DEDICATION TO MARY HERBERT, COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE

(For Thomas Watson's AMINTÆ GAUDIA, published posthumously in 1592).
Attributed to Christopher Marlowe, translation by Peter Farey.

 

Illustrissimæ Heroinæ omnibus
& animi, & corporis dotibus ornatis-
simæ, Mariæ Penbrokiæ
Comitissæ.

LAurigera stirpe prognata De-
lia; Sidnæi vatis Apollinei ge-
nuuia soror; Alma literarum pa-
rens, ad cuius immaculatos am-
plexus, confugit virtus, barbariei et igno-
rantiæ impetu violata, vt olim a Threicio
Tyranno Philomela; Poetarum nostri tem-
poris, ingeniorumque; omnium fælicissime pul-
lutantium, Musa; Dia proles, quæ iam ru-
di calamo, spiritus infundis elati furoris, qui-
bus ipse misellus, plus mihi videor præstare
posse, quam cruda nostra indoles proferre so-
let: Dignare Posthumo huic Amyntæ, vt
tuo adoptiuo filio patrocinari: Eoque magis
qud moribundus pater, illius tutelam humil-
lim tibi legauerat. Et licet illustre nomen
tuum non solm apud nos, sed exteras etiam
nationes, latius propagatum est qum aut
vnqum possit æruginosa Temporis vetustate
aboleri, aut mortalium encomijs augeri, (quo-
mod enim quicquam possit esse infinito plus?)
multorum tamn camænis, quasi siderum di-
ademate redimita Ariadne, noli hunc pu-
rum Phoebi sacerdotem, stellam alteram co-
ronæ tuæ largientem, aspernari: sed animi
candore quem sator hominum, atque deorum,
Iupiter prænobili familiæ tuæ quasi hæredi-
tarium alligauit, accipe, et tuere. Sic nos,
quorum opes tenuissimæ, littorea sunt Myr-
tus Veneris, Nymphæque Peneiæ semper
virens coma, prima quaque poematis pagina,
Te Musarum dominam, in auxilium in-
vocabimus: tua denique virtus, quæ virtutem
ipsam, ipsam quoque æternitatem superabit.

Honoris tui studio-
sissimus, C. M.

  To the most illustrious heroine,
decked with all gifts of mind and of body,
Mary Countess of Pembroke.

Descended from laurel-crowned ancestors,
Delia; true-born sister of Sidney, the bard
of Apollo; nourishing parent of literature,
to whose spotless embrace virtue, defiled by
the assault of barbarism and ignorance,
flees for refuge as Philomela from the
Thracian tyrant [Tereus] in times past; Muse
of the poets of our time and of all most
happily budding wits; descendant of the gods,
you now infuse into my rough pen the spirit of
an exalted madness, whereby my poor self seems
to me able to surpass that which my raw natural
talent is wont to bring forth. Deign to be
protectress to this posthumous Amyntas, as to an
adopted son of yours; and more so in that the
dying father [Watson] in all humility named you
as its guardian. And although your illustrious
name, not only among us but also foreign nations,
is propagated too widely ever to be destroyed by
the rusty antiquity of time or augmented by the
praise of mortals (for how can anything be more
than infinite?), crowned with the verse of many as
Ariadne with a diadem of stars, refuse even so to
despise this pure priest of Phoebus [Apollo] if he
bestow another star upon your crown; but accept
and watch over it with that purity of mind which
the father of men and of gods, Jupiter, has linked
with your noble family as its inheritance. So
shall I, whose most slender resources are but the
seashore myrtle of Venus and the evergreen tresses
[laurel] of the Pineian nymph [Daphne], on the
first page of every poem call upon you, Mistress
of the Muses, for aid: In short - your virtue,
which exceeds virtue itself, itself will likewise
exceed eternity.

Most eager to do you honour, C. M.

   
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