Christ's Triumph after Death

Original Text: 
Giles Fletcher, Christs victorie, and triumph in heaven, and earth, over, and after death (Cambridge: C. Legge, 1610). STC 11058
2Began to glister in her beams, and now
3The roses of the day began to flow'r
4In th' eastern garden; for Heav'ns smiling brow
5Half insolent for joy begun to show:
6    The early Sun came lively dancing out,
8That heav'n, and earth might seem in triumph both to shout.
II
9Th' engladded Spring, forgetfull now to weep,
13With violets, the wood's late-wintry head
14    Wide flaming primroses set all on fire,
15    And his bald trees put on their green attire,
16Among whose infant leaves the joyous birds conspire.
18Of unshorn mountains, blown with easy winds,
19Dandled the morning's childhood in their arms,
20And, if they chanc'd to slip the prouder pines,
22    To gild their leaves; saw never happy year
23    Such joyfull triumph, and triumphant cheer,
24As though the aged world anew created were.
IV
25Say Earth, why hast thou got thee new attire,
26And stick'st thy habit full of daisies red?
27Seems that thou dost to some high thought aspire,
28And some new-found-out bridegroom mean'st to wed:
29Tell me ye Trees, so fresh apparelled,
30    So never let the spitefull canker waste you,
31    So never let the heav'ns with lightening blast you,
32Why go you now so trimly drest, or whither haste you?
V
33Answer me Jordan, why thy crooked tide
34So often wanders from his nearest way,
35As though some other way thy stream would slide,
36And fain salute the place where something lay?
37And you sweet birds, that shaded from the ray,
38    Sit carolling, and piping grief away,
39    The while the lambs to hear you dance, and play,
40Tell me sweet birds, what is it you so fain would say?
42Gett'st such a numerous issue of thy bride,
43How chance thou hotter shin'st, and draw'st more near?
44Sure thou somewhere some worthy sight hast spied,
45That in one place for joy thou canst not bide:
46    And you dead swallows, that so lively now
48How could new life into your frozen ashes flow?
VII
49Ye primroses, and purple violets,
50Tell me, why blaze ye from your leafy bed,
52As though you would somewhere be carried,
53With fresh perfumes, and velvets garnished?
54    But ah, I need not ask, 'tis surely so,
55    You all would to your Saviour's triumphs go,
56There would ye all await, and humble homage do.
VIII
57There should the Earth herself with garlands new
58And lovely flow'rs embellished adore,
59Such roses never in her garland grew,
60Such lilies never in her breast she wore,
61Like beauty never yet did shine before:
62    There should the Sun another Sun behold,
63    From whence himself borrows his locks of gold,
64That kindle heav'n, and earth with beauties manifold.
IX
65There might the violet, and primrose sweet
66Beams of more lively, and more lovely grace,
67Arising from their beds of incense meet;
68There should the swallow see new life embrace
70    To let the living from his bowels creep,
71    Unable longer his own dead to keep:
72There heav'n and earth should see their Lord awake from sleep.
X
73Their Lord, before by other judg'd to die,
74Now Judge of all himself; before forsaken
75Of all the world, that from his aid did fly,
76Now by the Saints into their armies taken;
77Before for an unworthy man mistaken,
78    Now worthy to be God confess'd; before
79    With blasphemies by all the basest tore,
80Now worshipped by Angels, that him low adore.
XI
81Whose garment was before indipt in blood,
82But now, imbrighten'd into heav'nly flame,
83The Sun itself outglitters, though he should
85And force the stars go hide themselves for shame:
86    Before that under earth was buried,
87    But now about the heavens is carried,
90But newly wash'd in the green element,
91Before the drowsy Night is half aware,
93Springs lively up into the orient,
94    And the bright drove, fleec'd all in gold, he chases
95    To drink, that on the Olympic mountain grazes,
96The while the minor Planets forfeit all their faces.
98That heav'n began his cloudy stars despise,
99Half envious, to see on earth appear
100A greater light, than flam'd in his own skies:
101At length it burst for spite, and out there flies
103    That on their spotted feathers lively caught
XIV
105The rest, that yet amazed stood below,
106With eyes cast up, as greedy to be fed,
107And hands upheld, themselves to ground did throw,
108So when the Trojan boy was ravished,
109As through th' Idalian woods they say he fled,
110    His aged guardians stood all dismay'd,
111    Some lest he should have fallen back afraid,
112And some their hasty vows, and timely prayers said.
114And let the Prince of Glory enter in:
116The sun to blush, and stars grow pale were seen,
117When, leaping first from earth, he did begin
118    To climb his angels' wings; then open hang
119    Your chrystal doors, so all the chorus sang
XVI
121Hark how the floods clap their applauding hands,
122The pleasant valleys singing for delight,
124The while the fields, struck with the heav'nly light,
125Set all their flow'rs a smiling at the sight,
126    The trees laugh with their blossoms, and the sound
127    Of the triumphant shout of praise, that crown'd
128The flaming Lamb, breaking through heav'n, hath passage found.
XVII
129Out leap the antique Patriarchs, all in haste,
130To see the pow'rs of Hell in triumph led,
131And with small stars a garland interchas'd
132Of olive leaves they bore, to crown his head,
134    After them flew the Prophets, brightly stol'd
135    In shining lawn, and wimpled manifold,
136Striking their ivory harps, strung all in chords of gold.
138Ten thousand Saints at once, that with the sound,
139The hollow vaults of heav'n for triumph rung:
141With all the rest, and clapp'd their wings around:
142    Down from their thrones the Dominations flow,
143    And at his feet their crowns, and sceptres throw,
144And all the princely Souls fell on their faces low.
146But out they rush among the heav'nly crowd,
147Seeking their heav'n out of their heav'n to find,
148Sounding their silver trumpets out so loud,
149That the shrill noise broke through the starry cloud,
151    Came dancing forth, and making joyous play;
152So him they lead along into the courts of day.
XX
153So him they lead into the courts of day,
154Where never war, nor wounds abide him more,
155But in that house, eternal peace doth play,
156Acquieting the souls, that new before
157Their way to heav'n through their own blood did score,
158    But now, estranged from all misery,

Notes

1] From Christ's Victory and Triumph, a poem in four cantos, published at Cambridge in 1610. The sub-divisions are: "Christ's Victory in Heaven" (the conflict between Justice and Mercy, ending with the Incarnation); "Christ's Victory on Earth" (the Temptation); "Christ's Triumph Over Death" (the Passion); and "Christ's Triumph After Death" (the Resurrection and Ascension).
the second Morning. The second morning after the Crucifixion; Easter Day. Back to Line
7] brag. Brisk, lively. Back to Line
10] eblazon. Shine forth. Back to Line
11] The waking swallow broke her half-year's sleep. See Pliny's Natural History (Holland's translation, 1601), X, xxiv. "The swallows likewise are gone from us all winter time. Howbeit, they depart not far off, but seek only the sunshine nooks between hills near at hand, and follow the warmth. Where many times they are found naked and without feathers altogether, as if they had moulted." This seems to be the basis of the references to revivified swallows at II. 46-48. Back to Line
12] purpured. Clothed in purple, i.e. scarlet. Back to Line
17] Sons ... of unshorn mountain. Trees.
Titan. The sun. Back to Line
21] Corylets. Hazel-copses. (Latin corylus, a hazel). Back to Line
41] Spouse of Earth. The sun. Back to Line
47] flit. Swift. Back to Line
51] rent. Rend.
sets. Plants, i.e. leaves and stem. Back to Line
69] unheal. Uncover (O.E. helian to cover.) Back to Line
84] frame. Structure. Back to Line
88] heried. Praised. (O.E. herian, to praise). Back to Line
89] Phosphor. The planet Venus as a morning star. Back to Line
92] besprent. Sprinkled. Back to Line
97] he. Christ. Back to Line
102] globe. A troop, body, one of the senses of the Latin globus. Back to Line
104] The sparkling Earth. The Saviour. 105-107. Cf. Acts, i, 9-11. 108-112. Imitated from Virgil's AEneid, V, 250-257.
The Trojan boy. Ganymede. Back to Line
113] A paraphrase of Psalm xxiv, 7, one of the psalms for Ascension Day. Back to Line
115] volley. In the sense of French volie, a flock, troop.
States. Princes. Back to Line
120] heav'nly birds. Angels. Dante refers to an angel as "l'uccel divino", "the bird of God" in Purgatoria, 11, 38. Back to Line
123] wanton. Playful, joyous. Back to Line
133] degloried. Dishonoured. Back to Line
137] Saints. Evidently the saints of the old dispensation. Dante poetically represents the blessed in Paradise as equally divided between those who believed in Christ before and after his coming. (Paradiso, XXXII, 1-40). Back to Line
140] Cherubins, Dominations. Two of the nine orders of angels. See note on Milton's Paradise Lost, I, 737. Back to Line
145] Martyrs. For martyrs of the old dispensation, see Hebrews, xi, 35-40. Back to Line
150] Perhaps there is a reference to Revelation, xiv, 4. Back to Line
159] discoasted. Separated. Back to Line
160] Swelter. Steep. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1610
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.288; RPO 1996-2000.
Rhyme: