Page images
PDF
EPUB

Holds his dear Psyche, sweet entranced
After her wandering labours long,
Till free consent the gods among
Make her his eternal bride,
And from her fair unspotted side
Two blissful twins are to be born,
Youth and Joy; so Jove hath sworn.

[ocr errors]

But now my task is smoothly done :
I can fly, or I can run
Quickly to the green earth's end,
Where the bowed welkin slow doth bend,
And from thence can soar as soon
To the corners of the moon.
Mortals, that would follow me,
Love Virtue ; she alone is free.
She can teach ye how to climb
Higher than the sphery chime ;
Or, if Virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her.

1020

LYCIDAS.

[ocr errors]

In this Monody the Author bewails a learned Friend, unfortunately

drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637; and,
by occasion, foretells the ruin of our corrupted Clergy, then ir

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 forced 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 watery 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 coy excuse :
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favour

ту
destined

urn,
And as he passes turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud !

For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill ;
Together both, ere the high lawns appeared
Under the opening eyelids of the Morn,
We drove a-field, and both together heard
What time the grey-fly winds her sultry horn,

20

Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star that rose at evening bright 30
Toward heaven's descent had sloped his westering

wheel.
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute;
Tempered to the oaten Aute,
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long;
And old Damætas loved to hear our song.

But, oh! 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, Sha!l 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 flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When first the white-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear. Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless 50

deep
Closed o’er the head of your loved 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,

60 en, by the rout that made the hideous roar,

His gory visage down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore ? * Alas ! what boots it with uncessant 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 spirit 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 the abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life. “ But not the praise,”
Phoebus replied, and touched my trembling ears :
“Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies, 80
But lives 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 heaven expect thy meed.”

O fountain Arethuse, and thou honoured flood,
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned 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,
That came in Neptune's plea.
He asked the waves, and asked the felon winds,
What hard mishap hath doomed this gentle swain ?
And questioned every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beakèd promontory.
They knew not of his story ;
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed :

90

[ocr errors]

IIO

The air was calm, and on the level brine
Sleek Panope with all her sisters played.
It was that fatal and perfidious bark,
Built in the eclipse, and rigged 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,
Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge
Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe.
“Ah! who hath 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 mitred locks, and stern bespake :-
“ How well could I have spared 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 reckoning 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 learnt 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, swoln 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

130 Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more."

« PreviousContinue »