Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Elizabethan Poetry for Lachrimae

Many people have requested the text of the poetry that was read during the Lachrimae concert by Jeremy Dubin, our brilliant Shakespearean actor.  The selections were recommended by UC professor Trish Thomas Henley. (It takes a village to put on a really good concert.) 

Notice that the first poem is by the Roman poet Ovid, ("Old Tears," a poem from antiquity) in a translation that sounds colloquial to us today, ostensibly as it would have sounded to the original Latin-speaking readers.  Then the same poem is presented again in a translation by Christopher Marlowe, in colloquial Elizabethan English ("Old Tears Renewed," an antique poem given a modern treatment--modern for 1580, that is.)

Lachrimæ Antiquae (Old Tears)

Book III Elegy III: She's Faithless.  Ovid (1 century BCE)

Gods exist, go on, believe it - she broke the promise
she made and is still as lovely as she was before!
The long hair she had when she wasn't a liar,
is just as long after she's offended the gods.
Her radiance was whiteness tinged with a rosy blush
before - the blush shines on amongst the snow.
Her feet were slender - her feet are delicately formed.
She was tall and graceful - tall and graceful she remains.
Bright-eyes she had - they are radiant as stars,
with which she so often deceived me with her lies.
No doubt the eternal gods allow girls to swear
falsely too, and beauty has divinity.
I remember she swore by her eyes the other day,
and by mine: look, it is mine that felt the pain!
Tell me, gods, if she cheated you with impunity
why did I deserve punishment instead?
But didn't innocent virgin Andromeda die by your order,
for her mother's crime of boastful beauty?
Not enough for you, that I find you worthless witnesses,
but she laughs at me, and you, playful gods, unpunished?
By my punishment do I redeem her lying:
shall I be victim, deceived by the deceiver?
Either a god's a thing of no account, an idle fear,
stirring the crowd through their foolish credulity:
or if there's a true god, he loves tender girls,
and allows them all excessive liberties.
For us Mars straps on his deadly sword:
for us the hand of Pallas lifts the unfailing spear.
For us the pliant bow of Apollo's bent:
for us Jove's lofty right hand holds the fire.
The gods, offended, are scared to offend these beauties
and, besides, they fear those who don't fear them.
And who should bother to burn incense on their altars?
We men it's true need to show more spirit!
Jupiter blasts his own groves and hills with fire,
and neglects to hurl his bolts at perjured girls.
So many deserved it - but poor Semele was burned!
Her punishment was of her own making:
but if she'd withdrawn from her lover's coming,
no father would have played mother to Bacchus.
Why complain and abuse all of heaven?
The gods too have eyes: the gods have hearts!
If I were a god, I'd let girls with lying lips
deceive my divinity without punishment:
I'd swear, myself, the girls were swearing truly
and I'd not be a god who spoke sourly.
Still, girl, you should use their gift in moderation -
or at least spare these eyes of mine!

Lachrimæ Antiquae Novae (Old Tears Renewed)
Christopher Marlowe's Translation of Ovid's BOOK 3, ELEGY 3 (ca. 1580s)
De amica, quae periuraverat
(Concerning his mistress, who has perjured herself)
What, are there gods? Herself she hath forswore,
And yet remains the face she had before.
How long her locks were, ere her oath she took:
So long they be, since she her faith forsook.
Fair white with rose red was before commix'd:
Now shine her looks pure white and red betwixt.
Her foot was small: her foot's form is most fit:
Comely tall was she, comely tall she's yet.
Sharp eyes she had: radiant like stars they be,
By which she perjur'd oft hath lied to me.
In sooth th'eternal powers grant maids society
Falsely to swear , their beauty hath some deity.
By her eyes I remember late she swore,
And by mine eyes, and mine were pained sore.
Say gods: if she unpunish'd you deceive,
For others faults, why do I loss receive?
But did you not so envy Cepheus' daughter,
For her ill-beauteous mother judg'd to slaughter?
'Tis not enough, she shakes your record off;
And unreveng'd mock'd gods with me doth scoff.
But by my pain to purge her perjuries,
Cozen'd, I am the cozener's sacrifice.
God is a name, no substance, fear'd in vain,
And doth the world in fond belief detain.
Or if there be a God, he loves fine wenches,
And all things too much in their sole power drenches.
Mars girts his deadly sword on for my harm:
Pallas lance strikes me with unconquer'd arm.
At me Apollo bends his pliant bow:
At me Jove's right-hand lightning hath to throw.
The wronged gods dread fair ones to offend,
And fear those, that to fear them least intend.
Who now will care the altars to perfume?
Tut, men should not their courage so consume.
Jove throws down woods and castles with his fire:
But bids his darts from perjur'd girls retire.
Poor Semele, among so many burn'd;
Her own request to her own torment turn'd.
But when her lover came, had she drawn back,
The father's thigh should unborn Bacchus lack.
Why grieve I? And of heaven reproaches pen?
The gods have eyes and breasts as well as men.
Were I a god, I should give women leave,
With lying lips my godhead to deceive,
Myself would swear , the wenches true did swear ,
And I would be none of the gods severe.
But yet their gift more moderately use,
Or in mine eyes, good wench, no pain transfuse.

Lachrimæ Gementes (Singing Tears)
Shakespeare's Sonnet 8:

Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,
Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well tuned sounds
By unions married do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who all in one pleasing note do sing;
    Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
     Sing this to thee: “Though single wilt prove none.”

Lachrimæ Tristes (Sad Tears)
From Thomas Wilson's The Teares of Fancie, or Love Disdained (1593) 
Sonnet VIII

Now Love triumphed having got the day,
Proudly insulting, tyrannizing still:
As Hawk that ceaseth on the yielding pray,
So am I made the scorn of Victor's will.
Now eyes with tears, now heart with sorrow fraught,
Hart sorrows at my watery tears lamenting:
Eyes shed salt tears to see harts pining thought,
And both that then love scorn'd are now repenting.
But all in vain too late I plead repentance,
For tears in eyes and sighs in heart must wield me:
The feathered boy hath doom'd my fatal sentence,
That I to tyrannizing Love must yield me.
And bow my neck erst subject to no yoke,
To Love's false lure (such force hath beauties stroke).

Lachrimæ Coactae (Forced Tears)

From Thomas Wyatt “Farewell Love” (pub. 1557)

Farewell, Love, and all thy laws forever.
Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more.
Senec and Plato call me from thy lore
To perfect wealth my wit for to endeavor.
In blind terror when I did persever,
Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh ay so sore,
Hath taught me to set in trifles no store
And scape forth since liberty is lever.
Therefore farewell. Go trouble younger hearts
And in me claim no more authority.
With idle youth go use thy property
And thereon spend thy many brittle darts:
For hitherto though I have lost all my time,
Me lusteth no longer rotten boughs to climb.

Lachrimae Amantis (Lover's Tears)
John Donne, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning (pub. 1633)

As virtuous men pass mildly away,    
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say    
The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,    
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys    
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears,    
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,    
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love    
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove    
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,    
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,    
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,    
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,    
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so    
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show    
To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,    
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,    
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,    
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,    
And makes me end where I begun. 

Lachrimæ Verae (True Tears)


                LET me pour forth
My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here,
For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear,
And by this mintage they are something worth.
                For thus they be
                Pregnant of thee ;
Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more ;
When a tear falls, that thou fall'st which it bore ;
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a divers shore.

                On a round ball
A workman, that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, all.
                So doth each tear,
                Which thee doth wear,
A globe, yea world, by that impression grow,
Till thy tears mix'd with mine do overflow
This world, by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolvèd so.

                O! more than moon,
Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere ;
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear
To teach the sea, what it may do too soon ;
                Let not the wind
                Example find
To do me more harm than it purposeth :
Since thou and I sigh one another's breath,
Whoe'er sighs most is cruellest, and hastes the other's death.