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Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,
But, all un'wares, with his cold, kind embrace, Unhoused thy virgin soul from her fair biding-place.
Yet thou art not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;
But then transform'd him to a purple flower :
Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no power !
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in
Hid from the world in a low-delved tomb ;
Could Heaven, for pity, thee so strictly doom?
Oh, no! for something in thy face did shine Above mortality, that show'd thou wast divine.
Resolve me, then, O soul most surely blest
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear)!
Tell me, bright spirit, where'er thou hoverest,
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields (if such there were);
Oh, say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight?
Wert thou some star which from the ruin'd roof
Of shaked Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which careful Jove in nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstal ?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall
Of sheeny heaven, and thou, some goddess, fled
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head ?
Or wert thou that just maid, who once before
Forsook the hated earth, oh, tell me sooth,
And camest again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth ?
Or that crown'd matron sage, white-robed Truth?
Or any other of that heavenly brood
Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good ?
Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who, having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
As if to show what creatures heaven doth breed;
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire,
To scorn the sordid world, and unto heaven aspire ?
But, oh! why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy heaven-loved innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To turn swift-rushing black perdition hence ?
Or drive away the slaughtering pestilence,
To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart ?
But thou canst best perform that office where thou art.
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false-imagined loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild ;
Think what a present thou to God hast sent,
And render him with patience what he lent:
This if thou do, he will an offspring give,
That till the world's last end shall make thy name to live.
Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race ;
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping Hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain !
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb’d,
And, last of all, thy greedy self consumed,
Then long eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss ;
And joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine
Of Him, to whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,
Then, all this earthly grossness quit,
Attired with stars we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over death, and chance, and thee, O Time
Blest pair of syrens, pledges of heaven's joy,
Sphere-born, harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your divine sounds, and mix'd power employ,
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce ;
And to our high-raised phantasy present
of pure concent,
Aye sung before the sapphire-colour'd throne
To Him that sits thereon,
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee;
Where the bright seraphim, in burning row,
Their loud- uplifted angel-trumpets blow;
And the cherubic host, in thousand quires,
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires,
With those just spirits that wear victorious palms,
Hymns devout and holy psalms
Singing everlastingly :
That we on earth, with undiscording voice,
May rightly answer that melodious noise
As once we did, till disproportion'd sin
Jarr'd against nature's chime, and with harsh din
Broke the fair music that all creatures made
To their great Lord, whose love their motion sway’d
In perfect diapason, whilst they stood
In first obedience, and their state of good.
Oh, may we soon again renew that song,
And keep in tune with heaven, till God, ere long,
To his celestial concert us unite,
To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light !
AN EPITAPH ON THE MARCHIONESS OF WINCHESTER.
This rich marble doth inter
The honour'd wife of Winchester,
A viscount's daughter, an earl's heir,
Besides what her virtues fair
Added to her noble birth,
More than she could own from earth.
Summers three times eight save one
She has told ; alas ! too soon,
After so short time of breath,
To house with darkness, and with death.
Yet had the number of her days
Been as complete as was her praise,
Nature and fate had had no strife
In giving limit to her life.
Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
Quickly found a lover meet ;
The virgin quire, for her, request
The god that sits at marriage feast ;
He at their invoking came,
But with a scarce well-lighted flame ;
And in his garland, as he stood,
Ye might discern a cypress-bud.
Once had the early matrons run
To greet her of a lovely son,
And now with second hope
And calls Lucina to her throes ;
But, whether by mischance or blame,
Atropos for Lucina came ;
And with remorseless cruelty
Spoil'd at once both fruit and tree.
The hapless babe, before his birth,
Had burial, yet not laid in earth :
And the languish'd mother's womb
Was not long a living tomb.
So have I seen some tender slip,
Saved with care from winter's nip,
The pride of her carnation train,
up by some unheedy swain, Who only thought to crop the flower, New shot up from vernal shower ; But the fair blossom hangs the head Sideways, as on a dying bed,