Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 1. THE FIFTH SONG, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 1. THE FIFTH SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In notes that rocks to pity move
Last Line: ^1^idya, the pastoral name of england.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Great Britain


In notes that rocks to pity move,
Idya^1^ sings her buried love:
And from her horn of plenty gives
Comfort to Truth, whom none relieves,
Repentance' house next calls me on,
With Riot's true conversion:
Leaving Amintas' love to Truth
To be the theme the Muse ensu'th.

HERE full of April, veil'd with Sorrow's wing,
For lovely lays, I dreary dirges sing.
Whoso hath seen young lads (to sport themselves)
Run in a low ebb to the sandy shelves;
Where seriously they work in digging wells,
Or building childish sorts of cockle-shells;
Or liquid water each to other bandy;
Or with the pebbles play at handy-dandy,
Till unawares the tide hath clos'd them round,
And they must wade it through or else be drown'd:
May (if unto my pipe he listen well)
My Muse' distress with theirs soon parallel.
For where I whilom sung the loves of swains,
And woo'd the crystal currents of the plains,
Teaching the birds to love, whilst every tree
Gave his attention to my melody:
Fate now (as envying my too-happy theme)
Hath round begirt my song with Sorrow's stream,
Which till my Muse wade through and get on shore,
My grief-swoll'n soul can sing of love no more.
But turn we now (yet not without remorse)
To heavenly Aletheia's sad discourse,
That did from Fida's eyes salt tears exhale,
When thus she show'd the solitary vale.
Just in the midst this joy-forsaken ground
A hillock stood, with springs embraced round,
(And with a crystal ring did seem to marry
Themselves to this small Isle sad-solitary,)
Upon whose breast, which trembled as it ran,
Rode the fair downy-silver-coated swan:
And on the banks each cypress bow'd his head,
To hear the swan sing her own epiced.
As when the gallant youth which live upon
The western downs of lovely Albion,
Meeting, some festival to solemnize,
Choose out two, skill'd in wrestling exercise,
Who strongly, at the wrist or collar cling,
Whilst arm-in-arm the people make a ring:
So did the water round this Isle enlink,
And so the trees grew on the water's brink;
Waters their streams about the Island scatter
And trees perform'd as much unto the water:
Under whose shade the nightingale would bring
Her chirping young, and teach them how to sing.
The woods' most sad musicians thither hie,
As it had been the Sylvians' Castalie,
And warbled forth such elegiac strains,
That struck the winds dumb; and the motley plains
Were fill'd with envy that such shady places
Held all the world's delights in their embraces.
O how (methinks) the imps of Mneme bring
Dews of invention from their sacred spring!
Here could I spend that spring of poesy,
Which not twice ten suns have bestow'd on me;
And tell the world the Muses' love appears
In nonag'd youth as in the length of years.
But ere my Muse erected have the frame,
Wherein t' enshrine an unknown shepherd's name,
She many a grove, and other woods must tread,
More hills, more dales, more founts must be display'd,
More meadows, rocks, and from them all elect
Matter befitting such an architect.
As children on a play-day leave the schools,
And gladly run unto the swimming pools;
Or in the thickets, all with nettles stung,
Rush to despoil some sweet thrush of her young;
Or with their hats (for fish) lade in a brook
Withouten pain; but when the Morn doth look
Out of the Eastern gates, a snail would faster
Glide to the schools, than they unto their master:
So when before I sung the songs of birds,
Whilst every moment sweeten'd lines affords,
I pip'd devoid of pain, but now I come
Unto my task, my Muse is stricken dumb.
My blubb'ring pen her sable tears lets fall
In characters right hieroglyphical,
And mixing with my tears are ready turning
My late white paper to a weed of mourning;
Or ink and paper strive how to impart
My words, the weeds they wore, within my heart:
Or else the blots unwilling are my rhymes
And their sad cause should live till after-times;
Fearing if men their subject should descry,
They forthwith would dissolve in tears and die.
Upon the Island's craggy rising hill
A quadrant ran, wherein by artless skill,
At every corner Nature did erect
A column rude, yet void of all defect:
Whereon a marble lay. The thick-grown briar,
And prickled hawthorn (woven all entire)
Together clung, and barr'd the gladsome light
From any entrance, fitting only night.
No way to it but one, steep and obscure,
The stairs of rugged stone, seldom in ure,
All overgrown with moss, as Nature sat
To entertain Grief with a cloth of state.
Hardly unto the top I had ascended,
But that the trees (siding the steps) befriended
My weary limbs, who bowing down their arms
Gave hold unto my hands to 'scape from harms:
Which evermore are ready, still present
Our feet, in climbing places eminent.
Before the door (to hinder Phœbus' view)
A shady box-tree grasped with a yew,
As in the place' behalf they menac'd war
Against the radiance of each sparkling star.
And on their barks (which Time had nigh deprav'd)
These lines (it seem'd) had been of old engrav'd:
"This place was fram'd of yore to be possess'd
By one which sometime hath been happiest."
Lovely Idya, the most beauteous
Of all the darlings of Oceanus,
Hesperia's envy and the Western pride,
Whose party-coloured garment Nature dy'd
In more eye-pleasing hues, with richer grain,
Than Iris' bow attending April's rain;
Whose lily white inshaded with the rose
Had that man seen who sung th' Eneidos,
Dido had in oblivion slept, and she
Had given his Muse her best eternity.
Had brave Atrides, who did erst employ
His force to mix his dead with those of Troy,
Been proffer'd for a truce her feigned peace
Helen had stay'd, and that had gone to Greece:
The Phrygian soil had not been drunk with blood,
Achilles longer breath'd, and Troy yet stood:
The prince of poets had not sung his story,
My friend had lost his ever-living glory.
But as a snowy Swan, who many a day
On Tamar's swelling breasts hath had her play,
For further pleasure doth assay to swim
My native Tavy, or the sandy Plim;
And on the panting billows bravely rides,
Whilst country-lasses, walking on the sides,
Admire her beauty, and with clapping hands,
Would force her leave the stream, and tread the sands,
When she, regardless, swims to th' other edge,
Until an envious briar, or tangling sedge,
Despoils her plumes; or else a sharpen'd beam
Pierceth her breast, and on the bloody stream
She pants for life: so whilom rode this maid
On streams of worldly bliss, more rich array'd
With Earth's delight than thought could put in ure
To glut the senses of an epicure.
Whilst neighb'ring kings upon their frontiers stood,
And offer'd for her dower huge seas of blood:
And perjur'd Gerion to win her rent
The Indian rocks for gold, and bootless spent
Almost his patrimony for her sake,
Yet nothing like respected as the Drake
That scour'd her channels, and destroy'd the weed
Which spoil'd her fishers' nets and fishes' breed.
At last her truest love she threw upon
A royal youth, whose like, whose paragon,
Heaven never lent the Earth: so great a spirit
The world could not contain, nor kingdoms merit:
And therefore Jove did with the saints enthrone him,
And left his lady nought but tears to moan him.
Within this place (as woful as my verse)
She with her crystal founts bedew'd his hearse;
Inveiled with a sable weed she sat,
Singing this song which stones dissolved at.

WHAT time the world, clad in a mourning-robe,
A stage made for a woful tragedy;
When showers of tears from the celestial globe
Bewail'd the fate of sea-lov'd Britany;
When sighs as frequent were as various sights,
When Hope lay bed-rid, and all pleasures dying,
When Envy wept,
And Comfort slept,
When Cruelty itself sat almost crying,
Nought being heard but what the mind affrights;
When Autumn had disrob'd the Summer's pride,
Then England's honour, Europe's wonder, died.

O saddest strain that e'er the Muses sung!
A text of woe for Grief to comment on;
Tears, sighs, and sobs, give passage to my tongue,
Or I shall spend you till the last is gone.
Which done, my heart in flames of burning love
(Wanting his moisture) shall to cinders turn;
But first, by me
Bequeathed be
To strew the place wherein his sacred urn
Shall be enclos'd: this might in many move
The like effect: who would not do it when
No grave befits him but the hearts of men?

That man whose mass of sorrows hath been such,
That by their weight laid on each several part,
His fountains are so dry, he but as much
As one poor drop hath left to ease his heart;
Why should he keep it? since the time doth call,
That he ne'er better can bestow it in;
If so he fears
That others' tears
In greater number, greatest prizes win;
Know none gives more than he which giveth all.
Then he which hath but one poor tear in store,
O let him spend that drop, and weep no more.

Why flows not Helicon beyond her strands?
Is Henry dead, and do the Muses sleep?
Alas! I see each one amazed stands;
"Shallow fords mutter, silent are the deep."
Fain would they tell their griefs, but know not where;
All are so full, nought can augment their store:
Then how should they
Their griefs display
To men so cloy'd, they fain would hear no more,
Though blaming those whose plaints they cannot hear?
And with this wish their passions I allow,
May that Muse never speak that's silent now!

Is Henry dead? alas! and do I live
To sing a screech-owl's note that he is dead?
If any one a fitter theme can give,
Come, give it now, or never to be read.
But let him see it do of horror taste,
Anguish, destruction: could it rend in sunder
With fearful groans
The senseless stones,
Yet should we hardly be enforc'd to wonder,
Our former griefs would so exceed their last.
Time cannot make our sorrows ought completer;
Nor add one grief to make our mourning greater.

England was ne'er engirt with waves till now;
Till now it held part with the Continent.
Aye me! some one in pity show me how
I might in doleful numbers so lament,
That any one which lov'd him, hated me,
Might dearly love me for lamenting him.
Alas! my plaint
In such constraint
Breaks forth in rage, that though my passions swim,
Yet are they drowned ere they landed be:
Imperfect lines! O happy! were I hurl'd
And cut from life as England from the world.

O happier had we been! if we had been
Never made happy by enjoying thee!
Where hath the glorious eye of heaven seen
A spectacle of greater misery?
Time, turn thy course, and bring again the spring;
Break Nature's laws; search the records of old,
If aught befell
Might parallel
Sad Britain's case: weep, rocks, and Heaven behold
What seas of sorrow she is plunged in,
Where storms of woe so mainly have beset her,
She hath no place for worse, nor hope for better.

Britain was whilom known (by more than fame)
To be one of the Islands Fortunate.
What frantic man would give her now that name,
Lying so rueful and disconsolate?
Hath not her wat'ry zone in murmuring
Fill'd every shore with echoes of her cry?
Yes, Thetis raves,
And bids her waves
Bring all the nymphs within her emperie
To be assistant in her sorrowing.
See where they sadly sit on Isis' shore,
And rend their hairs as they would joy no more.

Isis, the glory of the Western world,
When our heroë (honour'd Essex) died,
Strucken with wonder, back again she hurl'd,
And fill'd her banks with an unwonted tide:
As if she stood in doubt, if it were so,
And for the certainty had turn'd her way.
Why do not now
Her waves reflow?
Poor nymph, her sorrows will not let her stay;
Or flies to tell the world her country's woe;
Or cares not to come back, perhaps, as showing
Our tears should make the flood, not her reflowing.

Sometimes a tyrant held the reins of Rome,
Wishing to all the city but one head,
That all at once might undergo his doom,
And by one blow from life be severed.
Fate wish'd the like on England, and 'twas given:
O miserable men, enthrall'd to Fate!)
Whose heavy hand
That never scann'd
The misery of kingdoms ruinate,
Minding to leave her of all joys bereaven,
With one sad blow (alas! can worser fall?)
Hath given this little Isle her funeral.

O come, ye blessed imps of Memory,
Erect a new Parnassus on his grave!
There tune your voices to an elegy,
The saddest note that e'er Apollo gave.
Let every accent make the stander-by
Keep time unto your song with dropping tears,
Till drops that fell
Have made a well
To swallow him which still unmoved hears!
And though myself prove senseless of your cry,
Yet gladly should my light of life grow dim,
To be entomb'd in tears are wept for him.

When last he sicken'd, then we first began
To tread the labyrinth of woe about:
And by degrees we further inward ran,
Having his thread of life to guide us out.
But Destiny no sooner saw us enter
Sad Sorrow's maze, immured up in night,
(Where nothing dwells
But cries and yells
Thrown from the hearts of men depriv'd of light,)
When we were almost come into the centre,
Fate (cruelly) to bar our joys returning,
Cut off our thread, and left us all in mourning.

If you have seen at foot of some brave hill
Two springs arise, and delicately trill
In gentle chidings through an humble dale,
Where tufty daisies nod at every gale,
And on the banks a swain, with laurel crown'd,
Marrying his sweet notes with their silver sound;
When as the spongy clouds swoll'n big with water,
Throw their conception on the world's theatre,
Down from the hills the rained waters roar,
Whilst every leaf drops to augment their store;
Grumbling the stones fall o'er each other's back,
Rending the green turfs with their cataract,
And through the meadows run with such a noise,
That taking from the swain the fountain's voice,
Enforce him leave their margent, and alone
Couple his base pipe with their baser tone:
Know (Shepherdess) that so I lent an ear
To those sad wights whose plaints I told whilere;
But when this goodly lady 'gan address
Her heavenly voice to sweeten heaviness,
It drown'd the rest, as torrents little springs;
And strucken mute at her great sorrowings,
Lay still and wonder'd at her piteous moan,
Wept at her griefs, and did forget their own,
Whilst I attentive sat, and did impart
Tears when they wanted drops, and from a heart,
As high in sorrow as e'er creature wore,
Lent thrilling groans to such as had no more.
Had wise Ulysses (who regardless flung
Along the ocean when the sirens sung)
Pass'd by and seen her on the sea-torn cleeves
Wail her lost love (while Neptune's wat'ry thieves
Durst not approach for rocks:) to see her face
He would have hazarded his Grecian race,
Thrust headlong to the shore, and to her eyes
Offer'd his vessel as a sacrifice.
Or had the sirens on a neighbour shore
Heard in what raping notes she did deplore
Her buried glory, they had left their shelves,
And to come near her would have drown'd themselves.
Now silence lock'd the organs of that voice
Whereat each merry sylvan wont rejoice,
When with a bended knee to her I came,
And did impart my grief and hated name.
But first a pardon begg'd, if that my cause
So much constrain'd me as to break the laws
Of her wish'd sequestration, or ask'd bread
(To save a life) from her whose life was dead;
But lawless famine, self-consuming hunger,
Alas! compell'd me: had I stayed longer,
My weaken'd limbs had been my want's forc'd meed,
And I had fed on that I could not feed.
When she (compassionate) to my sad moan
Did lend a sigh, and stole it from her own;
And (woful lady wreck'd on hapless shelf)
Yielded me comfort, yet had none herself:
Told how she knew me well since I had been
As chiefest consort of the Fairy Queen.
O happy Queen! for ever, ever praise
Dwell on thy tomb; the period of all days
Only seal up thy fame; and as thy birth
Enrich'd thy temples on the fading earth,
So have thy virtues crown'd thy blessed soul,
Where the first Mover with his words control;
As with a girdle the huge ocean binds;
Gathers into his fist the nimble winds;
Stops the bright courser in his hot career;
Commands the moon twelve courses in a year:
Live thou with him in endless bliss, while we
Admire all virtues in admiring thee.
Thou, thou, the fautress of the learned Well;
Thou nursing mother of God's Israel;
Thou, for whose loving truth, the heavens rains
Sweet mel and manna on our flow'ry plains;
Thou, by whose hand the sacred Trine did bring
Us out of bonds, from bloody Bonnering.
Ye suckling babes, for ever bless that name
Releas'd your burning in your mothers' flame!
Thrice-blessed maiden, by whose hand was given
Free liberty to taste the food of Heaven.
Never forget her (Albion's lovely daughters)
Which led you to the springs of living waters!
And if my Muse her glory fail to sing,
May to my mouth my tongue for ever cling!
Herewith (at hand) taking her horn of plenty
Fill'd with the choice of every orchard's dainty,
As pears, plums, apples, the sweet raspis-berry,
The quince, the apricock, the blushing cherry,
The mulberry (his black from Thisbe taking),
The cluster'd filbert, grapes oft merry-making.
(This fruitful horn th' immortal ladies fill'd
With all the pleasures that rough forests yield,
And gave Idya, with a further blessing,
That thence, as from a garden, without dressing
She these should ever have, and never want
Store, from an orchard without tree or plant.)
With a right willing hand she gave me hence
The stomach's comforter, the pleasing quince;
And for the chiefest cherisher she lent
The royal thistle's milky nourishment.
Here stay'd I long; but when to see Aurora
Kiss the perfum'd cheeks of dainty Flora,
Without the vale I trod one lovely morn,
With true intention of a quick return,
An unexpected chance strove to defer
My going back, and all the love of her.
But, maiden, see the day is waxen old,
And 'gins to shut in with the marigold.
The neatherd's kine do bellow in the yard;
And dairy maidens, for the milk prepar'd,
Are drawing at the udder; long ere now
The ploughman hath unyok'd his team from plough.
My transformation to a fearful hind
Shall to unfold a fitter season find.
Meanwhile yond palace, whose brave turrets' tops
Over the stately wood survey the copse,
Promis'th (if sought) a wished place of rest,
Till Sol our hemisphere have repossess'd.
Now must my Muse afford a strain to Riot,
Who, almost kill'd with his luxurious diet,
Lay eating grass (as dogs) within a wood,
So to disgorge the undigested food.
By whom fair Aletheia pass'd along
With Fida, queen of every shepherd's song,
By them unseen (for he securely lay
Under the thick of many a leaved spray)
And through the levell'd meadows gently threw
Their neatest feet, wash'd with refreshing dew,
Where he durst not approach, but on the edge
Of th' hilly wood, in covert of a hedge,
Went onward with them, trod with them in paces,
And far off much admir'd their forms and graces.
Into the plains at last he headlong venter'd;
But they the hill had got and palace enter'd.
When, like a valiant, well-resolved man,
Seeking new paths i' th' pathless ocean,
Unto the shores of monster-breeding Nile,
Or through the North to the unpeopled Thyle,
Where, from the equinoctial of the spring
To that of autumn, Titan's golden ring
Is never off; and till the spring again
In gloomy darkness all the shores remain:
Or if he furrow up the briny sea
To cast his anchors in the frozen bay
Of woody Norway, who hath ever fed
Her people more with scaly fish than bread,
Though rattling mounts of ice thrust at his helm,
And by their fall still threaten to o'erwhelm
His little vessel, and though Winter throw
(What age should on their heads) white caps of snow;
Strives to congeal his blood; he cares not for't,
But arm'd in mind, gets his intended port:
So Riot, though full many doubts arise
Whose unknown ends might grasp his enterprise,
Climbs towards the palace, and with gait demure,
With hanging head, a voice as feigning pure,
With torn and ragged coat, his hairy legs
Bloody, as scratch'd with briars, he entrance begs.
Remembrance sat as portress of this gate:
A lady always musing as she sat,
Except when sometime suddenly she rose,
And with a back-bent eye, at length, she throws
Her hands to heaven; and in a wond'ring guise,
Star'd on each object with her fixed eyes:
As some wayfaring man passing a wood,
Whose waving top hath long a sea-mark stood,
Goes jogging on, and in his mind nought hath,
But how the primrose finely strew the path,
Or sweetest violets lay down their heads
At some tree's root on mossy feather-beds,
Until his heel receives an adder's sting,
Whereat he starts, and back his head doth fling.
She never mark'd the suit he did prefer,
But (careless) let him pass along by her.
So on he went into a spacious court,
All trodden bare with multitudes' resort;
At th' end whereof a second gate appears,
The fabric show'd full many thousand years,
Whose postern-key that time a lady kept,
Her eyes all swoll'n as if she seldom slept,
And would by fits her golden tresses tear,
And strive to stop her breath with her own hair.
Her lily hand (not to be lik'd by Art)
A pair of pincers held; wherewith her heart
Was hardly grasped, while the piled stones
Re-echoed her lamentable groans.
Here at this gate the custom long had been
When any sought to be admitted in,
Remorse thus us'd them, ere they had the key,
And all these torments felt, pass'd on their way.
When Riot came, the lady's pains nigh done,
She pass'd the gate; and then Remorse begun
To fetter Riot in strong iron chains,
And doubting much his patience in the pains:
As when a smith and's man, lame Vulcan's fellows,
Call'd from the anvil or the puffing bellows,
To clap a well-wrought shoe, for more than pay,
Upon a stubborn nag of Galloway,
Or unback'd jennet, or a Flanders mare,
That at the forge stand snuffing of the air;
The swarty smith spits in his buckhorn fist,
And bids his man bring out the five-fold twist,
His shackles, shacklocks, hampers, gyves and chains,
His linked bolts; and with no little pains
These make him fast; and lest all these should falter,
Unto a post with some six-doubled halter
He binds his head; yet all are of the least
To curb the fury of the headstrong beast;
When, if a carrier's jade he brought unto him,
His man can hold his foot whilst he can shoe him:
Remorse was so enforc'd to bind him stronger,
Because his faults requir'd infliction longer
Than any sin-press'd wight which many a day
Since Judas hung himself had pass'd that way.
When all the cruel torments he had borne,
Galled with chains, and on the rack nigh torn,
Pinching with glowing pincers his own heart,
All lame and restless, full of wounds and smart,
He to the postern creeps, so inward hies,
And from the gate a two-fold path descries,
One leading up a hill, Repentance' way,
And (as more worthy) on the right hand lay:
The other headlong, steep, and liken'd well
Unto the path which tendeth down to hell:
All steps that thither went show'd no returning,
The port to pains, and to eternal mourning;
Where certain Death liv'd, in an ebon chair,
The soul's black homicide, meagre Despair,
Had his abode: there 'gainst the craggy rocks
Some dash'd their brains out with relentless knocks;
Others on trees (O most accursed elves!)
Are fastening knots, so to undo themselves.
Here one in sin, not daring to appear
At Mercy's seat with one repentant tear,
Within his breast was lancing of an eye,
That unto God it might for vengeance cry;
There from a rock a wretch but newly fell,
All torn in pieces, to go whole to hell.
Here with a sleepy potion one thinks fit
To grasp with Death, but would not know of it;
There in a pool two men their lives expire,
And die in water to revive in fire.
Here hangs the blood upon the guiltless stones;
There worms consume the flesh of human bones.
Here lies an arm; a leg there; here a head;
Without other limbs of men unburied,
Scatt'ring the ground and as regardless hurl'd,
As they at virtue spurned in the world.
Fie, hapless wretch! O thou, whose graces sterving,
Measur'st God's mercy by thine own deserving;
Which cri'st (distrustful of the power of Heaven)
"My sins are greater than can be forgiven;"
Which still are ready to "curse God and die'
At every stripe of worldly misery:
O learn thou, in whose breasts the dragon lurks,
God's mercy ever is o'er all his works.
Know he is pitiful, apt to forgive;
Would not a sinner's death, but that he live.
O ever, ever rest upon that word
Which doth assure thee, though his two-edg'd sword
Be drawn in justice 'gainst thy sinful soul,
To separate the rotten from the whole;
Yet if a sacrifice of prayer be sent him,
He will not strike; or, if he strike, repent him.
Let none despair: for cursed Judas' sin
Was not so much in yielding up the King
Of life to death, as when he thereupon
Wholly despair'd of God's remission.
Riot, long doubting stood which way were best
To lead his steps: at last, preferring rest
(As foolishly he thought) before the pain
Was to be past ere he could well attain
The high-built palace, 'gan adventure on
That path which led to all confusion,
When suddenly a voice as sweet as clear,
With words divine began entice his ear:
Whereat, as in a rapture, on the ground
He prostrate lay, and all his senses found
A time of rest; only that faculty
Which never can be seen, nor ever die,
That in the essence of an endless nature
Doth sympathize with the All-good Creator,
That only wak'd which cannot be interr'd
And from a heavenly choir this ditty heard.

Vain man, do not mistrust
Of heaven winning;
Nor (though the most unjust)
Despair for sinning.
God will be seen his sentence changing,
If he behold thee wicked ways estranging.

Climb up where pleasures dwell
In flow'ry alleys;
And taste the living well
That decks the valleys.
Fair Metanoia is attending
To crown thee with those joys which know no ending.

Herewith on leaden wings sleep from him flew,
When on his arm he rose, and sadly threw
Shrill acclamations; while an hollow cave,
Or hanging hill, or heaven an answer gave.
O sacred essence, light'ning me this hour!
How may I lightly style thy great Power? Echo. Power.

Power? but of whence? under the green-wood spray,
Or liv'st in heav'n? say. Echo. In heavens aye.
In heavens aye I tell. May I it obtain
By alms, by fasting, prayer, by pain? Echo. By pain.
Show me the pain, 't shall be undergone:
I to mine end will still go on. Echo. Go on.
But whither? On! Show me the place, the time.
What if the mountain I do climb? Echo. Do; climb.
Is that the way to joys which still endure?
O bid my soul of it be sure! Echo. Be sure.
Then thus assured, do I climb the hill.
Heaven be my guide in this thy will. Echo. I will.
As when a maid taught from her mother wing
To tune her voice unto a silver string,
When she should run, she rests, rests when should run,
And ends her lesson having now begun:
Now misseth she her stop, then in her song,
And doing of her best she still is wrong,
Begins again, and yet again strikes false,
Then in a chafe forsakes her virginals,
And yet within an hour she tries anew,
That with her daily pains (Art's chiefest due)
She gains that charming skill; and can no less
Tame the fierce walkers of the wilderness,
Than that Oeagrin harpist, for whose lay
Tigers with hunger pin'd and left their prey:
So Riot, when he 'gan to climb the hill,
Here maketh haste and there long standeth still,
Now getteth up a step, then falls again,
Yet not despairing all his nerves doth strain
To clamber up anew, then slide his feet,
And down he comes: but gives not over yet,
For (with the maid) he hopes a time will be
When merit shall be link'd with industry.
Now as an angler melancholy standing
Upon a green bank yielding room for landing,
A wriggling yellow worm thrust on his hook,
Now in the midst he throws, then in a nook:
Here pulls his line, there throws it in again,
Mendeth his cork and bait, but all in vain,
He long stands viewing of the curled stream;
At last a hungry pike, or well-grown bream
Snatch at the worm, and hasting fast away,
He knowing it a fish of stubborn sway,
Pulls up his rod, but soft, as having skill,
Wherewith the hook fast holds the fish's gill;
Then all his line he freely yieldeth him,
Whilst furiously all up and down doth swim
Th' insnared fish, here on the top doth scud,
There underneath the banks, then in the mud,
And with his frantic fits so scares the shoal,
That each one takes his hide, or starting hole:
By this the pike, clean wearied, underneath
A willow lies, and pants (if fishes breathe)
Wherewith the angler gently pulls him to him,
And lest his haste might happen to undo him,
Lays down his rod, then takes his line in hand,
And by degrees getting the fish to land,
Walks to another pool: at length is winner
Of such a dish as serves him for his dinner:
So when the climber half the way had got,
Musing he stood, and busily 'gan plot
How (since the mount did always steeper tend)
He might with steps secure his journey end.
At last (as wand'ring boys to gather nuts)
A hooked pole he from a hazel cuts;
Now throws it here, then there to take some hold,
But bootless and in vain, the rocky mould
Admits no cranny where his hazel hook
Might promise him a step, till in a nook
Somewhat above his reach he hath espied
A little oak, and having often tried
To catch a bough with standing on his toe,
Or leaping up, yet not prevailing so,
He rolls a stone towards the little tree,
Then gets upon it, fastens warily
His pole unto a bough, and at his drawing
The early-rising crow with clam'rous cawing,
Leaving the green bough, flies about the rock,
Whilst twenty twenty couples to him flock:
And now within his reach the thin leaves wave,
With one hand only then he holds his stave,
And with the other grasping first the leaves,
A pretty bough he in his fist receives;
Then to his girdle making fast the hook,
His other hand another bough hath took;
His first, a third, and that, another gives,
To bring him to the place where his root lives.
Then, as a nimble squirrel from the wood,
Ranging the hedges for his filberd-food,
Sits peartly on a bough his brown nuts cracking,
And from the shell the sweet white kernel taking,
Till with their crooks and bags a sort of boys,
To share with him, come with so great a noise,
That he is forc'd to leave a nut nigh broke,
And for his life leap to a neighbour oak,
Thence to a beech, thence to a row of ashes;
Whilst through the quagmires, and red water plashes,
The boys run dabbling thorough thick and thin;
One tears his hose, another breaks his shin,
This, torn and tatter'd, hath with much ado
Got by the briars; and that hath lost his shoe;
This drops his band; that headlong falls for haste;
Another cries behind for being last;
With sticks and stones, and many a sounding holloa,
The little fool, with no small sport, they follow,
Whilst he, from tree to tree, from spray to spray,
Gets to the wood, and hides him in his dray:
Such shift made Riot ere he could get up,
And so from bough to bough he won the top,
Though hindrances, for ever coming there,
Were often thrust upon him by Despair.
Now at his feet the stately mountain lay,
And with a gladsome eye he 'gan survey
What perils he had trod on since the time
His weary feet and arms assayed to climb.
When with a humble voice, withouten fear,
Though he look'd wild and overgrown with hair,
A gentle nymph, in russet coarse array,
Comes and directs him onward in his way.
First, brings she him into a goodly hall,
Fair, yet not beautified with mineral:
But in a careless art and artless care
Made loose neglect more lovely far than rare.
Upon the floor ypav'd with marble slate,
With sack-cloth cloth'd, many in ashes sat;
And round about the walls for many years
Hung crystal vials of repentant tears;
And books of vows, and many a heavenly deed
Lay ready open for each one to read.
Some were immured up in little sheds,
There to contemplate heaven, and bid their beads;
Others with garments thin of camel's hair,
With head, and arms, and legs, and feet all bare,
Were singing hymns to the Eternal Sage,
For safe returning from their pilgrimage;
Some with a whip their pamper'd bodies beat;
Others in fasting live, and seldom eat:
But as those trees which do in India grow
And call'd of elder swains full long ago
The sun and moon's fair trees, full goodly dight,
And ten times ten feet challenging their height,
Having no help to overlook brave towers,
From cool refreshing dew, or drizzling showers,
When as the earth, as oftentimes is seen,
Is interpos'd 'twixt Sol and Night's pale queen;
Or when the moon eclipseth Titan's light,
The trees all comfortless robb'd of their sight
Weep liquid drops, which plentifully shoot
Along the outward bark down to the root,
And by their own shed tears they ever flourish,
So their own sorrows, their own joys do nourish:
And so within this place full many a wight
Did make his tears his food both day and night,
And had it g[r]anted from th' Almighty great
To swim through them unto his mercy-seat.
Fair Metanoia in a chair of earth,
With count'nance sad, yet sadness promis'd mirth,
Sat veil'd in coarsest weeds of camel's hair,
Enriching poverty; yet never fair
Was like to her, nor since the world begun
A lovelier lady kiss'd the glorious sun.
For her the god of thunder, mighty, great,
Whose footstool is the earth, and heaven his seat,
Unto a man who from his crying birth
Went on still shunning what he carried, earth,
When he could walk no further for his grave,
Nor could step over, but he there must have
A seat to rest, when he would fain go on,
But age in every nerve, in every bone
Forbad his passage: for her sake hath Heaven
Fill'd up the grave, and made his path so even
That fifteen courses had the bright steeds run,
(And he was weary) ere his course was done.
For scorning her the courts of kings which throw
A proud rais'd pinnacle to rest the crow,
And on a plain outbrave a neighbour rock
In stout resistance of a tempest's shock,
For her contempt Heaven, raining his disasters,
Have made those towers but piles to burn their masters.
To her the lowly nymph (Humblessa hight)
Brought as her office this deformed wight;
To whom the lady courteous semblance shows,
And pitying his estate in sacred thewes,
And letters worthily ycleep'd divine,
Resolv'd t' instruct him: but her discipline
She knew of true effect would surely miss,
Except she first his metamorphosis
Should clean exile: and knowing that his birth
Was to inherit reason, though on earth
Some witch had thus transform'd him, by her skill,
Expert in changing, even the very will,
In few days' labours with continual prayer,
(A sacrifice transcends the buxom air)
His grisly shape, his foul deformed feature,
His horrid looks, worse than a savage creature,
By Metanoia's hand from heaven, began
Receive their sentence of divorce from man.
And as a lovely maiden, pure and chaste,
With naked iv'ry neck, and gown unlac'd,
Within her chamber, when the day is fled,
Makes poor her garments to enrich her bed:
First, puts she off her lily-silken gown,
That shrieks for sorrow as she lays it down;
And with her arms graceth a waistcoat fine,
Embracing her as it would ne'er untwine.
Her flaxen hair, ensnaring all beholders,
She next permits to wave about her shoulders,
And though she cast it back, the silken slips
Still forward steal and hang upon her lips:
Whereat she sweetly angry, with her laces
Binds up the wanton locks in curious traces,
Whilst (twisting with her joints) each hair long lingers,
As loth to be enchain'd but with her fingers.
Then on her head a dressing like a crown;
Her breasts all bare, her kirtle slipping down,
And all things off (which rightly ever be
Call'd the foul-fair marks of our misery)
Except her last, which enviously doth seize her,
Lest any eye partake with it in pleasure,
Prepares for sweetest rest, while sylvans greet her,
And longingly the down bed swells to meet her:
So by degrees his shape all brutish vild,
Fell from him (as loose skin from some young child)
In lieu whereof a man-like shape appears,
And gallant youth scarce skill'd in twenty years,
So fair, so fresh, so young, so admirable
In every part, that since I am not able
In words to show his picture, gentle swains,
Recall the praises in my former strains;
And know if they have graced any limb,
I only lent it those, but stole 't from him.
Had that chaste Roman dame beheld his face,
Ere the proud king possess'd her husband's place,
Her thoughts had been adulterate, and this stain
Had won her greater fame had she been slain.
The lark that many morns herself makes merry
With the shrill chanting of her teery-lerry,
(Before he was transform'd) would leave the skies,
And hover o'er him to behold his eyes.
Upon an oaten pipe well could he play,
For when he fed his flock upon the lay
Maidens to hear him from the plains came tripping,
And birds from bough to bough full nimbly skipping;
His flock (then happy flock) would leave to feed,
And stand amaz'd to listen to his reed;
Lions and tigers, with each beast of game,
With hearing him were many times made tame;
Brave trees and flowers would towards him be bending,
And none that heard him wish'd his song an ending:
Maids, lions, birds, flocks, trees, each flower, each spring
Were wrapt with wonder when he used to sing.
So fair a person to describe to men
Requires a curious pencil, not a pen.
Him Metanoia clad in seemly wise
(Not after our corrupted age's guise,
Where gaudy weeds lend splendour to the limb,
While that his clothes receiv'd their grace from him),
Then to a garden set with rarest flowers,
With pleasant fountains stor'd and shady bowers,
She leads him by the hand, and in the groves,
Where thousand pretty birds sung to their loves,
And thousand thousand blossoms (from their stalks)
Mild Zephyrus threw down to paint the walks:
Where yet the wild boar never durst appear:
Here Fida (ever to kind Raymond dear)
Met them, and show'd where Aletheia lay,
The fairest maid that ever bless'd the day.
Sweetly she lay, and cool'd her lily hands
Within a spring that threw up golden sands:
As if it would entice her to persever
In living there, and grace the banks for ever.
To her Amintas (Riot now no more)
Came, and saluted: never man before
More bless'd, nor like this kiss hath been another
But when two dangling cherries kiss'd each other:
Nor ever beauties, like, met at such closes,
But in the kisses of two damask roses.
O how the flowers (press'd with their treadings on them)
Strove to cast up their heads to look upon them!
How jealously the buds that so had seen them
Sent forth the sweetest smells to step between them,
As fearing the perfume lodg'd in their powers
Once known of them, they might neglect the flowers.
How often wish'd Amintas with his heart,
His ruddy lips from hers might never part;
And that the heavens this gift were them bequeathing,
To feed on nothing but each other's breathing!
A truer love the Muses never sung,
Nor happier names e'er grac'd a golden tongue.
O! they are better fitting his sweet stripe,
Who on the banks of Ancor tun'd his pipe:
Or rather for that learned swain whose lays
Divinest Homer crown'd with deathless bays:
Or any one sent from the sacred Well
Inheriting the soul of Astrophel:
These, these in golden lines might write this story,
And make these loves their own eternal glory:
Whilst I, a swain as weak in years as skill,
Should in the valley hear them on the hill.
Yet when my sheep have at their cistern been,
And I have brought them back to shear the green,
To miss an idle hour, and not for meed,
With choicest relish shall mine oaten reed
Record their worths: and though in accents rare
I miss the glory of a charming air,
My Muse may one day make the courtly swains
Enamour'd on the music of the plains,
And as upon a hill she bravely sings,
Teach humble dales to weep in crystal springs.


^1^Idya, the pastoral name of England.

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