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

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BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 1. THE THIRD SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The shepherd's swain here singing on
Last Line: Beauty gone you will repent you.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Great Britain


The shepherd's swain here singing on,
Tells of the cure of Doridon:
And then unto the waters' falls
Chanteth the rustic Pastorals.

Now had the sun, in golden chariot hurl'd,
Twice bid good-morrow to the nether world;
And Cynthia, in her orb and perfect round,
Twice view'd the shadows of the upper ground;
Twice had the day-star usher'd forth the light;
And twice the evening-star proclaim'd the night;
Ere once the sweet-fac'd boy (now all forlorn)
Came with his pipe to resalute the morn.
When grac'd by time (unhappy time the while)
the cruel swain (who ere knew swain so vile?)
Had struck the lad, in came the wat'ry nymph
To raise from sound poor Doridon (the imp
Whom Nature seem'd to have selected forth
To be ingrafted on some stock of worth;)
And the maid help, but since "to dooms of Fate
Succour, though ne'er so soon, comes still too late,"
She rais'd the youth, then with her arms enrings him,
And so with words of hope she homewards brings him.
At door expecting him his mother sat,
Wond'ring her boy should stay from her so late;
Framing for him unto herself excuses,
And with such thoughts gladly herself abuses:
As that her son, since day grew old and weak,
Stay'd with the maids to run at barley-break;
Or that he cours'd a park with females fraught,
Which would not run except they might be caught;
Or in the thickets laid some wily snare
To take the rabbit or the purblind hare;
Or taught his dog to catch the climbing kid:
Thus shepherds do, and thus she thought he did.
"In things expected meeting with delay,
Though there be none, we frame some cause of stay."
And so did she (as she who doth not so?)
Conjecture Time unwing'd he came so slow.
But Doridon drew near, so did her grief:
"Ill-luck, for speed, of all things else is chief."
For as the blind man sung, "Time so provides,
That Joy goes still on foot, and Sorrow rides."
Now when she saw (a woful sight) her son,
Her hopes then fail'd her, and her cries begun
To utter such a plaint, that scarce another,
Like this, ere came from any love-sick mother.
If man hath done this, Heaven, why mad'st thou men?
Not to deface thee in thy children,
But by the work the workman to adore;
Framing that something which was nought before.
Aye me, unhappy wretch! if that in things
Which are as we (save title) men fear kings,
That be their postures to the life limn'd on
Some wood as frail as they, or cut in stone,
"'Tis death to stab: why then should earthly things
Dare to deface his form who formed kings?
When the world was but in his infancy,
Revenge, desires unjust, vile jealousy,
Hate, envy, murder, all these six then reign'd,
When but their half of men the world contain'd:
Yet but in part of these, those ruled then.
When now as many vices live as men.
Live they? yes, live, I fear, to kill my son,
With whom my joys, my love, my hopes are done.
Cease, quoth the water's nymph, that led the swain;
Though 'tis each mother's cause thus to complain,
Yet "abstinence in things we must profess
Which Nature fram'd for need, not for excess."
Since the least blood, drawn from the lesser part
Of any child. comes from the mother's heart,
We cannot choose but grieve, except that we
Should be more senseless than the senseless tree,
Replied his mother. Do but cut the limb
Of any tree, the trunk will weep for him:
Rend the cold sycamore's thin bark in two,
His name and tears would say, So love should do.
"That mother is all flint (than beasts less good)
Which drops no water when her child streams blood."
At this the wounded boy fell on his knee,
Mother, kind mother (said) weep not for me.
Why, I am well. Indeed I am: if you
Cease not to weep, my wound will bleed anew.
When I was promis'd first the light's fruition,
You oft have told me, 'twas on this condition,
That I should hold it with like rent and pain
As others do, and one time leave 't again.
Then, dearest mother, leave, oh leave to wail,
"Time will effect where tears can nought avail."
Herewith Marinda taking up her son,
Her hope, her love, her joy, her Doridon,
She thank'd the nymph for her kind succour lent,
Who straight tripp'd to her wat'ry regiment.
Down in a dell (where in that month whose fame
Grows greater by the man who gave it name,
Stands many a well-pil'd cock of short sweet hay
That feeds the husband's neat each winter's day)
A mountain had his foot, and 'gan to rise
In stately height to parley with the skies.
And yet as blaming his own lofty gait,
Weighing the fickle props in things of state,
His head began to droop, and downwards bending,
Knock'd on that breast which gave it birth and ending:
And lies so with an hollow hanging vaut,
As when some boy trying the somersault,
Stands on his head, and feet, as he did lie
To kick against earth's spangled canopy;
When seeing that his heels are of such weight,
That he cannot obtain their purpos'd height,
Leaves any more to strive; and thus doth say,
What now I cannot do, another day
May well effect: it cannot be denied
I show'd a will to act, because I tried:
The Scornfull-hill men call'd him, who did scorn
So to be call'd, by reason he had borne
No hate to greatness, but a mind to be
The slave of greatness through humility:
For had his mother Nature thought it meet,
He meekly bowing would have kiss'd her feet.
Under the hollow hanging of this hill
There was a cave cut out by Nature's skill:
Or else it seem'd the mount did open's breast,
That all might see what thoughts he there possess'd.
Whose gloomy entrance was environ'd round
With shrubs that cloy ill husbands' meadow-ground:
The thick-grown hawthorn and the binding briar,
The holly that out-dares cold winter's ire:
Who all entwin'd, each limb with limb did deal,
That scarce a glimpse of light could inward steal.
An uncouth place, fit for an uncouth mind,
That is as heavy as that cave is blind.
Here liv'd a man his hoary hairs call'd old,
Upon whose front time many years had told;
Who, since Dame Nature in him feeble grew,
And he unapt to give the world ought new,
The secret power of herbs that grow on mould,
Sought out, to cherish and relieve the old.
Hither Marinda all in haste came running,
And with her tears desir'd the old man's cunning;
When this good man (as goodness still is prest
At all assays to help a wight distress'd)
As glad and willing was to ease her son,
As she would ever joy to see it done;
And giving her a salve in leaves up-bound,
And she directed how to cure the wound,
With thanks, made homewards (longing still to see
Th' effect of this good hermit's surgery).
There carefully, her son laid on a bed
(Enriched with the blood he on it shed),
She washes, dresses, binds his wound (yet sore)
That griev'd it could weep blood for him no more.
Now had the glorious sun ta'en up his inn,
And all the lamps of heav'n enlighten'd been;
Within the gloomy shades of some thick spring
Sad Philomel 'gan on the hawthorn sing
(Whilst every beast at rest was lowly laid),
The outrage done upon a silly maid.
All things were hush'd; each bird slept on his bough;
And night gave rest to him day tir'd at plough;
Each beast, each bird, and each day-toiling wight
Receiv'd the comfort of the silent night;
Free from the gripes of sorrow every one,
Except poor Philomel and Doridon;
She on a thorn sings sweet though sighing strains;
He on a couch more soft, more sad complains;
Whose in-pent thoughts him long time having pain'd,
He sighing, wept, and weeping thus complain'd:
Sweet Philomela (then he heard her sing),
I do not envy thy sweet carolling,
But do admire thee that each even and morrow
Canst carelessly thus sing away thy sorrow.
Would I could do so too! and ever be
In all my woes still imitating thee:
But I may not attain to that, for then
Such most unhappy, miserable men
Would strive with Heaven, and imitate the sun,
Whose golden beams in exhalation,
Though drawn from fens, or other grounds impure,
Turn all to fructifying nouriture;
When we draw nothing by our sun-like eyes,
That ever turns to mirth, but miseries.
Would I had never seen, except that she
Who made me wish so, love to look on me.
Had Colin Clout yet liv'd (but he is gone),
That best on earth could tune a lover's moan,
Whose sadder tones enforc'd the rocks to weep,
And laid the greatest griefs in quiet sleep:
Who when he sung (as I would do to mine)
His truest loves to his fair Rosaline,
Entic'd each shepherd's ear to hear him play,
And rapt with wonder, thus admiring say:
Thrice happy plains (if plains thrice happy may be)
Where such a shepherd pipes to such a lady.
Who made the lasses long to sit down near him;
And woo'd the rivers from their springs to hear him.
Heaven rest thy soul (if so a swain may pray)
And as thy works live here, live there for aye.
Meanwhile (unhappy) I shall still complain
Love's cruel wounding of a seely swain.
Two nights thus pass'd: the lily-handed Morn
Saw Phœbus stealing dew from Ceres' corn.
The mounting lark (day's herald) got on wing,
Bidding each bird choose out his bough and sing.
The lofty treble sung the little wren;
Robin the mean, that best of all loves men;
The nightingale the tenor, and the thrush
The counter-tenor sweetly in a bush.
And that the music might be full in parts,
Birds from the groves flew with right willing hearts;
But (as it seem'd) they thought (as do the swains,
Which tune their pipes on sack'd Hibernia's plains)
There should some droning part be, therefore will'd
Some bird to fly into a neighb'ring field,
In embassy unto the King of Bees,
To aid his partners on the flowers and trees
Who, condescending, gladly flew along
To bear the bass to his well-tuned song.
The crow was willing they should be beholding
For his deep voice, but being hoarse with scolding,
He thus lends aid; upon an oak doth climb,
And nodding with his head, so keepeth time.
O true delight, enharbouring the breasts
Of those sweet creatures with the plumy crests.
Had Nature unto man such simpl'ess given,
He would, like birds, be far more near to heaven.
But Doridon well knew (who knows no less?)
"Man's compounds have o'erthrown his simpleness."
Noontide the Morn had woo'd, and she 'gan yield,
When Doridon (made ready for the field)
Goes sadly forth (a woful shepherd's lad)
Drowned in tears, his mind with grief yclad,
To ope his fold and let his lambkins out,
(Full jolly flock they seem'd, a well-fleec'd rout)
Which gently walk'd before, he sadly pacing,
Both guides and follows them towards their grazing.
When from a grove the wood-nymphs held full dear,
Two heavenly voices did entreat his ear,
And did compel his longing eyes to see
What happy wight enjoy'd such harmony;
Which joined with five more, and so made seven,
Would parallel in mirth the spheres of heaven.
To have a sight at first he would not press,
For fear to interrupt such happiness;
But kept aloof the thick-grown shrubs among,
Yet so as he might hear this wooing song:

F. Fie, shepherd's swain, why sit'st thou all alone,
Whilst other lads are sporting on the leys?
R. Joy may have company, but grief hath none:
Where pleasure never came, sports cannot please.
F. Yet may you please to grace our this day's sport,
Though not an actor, yet a looker-on.
R. A looker-on, indeed! so swains of sort,
Cast low, take joy to look whence they are thrown?
R. Seek joy and find it.
F. Grief doth not mind it.


Then both agree in one,
Sorrow doth hate
To have a mate;
"True grief is still alone."

F. Sad swain, arede (if that a maid may ask)
What cause so great effects of grief hath wrought?

R. Alas! Love is not hid, it wears no mask;
To view 'tis by the face conceiv'd and brought.
F. The cause I grant: the causer is not learn'd:
Your speech I do entreat about this task.
R. If that my heart were seen, 'twould be discern'd;
And Fida's name found graven on the cask.
F. Hath Love young Remond moved?
R. 'Tis Fida that is loved.


Although 'tis said that no men
Will with their hearts,
Or goods' chief parts
Trust either seas or women.

F. How may a maiden be assur'd of love,
Since falsehood late in every swain excelleth?
R. When protestations fail, time may approve
Where true affection lives, where falsehood dwelleth.
F. The truest cause elects a judge as true:
Fie, how my sighing my much loving telleth.
R. Your love is fix'd in one whose heart to you
Shall be as constancy, which ne'er rebelleth.
F. None other shall have grace.
R. None else in my heart place.


Go, shepherds' swains and wive all,
For love and kings
Are two like things
Admitting no co-rival.

As when some malefactor judg'd to die
For his offence, his execution nigh,
Casteth his sight on states unlike to his,
And weighs his ill by others' happiness:
So Doridon thought every state to be
Further from him, more near felicity.
O blessed sight, where such concordance meets,
Where truth with truth, and love with liking greets.
Had (quoth the swain) the Fates giv'n me some measure
Of true delight's inestimable treasure,
I had been fortunate: but now so weak
My bankrupt heart will be enforc'd to break.
Sweet love, that draws on earth a yoke so even;
Sweet life, that imitates the bliss of heaven;
Sweet death they needs must have, who so unite
That two distinct make one hermaphrodite:
Sweet love, sweet life, sweet death, that so do meet
On earth; in death, in heaven be ever sweet!
Let all good wishes ever wait upon you,
And happiness as handmaid tending on you.
Your loves within one centre meeting have!
One hour your deaths, your corps possess one grave!
Your names still green, (thus doth a swain implore)
Till time and memory shall be no more!
Herewith the couple hand-in-hand arose,
And took the way which to the sheep-walk goes.
And whilst that Doridon their gait look'd on,
His dog disclos'd him, rushing forth upon
A well-fed deer, that trips it o'er the mead
As nimbly as the wench did whilom tread
On Ceres' dangling ears, or shaft let go
By some fair nymph that bears Diana's bow.
When turning head, he not a foot would stir,
Scorning the barking of a shepherd's cur:
So should all swains as little weigh their spite,
Who at their songs do bawl, but dare not bite.
Remond, that by the dog the master knew,
Came back, and angry bade him to pursue.
Dory (quoth he), if your ill-tutor'd dog
Have nought of awe, then let him have a clog.
Do you not know this seely timorous deer,
(As usual to his kind) hunted whilere
The sun not ten degrees got in the signs,
Since to our maids, here gathering columbines,
She weeping came, and with her head low laid
In Fida's lap, did humbly beg for aid.
Whereat unto the hounds they gave a check,
And saving her, might spy about her neck
A collar hanging, and (as yet is seen)
These words in gold wrought on a ground of green:
"Maidens, since 'tis decreed a maid shall have me,
Keep me till he shall kill me that must save me."
But whence she came, or who the words concern,
We neither know nor can of any learn.
Upon a pallat she doth lie at night,
Near Fida's bed, nor will she from her sight:
Upon her walks she all the day attends,
And by her side she trips where'er she wends.
Remond (replied the swain) if I have wrong'd
Fida in ought which unto her belong'd,
I sorrow for't, and truly do protest,
As yet I never heard speech of this beast:
Nor was it with my will; or if it were,
Is it not lawful we should chase the deer,
That breaking our enclosures every morn
Are found at feed upon our crop of corn?
Yet had I known this deer, I had not wrong'd
Fida in ought which unto her belong'd.
I think no less, quoth Remond; but, I pray,
Whither walks Doridon this holy-day?
Come drive your sheep to their appointed feeding,
And make you one at this our merry meeting.
Full many a shepherd with his lovely lass
Sit telling tales upon the clover grass.
There is the merry shepherd of the Hole,
Thenot, Piers, Nilkin, Duddy, Hobbinoll,
Alexis, Silvan, Teddy of the Glen,
Rowly and Perigot here by the Fen,
With many more (I cannot reckon all)
That meet to solemnize this festival.
I grieve not at their mirth, said Doridon:
Yet had there been of feasts not any one
Appointed or commanded, you will say,
"Where there's content 'tis ever holy-day."
Leave further talk (quoth Remond) let's be gone,
I'll help you with your sheep, the time draws on.
Fida will call the hind, and come with us.
Thus went they on, and Remond did discuss
Their cause of meeting, till they won with pacing
The circuit chosen for the maidens' tracing.
It was a roundel seated on a plain,
That stood as sentinel unto the main,
Environ'd round with trees and many an arbour,
Wherein melodious birds did nightly harbour,
And on a bough within the quick'ning spring,
Would be a-teaching of their young to sing;
Whose pleasing notes the tired swain have made
To steal a nap at noontide in the shade.
Nature herself did there in triumph ride,
And made that place the ground of all her pride.
Whose various flow'rs deceiv'd the rasher eye
In taking them for curious tapestry.
A silver spring forth of a rock did fall,
That in a drought did serve to water all.
Upon the edges of a grassy bank
A tuft of trees grew circling in a rank,
As if they seem'd their sports to gaze upon,
Or stood as guard against the wind and sun.
So fair, so fresh, so green, so sweet a ground
The piercing eyes of Heaven yet never found.
Here Doridon all ready met doth see,
(Oh, who would not at such a meeting be?)
Where he might doubt, who gave to other grace,
Whether the place the maids, or maids the place.
Here 'gan the reed and merry bagpipe play,
Shrill as a thrush upon a morn of May,
(A rural music for an heavenly train)
And every shepherdess danc'd with her swain.
As when some gale of wind doth nimbly take
A fair white lock of wool, and with it make
Some pretty driving; here it sweeps the plain;
There stays, here hops, there mounts, and turns again;
Yet all so quick, that none so soon can say
That now it stops, or leaps, or turns away:
So was their dancing: none look'd thereupon,
But thought their several motions to be one.
A crooked measure was their first election,
Because all crooked tends to best perfection.
And as I ween this often bowing measure
Was chiefly framed for the women's pleasure.
Though like the rib, they crooked are and bending,
Yet to the best of forms they aim their ending.
Next in an (I) their measure made a rest,
Showing when love is plainest it is best.
Then in a (Y) which thus doth love commend,
Making of two at first, one in the end.
And lastly closing in a round do enter,
Placing the lusty shepherds in the centre:
About the swains they dancing seem'd to roll,
As other planets round the heav'nly pole,
Who by their sweet aspèct or chiding frown,
Could raise a shepherd up, or cast him down.
Thus were they circled till a swain came near,
And sent this song unto each shepherd's ear:
The note and voice so sweet, that for such mirth
The gods would leave the heavens, and dwell on earth.

Happy are you so enclosed;
May the maids be still disposed
In their gestures and their dances,
So to grace you with entwining,
That Envy wish in such combining,
Fortune's smile with happy chances.

Here it seems as if the Graces
Measur'd out the plain in traces,
In a shepherdess disguising.
Are the spheres so nimbly turning?
Wand'ring lamps in heaven burning,
To the eye so much enticing?

Yes, Heaven means to take these thither,
And add one joy to see both dance together.

Gentle nymphs, be not refusing,
Love's neglect is time's abusing,
They and beauty are but lent you,
Take the one and keep the other:
Love keeps fresh what age doth smother:
Beauty gone you will repent you.

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