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

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 1. THE FOURTH SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Fida's distress, the hind is slain
Last Line: The ever gladsome day shall re-enthrone.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Great Britain


Fida's distress, the hind is slain,
Yet from her ruins lives again.
Riot's description next I rhyme;
Then Aletheia, and old Time:
And lastly, from this song I go,
aving describ'd the Vale of Woe.

HAPPY ye days of old, when every waste
Was like a Sanctuary to the chaste;
When incests, rapes, adulteries, were not known;
All pure as blossoms which are newly blown.
Maids were as free from spots, and soils within,
As most unblemish'd in the outward skin.
Men every plain and cottage did afford,
As smooth in deeds, as they were fair of word.
Maidens with men as sisters with their brothers,
And men with maids convers'd as with their mothers;
Free from suspicion, or the rage of blood.
Strife only reign'd, for all striv'd to be good.
But then as little wrens but newly fledge,
First, by their nests hop up and down the hedge;
Then one from bough to bough gets up a tree:
His fellow noting his agility,
Thinks he as well may venture as the other,
So flushing from one spray unto another,
Gets to the top, and then embolden'd flies,
Unto an height past ken of human eyes:
So time brought worse, men first desir'd to talk;
Then came suspect; and then a private walk;
Then by consent appointed times of meeting,
Where most securely each might kiss his sweeting;
Lastly, with lusts their panting breasts so swell,
They came to—– But to what I blush to tell,
And enter'd thus, rapes used were of all,
Incest, adultery, held as venial:
The certainty in doubtful balance rests,
If beasts did learn of men, or men of beasts.
Had they not learn'd of man who was their king,
So to insult upon an underling,
They civilly had spent their lives' gradation,
As meek and mild as in their first creation;
Nor had th' infections of infected minds
So alter'd nature, and disorder'd kinds,
Fida had been less wretched, I more glad,
That so true love so true a progress had.
When Remond left her (Remond then unkind)
Fida went down the dale to seek the hind;
And found her taking soil within a flood:
Whom when she call'd straight follow'd to the wood.
Fida, then wearied, sought the cooling shade,
And found an arbour by the shepherds made
To frolic in (when Sol did hottest shine)
With cates which were far cleanlier than fine;
For in those days men never us'd to feed
So much for pleasure as they did for need.
Enriching then the arbour down she sat her;
Where many a busy bee came flying at her:
Thinking when she for air her breasts discloses,
That there had grown some tuft of damask roses,
And that her azure veins which then did swell,
Were conduit-pipes brought from a living well;
Whose liquor might the world enjoy for money,
Bees would be bankrupt; none would care for honey
The hind lay still without (poor silly creature,
How like a woman art thou fram'd by Nature?
Timorous, apt to tears, wily in running,
Caught best when force is intermix'd with cunning)
Lying thus distant, different chances meet them,
And with a fearful object Fate doth greet them.
Something appear'd, which seem'd, far off, a man
In stature, habit, gait, proportion:
But when their eyes their objects' masters were,
And it for stricter censure came more near,
By all his properties one might well guess,
Than of a man, he sure had nothing less.
For verily since old Deucalion's flood,
Earth's slime did ne'er produce a viler brood.
Upon the various earth's embroidered gown
There is a weed upon whose head grows down;
Sow-thistle 'tis yclept, whose downy wreath,
If any one can blow off at a breath,
We deem her for a maid: such was his hair,
Ready to shed at any stirring air.
His ears were strucken deaf when he came nigh,
To hear the widow's or the orphan's cry;
His eyes encircled with a bloody chain,
With poring in the blood of bodies slain;
His mouth exceeding wide, from whence did fly
Vollies of execrable blasphemy,
Banning the heavens, and he that rideth on them,
Dar'd vengeance to the teeth to fall upon him:
Like Scythian wolves, or men of wit bereaven,
Which howl and shoot against the lights of heaven.
His hands (if hands they were) like some dead corse,
With digging up his buried ancestors;
Making his father's tomb and sacred shrine
The trough wherein the hog-herd fed his swine.
And as that beast hath legs (which shepherds fear,
Yclept a badger, which our lambs doth tear)
One long, the other short, that when he runs
Upon the plains, he halts; but when he wons
On craggy rocks, or steepy hills, we see
None runs more swift, nor easier than he:
Such legs the monster had, one sinew shrunk,
That in the plains he reel'd, as being drunk;
And halted in the paths to virtue tending,
And therefore never durst be that way bending:
But when he came on carved monuments,
Spiring colosses, and high-raised rents,
He pass'd them o'er, quick, as the Eastern wind
Sweeps through a meadow; or a nimble hind,
Or satyr on a lawn, or skipping roe,
Or well-wing'd shaft forth of a Parthian bow.
His body made (still in consumptions rife)
A miserable prison for a life.
Riot he hight; whom some curs'd fiend did raise,
When like a chaos were the nights and days:
Got and brought up in the Cimmerian clime,
Where sun nor moon, nor days, nor nights do time:
As who should say, they scorn'd to show their faces
To such a fiend should seek to spoil the Graces.
At sight whereof Fida, nigh drown'd in fear,
Was clean dismay'd when he approached near;
Nor durst she call the deer, nor whistling wind her,
Fearing her noise might make the monster find her;
Who slyly came, for he had cunning learn'd him,
And seiz'd upon the hind ere she discern'd him.
Oh, how she striv'd and struggl'd; every nerve
Is press'd at all assays a life to serve:
Yet soon we lose what we might longer keep
Were not prevention commonly asleep.
Maids, of this monster's brood be fearful all;
What to the hind may hap to you befall.
Who with her feet held up instead of hands,
And tears which pity from the rock commands,
She sighs, and shrieks, and weeps, and looks upon him:
Alas! she sobs, and many a groan throws on him;
With plaints which might abate a tyrant's knife
She begs for pardon, and entreats for life.
The hollow caves resound her moanings near it,
That heart was flint which did not grieve to hear it;
The high-topp'd firs which on that mountain keep,
Have ever since that time been seen to weep.
The owl till then, 'tis thought, full well could sing,
And tune her voice to every bubbling spring:
But when she heard those plaints, then forth she yode
Out of the covert of an ivy tod,
And hollowing for aid, so strain'd her throat,
That since she clean forgot her former note.
A little robin sitting on a tree,
In doleful notes bewail'd her tragedy.
An asp, who thought him stout, could not dissemble,
But show'd his fear, and yet is seen to tremble.
Yet Cruelty was deaf, and had no sight
In ought which might gainsay the appetite:
But with his teeth rending her throat asunder,
Besprinkl'd with her blood the green grass under,
And gormandizing on her flesh and blood,
He, vomiting, returned to the wood.
Riot but newly gone, as strange a vision,
Though far more heavenly, came in apparition.
As that Arabian bird (whom all admire)
Her exequies prepar'd and funeral fire,
Burnt in a flame conceived from the sun,
And nourished with slips of cinnamon,
Out of her ashes hath a second birth,
And flies abroad, a wonderment on earth:
So from the ruins of this mangled creature
Arose so fair and so divine a feature,
That Envy for her heart would dote upon her;
Heaven could not choose but be enamour'd on her:
Were I a star, and she a second sphere,
I'd leave the other, and be fixed there.
Had fair Arachne wrought this maiden's hair,
When she with Pallas did for skill compare,
Minerva's work had never been esteem'd,
But this had been more rare and highly deem'd;
Yet gladly now she would reverse her doom,
Weaving this hair within a spider's loom.
Upon her forehead, as in glory, sat
Mercy and Majesty, for wond'ring at,
As pure and simple as Albania's snow,
Or milk-white swans which stem the streams of Po:
Like to some goodly foreland, bearing out
Her hair, the tufts which fring'd the shore about.
And lest the man which sought those coasts might slip,
Her eyes like stars did serve to guide the ship.
Upon her front (heaven's fairest promontory)
Delineated was th'authentic story
Of those elect, whose sheep at first began
To nibble by the springs of Canaan:
Out of whose sacred loins (brought by the stem
Of that sweet singer of Jerusalem)
Came the best Shepherd ever flocks did keep,
Who yielded up his life to save his sheep.
O thou Eterne! by whom all beings move,
Giving the springs beneath, and springs above;
Whose finger doth this universe sustain,
Bringing the former and the latter rain;
Who dost with plenty meads and pastures fill,
By drops distill'd like dew on Hermon hill:
Pardon a silly swain, who (far unable
In that which is so rare, so admirable)
Dares on an oaten pipe thus meanly sing
Her praise immense, worthy a silver string.
And thou which through the desert and the deep,
Didst lead thy chosen like a flock of sheep:
As sometime by a star thou guided'st them,
Which fed upon the plains of Bethlehem;
So by thy sacred Spirit direct my quill,
When I shall sing ought of thy holy hill,
That times to come, when they my rhymes rehearse,
May wonder at me, and admire my verse:
For who but one rapt in celestial fire,
Can by his Muse to such a pitch aspire,
That from aloft he might behold and tell
Her worth, whereon an iron pen might dwell?
When she was born, Nature in sport began
To learn the cunning of an artisan,
And did vermilion with a white compose,
To mock herself and paint a damask rose.
But scorning Nature unto Art should seek,
She spilt her colours on this maiden's cheek.
Her mouth the gate from whence all goodness came,
Of power to give the dead a living name.
Her words embalmed in so sweet a breath,
That made them triumph both on Time and Death;
Whose fragrant sweets, since the chameleon knew,
And tasted of, he to this humour grew,
Left other elements, held this so rare,
That since he never feeds on ought but air.
O had I Virgil's verse, or Tully's tongue,
Or raping numbers like the Thracian's song,
I have a theme would make the rocks to dance,
And surly beasts that through the desert prance,
Hie from their caves, and every gloomy den,
To wonder at the excellence of men.
Nay, they would think their states for ever rais'd,
But once to look on one so highly prais'd.
Out of whose maiden breasts (which sweetly rise)
The seers suck'd their hidden prophecies:
And told that for her love in times to come,
Many should seek the crown of martyrdom,
By fire, by sword, by tortures, dungeons, chains,
By stripes, by famine, and a world of pains;
Yet constant still remain (to her they lov'd)
Like Sion Mount, that cannot be remov'd.
Proportion on her arms and hands recorded,
The world for her no fitter place afforded.
Praise her who list, he still shall be her debtor:
For Art ne'er feign'd, nor Nature fram'd a better.
As when a holy father hath began
To offer sacrifice to mighty Pan,
Doth the request of every swain assume,
To scale the welkin in a sacred fume
Made by a widow'd turtle's loving mate,
Or lambkin, or some kid immaculate,
The off'ring heaves aloft, with both his hands,
Which all adore that near the altar stands:
So was her heavenly body comely rais'd
On two fair columns; those that Ovid prais'd
In Julia's borrow'd name, compar'd with these,
Were crabs to apples of th' Hesperides;
Or stump-foot Vulcan in comparison
With all the height of true perfection.
Nature was here so lavish of her store,
That she bestow'd until she had no more;
Whose treasure being weaken'd (by this dame)
She thrusts into the world so many lame.
The highest synod of the glorious sky
(I heard a wood-nymph sing) sent Mercury
To take a survey of the fairest faces,
And to describe to them all women's graces;
Who long time wand'ring in a serious quest,
Noting what parts by Beauty were possess'd:
At last he saw this maid, then thinking fit
To end his journey, here, nil-ultra, writ.
Fida in adoration kiss'd her knee,
And thus bespake: Hail glorious Deity!
(If such thou art, and who can deem you less?)
Whether thou reign'st queen of the wilderness,
Or art that goddess ('tis unknown to me)
Which from the ocean draws her pettigree:
Or one of those, who by the mossy banks
Of drizzling Helicon, in airy ranks
Tread roundelays upon the silver sands,
Whilst shaggy satyrs, tripping o'er the strands,
Stand still at gaze, and yield their senses thralls
To the sweet cadence of your madrigals:
Or of the fairy troop which nimbly play,
And by the springs dance out the summer's day,
Teaching the little birds to build their nests,
And in their singing how to keepen rests;
Or one of those who, watching where a spring
Out of our Grandame Earth hath issuing,
With your attractive music woo the stream
(As men by fairies led, fall'n in a dream)
To follow you, which sweetly trilling wanders
In many mazes, intricate meanders;
Till at the last, to mock th' enamour'd rill,
Ye bend your traces up some shady hill;
And laugh to see the wave no further tread;
But in a chafe run foaming on his head,
Being enforc'd a channel new to frame,
Leaving the other destitute of name.
If thou be one of these, or all, or more,
Succour a seely maid, that doth implore
Aid, on a bended heart, unfeign'd and meek,
As true as blushes of a maiden cheek.
Maiden, arise, replied the new-born maid:
"Pure Innocence the senseless stones will aid."
Nor of the fairy troop, nor Muses nine,
Nor am I Venus, nor of Proserpine:
But daughter to a lusty aged swain,
That cuts the green tufts off th' enamell'd plain;
And with his scythe hath many a summer shorn
The plough'd-lands lab'ring with a crop of corn;
Who from the cloud-clipt mountain by his stroke
Fells down the lofty pine, the cedar, oak:
He opes the flood-gates as occasion is,
Sometimes on that man's land, sometimes on this.
When Verulam, a stately nymph of yore,
Did use to deck herself on Isis' shore,
One morn (among the rest) as there she stood,
Saw the pure channel all besmear'd with blood;
Inquiring for the cause, one did impart,
Those drops came from her holy Alban's heart;
Herewith in grief, she 'gan entreat my sire,
That Isis' stream, which yearly did attire
Those gallant fields in changeable array,
Might turn her course and run some other way,
Lest that her waves might wash away the guilt
From off their hands which Alban's blood had spilt:
He condescended, and the nimble wave
Her fish no more within that channel drave:
But as a witness left the crimson gore
To stain the earth, as they their hands before.
He had a being ere there was a birth,
And shall not cease until the sea and earth,
And what they both contain, shall cease to be,
Nothing confines him but eternity.
By him the names of good men ever live,
Which short-liv'd men unto oblivion give:
And in forgetfulness he lets him fall,
That is no other man than natural:
'Tis he alone that rightly can discover
Who is the true, and who the feigned lover.
In summer's heat, when any swain to sleep
Doth more addict himself than to his sheep;
And whilst the leaden god sits on his eyes,
If any of his fold or strays or dies,
And to the waking swain it be unknown,
Whether his sheep be dead, or stray'd, or stol'n;
To meet my sire he bends his course in pain,
Either where some high hill surveys the plain;
Or takes his step toward the flow'ry valleys,
Where Zephyr with the cowslip hourly dallies;
Or to the groves, where birds from heat or weather,
Sit sweetly tuning of their notes together;
Or to a mead a wanton river dresses
With richest collars of her turning esses;
Or where the shepherds sit old stories telling,
Chronos, my sire, hath no set place of dwelling;
But if the shepherd meet the aged swain,
He tells him of his sheep, or shows them slain.
So great a gift the sacred Powers of heaven
(Above all others) to my sire have given,
That the abhorred stratagems of night,
Lurking in caverns from the glorious light,
By him (perforce) are from their dungeons hurl'd,
And show'd as monsters to the wond'ring world.
What mariner is he sailing upon
The wat'ry desert-clipping Albion,
Hears not the billows in their dances roar,
Answer'd by echoes from the neighbour shore?
To whose accord the maids trip from the downs,
And rivers dancing come, ycrown'd with towns,
All singing forth the victories of Time
Upon the monsters of the Western clime,
Whose horrid, damned, bloody plots would bring
Confusion on the laureate poet's king,
Whose hell-fed hearts devis'd how never more
A swan might singing sit on Isis' shore:
But croaking ravens, and the screech-owl's cry,
The fit musicians for a tragedy,
Should evermore be heard about her strand,
To fright all passengers from that sad land.
Long summer's days I on his worth might spend,
And yet begin again when I would end.
All ages since the first age first begun,
Ere they could know his worth their age was done:
Whose absence all the treasury of earth
Cannot buy out. From far-fam'd Tagus' birth,
Not all the golden gravel he treads over,
One minute past, that minute can recover.
I am his only child (he hath no other),
Clept Aletheia, born without a mother:
Poor Aletheia, long despis'd of all,
Scarce Charity would lend an hospital
To give my month's cold watching one night's rest,
But in my room took in the miser's chest.
In winter's time, when hardly fed the flocks,
And icicles hung dangling on the rocks;
When Hyems bound the floods in silver chains,
And hoary frosts had candied all the plains;
When every barn rung with the threshing flails,
And shepherds' boys for cold 'gan blow their nails:
Wearied with toil in seeking out some one
That had a spark of true devotion,
It was my chance (chance only helpeth need)
To find an house ybuilt for holy deed,
With goodly architect, and cloisters wide,
With groves and walks along a river's side;
The place itself afforded admiration,
And every spray a theme of contemplation.
But (woe is me!) when knocking at the gate
I 'gan entreat an enterance thereat:
The porter ask'd my name: I told; he swell'd,
And bade me thence: wherewith in grief repell'd,
I sought for shelter to a ruin'd house,
Harb'ring the weasel, and the dust-bred mouse;
And others none, except the two-kind bat,
Which all the day there melancholy sat:
Here sat I down, with wind and rain ybeat;
Grief fed my mind, and did my body eat.
Yet Idleness I saw (lam'd with the gout)
Had entrance when poor Truth was kept without.
There saw I Drunkenness with dropsies swoll'n;
And pamper'd Lust, that many a night had stol'n
Over the abbey-wall when gates were lock'd,
To be in Venus' wanton bosom rock'd:
And Gluttony, that surfeiting had been,
Knock at the gate and straightway taken in;
Sadly I sat, and sighing, griev'd to see
Their happiness, my infelicity.
At last came Envy by, who, having spied
Where I was sadly seated, inward hied,
And to the convent eagerly she cries,
Why sit you here, when with these ears and eyes
I heard and saw a strumpet dares to say
She is the true fair Aletheia,
Which you have boasted long to live among you,
Yet suffer not a peevish girl to wrong you?
With this provok'd, all rose, and in a rout
Ran to the gate, strove who should first get out,
Bade me begone, and then (in terms uncivil)
Did call me counterfeit, witch, hag, whore, devil;
Then like a strumpet drove me from their cells,
With tinkling pans, and with the noise of bells.
And he that lov'd me, or but moan'd my case,
Had heaps of firebrands banded at his face.
Thus beaten thence (distress'd, forsaken wight)
Enforc'd in fields to sleep, or wake all night;
A silly sheep, seeing me straying by,
Forsook the shrub where once she meant to lie;
As if she in her kind (unhurting elf)
Did bid me take such lodging as herself:
Gladly I took the place the sheep had given,
Uncanopied of anything but heaven.
Where, nigh benumb'd with cold, with grief frequented,
Unto the silent night I thus lamented:
Fair Cynthia, if, from thy silver throne,
Thou ever lent'st an ear to virgin's moan!
Or in thy monthly course one minute stay'd
Thy palfreys' trot, to hear a wretched maid!
Pull in their reins, and lend thine ear to me,
Forlorn, forsaken, cloth'd in misery:
But if a woe hath never woo'd thine ear,
To stop those coursers in their full career;
But as stone-hearted men, uncharitable,
Pass careless by the poor, when men less able
Hold not the needy's help in long suspense,
But in their hands pour their benevolence.
O! if thou be so hard to stop thine ears,
When stars in pity drop down from their spheres,
Yet for a while in gloomy veil of night,
Enshroud the pale beams of thy borrow'd light!
O! never once discourage Goodness (lending
One glimpse of light) to see Misfortune spending
Her utmost rage on Truth, despis'd, distress'd,
Unhappy, unrelieved, yet undress'd!
Where is the heart at Virtue's suff'ring grieveth?
Where is the eye that, pitying, relieveth?
Where is the hand that still the hungry feedeth?
Where is the ear that the decrepit steedeth?
That heart, that hand, that ear, or else that eye,
Giveth, relieveth, feeds, steeds Misery?
O Earth! produce me one of all thy store
Enjoys; and be vain-glorious no more.
By this had chanticleer, the village clock,
Bidden the goodwife for her maids to knock;
And the swart ploughman for his breakfast stay'd,
That he might till those lands were fallow laid:
The hills and valleys here and there resound
With the re-echoes of the deep-mouth'd hound.
Each shepherd's daughter, with her cleanly peal,
Was come afield to milk the morning's meal,
And ere the sun had climb'd the eastern hills,
To gild the mutt'ring bourns and pretty rills,
Before the lab'ring bee had left the hive,
And nimble fishes which in rivers dive,
Began to leap, and catch the drowned fly,
I rose from rest, not in felicity.
Seeking the place of Charity's resort,
Unware I happen'd on a prince's court;
Where, meeting Greatness, I requir'd relief,
(O happy undelay'd) she said in brief,
To small effect thine oratory tends,
How can I keep thee and so many friends?
If of my household I should make thee one,
Farewell my servant, Adulation:
I know she will not stay when thou art there:
But seek some great man's service otherwhere.
Darkness and light, summer and winter's weather
May be at once, ere you two live together.
Thus with a nod she left me cloth'd in woe.
Thence to the city once I thought to go,
But somewhat in my mind this thought had thrown,
It was a place wherein I was not known.
And therefore went unto these homely towns,
Sweetly environ'd with the daisied downs.
Upon a stream washing a village end
A mill is plac'd, that never difference kenn'd
'Twixt days for work, and holy-tides for rest,
But always wrought and ground the neighbours' grist.
Before the door I saw the miller walking,
And other two (his neighbours) with him talking:
One of them was a weaver, and the other
The village tailor, and his trusty brother.
To them I came, and thus my suit began:
Content, the riches of a country-man,
Attend your actions, be more happy still
Than I am hapless! and as yonder mill,
Though in his turning it obey the stream,
Yet by the headstrong torrent from his beam
Is unremov'd, and till the wheel be tore,
It daily toils; then rests, and works no more:
So in life's motion may you never be
(Though sway'd with griefs) o'erborne with misery.
With that the miller, laughing, brush'd his clothes,
Then swore by Cock and other dunghill oaths,
I greatly was to blame that durst so wade
Into the knowledge of the wheelwright's trade.
Ay, neighbour quoth the tailor (then he bent
His pace to me, spruce like a Jack of Lent)
Your judgment is not seam-rent when you spend it,
Nor is it botching, for I cannot mend it.
And, maiden, let me tell you in displeasure,
You must not press the cloth you cannot measure:
But let your steps be stitch'd to Wisdom's chalking,
And cast presumptuous shreds out of your walking.
The weaver said, Fie, wench! yourself you wrong,
Thus to let slip the shuttle of your tongue;
For mark me well, yea, mark me well, I say,
I see you work your speech's web astray.
Sad to the soul, o'erlaid with idle words,
O Heaven! quoth I, where is the place affords
A friend to help, or any heart that ru'th
The most dejected hopes of wronged Truth?
Truth! quoth the miller, plainly for our parts,
I and the weaver hate thee with our hearts:
The strifes you raise I will not now discuss,
Between our honest customers and us:
But get you gone, for sure you may despair
Of comfort here, seek it some otherwhere.
Maid (quoth the tailor) we no succour owe you,
For as I guess here's none of us doth know you:
Nor my remembrance any thought can seize
That I have ever seen you in my days.
Seen you? nay, therein confident I am;
Nay, till this time I never heard your name,
Excepting once, and by this token chief,
My neighbour at that instant call'd me thief.
By this you see you are unknown among us,
We cannot help you, though your stay may wrong us.
Thus went I on, and further went in woe:
For as shrill-sounding Fame, that's never slow,
Grows in her going, and increaseth more,
Where she is now, than where she was before:
So Grief (that never healthy, ever sick,
That froward scholar to arithmetic,
Who doth division and subtraction fly,
And chiefly learns to add and multiply)
In longest journeys hath the strongest strength,
And is at hand, suppress'd, unquail'd at length.
Between two hills, the highest Phœbus sees
Gallantly crown'd with large sky-kissing trees,
Under whose shade the humble valleys lay;
And wild boars from their dens their gambols play:
There lay a gravell'd walk o'ergrown with green,
Where neither tract of man nor beast was seen.
And as the ploughman, when the land he tills,
Throws up the fruitful earth in ridged hills,
Between whose chevron form he leaves a balk;
So 'twixt those hills had Nature fram'd this walk,
Not over-dark, nor light, in angles bending,
And like the gliding of a snake, descending;
All hush'd and silent as the mid of night;
No chatt'ring pie, nor crow appear'd in sight;
But further in I heard the turtle-dove
Singing sad dirges on her lifeless love.
Birds that compassion from the rocks could bring,
Had only license in that place to sing:
Whose doleful notes the melancholy cat
Close in a hollow tree sat wond'ring at.
And trees that on the hill-side comely grew,
When any little blast of Æol blew,
Did nod their curled heads, as they would be
The judges to approve their melody.
Just half the way this solitary grove,
A crystal spring from either hill-side strove,
Which of them first should woo the meeker ground,
And makes the pebbles dance unto their sound.
But as when children having leave to play,
And near their master's eye sport out the day,
(Beyond condition) in their childish toys
Oft vex their tutor with too great a noise,
And make him send some servant out of door,
To cease their clamour, lest they play no more:
So when the pretty rill a place espies,
Where with the pebbles she would wantonize,
And that her upper stream so much doth wrong her
To drive her thence, and let her play no longer;
If she with too loud mutt'ring ran away,
As being much incens'd to leave her play,
A western, mild and pretty whispering gale
Came dallying with the leaves along the dale,
And seem'd as with the water it did chide,
Because it ran so long unpacified:
Yea, and methought it bade her leave that coil,
Or he would choke her up with leaves and soil:
Whereat the riv'let in my mind did weep,
And hurl'd her head into a silent deep.
Now he that guides the chariot of the sun,
Upon th' ecliptic circle had so run,
That his brass-hoof'd fire-breathing horses wan
The stately height of the meridian:
And the day-lab'ring man (who all the morn
Had from the quarry with his pickaxe torn
A large well-squared stone, which he would cut
To serve his stile, or for some water-shut)
Seeing the sun preparing to decline,
Took out his bag, and sat him down to dine:
When by a sliding, yet not steep descent,
I gain'd a place, ne'er poet did invent
The like for sorrow; not in all this round
A fitter seat for passion can be found.
As when a dainty fount, and crystal spring,
Got newly from the earth's imprisoning,
And ready prest some channel clear to win,
Is round his rise by rocks immured in,
And from the thirsty earth would be withheld,
Till to the cistern top the waves have swell'd,
But that a careful hind the well hath found,
As he walks sadly through his parched ground;
Whose patience suff'ring not his land to stay
Until the water o'er the cistern play,
He gets a pickaxe, and with blows so stout
Digs on the rock, that all the groves about
Resound his stroke, and still the rock doth charge,
Till he hath made a hole both long and large,
Whereby the waters from their prison run
To close earth's gaping wounds made by the sun:
So through these high-rais'd hills, embracing round
This shady, sad, and solitary ground,
Some power (respecting one whose heavy moan
Requir'd a place to sit and weep alone)
Had cut a path, whereby the grieved wight
Might freely take the comfort of this site.
About the edges of whose roundly form
In order grew such trees as do adorn
The sable hearse, and sad forsaken mate,
And trees whose tears their loss commiserate.
Such are the cypress, and the weeping myrrh,
The dropping amber, and the refin'd fir,
The bleeding vine, the wat'ry sycamore,
And willow for the forlorn paramour;
In comely distance: underneath whose shade
Most neat in rudeness Nature arbours made:
Some had a light, some so obscure a seat,
Would entertain a suff'rance ne'er so great:
Where grieved wights sat (as I after found,
Whose heavy hearts the height of sorrow crown'd)
Wailing in saddest tunes the dooms of Fate
On men by virtue cleeped fortunate.
The first note that I heard I soon was won
To think the sighs of fair Endymion;
The subject of whose mournful heavy lay
Was his declining with fair Cynthia.
Next him a great man sat, in woe no less;
Tears were but barren shadows to express
The substance of his grief, and therefore stood
Distilling from his heart red streams of blood:
He was a swain whom all the Graces kiss'd,
A brave, heroic, worthy martialist:
Yet on the downs he oftentimes was seen
To draw the merry maidens of the green
With his sweet voice: once, as he sat alone,
He sung the outrage of the lazy drone
Upon the lab'ring bee, in strains so rare,
That all the flitting pinionists of air
Attentive sat, and in their kinds did long
To learn some note from his well-timed song.
Exiled Naso (from whose golden pen
The Muses did distil delights for men)
Thus sang of Cephalus (whose name was worn
Within the bosom of the blushing Morn:)
He had a dart was never set on wing,
But Death flew with it: he could never fling,
But life fled from the place where stuck the head.
A hunter's frolic life in woods he led
In separation from his yoked mate,
Whose beauty, once, he valued at a rate
Beyond Aurora's cheek, when she (in pride)
Promis'd their offspring should be deified;
Procris she hight; who (seeking to restore
Herself that happiness she had before)
Unto the green wood wends, omits no pain
Might bring her to her lord's embrace again:
But Fate thus cross'd her, coming where he lay
Wearied with hunting all a summer's day,
He somewhat heard within the thicket rush,
And deeming it some beast hid in a bush,
Raised himself, then set on wing a dart,
Which took a sad rest in the restless heart
Of his chaste wife; who with a bleeding breast
Left love and life and slept in endless rest.
With Procris' heavy fate this shepherd's wrong
Might be compar'd, and ask as sad a song.
In th' autumn of his youth and manhood's spring,
Desert (grown now a most dejected thing)
Won him the favour of a royal maid,
Who with Diana's nymphs in forests stray'd,
And liv'd a huntress' life, exempt from fear.
She once encounter'd with a surly bear,
Near to a crystal fountain's flowery brink:
Heat brought them thither both, and both would drink,
When from her golden quiver she took forth
A dart, above the rest esteem'd for worth,
And sent it to his side: the gaping wound
Gave purple streams to cool the parched ground.
Whereat he gnash'd his teeth, storm'd his hurt limb,
Yielded the earth what it denied him:
Yet sunk not there, but (wrapt in horror) hied
Unto his hellish cave, despair'd and died.
After the bear's just death the quick'ning sun
Had twice six times about the zodiac run,
And (as respectless) never cast an eye
Upon the night-enveil'd Cimmerii,
When this brave swain, approved valorous,
In opposition of a tyrannous
And bloody savage being long time gone,
Quelling his rage with faithless Gerion,
Returned from the stratagems of wars,
Enriched with his quail'd foes' bootless scars,
To see the clear eyes of his dearest love,
And that her skill in herbs might help remove
The freshing of a wound which he had got
In her defence by Envy's poison'd shot,
And coming through a grove wherein his fair
Lay with her breasts display'd to take the air,
His rushing through the boughs made her arise,
And dreading some wild beast's rude enterprise,
Directs towards the noise a sharpen'd dart,
That reach'd the life of his undaunted heart,
Which when she knew, twice twenty moons nigh spent
In tears for him, and died in languishment.
Within an arbour shadow'd with a vine,
Mixed with rosemary and eglantine,
A shepherdess was set, as fair as young,
Whose praise full many a shepherd whilom sung,
Who on an altar fair had to her name,
In consecration, many an anagram:
And when with sugar'd strains they strove to raise
Worth to a garland of immortal bays,
She as the learned'st maid was chose by them,
Her flaxen hair crown'd with an anadem,
To judge who best deserv'd, for she could fit
The height of praise unto the height of wit.
But, well-a-day! those happy times were gone:
Millions admit a small subtraction.
And as the year hath first his jocund spring,
Wherein the leaves, to bird's sweet carolling,
Dance with the wind; then sees the summer's day
Perfect the embryon blossom of each spray;
Next cometh autumn, when the threshed sheaf
Loseth his grain, and every tree his leaf;
Lastly, cold winter's rage, with many a storm,
Threats the proud pines which Ida's top adorn,
And makes the sap leave succourless the shoot,
Shrinking to comfort his decaying root:
Or as a quaint musician being won
To run a point of sweet division,
Gets by degrees unto the highest key;
Then, with like order, falleth in his play
Into a deeper tone; and lastly, throws
His period in a diapason close:
So every human thing terrestrial,
His utmost height attain'd, bends to his fall.
And as a comely youth, in fairest age,
Enamour'd on a maid, whose parentage
Had Fate adorn'd, as Nature deck'd her eye,
Might at a beck command a monarchy,
But poor and fair could never yet bewitch
A miser's mind, preferring foul and rich,
And therefore, as a king's heart left behind,
When as his corps are borne to be enshrin'd,
(His parents' will, a law) like that dead corse,
Leaving his heart, is brought unto his horse,
Carried unto a place that can impart
No secret embassy unto his heart,
Climbs some proud hill, whose stately eminence
Vassals the fruitful vale's circumference:
From whence, no sooner can his lights descry
The place enriched by his mistress' eye,
But some thick cloud his happy prospect blends,
And he in sorrow rais'd, in tears descends:
So this sad nymph (whom all commiserate)
Once pac'd the hill of greatness and of state,
And got the top; but when she 'gan address
Her sight, from thence to see true happiness,
Fate interpos'd an envious cloud of fears,
And she withdrew into this vale of tears,
Where Sorrow so enthrall'd best Virtue's jewel,
Stones check'd Grief's hardness, call'd her too, too cruel.
A stream of tears upon her fair cheeks flows,
As morning dew upon the damask rose,
Or crystal glass veiling vermilion,
Or drops of milk on the carnation:
She sang and wept (O ye sea-binding cleeves,
Yield tributary drops, for Virtue grieves!)
And to the period of her sad sweet key
Intwinn'd her case with chaste Penelope.
But see, the drizzling south my mournful strain
Answers in weeping drops of quick'ning rain;
And since this day we can no further go,
Restless I rest within this vale of woe,
Until the modest Morn on Earth's vast zone
The ever gladsome Day shall re-enthrone.

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