In Praise of the Divers Instruments of Music

In honor of National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, we present this work by one of Turkey’s cleverest poets.

Rewani
Turkish
1475 – 1524

 

Come hither, Mistrel of the Feast of Time,
Whose minstrelsy ennobleth every clime!
As thou the songster at Joy’s Banquet art,
Wilt thou not look on us in kindly part?
Let all the feast be filled with melody,
Let beauties carol in thy company.
Be all the instruments of music blent,
And let the veil of mystery be rent.
For each is potent in some gramarye,
Magicians some, and some enchaters be.

The Harp in magic craft is great of worth,
It brings the new moon down from heaven to earth.
The Mandoline pursues its humours e’er;
If thou would have it sing, then twist its ear.
The Mandoline can’t grapple with the Lute;
Then why torment itself when naught can boot?
A spell it sings when chants the Dulcimer;
It is the ruler for Love’s register.
No Tabret deem that in the minstrel’s hand,
A target ‘tis woe’s arrows to withstand.
What wonder if it all the world o’erthrow? —
The bandit Viol’s armed with shaft and bow.
Amid the feast to call me into mind
The Flute a thread doth round its finger bind.
Where bides one like the Ghittern sweet of say,
The chosen, the elect of the array?

Since joy of soul doth from their voices tide,
Withouten music let no party bide.

Sonnet LVIII

Alexander Montgomerie
Scots
1550 – 1598

 

Hou long sall I in languishing lament?
Hou long sall I bot duyne, and dou not di[e ?]
Hou long sall Love, but mercy, murther me?
Hou long against me sall his bou be bent?

Hou long sall pane my plesiur so prevent ?
Hou long sall weping blind my watrie ee ?
Hou long sall baill my bed felou jit be?
Or vhen sall I with comfort be acquent?

Hou long sall hope be hindrit be mishap ?
Hou long jit, Love, will thou my patience prove?
Hou long sall wo in wrechitnes me wrap ?
Vp once, and my melancholie remove.

Revenge, revert, revive, revest, reveall,
My hurt, my hairt, my hope, my hap, my heall.

Amoretti LXVIII

We present this work in honor of Easter Sunday.

Edmund Spenser
English
1552 – 1599

 

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin:
And having harrow’d hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:

This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean wash’d from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.

And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again:
And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.

So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

Sonnet LXI

Joan Boscà Almogàver
Spanish
1490 – 1542

 

Sweet dream it was and also sweet affliction,
when I was dreaming that it was a dream;
a sweet delight I’d take in what deceived me,
if only that deception longer seemed;
a sweet not being in myself, I saw
every good thing I’d ever want to see;
a sweet pleasure it was, though so intense
that sometimes it would just awaken me:

oh sleep, how much more gentle and delightful
you’d be if you would come so heavily
that with more calm you’d set on me your weight!

For while I slept, in short, I was in bliss,
and it is right that one be blessed in lies
who’s always been in truth unfortunate.

from Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe
English
1564 – 1593

 

Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack’d;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colours on my plumed crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
O, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appear’d to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa’s azur’d arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!

Fotheringhay

Mary, Queen of Scots
Scots
1542 – 1587

 

Alas what am I? What use has my life?
I am but a body whose heart’s torn away,
A vain shadow, an object of misery
Who has nothing left but death-in-life.

O my enemies, set your envy all aside;
I’ve no more eagerness for high domain;
I’ve borne too long the burden of my pain
To see your anger swiftly satisfied.

And you, my friends who have loved me so true,
Remember, lacking health and heart and peace,
There is nothing worthwhile that I can do;
Ask only that my misery should cease

And that, being punished in a world like this,
I have my portion in eternal bliss.