Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 2. THE FIFTH SONG, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

Rhyming Dictionary Search
BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 2. THE FIFTH SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Within this song my muse doth tell
Last Line: My muse awhile will here keep holiday.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Great Britain


Within this Song my Muse doth tell
The worthy fact of Philocel,
And how his Love and he in thrall
To death depriv'd of funeral
The Queen of Waves doth gladly save,
And frees Marina from the cave.

SO soon as can a martin from our town
Fly to the river underneath the down,
And back return with mortar in her bill,
Some little cranny in her nest to fill,
The shepherd came, and thus began anew:
Two hours, alas, only two hours are due
From time to him, 'tis sentenc'd so of those
That here on earth as Destinies dispose
The lives and deaths of men; and that time past
He yields his judgment leave and breathes his last.
But to the cause. Great goddess, understand
In Mona-Isle thrust from the British land,
As (since it needed nought of others' store)
It would entire be and a part no more,
There liv'd a maid so fair, that for her sake
Since she was born the Isle had never snake,
Nor were it fit a deadly sting should be
To hazard such admired symmetry:
So many beauties so commix'd in one,
That all delight were dead if she were gone.
Shepherds that in her clear eyes did delight,
Whilst they were open never held it night;
And were they shut, although the morning grey
Call'd up the sun, they hardly thought it day;
Or if they call'd it so, they did not pass
Withal to say that it eclipsed was.
The roses on her cheeks, such as each turn,
Phœbus might kiss, but had no pow'r to burn.
From her sweet lips distil sweets sweeter do,
Than from a cherry half way cut in two;
Whose yielding touch would, as Promethean fire,
Lumps truly senseless with a Muse inspire;
Who praising her would youth's desire so stir,
Each man in mind should be a ravisher.
Some say the nimble-witted Mercury
Went late disguis'd professing palmistry,
And milkmaids' fortunes told about the land,
Only to get a touch of her soft hand;
And that a shepherd walking on the brim
Of a clear stream where she did use to swim,
Saw her by chance, and thinking she had been
Of chastity the pure and fairest queen,
Stole thence dismay'd, lest he by her decree
Might undergo Actæon's destiny.
Did youth's kind heat inflame me (but the snow
Upon my head shows it cool'd long ago),
I then could give, fitting so fair a feature,
Right to her fame, and fame to such a creature.
When now much like a man the palsy shakes
And spectacles befriend, yet undertakes
To limn a lady, to whose red and white
Apelles' curious hand would owe some right:
His too unsteady pencil shadows here
Somewhat too much, and gives not overclear;
His eye deceiv'd mingles his colours wrong,
There strikes too little, and here stays too long,
Does and undoes, takes off, puts on (in vain)
Now too much white, then too much red again;
And thinking then to give some special grace,
He works it ill, or so mistakes the place,
That she which sits were better pay for nought,
Than have it ended, and so lamely wrought:
So do I in this weak description err,
And striving more to grace, more injure her;
For ever where true worth for praise doth call,
He rightly nothing gives that gives not all;
But as a lad who learning to divide,
By one small miss the whole hath falsified.
Cælia men call'd, and rightly call'd her so:
Whom Philocel (of all the swains I know
Most worthy) lov'd: alas! that love should be
Subject to fortune's mutability!
Whatever learned bards tofore have sung,
Or on the plains shepherds and maidens young,
Of sad mishaps in love are set to tell,
Comes short to match the fate of Philocel.
For as a labourer toiling at a bay
To force some clear stream from his wonted way,
Working on this side sees the water run
Where he wrought last and thought it firmly done;
And that leak stopp'd, hears it come breaking out
Another where, in a far greater spout,
Which mended too, and with a turf made trim,
The brook is ready to o'erflow the brim;
Or in the bank the water having got,
Some mole-hole, runs where he expected not;
And when all's done, still fears lest some great rain
Might bring a flood and throw all down again:
So in our shepherd's love: one hazard gone,
Another still as bad was coming on:
This danger past, another doth begin,
And one mishap thrust out lets twenty in.
For he that loves, and in it hath no stay,
Limits his bliss seld' past the marriage-day.
But Philocel's, alas, and Cælia's too
Must ne'er attain so far as others do;
Else Fortune in them from her course should swerve,
Who most afflicts those that most good deserve.
Twice had the glorious sun run through the signs,
And with his kindly heat improv'd the mines,
(As such affirm with certain hopes that try
The vain and fruitless art of alchemy,)
Since our swain lov'd: and twice had Phœbus been
In horned Aries taking up his inn,
Ere he of Cælia's heart possession won;
And since that time all his intentions done
Nothing to bring her thence. All eyes upon her
Watchful, as Virtue's are on truest honour:
Kept on the Isle as carefully of some,
As by the Trojans their Palladium.
But where's the fortress that can Love debar?
The forces to oppose when he makes war?
The watch which he shall never find asleep?
The spy that shall disclose his counsels deep?
That fort, that force, that watch, that spy would be
A lasting stop to a fifth empery;
But we as well may keep the heat from fire
As sever hearts whom love hath made entire
In lovely May when Titan's golden rays
Make odds in hours between the nights and days,
And weigheth almost down the once-even scale
Where night and day by th' Equinoctial
Were laid in balance, as his pow'r he bent
To banish Cynthia from her regiment
To Latmus' stately hill, and with his light
To rule the upper world both day and night:
Making the poor Antipodes to fear
A like conjunction 'twixt great Jupiter
And some Alcmena new, or that the sun
From their horizon did obliquely run:
This time the swains and maidens of the Isle
The day with sportive dances do beguile,
And every valley rings with shepherds' songs,
And every echo each sweet note prolongs,
And every river with unusual pride
And dimpled cheek rolls sleeping to the tide;
And lesser springs, which aërie-breeding woods
Prefer as handmaids to the mighty floods,
Scarce fill up half their channels, making haste
(In fear, as boys) lest all the sport be past.
Now was the Lord and Lady of the May
Meeting the May-pole at the break of day,
And Cælia, as the fairest on the green,
Not without some maids' envy chosen queen.
Now was the time com'n, when our gentle swain
Must in his harvest or lose all again.
Now must he pluck the rose lest other hands,
Or tempests, blemish what so fairly stands:
And therefore, as they had before decreed,
Our shepherd gets a boat, and with all speed
In night, that doth on lovers' actions smile,
Arrived safe on Mona's fruitful isle.
Between two rocks (immortal, without mother,)
That stand as if out-facing one another,
There ran a creek up, intricate and blind,
As if the waters hid them from the wind;
Which never wash'd but at a higher tide
The frizzled coats which do the mountains hide;
Where never gale was longer known to stay
Than from the smooth wave it had swept away
The new divorced leaves, that from each side
Left the thick boughs to dance out with the tide.
At further end the creek a stately wood
Gave a kind shadow to the brackish flood
Made up of trees, not less kenn'd by each skiff
Than that sky-scaling Peak of Teneriffe,
Upon whose tops the hernshaw bred her young,
And hoary moss upon their branches hung;
Whose rugged rinds sufficient were to show,
Without their height, what time they 'gan to grow;
And if dry eld by wrinkled skin appears,
None could allot them less than Nestor's years.
As under their command the thronged creek
Ran lessen'd up. Here did the shepherd seek
Where he his little boat might safely hide,
Till it was fraught with what the world beside
Could not outvalue; nor give equal weight
Though in the time when Greece was at her height.
The ruddy horses of the rosy Morn
Out of the Eastern gates had newly borne
Their blushing mistress in her golden chair,
Spreading new light throughout our hemisphere,
When fairest Cælia with a lovelier crew
Of damsels than brave Latmus ever knew
Came forth to meet the youngsters, who had here
Cut down an oak that long withouten peer
Bore his round head imperiously above
His other mates there, consecrate to Jove.
The wished time drew on: and Cælia now,
That had the fame for her white arched brow,
While all her lovely fellows busied were
In picking off the gems from Tellus' hair,
Made tow'rds the creek, where Philocel unspied
Of maid or shepherd that their May-games plied,
Receiv'd his wish'd-for Cælia, and begun
To steer his boat contrary to the sun,
Who could have wish'd another in his place
To guide the car of light, or that his race
Were to have end (so he might bless his hap)
In Cælia's bosom, not in Thetis' lap.
The boat oft danc'd for joy of what it held:
The hoist-up sail not quick but gently swell'd,
And often shook, as fearing what might fall,
Ere she deliver'd what she went withal.
Winged Argestes, fair Aurora's son,
Licens'd that day to leave his dungeon,
Meekly attended and did never err,
Till Cælia grac'd our land, and our land her.
As through the waves their love-fraught wherry ran,
A many Cupids, each set on his swan,
Guided with reins of gold and silver twist
The spotless birds about them as they list:
Which would have sung a song (ere they were gone),
Had unkind Nature given them more than one;
Or in bestowing that had not done wrong,
And made their sweet lives forfeit one sad song.
Yet that their happy voyage might not be
Without time's short'ner, heaven-taught melody
(Music that lent feet to the stable woods,
And in their currents turn'd the mighty floods:
Sorrow's sweet nurse, yet keeping joy alive:
Sad discontent's most welcome corrosive:
The soul of Art, best lov'd when Love is by:
The kind inspirer of sweet Poesy,
Lest thou shouldst wanting be, when swans would fain
Have sung one song, and never sung again,)
The gentle shepherd hasting to the shore
Began this lay, and tim'd it with his oar:

Never more let holy Dee
O'er other rivers brave,
Or boast how (in his jollity)
Kings row'd upon his wave;
But silent be, and ever know
That Neptune for my fare would row.

Those were captives. If he say
That now I am no other,
Yet she that bears my prison's key
Is fairer than Love's mother.
A god took me, those, one less high:
They wore their bonds, so do not I.

Swell then, gently swell, ye floods,
As proud of what ye bear,
And nymphs, that in low coral woods
String pearls upon your hair,
Ascend: and tell if ere this day
A fairer prize was seen at sea.

See, the salmons leap and bound
To please us as we pass;
Each mermaid on the rocks around,
Lets fall her brittle glass,
As they their beauties did despise,
And lov'd no mirror but your eyes.

Blow, but gently blow, fair wind,
From the forsaken shore,
And be as to the Halcyon kind,
Till we have ferried o'er:
So may'st thou still have leave to blow,
And fan the way where she shall go.

Floods, and nymphs, and winds, and all
That see us both together,
Into a disputation fall,
And then resolve me whether
The greatest kindness each can show
Will quit our trust of you or no.

Thus as a merry milkmaid, neat and fine,
Returning late from milking of her kine,
Shortens the dew'd way which she treads along
With some self-pleasing-since-new-gotten song,
The shepherd did their passage well beguile.
And now the horned flood bore to our Isle
His head more high than he had us'd to do,
Except by Cynthia's newness forced to.
Not January's snow dissolv'd in floods
Makes Tamar more intrude on Blanchden Woods,
Nor the concourse of waters where they fleet
After a long rain, and in Severn meet,
Rais'th her enraged head to root fair plants,
Or more affright her nigh inhabitants,
(When they behold the waters ruefully,
And save the waters nothing else can see,)
Than Neptune's subject now, more than of yore:
As loath to set his burden soon on shore.
O Neptune! hadst thou kept them still with thee,
Though both were lost to us and such as we,
And with those beauteous birds which on thy breast
Get and bring up, afforded them a rest,
Delos, that long time wand'ring piece of earth,
Had not been fam'd more for Diana's birth,
Than those few planks that bore them on the seas,
By the blest issue of two such as these.
But they were landed: so are not our woes,
Nor ever shall, whilst from an eye there flows
One drop of moisture; to these present times
We will relate, and some sad shepherd's rhymes
To after ages may their fates make known,
And in their depth of sorrow drown his own.
So our relation and his mournful verse
Of tears shall force such tribute to their hearse,
That not a private grief shall ever thrive
But in that deluge fall, yet this survive.
Two furlongs from the shore they had not gone,
When from a low-cast valley (having on
Each hand a woody hill, whose boughs unlopp'd
Have not alone at all time sadly dropp'd,
And turn'd their storms on her dejected breast,
But when the fire of heaven is ready prest
To warm and further what it should bring forth,
For lowly dales mate mountains in their worth,
The trees (as screenlike greatness) shade his ray,
As it should shine on none but such as they)—
Came, and full sadly came, a hapless wretch,
Whose walks and pastures once were known to stretch
From east to west so far that no dike ran
For noted bounds, but where the ocean
His wrathful billows thrust, and grew as great
In shoals of fish as were the other's neat:
Who now dejected and depriv'd of all,
Longs, and hath done so long, for funeral.
For as with hanging head I have beheld
A widow vine stand in a naked field,
Unhusbanded, neglected, all forlorn,
Brows'd on by deer, by cattle cropp'd and torn;
Unpropp'd, unsuccoured by stake or tree
From wreakful storms' impetuous tyranny,
When, had a willing hand lent kind redress,
Her pregnant bunches might from out the press
Have sent a liquor both for taste and show
No less divine than those of Malligo:
Such was this wight, and such she might have been.
She both th' extremes hath felt of Fortune's teen,
For never have we heard from times of yore,
One sometimes envied and now pitied more.
Her object, as her state, is low as earth;
Privation her companion; thoughts of mirth
Irksome; and in one self-same circle turning,
With sudden sports brought to a house of mourning.
Of others' good her best belief is still
And constant to her own in nought but ill.
The only enemy and friend she knows
Is Death, who, though defers, must end her woes;
Her contemplation frightful as the night;
She never looks on any living wight
Without comparison; and as the day
Gives us, but takes the glowworm's light away:
So the least ray of bliss on others thrown
Deprives and blinds all knowledge of her own.
Her comfort is (if for her any be)
That none can show more cause of grief than she.
Yet somewhat she of adverse Fate hath won,
Who had undone her were she not undone.
For those that on the sea of greatness ride
Far from the quiet shore, and where the tide
In ebbs and floods is guess'd, not truly known;
Expert of all estates except their own;
Keeping their station at the helm of State
Not by their virtues but auspicious fate;
Subject to calms of favour, storms of rage,
Their actions noted as the common stage;
Who, like a man born blind that cannot be
By demonstration shown what 'tis to see,
Live still in ignorance of what they want,
Till misery become the adamant,
And touch them for that point, to which with speed
None comes so sure as by the hand of Need.
A mirror strange she in her right hand bore,
By which her friends from flatterers heretofore
She could distinguish well; and by her side,
As in her full of happiness, untied
Unforc'd and uncompell'd did sadly go,
As if partaker of his mistress' woe,
A loving spaniel, from whose rugged back,
The only thing but death she moans to lack,
She plucks the hair, and working them in pleats
Furthers the suit which modesty entreats.
Men call her Athliot: who cannot be
More wretched made by infelicity,
Unless she here had an immortal breath,
Or living thus, liv'd timorous of death.
Out of her lowly and forsaken dell
She running came, and cried to Philocel:
Help! help! kind shepherd, help! see yonder, where
A lovely lady hung up by the hair
Struggles, but mildly struggles, with the Fates,
Whose thread of life, spun to a thread that mates
Dame Nature's in her hair, stays them to wonder,
While too fine twisting makes it break in sunder.
So shrinks the rose that with the flames doth meet;
So gently bows the virgin parchment sheet;
So roll the waves up and fall out again,
As all her beauteous parts, and all in vain.
Far, far, above my help or hope in trying,
Unknown, and so more miserably dying,
Smoth'ring her torments in her panting breast,
She meekly waits the time of her long rest.
Hasten! O hasten then! kind shepherd, haste.
He went with her, and Cælia, that had grac'd
Him past the world besides, seeing the way
He had to go, not far, rests on the lay.
'Twas near the place where Pan's transformed love
Her gilded leaves display'd, and boldly strove
For lustre with the sun: a sacred tree,
Pal'd round and kept from violation free:
Whose smallest spray rent off we never prize
At less than life. Here, though her heavenly eyes
From him she lov'd could scarce afford a sight,
As if for him they only had their light,
Those kind and brighter stars were known to err
And to all misery betrayed her.
For turning them aside, she (hapless) spies
The holy tree, and (as all novelties
In tempting women have small labour lost
Whether for value nought, or of more cost,)
Led by the hand of uncontroll'd desire
She rose, and thither went. A wrested briar
Only kept close the gate which led into it,
(Easy for any all times to undo it,
That with a pious hand hung on the tree
Garlands or raptures of sweet poesy,)
Which by her opened, with unweeting hand
A little spray she pluck'd, whose rich leaves fann'd
And chatter'd with the air, as who should say:
Do not for once, O do not this bewray!
Nor give sound to a tongue for that intent!
"Who ignorantly sins, dies innocent."
By this was Philocel returning back,
And in his hand the lady; for whose wrack
Nature had clean foresworn to frame a wight
So wholly pure, so truly exquisite;
But more deform'd and from a rough-hewn mould,
Since what is best lives seldom to be old.
Within their sight was fairest Cælia now;
Who drawing near, the life-priz'd golden bough
Her love beheld. And as a mother kind
What time the new-cloth'd trees by gusts of wind
Unmov'd, stand wistly list'ning to those lays
The feather'd quiristers upon their sprays
Chant to the merry Spring, and in the even
She with her little son for pleasure given,
To tread the fring'd banks of an amorous flood,
That with her music courts a sullen wood,
Where ever talking with her only bliss,
That now before and then behind her is,
She stoops for flow'rs the choicest may be had,
And bringing them to please her pretty lad,
Spies in his hand some baneful flow'r or weed,
Whereon he 'gins to smell, perhaps to feed,
With a more earnest haste she runs unto him,
And pulls that from him which might else undo him:
So to his Cælia hasten'd Philocel,
And raught the bough away: hid it: and fell
To question if she broke it, or if then
An eye beheld her. Of the race of men,
Replied she, when I took it from the tree
Assure yourself was none to testify,
But what hath past since in your hand, behold,
A fellow running yonder o'er the wold
Is well inform'd of. Can there, love, ensue,
Tell me! oh tell me! any wrong to you
By what my hand hath ignorantly done?
(Quoth fearful Cælia) Philocel! be won
By these unfeigned tears, as I by thine,
To make thy greatest sorrows partly mine!
Clear up these showers, my Sun, quoth Philocel,
The ground it needs not. Nought is so from well
But that reward and kind entreaties may
Make smooth the front of wrath, and this allay.
Thus wisely he suppress'd his height of woe,
And did resolve, since none but they did know
Truly who rent it, and the hateful swain
That lately pass'd by them upon the plain
(Whom well he knew did bear to him a hate,
Though undeserved, so inveterate
That to his utmost pow'r he would assay
To make his life have ended with that day)
Except in his had seen it in no hand,
That he against all throes of Fate would stand,
Acknowledge it his deed, and so afford
A passage to his heart for Justice' sword,
Rather than by her loss the world should be
Despis'd and scorn'd for losing such as she.
Now, with a vow of secrecy from both,
Enforcing mirth, he with them homewards go'th;
And by the time the shades of mighty woods
Began to turn them to the eastern floods,
They thither got: where with undaunted heart
He welcomes both, and freely doth impart
Such dainties as a shepherd's cottage yields,
Ta'en from the fruitful woods and fertile fields:
No way distracted nor disturb'd at all.
And to prevent what likely might befall
His truest Cælia, in his apprehending,
Thus to all future care gave final ending:
Into their cup (wherein for such sweet girls
Nature would myriads of richest pearls
Dissolve, and by her pow'rful simples strive
To keep them still on earth, and still alive),
Our swain infus'd a powder which they drank:
And to a pleasant room, set on a bank
Near to his coat, where he did often use
At vacant hours to entertain his Muse,
Brought them and seated on a curious bed,
Till what he gave in operation sped,
And robb'd them of his sight, and him of theirs,
Whose new enlight'ning will be quench'd with tears.
The glass of Time had well-nigh spent the sand
It had to run ere with impartial hand
Justice must to her upright balance take him:
Which he (afraid it might too soon forsake him)
Began to use as quickly as perceive,
And of his love thus took his latest leave:
Cælia! thou fairest creature ever eye
Beheld, or yet put on mortality!
Cælia, that hast but just so much of earth,
As makes thee capable of death! Thou birth
Of every virtue, life of every good!
Whose chastest sports and daily taking food
Is imitation of the highest pow'rs
Who to the earth lend seasonable show'rs,
That it may bear, we to their altars bring
Things worthy their accept, our offering.
I the most wretched creature ever eye
Beheld, or yet put on mortality,
Unhappy Philocel, that have of earth
Too much to give my sorrows endless birth,
The spring of sad misfortunes; in whom lies
No bliss that with thy worth can sympathize,
Clouded with woe that hence will never flit,
Till death's eternal night grow one with it:
I as a dying swan that sadly sings
Her moanful dirge unto the silver springs,
Which careless of her song glide sleeping by
Without one murmur of kind elegy,
Now stand by thee; and as a turtle's mate,
With lamentations inarticulate,
The near departure from her love bemoans,
Spend these my bootless sighs and killing groans.
Here as a man (by Justice' doom) exil'd
To coasts unknown, to deserts rough and wild,
Stand I to take my latest leave of thee:
Whose happy and heaven-making company
Might I enjoy in Libya's continent,
Were blest fruition and not banishment.
First of those eyes that have already ta'en
Their leave of me: lamps fitting for the fane
Of heaven's most pow'r, and which might ne'er expire
But be as sacred as the vestal fire:
Then of those plots, where half-ros'd lilies be,
Not one by Art but Nature's industry,
From which I go as one excluded from
The taintless flow'rs of blest Elysium:
Next from those lips I part, and may there be
No one that shall hereafter second me!
Guiltless of any kisses but their own,
Their sweets but to themselves to all unknown:
For should our swains divulge what sweets there be
Within the sea-clipt bounds of Britany,
We should not from invasions be exempted,
But with that prize would all the world be tempted.
Then from her heart: O no! let that be never,
For if I part from thence I die for ever.
Be that the record of my love and name!
Be that to me as is the Phœnix' flame!
Creating still anew what Justice' doom
Must yield to dust and a forgotten tomb.
Let thy chaste love to me (as shadows run
In full extent unto the setting sun)
Meet with my fall; and when that I am gone,
Back to thyself retire, and there grow one.
If to a second light thy shadow be,
Let him still have his ray of love from me;
And if, as I, that likewise do decline,
Be mine or his, or else be his and mine.
But know no other, nor again be sped,
"She dies a virgin that but knows one bed."
And now from all at once my leave I take
With this petition, that when thou shalt wake,
My tears already spent may serve for thine,
And all thy sorrows be excus'd by mine!
Yea, rather than my loss should draw on hers,
(Hear, Heaven, the suit which my sad soul prefers!)
Let this her slumber, like Oblivion's stream,
Make her believe our love was but a dream!
Let me be dead in her as to the earth,
Ere Nature lose the grace of such a birth.
Sleep thou, sweet soul, from all disquiet free,
And since I now beguile thy destiny,
Let after patience in thy breast arise,
To give his name a life who for thee dies.
He dies for thee that worthy is to die,
Since now in leaving that sweet harmony
Which Nature wrought in thee, he draws not to him
Enough of sorrow that might straight undo him;
And have for means of death his parting hence,
So keeping Justice still in innocence.
Here stay'd his tongue, and tears anew began:
"Parting knows more of grief than absence can."
And with a backward pace and ling'ring eye
Left, and for ever left, their company.
By this the curs'd informer of the deed
With wings of mischief (and those have most speed)
Unto the priests of Pan had made it known;
And, though with grief enough, were thither flown
With strict command the officers that be
As hands of Justice in her each decree.
Those unto judgment brought him: where, accus'd
That with unhappy hand he had abus'd
The holy tree, and by the oath of him
Whose eye beheld the separated limb,
All doubts dissolv'd, quick judgment was awarded,
And but last night, that hither strongly guarded
This morn he should be brought, and from yond rock,
Where every hour new store of mourners flock,
He should be headlong thrown, too hard a doom,
To be depriv'd of life, and dead, of tomb.
This is the cause, fair goddess, that appears
Before you now clad in an old man's tears,
Which willingly flow out, and shall do more
Than many winters have seen heretofore.
But father, quoth she, let me understand
How you are sure that it was Cælia's hand
Which rent the branch; and then (if you can) tell
What nymph it was which near the lonely dell
Your shepherd succour'd. Quoth the good old man:
The last time in her orb pale Cynthia ran,
I to the prison went, and from him knew
(Upon my vow) what now is known to you;
And that the lady which he found distress'd,
Is Fida call'd, a maid not meanly bless'd
By heaven's endowments, and—Alas! but see,
Kind Philocel, engirt with misery
More strong than by his bonds, is drawing nigh
The place appointed for his tragedy!
You may walk thither and behold his fall;
While I come near enough, yet not at all.
Nor shall it need I to my sorrow knit
The grief of knowing with beholding it.
The goddess went—(but ere she came did shroud
Herself from every eye within a cloud)—
Where she beheld the shepherd on his way,
Much like a bridegroom on his marriage-day,
Increasing not his misery with fear:
Others for him, but he shed not a tear.
His knitting sinews did not tremble ought,
Nor to unusual palpitation brought
Was or his heart or liver: nor his eye,
Nor tongue, nor colour show'd a dread to die.
His resolution keeping with his spirit,
Both worthy him that did them both inherit,
Held in subjection every thought of fear,
Scorning so base an executioner.
Some time he spent in speech, and then began
Submissly prayen to the name of Pan,
When suddenly this cry came from the plains:
From guiltless blood be free, ye British swains!
Mine be those bonds, and mine the death appointed!
Let me be headlong thrown, these limbs disjointed!
Or if you needs must hurl him from that brim,
Except I die there dies but part of him.
Do then right, Justice, and perform your oath,
Which cannot be without the death of both!
Wonder drew thitherward their drowned eyes,
And sorrow Philocel's. Where he espies,
What he did only fear, the beauteous maid,
His woful Cælia, whom (ere night array'd
Last time the world in suit of mournful black,
More dark than use, as to bemoan their wrack)
He at his cottage left in sleep's soft arms
By pow'r of simples and the force of charms:
Which time had now dissolv'd, and made her know
For what intent her love had left her so.
She stay'd not to awake her mate in sleep,
Nor to bemoan her fate. She scorn'd to weep,
Or have the passion that within her lies
So distant from her heart as in her eyes.
But rending of her hair, her throbbing breast
Beating with ruthless strokes, she onward press'd
As an enraged furious lioness,
Through uncouth treading of the wilderness,
In hot pursuit of her late missed brood.
The name of Philocel speaks every wood,
And she begins to still and still her pace:
Her face deck'd anger, anger deck'd her face.
So ran distracted Hecuba along
The streets of Troy. So did the people throng
With helpless hands and heavy hearts to see
Their woful ruin in her progeny.
And harmless flocks of sheep that nearly fed
Upon the open plains wide scattered,
Ran all afront, and gaz'd with earnest eye
(Not without tears) while thus she passed by.
Springs that long time before had held no drop,
Now welled forth and over-went the top:
Birds left to pay the spring their wonted vows,
And all forlorn sat drooping on the boughs:
Sheep, springs and birds, nay trees' unwonted groans
Bewail'd her chance, and forc'd it from the stones.
Thus came she to the place (where aged men,
Maidens and wives, and youth and childeren
That had but newly learnt their mothers' name,
Had almost spent their tears before she came,)
And those her earnest and related words
Threw from her breast; and unto them affords
These as the means to further her pretence:
Receive not on your souls, by innocence
Wrong'd, lasting stains which from a sluice the sea
May still wash o'er, but never wash away.
Turn all your wraths on me: for here behold
The hand that tore your sacred tree of gold;
These are the feet that led to that intent;
Mine was th' offence, be mine the punishment.
Long hath he liv'd among you, and he knew
The danger imminent that would ensue;
His virtuous life speaks for him, hear it then!
And cast not hence the miracle of men!
What now he doth is through some discontent:
Mine was the fact, be mine the punishment!
What certain death could never make him do
(With Cælia's loss), her presence forc'd him to.
She that could clear his greatest clouds of woes,
Some part of woman made him now disclose,
And show'd him all in tears: and for a while
Out of his heart unable to exile
His troubling thoughts in words to be conceiv'd;
But weighing what the world should be bereav'd,
He of his sighs and throbs some license wan,
And to the sad spectators thus began:
Hasten! O haste! the hour's already gone,
Do not defer the execution!
Nor make my patience suffer ought of wrong!
'Tis nought to die, but to be dying long!
Some fit of frenzy hath possess'd the maid:
She could not do it, though she had assay'd;
No bough grows in her reach; nor hath the tree
A spray so weak to yield to such as she.
To win her love I broke it, but unknown
And undesir'd of her; then let her own
No touch of prejudice without consent.
Mine was the fact, be mine the punishment!
O! who did ever such contention see
Where death stood for the prize of victory?
Where love and strife were firm and truly known,
And where the victor must be overthrown?
Where both pursu'd, and both held equal strife
That life should further death, death further life.
Amazement struck the multitude; and now
They knew not which way to perform their vow.
If only one should be depriv'd of breath,
They were not certain of th' offender's death;
If both of them should die for that offence,
They certainly should murder innocence;
If none did suffer for it, then there ran
Upon their heads the wrath and curse of Pan.
This much perplex'd and made them to defer
The deadly hand of th' executioner,
Till they had sent an officer to know
The judges' wills (and those with Fate's do go):
Who back return'd, and thus with tears began:
The substitutes on earth of mighty Pan
Have thus decreed (although the one be free)
To clear themselves from all impunity,
If, who the offender is, no means procure,
Th' offence is certain, be their death as sure.
This is their doom (which may all plagues prevent)
To have the guilty kill the innocent.
Look as two little lads, their parents' treasure,
Under a tutor strictly kept from pleasure,
While they their new-given lesson closely scan,
Hear of a message by their father's man,
That one of them, but which he hath forgot,
Must come along and walk to some fair plot;
Both have a hope: their careful tutor loath
To hinder either, or to license both,
Sends back the messenger that he may know
His master's pleasure which of them must go:
While both his scholars stand alike in fear
Both of their freedom and abiding there,
The servant comes and says that for that day
Their father wills to have them both away.
Such was the fear these loving souls were in
That time the messenger had absent been.
But far more was their joy 'twixt one another,
In hearing neither should outlive the other.
Now both entwin'd, because no conquest won
Yet either ruined, Philocel begun
To arm his love for death: a robe unfit
Till Hymen's saffron'd weed had usher'd it.
My fairest Cælia! come; let thou and I,
That long have learn'd to love, now learn to die;
It is a lesson hard if we discern it,
Yet none is born so soon as bound to learn it.
Unpartial fate lays ope the book to us,
And let[s] us con it still embracing thus;
We may it perfect have, and go before
Those that have longer time to read it o'er;
And we had need begin and not delay,
For 'tis our turn to read it first to-day.
Help when I miss, and when thou art in doubt
I'll be thy prompter, and will help thee out.
But see how much I err: vain metaphor
And elocution destinies abhor.
Could death be stay'd with words, or won with tears,
Or mov'd with beauty, or with unripe years,
Sure thou couldst do't; this rose, this sun-like eye
Should not so soon be quell'd, so quickly die.
But we must die, my love; not thou alone,
Nor only I, but both; and yet but one.
Nor let us grieve; for we are married thus,
And have by death what life denied us.
It is a comfort from him more than due;
"Death severs many, but he couples few."
Life is a flood that keeps us from our bliss,
The ferryman to waft us thither is
Death, and none else; the sooner we get o'er
Should we not thank the ferryman the more?
Others entreat him for a passage hence,
And groan beneath their griefs and impotence,
Yet (merciless) he lets those longer stay,
And sooner takes the happy man away.
Some little happiness have thou and I,
Since we shall die before we wish to die.
Should we here longer live, and have our days
As full in number as the most of these,
And in them meet all pleasures may betide,
We gladly might have liv'd and patient died.
When now our fewer years, made long by cares,
That without age can snow down silver hairs,
Make all affirm which do our griefs descry
We patiently did live, and gladly die.
The difference, my love, that doth appear
Betwixt our fates and theirs that see us here,
Is only this: the high all-knowing Pow'r
Conceals from them, but tells us our last hour.
For which to Heaven we far-far more are bound
Since in the hour of death we may be found,
By its prescience, ready for the hand
That shall conduct us to the holy land.
When those, from whom that hour conceal'd is, may
Even in their height of sin be ta'en away.
Besides, to us Justice a friend is known,
Which neither lets us die nor live alone.
That we are forc'd to it cannot be held;
"Who fears not death, denies to be compell'd."
O that thou wert no actor in this play,
My sweetest Cælia! or divorc'd away
From me in this: O Nature! I confess
I cannot look upon her heaviness
Without betraying that infirmity
Which at my birth thy hand bestow'd on me.
Would I had died when I receiv'd my birth!
Or known the grave before I knew the earth!
Heavens! I but one life did receive from you,
And must so short a loan be paid with two?
Cannot I die but like that brutish stem
Which have their best belov'd to die with them?
O let her live! some bless'd power hear my cry!
Let Cælia live and I contented die.
My Philocel (quoth she) neglect these throes!
Ask not for me, nor add not to my woes!
Can there be any life when thou art gone?
Nay, can there be but desolation?
Art thou so cruel as to wish my stay,
To wait a passage at an unknown day?
Or have me dwell within this vale of woe,
Excluded from those joys which thou shalt know?
Envy not me that bliss! I will assay it,
My love deserves it, and thou canst not stay it.
Justice! then take thy doom; for we intend,
Except both live, no life: one love, one end.
Thus with embraces and exhorting other:
With tear-dew'd kisses that had pow'r to smother
Their soft and ruddy lips close join'd with either,
That in their deaths their souls might meet together:
With prayers as hopeful as sincerely good,
Expecting death they on the cliff's edge stood,
And lastly were (by one oft forcing breath)
Thrown from the rock into the arms of death.
Fair Thetis, whose command the waves obey,
Loathing the loss of so much worth as they,
Was gone before their fall; and by her pow'r
The billows (merciless, us'd to devour,
And not to save,) she made to swell up high,
Even at the instant when the tragedy
Of those kind souls should end: so to receive them,
And keep what cruelty would fain bereave them.
Her hest was soon perform'd: and now they lay
Embracing on the surface of the sea,
Void of all sense; a spectacle so sad
That Thetis, not no nymph which there she had,
Touch'd with their woes, could for a while refrain,
But from their heavenly eyes did sadly rain
Such show'rs of tears (so pow'rful, since divine)
That ever since the sea doth taste of brine.
With tears, thus to make good her first intent,
She both the lovers to her chariot hent:
Recalling life that had not clearly ta'en
Full leave of his or her more curious fane,
And with her praise sung by these thankful pair
Steer'd on her coursers, swift as fleeting air,
Towards her palace built beneath the seas,
Proud of her journey, but more proud of these.
By that time Night had newly spread her robe
Over our half-part of this massy globe,
She won that famous Isle which Jove did please
To honour with the holy Druidës;
And as the western side she stript along,
Heard, and so stay'd to hear, this heavy song:

O Heaven! what may I hope for in this cave?
A Grave.
But who to me this last of help shall retch?
A Wretch.
Shall none be by pitying so sad a wight?
Yes: Night.

Small comfort can befall in heavy plight
To me, poor maid, in whose distresses be
Nor hope, nor help, nor one to pity me,
But a cold Grave, a Wretch, and darksome Night.

To dig that grave what fatal things appears?
Thy Tears.
What bell shall ring me to that bed of ease?
Rough Seas.
And who for mourners hath my Fate assign'd?
Each Wind.
Can any be debarr'd from such I find?
When to my last rites gods no other send
To make my grave, for knell, or mourning friend,
Than mine own Tears, rough Seas, and gusts of Wind.

Tears must my grave dig: but who bringeth those?
Thy Woes.
What monument will Heaven my body spare?
The Air.
And what the epitaph when I am gone?
Most miserable I, and like me none
Both dying, and in death, to whom is lent
Nor spade, nor epitaph, nor monument,
Excepting Woes, Air, and Oblivion.

The end of this gave life unto a groan,
As if her life and it had been but one;
Yet she as careless of reserving either,
If possible would leave them both together.
It was the fair Marina, almost spent
With grief and fear of future famishment.
For (hapless chance) but the last rosy morn
The willing redbreast, flying through a thorn,
Against a prickle gor'd his tender side,
And in an instant so, poor creature, died.
Thetis, much mov'd with those sad notes she heard,
Her freeing thence to Triton soon referr'd;
Who found the cave as soon as set on shore,
And by his strength removing from the door
A weighty stone, brought forth the fearful maid,
Which kindly led where his fair mistress stay'd,
Was entertain'd as well became her sort,
And with the rest steer'd on to Thetis' court,
For whose release from imminent decay
My Muse awhile will here keep holiday.

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net