Percy's Reliques - Verses by King James I.

Verses by King James I.

            In the first edition of this book were inserted, by way of specimen of his majesty's poetic talents, some punning verses made on the disputations at Sterling: but it having been suggested to the Editor, that the king only gave the quibbling commendations in prose, and that some obsequious court-rhymer put them into metre;[ 1] it was thought proper to exchange them for two sonnets of King James's own composition. James was a great versifier, and therefore out of the multitude of his poems we have selected two, which (to shew our impartiality) are written in his best and his worst manner. The first would not dishonour any writer of that time; the second is a most complete example of the bathos.

A SONNET ADDRESSED BY KING JAMES TO HIS SON, PRINCE HENRY.

            From King James's Works in folio: where is also printed another called his Majesty's OWN sonnet. It would perhaps be too cruel to infer from thence that it was NOT his Majesty's OWN sonnet.

GOD gives not kings the stile of gods in vaine,
For on his throne his scepter do they swey:
And as their subjects ought them to obey,
So kings should feare and serve their God againe.
If then ye would enjoy a happie reigne,
Observe the statutes of our heavenly King;
And from his law make all your laws to spring;
Since his lieutenant here ye should remaine.

Rewarde the just, be stedfast, true and plaine;
Represse the proud, maintayning aye the right;
Walke always so, as ever in HIS sight,
Who guardes the godly, plaguing the prophane.
And so ye shall in princely vertues shine,
Resembling right your mightie King divine.

A SONNET OCCASIONED BY THE BAD WEATHER WHICH HINDERED THE SPORTS AT NEW-MARKET, IN JANUARY 1616

            This is printed from Drummond of Hawthornden's Works, folio: where also may be seen some verses of Lord Stirling's upon this sonnet, which concludes with the finest anti-climax I remember to have seen.

How cruelly these catives do conspire!
What loathsome love breeds such a baleful band
Betwixt the cankred king of Creta land,[ 2]
That melancholy old and angry sire,
And him, who wont to quench debate and ire
Among the Romans, when his ports were clos'd?[ 3]
But now his double face is still dispos'd,
With Saturn's help, to freeze us at the fire.
The earth ore-covered with a sheet of snow,
Refuses food to fowl, to bird, and beast:
The chilling cold lets every thing to grow,
And surfeits cattle with a starving feast.
Curs'd be that love and mought[ 4] continue short
Which kills all creatures, and doth spoil our sport.

NOTES

1. See a folio intitled "The Muses welcome to King James."

2. Saturn.

3. Janus.

4. i.e. may it.

 

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