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Here Nature, in her unaffected dress,
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky!
For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye!
And thou must die.
Sweet Spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie!
And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like seasoned timber, never gives ;
Then chiefly lives.
These are the opening stanzas of his Man's Medley :
Hark! how the birds do sing,
And woods do ring :
Yet if we rightly measure,
Man’s joy and pleasure
To this life things of sense
Make their pretence ;
Man ties them both alone,
And makes them one,
There is a charm about Herbert's poetry, notwithstanding the strange conceits with which it abounds; as in the following lines, entitled Life :
I made a posie, while the day ran by:
My life within this band.
My hand was next to them, and then my heart;
Time's gentle admonition;
Yet sugaring the suspicion.
Farewell, dear flowers; sweetly your time ye spent,
And after death for cures.
It be as short as yours.
Addison, it may be remembered, thus refers to a brother bard in the following couplet :
“Nor, Denham, must we e'er forget thy strains,
While Cooper's Hill commands the neighboring plains.”
It was this DenHAM that wrote that celebrated quartette—which seems to have been a poetic inspiration :
Oh! could I low like thee, and make thy stream
ANDREW Marvell, the friend of Milton, wrote these glowing lines On a Drop of Dew :
See how the orient dew,
Shed from the bosom of the morn,
Yet careless of its mansion new,
Round in itself encloses;
How it the purple flower does slight!
Scarce touching where it lies ;
But giving back upon the skies,
Shines with a mournful light,
Till the warm sun pities its pain,
So the soul that drop, that ray
Remembering still its former height,
And recollecting its own light,
Dryden's magnificent Ode, On the Power of Music, written in 1697, for the festival of St. Cecilia's day, is by many considered his masterpiece. It is pronounced unequalled by any thing of its kind since classic times; and is the best illustration of the pliancy of our English extant. He wrote this grand Ode at Burleigh House, where his translation of Virgil was partly executed. One morning Lord Bolingbroke chanced to call on Dryden, whom he found in unusual agitation. On inquiring the cause, “I have been up all night,” replied the bard; “my musical friends made me promise to write them an Ode for the Feast of St. Cecilia : I have been so struck with the subject which occurred to me, that I could not leave it till I had completed it: here it is, finished at one sitting.”
The poem is designed to exhibit the different passions excited by Timotheus in the mind of Alexander, feasting a triumphant conqueror in Persepolis. The grandeur of the poem can only be appreciated by perusing it entire, and more fully, indeed, on even a second perusal. Here is the opening stanza :
His valiant peers were placed around,
The lovely Thaïs by his side