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



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

Rhyming Dictionary Search
BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 2. THE FOURTH SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The cornish swains and british bard
Last Line: And quickly come, to end the rest, again.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Great Britain


THE ARGUMENT.

The Cornish swains and British bard
Thetis hath with attention heard.
And after meets an aged man
That tells the hapless love of Pan:
And why the flocks do live so free
From wolves within rich Britanny.

LOOK as a lover with a ling'ring kiss
About to part with the best half that's his,
Fain would he stay but that he fears to do it,
And curseth time for so fast hast'ning to it:
Now takes his leave, and yet begins anew
To make less vows than are esteemed true:
Then says he must be gone, and then doth find
Something he should have spoke that's out of mind;
And whilst he stands to look for't in her eyes,
Their sad-sweet glance so tie his faculties
To think from what he parts, that he is now
As far from leaving her, or knowing how,
As when he came; begins his former strain,
To kiss, to vow, and take his leave again:
Then turns, comes back, sighs, parts, and yet doth go,
Apt to retire, and loath to leave her sc.
Brave stream, so part I from thy flow'ry bank,
Where first I breath'd, and, though unworthy, drank
Those sacred waters which the Muses bring
To woo Britannia to their ceaseless spring.
Now would I on, but that the crystal wells,
The fertile meadows and their pleasing smells,
The woods delightful and the scatter'd groves,
Where many nymphs walk with their chaster loves,
Soon make me stay: and think that Ordgar's son,
Admonish'd by a heavenly vision,
Not without cause did that apt fabric rear,
Wherein we nothing now but echoes hear
That wont with heavenly anthems daily ring
And duest praises to the greatest King,
In this choice plot, since he could light upon
No place so fit for contemplation.
Though I awhile must leave this happy soil,
And follow Thetis in a pleasing toil,
Yet when I shall return, I'll strive to draw
The nymphs by Tamar, Tavy, Exe and Taw,
By Turridge, Otter, Ock, by Dart and Plym,
With all the naiades that fish and swim
In their clear streams, to these our rising Downs,
Where while they make us chaplets, wreaths and crowns,
I'll tune my reed unto a higher key,
And have already conn'd some of the lay,
Wherein, as Mantua by her Virgil's birth,
And Thames by him that sung her nuptial mirth,
You may be known, though not in equal pride,
As far as Tiber throws his swelling tide.
And by a shepherd, feeding on your plains,
In humble, lowly, plain, and ruder strains,
Hear your worths challenge other floods among,
To have a period equal with their song.
Where Plym and Tamar with embraces meet,
Thetis weighs anchor now, and all her fleet:
Leaving that spacious sound, within whose arms
I have those vessels seen, whose hot alarms
Have made Iberia tremble, and her towers
Prostrate themselves before our iron showers;
While their proud builders' hearts have been inclin'd
To shake, as our brave ensigns, with the wind.
For as an eyerie from their siege's wood
Led o'er the plains and taught to get their food
By seeing how their breeder takes his prey;
Now from an orchard do they scare the jay,
Then o'er the cornfields as they swiftly fly,
Where many thousand hurtful sparrows lie
Beating the ripe grain from the bearded ear,
At their approach all (overgone with fear)
Seek for their safety: some into the dike,
Some in the hedges drop, and others like
The thick-grown corn as for their hiding best,
And under turfs or grass most of the rest;
That of a flight which cover'd all the grain,
Not one appears, but all or hid, or slain:
So by heröes were we led of yore,
And by our drums that thunder'd on each shore,
Struck with amazement countries far and near;
Whilst their inhabitants, like herds of deer
By kingly lions chas'd, fled from our arms.
If any did oppose instructed swarms
Of men immail'd, Fate drew them on to be
A greater fame to our got victory.
But now our leaders want; those vessels lie
Rotting, like houses through ill husbandry;
And on their masts, where oft the ship-boy stood,
Or silver trumpets charm'd the brackish flood,
Some wearied crow is set; and daily seen
Their sides instead of pitch caulk'd o'er with green:
Ill hap (alas) have you that once were known
By reaping what was by Iberia sown,
By bringing yellow sheaves from out their plain,
Making our barns the storehouse for their grain:
When now as if we wanted land to till,
Wherewith we might our useless soldiers fill:
Upon their hatches where half-pikes were borne,
In every chink rise stems of bearded corn:
Mocking our idle times that so have wrought us,
Or putting us in mind what once they brought us.
Bear with me, shepherds, if I do digress,
And speak of what ourselves do not profess.
Can I behold a man that in the field,
Or at a breach hath taken on his shield
More darts than ever Roman; that hath spent
Many a cold December in no tent
But such as earth and heaven make; that hath been
Except in iron plates not long time seen;
Upon whose body may be plainly told
More wounds than his lank purse doth almsdeeds hold;
O! can I see this man, advent'ring all,
Be only grac'd with some poor hospital,
Or may be worse, entreating at his door
For some relief whom he secur'd before,
And yet not show my grief? First may I learn
To see, and yet forget how to discern;
My hands neglectful be at any need,
Or to defend my body, or to feed,
Ere I respect those times that rather give him
Hundreds to punish than one to relieve him.
As in an evening when the gentle air
Breathes to the sullen night a soft repair,
I oft have sat on Thames' sweet bank to hear
My friend with his sweet touch to charm mine ear,
When he hath play'd, as well he can, some strain
That likes me, straight I ask the same again;
And he as gladly granting, strikes it o'er
With some sweet relish was forgot before,
I would have been content if he would play
In that one strain to pass the night away;
But fearing much to do his patience wrong,
Unwillingly have ask'd some other song:
So in this diff'ring key, though I could well
A many hours but as few minutes tell,
Yet lest mine own delight might injure you,
Though loath so soon, I take may song anew.
Yet as when I with other swains have been
Invited by the maidens of our green
To wend to yonder wood, in time of year
When cherry-trees enticing burdens bear,
He that with wreathed legs doth upwards go,
Plucks not alone for those which stand below;
But now and then is seen to pick a few
To please himself as well as all his crew:
Or if from where he is he do espy
Some apricock upon a bough thereby,
Which overhangs the tree on which he stands,
Climbs up and strives to take it with his hands:
So if to please myself I somewhat sing,
Let it not be to you less pleasuring.
No thirst of glory tempts me: for my strains
Befit poor shepherds on the lowly plains;
The hope of riches cannot draw from me
One line that tends to servile flattery,
Nor shall the most in titles on the earth
Blemish my Muse with an adulterate birth,
Nor make me lay pure colours on a ground
Where nought substantial can be ever found.
No; such as sooth a base and dunghill spirit,
With attributes fit for the most of merit,
Cloud their free Muse; as when the sun doth shine
On straw and dirt mix'd by the sweating hyne,
It nothing gets from heaps so much impure
But noisome steams that do his light obscure.
My freeborn Muse will not like Danae be,
Won with base dross to clip with slavery;
Nor lend her choicer balm to worthless men,
Whose names would die but for some hired pen.
No; if I praise, virtue shall draw me to it,
And not a base procurement make me do it.
What now I sing is but to pass away
A tedious hour, as some musicians play;
Or make another my own griefs bemoan;
Or to be least alone when most alone.
In this can I as oft as I will choose,
Hug sweet content by my retired Muse,
And in a study find as much to please
As others in the greatest palaces.
Each man that lives, according to his power,
On what he loves bestows an idle hour.
Instead of hounds that make the wooded hills
Talk in a hundred voices to the rills,
I like the pleasing cadence of a line
Struck by the consort of the sacred Nine.
In lieu of hawks, the raptures of my soul
Transcend their pitch and baser earth's control.
For running horses, Contemplation flies
With quickest speed to win the greatest prize.
For courtly dancing, I can take more pleasure
To hear a verse keep time and equal measure.
For winning riches, seek the best directions
How I may well subdue mine own affections.
For raising stately piles for heirs to come,
Here in this poem I erect my tomb.
And Time may be so kind in these weak lines
To keep my name enroll'd past his that shines
In gilded marble, or in brazen leaves:
Since verse preserves, when stone and brass deceives.
Or if (as worthless) Time not lets it live
To those full days which others' Muses give,
Yet I am sure I shall be heard and sung
Of most severest eld and kinder young
Beyond my days; and, maugre Envy's strife,
Add to my name some hours beyond my life.
Such of the Muses are the able powers,
And since with them I spent my vacant hours,
I find nor hawk, nor hound, nor other thing,
Tourneys nor revels, pleasures for a king,
Yield more delight; for I have oft possess'd
As much in this as all in all the rest,
And that without expense, when others oft
With their undoings have their pleasures bought.
On now, my loved Muse, and let us bring
Thetis to hear the Cornish Michael sing;
And after him to see a swain unfold
The tragedy of Drake in leaves of gold.
Then hear another Grenville's name relate,
Which times succeeding shall perpetuate,
And make those two the pillars great of fame,
Beyond whose worths shall never sound a name,
Nor Honour in her everlasting story
More deeper grave for all ensuing glory.
Now Thetis stays to hear the shepherds tell
Where Arthur met his death, and Mordred fell:
Of holy Ursula, that fam'd her age,
With other virgins in her pilgrimage:
And as she forwards steers is shown the rock
Main-Amber, to be shook with weakest shock,
So equal is it pois'd; but to remove
All strength would fail, and but an infant's prove.
Thus while to please her some new songs devise,
And others diamonds (shaped angle-wise,
And smooth'd by Nature, as she did impart
Some willing time to trim herself by art,)
Sought to present her and her happy crew;
She of the Gulf and Scillies took a view,
And doubling then the Point, made on away
Tow'rds goodly Severn and the Irish Sea;
There meets a shepherd that began sing o'er
The lay which aged Robert sung of yore,
In praise of England and the deeds of swains
That whilom fed and rul'd upon our plains.
The British bards then were not long time mute,
But to their sweet harps sung their famous Brute:
Striving in spite of all the mists of eld,
To have his story more authentic held.
Why should we envy them those wreaths of fame:
Being as proper to the Trojan name,
As are the dainty flowers which Flora spreads
Unto the spring in the discolour'd meads?
Rather afford them all the worth we may,
For what we give to them adds to our ray.
And, Britons, think not that your glories fall,
Derived from a mean original;
Since lights that may have power to check the dark,
Can have their lustre from the smallest spark.
"Not from nobility doth virtue spring,
But virtue makes fit nobles for a king.
From highest nests are croaking ravens born,
When sweetest nightingales sit in the thorn."
From what low fount soe'er your beings are,
In softer peace and mighty brunts of war,
Your own worths challenge as triumphant bays
As ever Trojan hand had power. to raise.
And when I leave my music's plainer ground,
The world shall know it from Bellona's sound.
Nor shall I err from truth; for what I write
She doth peruse, and helps me to indite.
The small converse which I have had with some,
Branches which from those gallant trees have come,
Doth what I sing in all their acts approve,
And with more days increase a further love.
As I have seen the Lady of the May
Set in an arbour, on a holiday,
Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swains
Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's strains,
When envious night commands them to be gone,
Call for the merry youngsters one by one,
And for their well performance soon disposes:
To this a garland interwove with roses,
To that a carved hook or well-wrought scrip,
Gracing another with her cherry lip;
To one her garter, to another then
A handkerchief cast o'er and o'er again;
And none returneth empty that hath spent
His pains to fill their rural merriment:
So Nereus' daughter, when the swains had done,
With an unsparing, liberal hand begun
To give to every one that sung before,
Rich orient pearls brought from her hidden store,
Red branching coral, and as precious gems
As ever beautified the diadems:
That they might live what chance their sheep betide,
On her reward, yet leave their heirs beside.
Since when I think the world doth nothing give them,
As weening Thetis ever should relieve them;
And poets freely spend a golden shower,
As they expected her again each hour.
Then with her thanks and praises for their skill
In tuning numbers of the sacred hill,
She them dismiss'd to their contented cotes;
And every swain a several passage floats
Upon his dolphin. Since whose safe repair,
Those fishes like a well-composed air;
And (as in love to men) are ever seen
Before a tempest's rough regardless teen,
To swim high on the waves, as none should dare,
Excepting fishes, to adventure there.
When these had left her, she drave on in pride
Her prouder coursers through the swelling tide,
To view the Cambrian cliffs, and had not gone
An hour's full speed, but near a rock (whereon
Congealed frost and snow in summer lay,
Seldom dissolved by Hyperion's ray,)
She saw a troop of people take their seat,
Whereof some wrung their hands, and some did beat
Their troubled breasts, in sign of mickle woe,
For those are actions grief enforceth to.
Willing to know the cause, somewhat near hand
She spies an aged man sit by the strand,
Upon a green hillside, not meanly crown'd
With golden flowers, as chief of all the ground:
By him a little lad, his cunning heir,
Tracing green rushes for a winter chair.
The old man while his son full neatly knits them
Unto his work begun, as trimly fits them.
Both so intending what they first propounded,
As all their thoughts by what they wrought were bounded.
To them she came, and kindly thus bespake:
Ye happy creatures, that your pleasures take
In what your needs enforce, and never aim
A limitless desire to what may maim
The settled quiet of a peaceful state,
Patience attend your labours! And when Fate
Brings on the restful night to your long days,
Wend to the fields of bliss! Thus Thetis prays.
Fair queen, to whom all duteous praise we owe,
Since from thy spacious cistern daily flow
(Replied the swain) refreshing streams that fill
Earth's dugs, the hillocks, so preserving still
The infant grass, when else our lambs might bleat
In vain for suck, whose dams have nought to eat:
For these thy prayers we are doubly bound,
And that these cleeves should know; but, O, to sound
My often mended pipe presumption were,
Since Pan would play if thou wouldst please to hear.
The louder blasts which I was wont to blow
Are now but faint, nor do my fingers know
To touch half part those merry tunes I had.
Yet if thou please to grace my little lad
With thy attention, he may somewhat strike
Which thou from one so young may'st chance to like.
With that the little shepherd left his task,
And with a blush, the roses' only mask,
Denied to sing. Ah father, quoth the boy,
How can I tune a seeming note of joy?
The work which you command me, I intend
Scarce with a half-bent mind, and therefore spend
In doing little, now, an hour or two,
Which I in lesser time could neater do.
As oft as I with my more nimble joints
Trace the sharp rushes' ends, I mind the points
Which Philocel did give; and when I brush
The pretty tuft that grows beside the rush,
I never can forget in yonder lair
How Philocel was wont to stroke my hair.
No more shall I be ta'en unto the wake,
Nor wend a-fishing to the winding lake;
No more shall I be taught on silver strings
To learn the measures of our banquetings;
The twisted collars and the ringing bells,
The morris scarves and cleanest drinking shells
Will never be renew'd by any one;
Nor shall I care for more when he is gone.
See! yonder hill where he was wont to sit,
A cloud doth keep the golden sun from it,
And for his seat, as teaching us, hath made
A mourning covering with a scowling shade.
The dew on every flower this morn hath lain
Longer than it was wont this side the plain;
Belike they mean, since my best friend must die,
To shed their silver drops as he goes by.
Not all this day here, nor in coming hither,
Heard I the sweet birds tune their songs together,
Except one nightingale in yonder dell
Sigh'd a sad elegy for Philocel;
Near whom a wood-dove kept no small ado
To bid me in her language "Do so too."
The wether's bell that leads our flock around
Yields, as methinks, this day a deader sound.
The little sparrows which in hedges creep,
Ere I was up did seem to bid me weep.
If these do so, can I have feeling less,
That am more apt to take and to express?
No; let my own tunes be the mandrake's groan,
If now they tend to mirth when all have none.
My pretty lad, quoth Thetis, thou dost well
To fear the loss of thy dear Philocel.
But tell me, sire, what may that shepherd be?
Or if it lie in us to set him free,
Or if with you yond people touch'd with woe
Under the self-same load of sorrow go.
Fair queen, replied the swain, one is the cause
That moves our grief, and those kind shepherds draws
To yonder rock. Thy more than mortal spirit
May give a good beyond our power to merit;
And therefore please to hear while I shall tell
The hapless fate of hopeless Philocel.
Whilom great Pan, the father of our flocks,
Lov'd a fair lass so famous for her locks,
That in her time all women first begun
To lay their looser tresses to the sun;
And theirs whose hue to hers was not agreeing,
Were still roll'd up as hardly worth the seeing.
Fondly have some been led to think that man
Music's invention first of all began
From the dull hammer's stroke; since well we know
From sure tradition that hath taught us so,
Pan, sitting once to sport him with his fair,
Mark'd the intention of the gentle air,
In the sweet sound her chaste words brought along,
Fram'd by the repercussion of her tongue:
And from that harmony begun the art
Which others (though unjustly) do impart
To bright Apollo from a meaner ground:
A sledge or parched nerves; mean things to found
So rare an art on; when there might be given
All earth for matter with the gyre of heaven.
To keep her slender fingers from the sun,
Pan through the pastures oftentimes hath run
To pluck the speckled foxgloves from their stem,
And on those fingers neatly placed them.
The honeysuckles would he often strip,
And lay their sweetness on her sweeter lip,
And then, as in reward of such his pain,
Sip from those cherries some of it again.
Some say that Nature, while this lovely maid
Liv'd on our plains, the teeming earth array'd
With damask roses in each pleasant place,
That men might liken somewhat to her face.
Others report: Venus, afraid her son
Might love a mortal as he once had done,
Preferr'd an earnest suit to highest Jove,
That he which bore the winged shafts of love,
Might be debarr'd his sight, which suit was sign'd,
And ever since the god of love is blind.
Hence is't he shoots his shafts so clean awry,
Men learn to love when they should learn to die;
And women, which before to love began
Man without wealth, love wealth without a man.
Great Pan of his kind nymph had the embracing
Long, yet too short a time. For as in tracing
These pithful rushes, such as are aloft
By those that rais'd them presently are brought
Beneath unseen: so in the love of Pan
(For gods in love do undergo as man),
She whose affection made him raise his song,
And, for her sport, the satyrs rude among
Tread wilder measures than the frolic guests,
That lift their light heels at Lyæus' feasts:
She by the light of whose quick-turning eye
He never read but of felicity:
She whose assurance made him more than Pan,
Now makes him far more wretched than a man.
For mortals in their loss have death a friend,
When gods have losses, but their loss no end.
It chanc'd one morn, clad in a robe of grey,
And blushing oft as rising to betray,
Entic'd this lovely maiden from her bed
(So when the roses have discovered
Their taintless beauties, flies the early bee
About the winding alleys merrily)
Into the wood, and 'twas her usual sport,
Sitting where most harmonious birds resort,
To imitate their warbling in a quill
Wrought by the hand of Pan, which she did fill
Half full with water: and with it hath made
The nightingale, beneath a sullen shade,
To chant her utmost lay, nay, to invent
New notes to pass the other's instrument,
And, harmless soul, ere she would leave that strife,
Sung her last song, and ended with her life;
So gladly choosing, as do other some,
Rather to die than live and be o'ercome.
But as in autumn (when birds cease their notes,
And stately forests don their yellow coats;
When Ceres' golden locks are nearly shorn,
And mellow fruit from trees are roughly torn),
A little lad set on a bank to shale
The ripen'd nuts pluck'd in a woody vale,
Is frighted thence, of his dear life afeard,
By some wild bull loud bellowing for the herd:
So while the nymph did earnestly contest
Whether the birds or she recorded best,
A ravenous wolf, bent eager to his prey,
Rush'd from a thievish brake; and making way,
The twined thorns did crackle one by one,
As if they gave her warning to be gone.
A rougher gale bent down the lashing boughs,
To beat the beast from what his hunger vows.
When she (amaz'd) rose from her hapless seat
(Small is resistance where the fear is great),
And striving to be gone, with gaping jaws
The wolf pursues, and as his rending paws
Were like to seize, a holly bent between;
For which good deed his leaves are ever green.
Saw you a lusty mastive at the stake,
Thrown from a cunning bull, more fiercely make
A quick return? yet to prevent the gore
Or deadly bruise which he escap'd before,
Wind here and there, nay creep if rightly bred,
And proff'ring otherwhere, fight still at head:
So though the stubborn boughs did thrust him back,
(For Nature, loath so rare a jewel's wrack,
Seem'd as she here and there had plash'd a tree,
If possible to hinder destiny,)
The savage beast foaming with anger flies
More fiercely than before, and now he tries
By sleights to take the maid; as I have seen
A nimble tumbler on a burrow'd green,
Bend clean awry his course, yet give a check
And throw himself upon a rabbit's neck.
For as he hotly chas'd the love of Pan,
A herd of deer out of a thicket ran,
To whom he quickly turn'd, as if he meant
To leave the maid, but when she swiftly bent
Her race down to the plain, the swifter deer
He soon forsook; and now was got so near
That, all in vain, she turned to and fro
As well she could, but not prevailing so,
Breathless and weary calling on her love
With fearful shrieks that all the echoes move
To call him too, she fell down deadly wan,
And ends her sweet life with the name of Pan.
A youthful shepherd of the neighbour wold,
Missing that morn a sheep out of his fold,
Carefully seeking round to find his stray,
Came on the instant where this damsel lay.
Anger and pity in his manly breast
Urge yet restrain his tears. Sweet maid, possess'd
(Quoth he) with lasting sleep, accept from me
His end, who ended thy hard destiny!
With that his strong dog, of no dastard kind,
Swift as the foals conceived by the wind,
He sets upon the wolf, that now with speed
Flies to the neighbour-wood; and lest a deed
So full of ruth should unrevenged be,
The shepherd follows too, so earnestly
Cheering his dog, that he ne'er turn'd again
Till the curst wolf lay strangled on the plain.
The ruin'd temple of her purer soul
The shepherd buries. All the nymphs condole
So great a loss, while on a cypress' graff
Near to her grave they hung this epitaph:

Lest loathed age might spoil the work in whom
All earth delighted, Nature took it home;
Or angry all hers else were careless deem'd,
Here did her best to have the rest esteem'd;
For fear men might not think the Fates so cross,
But by their rigour in as great a loss.
If to the grave there ever was assign'd
One like this nymph in body and in mind,
We wish her here in balm not vainly spent,
To fit this maiden with a monument.
For brass and marble were they seated here
Would fret or melt in tears to lie so near.

Now Pan may sit and tune his pipe alone
Among the wished shades, since she is gone,
Whose willing ear allur'd him more to play,
Than if to hear him should Apollo stay.
Yet happy Pan! and in thy love more blest,
Whom none but only death hath dispossess'd;
While others love as well, yet live to be
Less wrong'd by Fate than by inconstancy.
The sable mantle of the silent night
Shut from the world the ever-joysome light;
Care fled away, and softest slumbers please
To leave the court for lowly cottages;
Wild beasts forsook their dens on woody hills,
And sleightful otters left the purling rills;
Rooks to their nests in high woods now were flung,
And with their spread wings shield their naked young;
When thieves from thickets to the cross-ways stir,
And terror frights the lonely passenger;
When nought was heard but now and then the howl
Of some vild cur, or whooping of the owl;
Pan, that the day before was far away
At shepherds' sports, return'd; and as he lay
Within the bower wherein he most delighted,
Was by a ghastly vision thus affrighted:
Heart-thrilling groans first heard he round his bower,
And then the screech-owl with her utmost power
Labour'd her loathed note, the forests bending
With winds, as Hecate had been ascending.
Hereat his curled hairs on end do rise,
And chilly drops trill o'er his staring eyes.
Fain would he call, but knew not who, nor why,
Yet getting heart at last would up and try
If any devilish hag were come abroad
With some kind mother's late deliver'd load,
A ruthless bloody sacrifice to make
To those infernal powers that by the lake
Of mighty Styx and black Cocytus dwell,
Aiding each witch's charm and mystic spell.
But as he rais'd himself within his bed,
A sudden light about his lodging spread,
And therewithal his love, all ashy pale
As evening mist from up a wat'ry vale,
Appear'd, and weakly near his bed she press'd.
A ravell'd wound distain'd her purer breast,
Breasts softer far than tufts of unwrought silk,
Whence had she liv'd to give an infant milk,
The virtue of that liquor, without odds,
Had made her babe immortal as the gods.
Pan would have spoke, but him she thus prevents:
Wonder not that the troubled elements
Speak my approach; I draw no longer breath,
But am enforced to the shades of death.
My exequies are done, and yet before
I take my turn to be transported o'er
The nether floods among the shades of Dis,
To end my journey in the fields of bliss,
I come to tell thee that no human hand
Made me seek waftage on the Stygian strand;
It was an hungry wolf that did imbrue
Himself in my last blood. And now I sue
In hate to all that kind, and shepherds' good,
To be revenged on that cursed brood.
Pan vow'd, and would have clipp'd her, but she fled,
And as she came, so quickly vanished.
Look as a well-grown, stately-headed buck,
But lately by the woodman's arrow struck,
Runs gadding o'er the lawns, or nimbly strays
Among the cumbrous brakes a thousand ways,
Now through the high-wood scours, then by the brooks,
On every hillside, and each vale he looks,
If 'mongst their store of simples may be found
An herb to draw and heal his smarting wound,
But when he long hath sought, and all in vain,
Steals to the covert closely back again,
Where round engirt with fern more highly sprung,
Strives to appease the raging with his tongue,
And from the speckled herd absents him till
He be recover'd somewhat of his ill:
So wounded Pan turns in his restless bed,
But finding thence all ease abandoned,
He rose, and through the wood distracted runs:
Yet carries with him what in vain he shuns.
Now he exclaim'd on Fate, and wish'd he ne'er
Had mortal lov'd, or that he mortal were.
And sitting lastly on an oak's bare trunk,
Where rain in winter stood long time unsunk,
His plaints he 'gan renew, but then the light
That through the boughs flew from the Queen of Night,
As giving him occasion to repine,
Bewray'd an elm embraced by a vine,
Clipping so strictly that they seem'd to be
One in their growth, one shade, one fruit, one tree,
Her boughs his arms, his leaves so mix'd with hers,
That with no wind he mov'd but straight she stirs,
As showing all should be, whom love combin'd:
In motion one, and only two in kind.
This more afflicts him while he thinketh most
Not on his loss, but on the substance lost.
O hapless Pan, had there but been one by
To tell thee, though as poor a swain as I,
Though, whether casual means or death do move,
"We part not without grief things held with love:
Yet in their loss some comfort may be got
If we do mind the time we had them not."
This might have lessen'd somewhat of thy pain,
Or made thee love as thou might'st lose again.
If thou the best of women didst forego,
Weigh if thou found'st her, or didst make her so;
If she were found so, know there's more than one;
If made, the workman lives, though she be gone.
Should from mine eyes the light be ta'en away,
Yet night her pleasures hath as well as day;
And my desires to Heaven yield less offence,
Since blindness is a part of innocence.
So though thy love sleep in eternal night,
Yet there's in loneness somewhat may delight.
Instead of dalliance, partnership in woes
It wants, the care to keep, and fear to lose.
For jealousies and fortune's baser pelf,
He rest enjoys that well enjoys himself.
Had some one told thee thus, or thou bethought thee
Of inward help, thy sorrow had not brought thee
To weigh misfortune by another's good:
Nor leave thy seat to range about the wood.
Stay where thou art, turn where thou wert before,
Light yields small comfort, nor hath darkness more.
A woody hill there stood, at whose low feet
Two goodly streams in one broad channel meet,
Whose fretful waves beating against the hill,
Did all the bottom with soft mutt'rings fill.
Here in a nook made by another mount,
(Whose stately oaks are in no less account
For height or spreading, than the proudest be
That from Oëta look on Thessaly,)
Rudely o'erhung there is a vaulted cave,
That in the day as sullen shadows gave,
As evening to the woods. An uncouth place,
(Where hags and goblins might retire a space,)
And hated now of shepherds, since there lies
The corpse of one, less loving deities
Than we affected him, that never lent
His hand to ought but to our detriment.
A man that only liv'd to live no more,
And died still to be dying; whose chief store
Of virtue was, his hate did not pursue her,
Because he only heard of her, not knew her;
That knew no good, but only that his sight
Saw everything had still his opposite;
And ever this his apprehension caught,
That what he did was best, the other naught;
That always lov'd the man that never lov'd;
And hated him whose hate no death had mov'd;
That (politic) at fitting time and season
Could hate the traitor, and yet love the treason;
That many a woful heart (ere his decease)
In pieces tore to purchase his own peace;
Who never gave his alms but in this fashion,
To salve his credit more than for salvation;
Who on the names of good men ever fed,
And (most accursed) sold the poor for bread.
Right like the pitch-tree, from whose any limb
Comes never twig, shall be the seed of him.
The Muses scorn'd by him, laugh at his fame,
And never will vouchsafe to speak his name.
Let no man for his loss one tear let fall,
But perish with him his memorial!
Into this cave the god of shepherds went;
The trees in groans, the rocks in tears lament
His fatal chance: the brooks that whilom leapt
To hear him play while his fair mistress slept,
Now left their eddies and such wanton moods,
And with loud clamours fill'd the neighb'ring woods.
There spent he most of night; but when the day
Drew from the earth her pitchy veil away,
When all the flow'ry plains with carols rung
That by the mounting lark were shrilly sung,
When dusky mists rose from the crystal floods,
And darkness nowhere reign'd but in the woods,
Pan left the cave, and now intends to find
The sacred place where lay his love enshrin'd:
A plot of earth, in whose chill arms was laid
As much perfection as had ever maid;
If curious Nature had but taken care
To make more lasting what she made so fair.
Now wanders Pan the arched groves, and hills
Where fairies often danc'd, and shepherds' quills
In sweet contentions pass'd the tedious day:
Yet, being early, in his unknown way
Met not a shepherd, nor on all the plain
A flock then feeding saw, nor of his train
One jolly satyr stirring yet abroad,
Of whom he might inquire; this to the load
Of his affliction adds. Now he invokes
Those nymphs in mighty forests that with oaks
Have equal fates, each with her several tree
Receiving birth and ending destiny:
Calls on all powers, entreats that he might have
But for his love the knowledge of her grave;
That since the fates had ta'en the gem away,
He might but see the cark'net where it lay,
To do fit right to such a part of mould,
Covering so rare a piece that all the gold
Or diamond earth can yield, for value ne'er
Shall match the treasure which was hidden there!
A hunting nymph awaken'd with his moan,
(That in a bower near hand lay all alone,
Twining her small arms round her slender waist,
That by no others us'd to be embrac'd,)
Got up, and knowing what the day before
Was guilty of, she adds not to his store
As many simply do, whose friends so cross'd
They more afflict by showing what is lost,
But bade him follow her. He, as she leads,
Urgeth her haste. So a kind mother treads
Earnest, distracted, where with blood defil'd
She hears lies dead her dear and only child.
Mistrust now wing'd his feet, then raging ire,
"For speed comes ever lamely to desire."
Delays, the stones that waiting suitors grind,
By whom at court the poor man's cause is sign'd,
Who to dispatch a suit will not defer
To take death for a joint commissioner;
Delay, the wooer's bane, revenge's hate,
The plague to creditors' decay'd estate,
The test of patience, of our hopes the rack,
That draws them forth so long until they crack;
Virtue's best benefactor in our times,
One that is set to punish great men's crimes,
She that had hinder'd mighty Pan a while,
Now steps aside: and as o'erflowing Nile
Hid from Clymene's son his reeking head,
So from his rage all opposition fled,
Giving him way to reach the timeless tomb
Of Nature's glory, for whose ruthless doom
(When all the Graces did for mercy plead,
And youth and goodness both did intercede,)
The sons of earth, if living, had been driven
To heap on hills, and war anew with Heaven.
The shepherds which he miss'd upon the downs
Here meets he with: for from the neighb'ring towns
Maidens and men resorted to the grave
To see a wonder more than time e'er gave.
The holy priests had told them long agone
Amongst the learned shepherds there was one
So given to piety, and did adore
So much the name of Pan, that when no more
He breath'd, those that to ope his heart began,
Found written there with gold the name of Pan.
Which unbelieving man that is not mov'd
To credit ought, if not by reason prov'd,
And ties the overworking power to do
Nought otherwise than Nature reacheth to,
Held as most fabulous: not inly seeing,
The hand by whom we live, and all have being,
No work for admirable doth intend,
Which reason hath the power to comprehend,
And faith no merit hath from heaven lent
Where human reason yields experiment.
Till now they durst not trust the legend old,
Esteeming all not true their elders told,
And had not this last accident made good
The former, most in unbelief had stood.
But Fame, that spread the bruit of such a wonder,
Bringing the swain[s] of places far asunder
To this selected plot (now famous more
Than any grove, mount, plain, had been before
By relic, vision, burial, or birth
Of anchoress, or hermit yet on earth),
Out of the maiden's bed of endless rest
Shows them a tree new grown, so fairly dress'd
With spreading arms and curled top that Jove
Ne'er braver saw in his Dodonian grove;
The heart-like leaves oft each with other pile,
As do the hard scales of the crocodile;
And none on all the tree was seen but bore
Written thereon in rich and purest ore
The name of Pan; whose lustre far beyond
Sparkled, as by a torch the diamond;
Or those bright spangles which, fair goddess, do
Shine in the hair of these which follow you.
The shepherds by direction of great Pan
Search'd for the root, and finding it began
In her true heart, bids them again enclose
What now his eyes for ever, ever lose.
Now in the self-same sphere his thoughts must move
With him that did the shady plane-tree love.
Yet though no issue from her loins shall be
To draw from Pan a noble pedigree,
And Pan shall not, as other gods have done,
Glory in deeds of an heroic son,
Nor have his name is countries near and far
Proclaim'd, as by his child the Thunderer;
If Phœbus on this tree spread warming rays,
And northern blasts kill not her tender sprays,
His love shall make him famous in repute,
And still increase his name, yet bear no fruit.
To make this sure, the god of shepherds last,
When other ceremonies were o'erpast,
And to perform what he before had vow'd
To dire revenge, thus spake unto the crowd:
What I have lost, kind shepherds, all you know,
And to recount it were to dwell in woe:
To show my passion in a funeral song,
And with my sorrow draw your sighs along,
Words, then, well plac'd might challenge somewhat due,
And not the cause alone, win tears from you.
This to prevent, I set orations by,
"For passion seldom loves formality."
What profits it a prisoner at the bar,
To have his judgment spoken regular?
Or in the prison hear it often read,
When he at first knew what was forfeited?
Our griefs in others' tears, like plates in water,
Seem more in quantity. To be relator
Of my mishaps, speaks weakness, and that I
Have in myself no power of remedy.
Once (yet that once too often) heretofore
The silver Ladon on his sandy shore
Heard my complaints, and those cool groves that be
Shading the breast of lovely Arcady
Witnesse[d] the tears which I for Syrinx spent:
Syrinx the fair, from whom the instrument
That fills your feasts with joy (which when I blow
Draws to the sagging dug milk white as snow),
Had his beginning. This enough had been
To show the Fates, my deemed sisters, teen.
Here had they stay'd, this adage had been none:
"That our disasters never come alone."
What boot is it though I am said to be
The worthy son of winged Mercury?
That I with gentle nymphs in forests high
Kiss'd out the sweet time of my infancy?
And when more years had made me able grown,
Was through the mountains for their leader known?
That high-brow'd Mænalus where I was bred,
And stony hills not few have honoured
Me as protector by the hands of swains,
Whose sheep retire there from the open plains?
That I in shepherds' cups (rejecting gold)
Of milk and honey measures eight times told
Have offer'd to me, and the ruddy wine
Fresh and new pressed from the bleeding vine?
That gleesome hunters, pleased with their sport,
With sacrifices due have thank'd me for't?
That patient anglers standing all the day
Near to some shallow stickle or deep bay,
And fishermen whose nets have drawn to land
A shoal so great it well-nigh hides the sand,
For such success some promontorys head
Thrust at by waves, hath known me worshipped?
But to increase my grief, what profits this,
"Since still the loss is as the loser is?"
The many-kernel-bearing pine of late
From all trees else to me was consecrate,
But now behold a root more worth my love,
Equal to that which in an obscure grove
Infernal Juno proper takes to her:
Whose golden slip the Trojan wanderer,
By sage Cumæan Sybil taught, did bring,
By Fates decreed, to be the warranting
Of his free passage, and a safe repair
Through dark Avernus to the upper air.
This must I succour, this must I defend,
And from the wild boars' rooting ever shend.
Here shall the woodpecker no entrance find,
Nor Tavy's beavers gnaw the clothing rind,
Lambeder's herds, nor Radnor's goodly deer
Shall never once be seen a-browsing here.
And now, ye British swains, whose harmless sheep
Than all the world's besides I joy to keep,
Which spread on every plain and hilly wold
Fleeces no less esteem'd than that of gold,
For whose exchange one Indy gems of price,
The other gives you of her choicest spice,
And well she may; but we unwise the while
Lessen the glory of our fruitful Isle,
Making those nations think we foolish are
For baser drugs to vent our richer ware,
Which, save the bringer, never profit man
Except the sexton and physician;
And whether change of climes or what it be
That proves our mariners' mortality,
Such expert men are spent for such bad fares
As might have made us lords of what is theirs—
Stay, stay at home, ye nobler spirits, and prize
Your lives more high than such base trumperies:
Forbear to fetch, and they'll go near to sue,
And at your own doors offer them to you;
Or have their woods and plains so overgrown
With pois'nous weeds, roots, gums and seeds unknown,
That they would hire such weeders as you be
To free their land from such fertility?
Their spices hot their nature best endures,
But 'twill impair and much distemper yours.
What our own soil affords befits us best,
And long, and long, for ever, may we rest
Needless of help! and may this Isle alone
Furnish all other lands, and this land none!
Excuse me, Thetis, quoth the aged man,
If passion drew me from the words of Pan,
Which thus I follow: you whose flocks, quoth he,
By my protection quit your industry,
For all the good I have and yet may give
To such as on the plains hereafter live,
I do entreat what is not hard to grant,
That not a hand rend from this holy plant
The smallest branch; and whoso cutteth this
Die for th' offence; to me so heinous 'tis.
And by the floods infernal here I swear,
(An oath whose breach the greatest gods forbear,)
Ere Phœbe thrice twelve times shall fill her horns
No furzy tuft, thick wood, nor brake of thorns
Shall harbour wolf, nor in this Isle shall breed,
Nor live one of that kind, if what's decreed
You keep inviolate. To this they swore:
And since those beasts have frighted us no more.
But swain, quoth Thetis, what is this you tell,
To what you fear shall fall on Philocel?
Fair queen, attend; but oh I fear, quoth he,
Ere I have ended my sad history,
Unstaying time may bring on his last hour,
And so defraud us of thy wished pow'r.
Yond goes a shepherd: give me leave to run
And know the time of execution.
Mine aged limbs I can a little strain,
And quickly come, to end the rest, again.





Other Poems of Interest...



Home: PoetryExplorer.net