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

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 2. THE FIRST SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Marina's freedom now I sing
Last Line: Shall make the rivers dance and valleys ring.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Great Britain


Marina's freedom now I sing,
And of her new endangering:
Of Famine's Cave, and then th' abuse
Tow'rds buried Colin and his Muse.

As when a mariner, accounted lost,
Upon the wat'ry Desert long time tost,
In Summer's parching heat, in Winter's cold,
In tempests great, in dangers manifold,
Is by a fav'ring wind drawn up the mast,
Whence he descries his native soil at last,
For whose glad sight he gets the hatches under,
And to the ocean tells his joy in thunder,
(Shaking those barnacles into the sea,
At once that in the womb and cradle lay)
When suddenly the still inconstant wind
Masters before, that did attend behind,
And grows so violent that he is fain
Command the pilot stand to sea again,
Lest want of sea-room in a channel straight,
Or casting anchor might cast o'er his freight:
Thus, gentle Muse, it happens in my song:
A journey, tedious for a strength so young,
I undertook by silver-seeming floods,
Past gloomy bottoms and high-waving woods,
Climb'd mountains where the wanton kidling dallies,
Then with soft steps enseal'd the meeken'd valleys,
In quest of memory: and had possest
A pleasant garden for a welcome rest
No sooner, than a hundred themes come on,
And hale my bark anew for Helicon.
Thrice-sacred Powers! (if sacred Powers there be
Whose mild aspect engyrland Poesy)
Ye happy sisters of the learned Spring,
Whose heavenly notes the woods are ravishing!
Brave Thespian maidens, at whose charming lays
Each moss-thrumb'd mountain bends, each current plays!
Piërian singers! O ye blessed Muses!
Who as a gem too dear the world refuses!
Whose truest lovers never clip with age,
O be propitious in my pilgrimage!
Dwell on my lines! and till the last sand fall,
Run hand in hand with my weak Pastoral!
Cause every coupling cadence flow in blisses,
And fill the world with envy of such kisses.
Make all the rarest beauties of our clime,
That deign a sweet look on my younger rhyme,
To linger on each line's enticing graces,
As on their lovers' lips and chaste embraces!
Through rolling trenches of self-drowning waves,
Where stormy gusts throw up untimely graves,
By billows whose white foam show'd angry minds
For not out-roaring all the high-rais'd winds,
Into the ever-drinking thirsty sea
By rocks that under water hidden lay
To shipwreck passengers, (so in some den
Thieves bent to robb'ry watch wayfaring men,)
Fairest Marina, whom I whilom sung,
In all this tempest, violent though long,
Without all sense of danger lay asleep:
Till tossed where the still inconstant deep,
With widespread arms, stood ready for the tender
Of daily tribute that the swoll'n floods render
Into her chequer; whence, as worthy kings,
She helps the wants of thousand lesser springs:
Here wax'd the winds dumb, shut up in their caves;
As still as midnight were the sullen waves;
And Neptune's silver ever-shaking breast
As smooth as when the halcyon builds her nest.
None other wrinkles on his face were seen
Than on a fertile mead, or sportive green,
Where never ploughshare ripp'd his mother's womb
To give an aged seed a living tomb;
Nor blinded mole the batt'ning earth e'er stirr'd;
Nor boys made pitfalls for the hungry bird.
The whistling reeds upon the waters' side
Shot up their sharp heads in a stately pride;
And not a binding osier bow'd his head,
But on his root him bravely carried.
No dandling leaf play'd with the subtile air,
So smooth the sea was, and the sky so fair.
Now with his hands, instead of broad-palm'd oars,
The swain attempts to get the shell strew'd shores,
And with continual lading making way.
Thrust the small boat into as fair a bay
As ever merchant wish'd might be the road
Wherein to ease his sea-torn vessel's load.
It was an island, hugg'd in Neptune's arms,
As tend'ring it against all foreign harms,
And Mona hight: so amiably fair,
So rich in soil, so healthful in her air,
So quick in her increase, (each dewy night
Yielding that ground as green, as fresh of plight
As 'twas the day before, whereon then fed
Of gallant steers full many a thousand head)
So deck'd with floods, so pleasant in her groves,
So full of well-fleec'd flocks and fatten'd droves;
That the brave issue of the Trojan line,
Whose worths, like diamonds, yet in darkness shine;
Whose deeds were sung by learned bards as high,
In raptures of immortal poesy,
As any nations, since the Grecian lads
Were famous made by Homer's Iliads:
Those brave heroic spirits, 'twixt one another,
Proverbially call Mona Cambria's mother.
Yet Cambria is a land from whence have come
Worthies well worth the race of Ilium;
Whose true desert of praise could my Muse touch,
I should be proud that I had done so much.
And though of mighty Brute I cannot boast,
Yet doth our warlike strong Devonian coast
Resound his worth, since on her wave-worn strand
He and his Trojans first set foot on land,
Struck sail, and anchor cast on Totnes' shore.
Though now no ship can ride there any more.
In th' island's road the swain now moors his boat
Unto a willow, lest it outwards float,
And with a rude embracement taking up
The maid, more fair than she that fill'd the cup
Of the great thunderer, wounding with her eyes
More hearts than all the troops of deities,
He wades to shore, and sets her on the sand,
That gently yielded when her foot should land;
Where bubbling waters through the pebbles fleet,
As if they strove to kiss her slender feet.
Whilst like a wretch, whose cursed hand hath ta'en
The sacred relics from a holy fane,
Feeling the hand of Heaven (enforcing wonder)
In his return, in dreadful cracks of thunder,
Within a bush his sacrilege hath left,
And thinks his punishment freed with the theft:
So fled the swain from one; had Neptune spied
At half an ebb he would have forc'd the tide
To swell anew, whereon his car should sweep,
Deck'd with the riches of th' unsounded deep,
And he from thence would with all state on shore,
To woo this beauty, and to woo no more.
Divine Electra (of the sisters seven
That beautify the glorious orb of heaven)
When Ilium's stately towers serv'd as one light
To guide the ravisher in ugly night
Unto her virgin beds, withdrew her face,
And never would look down on human race
Till this maid's birth; since when some power hath won her
By often fits to shine as gazing on her.
Grim Saturn's son, the dread Olympic Jove,
That dark'd three days to frolic with his love,
Had he in Alcmen's stead clipp'd this fair wight,
The world had slept in everlasting night.
For whose sake only (had she lived then)
Deucalion's flood had never rag'd on men;
Nor Phaeton perform'd his father's duty,
For fear to rob the world of such a beauty:
In whose due praise a learned quill might spend
Hours, days, months, years, and never make an end.
What wretch inhuman, or what wilder blood,
Suck'd in a desert from a tiger's brood,
Could leave her so disconsolate? but one
Bred in the wastes of frost-bit Calydon;
For had his veins been heat with milder air,
He had not wrong'd so foul a maid so fair.
Sing on, sweet Muse, and whilst I feed mine eyes
Upon a jewel and unvalued prize,
As bright a star, a dame, as fair, as chaste,
As eye beheld, or shall, till Nature's last,
Charm her quick senses, and with raptures sweet
Make her affection with your cadence meet!
And if her graceful tongue admire one strain,
It is the best reward my pipe would gain.
In lieu whereof, in laurel-worthy rhymes
Her love shall live until the end of times,
And spite of age the last of days shall see
Her name embalm'd in sacred poesy.
Sadly alone upon the aged rocks,
Whom Thetis grac'd in washing oft their locks
Of branching samphire, sat the maid o'ertaken
With sighs and tears, unfortunate, forsaken,
And with a voice that floods from rocks would borrow,
She thus both wept and sung her notes of sorrow:
If Heaven be deaf and will not hear my cries,
But adds new days to add new miseries;
Hear then, ye troubled waves and flitting gales,
That cool the bosoms of the fruitful vales!
Lend, one, a flood of tears, the other, wind,
To weep and sigh that Heaven is so unkind!
But if ye will not spare of all your store
One tear or sigh unto a wretch so poor;
Yet as ye travel on this spacious round,
Through forests, mountains, or the lawny ground,
If't hap you see a maid weep forth her woe,
As I have done, O bid her as ye go
Not lavish tears! for when her own are gone,
The world is flinty and will lend her none.
If this be eke deni'd, O hearken then,
Each hollow vaulted rock and crooked den!
And if within your sides one Echo be,
Let her begin to rue my destiny!
And in your clefts her plainings do not smother,
But let that Echo teach it to another!
Till round the world in sounding coombe and plain,
The last of them tell it the first again:
Of my sad fate so shall they never lin,
But where one ends, another still begin.
Wretch that I am, my words I vainly waste;
Echo of all woes only speaks the last;
And that's enough: for should she utter all,
As at Medusa's head, each heart would fall
Into a flinty substance, and repine
At no one grief except as great as mine.
No careful nurse would wet her watchful eye,
When any pang should gripe her infantry,
Nor though to Nature it obedience gave,
And kneel'd to do her homage in the grave,
Would she lament her suckling from her torn;
'Scaping by death those torments I have borne.
This sigh'd, she wept, low leaning on her hand,
Her briny tears down raining on the sand,
Which seen by them that sport it in the seas
On dolphins' backs, the fair Nereides,
They came on shore, and slily as they fell
Convey'd each tear into an oyster-shell,
And by some power that did affect the girls,
Transform'd those liquid drops to orient pearls,
And strew'd them on the shore: for whose rich prize
In winged pines the Roman colonies
Flung through the deep abyss to our white rocks
For gems to deck their ladies' golden locks:
Who valu'd them as highly in their kinds
As those the sunburnt Æthiopian finds.
Long on the shore distress'd Marina lay:
For he that opes the pleasant sweets of May,
Beyond the noonstead so far drove his team,
That harvest folks, with curds and clouted cream,
With cheese and butter, cakes, and cates enow,
That are the yeoman's from the yoke or cow,
On sheaves of corn were at their noonshun's close,
Whilst [by] them merrily the bagpipe goes:
Ere from her hand she lifted up her head,
Where all the Graces then inhabited.
When casting round her over-drowned eyes,
(So have I seen a gem of mickle price
Roll in a scallop-shell with water fill'd)
She, on a marble rock at hand beheld,
In characters deep cut with iron stroke,
A shepherd's moan, which, read by her, thus spoke:

Glide soft, ye silver floods,
And every spring:
Within the shady woods
Let no bird sing!
Nor from the grove a turtle-dove
Be seen to couple with her love;
But silence on each dale and mountain dwell,
Whilst Willy bids his friend and joy farewell.

But (of great Thetis' train)
Ye mermaids fair,
That on the shores do plain
Your sea-green hair,
As ye in trammels knit your locks,
Weep ye; and so enforce the rocks
In heavy murmurs through the broad shores tell
How Willy bade his friend and joy farewell.

Cease, cease, ye murd'ring winds,
To move a wave;
But if with troubled minds
You seek his grave;
Know 'tis as various as yourselves,
Now in the deep, then on the shelves,
His coffin toss'd by fish and surges fell,
Whilst Willy weeps and bids all joy farewell.

Had he Arion-like
Been judg'd to drown,
He on his lute could strike
So rare a sowne,
A thousand dolphins would have come
And jointly strive to bring him home.
But he on shipboard died, by sickness fell,
Since when his Willy bade all joy farewell.

Great Neptune, hear a swain!
His coffin take,
And with a golden chain
For pity make
It fast unto a rock near land!
Where ev'ry calmy morn I'll stand,
And ere one sheep out of my fold I tell,
Sad Willy's pipe shall bid his friend farewell.

Ah heavy shepherd, whosoe'er thou be,
Quoth fair Marina, I do pity thee:
For who by death is in a true friend cross'd,
Till he be earth, he half himself hath lost.
More happy deem I thee, lamented swain,
Whose body lies among the scaly train,
Since I shall never think that thou canst die,
Whilst Willy lives, or any poetry:
For well it seems in versing he hath skill,
And though he, aided from the sacred hill,
To thee with him no equal life can give,
Yet by his pen thou may'st for ever live.
With this a beam of sudden brightness flies
Upon her face, so dazzling her clear eyes,
That neither flower nor grass which by her grew
She could discern cloth'd in their perfect hue.
For as a wag, to sport with such as pass,
Taking the sunbeams in a looking-glass,
Conveys the ray into the eyes of one
Who, blinded, either stumbles at a stone,
Or as he dazzled walks the peopled streets,
Is ready justling every man he meets:
So then Apollo did in glory cast
His bright beams on a rock with gold enchas'd,
And thence the swift reflection of their light
Blinded those eyes, the chiefest stars of night.
When straight a thick-swoll'n cloud (as if it sought
In beauty's mind to have a thankful thought)
Inveil'd the lustre of great Titan's car,
And she beheld from whence she sat, not far,
Cut on a high-brow'd rock, inlaid with gold,
This epitaph, and read it, thus enroll'd:

In depth of waves long hath Alexis slept,
So choicest jewels are the closest kept;
Whose death the land had seen, but it appears
To countervail his loss men wanted tears.
So here he lies, whose dirge each mermaid sings,
For whom the clouds weep rain, the Earth her springs.

Her eyes these lines acquainted with her mind
Had scarcely made, when o'er the hill behind
She heard a woman cry: "Ah well-a-day,
What shall I do? Go home, or fly, or stay?"

Admir'd Marina rose, and with a pace
As graceful as the goddesses did trace
O'er stately Ida when fond Paris' doom
Kindled the fire should mighty Troy entomb,
She went to aid the woman in distress,
(True beauty never was found merciless)
Yet durst she not go nigh lest, being spied,
Some villain's outrage that might then betide,
For ought she knew, unto the crying maid,
Might grasp with her: by thickets which array'd
The high sea-bounding hill so near she went,
She saw what wight made such loud dreriment.
Loud? yes: sung right: for since the azure sky
Imprison'd first the world, a mortal's cry
With greater clangour never pierc'd the air.
A wight she was so far from being fair;
None could be foul esteem'd compar'd with her.
Describing foulness, pardon if I err,
Ye shepherds' daughters, and ye gentle swains!
My Muse would gladly chant more lovely strains:
Yet since on miry grounds she trod, for doubt
Of sinking, all in haste, thus wades she out.
As when great Neptune in his height of pride
The inland creeks fills with a high spring-tide,
Great shoals of fish among the oysters hie,
Which by a quick ebb on the shores left dry,
The fishes yawn, the oysters gapen wide:
So broad her mouth was. As she stood and cried,
She tore her elvish knots of hair, as black
And full of dust as any collier's sack.
Her eyes, unlike, were like her body right,
Squint and misshapen, one dun, t'other white.
As in a picture limn'd unto the life,
Or carved by a curious workman's knife,
If twenty men at once should come to see
The great effects of untir'd industry,
Each sev'rally would think the picture's eye
Was fix'd on him and on no stander-by:
So as she bawling was upon the bank,
If twice five hundred men stood on a rank,
Her ill face towards them, every one would say,
She looks on me; when she another way
Had cast her eyes, as on some rock or tree,
And on no one of all that company.
Her nose (O crooked nose!) her mouth o'erhung,
As it would be directed by her tongue:
Her forehead such, as one might near avow
Some ploughman there had lately been at plough.
Her face so scorch'd was, and so vild it shows,
As on a pear-tree she had scar'd the crows.
Within a tanner's fat I oft have eyed
(That three moons there had lain) a large ox-hide
In liquor mix'd with strongest bark (for gain)
Yet had not ta'en one-half so deep a stain
As had her skin, and that as hard well-nigh
As any brawns long harden'd in the sty.
Her shoulders such, as I have often seen
A silly cottage on a village green
Might change his corner-posts, in good behoof,
For four such under-proppers to his roof.
Housewives, go hire her, if you yearly gave
A lambkin more than use, you that might save
In washing-beetles, for her hands would pass
To serve that purpose, though you daily wash.
For other hidden parts thus much I say;
As ballad-mongers on a market-day
Taking their stand, one (with as harsh a noise
As ever cart-wheel made) squeaks the sad choice
Of Tom the Miller with a golden thumb,
Who, cross'd in love, ran mad and deaf and dumb;
Half part he chants, and will not sing it out,
But thus he speaks to his attentive rout:
Thus much for love I warbled from my breast,
And, gentle friends, for money take the rest:
So speak I to the over-longing ear,
That would the rest of her description hear,
Much have I sung for love, the rest (not common)
Martial will show for coin in 's crabbed woman.
If e'er you saw a pedant 'gin prepare
To speak some graceful speech to master mayor,
And being bashful, with a quaking doubt
That in his eloquence he may be out,
He oft steps forth, as oft turns back again;
And long 'tis ere he ope his learned vein:
Think so Marina stood: for now she thought
To venture forth, then some conjecture wrought
Her to be jealous left this ugly wight,
Since like a witch she look'd, through spells of night
Might make her body thrall that yet was free
To all the foul intents of witchery:
This drew her back again. At last she broke
Through all fond doubts, went to her, and bespoke
In gentle manner thus: Good day, good maid;
With that her cry she on a sudden stay'd,
And rubb'd her squint eyes with her mighty fist
But as a miller, having ground his grist,
Lets down his flood-gates with a speedy fall,
And quarring up the passage therewithal,
The waters swell in spleen, and never stay
Till by some cleft they find another way:
So when her tears were stopp'd from either eye
Her singults, blubb'rings seem'd to make them fly
Out at her oyster-mouth and nosethrils wide.
Can there (quoth fair Marina) e'er betide
In these sweet groves a wench so great a wrong,
That should enforce a cry so loud, so long?
On these delightful plains how can there be
So much as heard the name of villainy?
Except when shepherds in their gladsome fit
Sing hymns to Pan that they are free from it.
But show me, what hath caus'd thy grievous yell?
As late (quoth she) I went to yonder well,
(You cannot see it here; that grove doth cover
With his thick boughs his little channel over)
To fetch some water, as I use, to dress
My master's supper (you may think of flesh;
But well I wot he tasteth no such dish)
Of rotchets, whitings, or such common fish,
That with his net he drags into his boat:
Among the flags below there stands his cote,
A simple one, thatch'd o'er with reed and broom;
It hath a kitchen and a several room
For each of us.—But this is nought: you flee,
Replied Marine, I prithee answer me
To what I question'd. Do but hear me first,
Answer'd the hag. He is a man so curst,
Although I toil at home, and serve his swine,
Yet scarce allows he me whereon to dine:
In summer time on blackberries I live,
On crabs and haws, and what wild forests give:
In winter's cold, barefoot, I run to seek
For oysters and small winkles in each creek,
Whereon I feed, and on the meagre slone.
But if he home return and find me gone,
I still am sure to feel his heavy hand.
Alas and wealaway, since now I stand
In such a plight: for if I seek his door
He'll beat me ten times worse than e'er before.
What hast thou done? (yet ask'd Marina) say?
I with my pitcher lately took my way
(As late I said) to thilk same shaded spring,
Fill'd it, and homewards, rais'd my voice to sing;
But in my back return, I (hapless) spied
A tree of cherries wild, and them I eyed
With such a longing that unwares my foot
Got underneath a hollow-growing root;
Carrying my pot as maids use on their heads,
I fell with it, and broke it all to shreds.
This is my grief, this is my cause of moan.
And if some kind wight go not to atone
My surly master with me, wretched maid,
I shall be beaten dead. Be not afraid,
Said sweet Marina, hasten thee before;
I'll come to make thy peace: for since I sore
Do hunger, and at home thou hast small cheer,
(Need and supply grow far off, seldom near,)
To yonder grove I'll go to taste the spring,
And see what it affords for nourishing.
Thus parted they. And sad Marina blest
The hour she met the maid, who did invest
Her in assured hope she once should see
Her flock again and drive them merrily
To their flower-decked lair, and tread the shores
Of pleasant Albion through the well-pois'd oars
Of the poor fisherman that dwelt thereby.
But as a man who in a lottery
Hath ventur'd of his coin, ere he have ought,
Thinks this or that shall with his prize be bought,
And so enrich'd, march with the better rank,
When suddenly he's call'd, and all is blank:
To chaste Marina so doth Fortune prove,
"Statesmen and she are never firm in love."
No sooner had Marina got the wood,
But as the trees she nearly search'd for food,
A villain lean as any rake appears,
That look'd, as pinch'd with famine, Egypt's years,
Worn out and wasted to the pithless bone,
As one that had a long consumption.
His rusty teeth (forsaken of his lips
As they had serv'd with want two 'prenticeships)
Did through his pallid cheek and lankest skin
Bewray what number were enrank'd within.
His greedy eyes deep sunk into his head,
Which with a rough hair was o'ercovered.
How many bones made up this starved wight
Was soon perceiv'd; a man of dimmest sight
Apparently might see them knit, and tell
How all his veins and every sinew fell.
His belly inwards drawn, his bowels press'd,
His unfill'd skin hung dangling on his breast,
His feeble knees with pain enough uphold
That pined carcase, casten in a mould
Cut out by Death's grim form. If small legs wan
Ever the title of a gentleman,
His did acquire it. In his flesh pull'd down
As he had liv'd in a beleaguer'd town,
Where plenty had so long estranged been
That men most worthy note in grief were seen
(Though they rejoic'd to have attain'd such meat)
Of rats and half-tann'd hides with stomachs great
Gladly to feed: and where a nurse, most vild,
Drunk her own milk, and starv'd her crying child.
Yet he through want of food not thus became:
But Nature first decreed, that as the flame
Is never seen to fly his nourishment,
But all consumes: and still the more is lent
The more it covets: and as all the floods,
Down trenching from small groves and greater woods,
The vast insatiate sea doth still devour,
And yet his thirst not quenched by their power:
So ever should befall this starved wight,
The more his viands more his appetite.
Whate'er the deeps bring forth, or earth, or air,
He ravine should, and want in greatest fare.
And what a city twice seven years would serve,
He should devour, and yet be like to starve.
A wretch so empty, that if e'er there be
In Nature found the least vacuity,
'Twill be in him. The grave to Ceres' store;
A cannibal to lab'rers old and poor;
A sponge-like dropsy, drinking till it burst;
The sickness term'd the wolf, vild and accurs'd;
In some respects like th' art of alchemy,
That thrives least when it long'st doth multiply.
Limos he cleeped was: whose long-nail'd paw
Seizing Marina, and his sharp-fang'd jaw
(The strongest part he had) fix'd in her weeds,
He forc'd her thence, through thickets and high reeds,
Towards his cave. Her fate the swift winds rue,
And round the grove in heavy murmurs flew.
The limbs of trees that, as in love with either,
In close embracements long had liv'd together,
Rubb'd each on other, and in shrieks did show
The winds had mov'd more partners of their woe.
Old and decayed stocks that long time spent
Upon their arms their roots' chief nourishment,
And that drawn dry, as freely did impart
Their boughs a-feeding on their father's heart,
Yet by respectless imps when all was gone,
Pithless and sapless, naked left alone,
Their hollow trunks, fill'd with their neighbours' moans,
Sent from a thousand vents ten thousand groans.
All birds flew from the wood, as they had been
Scar'd with a strong bolt rattling 'mong the treen.
Limos with his sweet theft full slily rushes
Through sharp-hook'd brambles, thorns, and tangling bushes,
Whose tenters sticking in her garments sought,
Poor shrubs, to help her, but availing nought,
As angry (best intents miss'd best proceeding)
They scratch'd his face and legs, clear water bleeding.
Not greater haste a fearful school-boy makes
Out of an orchard whence by stealth he takes
A churlish farmer's plums, sweet pears or grapes,
Than Limos did, as from the thick he 'scapes
Down to the shore. Where resting him a space,
Restless Marina 'gan entreat for grace
Of one whose knowing it as desp'rate stood,
As where each day to get supply of food.
O! had she thirsty such entreaty made
At some high rock, proud of his evening shade,
He would have burst in two, and from his veins,
For her avail, upon the under plains
A hundred springs a hundred ways should swim,
To show her tears enforced floods from him.
Had such an oratress been heard to plead
For fair Polyxena, the murth'rer's head
Had been her pardon, and so 'scap'd that shock,
Which made her lover's tomb her dying block.
Not an enraged lion, surly, wood;
No tiger reft her young, nor savage brood;
No, not the foaming boar, that durst approve
Loveless to leave the mighty Queen of Love,
But her sad plaints their uncouth walks among
Spent in sweet numbers from her golden tongue,
So much their great hearts would in softness steep,
They at her foot would grovelling lie and weep.
Yet now (alas!) nor words, nor floods of tears
Did ought avail. The belly hath no ears.
As I have known a man loath meet with gain
That carrieth in his front least show of pain,
Who for his victuals all his raiment pledges,
Whose stacks for firing are his neighbours' hedges,
From whence returning with a burden great,
Wearied, on some green bank he takes his seat,
But fearful (as still theft is in his stay)
Gets quickly up, and hasteth fast away:
So Limos sooner eased than yrested
Was up and through the reeds (as much molested
As in the brakes) who lovingly combine,
And for her aid together twist and twine;
Now manacling his hands, then on his legs
Like fetters hang the under-growing segs:
And had his teeth not been of strongest hold,
He there had left his prey. Fates uncontroll'd
Denied so great a bliss to plants or men,
And lent him strength to bring her to his den.
West, in Apollo's course to Tagus' stream,
Crown'd with a silver-circling diadem
Of wet exhaled mists, there stood a pile
Of aged rocks (torn from the neighbour isle
And girt with waves) against whose naked breast
The surges tilted, on his snowy crest
The tow'ring falcon whilom built, and kings
Strove for that aerie, on whose scaling wings
Monarchs in gold refin'd as much would lay
As might a month their army royal pay.
Brave birds they were, whose quick, self-less'ning kin
Still won the girlonds from the peregrine.
Not Cerna Isle in Afric's silver main,
Nor lustful-bloody-Tereus' Thracian strain,
Nor any other lording of the air,
Durst with this aerie for their wing compare.
About his sides a thousand sea-gulls bred,
The mevy and the halcyon famosed
For colours rare, and for the peaceful seas
Round the Sicilian coast, her brooding days.
Puffins (as thick as starlings in a fen)
Were fetch'd from thence: there sat the pewet hen,
And in the clefts the martin built his nest.
But those by this curs'd caitiff dispossess'd
Of roost and nest, the least; of life, the most:
All left that place, and sought a safer coast.
Instead of them the caterpillar haunts,
And cankerworm among the tender plants,
That here and there in nooks and corners grew
Of cormorants and locusts not a few;
The cramming raven, and a hundred more
Devouring creatures; yet when from the shore
Limos came wading (as he easily might
Except at high tides) all would take their flight,
Or hide themselves in some deep hole or other,
Lest one devourer should devour another.
Near to the shore that border'd on the rock
No merry swain was seen to feed his flock,
No lusty neatherd thither drove his kine,
Nor boorish hogherd fed his rooting swine:
A stony ground it was, sweet herbage fail'd:
Nought there but weeds, which Limos, strongly nail'd,
Tore from their mother's breast to stuff his maw.
No crab-tree bore his load, nor thorn his haw.
As in a forest well complete with deer
We see the hollies, ashes, everywhere
Robb'd of their clothing by the browsing game:
So near the rock all trees where'er you came,
To cold December's wrath stood void of bark.
Here danc'd no nymph, no early-rising lark
Sung up the ploughman and his drowsy mate:
All round the rock['s] barren and desolate.
In midst of that huge pile was Limos' cave,
Full large and round, wherein a miller's knave
Might for his horse and quern have room at will:
Where was out-drawn by some enforced skill
What mighty conquests were achiev'd by him.
First stood the siege of great Jerusalem,
Within whose triple wall and sacred city—
(Weep, ye stone-hearted men! oh, read and pity!
'Tis Sion's cause invokes your briny tears:
Can any dry eye be when she appears
As I must sing her? oh, if such there be,
Fly, fly th' abode of men! and hasten thee
Into the desert, some high mountain under,
Or at thee boys will hiss, and old men wonder)—
Here sits a mother weeping, pale and wan,
With fixed eyes, whose hopeless thoughts seem'd ran
How (since for many days no food she tasted,
Her meal, her oil consum'd, all spent, all wasted)
For one poor day she might attain supply,
And desp'rate of aught else, sit, pine, and die.
At last her mind meets with her tender child
That in the cradle lay (of osiers wild),
Which taken in her arms, she gives the teat,
From whence the little wretch with labour great
Not one poor drop can suck: whereat she, wood,
Cries out, O Heaven! are all the founts of food
Exhausted quite? and must my infant young
Be fed with shoes? yet wanting those ere long,
Feed on itself? No, first the room that gave
Him soul and life shall be his timeless grave:
My dugs, thy best relief, through griping hunger
Flow now no more, my babe; then since no longer
By me thou canst be fed, nor any other,
Be thou the nurse and feed thy dying mother.
Then in another place she straight appears,
Seething her suckling in her scalding tears.
From whence not far the painter made her stand
Tearing his sod flesh with her cruel hand
In gobbets which she ate. O cursed womb,
That to thyself art both the grave and tomb.
A little sweet lad, there, seems to entreat
With held up hands his famish'd sire for meat,
Who wanting aught to give his hoped joy
But throbs and sighs; the over-hungry boy,
For some poor bit in dark nooks making quest,
His satchel finds, which grows a gladsome feast
To him and both his parents. Then, next day
He chews the points wherewith he us'd to play:
Devouring last his books of every kind,
They fed his body which should feed his mind:
But when his satchel, points, books all were gone,
Before his sire he droops, and dies anon.
In height of art then had the workman done,
A pious, zealous, most religious son,
Who on the enemy excursion made,
And spite of danger strongly did invade
Their victuals' convoy, bringing from them home
Dri'd figs, dates, almonds, and such fruits as come
To the beleag'ring foe, and sates the want
Therewith of those who from a tender plant
Bred him a man for arms: thus oft he went,
And stork-like sought his parents' nourishment,
Till fates decreed he on the Roman spears
Should give his blood for them who gave him theirs.
A million of such throes did Famine bring
Upon the city of the mighty king,
Till, as her people, all her buildings rare
Consum'd themselves and dimm'd the lightsome air.
Near this the curious pencil did express
A large and solitary wilderness,
Whose high well-limned oaks in growing show'd
As they would ease strong Atlas of his load:
Here underneath a tree in heavy plight,
Her bread and pot of water wasted quite,
Egyptian Hagar, nipp'd with hunger fell,
Sat robb'd of hope: her infant Ishmael,
Far from her being laid, full sadly seem'd
To cry for meat, his cry she naught esteem'd,
But kept her still, and turn'd her face away,
Knowing all means were bootless to assay
In such a desert; and since now they must
Sleep their eternal sleep, and cleave to dust,
She chose apart to grasp one death alone,
Rather than by her babe a million.
Then Eresichthon's case in Ovid's song
Was portrayed out; and many more along
The insides of the cave, which were descried
By many loop-holes round on every side.
These fair Marina view'd, left all alone,
The cave fast shut, Limos for pillage gone;
Near the wash'd shore 'mong roots and breers and thorns,
A bullock finds, who delving with his horns
The hurtless earth (the while his tough hoof tore
The yielding turf) in furious rage he bore
His head among the boughs that held it round,
While with his bellows all the shores resound:
Him Limos kill'd, and hal'd with no small pain
Unto the rock; fed well; then goes again:
Which serv'd Marina fit, for had his food
Fail'd him, her veins had fail'd their dearest blood.
Now great Hyperion left his golden throne
That on the dancing waves in glory shone,
For whose declining on the western shore
The oriental hills black mantles wore,
And thence apace the gentle twilight fled,
That had from hideous caverns ushered
All-drowsy Night, who in a car of jet,
By steeds of iron-grey, which mainly sweat
Moist drops on all the world, drawn through the sky,
The helps of darkness waited orderly.
First thick clouds rose from all the liquid plains;
Then mists from marishes, and grounds whose veins
Were conduit-pipes to many a crystal spring;
From standing pools and fens were following
Unhealthy fogs; each river, every rill
Sent up their vapours to attend her will
These pitchy curtains drew 'twixt earth and heaven.
And as Night's chariot through the air was driven,
Clamour grew dumb, unheard was shepherd's song,
And silence girt the woods; no warbling tongue
Talk'd to the Echo; satyrs broke their dance,
And all the upper world lay in a trance.
Only the curled streams soft chidings kept;
And little gales that from the green leaf swept
Dry summer's dust, in fearful whisp'rings stirr'd,
As loath to waken any singing bird.
Darkness no less than blind Cimmerian
Of Famine's cave the full possession wan,
Where lay the shepherdess inwrapt with night,
The wished garment of a mournful wight.
Here silken slumbers and refreshing sleep
Were seldom found; with quiet minds those keep,
Not with disturbed thoughts; the beds of kings
Are never press'd by them, sweet rest enrings
The tired body of the swarty clown,
And oft'ner lies on flocks than softest down.
Twice had the cock crown, and in cities strong
The bellman's doleful noise and careful song
Told men, whose watchful eyes no slumber hent,
What store of hours theft-guilty night had spent.
Yet had not Morpheus with this maiden been,
As fearing Limos, whose impetuous teen
Kept gentle rest from all to whom his cave
Yielded enclosure deadly as the grave;
But to all sad laments left her forlorn,
In which three watches she had nigh outworn.
Fair silver-footed Thetis that time threw
Along the ocean with a beauteous crew
Of her attending sea-nymphs, Jove's bright lamps
Guiding from rocks her chariot's hippocamps:
A journey only made unwares to spy
If any mighties of her empery
Oppress'd the least, and forc'd the weaker sort
To their designs by being great in court.
O! should all potentates whose higher birth
Enrols their titles, other gods on earth,
Should they make private search, in veil of night,
For cruel wrongs done by each favourite;
Here should they find a great one paling in
A mean man's land, which many years had been
His charge's life, and by the other's hest,
The poor must starve to feed a scurvy beast.
If any recompense drop from his fist,
His time's his own, the money what he list.
There should they see another that commands
His farmer's team from furrowing his lands,
To bring him stones to raise his building vast,
The while his tenant's sowing time is past.
Another (spending) doth his rents enhance,
Or gets by tricks the poor's inheritance.
But as a man whose age hath dimm'd his eyes,
Useth his spectacles, and as he prys
Through them all characters seem wondrous fair,
Yet when his glasses quite removed are,
Though with all careful heed he nearly look,
Cannot perceive one tittle in the book;
So if a king behold such favourites,
Whose being great was being parasites,
With th' eyes of favour, all their actions are
To him appearing plain and regular:
But let him lay his sight of grace aside,
And see what men he hath so dignified,
They all would vanish, and not dare appear,
Who, atom-like, when their sun shined clear,
Danc'd in his beam; but now his rays are gone,
Of many hundred we perceive not one.
Or as a man who, standing to descry
How great floods far off run, and valleys lie,
Taketh a glass prospective good and true,
By which things most remote are full in view:
If monarchs, so, would take an instrument
Of truth compos'd to spy their subjects drent
In foul oppression by those high in seat,
Who care not to be good but to be great,
In full aspect the wrongs of each degree
Would lie before them; and they then would see
The devilish politician all convinces,
In murd'ring statesmen and in pois'ning princes;
The prelate in pluralities asleep,
Whilst that the wolf lies preying on his sheep;
The drowsy lawyer, and the false attorneys
Tire poor men's purses with their lifelong journeys;
The country gentleman from's neighbour's hand
Forceth th' inheritance, joins land to land,
And most insatiate seeks under his rent
To bring the world's most spacious continent;
The fawning citizen (whose love's bought dearest)
Deceives his brother when the sun shines clearest,
Gets, borrows, breaks, lets in, and stops out light,
And lives a knave to leave his son a knight;
The griping farmer hoards the seed of bread,
Whilst in the streets the poor lie famished:
And free there's none from all this worldly strife,
Except the shepherd's heaven-bless'd happy life.
But stay, sweet Muse, forbear this harsher strain!
Keep with the shepherds; leave the satyrs' vein;
Coop not with bears; let Icarus alone
To scorch himself within the torrid zone:
Let Phaeton run on, Ixion fall,
And with an humble styled Pastoral
Tread through the valleys, dance about the streams.
The lowly dales will yield us anadems
To shade our temples, 'tis a worthy meed,
No better garland seeks mine oaten reed;
Let others climb the hills, and to their praise,
Whilst I sit girt with flowers, be crown'd with bays.
Show now, fair Muse, what afterward became
Of great Achilles' mother; she whose name
The mermaids sing, and tell the weeping strand
A braver lady never tripp'd on land,
Except the ever-living Faëry Queen,
Whose virtues by her swain so written been,
That time shall call her high enhanced story
In his rare song, the Muses' chiefest glory.
So mainly Thetis drove her silver throne,
Inlaid with pearls of price and precious stone,
For whose gay purchase she did often make
The scorched negro dive the briny lake,
That by the swiftness of her chariot wheels,
Scouring the main as well-built English keels,
She of the new-found world all coasts had seen,
The shores of Thessaly, where she was queen,
Her brother Pontus' waves, embrac'd, with those
Mœotian fields and vales of Tenedos,
Strait Hellespont, whose high-brow'd cliffs yet sound
The mournful name of young Leander drown'd;
Then with full speed her horses doth she guide
Through the Ægean Sea, that takes a pride
In making difference 'twixt the fruitful lands,
Europe and Asia almost joining hands,
But that she thrusts her billows all afront
To stop their meeting through the Hellespont.
The Midland Sea so swiftly was she scouring,
The Adriatic gulf brave ships devouring.
To Padus' silver stream then glides she on,
Enfamoused by reckless Phaeton,
Padus that doth beyond his limits rise,
When the hot dog-star rains his maladies,
And robs the high and air-invading Alps
Of all their winter-suits and snowy scalps,
To drown the levell'd lands along his shore,
And make him swell with pride. By whom of yore
The sacred Heliconian damsels sat,
To whom was mighty Pindus consecrate,
And did decree, neglecting other men,
Their height of art should flow from Maro's pen;
And prattling echoes evermore should long
For repetition of sweet Naso's song.
It was enacted here in after days
What wights should have their temples crown'd with bays;
Learn'd Ariosto, holy Petrarch's quill,
And Tasso should ascend the Muses' hill.
Divinest Bartas, whose enriched soul
Proclaim'd his Maker's worth, should so enroll
His happy name in brass, that Time nor Fate
That swallow all, should ever ruinate:
Delightful Saluste, whose all-blessed lays
The shepherds make their hymns on holy-days;
And truly say thou in one week hast penn'd
What time may ever study, ne'er amend.
Marot and Ronsard, Garnier's buskin'd Muse
Should spirit of life in very stones infuse;
And many another swan whose powerful strain
Should raise the golden world to life again.
But let us leave, fair Muse, the banks of Po;
Thetis forsook his brave stream long ago,
And we must after. See, in haste she sweeps
Along the Celtic shores; th' Armorick deeps
She now is ent'ring: bear up then ahead,
And by that time she hath discovered
Our alablaster rocks, we may descry
And ken with her the coasts of Britany.
There will she anchor cast to hear the songs
Of English shepherds, whose all-tuneful tongues
So pleas'd the naiades, they did report
Their songs' perfection in great Nereus' court:
Which Thetis hearing, did appoint a day
When she would meet them in the British Sea,
And thither for each swain a dolphin bring
To ride with her, whilst she would hear him sing.
The time prefix'd was come; and now the star
Of blissful light appear'd, when she her car
Stay'd in the Narrow Seas. At Thames' fair port
The nymphs and shepherds of the Isle resort,
And thence did put to sea with mirthful rounds,
Whereat the billows dance above their bounds,
And bearded goats, that on the clouded head
Of any sea-surveying mountain fed,
Leaving to crop the ivy, list'ning stood
At those sweet airs which did entrance the flood.
In jocund sort the goddess thus they met,
And after rev'rence done, all being set
Upon their finny coursers round her throne,
And she prepar'd to cut the wat'ry zone
Engirting Albion, all their pipes were still,
And Colin Clout began to tune his quill
With such deep art, that every one was given
To think Apollo, newly slid from heav'n,
Had ta'en a human shape to win his love,
Or with the Western swains for glory strove.
He sung th' heroic knights of fairyland
In lines so elegant, of such command,
That had the Thracian play'd but half so well,
He had not left Eurydice in hell.
But ere he ended his melodious song
An host of angels flew the clouds among,
And rapt this swan from his attentive mates
To make him one of their associates
In heaven's fair choir: where now he sings the praise
Of him that is the first and last of days.
Divinest Spenser, heav'n-bred, happy Muse!
Would any power into my brain infuse
Thy worth, or all that poets had before,
I could not praise till thou deserv'st no more.
A damp of wonder and amazement strook
Thetis' attendants; many a heavy look
Follow'd sweet Spenser, till the thick'ning air
Sight's further passage stopp'd. A passionate tear
Fell from each nymph, no shepherd's cheek was dry,
A doleful dirge, and mournful elegy
Flew to the shore; when mighty Nereus' queen,
In memory of what was heard and seen,
Employ'd a factor, fitted well with store
Of richest gems, refined Indian ore,
To raise, in honour of his worthy name,
A pyramis, whose head like winged Fame
Should pierce the clouds, yea, seem the stars to kiss,
And Mausolus' great tomb might shroud in his.
Her will had been performance, had not Fate,
That never knew how to commiserate,
Suborn'd curs'd Avarice to lie in wait
For that rich prey—(gold is a taking bait)—
Who closely lurking like a subtle snake
Under the covert of a thorny brake,
Seiz'd on the factor by fair Thetis sent,
And robb'd our Colin of his monument.
Ye English shepherds, sons of Memory,
For satires change your pleasing melody;
Scourge, rail and curse that sacrilegious hand,
That more than fiend of hell, that Stygian brand,
All-guilty Avarice, that worst of evil,
That gulf-devouring offspring of a devil:
Heap curse on curse so direful and so fell,
Their weight may press his damned soul to hell.
Is there a spirit so gentle can refrain
To torture such? O let a satyr's vein
Mix with that man! to lash this hellish limb,
Or all our curses will descend on him.
For mine own part, although I now commerce
With lowly shepherds in as low a verse,
If of my days I shall not see an end
Till more years press me, some few hours I'll spend
In rough-hewn satires, and my busied pen
Shall jerk to death this infamy of men.
And like a Fury glowing coulters bear,
With which—But see how yonder fondlings tear
Their fleeces in the brakes; I must go free
Them of their bonds; rest you here merrily
Till my return, when I will touch a string
Shall make the rivers dance and valleys ring.

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