46 Aemilia Lanyar: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum

“Eve Tempted by the Serpent” by William Blake. 1799. Wikimedia Commons.


by Walter Doolittle and Adrielle Wechsler


Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (Latin for: Hail, God, King of the Jews) is a volume of poems by English poet Aemelia Lanyar, also sometimes spelled Emilia Lanier. It was the first book of original poetry published by a woman in England. It was also the first book of poetry written by an English woman in an effort to attract a patron. The volume contains several short poems, each dedicated to a different woman, a long title poem Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum and the first English country house poem entitled “The Description of Cooke-ham”.



Born on January 27th, 1569, to Baptist Bassano and Margaret Johnson; the former was a court musician to Henry VIII and recorded as a “native of Venice” though his daughter was brought up in London. Aemilia Lanyar’s father died when she was only seven and her mother when she was 18. She attracted the attention of Henry Carey, first Lord Hunsdon, Queen Elizabeth’s lord chamberlain. Though 45 years her senior, Hunsdon was the foremost patron of the arts, and they shared a romance for several years. Unfortunately, when she found herself pregnant by Hunsdon, he broke up with her and she was compelled to marry a cousin, Alphonse Lanyar, with whom she had a difficult relationship. A daughter by Alphonso, Odillya, was born in December 1598, but lived only ten months. Years later, in the hopes of securing patronage, Lanyar became good friends with Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, and Margaret’s daughter Lady Anne Clifford. This time with them gave her inspiration for “The Description of Cookeham.” Salve Deus Rex Judæorum was registered on 2 October 1610 and published in 1611. Her work would not gain any notable attention for hundreds of years though it was rediscovered by feminist scholars in the twentieth century (“Amelia Lanyar”). Her life is largely shrouded in mystery, made all the more interesting by the speculation that she may either be Shakespeare’s “Dark Lady” described in his famous sonnets—or, more compellingly—that she may have authored some of his works herself.



Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, written by Aemilia Lanyar, was published in 1611. This collection of poems gave readers an insight into the mind of a brilliant woman of her time, making an eloquent defense of all women according to her unique reading of the Bible.   In the hopes of establishing a writing career, her collection served another purpose as well: it aimed to attract the support and funding of powerful and influential women, such as Queen Anne of Denmark and Margret Clifford, Countess of Cumberland. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum is the first and only piece of literature to be published by Aemilia Lanyar and is one of the only works known to be written by an Elizabethan woman (“Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum”). In fact, some scholars speculate that it may have been the first-ever feminist publication in England. The final poem in Lanyar’s writing was also the first of its kind, being a Country-House poem, one that compliments a wealthy patron through the descriptions of their summer home or country house as the name suggests (“Country House Poem”). Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum was not likely well-received because it did not gain popularity until many centuries later when it was rediscovered. Today, it widely studied for its content, form, and the satirical tone employed by its captivating author.

This version includes “To the Doubtful Reader,” “To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty,” “To the Virtuous Reader,” “Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women,” and “The Description of Cookham.” It begins with “To the Doubtful Reader” which serves as an explanation for the inspiration of the title of the text. She uses the opportunity to settle any concerns the reader may have and to stress the validity of her arguments. In the original book, this segment was used as a closing statement.

Lanyar’s second poem, “To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty,” praises Queen Anne of Denmark for her beauty, and royal virtues, while also making about her enduring humility in spite of her obvious talents and social status. Lanyar urges the queen to read her book of poetry, believing if she did so then it would gain popularity.

The third poem in this compilation is called “To the Virtuous Reader.” It has a completely different tone and format. It is a rallying cry for women, urging them to reflect on their own worth and to question their place in society. She argues that women are the true followers of Christ because he valued them highly in his own life and because women have been his most avid followers, despite the hardships they had endured.

The fourth poem is “Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women.” Lanyard opens with the crimes and cruelties that Pontius Pilate and other men imposed on Jesus Christ leading up to his crucifixion and juxtaposed them with the role that Pilate’s wife played in trying to sway her husband to reconsider. She continues by recounting the Genesis origin myth–the story of  Adam and Eve– as told from a woman’s perspective. She questions the fairness of the burden of original sin, as it was placed fully on women. She brings to light several reasons why Adam is just as much, if not more, to blame for eating the apple from the tree of knowledge.

The final poem, “The Description of Cookham,” is a dedicatory poem to Margret Clifford, Countess of Cumberland. At the time, the Countess spent her time at her royal estate in Cookham. In it, Lanyar depicts pleasant summer days with great detail and admiration, and she reflects on the beautiful landscapes that surrounded her. These landscapes and company during this time is where she claims she received the most inspiration for her writing.

Works Cited

“Aemilia Lanyer.” Poetry Foundation, n.d. www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/aemilia-lanyer\. 28 June 2019.

“Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum.” Wikipedia, 15 Jan. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salve_Deus_Rex_Judaeorum#Reception.

“Country House Poem.” Wikipedia, 05 Jan. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_house_poem.

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is in the wrong? Eve who ate the apple first? Or Adam who followed knowing what would happen?
  2. On what grounds does the author argue for women’s equality?  And how are women’s rights different today?
  3. What qualities does Amelia Lanyar praise in her dedicatory poems? Of what significance is this “ode” to a community of prominent women?
  4. How does Amelia’s writing style change based on who she is talking to? Does her tone change based off of the subject?
  5. How does this work compare to other retellings of the Genesis story in “Gender Relations” and Milton’s Paradise Lost, for example?

Further Resources

  • The story of Adam and Eve from the book of Genesis
  • A five-minute book review/summary of the book of Genesis
  • Audio book of Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum

Reading: From Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum


To the Doubtful Reader

Gentle Reader, if thou desire to be resolued, why I giue this Title, Salue Deus Rex Judaeorum, know for certaine, that it was deliuered vnto me in sleepe many yeares before I had any intent to write in this maner, and was quite out of my memory vntill I had written the Passion of Christ, when immediately it came into my re- membrance, what I had dreamed long before; and thinking it a significant token, that I was appointed to performe that Worke, I gaue the very same words I receiued in sleepe as the fittest Title I could deuise for this Booke.


To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty

Renowned Empresse, and great Britaines Queene,

Most gratious Mother of succeeding Kings;
Vouchsafe to view that which is seldome seene,
A Womans writing of divinest things:
Reade it faire Queene, though it defective be,
Your Excellence can grace both It and Mee.

For you haue rifled Nature of her store,

And all the Goddesses haue dispossest
Of those rich gifts which they enioy’d before,
But now great Queene, in you they all doe rest.
If now they striued for the golden Ball,
Paris would giue it you before them all.

From Iuno you have State and Dignities,

From warlike Pallas, Wisdome, Fortitude;
And from faire Venus all her Excellencies,
With their best parts your Highnesse is indu’d:
How much are we to honor those that springs
From such rare beauty, in the blood of Kings?

The Muses doe attend upon your Throne,

With all the Artists at your becke and call;
The Syluane Gods, and Satyres euery one,
Before your faire triumphant Chariot fall:
And shining Cynthia with her nymphs attend
To honour you, whose Honour hath no end.

From your bright spheare of greatnes where you sit,

Reflecting light to all those glorious stars
That wait upon your Throane; To virtue yet
Vouchsafe that splendor which my meannesse bars:
Be like faire Phoebe, who doth loue to grace
The darkest night with her most beauteous face.

Apollo’s beames doe comfort euery creature,

And shines upon the meanest things that be;
Since in Estate and Virtue none is greater,
I humbly wish that yours may light on me:
That so these rude unpollisht lines of mine,
Graced by you may seeme the more diuine.

Looke in this Mirrour of a worthy Mind,

Where some of your faire Virtues will appeare;
Though all it is impossible to find,
Unlesse my Glasse were chrystall, or more cleare:
Which is dym steele, yet full of spotlesse truth,
And for one looke from your faire eyes it su’th.

Here may your sacred Maiestie behold

That mightie Monarch both of heau’n and earth,
He that all Nations of the world controld,
Yet tooke our flesh in base and meanest berth:
Whose daies were spent in pouerty and sorrow,
And yet all Kings their wealth of him do borrow.

For he is Crowne and Crowner of all Kings,

The hopefull hauen of the meaner sort,
Its he that all our ioy full tidings brings
Of happie raigne within his royall Court:
Its he that in extremity can giue
Comfort to them that haue no time to liue.

And since my wealth within his Region stands,

And that his Crosse my chiefest comfort is,
Yea in his kingdome onely rests my lands,
Of honour there I hope I shall not misse:
Though I on earth doe liue unfortunate,
Yet there I may attaine a better state.

In the meane time, accept most gratious Queene

This holy worke, Virtue presents to you,
In poore apparell, shaming to be seene,
Or once t’appeare in your iudiciall view:
But that faire Virtue, though in meane attire,
All Princes of the world doe most desire.

And sith all royall virtues are in you,

The Naturall, the Morall, and Diuine,
I hope how plaine soeuer, beeing true,
You will accept euen of the meanest line
Faire Virtue yeelds; by whose rare gifts you are
So highly grac’d, t’exceed the fairest faire.

Behold, great Queene, faire Eues Apologie,

Which I haue writ in honour of your sexe,
And doe referre unto your Maiestie,
To iudge if it agree not with the Text:
And if it doe, why are poore Women blam’d,
Or by more faultie Men so much defam’d?

And this great Lady I haue here attired,

In all her richest ornaments of Honour,
That you faire Queene, of all the world admired,
May take the more delight to looke upon her:
For she must entertaine you to this Feast,
To which your Highnesse is the welcom’st guest.

For here I haue prepar’d my Paschal Lambe,

The figure of the liuing Sacrifice;
Who dying, all th’Infernall powres orecame,
That we with him t’Eternitie might rise:
This pretious Passeouer feed upon, O Queene,
Let your faire Virtues in my Glasse be seene.

And she that is the patterne of all Beautie,

The very modell of your Maiestie,
Whose rarest parts enforceth Loue and Duty,
The perfect patterne of all Pietie:
· let my Booke by her faire eies be blest,
· n whose pure thoughts all Innocency rests.

Then shall I thinke my Glasse a glorious Skie,

When two such glittring Suns at once appeare;
The one repleat with Sou’raigne Maiestie,
Both shining brighter than the clearest cleare:
And both reflecting comfort to my spirits,
To find their grace so much aboue my merit;

Whose untun’d voyce the dolefull notes doth sing

Of sad Affliction in an humble straine;
Much like unto a Bird that wants a wing,
And cannot flie, but warbles forth her paine:
Or he that barred from the Suns bright light,
Wanting daies comfort, doth comend the night.

So I that liue clos’d up in Sorrowes Cell,

Since great Elizaes favour blest my youth;
And in the confines of all cares doe dwell,
Whose grieued eyes no pleasure euer view’th:
But in Christs suffrings, such sweet taste they haue,
As makes me praise pale Sorrow and the Graue.

And this great Ladie whom I loue and honour,

And from my very tender yeeres haue knowne,
This holy habite still to take upon her,
Still to remaine the same, and still her owne:
And what our fortunes doe enforce us to,
She of Deuotion and meere Zeale doth do.

Which makes me thinke our heauy burden light,

When such a one as she will help to beare it:
Treading the paths that make our way go right,
What garment is so faire but she may weare it;
Especially for her that entertaines
A Glorious Queene, in whome all woorth remains.

Whose powre may raise my sad deiected Muse,

From this lowe Mansion of a troubled mind;
Whose princely fauour may such grace infuse,
That I may spread Her Virtues in like kind:
But in this triall of my slender skill,
I wanted knowledge to performe my will.

For euen as they that doe behold the Starres,

Not with the eie of Learning, but of Sight,
To find their motions, want of knowledge barres
Although they see them in their brightest light:
So, though I see the glory of her State,
Its she that must instruct and eleuate.
My weake distempred braine and feeble spirits,
Which all unlearned haue aduentur’d, this
To writ of Christ, and of his sacred merits,
Desiring that this Booke Her hands may kisse:
And though I be unworthy of that grace,
Yet let her blessed thoghts this book imbrace.

And pardon me (faire Queene) though I presume,

To doe that which so many better can;
Not that I Learning to my selfe assume,
Or that I would compare with any man:
But as they are Scholers, and by Art do write,
So Nature yeelds my Soule a sad delight.

And since all Arts at first from Nature came,

That Goodly Creature, Mother of Perfection,
Whom Ioues almight hand at first did frame,
Taking both her and hers in his protection:
Why should not She now grace my barren Muse,
And in a Woman all defects excuse.

So peerelesse Princesse humbly I desire,

That your great wisedome would vouchsafe t’omit
All faults; and pardon if my spirits retire,
Leauing to ayme at what they cannot hit:
To write your worth, which no pen can expresse,
Were but t’ecclipse your Fame, and make it lesse.


To the Lady ELIZABETHS Grace.

Most gratious Ladie, faire ELIZABETH ,
Whose Name and Virtues puts vs still in mind,
Of her, of whom we are depriu’d by death;
The Phœnix of her age, whose worth did bind
All worthy minds so long as they haue breath,
In linkes of Admiration, loue and zeale,
To that deare Mother of our Common-weale.
Euen you faire Princesse next our famous Queene,
I doe inuite vnto this wholesome feast,
Whose goodly wisedome, though your yeares be greene,
By such good workes may daily be increast,
Though your faire eyes farre better Bookes haue seene;
Yet being the first fruits of a womans wit,

Vouchsafe you[r] fauour in accepting it.


To all vertuous Ladies in generall.

Each blessed Lady that in Virtue spends

Your pretious time to beautifie your soules;
Come wait on her whom winged Fame attends
And in hir hand the Booke where she inroules
Those high deserts that Maiestie commends:
Let this faire Queene not vnattended bee,
When in my Glasse she daines her selfe to see.
Put on your wedding garments euery one,
The Bridegroome stayes to entertaine you all;
Let Virtue be your guide, for she alone
Can leade you right that you can neuer fall;
And make no stay for feare he should be gone:
But fill your Lamps with oyle of burning zeale,
That to your Faith he may his Truth reueale.
Let all your roabes be purple scarlet white,
Those perfit colours purest Virtue wore,
Come dekt with Lillies that did so delight
To be preferr’d in Beauty, farre before
Wise Salomon in all his glory dight:
Whose royall roabes did no such pleasure yield,
As did the beauteous Lilly of the field.
Adorne your temples with faire
Daphnes crowne, The neuer changing
Laurel, alwaies greene; Let constant hope all worldly pleasures drowne,
In wise Mineruaes paths be alwaies seene;
Or with bright Cynthia, thogh faire Venus frown:
With Esop crosse the posts of euery doore,
Where Sinne would riot, making Virtue poore.
And let the Muses your companions be,
Those sacred sisters that on Pallas wait;
Whose Virtues with the purest minds agree,
Whose godly labours doe auoyd the baite
Of worldly pleasures, liuing alwaies free
From sword, from violence, and from ill report,
To those nine Worthies all faire mindes resort.
Annoynt your haire with Aarons pretious oyle,
And bring your palmes of vict’ry in your hands,
To ouercome all thoughts that would defile
The earthly circuit of your soules faire lands;
Let no dimme shadowes your cleare eyes beguile:
Sweet odours, mirrhe, gum, aloes, frankincense,
Present that King who di’d for your offence.
Behold, bright Titans shining chariot staies,
All deckt with flowers of the freshest hew,
Attended on by Age, Houres, Nights, and Daies,
Which alters not your beauty, but giues you
Much more, and crownes you with eternall praise:
This golden chariot wherein you must ride,
Let simple Doues, and subtill serpents guide.
Come swifter than the motion of the Sunne,
To be transfigur’d with our louing Lord,
Lest Glory end what Grace in you begun,
Of heau’nly riches make your greatest hoord,
In Christ all honour, wealth, and beautie’s wonne:
By whose perfections you appeare more faire
Than Phœbus, if he seau’n times brighter were.
Gods holy Angels will direct your Doues,
And bring your Serpents to the fields of rest,
Where he doth stay that purchast all your loues
In bloody torments, when he di’d opprest,
There shall you find him in those pleasant groues
Of sweet Elizium, by the Well of Life,
Whose cristal springs do purge from worldly strife
Thus may you flie from dull and sensuall earth,
Whereof at first your bodies formed were,
That new regen’rate in a second berth,
Your blessed soules may liue without all feare,
Beeing immortall, subiect to no death:
But in the eie of heauen so highly placed,
That others by your virtues may be graced.
Where worthy Ladies I will leaue you all,
Desiring you to grace this little Booke;
Yet some of you me thinkes I heare to call
Me by my name, and bid me better looke,
Lest vnawares I in an error fall:
In generall tearmes, to place you with the rest,
Whom Fame commends to be the very best.
Tis true, I must confesse (O noble Fame)
There are a number honoured by thee,
Of which, some few thou didst recite by name,
And willd my Muse they should remembred bee;
Wishing some would their glorious Trophies frame:
Which if I should presume to vndertake,
My tired Hand for very feare would quake.
Onely by name I will bid some of those,
That in true Honors seate haue long bin placed,
Yea euen such as thou hast chiefly chose,
By whom my Muse may be the better graced;
Therefore, vnwilling longer time to lose,
I will inuite some Ladies that I know,
But chiefly those as thou hast graced so.


To the Virtuous Reader

Often haue I heard that it is the property of some wo- men, not only to emulate the virtues and perfections of the rest, but also by all their powers of ill speaking, to ecclipse the brightness of their deserved fame: now contrary to this custome, which men I hope uniustly lay to their charge, I haue written this small volume, or little booke, for the generall vse of all virtuous Ladies and Gentlewomen of this kingdome; and in commendation of some particular persons of our owne sexe, such as for the most part, are so well knowne to my selfe, and others, that I dare undertake Fame dares not to call any better. And this haue I done, to make knowne to the world, that all women deserue not to be blamed though some forgetting they are women themselues, and in danger to be condemned by the words of their owne mouthes, fall into so great an errour, as to speake vnaduisedly against the rest of their sexe; which if it be true, I am persuaded they can shew their owne imperfection in nothing more: and there- fore could wish (for their owne ease, modesties, and credit) they would referre such points of folly, to be practised by euell dispo- sed men, who forgetting they were borne of women, nourished of women, and that if it were not by the means of women, they would be quite extinguished out of the world: and a finall ende of them all, doe like Vipers deface the wombes wherein they were bred, onely to giue way and vtterance to their want of discretion and goodnesse. Such as these, were they that disho- noured Christ his Apostles and Prophets, putting them to shamefull deaths. Therefore, we are not to regard any imputa- tions that they vndeseruedly lay upon us, no otherwise than to make vse of them to our owne benefits, as spurres to ver- tue, making vs flie all occasions that may colour their uniust speeches to passe currant. Especially considering that they haue tempted euen the patience of God himselfe, who gaue power to wise and virtuous women, to bring downe their pride and ar- rogancie. As was cruell Cesarus by the discreet counsell of no- ble Deborah, Iudge and Prophetesse of Israel: and resolution of Jael wife of Heber the Kenite: wicket Haman, by the di- uine prayers and prudent proceedings of beautiful Hester: blasphemous Holofernes, by the inuincible courage, rare wis- dome, and confident carriage of Iudeth: & the vniust Iudges, by the innocency of chast Susanna: with infinite others, which for breuitie sake I will omit. As also in respect it pleased our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ, without the assistance of man, beeing free from originall and all other sinnes, from the time of his conception, till the houre of his death, to be begotten of a woman, borne of a woman, nourished of a woman, obedient to a woman; and that he healed woman, pardoned women, comfor- ted women: yea, euen when he was in his greatest agonie and bloodie sweat, going to be crucified, and also in the last houre of his death, tooke care to dispose of a woman: after his resur- rection, appeared first to a woman, sent a woman to declare his most glorious resurrection to the rest of his Disciples. Many other examples I could alledge of diuers faithfull and virtu- ous women, who haue in all ages, not onely beene Confessors, but also indured most cruel martyrdome for their faith in Ie- sus Christ. All which is sufficient to inforce all good Christi- ans and honourable minded men to speake reuerently of our sexe, and especially of all virtuous and good women. To the modest sensures of both which, I refer these my imperfect in- deauours, knowing that according to their owne excellent di- spositions, they will rather, cherish, nourish, and increase the least sparke of virtue where they find it, by their fauourable and beste interpretations, than quench it by wrong constructi- ons. To whom I wish all increase of virtue, and desire their best opinions.


Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women

Now Pontius Pilate is to judge the Cause
Of faultlesse Iesus, who before him stands;
Who neither hath offended Prince, nor Lawes,
Although he now be brought in woefull bands:
O noble Gouernour, make thou yet a pause,
Doe not in innocent blood imbrue thy hands;
But heare the words of thy most worthy wife,
Who sends to thee, to beg her Sauiours life.

Let barb’rous crueltie farre depart from thee,
And in true Iustice take afflictions part;
Open thine eies, that thou the truth mai’st see,
Doe not the thing that goes against thy heart;
Condemne not him that must thy Sauiour be;
But view his holy Life, his good desert:
Let not vs Women glory in Mens fall,
Who had power giuen to ouer-rule vs all.

¶ Till now your indiscretion sets vs free,
And makes our former fault much lesse appeare;

Our Mother Eue, who tasted of the Tree,
Giuing to Adam what she held most deare,
Was simply good, and had no powre to see,
The after-comming harme did not appeare:
The subtile Serpent that our Sex betraide,
Before our fall so sure a plot had laide.

That vndiscerning Ignorance perceau’d
No guile, or craft that was by him intended;
For, had she knowne of what we were bereauid,
To his request she had not condiscended.
But she (poore soule) by cunning was deceau’d,
No hurt therein her harmlesse Heart intended:
For she alleadg’d Gods word, which he denies
That they should die, but euen as Gods, be wise.

But surely Adam cannot be excus’d,
Her fault, though great, yet he was most too blame;
What Weaknesse offred Strength might haue refus’d,
Being Lord of all the greater was his shame:
Although the Serpents craft had her abus’d,
Gods holy word ought all his actions frame:
For he was Lord and King of al the earth,
Before poore Eue had either life or breath.

Who being fram’d by Gods eternall hand,
The perfect’st man that euer breath’d on earth,
And from Gods mouth receiu’d that strait command,
The breach whereof he knew was present death:
Yea hauing powre to rule both Sea and Land,
Yet with one Apple wonne to loose that breath,
Which God hath breathed in his beauteous face,
Bringing vs all in danger and disgrace.

And then to lay the fault on Patience backe,
That we (poore women) must endure it all;
We know right well he did discretion lacke,
Beeing not perswaded thereunto at all;
If Eue did erre, it was for knowledge sake,
The fruit beeing faire perswaded him to fall:
No subtill Serpents falshood did betray him,
If he would eate it, who had powre to stay him?

Not Eue, whose fault was onely too much loue,
Which made her giue this present to her Deare,
That which shee tasted, he likewise might proue,
Whereby his knowledge might become more cleare;
He neuer sought her weakenesse to reproue,
With those sharpe words wich he of God did heare:
Yet Men will boast of Knowledge, which he tooke
From Eues faire hand, as from a learned Booke.

If any Euill did in her remaine,
Beeing made of him, he was the ground of all;
If one of many Worlds could lay a staine
Vpon our Sexe, and worke so great a fall
To wretched Man, by Satans subtill traine;
What will so fowle a fault amongst you all?
Her weakenesse did the Serpents word obay,
But you in malice Gods deare Sonne betray.

Whom, if vniustly you condemne to die,
Her sinne was small, to what you doe commit;
All mortall sinnes that doe for vengeance crie,
Are not to be compared vnto it:
If many worlds would altogether trie,
By all their sinnes the wrath of God to get;
This sinne of yours, surmounts them all as farre
As doth the Sunne, another little starre.

Then let us haue our Libertie againe,
And challendge to your selues no Sou’raigntie;
You came not in the world without our paine,
Make that a barre against your crueltie;
Your fault beeing greater, why should you disdaine
Our beeing your equals, free from tyranny?
If one weake woman simply did offend,
This sinne of yours hath no excuse, nor end.

To which (poore soules) we neuer gaue consent,
Witnesse thy wife (O Pilate) speakes for all;
Who did but dreame, and yet a message sent,
That thou should’st haue nothing to doe at all
With that iust man, which, if thy heart relent,
Why wilt thou be a reprobate with Saul?
To seeke the death of him that is so good,
For thy soules health to shed his dearest blood.

The Description of Cookham

Farewell (sweet Cooke-ham) where I first obtain’d
Grace from that Grace where perfit Grace remain’d;
And where the Muses gaue their full consent,
I should haue powre the virtuous to content:
Where princely Palate will’d me to indite,
The sacred Storie of the Soules delight.
Farewell (sweet Place) where Virtue then did rest,
And all delights did harbour in her breast:
Neuer shall my sad eies againe behold
Those pleasures which my thoughts did then vnfold:
Yet you (great Lady) Mistris of that Place,
From whose desires did spring this worke of Grace;
Vouchsafe to thinke vpon those pleasures past,
As fleeting worldly Ioyes that could not last:
Or, as dimme shadowes of celestiall pleasures,
Which are desir’d aboue all earthly treasures.
Oh how (me thought) against you thither came,
Each part did seeme some new delight to frame!
The House receiu’d all ornaments to grace it,
And would indure no foulenesse to deface it.
The Walkes put on their summer Liueries,
And all things else did hold like similies:
The Trees with leaues, with fruits, with flowers clad,
Embrac’d each other, seeming to be glad,
Turning themselues to beauteous Canopies,
To shade the bright Sunne from your brighter eies:
The cristall Streames with siluer spangles graced,
While by the glorious Sunne they were embraced:
The little Birds in chirping notes did sing,
To entetaine both You and that sweet Spring.
And Philomela with her sundry layes,
Both You and that delightfull Place did praise.
Oh how me thought each plant, each floure, each tree
Set forth their beauties then to welcome thee!
The very Hills right humbly did descend,
When you to tread vpon them did intend.
And as you set your feete, they still did rise,
Glad that they could receiue so rich a prise.
The gentle Windes did take delight to bee
Among those woods that were so grac’d by thee.
And in sad murmure vtterd pleasing sound,
That Pleasure in that place might more abound:
The swelling Bankes deliuer’d all their pride,
When such a Ph#339;nix once they had espide.
Each Arbor, Banke, each Seate, each stately Tree,
Thought themselues honor’d i[n] supporting thee,
The pretty Birds would oft come to attend thee,
Yet flie away for feare they should offend thee:
The little creatures in the Burrough by
Would come abroad to sport them in your eye;
Yet fearefull of the Bowe in your faire Hand,
Would runne away when you did make a stand.
Now let me come vnto that stately Tree,
Wherein such goodly Prospects you did see;
That Oake that did in height his fellowes passe,
As much as lofty trees, low growing grasse:
Much like a comely Cedar streight and tall,
Whose beauteous stature farre exceeded all:
How often did you visite this faire tree,
Which seeming joyfull in receiuing thee,
Would like a Palme tree spread his armes abroad,
Desirous that you there should make abode:
Whose faire greene leaues much like a comely vaile,
Defended Phebus when he would assaile:
Whose pleasing boughes did yeeld a coole fresh ayre,
Ioying his happinesse when you were there.
Where beeing seated, you might plainely see,
Hills, vales, and woods, as if on bended knee
They had appeard, your honour to salute,
Or to preferre some strange vnlook’d for sute:
All interlac’d with brookes and christall springs,
A Prospect fit to please the eyes of Kings:
And thirteene shires appear’d all in your sight,
Europe could not affoard much more delight.
What was there then but gaue you all content,
While you the time in meditation spent,
Of their Creators powre, which there you saw,
In all his Creatures held a perfit Law;
And in their beauties did you plaine descrie,
His beauty, wisdome, grace, loue, maiestie.
In these sweet woods how often did you walke,
With Christ and his Apostles there to talke;
Placing his holy Writ in some faire tree,
To meditate what you therein did see:
With Moyses you did mount his holy Hill,
To knowe his pleasure, and performe his Will.
With louely Dauid you did often sing,
His holy Hymnes to Heauens Eternall King.
And in sweet musicke did your soule delight,
To sound his prayses, morning, noone, and night.
With blessed Ioseph you did often feed
Your pined brethren, when they stood in need.
And that sweet Lady sprung from Cliffords race,
Of noble Bedfords blood, faire streame of Grace;
To honourable Dorset now espows’d,
In whose faire breast true virtue then was hous’d:
Oh what delight did my weake spirits find
In those pure parts of her well framed mind:
And yet it grieues me that I cannot be
Neere vnto her, whose virtues did agree
With those faire ornaments of outward beauty,
Which did enforce from all both loue and dutie.
Vnconstant Fortune, thou art most too blame,
Who casts vs downe into so lowe a frame:
Where our great friends we cannot dayly see,
So great a diffrence is there in degree.
Many are placed in those Orbes of state,
Partners in honour, so ordain’d by Fate;
Neerer in show, yet farther off in loue,
In which, the lowest alwayes are aboue.
But whither am I carried in conceit?
My Wit too weake to conster of the great.
Why not? although we are but borne of earth,
We may behold the Heauens, despising death;
And louing heauen that is so farre aboue,
May in the end vouchsafe vs entire loue.
Therefore sweet Memorie, doe thou retaine
Those pleasures past, which will not turne againe:
Remember beauteous Dorsets former sports,
So farre from beeing toucht by ill reports;
Wherein my selfe did alwaies beare a part,
While reuerend Loue presented my true heart:
Those recreations let me beare in mind,
Which her sweet youth and noble thoughts did finde:
Whereof depriu’d, I euermore must grieue,
Hating blind Fortune, carelesse to releiue.
And you sweet Cooke-ham, whom these Ladies leaue,
I now must tell the griefe you did conceaue
At their departure; when they went away,
How euery thing retaind a sad dismay:
Nay long before, when one an inkeling came,
Me thought each thing did vnto sorrow frame:
The trees that were so glorious in our view,
Forsooke both flowres and fruit, when once they knew
Of your depart, their very leaues did wither,
Changing their colours as they grewe together.
But when they saw this had no powre to stay you,
They often wept, though speechlesse, could not pray you;
Letting their teares in your faire bosoms fall,
As if they said, Why will ye leaue vs all?
This being vaine, they cast their leaues away,
Hoping that pitie would haue made you stay:
Their frozen tops, like Ages hoarie haires,
Showes their disasters, languishing in feares:
A swarthy riueld ryne all ouer spread,
Their dying bodies halfe aliue, halfe dead.
But your occasions call’d you so away,
That nothing there had power to make you stay:
Yet did I see a noble gratefull minde,
Requiting each according to their kind;
Forgetting not to turne and take your leaue
Of these sad creatures, powrelesse to receiue
Your fauour, when with griefe you did depart,
Placing their former pleasures in your heart;
Giuing great charge to noble Memory,
There to preserue their loue continually:
But specially the loue of that faire tree,
That first and last you did vouchsafe to see:
In which it pleas’d you oft to take the ayre,
With noble Dorset, then a virgin faire:
Where many a learned Booke was read and skand
To this faire tree, taking me by the hand,
You did repeat the pleasures which had past,
Seeming to grieue they could no longer last.
And with a chaste, yet louing kisse tooke leaue,
Of which sweet kisse I did it soone bereaue:
Scorning a sencelesse creature should possesse
So rare a fauour, so great happinesse.
No other kisse it could receiue from me,
For feare to giue backe what it tooke of thee:
So I ingratefull Creature did deceiue it,
Of that which you vouchsaft in loue to leaue it.
And though it oft had giu’n me much content,
Yet this great wrong I neuer could repent:
But of the happiest made it most forlorne,
To shew that nothing’s free from Fortune’s scorne,
While all the rest with this most beauteous tree,
Made their sad consort Sorrowes harmony.
The Floures that o[n] the banks and walkes did grow,
Crept in the ground, the Grasse did weepe for woe.
The Windes and Waters seem’d to chide together,
Because you went away they knew not whither:
And those sweet Brookes that ranne so faire and cleare,
With griefe and trouble wrinckled did appeare.
Those pretty Birds that wonted were to sing,
Now neither sing, nor chirp, nor vse their wing;
But with their tender feet on some bare spray,
Warble forth sorrow, and their owne dismay.
Faire Philomela leaues her mournefull Ditty,
Drownd in dead sleepe, yet can procure no pittie:
Each arbour, banke, each seate, each stately tree,
Lookes bare and desolate now for want of thee;
Turning greene tresses into frostie gray,
While in cold griefe they wither all away.
The Sunne grew weake, his beames no comfort gaue,
While all greene things did make the earth their graue:
Each brier, each bramble, when you went away,
Caught fast your clothes, thinking to make you stay:
Delightfull Eccho wonted to reply
To our last words, did now for sorrow die:
The house cast off each garment that might grace it,
Putting on Dust and Cobwebs to deface it.
All desolation then there did appeare,
When you were going whom they held so deare.
This last farewell to Cooke-ham here I giue,
When I am dead thy name in this may liue,
Wherein I haue perform’d her noble hest,
Whose virtues lodge in my vnworthy breast,
And euer shall, so long as life remaines,
Tying my heart to her by those rich chaines.

F I N I S.


To the doubtfull Reader.

Gentle Reader, if thou desire to be resolued, why I giue this Title, Salue Deus Rex Iudæorum, know for certaine, that it was deliuered vnto me in sleepe many yeares before I had any intent to write in this maner, and was quite out of my memory, vntill I had written the Passion of Christ, when immediately it came into my remembrance, what I had dreamed long before; and thinking it a significant token, that I was appointed to performe this worke, I gaue the very same words I receiued in sleepe as the fittest Title I could deuise for this Booke.


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Lanyar, Aemilia. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. LibreTexts Libraries, 26 Sept. 2020, is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 International.

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An Open Companion to Early British Literature Copyright © 2019 by Allegra Villarreal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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