A Balet by the Earl Rivers.
The amiable light in which the character of Anthony Widville, the gallant Earl Rivers, has been placed by the elegant author of the Catalogue of Noble Writers, interests us in whatever fell from his pen. It is presumed therefore that the insertion of this little sonnet will be pardoned, though it should not be found to have much poetic merit. It is the only original poem known of that nobleman's: his more voluminous works being only translations. And if we consider that it was written during his cruel confinement in Pomfret castle a short time before his execution in 1483, it gives us a fine picture of the composure and steadiness with which this stout earl beheld his approaching fate.
This ballad we owe to Rouse, a contemporary historian, who seems to have copied it from the Earl's own hand writing. In tempore, says this writer, incarcerationis apud Pontem-fractum edidit unum Balet in anglicis, ut mihi monstratum est, quod subsequitur sub his verbis: Sum what musyng, &c. Rossi -- Hist. 8vo. 2d edit. p. 213.) In Rouse the second stanza, &c. is imperfect, but the defects are here supplied from a more perfect copy printed in "Ancient Songs, from the Time of King Henry III. to the Revolution," page 87.
This little piece, which perhaps ought rather to have been printed in stanzas of eight short lines, is written in imitation of a poem of Chaucer's that will be found in Urry's Edit. 1721, p. 555, beginning thus:
"Alone walkyng, In thought plainyng,
And sore sighying, All desolate.
My remembrying Of my livying
My death wishyng Bothe erly and late.
"Infortunate Is so my fate
That wrote ye what, Out of mesure
My life I hate; Thus desperate
In such pore estate, Doe I endure," &c.
SUMWHAT musyng, And more mornyng,
In remembring The unstydfastnes
This world being Of such whelyng,
Me contrarieng, What may I gesse?
I fere dowtles, Remediles,
Is now to sese My wofull chaunce.
[For unkyndness, Withouten less,
And no redress, Me doth avaunce,
With displeasaunce, To my grevaunce,
And no suraunce Of remedy.]
Lo in this traunce, Now in substaunce,
Such is my dawnce, wyllyng to dye.
Me thynks truly, Bowndyn am I,
And that gretly, To be content:
Seyng playnly, Fortune doth wry
All contrary From myn entent.
My lyff was lent Me to on intent,
Hytt is ny spent. Welcome fortune!
But I ne went Thus to be shent,
But sho hit ment; Such is her won.