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The Country-House Poem

Farewell (sweet Cooke-ham) where I first obtained Grace from that grace where perfect grace remained; And where the muses gave their full consent, I should have power the virtuous to content; Where princely palace willed me to indite, The sacred story of the soul’s delight. -Excerpt from "The Description of Cooke-ham" by Amelia Lanyer

Did you know? In early 17th-century England, wealthy patrons would sponsor writers, which would give them the funds to work on their poetry. The Country-House poem became a way for poets to thank their patron for not only sponsoring them financially but giving them a space to work on their craft. One of, if not the first of its kind was written by Amelia Lanyer. Lanyer’s poem is not only impressive because of its use of various poetic devices, but also because in it, she praises her patroness Margaret

Clifford, Countess of Cumberland, who championed women.

Cottagecore is the trend of the moment, and I love it's warmth and coziness. It's all about flowers, gardens, flowy outfits, baking, crafting, foraging, reading - basically finding the beauty in everyday life. You don't need a cottage to partake in this lifestyle - just enjoy the simplicity life has to offer. Create an inviting living space with plants, throws, and your favourite knick-knacks, and take some time to work on the hobbies you love. Wear clothing that makes you feel comfortable and free, and always take a moment to sit in the sunshine and bask in the beauty around you.

The Description of Cooke-ham

Amelia Lanyer

Farewell (sweet Cooke-ham) where I first obtained

Grace from that grace where perfect grace remained;

And where the muses gave their full consent,

I should have power the virtuous to content;

Where princely palace willed me to indite,

The sacred story of the soul’s delight.

Farewell (sweet place) where virtue then did rest,

And all delights did harbor in her breast;

Never shall my sad eyes again behold

Those pleasures which my thoughts did then unfold.

Yet you (great Lady) Mistress of that place,

From whose desires did spring this work of grace;

Vouchsafe to think upon those pleasures past,

As fleeting worldly joys that could not last,

Or, as dim shadows of celestial pleasures,

Which are desired above all earthly treasures.

Oh how (methought) against you thither came,

Each part did seem some new delight to frame!

The house received all ornaments to grace it,

And would endure no foulness to deface it.

And walks put on their summer liveries,

And all things else did hold like similes.

The trees with leaves, with fruits, with flowers clad,

Embraced each other, seeming to be glad,

Turning themselves to beauteous Canopies,

To shade the bright sun from your brighter eyes;

The crystal streams with silver spangles graced,

While by the glorious sun they were embraced;

The little birds in chirping notes did sing,

To entertain both you and that sweet spring.

And Philomela with her sundry lays,

Both you and that delightful place did praise.

Oh how me thought each plant, each flower, each tree

Set forth their beauties then to welcome thee!

The very hills right humbly did descend,

When you to tread on them did intend.

And as you set your feet, they still did rise,

Glad that they could receive so rich a prize.

The gentle winds did take delight to be

Among those woods that were so graced by thee,

And in sad murmur uttered pleasing sound,

That pleasure in that place might more abound.

The swelling banks delivered all their pride

When such a Phoenix once they had espied.

Each arbor, bank, each seat, each stately tree,

Thought themselves honored in supporting thee;

The pretty birds would oft come to attend thee,

Yet fly away for fear they should offend thee;

The little creatures in the burrough by

Would come abroad to sport them in your eye,

Yet fearful of the bow in your fair hand.

Would run away when you did make a stand.

Now let me come unto that stately tree,

Wherein such goodly prospects you did see;

That oak that did in height his fellows pass,

As much as lofty trees, low growing grass,

Much like a comely cedar straight and tall,

Whose beauteous stature far exceeded all.

How often did you visit this fair tree,

Which seeming joyful in receiving thee,

Would like a palm tree spread his arms abroad,

Desirous that you there should make abode;

Whose fair green leaves much like a comely veil,

Defended Phoebus when he would assail;

Whose pleasing boughs did yield a cool fresh air,

Joying his happiness when you were there.

Where being seated, you might plainly see

Hills, vales, and woods, as if on bended knee

They had appeared, your honor to salute,

Or to prefer some strange unlooked-for suit;

All interlaced with brooks and crystal springs,

A prospect fit to please the eyes of kings.

And thirteen shires appeared all in your sight,

Europe could not afford much more delight.

What was there then but gave you all content,

While you the time in meditation spent

Of their Creator’s power, which there you saw,

In all his creatures held a perfect law;

And in their beauties did you plain descry

His beauty, wisdom, grace, love, majesty.

In these sweet woods how often did you walk,

With Christ and his Apostles there to talk;

Placing his holy Writ in some fair tree

To meditate what you therein did see.

With Moses you did mount his holy hill

To know his pleasure, and perform his will.

With lowly David you did often sing

His holy hymns to Heaven’s eternal King.

And in sweet music did your soul delight

To sound his praises, morning, noon, and night.

With blessed Joseph you did often feed

Your pined brethren, when they stood in need.

And that sweet Lady sprung from Clifford’s race,

Of noble Bedford’s blood, fair stem of grace,

To honorable Dorset now espoused,

In whose fair breast true virtue then was housed,

Oh what delight did my weak spirits find

In those pure parts of her well framèd mind.

And yet it grieves me that I cannot be

Near unto her, whose virtues did agree

With those fair ornaments of outward beauty,

Which did enforce from all both love and duty.

Unconstant Fortune, thou art most to blame,

Who casts us down into so low a frame

Where our great friends we cannot daily see,

So great a difference is there in degree.

Many are placed in those orbs of state,

Partners in honor, so ordained by Fate,

Nearer in show, yet farther off in love,

In which, the lowest always are above.

But whither am I carried in conceit,

My wit too weak to conster of the great.

Why not? although we are but born of earth,

We may behold the heavens, despising death;

And loving heaven that is so far above,

May in the end vouchsafe us entire love.

Therefore sweet memory do thou retain

Those pleasures past, which will not turn again:

Remember beauteous Dorset’s former sports,

So far from being touched by ill reports,

Wherein myself did always bear a part,

While reverend love presented my true heart.

Those recreations let me bear in mind,

Which her sweet youth and noble thoughts did find,

Whereof deprived, I evermore must grieve,

Hating blind Fortune, careless to relieve,

And you sweet Cooke-ham, whom these ladies leave,

I now must tell the grief you did conceive

At their departure, when they went away,

How everything retained a sad dismay.

Nay long before, when once an inkling came,

Methought each thing did unto sorrow frame:

The trees that were so glorious in our view,

Forsook both flowers and fruit, when once they knew

Of your depart, their very leaves did wither,

Changing their colors as they grew together.

But when they saw this had no power to stay you,

They often wept, though, speechless, could not pray you,

Letting their tears in your fair bosoms fall,

As if they said, Why will ye leave us all?

This being vain, they cast their leaves away

Hoping that pity would have made you stay:

Their frozen tops, like age’s hoary hairs,

Shows their disasters, languishing in fears.

A swarthy riveled rind all over spread,

Their dying bodies half alive, half dead.

But your occasions called you so away

That nothing there had power to make you stay.

Yet did I see a noble grateful mind

Requiting each according to their kind,

Forgetting not to turn and take your leave

Of these sad creatures, powerless to receive

Your favor, when with grief you did depart,

Placing their former pleasures in your heart,

Giving great charge to noble memory

There to preserve their love continually.

But specially the love of that fair tree,

That first and last you did vouchsafe to see,

In which it pleased you oft to take the air

With noble Dorset, then a virgin fair,

Where many a learned book was read and scanned,

To this fair tree, taking me by the hand,

You did repeat the pleasures which had passed,

Seeming to grieve they could no longer last.

And with a chaste, yet loving kiss took leave,

Of which sweet kiss I did it soon bereave,

Scorning a senseless creature should possess

So rare a favor, so great happiness.

No other kiss it could receive from me,

For fear to give back what it took of thee,

So I ungrateful creature did deceive it

Of that which you in love vouchsafed to leave it.

And though it oft had given me much content,

Yet this great wrong I never could repent;

But of the happiest made it most forlorn,

To show that nothing’s free from Fortune’s scorne,

While all the rest with this most beauteous tree

Made their sad consort sorrow’s harmony.

The flowers that on the banks and walks did grow,

Crept in the ground, the grass did weep for woe.

The winds and waters seemed to chide together

Because you went away they knew not whither;

And those sweet brooks that ran so fair and clear,

With grief and trouble wrinkled did appear.

Those pretty birds that wonted were to sing,

Now neither sing, nor chirp, nor use their wing,

But with their tender feet on some bare spray,

Warble forth sorrow, and their own dismay.

Fair Philomela leaves her mournful ditty,

Drowned in deep sleep, yet can procure no pity.

Each arbor, bank, each seat, each stately tree

Looks bare and desolate now for want of thee,

Turning green tresses into frosty gray,

While in cold grief they wither all away.

The sun grew weak, his beams no comfort gave,

While all green things did make the earth their grave.

Each brier, each bramble, when you went away

Caught fast your clothes, thinking to make you stay;

Delightful Echo wonted to reply

To our last words, did now for sorrow die;

The house cast off each garment that might grace it,

Putting on dust and cobwebs to deface it.

All desolation then there did appear,

When you were going whom they held so dear.

This last farewell to Cooke-ham here I give,

When I am dead thy name in this may live,

Wherein I have performed her noble hest

Whose virtues lodge in my unworthy breast,

And ever shall, so long as life remains,

Tying my life to her by those rich chains.


Krista Hannesen

Editor in Chief - A Beautiful Life Magazine

Instagram: @kristahannesen

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