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Then sprang up first the golden age, which of it selfe maintainde
The truth and right of every thing unforct and unconstrainde.
There was no feare of punishment, there was no threatning lawe
In brazen tables nayled up, to keepe the folke in awe.
There was no man would crouch or creepe to Judge with cap in hand,
They lived safe without a Judge, in everie Realme and lande.
The loftie Pynetree was not hewen from mountaines where it stood,
In seeking straunge and forren landes, to rove upon the flood.
Men knew none other countries yet, than where themselves did keepe:
There was no towne enclosed yet, with walles and diches deepe.
No horne nor trumpet was in use, no sword nor helmet worne,
The worlde was such, that souldiers helpe might easly be forborne.
The fertile earth as yet was free, untoucht of spade or plough,
And yet it yeelded of it selfe of every things inough.
And men themselves contented well with plaine and simple foode,
That on the earth of natures gift without their travail stoode,
Did live by Raspis, heppes and hawes, by cornelles, plummes and cherries,
By sloes and apples, nuttes and peares, and lothsome bramble berries,
And by the acornes dropt on ground, from Joves brode tree in fielde.
The Springtime lasted all the yeare, and Zephyr with his milde
And gentle blast did cherish things that grew of owne accorde,
The ground untilde, all kinde of fruits did plenteously afforde.
No mucke nor tillage was bestowde on leane and barren land,
To make the corne of better head, and ranker for to stand.
Then streames ran milke, then streames ran wine, and yellow honny flowde
From ech greene tree whereon the rayes of firie Phebus glowde.
But when that into Lymbo once Saturnus being thrust,
The rule and charge of all the worlde was under Jove unjust,
And that the silver age came in, more somewhat base than golde,
More precious yet than freckled brasse, immediatly the olde
And auncient Spring did Jove abridge, and made therof anon,
Foure seasons: Winter, Sommer, Spring, and Autumne off and on:
Then first of all began the ayre with fervent heate to swelt.
Then Isycles hung roping downe: then for the colde was felt
Men gan to shroud themselves in house. Their houses were the thickes,
And bushie queaches, hollow caves, or hardels made of stickes.
Then first of all were furrowes drawne, and corne was cast in ground.
The simple Oxe with sorie sighes, to heavie yoke was bound.
Next after this succeded streight, the third and brazen age:
More hard of nature, somewhat bent to cruell warres and rage.
But yet not wholy past all grace. Of yron is the last
In no part good and tractable as former ages past.
For when that of this wicked Age once opened was the veyne
Therein all mischief rushed forth: then Fayth and Truth were faine
And honest shame to hide their heades: for whom crept stoutly in,
Craft, Treason, Violence, Envie, Pride and wicked Lust to win.
The shipman hoyst his sailes to wind, whose names he did not knowe:
And shippes that erst in toppes of hilles and mountaines had ygrowe,
Did leape and daunce on uncouth waves: and men began to bound
With dowles and diches drawen in length the free and fertile ground,
Which was as common as the Ayre and light of Sunne before.
Not onely corne and other fruites, for sustnance and for store,
Were now exacted of the Earth: but eft they gan to digge,
And in the bowels of the ground unsaciably to rigge,
For Riches coucht and hidden deepe, in places nere to Hell,
The spurres and stirrers unto vice, and foes to doing well.
Then hurtfull yron came abrode, then came forth yellow golde,
More hurtfull than the yron farre, then came forth battle bolde,
That feightes with bothe, and shakes his sword in cruell bloudy hand.
Men live by ravine and by stelth: the wandring guest doth stand
In daunger of his host: the host in daunger of his guest:
And fathers of their sonne in lawes: yea seldome time doth rest,
Betweene borne brothers such accord and love as ought to bee.
The goodman seekes the goodwifes death, and his againe seeks shee.
The stepdames fell their husbandes sonnes with poyson do assayle.
To see their fathers live so long the children doe bewayle.
All godlynesse lies under foote. And Ladie Astrey, last
Of heavenly vertues, from this earth in slaughter drowned past.
And to th'intent the earth alone thus should not be opprest,
And heaven above in slouthfull ease and carelesse quiet rest,
Men say that Giantes went about the Realme of Heaven to win
To place themselves to raigne as Gods and lawlesse Lordes therein.
And hill on hill they heaped up aloft into the skie,
Till God almighty from the Heaven did let his thunder flie,
The dint whereof the ayrie tops of high Olympus brake,
And pressed Pelion violently from under Ossa strake.
When whelmed in their wicked worke those cursed Caitives lay,
The Earth their mother tooke their bloud yet warme and (as they say)
Did give it life. And for bicause some ympes should still remaine
Of that same stocke, she gave it shape and limmes of men againe.
This offspring eke against the Gods did beare a native spight,
In slaughter and in doing wrong was all their whole delight.
Their deedes declared them of bloud engendred for to bee.
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