Pyramus and Thisbe

From The. xv. bookes of P. Ouidius Naso, entytuled Metamorphosis, translated oute of Latin into English meeter, by Arthur Golding Gentleman, a worke very pleasaunt and delectable. Imprynted at London : By Willyam Seres, [1567].

If you are so inclined you can read a scanned copy of the original 1567 edition of Golding’s Ovid here. (Source: EEBO).

Book IV

She had such store and choyce of tales she wist not which to tell.
She doubted if she might declare […]
[…] how the tree that usde to beare fruite white in ages past,
Doth now beare fruite in manner blacke, by sprincling up of blood.
This tale (bicause it was not stale nor common) seemed good
To hir to tell: and thereupon she in this wise begun,
Hir busie hand still drawing out the flaxen threede she spun:
Within the towne (of whose huge walles so monstrous high and thicke
The fame is given Semyramis for making them of bricke)
Dwelt hard together two yong folke in houses joynde so nere
That under all one roofe well nie both twaine conveyed were. … [IV.70]
The name of him was Pyramus, and Thisbe calde was she.
So faire a man in all the East was none alive as he,
Nor nere a woman, maide nor wife in beautie like to hir.
This neighbrod bred acquaintance first, this neyghbrod first did stirre
The secret sparkes, this neighbrod first an entrance in did showe,
For love to come to that to which it afterward did growe.
And if that right had taken place they had bene man and wife,
But still their Parents went about to let which (for their life)
They could not let. For both their heartes with equall flame did burne.
No man was privie to their thoughts. And for to serve their turne … [IV.80]
In steade of talke they used signes. The closelier they supprest
The fire of love, the fiercer still it raged in their brest.
The wall that parted house from house had riven therein a crany
Which shronke at making of the wall. This fault not markt of any
Of many hundred yeares before (what doth not love espie)
These lovers first of all found out, and made a way whereby
To talke togither secretly, and through the same did goe
Their loving whisprings verie light and safely to and fro.
Now as at one side Pyramus and Thisbe on the tother
Stoode often drawing one of them the pleasant breath from other: … [IV.90]
O thou envious wall (they sayd) why letst thou lovers thus?
What matter were it if that thou permitted both of us
In armes eche other to embrace? Or if thou thinke that this
Were overmuch, yet mightest thou at least make roume to kisse.
And yet thou shalt not finde us churles: we thinke our selves in det
For this same piece of courtesie, in vouching safe to let
Our sayings to our friendly eares thus freely come and goe.
Thus having where they stoode in vaine complayned of their woe,
When night drew nere, they bade adew and eche gave kisses sweete
Unto the parget on their side, the which did never meete. … [IV.100]
Next morning with hir cherefull light had driven the starres aside
And Phebus with his burning beames the dewie grasse had dride.
These lovers at their wonted place by foreappointment met.
Where after much complaint and mone they covenanted to get
Away from such as watched them and in the Evening late
To steale out of their fathers house and eke the Citie gate.
And to th’ intent that in the fields they strayde not up and downe
They did agree at Ninus Tumb to meete without the towne,
And tarie underneath a tree that by the same did grow
Which was a faire high Mulberie with fruite as white as snow. … [IV.110]
Hard by a coole and trickling spring. This bargaine pleasde them both
And so daylight (which to their thought away but slowly goth)
Did in the Ocean fall to rest, and night from thence doth rise.
As soone as darkenesse once was come, straight Thisbe did devise
A shift to wind hir out of doores, that none that were within
Perceyved hir: and muffling hir with clothes about hir chin,
That no man might discerne hir face, to Ninus Tumb she came
Unto the tree, and sat hir downe there underneath the same.
Love made hir bold. But see the chaunce, there comes besmerde with blood
Above the chappes a Lionesse all foming from the wood … [IV.120]
From slaughter lately made of kine to staunch hir bloudie thurst
With water of the foresaid spring. Whome Thisbe spying furst,
Afarre by moonelight, thereupon with fearfull steppes gan flie,
And in a darke and yrkesome cave did hide hirselfe thereby.
And as she fled away for hast she let hir mantle fall
The whych for feare she left behind not looking backe at all.
Now when the cruell Lionesse hir thurst had stanched well,
In going to the Wood she found the slender weede that fell
From Thisbe, which with bloudie teeth in pieces she did teare.
The night was somewhat further spent ere Pyramus came there … [IV.130]
Who seeing in the suttle sande the pring of Lions paw,
Waxt pale for feare. But when also the bloudie cloke he saw
All rent and torne: One night (he sayd) shall lovers two confounde.
Of which long life deserved she of all that live on ground.
My soule deserves of this mischaunce the perill for to beare.
I, wretch, have bene the death of thee, which to this place of feare
Did cause thee in the night to come, and came not here before.
My wicked limmes and wretched guttes with cruell teeth therfore
Devour ye, O ye Lions all that in this rocke doe dwell.
But Cowardes use to wish for death. The slender weede that fell … [IV.140]
From Thisbe up he takes, and streight doth beare it to the tree,
Which was appointed erst the place of meeting for to bee.
And when he had bewept and kist the garment which he knew,
Receyve thou my bloud too (quoth he) and therewithall he drew
His sworde, the which among his guttes he thrust, and by and by
Did draw it from the bleeding wound beginning for to die,
And cast himselfe upon his backe, the bloud did spin on hie
As when a Conduite pipe is crackt, the water bursting out
Doth shote it selfe a great way off and pierce the Ayre about.
The leaves that were upon the tree besprincled with his blood … [IV.150]
Were died blacke. The roote also bestained as it stoode,
A deepe darke purple colour straight upon the Berries cast.
Anon scarce ridded of hir feare with which she was agast,
For doubt of disapointing him commes Thisbe forth in hast,
And for hir lover lookes about, rejoycing for to tell
How hardly she had scapt that night the daunger that befell.
And as she knew right well the place and facion of the tree
(As which she saw so late before): even so when she did see
The colour of the Berries turnde, she was uncertaine whither
It were the tree at which they both agreed to meete togither. … [IV.160]
While in this doubtfull stounde she stoode, she cast hir eye aside
And there beweltred in his bloud hir lover she espide
Lie sprawling with his dying limmes: at which she started backe,
And looked pale as any Box, a shuddring through hir stracke,
Even like the Sea which sodenly with whissing noyse doth move,
When with a little blast of winde it is but toucht above.
But when approching nearer him she knew it was hir love,
She beate hir brest, she shrieked out, she tare hir golden heares,
And taking him betweene hir armes did wash his wounds with teares,
She meynt hir weeping with his bloud, and kissing all his face … [IV.170]
(Which now became as colde as yse) she cride in wofull case:
Alas what chaunce, my Pyramus, hath parted thee and mee?
Make aunswere O my Pyramus: it is thy Thisb’, even shee
Whome thou doste love most heartely, that speaketh unto thee.
Give eare and rayse thy heavie heade. He hearing Thisbes name,
Lift up his dying eyes and having seene hir closde the same.
But when she knew hir mantle there and saw his scabberd lie
Without the swoorde: Unhappy man thy love hath made thee die:
Thy love (she said) hath made thee sley thy selfe. This hand of mine
Is strong inough to doe the like. My love no lesse than thine … [IV.180]
Shall give me force to worke my wound. I will pursue the dead.
And wretched woman as I am, it shall of me be sed
That like as of thy death I was the only cause and blame,
So am I thy companion eke and partner in the same,
For death which only coulde alas asunder part us twaine,
Shall never so dissever us but we will meete againe.
And you the Parentes of us both, most wretched folke alyve,
Let this request that I shall make in both our names bylive
Entreate you to permit that we whome chaste and stedfast love
And whome even death hath joynde in one, may as it doth behove … [IV.190]
In one grave be together layd. And thou unhappie tree
Which shroudest now the corse of one, and shalt anon through mee
Shroude two, of this same slaughter holde the sicker signes for ay,
Blacke be the colour of thy fruite and mourning like alway.
Such as the murder of us twaine may evermore bewray.
This said, she tooke the sword yet warme with slaughter of hir love
And setting it beneath hir brest, did to hir heart it shove.
Hir prayer with the Gods and with their Parentes tooke effect.
For when the frute is throughly ripe, the Berrie is bespect
With colour tending to a blacke. And that which after fire … [IV.200]
Remained, rested in one Tumbe as Thisbe did desire.
This tale thus tolde a little space of pawsing was betwist,
And then began Leucothoe thus, hir sisters being whist:

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