Page images

A gown made of the finest wool,
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold:

A belt of straw and ivy buds

With coral clasps and amber studs!

And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing,
For thy delight each May-morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.


If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might one move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb,
The rest complain of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue-a heart of gall,

Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,

Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten.
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs;

All these in me no means can move

To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last, and love still breed,

Had joys no date, nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Sidney, Raleigh, and Marlow, had for their contemporaries Breton, Constable, Sylvester, and Barnfield, all of whom justly rank among the second rate miscellaneous poets of this period, though the number of their poems was generally limited.

NICHOLAS BRETON was born in 1555, but at what place we have not been able to ascertain. Indeed, of his entire history no particulars have been preserved farther than that he first acquired very considerable popularity as a writer of pastorals, and then published a volume of poems under the title

of The Works of a Young Wit. Breton died in 1624, in his seventieth year. The following stanzas from this author well deserve preservation :

[blocks in formation]

Thou gallant court, to thee farewell!
For froward fortune me denies

Now longer near to thee to dwell.
I must go live, I wot not where,
Nor how to live when I come there.

And next, adieu you gallant dames,

The chief of noble youth's delight.
Untoward Fortune now so frames,

That I am banish'd from your sight.
And, in your stead, against my will,
I must go live with country Jill.

Now next, my gallant youths, farewell;

My lads that oft have cheered my heart!
My grief of mind no tongue can tell,

To think that I must from you part.
I now must leave you all, alas,
And live with some old lobcock ass!

And now farewell thou gallant lute,

With instruments of music's sounds!

Recorder, citern, harp, and flute,

And heavenly descants on sweet grounds.

I now must leave you all, indeed,

And make some music on a reed!

And now, you stately stamping steeds,
And gallant geldings fair, adieu.

My heavy heart for sorrow bleeds,

To think that I must part with you:

And on a strawen pannel sit,

And ride some country carting tit!

And now farewell both spear and shield,

Caliver, pistol, arquebuss,

See, see, what sighs my heart doth yield
To think that I must leave you thus;

And lay aside my rapier blade,
And take in hand a ditching spade!

And you farewell, all gallant games,
Primero and Imperial,

Wherewith I us'd with courtly dames
To pass away the time withal:
I now must learn some country plays
For ale and cakes on holydays.

And now farewell each dainty dish,
With sundry sorts of sugar'd wine!
Farewell I say, fine flesh and fish,
To please this dainty mouth of mine!


I now, alas, must leave all these,

And make good cheer with bread and cheese!

And now, all orders due, farewell!

My table laid when it was noon;

My heavy heart it irks to tell

My dainty dinners are all done;
With leeks and onions, whig and whey,
I must content me as I may.

And farewell all gay garments now,
With jewels rich of rare device!
Like Robin Hood, I wot not how,
I must go range in woodman's wise;
Clad in a coat of green or gray,
And glad to get it if I may.

What shall I say, but bid adieu

To every dream of sweet delight,
In place where pleasure never grew
In dungeon deep of foul despite.
I must, ah me! wretch as I may,
Go sing the song of welaway!

Of HENRY CONSTABLE less even is known than of Breton. He was a very popular writer of sonnets, though his sentiments are usually strained and conceited. But in the midst of his affectations and conceits, many happy thoughts and much beautiful imagery may be found. The following sonnet from his Diana contains much epigrammatic power :

To live in hell, and heaven to behold,
To welcome life, and die a living death,
To sweat with heat, and yet be freezing cold,
To grasp at stars, and lie the earth beneath,
To tread a maze that never shall have end,
To burn in sighs, and starve in daily tears,
To climb a hill, and never to descend,
Giants to kill, and quake at childish fears,
To pine for food, and watch the Hesperian tree,

To thirst for drink, and nectar still to draw,

To live accurs'd, whom men hold blest to be,

And weep those wrongs, which never creature saw;

If this be love, if love in these be founded,
My heart is love, for these in it are grounded.

JOSHUA SYLVESTER was born in 1563. He was bred to ordinary mercantile pursuits, but the delicacy of his wit eventually brought him into notice, and he was patronized both by Elizabeth and James. For some cause, not now known, he was obliged to leave England, and he soon after died in Holland, on the twenty-eighth of September, 1618. Sylvester was the author of the following impressive poem, long attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh


Go, soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless errand!
Fear not to touch the best,
The truth shall be thy warrant;
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.

Go, tell the court it glows,
And shines like rotten wood;
Go, tell the church it shows
What's good, and doth no good:
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates, they live

Acting by others' actions,
Not loved unless they give,

Not strong but by their factions.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition
That rule affairs of state,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate.
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave the most,

They beg for more by spending,

Who in their greatest cost,

Seek nothing but commending.
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell zeal it lacks devotion,
Tell love it is but lust,
Tell time it is but motion,
Tell flesh it is but dust;
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth,

Tell honour how it alters,
Tell beauty how she blasteth,
Tell favour how she falters.
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles,
In tickle points of niceness:
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in over-wiseness.
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness,

Tell skill it is pretension,
Tell charity of coldness,
Tell law it is contention.
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of the blindness,
Tell nature of decay,
Tell friendship of unkindness
Tell justice of delay.

And if they will reply,

Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming,

Tell schools they want profoundness
And stand too much on seeming,

If arts and schools reply,

Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it's fled the city,

Tell how the country erreth,
Tell, manhood shakes off pity,
Tell, virtue least preferreth.
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

So then thou hast, as I

Commanded thee, done babbling:

Although to give the lie

Deserves no less than stabbing;

Yet stab at thee who will
No stab the soul can kill.

RICHARD BARNFIELD was the author of a volume of


poems of very qual merit, published between 1594 and 1598. Among these poems, however, is found the following Address to the Nightingale, which is of so rare excellence, that it was, for a long time, ascribed to Shakspeare.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »