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I will assay, her worth to celebrate,
And so attend ye toward her glittering state;
Where ye may all, that are of noble stem,
Approach, and kiss her sacred vesture's hem.
O'ER the smooth enamell'd green,
Where no print of step hath been,
Follow me, as I sing
And touch the warbled string,
Under the shady roof
Of branching elm star-proof.
Follow me ;
I will bring you where she sits,
Clad in splendour as befits
Such a rural queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.
NYMPHS and Shepherds, dance no more
By sandy Ladon's lilied banks;
On old Lycæus, or Cyllene hoar,
Trip no more in twilight ranks;
Though Erymanth your loss deplore,
A better soil shall give ye thanks.
From the stony Mænalus
Bring your flocks, and live with us;
Here ye shall have greater grace,
To serve the lady of this place.
Though Syrinx your Pan's mistress were;
Yet Syrinx well might wait on her.
Such a rural
All Arcadia hath not seen.
In this monody the author bewails a learned Friend, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish seas, 1637, and by occasion foretels the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their height.
YET once more, O ye Laurels, and once more
Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
And, with forc'd fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year:
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his wat❜ry bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring;
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain, and eoy excuse:
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favour my destin❜d urn;
And, as he passes, turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.
For we were rurst upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill.
Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,
We drove afield, and both together heard
19. "So may some gentle Muse". ".....Mare in the mas culine gender here meaus Poet.
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Batt'ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star that rose, at evening, bright,
Tow'ard Heav'n's descent had slop'd his west'ring
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to th' oaten flute;
Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long;
And old Damœtas lov'd to hear our song.
But, O the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return! Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown, 40 And all their echoes mourn:
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flow'rs, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the white-thorn blows;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds' ear.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep,
Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream:
Ay me! I fondly dream!
Had ye been there-for what could that have done?
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,
The Muse herself, for her enchanting son,
Whom universal nature did lament,
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His goary visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore?
Alas! what boots it with incessant care
To tend the homely, slighted shepherd's trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spi'rit doth raise 70
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life. "But not the praise,"
Phœbus reply'd, and touch'd my trembling ears;
"Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glist'ring foil
Set off to th' world, nor in broad rumour lies;
But Kives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed."
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honour'd flood, 85 Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocal reeds! That strain I heard was of a higher mood:
But now my oat proceeds,
And listens to the herald of the sea
They knew not of his story;
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd;
The air was calm, and on the level brine
Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd.
It was that fatal and perfidious bark,
Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow, His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge,
89. "The herald of the sea".Triton.
That came in Neptune's plea;
He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds,
What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain ?
And question'd every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beaked promontory:
Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge
Like to that sanguine flow'r inscrib'd with woe.
"Ah! who bath reft (quoth he) my dearest pledge ?"
Last came, and last did go.
The pilot of the Galilean lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain,
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain,) He shook his miter'd locks, and stern bespake: "How well could I have spar'd for thee, young swain, Enow of such, as for their bellies' sake Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold? Of other care they little reck'ning make, Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast, And shove away the worthy bidden guest; Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learn'd aught else the least 120
That to the faithful herdman's art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
But, swoll'n with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said:
But that two-handed engine at the door,
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more."
Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past,
That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse,
And call the vales, and bid them hither cast
Their bells, and flow'rets of a thousand hues.
Ye Valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks;
Throw hither all your quaint enamell'd eyes,
That on the green turf suck the honied showers, 140
And purple all the ground with vernal flowers.
130. "Two-handed engine”.......the axe of reformation.