« PreviousContinue »
And love the high embowed roof,
With antique pillars, massy proof;
And storied windows, richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light;
There let the pealing organ blow
To the full-voiced quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness through mine ear
Dissolve me into ecstacies,
And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.
And may, at last, my weary age,
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown, and mossy cell,
Where I may sit, and rightly spell
Of every star that Heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew ;
Till old Experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
And I with thee will choose to live.
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 watry 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 my destined urn; And, as she 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 gray sly winds her sultry horn, Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star that rose at evening bright
Toward heaven's descent had sloped his west'ring wheel.
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
'i'empered to the oaten flute;
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel,
From the glad sound would not be absent long,
And old Damaetas loved 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 thime and the gadding vine o'ergrown,
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,
Ortaint-worm to the weaning 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 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.
Ah 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 gory 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,
r with the tangles of Neara's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble minds)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
omes the blind Fury with th' 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;
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 winds,
That blows from off each beaked promontory:
They knew not of his story;
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed,
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 th’ eclipse, and rigged with curses dark,
That sank so low that sacred head of thine.
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow,
His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge,
In wrought with figures dim, and on the edge
Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with wo.
Ah! who hath rest (quoth he) my dearest pledge 1
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 spar'd for thee, young swain,
Enow of such, as for their bellies' sake
Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold 7
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 learned ought else the least,
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,