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I will essay, her worth to celebrate,
And so attend ye toward her glittering state ;
Where ye may all that are of noble stem
Approach, and kiss her sacred vesture's hem.
O'er the smooth enamellid green,
Where no print of step hath been,
Follow me, as I sing,
And touch the warbled string,
Under the shady roof
Of branching elm, star-proof.
I will bring you where she sits.
Clad in splendour as befits
Such a rural queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.
Nymphs and shepherds dance no more
By sandy Ladon's lilied banks;
On old Lycæus, or Cyllene hoar,
Trip no more in twilight ranks;
Though Erymanth your loss deplore,
A better soil shall give ye thanks.
From the stony Mänalus
Bring your flocks, and live with us,
Here ye shall have greater grace,
To serve the lady of this place.
Though Syrinx your Pan's mistress were,
Yet Syrinx well might wait on her.
Such a rural queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.
ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT, DYING OF A COUGH.
O FAIREST flower, no sooner blown but blasten,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak winter's force that made thy blossom dry ;
For he, being amorous on that lovely dye
That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
But kill'd, alas, and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.
For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot
Of long-uncoupled bed, and childless eld,
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach was held.
So, mounting up in icy-pearl'd car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far ;
There ended was his quest, there ceased his care
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,
But all un'wares with his cold, kind embrace
Unhoused thy virgin soul from her fair biding-place.
Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate ;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land ;
But then transform'd him to a purple flower : Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no power !
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low-delved tomb;
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?
Oh, no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that show'd thou wast divine.
Resolve me then, O soul most surely blest,
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear,)
Tell me, bright spirit, where'er thou hoverest,
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields, (if such there were,)
Oh, say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight?
Wert thou some star which from the ruin'd roof
Of shaked Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which careful Jove in nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall ?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall
Of sheeny heaven, and thou, some goddess, fled
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head?
Or wert thou that just maid, who once before
Forsook the hated earth, oh, tell me sooth,
And camest again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth?
Or that crown'd matron sage, white-robed Truth?
Or any other of that heavenly brood
Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good ?
Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who, having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
As if to show what creatures heaven doth breed;
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire,
To scorn the sordid world, and unto heaven aspire?
But oh, why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy heaven-loved innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To turn swift-rushing black perdition hence?
Or drive away the slaughtering pestilence,
To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart?
But thou canst best perform that office where thou art.
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false-imagined loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild ;
Think what a present thou to God has sent,
And render him with patience what he lent ;
This if thou do, he will an offspring give,
That till the world's last end shall make thy name to live.
ANNO ÆTATIS 19. At a Vacation Exercise in the COLLEGE, part Latin, part Eng.
lish. The Latin speeches ended, the English thus began :
Hail, native language, that by sinews weak
Didst move my first-endeavouring tongue to speak,
And madest imperfect words with childish trips,
Half unpronounced, 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-sangled toys, and trimming slight
Which takes our late fantastics with delight,
But cull those richest robes, and gayest 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 choose,
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 beldame Nature in her cradle was;
And last of kings and queens and heroes old,
Such as the wise Demodocus 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.
But fie, my wandering muse, how thou dost stray!
Expectance calls thee now another way,
Chou know'st it must be now thy only bent
To keep in compass of thy predicament:
Then quick about thy purposed business come,
That to the next I may resign my room.
Then Ens is represented as father of the Predicaments, his ten sons ;
whereof the eldest stood for Substance, with his canons, which
Ens, thus speaking, explains :
Good luck befriend thee, son; for at thy birth
The fairy ladies danced upon the hearth;
Thy drowsy nurse hath sworn she did them spy
Come tripping to the room where thou didst lie,
And, sweetly singing round about thy bed,
Strow all their blessings on thy sleeping head.
She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still
From eyes of mortals walk invisible :
Yet there is something that doth force my fear ;
For once it was my dismal hap to hear
A sibyl old, bow-bent with crooked age,
That far events full wisely could presage,
And, in time's long and dark prospective glass,
Foresaw what futore days should bring to pass;
Your son, said she (nor can you it prevent),
Shall subject be to many an accident.
O’er all his brethren he shall reign as king,
Yet every one shall make him underling,
And those that cannot live from him asunder,
Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under;
In worth and excellence he shall outgo them,