A Battle between King Oberon and the Pygmies

King Oberon, and the Pygmies tall and stout,
Did go to war; the cause was just no doubt,
For Pygmy king, out of his kingdom brought
His people, and1 another kingdom sought.
Like Goths and Vandals, they did range about                        5
With force, to find another kingdom2 out.
At last into the Fairy land they went,
For to that fertile place their hearts were bent.
“This is the place,” said they, “where pleasures flow,3
And where delight, like flow’rs on banks, doth grow.4.       10
Here let us pitch, and try if fortune will
Join with our courage, all our foes to5 kill.”
Then on they went, and plundered everywhere;
The Fairies all ran crying in great fear,
And fire on all their beacons placèd high,                              15
Which warning is to give, when danger’s nigh.
Whereat King Ob’ron6 a great7 war prepared,
Which made his queen and all his court afeared;8
His council grave and wise he straight did9 call,
Which came with formal busy faces all,                                 20
Where10 everyone did speak their mind full free,
Disputing much; at last all did11 agree:
“In war,” said they, “’tis better that we die,
Than to be slaves unto our enemy.”
Then said the King, “an Army we must raise,                        25
In which I’ll die,” said he, “or win the bays.”
Straight officers of all degrees were made,
To lead and rule, encourage12 and persuade,
And thus they mustered all their army13 stout
To meet their en’my, and to beat14 them out.                        30
Well armed they were, and put in good array,
Which made them fight with courage all that day.
Their trumpets were made of small silver wire,
Calling the horse to charge, or to retire.
These horses for war were grasshoppers large,                    35
On which they rode15 and bravely did16 discharge.
Their17 saddles were of a velvet peach skin;
Their bridles were small strings which spiders18 spin;
Besides, their stirrups, which their feet in stayed,19
Of a green rush, round like a ring, were made.20                  40
Of small cockle-shells their targets were made,21
And for their long swords22 a rosemary blade.
Their flags, colored flowers glorious to see,23
Give several sweet smells when flying they be.24
And how they were armed, it well did appear:25                  45
In a bean’s hull, just like a cuirassier.26
Their guns were pipes of glass, slender and small;27
Their bullets were round seeds to shoot withall.28
Their drums of filbert skins were very strong,29
And wheaten straws, for sticks to beat thereon.30                50
Their van, their rear,31 their left wing, and their right,
Were placèd so, as they saw good to fight.
Their colors flying, and their drums when32 beat,
Their trumpets sounding, none sought a retreat.
The forms and files33 the Pygmies placed themselves         55
Were34 like in figure unto mussel shells,
To pierce through en’mies, and give35 way to friends,
The midst being broad, and sharp at36 the two ends.
But Fairies like a half moon fought, that so37
When both ends meet, they might encircle th’foe,38            60
Where in the midst King Oberon rode39 full brave,
For40 he the honor of this day shall have.
Thus this warrior in41 armor bright and strong,
As foremost man, his soldiers led42 along.
Then spake he to them in a temper meek:                             65
“These enemies,” said he, “our ruin seek.
Go on all you brave born, and valiant bred,
And fight your enemies43 till they be dead!
Let not your foes with scorn upbraid your flight,
But let them see you can with courage44 fight,                      70
And teach them what their folly rash hath brought
Upon themselves, when they this kingdom sought.
But O, vain princes,45 that for glory seek,46
Which will not let poor subjects in peace keep.47
Foolish ambition sets the world on fire,                                 75
Which ruins all to compass its desire.
I only fight to keep what is my own,
And not to rob another kingly throne.
But if this quarrel can’t decided be,48
I hand to hand will fight my enemy.”49                                   80
With that he sent a50 herald stout and bold,
Which to King Pygmy he this message told,
Which was, King Ob’ron51 him a challenge sent,
To save their men, and much blood to prevent,
That they two might a duel52 fight alone,                               85
And let both armies all53 the while look on.
Then laughed King Pygmy,54 “What’s your king,” said he,
“That in a55 duel hopes to conquer me?
I came not here a single strength to try,
A kingdom for to win, or else to die.                                        90
I prouder am, my subjects’ strength to show,
Where56 by direction they my skill may know.
Herald, go back, and tell your king from me
He’ll know my strength when pris’ner57 he shall be.”
Then spake he to his men in voice full58 high:                      95
“Here’s none,” said he, “I hope this day will fly.
You know, my soldiers, we came here to fight
Not from59 ambition, or through60 envy’s spite,
But we by famine, with a61 meager face,
Were62 sent about to seek a fertile place.                               100
Then here’s a land63 which needs not be manured,
And we are64 people not to work inured,
For we by nature no great pains can65 take,
Nor by our66 sweat a livelihood out make.
For who would live in pain, or grief, or care,                        105
And always of their67 goods would68 stand in fear?
Who lives in trouble is69 not very wise,
Since in the grave there do no troubles70 rise.
Then let us fight e’en71 for sweet pleasure’s sake,
Or let us die, that we no care may take.”                                110
Thus did the kings their72 soldiers’ courage raise,
And in orations did73 their valor praise.74
Then did they both in order, rank, and file
Prepare themselves each other for to spoil.
Their horses stout, whereon they rode i’th’field,75               115
Would76 die under their burthen, but not yield.
In caprioles those77 grasshoppers did78 move,
By which their79 riders’ skill they soon would80 prove.
Some think for war it is an air unfit,81
Whose motion swift lets not the rider82 fight                        120
Or take his turns, and vantages83 to have,
Unless by leaping high himself84 can85 save.
But they do err, for in some case ’tis86 good,
Though not in all, if truly understood.
What’s in the world that’s to all use employed,                     125
But at some times and seasons is denied?
Fire and water,87 which are the life of all,88
Can only serve in their due time and call.
So some may say89 this air of horsemanship
Is90 good, hills91 of dead men to overleap.                              130
For if that they go low92 upon the ground,
Where dead men, horse, and arms are strewèd93 round,
Or else in heaps they lie, like to94 a wall,
The horse will stumble with the man, and95 fall.
Thus horses of manège,96 taught in measure,                       135
Many do think are97 only fit for pleasure
And not for war, where no use for98 them is,
As though99 their rules did make them go amiss.
But they’re100 mistaken, for like men they’re taught,
For to obey their rider101 as they ought:                                 140
To stop, to go, to leap, to run, and yet
Obey the heel, the hand, the wand, the bit.
Beside, they’re taught their passions102 to abate,
Not to be resty103 with fear, anger, hate,104
And by applause, great courage they have got,                     145
That they dare go upon a cannon shot.
Not that they senseless into dangers105 run,
For horses cowardly danger do106 shun,
And are so full of fears as they will shake,
And will not go, which proves their hearts do quake.         150
Besides, all airs in war are very fit,
As curvets, demi-voltes, and pirouette,107
And108 going back, and forward, turning round,
Sideways, both high and low upon the ground.
Sometimes in a large circle109 compass take,                        155
And then with art, a lesser circle make.
But horses that unlearned are in110 this way,
May march straight forth, or in one place may stay.
So men, when they do fight, having no skill,
May venture life, but few may chance to111 kill.                   160
For ’tis not blows and thrusts which112 do the feat,
Or going forward, or by a retreat;
Man113 must the center be, his sword the line,
His feet his compass, with his strength to join.
These are the arts for horse, and men of war,                      165
Unless with stratagems they think to scare,114
Which shows more wit than courage in the field;
So ’tis to run away, or else to yield.
But here the bodies of each army’s knit
So close, as skin unto the flesh doth115 sit.                             170
No stratagems were used116 to have men slain,
But they did fight upon an open plain.
For those that use slight stratagems in wars
No fighters are, but cruel murderers.
Nor is it bravely done, as some think ’tis,                               175
For every petty thief has skill in this.
Nay,117 thieves more courage in their actions118 show,
Who119 if their plots do fail must die, they know.
Warriors’ designs found out, they do not care,
Because no hanging for that act they fear.                             180
They’ll say ’tis different, thus foes120 to use,
For thieves by their deceit their121 friends abuse.
But ’tis not so,122 for cozenage is the thief,
And of that order generals are the chief.
Fighting’s the soldier’s trade, not to entrap,                           185
Nor, like the fox, with craft the prey t’entrap,123
But kill or pursue with swords in their hands,
Without any124 fraud or treacherous125 bands.
Just so fought these brave valiant cavaliers,
As it by their unhappy end126 appears,                                   190
For they did join, and fierce together fight,
Which was to all a lamentable sight.
Some lay upon the ground, without a head,
Others did gasping lie,127 but not quite dead.
Their groans were heard, and cries of several notes;          195
Some ruttling lay, with thick blood in their throats.
Here a headpiece lay,128 there a corslet thrown,
Bodies so mangled that none could be known.
Rivers of blood like to a full high tide,
Or like a sea where shipwrecked bodies died.                      200
And their laborious breaths129 such mists did raise
It130 made a cloud, which131 darkened the sun’s rays.
With several noises that rebounded far,
Armies of echoes were heard in the air.132
Here bodies hid with smoke, smothered, lay dead,              205
While formless sounds were in the air outspread.133
Thus were they earnest and active in their134 fight,
As if to kill or die were a delight.
Here beasts and men both in their blood lay mashed,
As if135 a French cook had them136 minced and137 hashed, 210
Or did their blood unto138 a jelly boil
That he might139 make a bouillon of the spoil,
For Nature’s table several dishes brings,
By her directions in transforming things.
At last the Pygmies found themselves quite spent,               215
And of their war begun now to repent,
Which made their king, though little, yet at length
To140 call to Oberon king to try his strength:
“Let’s here,” said he, “our skill and fortunes try,
To conquer141 one, or both in graves to lie.”                          220
“Content,” said Oberon king. “Though most unjust
You have yourself into my kingdom thrust,
Yet will I not refuse this offer bold,
And if I live, this day will sacred hold.”
Then like two lions fallen out for prey,                                   225
Encountered they,142 not yielding any way.
Their bright sharp swords with motion quick did fly,143
Like subtle lightning in each other’s eye.144
King Pygmy, he was strong,145 two handfuls tall,
But Oberon king was low, and very small.                             230
Yet was he dextrous in his skillful art,
And by that means struck Pygmy near the heart,
Whose blood ran146 warm and trickling down his side,
That where he stood, the grass was purple dyed.
Then leaning on his sword, as out of breath,                         235
Said he to147 Ob’ron,148 “I have got my death.”
Grew faint, then sinking on the ground did lie,
Finding his soul would from his body149 fly,
Saying, “King Ob’ron, pray do150 mercy show,
And let my army freely from you go.                                      240
And those that here lie slain, pray151 let them have
Just rites in burial, and their bones i’th’grave,152
That their free souls in quiet peace may sleep,
And for this act the gods your fame will keep.
I care nor grieve not for my own sad fall,                              245
But for my subjects that are ruined all.”
And in a deep-fetched sigh, and hollow groan,
His soul went forth unto a place unknown.
When that153 his soldiers heard their king was dead,
Their hearts did fail, yet none of them there fled,                250
But to him ran,154 like shuttles in a loom,
And with their bodies did his corpse entomb.
For through their loyal breast they dug155 their grave,
Because their king a monument should have.
So all did die; no story yet hath shown                                   255
That ever any Pygmies more were156 known.
Then did their wives with sighs lament their falls,
And with their tears did strew their funerals;
Those157 tears did mix with blood upon the ground,
Where rubies since hath158 in the Earth been found.         260
Their bodies moist to vapor rarified,
And now in clouds do near the sun reside.
When they their grief unto remembrance call,
Those sullen clouds in show’ring tears do fall.
Their sighs are winds, that do159 blow here and there,       265
And all their bodies transmigrated160 are.
Unhappy battle!161 to destroy a race
That on the earth deserved the chiefest place,
For they were valiant, and did love their king,
Without dispute obeyed in everything.                                  270
Nature did pity much162 their fortune sad;
They163 by her favor a remembrance had,
For she their bones did turn to marble white,
Of which are statues carved for man’s delight,
And in some places are as gods adored,164                            275
Where superstition idols doth afford.165
But Oberon king there built a temple166 high,
In which he Fortune’s167 name did magnify.

  1. and] all, 1653
  2. to find another kingdom] full strong, to finde another 1653
  3. pleasures flow,] pleasure flowes, 1653
  4. where delight, like flow’rs on banks, doth grow.] And like to flowers on banks, where delight growes; 1653
  5. all our foes to] that our Foes may 1653
  6. Ob’ron] Oberon 1653, 1664, 1668
  7. a great] then a 1653
  8. afeared;] afraid; 1653
  9. he straight did] did to him 1653
  10. Where] And 1664, 1668
  11. Disputing much; at last all did] Disputiug this, and that, at last 1653
  12. encourage] in courage 1653
  13. And thus they mustered all their army] Thus did they muster, and arme all their 1653
  14. en’my, and to beat] Enemy, and beat 1653; Enemy, and beat 1664
  15. rode] did ride, 1653; Rid, 1664; rid, 1668
  16. bravely did] bravely 1653
  17. Their] And 1653
  18. were small strings which spiders] small strings, that Spiders doe 1653
  19. Besides, their stirrups, which their feet in stayed,] And Stirrops, in which they put their feet in, 1653
  20. Of a green rush, round like a ring, were made.] Was made of a Rush, just round like a Ring. 1653
  21. Of small cockle-shells their targets were made,] Targets of little Cockle-shells they had, 1664; Targets of little Cockle-shells they had; 1668
  22. long swords] Sword serv’d 1664; Sword, serv’d 1668
  23. colored flowers glorious to see,] of Colour’d Flow’rs shew’d Gloriously, 1664; of Colour’d Flow’rs, shew’d gloriously, 1668
  24. Give several sweet smells when flying they be.] And gave sweet several Smells as they did fly: 1664; And gave sweet several Smells as they did flye. 1668
  25. And how they were armed, it well did appear:] VVhen they were Armed, as each Curasseer, 1664; When they were armed, as each Curassier, 1668
  26. just like a cuirassier.] it bravely did appear; 1664; it bravely did appear. 1668
  27. pipes of glass, slender and small;] slender small Pipes of Glasse, 1653
  28. Their bullets were round seeds to shoot withall.] And Bullets round, of Seeds to shout, there was. 1653
  29. Their drums of filbert skins were very strong,] Of Filbeard-skins their Drums, which they did beat, 1664; Of Filbeard-Skins, their Drums, which they did beat, 1668
  30. And wheaten straws, for sticks to beat thereon.] Were made, and their Drumsticks of Straws of Wheat; 1664; Were made; and their Drum-Sticks, of Straws of Wheat. 1668
  31. van, their rear] Vans, their Rears, 1653
  32. when] did 1653
  33. forms and files] files, and formes, 1653
  34. Were] Was 1653
  35. en’mies, and give] enemies, give 1653
  36. The midst being broad, and sharp at] Broad was the middl’, and Sharp were 1664; Broad was the Middl’, and sharp were 1668
  37. fought, that so] sought, which know, 1653
  38. both ends meet, they might encircle th’foe,] each end meet, incircle all their foe: 1653
  39. rode] rid 1653, 1668; Rid 1664
  40. For] And 1653
  41. Thus this warrior in] This Warriour in an 1664; This Warrier, in an 1668
  42. his soldiers led] did lead his men 1653
  43. enemies] enemy, 1653
  44. you can with courage] with courage you can 1653
  45. princes,] Princes! 1664
  46. that for glory seek,] which for Glory strive, 1664, 1668
  47. Which will not let poor subjects in peace keep.] And let poor Subjects not in Quiet Live; 1664; And let poor Subjects not in quiet live! 1668
  48. can’t decided be,] ill, decide I can’t, 1653
  49. I hand to hand will fight my enemy.”] I’le fight my enemy then hand to hand. 1653
  50. a] an 1653, 1664, 1668
  51. Which was, King Ob’ron] VVho said, King Oberon 1653
  52. they two might a duel] only their two persons 1653
  53. both Armies all] the Armies both 1653
  54. laughed King Pygmy,] laughes the Pygmee, 1653
  55. in a] He in 1664; he, in 1668
  56. Where] That 1664; That, 1668
  57. pris’ner] Prisoner 1653
  58. in voice full] with a Voice 1664, 1668
  59. from] through 1664, 1668
  60. through] of 1653
  61. But we by famine, with a] For we by famine were with 1653
  62. Were] Here 1653
  63. land] faud, 1653
  64. are] a 1653
  65. no great pains can] can no great paines 1653
  66. our] out 1664. The 1664 Errata list corrects this “out” back to “our”; the correction is also carried forward into 1668.
  67. their] his 1664, 1668
  68. would] to 1653
  69. is] are 1653
  70. there do no troubles] no troubles there doe 1653
  71. e’en] even 1653
  72. kings their] King his 1664, 1668
  73. orations did] a Speech 1664; a Speech, 1668
  74. praise.] highly praise. 1664, 1668
  75. rode i’th’field,] ride in field, 1653; Rid i’th’Field, 1664; rid i’th’Field, 1668
  76. Would] Will 1653
  77. those] these 1664, 1668
  78. did] do 1653
  79. their] his 1653
  80. they soon would] he soone will 1653
  81. Some think for war it is an air unfit,] Some as an Air, unfit for VVarr, it Slight, 1664; Some, as an Air, unfit for Warr, it slight; 1668
  82. Whose motion swift lets not the rider] With whose swift motion his Rider cannot 1653
  83. and vantages] advantages 1664, 1668
  84. himself] themselves 1653
  85. can] to 1664, 1668
  86. But they do err, for in some case ’tis] Erroneous this, in some case it is 1653
  87. Fire and water,] VVater, and Fire, 1664; Water and Fire, 1668
  88. which are the life of all,] the life of all which are, 1653
  89. So some may say] Some may say in 1653
  90. Is] ’Tis 1653
  91. hills] Heaps 1664, 1668
  92. that they go low] they Low do go 1664; they low do go 1668
  93. dead men, horse, and arms are strewèd] both Dead Men, Horses, and Arms lye 1664; both Dead men, Horses, and Arms, lye 1668
  94. in heaps they lie, like to] do lye in Heaps, like as 1664; do lye in heaps, like as 1668
  95. The horse will stumble with the man, and] Whereat the Horse will stumble, Man downe 1653
  96. Thus horses of manège,] But some, of Manag’d Horses, 1664, 1668
  97. Many do think are] Do think they are but 1664, 1668
  98. where no use for] but no use of 1653
  99. though] if 1664, 1668
  100. But they’re] They are 1653
  101. rider] Guider 1653
  102. passions] passion 1653
  103. to be resty] resty be, 1653
  104. hate,] or hate; 1653
  105. into dangers] be, or dangers on 1653
  106. danger do] do Dangers 1664, 1668
  107. demi-voltes, and pirouette,] Dimivoltoes, and Perwieet: 1653; Demivoltoes, and Perwicet, 1664; Demivoltoes, and Perwicet; 1668
  108. And] In 1653
  109. Sometimes in a large circle] Oft they in a Large Circle 1664; Oft they, in a large Circle, Compass 1668
  110. are in] are 1664, 1668
  111. may chance to] that they shall 1653
  112. which] shall 1653
  113. Man] He 1653
  114. scare,] scar: 1653
  115. doth] doe 1653
  116. were used] us’d 1653
  117. Nay, thieves] Poore Theeves, 1653
  118. actions] acts doe 1653
  119. Who] For 1653
  120. foes] enemies 1653
  121. their] do 1664; no 1668
  122. not so,] all one, 1664; all one: 1668
  123. like the fox, with craft the prey t’entrap,] foxing with craft, a prey for to inwrap, 1653; like the Fox, with Craft the Prey t’inwrap, 1664
  124. any] some 1664, 1668
  125. treacherous] any Treach’rous 1664, 1668
  126. As it by their unhappy end] By the unhappy end, as it 1653
  127. did gasping lie,] that gasping lay, 1653
  128. a headpiece lay,] was a Head-piece, 1664, 1668
  129. breaths] breath 1653
  130. It] Which 1653
  131. which] as 1653
  132. were heard in the air.] in the aire were. 1653
  133. outspread.] spread. 1653
  134. earnest and active in their] active, and earnest in their 1653; earnest, and active in 1668
  135. if] if that 1653
  136. had them] them had 1664, 1668
  137. and] so 1653
  138. did their blood unto] with their bloud 1653
  139. That he might] To 1653
  140. To] Did 1653
  141. To conquer] In conquering 1653
  142. Encountered they,] Encounter did, 1653
  143. with motion quick did fly,] so quick with motion flyes, 1653
  144. eye.] eyes. 1653
  145. King Pygmy, he was strong,] Pigmee King was strong, he 1653
  146. ran] run 1653
  147. he to] to King 1664, 1668
  148. Ob’ron,] Oberon, 1653; Oberon; 1664
  149. would from his body] from’s body soon would 1653
  150. “King Ob’ron, pray do] to Oberon, do you 1653; King Oberon, pray do 1664
  151. pray] O 1653
  152. i’th’grave,] in grave; 1653
  153. that] as 1664, 1668
  154. ran,] run 1653
  155. they dug] did dig 1653; they Digg’d 1664; they dig’d 1668
  156. That ever any Pygmies more were] Was ever any Pygmees after 1653
  157. Those] Which 1664, 1668
  158. hath] have 1664, 1668
  159. that do] that 1653
  160. transmigrated] now Transformed 1664; now transformed 1668
  161. battle!] battle 1653; Battel, 1668
  162. did pity much] pittying to see 1653
  163. They] Who 1653
  164. adored,] set up, 1653
  165. Where superstition idols doth afford.] Idols that superstition doth worship. 1653
  166. But Oberon king there built a temple] There Oberon King a Temple builded 1653
  167. he Fortune’s] great Fortunes 1653