An Elegie Upon That Honourable And Renowned Knight Sir Philip Sidney, Who Was Untimely Slain At The Siege Of Zutphen, Anno, 1586.
By Anne Bradstreet
When England did enjoy her Halsion dayes,
Her noble Sidney wore the Crown of Bayes;
As well an honour to our British Land,
As she that sway’d the Scepter with her hand;
Mars and Minerva did in one agree,
Of Arms and Arts he should a pattern be,
Calliope with Terpsichore did sing,
Of Poesie, and of musick, he was King;
His Rhetorick struck Polimina dead,
His Eloquence made Mercury wax red;
His Logick from Euterpe won the Crown,
More worth was his then Clio could set down.
Thalia and Melpomene say truth,
(Witness Arcadia penned in his youth.)
Are not his tragick Comedies so acted,
As if your ninefold wit had been compacted.
To shew the world, they never saw before
That this one Volume should exhaust your store;
His wiser dayes condemned his witty works,
Who knows the spels that in his Rhetorick lurks,
But some infatuate fools soon caught therein,
Fond Cupids Dame had never such a gin,
Which makes severer eyes but slight that story,
And men of morose minds envy his glory:
But he’s a Beetle-head that can’t descry
A world of wealth within that rubbish lye,
And doth his name, his work, his honour wrong,
The brave refiner of our British tongue,
That sees not learning, valour and morality,
Justice, friendship, and kind hospitality,
Yea and Divinity within his book,
Such were prejudicate, and did not look.
In all Records his name I ever see
Put with an Epithite of dignity,
Which shews his worth was great, his honour such,
The love his Country ought him, was as much.
Then let none disallow of these my straines
Whilst English blood yet runs within my veins,
O brave Achilles, I wish some Homer would
Engrave in Marble, with Characters of gold
The valiant feats thou didst on Flanders coast,
Which at this day fair Belgia may boast.
The more I say, the more thy worth I stain,
Thy fame and praise is far beyond my strain.
O Zutphen, Zutphen that most fatal City
Made famous by thy death, much more the pity:
Ah! in his blooming prime death pluckt this rose
E’re he was ripe, his thread cut Atropos.
Thus man is born to dye, and dead is he,
Brave Hector, by the walls of Troy we see.
O who was near thee but did sore repine
He rescued not with life that life of thine;
But yet impartial Fates this boon did give,
Though Sidney di’d his valiant name should live:
And live it doth in spight of death through fame,
Thus being overcome, he overcame.
Where is that envious tongue, but can afford
Of this our noble Scipio some good word.
Great Bartas this unto thy praise adds more,
In sad sweet verse, thou didst his death deplore.
And Ph’nix Spencer doth unto his life,
His death present in sable to his wife.
Stella the fair, whose streams from Conduits fell
For the sad loss of her dear Astrophel.
Fain would I shew how he fame’s paths did tread,
But now into such Lab’rinths I am lead,
With endless turnes, the way I find not out,
How to persist my Muse is more in doubt;
Which makes me now with Silvester confess,
But Sidney’s Muse can sing his worthiness.
The Muses aid I crav’d, they had no will
To give to their Detractor any quill,
With high disdain, they said they gave no more,
Since Sidney had exhausted all their store.
They took from me the scribling pen I had,
(I to be eas’d of such a task was glad)
Then to reveng this wrong, themselves engage,
And drove me from Parnassus in a rage.
Then wonder not if I no better sped,
Since I the Muses thus have injured.
I pensive for my fault sate down, and then
Errata through their leave, threw me my pen,
My Poem to conclude, two lines they deign
Which writ, she bad return’t to them again;
So Sidneys fame I leave to Englands Rolls,
His bones do lie interr’d in stately Pauls.
Here lies in fame under this stone,
Philip and Alexander both in one;
Heir to the Muses, the Son of Mars in Truth,
Learning, Valour, Wisdome, all in virtuous youth,
His praise is much, this shall suffice my pen,
That Sidney dy’d ‘mong most renown’d of men.