Page images
PDF
EPUB

With a sad, leaden, downward cast
Thou fix them on the earth as fast:
And join with thee calm Peace and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring

Aye round about Jove's altar sing:
And add to these retired Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure:
But, first and chiefest, with thee bring,
Him that yon soars on golden wing
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of Night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o'er the accustom'd oak:

Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!

Thee, chantress, oft, the woods among,
I woo, to hear thy even-song;
And, missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry, smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the heaven's wide pathless way;
And oft, as if her head she bow'd,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud,
Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off Curfew sound,
Over some wide-water'd shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar:
Or, if the air will not permit,
Some still removed place would fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom;

Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the bellman's drowsy charm,
To bless the doors from nightly harm.
Or let my lamp at midnight hour,
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear,
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato, to unfold

What worlds or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind, that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook:
And of those demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
Whose power hath a true consent
With planet or with element.
Sometimes let gorgeous Tragedy
In scepter'd pall come sweeping by,
Presenting Thebes' or Pelops' line,
Or the tale of Troy divine;

Or what (though rare) of later age
Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage.

But, oh sad virgin, that thy power
Might raise Musæus from his bower!
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
Such notes as, warbled to the string,
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
And made hell grant what love did seek!
Or call up him that left half-told
The story of Cambuscan bold,
Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife,

That own'd the virtuous ring and glass;
And of the wondrous horse of brass,
On which the Tartar king did ride :
And if aught else great bards beside
In sage and solemn tunes have sung,
Of tourneys and of trophies hung,

Of forests and enchantments drear,
Where more is meant than meets the ear.
Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career,
Till civil-suited Morn appear,

Not trick'd and frounced as she was wont
With the Attic boy to hunt,

But kerchief'd in a comely cloud,
While rocking winds are piping loud,
Or usher'd with a shower still
When the gust hath blown his fill,
Ending on the rustling leaves,

With minute drops from off the eaves.
And when the Sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring
To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves,
Of pine, or monumental oak,

Where the rude axe, with heaved stroke,
Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.
There, in close covert, by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look,
Hide me from Day's garish eye,
While the bee with honeyed thigh,
That at her flowery work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring,
With such consort as they keep,
Entice the dewy feather'd Sleep:

And let some strange mysterious dream
Wave at his wings in aery stream
Of lively portraiture display'd,

Softly on my eyelids laid.

And, as I wake, sweet music breathe

Above, about, or underneath,

Sent by some spirit to mortal good,
Or the unseen genius of the wood.
But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloisters pale,

And love the high-imbowered 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 ecstasies,

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.

LYCIDAS.

YET Once more, oh 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,

Scatter your leaves before the mellowing year:
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compel 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 watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
VOL. I.-I

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 he passes, turn

And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.

For we were nursed upon the selfsame hill,
Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill.
Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Under the opening eyelids of the morn,
We drove afield, and both together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star, that rose, at evening bright,
Towards heaven's descent had sloped his westering
wheel.

Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to the oaten flute;

Rough satyrs danced, and fawns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long;
And old Damotas loved to hear our song.

But, oh 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 thyme 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,

Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,

Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When first the white-thorn blows:

Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds' ear.

[deep

Where were ye, nymphs, when the remorseless Closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas? For neither were ye playing on the steep,

« PreviousContinue »