Sylva VI: ad Generosissimum equitem, Torquatum Thomam Sacvillum, Buchurstiae Dominum, è sua domo in Australi Anglia (c.1579-1580)
Rollock's altercation with pirates (see d2_RolH_007) marked the beginning of an extended residence in England under the patronage of Sir Thomas Sackville, first baron Buckhurst and earl of Dorset (c.1536-1608), whom Rollock stayed with on his estate in Sussex. His compensation from the English Privy Council was delivered via Sir Thomas Heneage, the queen's treasurer and a close personal friend of Buckhurst's, and it is possible that Rollock met Buckhurst through him (for the relationship between Heneage and Buckhurst, see Rivkah Zim, 'Dialogue and discretion: Thomas Sackville, Catherine de Medici, and the Anjou marriage proposal, 1571', Historical Journal, 40.2 (1997), pp. 287-310, esp. p. 291; and Historical Manuscripts Commission, 71, Report on the manuscripts of Allan George Finch (4 vols, London, 1913-65), vol. 1 (1913), pp. 13-18). Buckhurst studied law and served as an MP and royal agent in Rome in his early career before his appointment as joint lord lieutenant of Sussex in November 1569. He was then sent as ambassador to France in 1571 to negotiate a possible marriage between the Duc d'Anjou and Elizabeth. Buckhurst was an accomplished poet in his early career, and contributed a range of verse to the tragedy Gorboduc (performed at the Temple's Christmas revels of 1561-2), to the second part of William Baldwin's Mirror for Magistrates (1563), and to Sir Thomas Hoby's English translation of Castiglione's Book of the Courtier (1561). While he had a shared passion with Rollock for poetry, it is unclear what the exact nature and extent of Rollock's patronage was: although Sackville was a commissioner for the trial of the Duke of Norfolk in 1572 and played a considerable role in the trial of Mary Queen of Scots in 1586-7, his biographers are universally silent about the intervening decade and a half in his career, spent mainly administering affairs in Sussex (J. Swart, Thomas Sackville: a Study in Sixteenth-Century Poetry (Groningen, 1949), pp. 5-14; Paul Bacquet, Un Contemporain d'Elisabeth I: Thomas Sackville, L'Homme et l'Oeuvre (Geneva, 1966), pp. 35-90, esp. p. 57; Rivkah Zim, 'Sackville, Thomas, first Baron Buckhurst and first earl of Dorset (c.1536-1608)', ODNB).
Rollock wrote six poems during this English sojourn, including the preceding sylva addressed to Elizabeth (d2_RolH_007) and this one dedicated to Buckhurst 'at his home in southern England' ('e sua domo in australi Anglia'). It appears from the closing lines of the poem that Buckhurst was tasked with hosting Rollock while a search was undertaken to find his belongings, and Rollock extols at length the virtues of Buckhurst's Sussex estate. During his stay in Sussex, Rollock also wrote three 'new year gifts' ('strena') given as presents at new year 1579-80, two of which were dedicated to the queen's secretary and spymaster Francis Walsingham (and which are both wittily described by Rollock as 'backwards' ('retrogradus') because they are actually petitioning Walsingham for patronage (d2_RolH_024, d2_RolH_025), and another dedicated to Thomas Travers, who Rollock rather unkindly compares to Janus for being two-faced (d2_RolH_019). His final poem to an English dedicatee petitions Walsingham's secretary Francis Milles for a release from a substantial but unspecified debt, probably accrued through gambling (d2_RolH_026). On the evidence of this collection, the accusation that Andrew Melville levelled against Rollock in his later life for using his poetry as a means to obtain financial reward, and for mitigating financial woes, was a trait that he established very early on in his career. Metre: hexameter.
SYLVA VI: ad Generosissimum equitem, Torquatum Thomam Sacvillum, Buchurstiae Dominum, e sua domo in Australi Anglia
1Ille tuus, patrone, cliens, tuus ille poeta,
Maecenas, tuus illes hospes pater hospite, testem
hanc memoris meritorum animi tibi carmine chartam
inficit, et multam pleno canit ore salutem.
5Scilicet attonitum laevae prius impete sortis
torpuit ingenium, gravibus mens anxia curis
ingemuit, luctu illisis vox faucibus haesit.
(Quid facerem, rabies cum barbara piratarum
abstulerat lectos una tot luce libellos,
10pabula Musarum, et tenuis solamina vitae?)
Verum ex quo nostrae tibi curam Curia causae
mandarit, justas inopis miserata querelas,
tuque adeo, verbis miserum solatus amicis,
omne mihi studium, obsidibus dextraque, fideque
15detuleris; juvenemque novum dignatus honore
hospitii, Larium mihi dulcem indulseris usum.
Ex illo bona spes aegros lenire dolores
occipit, inque facem tepidas animare favillas
ingenii, et lapsas revocare in carmina vires.
20Iamque tuis laeti fruimur, generose dynasta,
sedibus: aerumnasque graves nunc ruris amœni
munere, nunc epulis Lariumque levamus honore.
Si quando hybernos melior dispescuit imbres
Iuppiter, et sudi egressis sit copia caeli;
25ilicet immani miramur mole minantes 1
in cœlum montes, tumulosque erroribus aptos
lanigeri pecoris, 2 quorum fastigia leni
ascensu superare juvat, cupidisque jacentes
designare oculis valles, fœcundaque Tempe
30fœtibus arbuteis, 3 et luxuriantia fœno.
Unde pecus poscat bubulum fomenta, capaces
Brutiadumque beet geniali abdomine lances,
setigeraeque sues, animam salis instar adeptae,
deciduas populent fœta Iovis arbore glandes, 4
35sufficiantque avidis pernas et fumina mensis.
Quin, ubi venator jejunis lora molossis
solvit, et horrisono fremuerunt cornua cantu,
fauce feris avida profugis inhiante canum vi,
hic delubra putes Divam posuisse triformem,
40cingereque umbrosas latrantum indagine sylvas,
insignem jaculis, et virgineo comitatu.
Verum ubi rure tuam lassos revocavit in urbem
Hesperus, apparent immania stagna lacunis
squammigeri pecoris, multum cingentia lymphis
45terrai tumulum, herboso qui cespite nidos 5
sufficit alitibus, parvo velut insula ponto.
Hic armenta sitim sedant, huc verna feroces
ducit equos, vitreo latices qui gurgite libent.
Quorum ego, visendi studio, dum passibus insto
50perpetui tractum stabuli, et praesepia tantae
molis opus demiror, ubi centum ora capistris
cornipedes vincti exsultant, altoque repostam
lintre legunt Cererem. Sed praetereuntis imago
rectoris simul emicuit, lentumque sonoro
55concrepuit vimen, capite et cervicibus altis 6
excipiunt, metuuntque minas, totisque trementes
artubus, horrendos ferratis calcibus ictus
ingeminant, complentque vagis hinnitibus auras.
Haec ubi visendi deferbuit ardor, in arcem
60invitant famuli, et stratis triclinia mensis,
ferculaque ostentant epulis instructa repostis,
spumantesque mero pateras, et pocula ponunt
arctois nativa plagis, simul hospitis ora
suspiciunt nutu dociles, et jussa capessunt.
65Folle cient alii flammas, et perpete frigus
expugnant brumale foco, dum concutit orbem
Arctoum sydus, dum Sol tenet aureus Austrum.
Sic ubi victa fames epulis, et frigora flammis,
atria fert animus 7 speciosis pulchra figuris
70cernere, et humanos simulantia marmora vultus:
quorum illi sine caede gerunt et sanguine bella,
hi spectantum oculos venantum indagine ludunt,
et vacuis alii celebrant convivia mensis.
Mox cupido expandit custos penetralia vastae
75interiora domus, saeclis 8 monumenta futuris,
virtutem, ut fueris faelix, comitante serenam
Fortuna, Superosque habeas ad vota secundos.
Tot gnomas, tot sancta Sophon decreta priorum
hic legere est, pulchre niveis nigricantia tectis,
80lector ut agnoscat moderatae insignia vitae.
Cernere tot molli est hic strata cubilia bysso,
virgatasque auro vestes, aulaeque pictis
pendula parietibus, stupeant ut mole laboris
spectatum admissi, 9 et largam mirentur opum vim.
85Sed tantae in fabrica molis, totque inter amœnas
claustrorum ambages, spatiis porrecta per omnem,
quam longa est, compagem aediis (mirabile visu)
eminet una domus, summique crepidine tecti
edita, turritum claris caput inserit auris.
90Credibile est his posuisse trucem sacraria Martem
sedibus, Aeteneosque patrem exhausisse caminos
tardipedem ut belli spoliis haec atria ditent,
et regni auspiciis servent communibus oram.
Scilicet hic mille apparent, ferroque rigentes,
95armorum species, aurique ardore superbae,
militis aeternum robur: sive acer in hostem
fertur eques, seu subnixus pede praelia tentat.
Mille auro galeae rutilant, umbone corusco 10
mille micant clypei, gravidae stant mille pharetrae
100missilibus, totidemque arcus, totidemque bipennes.
Nec cedunt enses numero, scloppeta minaces
multa vomit flammas, multae mucronibus hastae
armatis radiant. Irae Mars instruat impos
praelia, telorum hic temere non ulla requiret.
105Usque adeo venturi inter memor otia belli,
et memor arma inter, procerum doctissime, pacis, 11
temporibus prudens utrisque in utrumque paratus
consulis, 12 et subigis Mavorti assuescere Musas.
His ego dum Larium illecebris, hominumque tuorum
110officiis laetor, melioris protenus ardens
in spem fortunae, mediis te, regule, semper
deliciis meditor, votis te mille requiro,
praesidiumque hominum, lariumque emblema tuorum;
fortunas solum ardentem, solumque potentem
115instaurare meas, finemque afferre laborum.
Quod si olim plebis per inertia tecta profanae
palantes dederis, mea gaudia sola, libellos
cogere, et inventas solerti indagine capsas
reddideris, meliore melos modulabor avena. 13
120Tu mihi Mecaenas, mihi tu patronus, et idem
hospitio mihi tu largus vivace Camœna
122dicere, et nostris passim relegere libellis.
Sylva VI: to the most noble knight, the enobled Thomas Sackville, Baron of Buckhurst, at his home in Southern England
That client of yours, patron, that poet of yours,
Maecenas, a that visitor of yours, hospitable father, inscribes
this page for you, this testimony with the song of a mind remembering
your kindnesses, and sings to your great good health effusely.
As you know my inspiration, having been thunderstruck by ill-fortune's
assault, lies weakened, my mind, vexed by heavy worries,
groans, and my voice has stuck in a throat battered by lamentation.
(What should I have done, when the barbaric fury of pirates
had carried off so many books snatched all together in broad daylight,
the nourishment of the Muses, and the solace of my little life?) b
Yet since the court, having taken pity upon the just complaints
of a helpless man, entrusted the management of our cause to you,
you have devoted your every effort to me, c with pledges, friendship,
and trust; and, having deemed a young stranger worthy of the honour of your
hospitality, you have granted me the sweet society of your household Gods.
Because of this a promising future begins to soothe
my fearful dejection, and to transform cooling ashes to a spark of
inspiration, and to summon up again my lost powers into song.
And now happily we enjoy your home, noble lord:
and now we soften heavy troubles with the bounty of the pleasant
countryside, and now with banquets and with the dignity of your hearth.
Whenever a kinder Juppiter has scattered the wintery
storms, and a clear sky's bounty comes to those outside,
immediately we wonder at the mountains threatening heaven
with their massive bulk, and the hills suitable for the wanderings
of the wholly flock, whose peaks one happily overcomes
with a gentle climb, and whose low-lying valleys
one likewise surveys, and the Tempe valley d fertile
with the fruit of the strawberry tree, and overflowing with crops.
Thereupon the oxen droves would seek out their nourishment, and
the valley would enrich platters fit for the sons of Brutus
with festive puddings, and the bristling sows, having acquired the salty scent,
would devour the acorns falling from the fruitful tree of Jove,
and would supply ham and hogs for hungry tables.
Indeed, when the hunter unleashes the hungry Molossian
hounds, and the horns roar with their dreadful tune,
and with the legion of dogs gaping with mouths hungry for fleeing beasts,
you would think that the triformed Goddess has placed her temples here,
and surrounds the shady forests with a circle of barking dogs,
outstanding with her arrows, and her virgin troop.
Yet after Hesperus has called back the weary men from the country
to your city, huge ponds appear with pools
of scaly fish, which surround many a hill of earth
with water, which themselves supply nests on their grassy
turf for the birds, just like islands on a little sea.
Here the herd quench their thirst, and hither does the servant
lead the wild horses, for them to drink water from the glassy stream.
While I draw near on foot to the line of whole flocks and their folds,
in my eagerness to see all, I am amazed at a work of
such great size, where roam a hundred horses bound at the mouth
with bridles, and they snatch at Ceres' bounty placed
in a deep trough. But just then the image of their master
passing by flashes before them, and a soft stick whips
with a crack, they prick up their heads and long necks,
and they fear his threats, and trembling over their whole
body, they redouble the dreadful din of their metal spurs,
and they fill up the air with their uncertain neighing.
After my passion for observing these things had subsided, the servants
invite me into the castle, and into the dining room with its tables laid out,
and the platters set out for the renewed banquets,
and the cups frothing with wine, and they put down goblets
native to northern shores, e while also acknowledging the words
of their guest compliantly with a nod, and eagrly execute their orders.
Others maintain the fire with their bellows, and overcome the winter's cold
with an ever-burning hearth, while the winter star
shivers the Northern world, and the golden sun grips the Southern.
Thus after hunger has been overcome by feasting, and coldness by fires,
the mind draws one to discern the beautiful halls with their splendid
paintings, and the marbles representing human forms.
Some of them without slaughter or blood bring forth wars,
others trick the eyes of the viewer with a band of hunters,
and others yet frequent a feast with empty tables.
Then the housekeeper reveals the innermost spaces of the huge
house to me in my eagerness, a monument for future ages,
a piece of excellence, since you have been blessed, made joyous through
Fortune's attendance, and may you have the Gods favourable to your prayers.
Here one may read so many maxims, so many sacred decrees
from ancient sages, beautifully inscribed in black ink on the white vaults, f
so that the reader may know the distinctions of a moderate life.
One may also here discern so many couches covered with linen,
and clothing striped with gold, and tapestries hanging
from painted walls, so that those granted a view are stupefied
at the scale of the undertaking, and marvel at the great number of works.
Yet in the production of such scale, and amid the pleasant
bends of so many enclosures, stretching in expanse through
every part of the structure, and how long it is,
a dwelling stands above all (wondrous to say) high on the pedestal of the highest
vault, and projects its turreted top into the shining heavens.
One can imagine that fierce Mars set up a temple amid these
dwellings, and that the tardy-footed father g exhausted the furnaces of Etna h
in order to lavish these halls with with the spoils of war,
and to protect the realm's border under their general command.
Here a thousand types of armour are in full view, stiff with iron,
and splendid with the glow of gold, the enduring
strength of the soldier: whether the swift knight
conveyed towards the enemy, or the man charging to war on foot.
A thousand helmets glow red with gold, a thousand shields
shine forth with their glittering bosses, a thousand quivers stand
filled with their arrows, and just as many bows, and just as many axes.
Nor did the swords yield to these in number, nor the handguns
spitting out their menacing blasts, nor the many spears
glinting with their sharp points. Were Mars in uncontrolled anger
to perpare for war, he will not look in vain for any weapons here.
Always heedful of any war about to come even amid peace,
and likewise for peace amid battles, most learned of nobles,
prudently in both sets of circumstance you preparedly pay heed to both
outcomes, and you compel the Muses to be accustomed to Mars.
While I rejoice at these charms of your home, and the duties of your
men, constantly eager for the hope of better fortune, I consider you, lord,
with moderate pleasure, I beseech you with a thousand prayers,
and the assistence of your men, and the ornaments of your home;
you who alone is eager, and alone able to restore my
fortunes, and to bring an end to my travails.
Since if hereafter you do furnish men who would scour the idle abodes
of the common mob, i to collect my books, my only joys,
and you do return the book cases found through this meticulous search,
then I will play a tune on an even kinder pipe.
You are my Maecenas, you are my patron, and
at the same time with hospitality you are generous to address
me in eager song, and to recite at random from my books.
1: Virgil, Aeneid I.162
2: Ovid, Fasti II.681; and
3: Ovid, Metamorphoses
4: Ovid, Metamorphoses I.106
5: Virgil, Aeneid III.304
6: Virgil, Aeneid II.219
7: Ovid, Metamorphoses
8: 'seclis' in original text
9: Horace, Ars Poetica
10: The end of this line and end of previous line: Virgil, Aeneid II.333-4. Note: end of line 333 in Virgil's 1487 Venetian edition is 'umbone corusco'.
11: Reworking of
Cicero's famous maxim, Metamorphoses I.106
12: Cf. Horace, Satires
13: Virgil, Eclogues X.51
a: Gaius Maecenas (d. 8BC), the wealthy patron of Virgil and Horace.
b: On this episode, see d2_RolH_007.
c: The Privy Council actually entrusted Thomas Heneage to deal with Rollock's case, so it is unclear how Sackville became involved. See John Roche Dasent (ed.), Acts of the Privy Council of England, vol. 11 (1578-80) (London, 1895), pp. 141-2.
d: The Vale of Tempe, a 10 mile gorge between Olympus and Ossa in Thessaly, celebrated as a favoured abode for Apollo and the muses. Rollock is applying the allusion to an unspecified Sussex valley.
e: Possibly an allusion to fine metalwork from the Low Countries.
f: Sackville clearly had a set of painted wooden panels in his home.
h: Most active volcano in Europe.
i: Another disparaging reference by Rollock to lower social classes. See similar references in the other longer poems.