If this poem was written contemporaneously with the marriage of Frances Howard to Sir Robert Carr (see d1_AytR_005 for full details), then it would date to around 26 December 1613. The poem takes aim at Howard's eight-year marriage (5 January 1606 to 25 September 1613, when it was annulled) to Sir Robert Devereux, third earl of Essex, which was never consummated due to Devereux's impotency (a problem apparently specific only to his relations with his wife). Its favourable tone towards the happy couple, and the savage ridiculing of Devereux, further suggests that Ayton was in the patronage of Carr, or at least closely allied with him. Metre: elegiac couplets.
Pro Nuptiis Cari & Carinae (c.1613)
Pro Nuptiis Cari et Carinae
1Legitimas quicunque audes traducere taedas,
disce verecundo parcius ore loqui. 1
Ullane jura vetant nuptam bis quatuor annos,
quae gelido jacuit silensque toro,
5deserere imbelles thalamos, mollemque maritum, 2
et dare semiviri regna tenenda viro?
Crede mihi, jus est Naturae abdicere fundum
agricolae, qui nil quo fodiatur habet.
On the Marriage of dear Carr to his beloved girl
You who would dare to put out legitimate marriage torches, learn how to speak more sparingly in modest speech. Do any laws stop a wife, who has lain unlubricated and unmoved on a cold bed for eight years, from deserting an impotent marriage bed, and a limp husband, and from handing over the domain of an effeminate husband into the possession of a manly one? Believe me, it is nature's law to take away the property of the farmer who does not have anything to dig with.