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I was reading an anthology called Parnassian Molehill (1953) the other day, in which I found a rather beautiful poem by The Rev Thomas Nuce (1540? - 1617). This is the poem in question:

Swift winged love, men's fancy fond, in vain
A mercy wanting God to be doth fain:
And arms his hands with wounding weapons keen
And bows with burning brands for lovers green
Of Venus to be sprung they all accord,
And blindly forged of thunder's limping lord.
Bland love the mind of great torment sore appears,
And buddeth first in frolic youthful years
Who while we drink of Fortune's pleasant cup,
With lazy pampering riot, is nestled up:
Whom if to foster up you leave at length
It fleeting falls away with broken strength
This is in all our life (as I suppose)
The greatest cause how pleasure first arose,
Which sith mankind by brooding hideth aye
Through gladsome love that fierce wild beasts doth sway
It never can from manly breast depart.
This selfsame god I wish with all my heart
The wedlock lights to bear before our grace,
And fasten poppy sure in our bed place.

(I modernised the spellings when I typed it out, but there are numerous archaic spellings in the poem as printed in the aforementioned anthology, but I am not going to undo my modernisations unless it causes major inconvenience to an answerer.)

This Nuce fellow seems to be a bit obscure. Wikipedia says that his main contribution to English literature was a translation of Seneca's tragedies, to which he also added a verse preface to a translation of John Studley's. Both are available online, and I cannot find the above lines in either work. Can anyone else find said lines printed anywhere other than Parnassian Molehill? Are they a translation? Are they part of a longer poem?

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  • Whatever else, I suggest it is an awful idea to 'modernise spellings' or in any other way to change whatever original text we're talking about, unless the 'modernised' and original texts are displayed side by side and even then, preferably with justifying explanations. Does anyone doubt that? Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 18:47
  • @RobbieGoodwin The comments section to this answer isn't really the right forum in which to have this debate, but, since you asked, I do doubt your proposition. I agree that leaving well alone is often a good strategy; I might even go as far as saying that it is the best approach in most cases. But that still leaves plenty of contexts where modernising spellings is a sensible thing to do; my personal project is one of them. The main factor in my case is that reading dozens of pages of archaicly-spelled text is just exhausting for a non-scholar.
    – Tom Hosker
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 19:14
  • Good for you, Tom… and not for any reader, ever! Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 19:17

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It's not a poem: It is from Nuce's 1581 translation of a Latin play called Octavia. (Seneca's 9th tragedy) It's a monologue by the character Seneca that appears in the middle of Act 2, Scene 1.

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So while there isn't more to the 'poem', there are about 200 more pages of this writing.

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