Page images

Thine, thine is all the barrenness; if thou
Makest me sit still and sing when I should plough,
When I but think how many a tedious year

Our patient sovereign did attend

His long misfortunes' fatal end; How cheerfully, and how exempt from fear, On the Great Sovereign's will he did depend; I ought to be accursed if I refuse To wait on his, oh thou fallacious Muse! Kings have long hands, they say; and, though I be So distant, they may reach at length to me. However, of all the princes, thou

[slow; Shouldst not reproach rewards for being small or Thou! who rewardest but with popular breath,

And that, too, after death.".


Well, then; I now do plainly see
This busy world and I shall ne'er agree;
The very honey of all earthly joy

Does of all meats the soonest cloy ;

And they, methinks, deserve my pity,
Who for it can endure the stings,
The crowd, and buzz, and murmurings,

Of this great hive, the city.

Ah, yet, ere I descend to th' grave,
May I a small house and large garden have!
And a few friends, and many books, both true,

Both wise, and both delightful too!

And, since love ne'er will from me flee,
A mistress moderately fair,
And good as guardian-angels are,

Only beloved, and loving me!

Oh, fountains! when in you shall I Myself, 'eased of unpeaceful thoughts, espy;

[ocr errors]

Oh fields, oh woods! when, when shall I be made

The happy tenant of your shade?

Here's the spring-head of Pleasure's flood; Where all the riches lie, that she

Has coin'd and stamp'd for good.

Pride and ambition here
Only in far-fetch'd metaphors appear;
Here naught but winds can hurtful murmurs scatter,

And naught but Echo flatter.

The gods, when they descended, hither From heaven did always choose their way; And therefore we may boldly say,

That 'tis the way to thither.

How happy here should I,
And one dear she, live and, embracing, die !
She, who is all the world, and can exclude

In deserts solitude.

I should have then this only fear, Lest men, when they my pleasures see, Should hither throng to live like me,

And so make a city here.


[ocr errors]

'Tis not a pyramid of marble stone,
Though high as our ambition;
'Tis not a tomb cut out in brass, which can
Give life to th' ashes of a man,
But verses only; they shall fresh appear
Whilst there are men to read or hear;
When time shall make the lasting brass decay,
And eat the pyramid away;
Turning that monument wherein men trust
Their names to what it keeps, poor dust ;
Then shall the epitaph remain, and be
New graven in eternity


Poets by death are conquerd, but the wit
Of poets triumphs over it.
What cannot verse? When Thracian Orpheus took
His lyre, and gently on it strook,
The learned stones came dancing all along,
And kept time to the charming song.
With artificial pace the warlike pine,
The elm and his wife the ivy twine,
With all the better trees which erst had stood
Unmoved, forsook their native wood.
The laurel to the poet's hand did bow,
Craving the honour of his brow;
And ev'ry loving arm embraced, and made
With their officious leaves a shade.
The beasts, too, strove his auditors to be,
Forgetting their old tyranny:
The fearful hart next to the lion came,
And the wolf was shepherd to the lamb.
Nightingales, harmless sirens of the air,
And muses of the place, were there;
Who, when their little windpipes they had found
Unequal to so strange a sound,
O’ercome by art and grief, they did expire,
And fell upon the conqu’ring lyre.
Happy, oh happy they! whose tomb might be,
Mausolus! envied by thee!


Hail, old patrician trees, so great and good!
Hail, ye plebeian underwood?
Where the poetic birds rejoice,
And for their quiet nests and plenteous food
Pay with their grateful voice.
Hail the poor Muse's richest manor-seat!
Ye country-houses and retreat,

Which all the happy gods so love,

That for you oft they quit their bright and great
Metropolís above.

Here Nature does a house for me erect,

Nature! the fairest architect,
Who those fond artists does despise
That can the fair and living trees neglect,
Yet the dead timber prize.

Here let me, careless and unthoughtful lying,
Hear the soft winds above me flying,
With all their wanton boughs dispute,

And the more tuneful birds to both replying,
Nor be myself too mute.

A silver stream shall roll his waters near,
Gilt with the sunbeams here and there,
On whose enamell'd bank I'll walk,
And see how prettily they smile,
And hear how prettily they talk.

Ah! wretched, and too solitary he,
Who loves not his own company!
He'll feel the weight of it for many a day,
Unless he call in sin or vanity,
To help to bear it away.

Oh, Solitude! first state of human kind!
Which bless'd remain'd till man did find
Ev'n his own helper's company:
As soon as two, alas! together join'd,
The serpent made up three.

Though God himself, through countless ages, thee

His sole companion chose to be,

Thee, sacred Solitude! alone,

Before the branchy head of number's tree
Sprang from the trunk of one;

Thou (though men think thine an unactive part)
Dost break and tame th' unruly heart,
Which else would know no settled pace,
Making it move, well managed by thy art,
With swiftness and with grace.

Thou the faint beams of reason's scatter'd light
Dost like a burning glass unite,
Dost multiply the feeble heat,
And fortify the strength, till thou dost bright
And noble fires beget.
Whilst this hard truth I teach, methinks, I see
That monster, London, laugh at me;
I should at thee, too, foolish city!
If it were fit to laugh at misery;
But thy estate I pity.

Let but thy wicked men from out thee gog
And all the fools that crowd thee so,
Ev'n thou, who dost thy millions boast,
A village less than Islington wilt grow,
A solitude almost.

GEORGE WITHER. 1588–1667,
See'st thou not in clearest days,
Oft thick fogs cloud leav'n's rays;
And the vapours that do breathe
From the earth's gross womb beneath,
Seem they not with their black streams
To pollute the sun's bright beams;
And yet vanish into air,
Leaving it unblemish'd, fair?
So, my Willy, shall it be
With Detraction's breath on thee.

« PreviousContinue »