Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE METAMORPHOSIS OF THE WALNUT-TREE OF BOARSTELL: CANTO 2, by WILLIAM BASSE



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THE METAMORPHOSIS OF THE WALNUT-TREE OF BOARSTELL: CANTO 2, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A muse (like this) of great and good desires
Last Line: Which now (till then) giues me like breath to pawse.
Subject(s): Friendship; Thames (river)


Jefferey
A MUSE (like this) of great and good desires
Though litle power (and pittie 'twas no more),
To whom Calliope had lent some wires,
Wherof her owne Son's wond'rous harpe had store,
Whose bow'er was to the Wallnut tree next dore,
Which gaue to her occasion euery day
By him to passe, and him now thus to say.

2.
As long (rare Nymph) as you & I haue dwelt
So neere this auncient noble house of Thame,
My old vnhappy eare hath neuer felt
Your wondrous notes, but only in their fame:
Whereat the gentle Pegasean dame
Her Harpe into her softe embraces tooke,
And clangour sweete on silver sinewes strooke.

3.
And now, As when a lowe'ring Candlemas
Bodes future smileing winter for that yeare,
Th'vnmanag'd horse curvet's on his owne grasse,
Th'amazed oxen, the quick-senced deare,
And stareing weathers friscall here and there,
And Shepheards (but for joy) might stand amaz'd
To see their cattle dancing where they graz'd:

4.
The Wallnut tree so ravish'd with the charmes
Proceeding from these mystique ayres of hers
That diue his darke foundation, spreads his armes,
His curled corpes and crisped shoulders stirs,
And teares his russet bootes and crooked spurres
Out of the dungeon of their earthly layre,
Into the lightsome freedome of the ayre.

5.
Which done, He stood and told his neighbour all
The story of the buis'nes now in hand:
His Cousins death, his wanted funerall,
The Raven's newes, and travells o're the land
To Ditton-parke, and Sussex farre beyond,
The day appointed: and desir'd therein
That further helpe, which she did thus begin.

6.
The Lady, that as promptly vnderstood
As he could tell, the course of all these things,
(Being apt for vertuous ends & actions good)
To her white shoulders fix'd her azure wings
And tooke her flight, & with her powerfull strings
That this had done, with those did so prevayle
The meeting did not the day pointed fayle.

7.
Th'expected freinds arriu'd: No westerne winde
Did euer bow the courteous Wallnut tree
So lowe, as with his owne embraces kinde
He now salutes his Nephewes to the knee:
And on his bed, and entertaynment free
Of his provision, well refresh'd this night
Their wearied limbes and sharpen'd appetite.

8.
Then through the Towne that stands on flowing Thame,
And o're his bridge, they did next morning goe,
The Wallnut leading way (who knew the same)
So early, that but few could see or know,
More then the Muse who would not leaue them so
But with them went, out of the Fryth to call
The Hazle last; and then to Borestall all.

9.
The Camell once from Ethiopia brought,
And Dromedaryes of th'Arabian sands,
The sight wherof we haue for money bought,
Were not so strange as these that our owne lands
Affoarded haue thus (gratis) to our hands,
Wherof some few behelders scarsly well
Whether their eyes did dreame, or wake, could tell.

10.
But now it did a second sorrow ad
In cause so great, to finde themselues so few.
The more Companions in a fortune sad,
The easelier beare the burthen of the woe.
They of the Raven then desir'd to know
If he (in all his travells) knew no more
Nut-trees throughout this Iland, but them foure.

11.
Whereto he made this answer: I know none
More then your selues, vnles I should haue spoke
Vnto the Beech, in Chilterne, to be one
Or to this meeting mov'd the stately Oake;
And how much cloth makes each of them a cloke
Judge you (jf you in mourning meane to be)
I cannot tell: My blacks were giuen me.

12.
Hereat amongst them first grew some dispute
Whether the Beech with Nut-trees might be plac'd,
And though some sayd he bore a Nut-like fruite,
Most voyces held 'twas but a kinde of Mast,
So he was none, they all conclude at last.
But then there did a second question growe
Whether the Oake a Nut-tree were or no.

13.
The Raven with the Oake-tree far in loue
For old acquaintance & much kindnesse sake
The Oake a Nut-tree vndertakes to proue
Else, false (sayd he) they did the Riddle make.
They ask'd him, what was that? w@5ch thus he spake:
What tree is that that in the forrest growes
And is house, land, meate, medcine, drinke, & clothes?

14.
'Twas answer'd Tis the Oake: and that begot
These questions more, jf that were true or not.

How is he house? Because the Raven's dwelling,
And for all buildings tymber most excelling.

How is he Land? Because his shade preserues
From scorching heate the soyle that, naked, sterues.

How is he Meate? Because for want of bread,
In dolefull dearth, some on his fruites haue fed.

How is he Drinke? Because the freindly winde
Shakes his sweete dewes downe to the thirsty Hinde.

How is he Medcine? 'Cause the sickly body
His dyet-drinke makes with his Polipody.

How is he Clothes? 'Cause best of them for weather
With Oaken barke are made; and that's the Leather.

15.
The gentle Trees approuing these good parts,
Confess'd they all the Oake a Nut-tree thought,
And told the Raven, They with all their hearts
Desir'd his presence Jf he might be brought:
He answer'd, That might possibly be wrought
With Muses helpe; whereto shee soone consents,
All motions good are Muses elements.

16.
Soe leaueing them one night, more to renew
Their spirits spent in trauell, and in woe,
The Muse and Raven both together flew
Abroade, to seeke the fayrest Oake they know,
And findeing him that doth at Ricot grow
They made a stand, while thus the Raven spoke:
To you are we addres'd (Renowned Oake):

17.
The Wallnut-tree of Borestall dead of late,
His freinds are all assembled there but you,
His latest rites, in some fayre forme of state
According to his fayre deserts to doe;
And sent vs to invite you therevnto,
If your great age may ioyne in such remoue
With your well knowne respect, and Noble loue.

18.
Sad as thy habit, Raven (sayes the Tree)
Is thy report, yet sweete is thy request,
Though somthing strange & difficult to me,
That for so noble freinds would doe my best,
And for thee too, who art the ancient Crest
To th'Ensignes of this noble House, wherby
Thou summon'st me with double herauldry.

19.
But by what magique I, that here haue stood
Foure hundred yeares (thou know'st how truly spoke)
Can nowe remoue, think'st thou? or, if I cou'd,
Where canst thou ease'ly finde so many yoke
Of Oxen, as from hence can draw an Oake
Whose spreading talons comprehend this hill,
And body would sixe gyants girdles fill?

20.
Wherfore (my old contemporist and freind)
First climbe my storyes to thy wonted feast,
And then vpon those noble freinds attend
Full laden with my service, in thy best
And sagest language, there to be expres'd
In his behalfe whose heart here shares the woe,
And twice a mourner, that he cannot goe.

21.
Of his braue compasse, and his like desires,
The Muse advantage takes, and downe she sits,
Her yellow Harpe, set with Orphean wires,
With ribbands to her jvory bosome knits,
And from her Thespian fingers ends some fits
Of such enchanting melody she strooke
As from his locks a hayle of Acornes shooke.

22.
And now, Like as, when Æolus vnlocks
The Thracian Caues and into euery place
Let[s] loose his roreing sonnes, the Cedar rocks
And loftie Pines the lowly Shrubs embrace;
So now he rouzes (but in differing case)
His curled trunke, brode armes, & spacious feete,
Not mou'd with windes, but Musiques power more sweete.

23.
Which, joyn'd with his affection, did so please
His sollid heart and vegetatiue bloud,
He ravish'd was that on such suddaine ease
He on the brest of his foundation stood:
Fayre meanes best moue a disposition good;
And Musique ioyn'd with loue performes a deede
That seem'd a hundred pioners to neede.

24.
By his Inviters conduct and their ayd
He lifts his resty heeles, and forward set
Tow'rds the brode mouth of roreing Thame, affrayd
When as the trembling bridge of Ickford swet
Vnder his pond'rous steps, and all that met
Or saw this huge & wond'rous pilgrim walke,
Through the vast country caus'd as vast a talke.

25.
The youth of these our tymes, that did behold
This motion strange of this vnweildy plant,
Now boldly brag with vs, that are more old,
That of our age they no advantage want,
Though in our youths we saw the Elephant,
And hee's no novice that did neuer see
The Lyons, if he saw this walking tree.

[26.]
Bright Phœbus by his sister seconded
(Two gracious freinds to euery fayre intent)
By both their lights him thus to Borestall led,
Where meeting all those freinds, This night was spent
(You may be sure) in courteous compliment,
And sage discourse vpon the next dayes cause,
Which now (till then) giues me like breath to pawse.





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