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GEORGE HERBERT. 1593–1632.
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
Sweet dews shall weep thy fall to-night,
For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My music shows you have your closes,
And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives,
But when the whole world turns to coal,
Then chiefly lives.
MICHAEL DRAYTON. 1563-1631.
HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY, TO THE LADY GERALDINE.
From learned Florence (long time rich in fame), From whence thy race, thy noble grandsires came To famous England, that kind nurse of mine, Thy Surrey sends to heav'nly Geraldine. Yet let not Tuscan think I do it wrong, That I from thence write in my native tongue ; That in these harsh-turn'd cadences I sing, Sitting so near the Muses' sacred spring ;
But rather think itself adorn'd thereby,
That England reads the praise of Italy.
Though to the Tuscans I the smoothness grant,
Our dialect no majesty doth want,
To set thy praises in as high a key,
As France, or Spain, or Germany, or they.
What day I quit the foreland of fair Kent,
And that my ship her course for Flanders bent,
Yet think I with how many a heavy look
My leave of England and of thee I took,
And did entreat the tide (if it might be)
But to convey me one sigh back to thee.
Up to the deck a billow lightly skips,
Taking my sigh, and down again it slips,
Into the gulf itself it headlong throws,
And as a post to England-ward it goes.
As I sate wond'ring how the rough sea stirrd,
I might far off perceive a little bird,
Which, as she fain from shore to shore would fly,
Had lost herself in the broad vasty sky,
Her feeble wing beginning to deceive her,
The seas of life still gaping to bereave her:
Unto the ship she makes, which she discovers,
And there (poor fool!) a while for refuge hovers;
And when at length her flagging pinion fails,
Panting she hangs upon the rolling sails,
And being forced to loose her hold with pain,
Yet beaten off, she straight lights on again,
And toss'd with flaws, with storms, with wind, with
weather, Yet still departing thence, still turneth thither: Now with the poop, now with the prow doth bear, Now on this side, now that, now here, now there. Methinks these storms should be my sad depart, The silly, helpless bird is my poor heart, The ship, to which for succour it repairs, That is yourself, regardless of my cares. Of every surge doth fall, or wave doth rise, To some one thing I sit and moralize.
Care draws on care, wo comforts wo again,
Sorrow breeds sorrow, one grief brings forth twain.
If live or die, as thou do'st, so do I;
If live, I live; and if thou die, I die;
One heart, one love, one joy, one grief, one troth,
One good, one ill, one life, one death to both.
If Howard's blood thou hold'st as but too vile,
Or not esteem'st of Norfolk's princely style;
If Scotland's coat no mark of fame can lend,
That lion placed in our bright silver bend,
Which as a trophy beautifies our shield,
Since Scottish blood discolourd Floden field;
When the proud Cheviot our brave ensign bare,
As a rich jewel in a lady's hair,
And did fair Bramston's neighbouring valleys choke
With clouds of cannons' fire-disgorged smoke;
If Surrey's earldom insufficient be,
And not a dower so well contenting thee:
Yet I am one of great Apollo's heirs,
The sacred Muses challenge me for theirs.
By princes my immortal lines are sung,
My flowing verses graced with ev'ry tongue :
The little children when they learn to go,
By painful mothers daded to and fro,
Are taught my sugar'd numbers to rehearse,
And have their sweet lips season'd with my verse.
When Heav'n would strive to do the best it can, And puts an angel's spirit into man, The utmost power it hath, it then doth spend, When to the world a poet it doth intend, That little diff'rence 'twixt the gods and us (By them confirm'd), distinguished only thus : Whom they in birth ordain to happy days, The gods commit their glory to our praise ; T eternal life when they dissolve their breath, We likewise share a second power by death.
When time shall turn those anıber locks to gray, My verse again shall gild and make them gay, And trick them up in knotted curls anew, And to thy autumn give a summer's hue;
That sacred pow'r, that in my ink remains,
Shall put fresh blood into thy wither'd veins,
And on thy red decay'd, thy whiteness dead,
Shall set a white more white, a red more red:
When thy dim sight thy glass cannot descry,
Nor thy crazed mirror can discern thine eye,
My verse, to tell th' one what the other was,
Shall represent them both, ihine eye and glass :
Where both thy mirror and thine eye shall see,
What once thou saw'st in that, that saw in thee;
And to them both shall tell the simple truth,
What that in pureness was, what thou in youth.
If Florence once should lose her old renown,
As famous Athens, now a fisher-town;
My lines for thee a Florence shall erect,
Which great Apollo ever shall protect,
And with the numbers from my pen that falls,
Bring marble mines to re-erect those walls.
Nor beauteous Stanhope, whom all tongues report
To be the glory of the English court,
Shall by our nation be so much admired,
If ever Surrey truly were inspired.
And famous Wyat, who in numbers sings
To that enchanting Thracian harper's strings,
To whom Phoebus (the poets' god) did drink
A bowl of Nectar, fill'd up to the brink ;
And sweet tongued Bryan (whom the Muses kept,
And in his cradle rock'd him whilst he slept)
In sacred verses (most divinely penn'd)
Upon thy praises ever shall attend.
When to my chamber I myself retire,
Burnt with the sparks that kindled all this fire,
Thinking of England, which my hope contains,
The happy isle where Geraldine remains :
Of Hunsdon, where those sweet celestial eyne
At first did pierce this tender breast of mine :
Of Hampton Court and Windsor, where abound
All pleasures that in Paradise were found ;
Near that fair castle is a little grove,
With hanging rocks all cover'd from above,
Which on the banks of goodly Thames doth stand,
Clipp'd by the water from the other land,
Whose bushy top doth bid the sun forbear,
And checks his proud beams that would enter there;
Whose leaves still mutt'ring, as the air doth breathe,
With the sweet bubbling of the stream beneath,
Doth rock the senses (whilst the small birds sing)
Lulled asleep with gentle murmuring ;
Where light-foot fairies sport at prison-base
(No doubt there is some pow'r frequents the place),
There the soft poplar and smooth beech do bear
Our name together carved everywhere,
And Gordian knots do curiously entwine
The names of Henry and of Geraldine.
Oh let this grove, in happy times to come,
Be call'd the lover's bless'd Elyzium ;
Whither my mistress wonted to resort,
In summer's heat, in those sweet shades to sport:
A thousand sundry names I have it given,
And call'd it Wonder-hider, Cover-heav'n,
The roof where beauty her rich court doth keep,
Under whose compass all the stars do sleep.
There is one tree, which, now I call to mind,
Doth bear these verses carved in the rind :
“When Geraldine shall sit in thy fair shade,
Fan her fair tresses with perfumed air,
Let thy large boughs a canopy be made,
To keep the sun from gazing on my fair :
And when thy spreading branched arms be sunk,
And thou no sap nor pith shalt more retain,
Ev'n from the dust of thy unwieldy trunk
I will renew thee, phenix-like, again,
And from thy dry decayed root will bring
A new-born stem, another Æson's spring.”