"Doe thou my weaker wit with skill inspire,
Fot for this turne; and in my sable brest
Kindle fresh sparks of that immortal fire,
Which learned minds inflameth with desire
Of heavenly things:"
This is the trial between Jove a Mutability to see what rules reality, change, or heavenly order.
The judge is 'great dame Nature,
"Being far greater and more tall of stature
Then any of the gods or Powers on hie:
Yet certes by her face and physnomy.
Whether she man or woman inly were,
That could not any creature well descry:
For, with a veile that wimpled every where,
Her head and face was hid, that mote to none appeare.
That some doe say was by skill devized,
To hide the terror of her uncouth hew,
From mortall eyes that should be sore agrized;
For that her face did like a Lion shew,
That eye of wight could not undure to view:"
"This gread Grandmother of all creatures bred
Great Nature, ever young yet full of eld,
Still mooving, yet unmoved from her sted;
Unseene of any, yet of all beheld;"
Mutability comes forth and begins her argument. The Earth 'only seems unmov'd and permanent';
"Yet she is changed in part, and eek in generall.
For, all that from her springs, and is ybredde,
How-ever fayre it flourish for a time,
Yet see we soone decay; and being dead,
To turne again unto their earthly slime:
Yet, out of their decay and mortall crime,
We daily see new creatures to arize;
And of their Winter spring another Prime,
Unlike in forme, and chag'd by strange disguise:
So turne they still about, and change in restlesse wise."
She goes on, describing change in men;
"Ne doe their bodies only flit and fly:
But eeke their minds (which they immortall call)
Still change and vary thoughts, as new occasions fall."
Talks about the oceans and the air, and fire;
"When any winde doth under heaven blowe;
With which the coulds are also tost and roll'd;
Now like great Hills, &, streight, like sluces, them unfold."
"Thus, all these fower (the which the ground-work bee
Of all the world, and of all living wights)
To thousand sorts of Change we subject see:
Yet are they chang'd (by other wondrous slights)
Into themselves, and lose their native mights;
The Fire to Aire, and th'Ayre to Water sheere,
And Water into Earth: yet Water fights
With Fire, and Aire with Earth approaching neere:
Yet all are in one body, and as one appeare."
As further proof, Mutability orders the seasons called forth, in sequence, as if they were courtiers. And then the individual months 'all riding came'.
A few highlights;
October is drunk, and riding a giant scorpion (they all ride horoscope animals);
"Then came October full of merry glee:
For, yet his noule was totty of the must,
Which he was treading in the wine-fats see,
And of the joyous oyle, whose gentle gust
Made him so frollick and so full of lust:"
November is a fatty;
"Next was November, he full grosse and fat,
As fed with alrd, and that right well might seeme;
For, he had been a fatting hogs of late,
That yet his browes with sweat, did reek and steem,
And yet the season was full sharp and breem,
In planting eeke he took no small delight:"
December is chilly and riding a Goat, but happy as he contains Christmas;
"And after him, came next the chill December:
Yet he through merry feasting which he made,
And great bonfires, did not the cold remember;
His Saviours birth his mind so much did glad:
Upon a shaggy-bearded Goat he rode,
And in his hand a broad deepe boawle he beares;
Of which, he freely drinks an health to all his peeres."
The winter months seem like pretty cool dudes really. And yes, that is exactly how Edmund spells 'boawle'.
Then after the months come Day and Night, then the Hours, then Life and Death;
"Death with most grim and griesly visage seene,
Yet is he nought but parting of the breath:
Ne ought to see, but like a shade to weene,
Unbodied, unsoul'd, unheard, unseene."
Jove agrees that everything under heaven does change, but can only change through Time, and that Time himself is kept in his course by the Gods;
"To whom, thus Mutability: The things
Which we see not how they are mov'd and swayd,
Ye may attribute to your selves as Kings,
And say they by your secret powre are made:
But what we see not, who shall us perswade?"
Then she names all the Gods in turn and points out that they have births, origins, stories and that they do change in various ways.
"Onely the starrie skie doth still remaine:
Yet do the Starres and Signes therein still move,
And even itself is mov'd, as wizards saine.
But all that moveth, doth mutation love:
Therefore both you and them to me I subject prove."
Everyone waits for Natures final verdict:
"At length, she looking up with chearefull view,
The silence brake, and gave her doome in speeches few.
I welll consider all that ye have sayd,
And find that all things stedfastnes doe hate
And changed be: yet being rightly wayd
They are not changed from their first estate;
But by their change their being de dilate:
And turning to themselves at length againe,
Doe worke their owne perfection so by fate:
Then over them Change doth not rule and raigne:
But they raigne over change, and doe their states maintaine.
Cease therefore daughter further to aspire,
And thee content thus to be rul'd by me:
For thy decay thou seekst by they desire;
But time shall come that all shall changed bee,
And from thenceforth, none no more change shall see."
And that is the end of Canto Seven, and all that remains is the two verses of Canto Eight, Edmund speaking to us in his own voice, which I will give to you in full;
"When I bethinke me on that speech whyleare,
Of Mutability, and well it way:
Me seemes, that though she all unworthy were
Of the Heav'ns Rule; yet very sooth to say,
In all things else she beares the greatest sway.
Which makes me loath this state of life so tickle,
And love of things so vaine to cast away;
Whose flowring pride, so fading and so fickle,
Short Time shall soon cut down with his consuming sickle.
Then gin I thinke on that which nature sayd,
Of that same time when no more Change shall be,
But stedfast rest of all things firmely stayd
Upon the pillours of Eternity,
That is contrary to Mutabilitie:
For, all that moveth, doth in Change delight:
But thence-forth all shall rest eternally
With Him that is the God of Sabbaoth hight:
O that great Sabbaoth God, graunt me that Sabaoths sight.