Payne (or sometimes Fitzpayne) Fisher (known in Latin as Paganus Piscator) – of whom sadly no image survives – was Oliver Cromwell’s unofficial Latin laureate. Here is an extract from Fisher’s ‘breakthrough’ hit, Marston Moor (printed in 1650). Fisher had fought at the battle of Marston Moor on the losing royalist side and in 1647 he was probably fairly recently out of prison, casting around for support and patronage in the political climate:
This describes an historical event—the unseasonable weather at the battle of
Marston Moor on 2 July 1650, when a summer storm caused confusion on the
battlefield. The Scottish forces, fleeing in confusion amid the slaughter, are
stopped, and the fortunes of the day reversed, only by the arrival of Cromwell
Anfractus vacuas, & hiulci Fragmina Campi
Adductis reparauit Equis; per mille cohortes
Perrumpens, mediaeque terens glomeramina Turmae.
Na´mque globos Legionum, & concurrentia rupit
Agmina, vulnificos gradiens intactus ad Enses,
Atque per Imbriferi displosa tonitrua Plumbi.
Turriger innumeris Elephas sic cinctus ab Armis
Erigitur, spumı´sque Irae furialibus undans
Ferrea nodoso regerit venabula dorso
Toruus, et Obstantes Bellantum proterit hastas.
He restored the ravaged horns, and the wreck of the cleft plain
With horses that he brought in, forcing his way through a thousand companies
And restoring to ordered smoothness the small groups of men of the middle squadron.
For he burst the spheres of the Legions and the ranks of men
Rushing together, stepping intact to the wound-bearing swords,
And right through the bursting thunder of the shower-bearing Lead.
Like a tower-bearing Elephant girded with innumerable weapons
He draws himself up, seething with foaming fury
Throws off the iron hunting spears from his knotty back
And ferociously tramples the spears of the warriors in his way.
Read more about this undeservedly little-known 17th Neo-Latin poet here. As an accomplished Latinist Payne Fisher would have undoubtedly contributed to the Save Classics at High Storrs fund. You can do the same here.
Sheffield branch of the Classical Association, founded in 1920