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There reignd erewhyle in Italy one Picus, Saturnes sonne,
Whoo loved warlike horse and had delyght to see them ronne.
He was of feature as yee see. And by this image heere
The verry beawtye of the man dooth lyvelely appeere.
His courage matcht his personage. And scarcely had he well
Seene twentye yeeres. His countnance did allure the nymphes that dwell
Among the Latian hilles. The nymphes of fountaines and of brookes,
As those that haunted Albula were ravisht with his lookes
And so were they that Numicke beares, and Anio too, and Alme
That ronneth short, and heady Nar, and Farfar coole and calme.
And all the nymphes that usde to haunt Dianas shadye poole,
Or any lakes or meeres neere hand, or other waters coole.
But he disdeyning all the rest did set his love uppon
A lady whom Venilia bare (so fame reporteth) on
The stately mountayne Palatine by Janus that dooth beare
The dowble face. Assoone as that her yeeres for maryage were
Thought able, shee preferring him before all other men,
Was wedded to this Picus whoo was king of Lawrents then.
Shee was in beawtve excellent, but yit in singing, much
More excellent: and theruppon they naamd her Singer. Such
The sweetenesse of her musicke was, that shee therwith delyghts
The savage beastes, and caused birdes to cease theyr wandring flyghts,
And moved stones and trees, and made the ronning streames to stay.
Now whyle that shee in womans tune recordes her pleasant lay
At home, her husband rode abrode uppon a lustye horse
To hunt the Boare, and bare in hand twoo hunting staves of force.
His cloke was crymzen butned with a golden button fast.
Into the selfsame forest eeke was Phebus daughter past
From those same feeldes that of herself the name of Circe beare,
To gather uncowth herbes among the fruteful hillocks there.
As soone as lurking in the shrubbes shee did the king espye,
Shee was astrawght. Downe fell her herbes to ground. And by and by
Through all her bones the flame of love the maree gan to frye.
And when shee from this forced heate had cald her witts agen,
Shee purposde to bewray her mynd. But unto him as then
Shee could not come for swiftnesse of his horse and for his men
That garded him on every syde. Yit shalt thou not (quoth shee)
So shift thee fro my handes although the wynd should carrye thee,
If I doo knowe myself, if all the strength of herbes fayle not,
Or if I have not quyght and cleene my charmes and spelles forgotte.
In saying theis same wordes, shee made the likenesse of a Boare
Without a body, causing it to swiftly passe before
King Picus eyes, and for to seeme to get him to the woode,
Where for the thickenesse of the trees a horse myght do no good.
Immediatly the king unwares a hote pursute did make
Uppon the shadowe of his pray, and quikly did forsake
His foming horses sweating backe: and following vayne wan hope,
Did runne afoote among the woodes, and through the bushes crope.
Then Circe fell a mumbling spelles, and praying like a witch
Did honour straunge and uncowth Goddes with uncowth charmes, by which
Shee usde to make the moone looke dark, and wrappe her fathers head
In watry clowdes. And then likewyse the heaven was overspred
With darknesse, and a foggye mist steamd upward from the ground.
And nere a man about the king to gard him could bee found,
But every man in blynd bywayes ran scattring in the chace,
Through her inchauntments. At the length shee getting tyme and place,
Sayd: By those lyghtsum eyes of thyne which late have ravisht myne,
And by that goodly personage and lovely face of thyne,
The which compelleth mee that am a Goddesse to enclyne
To make this humble sute to thee that art a mortall wyght,
Asswage my flame, and make this sonne (whoo by his heavenly syght
Foresees all things) thy fathrinlawe: and hardly hold not scorne
Of Circe whoo by long discent of Titans stocke am borne.
Thus much sayd Circe. He ryght feerce rejecting her request,
And her, sayd: Whooso ere thou art, go set thy hart at rest.
I am not thyne, nor will not bee. Another holdes my hart:
And long God graunt shee may it hold, that I may never start
To leawdnesse of a forreigne lust from bond of lawfull bed,
As long as Janus daughter, my sweete Singer, is not dead.
Dame Circe having oft renewd her sute in vayne beefore,
Sayd: Dearely shalt thou bye thy scorne. For never shalt thou more
Returne to Singer. Thou shalt lerne by proof what one can doo
That is provoked, and in love, yea and a woman too.
But Circe is bothe stird to wrath, and also tane in love,
Yea and a woman. Twyce her face to westward she did move,
And twyce to Eastward. Thryce shee layd her rod uppon his head.
And therwithall three charmes shee cast. Away king Picus fled.
And woondring that he fled more swift than earst he had beene woont,
He saw the fethers on his skin, and at the sodein brunt
Became a bird that haunts the wooddes. Wherat he taking spyght,
With angrye bill did job uppon hard Okes with all his myght,
And in his moode made hollowe holes uppon theyr boughes. The hew
Of Crimzen which was in his cloke, uppon his fethers grew.
The gold that was a clasp and did his cloke toogither hold,
Is fethers, and about his necke goes circlewyse like gold.
His servants luring in that whyle oft over all the ground
In vayne, and fynding no where of theyr kyng no inkling, found
Dame Circe. (For by that tyme shee had made the ayer sheere,
And suffred both the sonne and wyndes the mistye steames to cleere)
And charging her with matter trew, demaunded for theyr kyng,
And offring force, began theyr darts and Javelings for to fling.
Shee sprincling noysom venim streyght and jewce of poysoning myght,
Did call togither Eribus and Chaos, and the nyght,
And all the feendes of darknesse, and with howling out along
Made prayers unto Hecate. Scarce ended was her song,
But that (a woondrous thing to tell) the woodes lept from theyr place.
The ground did grone: the trees neere hand lookt pale in all the chace:
The grasse besprent with droppes of blood lookt red: the stones did seem
To roare and bellow horce: and doggs to howle and raze extreeme:
And all the ground to crawle with snakes blacke scaalde: and gastly spryghts
Fly whisking up and downe. The folke were flayghted at theis syghts.
And as they woondring stood amaazd, shee strokte her witching wand
Uppon theyr faces. At the touche wherof, there out of hand
Came woondrous shapes of savage beastes uppon them all. Not one
Reteyned still his native shape. The setting sonne was gone
Beyond the utmost coast of Spaine, and Singer longd in vayne
To see her husband. Bothe her folke and people ran agayne
Through all the woodes. And ever as they went, they sent theyr eyes
Before them for to fynd him out, but no man him espyes.
Then Singer thought it not ynough to weepe and teare her heare,
And beat herself (all which shee did). Shee gate abrode, and there
Raundgd over all the broade wyld feelds like one besyds her witts.
Six nyghts and full as many dayes (as fortune led by fitts)
She strayd mee over hilles and dales, and never tasted rest,
Nor meate, nor drink of all the whyle. The seventh day, sore opprest
And tyred bothe with travell and with sorrowe, downe shee sate
Uppon cold Tybers bank, and there with teares in moorning rate
Shee warbling on her greef in tune not shirle nor over hye,
Did make her moane, as dooth the swan: whoo ready for to dye
Dooth sing his buriall song before. Her maree molt at last
With moorning, and shee pynde away: and finally shee past
To lither ayre. But yit her fame remayned in the place.
For why the auncient husbandmen according to the cace,
Did name it Singer of the nymph that dyed in the same.
Of such as these are, many things that yeere by fortune came
Bothe to my heering and my sight. Wee wexing resty then
And sluggs by discontinuance, were commaunded yit agen
To go aboord and hoyse up sayles. And Circe told us all
That long and dowtfull passage and rowgh seas should us befall.
I promis thee those woordes of hers mee throughly made afrayd:
And therfore hither I mee gate, and heere I have mee stayd.
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