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Aeneas to Dido


Aeneas read what Dido wrote,
    And sent her this reply;
And sought to cure the cureless wound,
    Which Dido made to die.

When my dear country once most stately Troy
Of Asia Queen of Gods the handiwork, [n]
Mine eyes beheld the furious flames destroy,
Which hidden erst in wooden horse did lurk.
    I deem'd me drown'd in deepest gulf of woe,

    Deeper than which, no grief could make me go.

But when my fortune guided me to see
Poor old Prince Priam at the altar slain,
More deep than deepest fell I one degree,
And felt increas'd my past-increasing pain.
    And cried enrag'd: Conspire now heavens all,
    I am at worst, no worse can me befall.

Yet since Creusa my most loving wife,
Of noblest birth, and no less noble mind,
My dear Creusa loved more than life,

In hapless haste I flying left behind,
    Where weary she, or missing of her way,
    To bloody Greeks, a bloody death did pay.

And since my father comfort of my care,
I lost likewise, by death from me bereft,
My faithful friends by shipwrack swallow'd are.
And is there yet some further sorrow left?
    Some further wrack to make me more accurs'd?
    Since fire, sword, seas, and death have done their worst?

In vain alas I doubt of what I know,

And seek at thee what in my self I find.
I muse: Live I and know this? Thee forgo,
To whom so many, such deserts me bind? [n]
    What words can serve this anguish to display,
    Where weight of woe, doth reason overweigh?

Yet since thyself hast made thy pen descry
Thy griefs to me, which I with grief have read,
Vouchsafe (sweet Queen) to lend these lines thine eye,
And deign to know what reasons have me led.
    And as thou know'st them, take them to be true,

    The truer they, the more their truth I rue.

And first (O Queen) I never will deny,
On me bestow'd more favours can be told.
By any words, nor ever grieve shall I,
Elisa's name in memory to hold,
    Whiles of myself, myself shall mindful bide,
    Whiles lively breath, these limbs of mine shall guide.

But for the rest, in brief I never meant,
(Deem not amiss) by stealth my flight to take,
Nor never yet pretended such intent

To any wife, a husband me to make.
    I sought it not, I came for no such band,
    When toss'd by seas, I lighted on this land.

If friendly Fates such grace to me would yield,
As there to rest, where I to rest would choose,
Sweet Troy that now liest equal with the field,
Thou should'st at least, not all thy beauties lose. [n]
    In thee rebuilt again I would replace,
    The vanquish'd remnant of the Trojan race.

But now Apollo bids to Italy,

To Italy the Lycian Gods command.
Here must our home, our rest, our country be,
To this our love, to this our life is pawn'd.
    If thou a stranger, countries strange might'st seek,
    What in like case, lets us to do the leek. [n]

I never do recline my head to rest,
When night the Earth in moisty shade bewraps,
But fancy straight with fearful sights oppress'd,
Presents my father in sleep-waking naps.
    This place with terror bidding me to leave,

    And not my son of fatal lands bereave.

And now of Gods the fatal messenger
From Jove himself (they both my witness be)
Hath message brought. I saw the God most clear.
I plainly heard what words he spake to me.
    Leave then with plaints to set us both on fire,
    Constrain'd I go, not with mine owne desire. [n]

And what wight can necessity resist,
Whose iron bands, both men and Gods enchain?
What she hath spun, who striveth to untwist,

Or senseless is, or pleasure takes in pain?
    The sturdy tree holds not his foot so fast,
    As lithy reed, that bends to every blast.

Who ever saw those, which of Neptune's land
The waved soil with yoked oars to plough,
With top and top against the storm to stand,
Which Aeol's youth with blust'ring breath doth blow? [n]
    They rather yield unto his windy will,
    Than choose their lives in bootless strife to spill.

And is it then my life I hold so dear,

That life to hold, I Dido would forgo?
Or is it death that I so much do fear,
That death to fly I would procure her woe?
    Then Gods me grant a living death to lead
    In grief, in shame, still dying never dead.

But care of my succeeding progeny,
To whom by fates forepointed is their place,
To whom by heavens of earthly monarchy,
The crown to wear foregranted is the grace.
    This care, I say, with care for to fulfil,

    The God's behest reversed hath my will.

And honour's self (which long asleep hath lain,
Rock'd in love's cradle) now awaked new,
Cries on us both. And shall he cry in vain,
To leave him quite, or yield him service due?
    You hitherto have ever famous been,
    Forget not now, what fame becomes a Queen.

And me whom men (perhaps unworthy) call,
The godly wight and second unto none
In piety, from piety to fall,

Were fouler blot, than any other one.
    Admit (O Queen) that I by thee be stay'd,
    By wand'ring Fame, what will of both be said.

Lo here the man that out of Troy burn'd, [n]
Preserv'd his Gods, now quite by him contemn'd.
Lo here whose chaste affection clean is turn'd
To lawless lust, late by herself condemn'd.
    He lewd, she light, he wicked, she unwise,
    This fame to earth, this earth will blaze to skies.

You know that monster's many eyes and ears,

List'ning and prying still to hear and see,
Her tongues and wings which infinite she bears,
As lying oft, so flying always be.
    Of peers and princes ever speaking worst,
    It is her kind, she was by envy nurs'd.

You thoughtless sit within your princely bower,
Or minding only love or life's delight. [n]
Your fame meantime, like tender springtide flower
The busy blasts of bitter tongues do bite.
    Each deed, each word, yea countenance and thought

    Of simplest sort, are under censure brought.

It is our fate, if not our fault it be,
Which highest mounted, set on Fortune's wheel,
With our own sense we neither hear nor see,
Which makes us pinched long before we feel.
    For foes are pleas'd and would it not amend,
    And friends are griev'd, yet dare not us offend.

Go then Aeneas, honour bids thee go,
Unto whose yoke the freest necks are thrall. [n]
For her sake fly, if wilt not for thine own,

Though what herein befalls, to both befall.
    Protesting still that no mislike or hate,
    Mov'd thee to go, but force of cruel fate.

For were but Dido half so finely form'd,
Were Dido's eyes but half so beamy Jet,
Were Dido's face, but such as might be scorn'd,
Her country poor, her town a simple seat,
    Yet having there such loving kindness found,
    What flinty breast to love would not be bound?

Much more in me, kind-hearted Venus' child,

Not by the lame smith, but her lusty love,
My blinded brother might his bower build,
Where so great helps encourage him to prove.
    Her form, her face, her eyes, her seat, her soil,
    Disdaining match, so far from taking foil. [n]

I both Oenone and the Spartan Queen,
I courtly dames, and Nymphs of woods and wells,
I have Chryseis and Bryseis seen,
Yea, Venus' self, in whom perfection dwells.
    But if some God to choose would me assign,

    I all would praise, but Dido should be mine.

But hard's my choice, when there the thund'ring Jove
Destruction threatens if I disobey, [n]
And here my friendly foe, heart-pursuing Love,
By all his powers, conjures my mind to stay.
    Alas, ye gods, your discord lay aside,
    I am but one, and cannot go and bide.

Or Jove frame thou my destinies anew,
Allot to others fertile Italy,
Or rather Love at once bid both adieu,

And both restore to former liberty.
    By reason's rule, the younger and the child,
    Should to the elder and the father yield.

But thou mad dog, whose reason lies in rage,
Who no rule else, but recklessness doth know, [n]
Nor reverence bearest to thy father's age,
Nor from thy brother canst abstain thy blow.
    And lest for that fault might with thee be found
    By only us, thou did'st thy mother wound.

But not to love, nor any else that dwell

In starry house, I for my selfe would speak,
Let gods, let men, let ghosts of ghastly hell,
Their wrath on me, with all their malice wreak.
    Let me be toss'd as erst, with wrack on seas,
    With war on land, nor here nor there in ease.

Let all that else can mind or body grieve,
Grieve without mean, my body and my mind.
Only to thee, that only did'st relieve
My woes and wants, let me not prove unkind.
    But thankful still, that fame may so relate

    Me thankful still, but still unfortunate.

For where the seas before mine eyes thou set,
With other dangers likely to ensue,
And how I will another Dido get,
Alas I mean no getting of a new.
    My head is busied more a thousand fold,
    How since I must, I may forgo the old.

And who hath past as I, the storms of fire,
Which crazy towers threw topsy-turvy down,
Will little care, though winter's stormy ire

With swelling face, makes Tethis' face to frown.
    In sum, I can all pain with patience take,
    But not (O Queen) with patience thee forsake.

Not that I doubt lest proud Hyarbas' power,
Shall able be, to make my Dido thrall.
Carthage is strong with many a mighty tower,
With broad deep ditch, vant-guarding stately wall. [n]
    This may and will thee from the tyrant rid,
    Thee from thyself, O Gods the luck forbid.

Where love with loss, impatient meets with ire,

Shame calls in sorrow, hatred brings disdain,
And all in one, do oftentimes conspire,
To kill the patient, so to cure the pain.
    Which done, for shame away each other slides,
    But shame, as shameless, evermore abides.

Far better read sometimes a wizard old,
How of lost love to ease the cureless wound.
When Paris left her to honour told, [n]
Wherein she said, she greatest comfort found.
    Her herbs and charms eased not so her hart,

    As these plain precepts of his homely art.

He bad her banish both from sight and mind,
All monuments, but chiefly from her sight,
Which he departing thence did leave behind,
As pictures, garments, arms, and all that might
    His absent person to remembrance bring.
    For love of sight, sight doth from object spring.

Refrain (quoth he) from coming in the place, [n]
Which hath been privy to your sweetest joys.
Never record, or ever with disgrace,

His words and deeds, but cause of your annoys.
    Deem him and them, and when you think him on,
    Think what cause had the traitor to be gone.

But yet at first in no sort seek to suage,
These eager torments of heart-breaking grief,
But whiles rage runneth, yield to running rage,
Till time takes truce, and respite brings relief.
    For mighty beasts, and mighty passions both,
    By following tam'd, by stop are made more wroth.

Observe thou must as diet to this cure,

That idlenesse and loneliness thou fly,
That virtuous accounts still thou have in ure, [n]
And sort yourself with fitting company.
    For love erects in idle breasts his throne,
    And like a monarch loves to sit alone.

Thus much and more the good old man did teach,
That Ida Nymph, in that forsaken state,
As he was hers, so let him be your leech,
Since unto me all prayer comes too late.
    Religion, honour, destiny's decree,

    Three by poor one, how can resisted be?
Tout. Seule.


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