
Strecht forth his brawny arme, (his arme supplide        40
With power from heaven,) and did with ease divide
His body limme from limme, and did betray
His flesh to foules that lately sought his prey.
This done, his quick redoubled paces make
His stay amends; his nimble steps o’rtake        45
His leading parents, who by this discover
The smoake of Timnah: now the greedy lover
Thinkes every step a mile, and every pace
A measured league, untill he see that face,
And finde the treasure of his heart that lies        50
In the fair casket of his mistresse’ eyes.
But all this while close Samson made not knowne
Vnto his parents what his hands had done.
By this the gate of Timnah entertaines
The welcome travellers; the parents’ paines        55
Are now rewarded with their sonne’s best pleasure:
The virgin comes; his eyes can finde no leisure
To owne another object. O the greeting
Th’ impatient lovers had at their first meeting!
The lover speakes; she answers; he replies;        60
She blushes; he demandeth; she denies;
He pleades affection; she doubts; hee sues
For nuptiall love; she questions; he renewes
His earnest suit: importunes; she relents;
He must have no deniall; she consents:        65
They passe their mutuall loves; their joyned hands
Are equall earnests of the nuptiall bands.
The parents are agreed; all parties pleas’d;
The daye’s set downe; the lovers hearts are eas’d;
Nothing displeases now but the long stay        70
Betwixt th’ appointment and the mariage-day.
’Tis too severe a censure: if the sonne
Take him a wife; the marriage fairely done,
Without consent of parents (who perchance
Had rais’d his higher price, knew where t’advance        75
His better’d fortunes to one hundred more,)
He lives a fornicator, she, a whore:
Too hard a censure! and it seems to me
The parent’s most delinquent of the three.
What if the better minded sonne doe aime        80
At worth? what if rare vertues doe inflame
His rapt affection? what if the condition
Of an admired and dainty disposition
Hath won his soule? whereas the covetous father
Findes her gold light, and recommends him rather        85
T’ an old worne widow, whose more weighty purse
Is filled with gold, and with the orphan’s curse;
The sweet exuberance of whose full-mouth’d portion
Is but the cursed issue of extortion;
Whose worth, perchance, lies onely in her weight,        90
Or in the bosome of her great estate.
What if the sonne (that does not care to buy
Abundance at so deare a rate,) deny
The soule-detesting profer of his father,
And, in his better judgement, chooses rather        95
To match with meaner fortunes and desert?
I thinke that Mary chose the better part.
  What noble families (that have outgrowne
The best records) have quite bin overthrowne
By wilfull parents, that will either force        100
Their sonnes to match, or haunt them with a curse!
That can adapt their humors to rejoyce
And fancy all things, but their children’s choyce!
Which makes them often timorous to reveale
The close desiers of their hearts, and steale        105
Such matches as perchance their faire advice
Might in the bud have hindred in a trice;
Which done, and past, O then their hasty spirit
Can thinke of nothing under disinherit:
He must be quite discarded and exiled;        110
The furious father must renounce his childe;
Nor pray’r nor blessing must he have; bereiven
Of all; nor must he live, nor die, forgiven;
When as the father’s rashnesse oftentimes
Was the first causer of the children’s crimes.        115
  Parents, be not too cruell; children doe
Things oft too deepe for us t’inquire into.
What father would not storme if his wilde sonne
Should doe the deed that Samson here had done?
Nor doe I make it an exemplar act,        120
Onely let parents not be too exact,
To curse their children, or to dispossesse
Them of their blessings, Heaven may chance to blesse.
Be not too strict; faire language may recure
A fault of youth, whilst rougher words obdure.        125
Note 1. XXI. Francis Quarles.—He was born in 1592, and died in 1642. He was a writer of the age of King James, and in that of Charles I. Those poems which he published within the period to which this volume refers, were, “A Feast for Wormes,” “Pentelogia,” “The History of Queen Ester,” “Job Militant,” “The Historie of Samson,” “Sion’s Sonets,” “Sion’s Elegies,” and “Funerall Elegies,” with some few minor poems. Of Quarles as a writer, Mr. Willmott remarks: “It has been the misfortune of this poet to realize his own aphorism, that ‘Shame is the chronical disease of popularity, and that from fame to infamy is a beaten road.’ The favourite of Lord Essex, and the sometimes darling of the ‘plebeian judgments,’ is now known to many only in the ridicule of Pope. But Quarles will live in spite of the Dunciad. His manly vigour, his uncompromising independence, his disinterested patriotism, and his exalted piety, cannot be entirely forgotten. These are flowers whose blossoms no neglect can wither.” Perhaps the most popular poem of Quarles is his “Emblems,” which first appeared in 1635, and which appears to have been imitations of some Emblems written in Latin by Herman Hugo, a Jesuit. The Emblems of Quarles were addressed to his “beloved friend Edward Benlowes,” to whom he says, “You have put the theorbo [a kind of lute] into my hand, and I have played: you gave the musician the first encouragement; the music returneth to you for patronage.” From the various works of Quarles a rich volume of genuine poetry might be compiled, and should such a volume be published, it would redeem his name from the contempt into which it has so undeservedly fallen. [back]

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