صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

AN EPITAPH

ON THE MARCHIONESS OF WINCHESTER.1

This rich marble doth inter
The honour'd wife of Winchester,
A Viscount's daughter, an Earl's heir,
Besides what her virtues fair
Added to her noble birth,
More than she could own from earth.
Summers three times eight save one
She had told ; alas ! too soon,
After so short time of breath,
To house with darkness, and with death.
Yet had the number of her days
Been as complete as was her praise,
Nature and Fate had had no strife
In giving limit to her life.

Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
Quickly found a lover meet ;
The virgin quire for her request
The god that sits at marriage feast ;
He at their invoking came,
But with a scarce well-lighted flame;
And in his garland, as he stood,
Ye might discern a cypress bud.
Once had the early matrons run
To greet her of a lovely son,
And now with second hope she goes,
And calls Lucina 2 to her throes :

1 Marchioness of Winchester :' she was Lady Jane Savage, daughter of Lord Savage, and married to the Marquis of Winchester, on whom Dryden wrote an epitaph. She died in child-birth of a second son. Milton knew her through his acquaintance with the Egerton family. He wrote this at Cambridge. 3 • Lucina :' goddess of midwives.

But, whether by mischance or blame,
Atroposfor Lucina came;
And with remorseless cruelty
Spoil'd at once both fruit and tree :
The hapless babe, before his birth,
Had burial, yet not laid in earth;
And the languish'd mother's womb
Was not long a living tomb.

So have I seen some tender slip,
Sav'd with care from winter's nip,
The pride of her carnation train,
Pluck'd up by some unheedy swain,
Who only thought to crop the flower
New shot up from vernal shower ;
But the fair blossom hangs the head
Side-ways, as on a dying bed,
And those pearls of dew, she wears,
Prove to be presaging tears,
Which the sad morn had let fall
On her hastening funeral.

Gentle Lady, may thy grave
Peace and quiet ever have ;
After this thy travel sore
Sweet rest seize thee evermore,
That, to give the world encrease,
Shorten'd hast thy own life's lease.
Here, besides the sorrowing
That thy noble house doth bring,
Here be tears of perfect moan
Wept for thee in Helicon ;
And some flowers, and some bays,
For thy herse, to strew the ways,

Atropos :' the Fate who presides over death.

Sent thee from the banks of Came,
Devoted to thy virtuous name ;
Whilst thou, bright Saint, high sitt’st in glory,
Next her, much like to thee in story,
That fair Syrian shepherdess,
Who, after years of barrenness,
The highly favour'd Joseph bore
To him that serv'd for her before,
And at her next birth, much like thee,
Through pangs fled to felicity,
Far within the bosom bright
Of blazing Majesty and Light :
There with thee, new welcome Saint,
Like fortunes may her soul acquaint,
With thee there clad in radiant sheen,
No Marchioness, but now a Queen.

SONG ON MAY MORNING.

Now the bright Morning-star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire ;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,

Hill, and dale, doth boast thy blessing !
Thus we salute thee with our early song,

And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

· Shepherdess :' Rachel.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Anno Ætatis 19, at a VACATION EXERCISE in the

COLLEGE, part Latin, part English. The Latin speeches ended, the English thus began.

Hail, native Language, that by sinews weak
Didst move my first endeavouring tongue to speak,
And mad’st imperfect words with childish trips,
Half unpronounc'd, slide through my infant-lips,
Driving dumb Silence from the portal door,
Where he had mutely sat two years before !
Here I salute thee, and thy pardon ask,
That now I use thee in my latter task :
Small loss it is that thence can come unto thee,
I know my tongue but little grace can do thee :
Thou need'st not be ambitious to be first,
Believe me I have thither pack'd the worst :
And, if it happen as I did forecast,
The daintiest dishes shall be served up last.
I pray thee then deny me not thy aid
For this same small neglect that I have made :
But haste thee straight to do me once a pleasure,
And from thy wardrobe bring thy chiefest treasure,
Not those new-fangled toys,2 and trimming slight
Which takes our late fantasticks with delight;

1 • New-fangled toys:' he alludes to Lilly's Euphues and the then fashionable affectation of Eupbuism; see Scott's • Movastery.'

But cull those richest robes, and gay'st attire,
Which deepest spirits and choicest wits desire:
I have some naked thoughts that rove about,
And loudly knock to have their passage out ;
And, weary of their place, do only stay,
Till thou hast deck'd them in thy best array;
That so they may, without suspect or fears,
Fly swiftly to this fair assembly's ears ;
Yet I had rather, if I were to chuse,
Thy service in some graver subject use,
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound:
Such where the deep transported mind may soar
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heaven's door
Look in, and see each blissful Deity
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
Listening to what unshorn Apollo sings
To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Immortal nectar to her kingly sire :
Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
And misty regions of wide air next under,
And hills of snow, and lofts of piled thunder,
May tell at length how green-eyed Neptune raves,
In heaven's defiance mustering all his waves ;
Then sing of secret things that came to pass
When beldam Nature in her cradle was;
And last of kings, and queens, and heroes old,
Such as the wise Demodocusl once told
In solemn songs at king Alcinous' feast,
While sad Ulysses' soul, and all the rest,
Are held, with his melodious harmony,
In willing chains and sweet captivity.

1. Demodocus :' a blind bard mentioned in the Odyssey.'

« السابقةمتابعة »