網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

But when the eyes their object's masters were,
And it for stricter censure came more neere,
By all his properties one well might ghesse,
Than of a man he sure had nothing lesse.
For verily since olde Deucalion's flood
Earth's slime did ne'er produce a viler brood.
Upon the various earth's embroidered gowne
There is a weed upon whose head growse downe ;
Sow-thistle 'tis ycleep'd whose downy wreath,
If any one can blow off at a breath,
We deeme her for a maid : such was his haire,
Ready to shed at any stirring aire.
His eares were strucken deafe when he came nie,
To hear the widowe's or the orphan's crie.
His eyes encircled with a bloody chaine,
With poring in the bloud of bodies slaine.
His mouth exceeding wide, from whence did Alie
Vollies of execrable blasphemie ;
Banning the Heavens, and he that rideth on them,
Dar'd vengeance to the teeth to fall upon him :
Like Scythian wolves, or men of wit bereaven,
Which howle and shoute against the lights of Heaven.
His hands, (if hands they were) like some dead corse,
With digging up his buried ancestors ;
Making his father's tombe and sacred shrine
The trough wherein the hog-herd fed his swine :
And as that beast hath legs (which shepheards feare,
Ycleep'd a badger, which our lambs doth teare)
One long, the other short, that when he runnes
Upon the plaines, he halts ; but when he wonnes
On craggy rocks or steepy hills, we see
None runnes more swift, nor easier, than he :
Such legs the monster had, one sinew shrunk,
That in the plaines he reeld as being drunk ;
And halted in the paths to virtue tending;
And therefore never durst be that way bending:
But when he came on carved monuments,
Spiring colosses, and high raised rents,
He pass'd them o'er, quick, as the easterne winde
Sweepes through a meadow; or a nimble hinde;
Or satyre on a lawne ; or skipping roe ;
Or well-wing'd shaft forth of a Parthian bowe.
His body made (still in consumptions rife)
A miserable prison for a life.

Riot he hight ; whom some curs d fiend did raise,
When like a chaos were the nights and dayes;
Got and brought up in the Cimmerian clime,
Where sunne nor moone, nor daies vor nights do time :
As who should say, they scorn'd to show their faces

To such a fiend, should seeke to spoil the graces. The progress of Riot in the path of repentance is described in the following pasage. I solicit the particular attention of the reader to the elaborate yet happy similes. Browne in these embellishments is far more successful than in the actual groundwork of his poems.

As when a maide, taught from her mother's wing
To tune her voyce unto a silver string,
When she should run, she rests; rests, when should run,
And ends her lesson, having now begun :
Now misseth she her stop, then in her song,
And, doing of her best, she still is wrong :
Begins againe, and yet againe strikes false,
Then in a chafe forsakes her virginals ;
And yet within an hour she tries a-new,
That with her daily paines (art's chiefest due)
She gaines that charming skill: and can no lesse
Tame the fierce walkers of the wilderness,
Than that agrian harpist, for whose lay
Tigers with hunger pined and left their prey.
So Riot, when he gan to climbe the hill
Here maketh haste, and there long standeth still ;
Now getteth up a step, then falls againe :
Yet not despairing, all his nerves doth straine
To clamber up a-new, then slide his feet,
And downe he comes; but gives not over yet,
For (with the maide) he hopes, a time will be
When merit shall be lincked with industre.

Now as an angler melancholy standing,
Upon a greene bancke yeelding roome for landing,
A wrigling yealow worme thrust on his hooke,
Now in the midst he throwes, then in a nooke :
Here pulls his line, there throws it in againe,
Mending his crooke and baite, but all in vaine
He long stands viewing of the curled stream ;

At last a hungry pike, or well growne breame,
VOL. II.

2 A

Swatch at the worme, and hasting fast away
He, knowing it a fish of stubborne sway,
Puls up his rod, but soft ; (as having skill)
Wherewith the hooke fast holds the fishe's gill.
Then all his line he fieely yeeldeth him,
Whilst furiously all up and downe doth swimme
Th’inspared fishi, here on the toppe doth scud,
There underneath the banckes, then in the mud ;
And with his franticke fits so scares the shole,
That each one takes his lyde or starting hole :
By this the pike, cleane wearied, underneath
A willow lyes, and pants (if fishes breathe);
Wherewith the angler gently puls him to him.
And leaste his haste might happen to undoe him,
Layes downe his rod, then takes his line in hand,
And by degrees getting the fish to land,
Walkes to another poole : at length is winner
Of such a dish as serves him for bis dinner :
So when the climber halfe the

way
had

got,
Musing he stood, and busily gan plot.
How (since the mount did always steeper tend)
He might with steps secure his journey's end.
At last (as wand'ring boyes to gather nuts)
A hooked pole he from a hasell cuts ;
Now throws it here, then there, to take some hold,
But bootlesse and in vaine, the rocky molde
Admits no cranny, where his hasell hooke
Might promise him a step, till in a nooke
Somewhat above his reach he hath espide
A little oake, and having often tride
To catch a bough with standing on his toe,
Or leaping up, yet not prevailing so ;
He rolls a stone towards the little tree,
Then gets upon it, fastens warily
His pole unto a bough, and at his drawing
The early rising crow with clam'rous kawing,
Leaving the greene bough flyes about the rocke,
Whilst twentie twentie couples to him flocke :
And now within his reach the thinne leares wave,
With one hand onely then he holds his stave,
And with the other grasping first the leaves,
A pretty bough he in his fist receives ;
Then to his girdle making fast the hooke,
His other hand another bough liath tooke ;

Ilis first, a third, and that, another gives,
To bring him to the place where his roote lives.

Then, as a nimble squirrill from the wood,
Ranging the hedges for his filberd-food,
Sits partly on a bough his browne nuts cracking,
And from the shell the sweet white kernell taking,
Till (with their crookes and bags) a sort of boyes
(To share with him) come with so great a noyse,
That he is forc'd to leave a nut nigh broke,
And for his life leape to a neighbour oake;
Thence to a beech, thence to a row of ashes;
Whilst through the quagmires and red water plashes,
The boyes runne dabling thro' thicke and thin,
One tears his hose, another breakes his shin ;
This, torne and tatter'd hath with much adoe
Got by the bryers ; and that hath lost his shooe :
This drops his band ; that headlong fals for haste ;
Another cryes behinde for being last :
With stickes and stones, and many a sounding hollow,
The little foole, with no small sport, they follow,
Whilst he, from tree to tree, from spray to spray,
Gets to the wood, and hides him in his dray:
Such shift made Riot, ere he could get up,
And so from bough to bough he wonne the toppe,
Though hind'rances from ever comming there

Were often thrust upon him by Despaire. I have seen the line marked in italics noticed with high praise and very justly, but forget by whom. It is a particularly characteristic little touch. The following passage opens with a fresh and vivid description of a morning in the country.

The Muse's friend (gray-eyde Aurora) yet
Held all the meadows in a cooling sweat,
The milk-white gossamores not upwards snow'd,
Nor was the sharp and useful steering goad
Laid on the strong-neckt oxe; no gentle bud
The sun had dryde ; the cattle chew'd the cud
Low leveld on the grasse ; no flye's quicke sting
Inforc'd the stonehorse in a furious ring
To teare the passive earth, nor lash his taile
About his buttockes broad ; the slimy snayle
Might on the wainscot (by his many mazes
Winding meanders and self-knitting traces)

Be follow'd, where he stucke, his glittering slime
Not yet wiped off. It was so earely time
The careful smith had in his sooty forge
Kindled no coale : nor did his hammers urye
llis neighbour's patience : owles abroad did Hye,
And day as then might plead his infancy.
Yet faire Albion all the westerne swaines
Were long since up, attending on the plaines
When Nereus' daughter with her mirthfull boast
Should summon them, on their declining coast.

But since her stay was long : for feare the Sunne
Should find them idle, some of them begunne
To leape and wrestle, others threw the barre,
Some from the company removed are
To meditate the songs they meant to play,
Or make a new round for next holiday ;
Some tales of love their love-sicke fellowes told :
Others were seeking stakes to pitch their fold.
This, all alone was mending of his pipe;
That, for his lasse sought fruits most sweet, most ripe.
Here, (from the rest) a lovely shepheard's boy
Sits piping on a hill, us if his joy
Would still endure, or else that age's frost
Should never make him thinke what he had lost.
Yonder a shepheardesse knits by the springs,
Her bands still keeping time to what she sings ;
Or seeming, by her song, those fairest hands
Were comforted working. Neere the sands
Of some sweet river sits a musing lad,
That moanes the losse of what be sometime had,
His love by death bereft : when fast by him
An aged swaine takes place, as neere the brim
Of's grave as of the river ; showing how
That as those floods, which passe along right now,
Are follow'd still by others from their spring,
And in the sea have all their burying ;
Right so our times are knowne, our ages found,
(Nothing is permanent within this round :)
One age is now, another that succeedes,
Extirping all things which the former breedes:
Another follows that, doth new times raise,
New yeers, new months, new weeks, new hours, new days,
Mankinde thus go like rivers from their spring,
And in the earth have all their burying.

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »