The Visions Of Bellay*
[* Eleven of these Visions of Bellay (all except the 6th, 8th, 13th, and 14th) differ only by a few changes necessary for rhyme from blank-verse translations found in Van der Noodt’s Theatre of Worldlings, printed in 1569; and the six first of the Visions of Petrarch (here said to have been “formerly translated”) occur almost word for word in the same publication, where the authorship appears to be claimed by one Theodore Roest. The Complaints were collected, not by Spenser, but by Ponsonby, his bookseller, and he may have erred in ascribing these Visions to our poet. C.]
It was the time when rest, soft sliding downe
From heavens hight into mens heavy eyes,
In the forgetfulnes of sleepe doth drowne
The carefull thoughts of mortall miseries.
Then did a ghost before mine eyes appeare,
On that great rivers banck that runnes by Rome;
Which, calling me by name, bad me to reare
My lookes to heaven whence all good gifts do come,
And crying lowd, “Loe! now beholde,” quoth hee,
“What under this great temple placed is:
Lo, all is nought but flying vanitee!”
So I, that know this worlds inconstancies,
Sith onely God surmounts all times decay,
In God alone my confidence do stay.
On high hills top I saw a stately frame,
An hundred cubits high by iust assize*,
With hundreth pillours fronting faire the same,
All wrought with diamond after Dorick wize.
Nor brick nor marble was the wall in view,
But shining christall, which from top to base
Out of her womb a thousand rayons** threw
On hundred steps of Afrike golds enchase.@
Golde was the parget,$ and the seeling bright
Did shine all scaly with great plates of golde;
The floore of iasp and emeraude was dight.%
O worlds vainesse! Whiles thus I did behold,
An earthquake shooke the hill from lowest seat,
And overthrew this frame with ruine great.
[* Assize, measure.]
[** Rayons, beams, rays.]
[@ I.e. enchased with gold.]
[$ Parget, varnish, plaster.]
[% Dight, composed.]
Then did a sharped spyre of diamond bright,
Ten feete each way in square, appeare to mee,
Iustly proportion’d up unto his hight,
So far as archer might his level see.
The top thereof a pot did seeme to beare,
Made of the mettall which we most do honour;
And in this golden vessel couched weare
The ashes of a mightie emperour:
Upon foure corners of the base were pight*,
To beare the frame, foure great lyons of gold;
A worthy tombe for such a worthy wight.
Alas! this world doth nought but grievance hold:
I saw a tempest from the heaven descend,
Which this brave monument with flash did rend.
[* Pight, placed.]
I saw raysde up on yvorie pillowes tall,
Whose bases were of richest mettalls warke,
The chapters* alablaster, the fryses christall,
The double front of a triumphall arke.
On each side purtraid was a Victorie,
Clad like a nimph, that wings of silver weares,
And in triumphant chayre was set on hie,
The auncient glory of the Romaine peares.
No worke it seem’d of earthly craftsmans wit,
But rather wrought by his owne industry
That thunder-dartes for Iove his syre doth fit.
Let me no more see faire thing under sky,
Sith that mine eyes have seene so faire a sight
With sodain fall to dust consumed quight.
[* Chapters, capitals.]
Then was the faire Dodonian tree far seene
Upon seaven hills to spread his gladsome gleame,
And conquerours bedecked with his greene,
Along the bancks of the Ausonian streame.
There many an auncient trophee was addrest*,
And many a spoyle, and many a goodly show,
Which that brave races greatnes did attest,
That whilome from the Troyan blood did flow.
Ravisht I was so rare a thing to vew;
When lo! a barbarous troupe of clownish fone**
The honour of these noble boughs down threw:
Under the wedge I heard the tronck to grone;
And since, I saw the roote in great disdaine
A twinne of forked trees send forth againe.