Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Radagon in Dianam
By Robert Greene (1558–1592)
IT 1 was a valley gaudy-green,
Where Dian at the fount was seen;
      Green it was,
      And did pass
All other of Diana’s bowers        5
In the pride of Flora’s flowers.
A fount it was that no sun sees,
Circled in with cypress-trees,
      Set so nigh
      As Phœbus’ eye        10
Could not do the virgins scathe,
To see them naked when they bathe.
She sat there all in white,
Colour fitting her delight:
      Virgins so        15
      Ought to go,
For white in armoury is plac’d
To be the colour that is chaste.
Her taff’ta cassock might you see
Tucked up above her knee,        20
      Which did show
      There below
Legs as white as whalès-bone;
So white and chaste were never none.
Hard by her, upon the ground,        25
Sat her virgins in a round,
      Bathing their
      Golden hair,
And singing all in notes high,
“Fie on Venus’ flattering eye!        30
“Fie on love! it is a toy;
Cupid witless and a boy;
      All his fires,
      And desires,
Are plagues that God sent down from high        35
To pester men with misery.”
As thus the virgins did disdain
Lovers’ joy and lovers’ pain,
      Cupid nigh
      Did espy,        40
Grieving at Diana’s song,
Slyly stole these maids among.
His bow of steel, darts of fire,
He shot amongst them sweet desire,
      Which straight flies        45
      In their eyes,
And at the entrance made them start,
For it ran from eye to heart.
Calisto straight supposed Jove
Was fair and frolic for to love;        50
      Dian she
      Scaped not free,
For, well I wot, hereupon
She loved the swain Endymion;
Clytie Phœbus, and Chloris’ eye        55
Thought none so fair as Mercury:
      Venus thus
      Did discuss
By her son in darts of fire,
None so chaste to check desire.        60
Dian rose with all her maids,
Blushing thus at love’s braids: 2
      With sighs, all
      Show their thrall;
And flinging hence pronounce this saw,        65
“What so strong as love’s sweet law?”
Note 1. From Francesco’s Fortunes: or the Second Part of Never Too Late, 1590. [back]
Note 2. Love’s braid: Prof. Churton-Collins, in his exhaustive edition of the Plays and Poems of Greene, says: “This is not easy to explain. Dyce suggests that it means crafts, deceits, and quotes All’s Well that Ends Well, iv. 2. 13, ‘Since Frenchmen are so braid.’ The N. E. D., which connects it with the Old Norse bregdask, to change unexpectedly, to deceive, gives some instances of the word being apparently used in this sense, as in Robert of Brunne, Chronicle, “Full still away he went, that was a theue’s braid.” Its more obvious meaning, about which there can be no ambiguity, is in the sense of assaults and attacks, as in Golding’s Translation of Ovid’s Met. xiii., ‘To have Ulysses ever a companion of the braid.’ The original meaning of the word indicated a sudden movement (A. S. bregdan), and from this have been deduced the various meanings attached to it.” The text here followed is from Prof. Churton Collins’ edition of Plays and Poems of Greene, collated from the Second and Third Quartos of 1615 and 1631. [back]

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