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How falls it, then, that this faded Oak,
Whose body is sere, whose branches are broke,
Whose naked arms stretch unto the fire,
Unto such tyranny doth aspire,
Hind'ring with his shade my lovely light,
And robbing me of the sweet sun's sight ?
So beat his old boughs my tender side,
That oft the blood springeth from wounds wide;
Untimely my flowers forced to fall,
That been the honour of your coronal;
And oft he lets his canker-worms light
Upon my branches, to work me more pight;
And of his hoary locks down doth cast,
fresh flow'rets been defast.
For this and many more such outrage,
Craving your godly head to assuage
The rancorous rigor of his might;
Naught ask I but only to hold my right,
Submitting me to your good sufferance,
And praying to be guarded from grievance."
To this the Oak cast him reply
As well as he could.
But his enemy
Had kindled such coals of displeasure,
That the good man would not stay his leisure,
But home him hasted with furious heat,
Encreasing his wrath with many a threat;
His harmful hatchet he held in hand-
Alas! that it so ready shonld stand !
Aye, little help to harm there needeth,
And to the field alone he speedeth.
Anger nould let him speak to the tree,
Enaunter his rage might coolèd be;
But to the root he bent his sturdy stroke,
And made many wounds in the waste Oak,
For naught might they quitten him from decay,
For fiercely the good man at him did lay.
In fine, the steel did pierce his pith,
Then down to the ground he fell forth with.
His wondrous weight made the ground to quake,
The earth shrunk under him, and seemed to shake;
There lieth the Oak pitied of none.
Now stands the Briere like a lord alone,
Puffed up with pride and vain pleasance.
But all this glee had no continuance ;
For eftsoons winter 'gan to approach,
The blust'ring Boreas did encroach,
And beat upon the solitary Briere,
For now no succor was seen him near.
Now 'gan he repent his pride too late,
For naked left and disconsolate,
The biting frost nipt his stalk dead,
The watry wet weighed down his head,
And heaped snow burdened him so sore,
That now upright he could stand no more ;
And being down is trod in the dirt,
And brouzed, and beaten, and sorely hurt.
Such was the end of this ambitious Briere,
In scorning eld.
[Young MORTIMER and a number of lords present. Enter QUEEN
MORTIMER. Madam, whither walks your majesty so fast ?
QUEEN. Unto the forest, gentle Mortimer,
To live in grief and baleful discontent;
For now, my lord, the King regards me not,
But doats upon the love of Gaveston.
He claps his cheek, and hangs about his neck,
Smiles in his face, and whispers in his ears.
And when I come he frowns, as who should say:
“Go whither thou wilt, seeing I have Gaveston.”
MOR. Is it not strange that he is thus bewitched ?
Madam, return unto the court again :
That sly, inveigling Frenchman we'll exile,
Or lose our lives; and yet ere that day come,
The King shall lose his crown; for we have power
And courage, too, to be revenged at full.
QUEEN. But lift not your swords against the King.
Mor. No, but we will lift Gaveston from hence.
And war must be the means, or he'll stay still.
QUEEN. Then let him stay; for rather than my lord
Shall be oppressed with civil mutinies,
I will endure a melancholy life,
And let him frolic with his flatterers.
MOR. My lords, to ease all this, but hear me speak:
We and the rest, that are his counsellors,
Will meet, and with a general consent
Confirm his banishment with our hands and seals.
And if what we confirm the King will frustrate,
Then may we lawfully revolt from him.
Come, then, let's away. Madam, farewell !
QUEEN. Farewell, sweet Mortimer, and, for my sake,
Forbear to levy arms against the King,
Mor. Aye, if words will serve ; if not, I must.
[Exeunt.] [Enter KING EDWARD. QUEEN. Whither goes my lord ? EDWARD. Fawn not on me! Go, get thee gone.
QUEEN. On whom but on my husband should I fawn ?
Edw. On Mortimer! with whom, ungentle Queen,
Thou'rt too familiar, I say no more.
By thy means is Gaveston exiled ;
But I would wish thee reconcile the lords,
Or thou shalt ne'er be reconciled to me.
QUEEN. Your highness knows it lies not in my pow'r.
QUEEN. Wherein, my lord, have I deserved these words?
Witness the tears that Isabella sheds ;
Witness this heart that, sighing for thee, breaks;
How dear my lord is to poor Isabel !
EDW. And, witness, Heaven, how dear thou art to me!
There, weep; for till my Gaveston be repealed,
Assure thyself thou com’st not in my sight.
QUEEN. O miserable and distressed Queen!
Would when I had left fair France and was embarked,
That charming Circe, walking on the waves,
Had changed my shape, or at the marriage day
The cup of Hymen had been full of poison,
Or with those arms that twined about
I had been stifled, and not lived to see
The King, my lord, thus to abandon me!
Like frantic Juno will I fill the earth
With ghastly murmur of my sighs and cries;
For never doated Jove on Ganymede
So much as hé on cursèd Gaveston !
But that will more exasperate his wrath.
I must entreat him, I must speak him fair,
And be a means to call home Gaveston;
And yet he'll ever doat on Gaveston.
And so am I forever miserable !
[Enter MORTIMER and a number of lords.] MoR. Madam, how fares your grace ?
QUEEN. Ah, Mortimer, now breaks the King's hate forth,
And he confesseth that he loves me not!
MOR. Cry quittance, Madam, then, and love not him.
QUEEN. No, rather will I die a thousand deaths;
And yet I love in vain-he'll ne'er love me !
MOR. Fear ye not, Madam; now his flatterer's gone
His wanton humour will be quickly left.
QUEEN. Oh, never, Mortimer! I am enjoined
To sue upon you all for his repeal.
This wills my lord, and this I must perform,
Or else be banished from his highness' presence.
MOR. For his repeal, Madam! He comes not back,
Unless the sea cast up his shipwrecked body.
But would you have us call him home ?
QUEÉN. Aye, Mortimer, for till he be restored,
The angry King hath banished me the court,
And, therefore, as thou lov'st and tender'st me,
Be thou my advocate unto these peers.
MOR. My lords, that I abhor base Gaveston
I hope your honours make no question ;
And, therefore, though I plead for his repeal,
'Tis not for his sake, but for our avail !
Nay, for the realm’s behoof, and for the King's.
This which I urge is of a burning zeal
To mend the King, and do our country good.
Know you not Gaveston hath store of gold,
Which may in Ireland purchase him such friends
As he will front the mightiest of us all ?