Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 3. THE FIRST SONG, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)



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BRITANNIA'S PASTORALS: BOOK 3. THE FIRST SONG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thrice had the pale-fac'd cynthia fill'd her horns
Last Line: That famous drake and I were born by thee!
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Great Britain


THRICE had the pale-fac'd Cynthia fill'd her horns,
And through the circling zodiac, which adorns
Heaven's goodly frame, the horses of the sun
A fourth part of their race had fiercely run,
Since fair Marina left her gentle flock;
Whose too untimely loss the watchful cock
No oft'ner gave a summons to the day,
Then some kind shepherd on the fertile ley
Took a sad seat, and, with a drowned eye,
Bemoan'd in heart far more than elegy.

Here sits a shepherd whose mellifluous tongue
On shaded banks of rivers whilom sung
Many sweet lays to her harmonious ear;
Recounting former joys, when she liv'd there,
With present woes, and every pleasure gone
Tells with a hundred tears, and, those drops done,
A thousand sighs ensue, and gives not o'er
Until he faints, and so can sigh no more.
Yonder, another, on some swelling hill,
Records her sweet praise to a gentle rill
Which, in requital, takes no little pain
To roll her silver sands up to the swain;
And almost wept that time would not permit
That beauteous maid to bathe herself in it;
Whose touch made streams, and men, and plants more proud
Than he that clasp'd the Juno-seeming cloud.
Amongst the rest (that ere the sun did shine
Sought the thick groves) neglectful Celadyne
Was come abroad; and underneath a tree
Dead as his joys, and from all moisture free
As were the fountains of his lovely eyes,
With lavish weeping, discontented lies.
Now, like a prodigal, he minds in vain
What he hath lost, and cannot lose again.
Now thinks he on her eyes, like some sad wight,
Which new struck blind bemoans the want of light.
Her cheeks, her lips, to mind he doth recall,
As one in exile clean bereav'd of all.
Her modest graces, her affection more,
That wounds him most which only can restore.
And lastly to his pipe (which woods nor plains
Acquainted not, but with the saddest strains,
Yet he more sad than song or places can)
Varied his plaints, and thus anew began:—

Marina's gone, and now sit I,
As Philomela (on a thorn,
Turn'd out of nature's livery),
Mirthless, alone, and all forlorn:
Only she sings not, while my sorrows can
Breathe forth such notes as fit a dying swan.

So shuts the marigold her leaves
At the departure of the sun;
So from the honeysuckle sheaves
The bee goes when the day is done;
So sits the turtle when she is but one,
And so all woe, as I, since she is gone.

To some few birds, kind Nature hath
Made all the summer as one day;
Which once enjoy'd, cold winter's wrath,
As night, they sleeping pass away.
Those happy creatures are, that know not yet
The pain to be depriv'd or to forget.

I oft have heard men say there be
Some, that with confidence profess
The helpful Art of Memory; But could they teach forgetfulness,
I'd learn, and try what further art could do,
To make me love her and forget her too.

Sad melancholy, that persuades
Men from themselves, to think they be
Headless, or other bodies' shades,
Hath long and bootless dwelt with me;
For could I think she some idea were,
I still might love, forget, and have her here.

But such she is not: nor would I,
For twice as many torments more,
As her bereavèd company
Hath brought to those I felt before,
For then no future time might hap to know
That she deserv'd, or I did love her so.

Ye hours, then, but as minutes be!
(Though so I shall be sooner old)
Till I those lovely graces see,
Which, but in her, can none behold;
Then be an age! that we may never try
More grief in parting, but grow old and die.

Here ceas'd the shepherd's song, but not his woe;
Grief never ends itself. And he doth know
Nothing but time or wisdom to allay it;
Time could not then; the other should not stay it.

Thus sits the hapless swain: now sighs, now sings:
Sings, sighs, and weeps at once. Then from the springs
Of pity begs his pardon. Then his eye,
Wronging, his oraisons, some place hard by
Informs his intellect, where he hath seen
His mistress feed her flock, or on the green
Dance to the merry pipe: this drives him thence
As one, distracted with the violence
Of some hot fever, casts his clothes away,
Longs for the thing he loath'd but yesterday,
And fondly thinking 'twill his fits appease,
Changeth his bed, but keeps still the disease.
Quitting the plains to seek the gloomy springs,
He, like a swan that on Meander sings,
Takes congey of his mates with ling'ring haste,
To find some stream where he may sing his last.

So have I left my Tavy's flow'ry shore,
Far-flowing Thamesis, and many more
Attractive pleasures which sweet England yields,
Her peopled cities and her fertile fields,
For Amphitrite's plains; those hath mine eye
Chang'd for our whilom fields of Normandy;
For Seine those have I left; for Loire, the Seine;
And for the Thoüé changed Loire again;
Where to the nymphs of Poitou now I sing
A stranger note (yet such as ev'ry spring
Rolls smiling to attend): for none of those
Yet have I lessen'd or exchang'd my woes.
Dear, dearest isle, from thee I pass'd away
But as a shadow, when the eye of day
Shines otherwhere; for she whose I have been,
By her declining makes me live unseen.
Nor do I hope that any other light
Can make me her's; the pallid queen of night
And Venus, or some err, may with their rays
Force an observing shade; but none of these,
Meteors to my set sun, can ever have
That power thou hadst. Sweet soul, thy silent grave
I give my best verse, if a shepherd's wit
Can make a dead hand capable of it.
Chaste were our loves, as mutual; nor did we
Hardly dream otherwise; our secrecy
Such as I think the world hath never known
I had a mistress, till that I had none.

Poor Celadyne and I (but happier he)
Only in dreams meet our felicity;
Our joys but shadows are; our constant woes
The day shows real; O, unhappy those,
Thrice, thrice unhappy, who are ever taking
Their joys in sleep, but are most wretched waking!

Seated at last near Tavy's silver stream,
Sleep seiz'd our shepherd; and in sleep a dream
Show'd him Marina all bedew'd with tears:
Pale as the lily of the field appears,
When the unkiss'd morn from the mountains' tops
Sees the sweet flow'rs distil their silver drops.
She seem'd to take him by the hand and say:
O Celadyne, this, this is not the way
To recompense the wrong which thou hast done
And I have pardon'd, since it was begun
To exercise my virtue; I am thine
More than I wish'd, or thou canst now divine.Seek out the aged Lama, by whose
skill
Thou may'st our fortunes know, and what the will
Of fate is in thy future. This she spoke,
And seem'd to kiss him, wherewith he awoke,—
And missing what (in thought) his sleep had gain'd,
He mus'd, sigh'd, wept, and lastly thus complain'd:
Vain dreams, forbear! ye but deceivers be,
For as in flatt'ring glasses women see
More beauty than possess'd: so I in you
Have all I can desire, but nothing true.
Who would be rich, to be so but an hour,
Eats a sweet fruit to relish more the sour.
If but to lose again we things possess,
Ne'er to be happy is a happiness.
Men walking in the pitchy shades of night
Can keep their certain way; but if a light
O'ertake and leave them, they are blinded more,
And doubtful go that went secure before.
For this (though hardly) I have oft forborne
To see her face, fair as the rosy morn;
Yet mine own thoughts in night such traitors be,
That they betray me to that misery.
Then think no more of her—as soon I mayCommand the sun to rob us of a day,
Or with a net repel a liquid stream,
As lose such thoughts, or hinder but a dream.
The lightsome air as eas'ly hinder can
A glass to take the form of any man
That stands before it, as or time or place
Can draw a veil between me and her face.
Yet, by such thoughts my torments hourly thrive;
For (as a pris'ner by his perspective)
By them I am inform'd of what I want;
I envy now none but the ignorant.
He that ne'er saw her (O, too happy wight!)
Is one born blind that knows no want of light;
He that ne'er kiss'd her lips, yet sees her eyes,
Lives, while he lives so, still in paradise;
But if he taste those sweets as hapless I,
He knows his want, and meets his misery.
An Indian rude that never heard one sing
A heav'nly sonnet to a silver string,
Nor other sounds, but what confused herds
In pathless deserts make, or brooks or birds,
Should he hear one the sweet pandora touch,
And lose his hearing straight; he would as much
Lament his knowledge as do I my chance,
And wish he still had liv'd in ignorance.
I am that Indian; and my soothing dreams
In thirst have brought me but to painted streams,
Which not allay, but more increase desire:
A man, near frozen with December's ire,
Hath, from a heap of glowworms, as much ease
As I can ever have by dreams as these.
O leave me then! and strongest memory
Keep still with those that promise-breakers be.
Go, bid the debtor mind his payment day,
Or help the ignorant devout to say
Prayers they understand not; lead the blind,
And bid ingrateful wretches call to mind
Their benefactors; and if Virtue be
(As still she is) trod on by misery,
Show her the rich, that they may free her want,
And leave to nurse the fawning sycophant;
Or, if thou see fair honour careless lie,
Without a tomb for after memory,
Dwell by the grave, and teach all those that pass
To imitate, by showing who it was.
This way, Remembrance, thou may'st do some good,
And have due thanks; but he that understood
The throes thou bring'st on me, would say I miss
The sleep of him that did the pale moon kiss,
And that it were a blessing thrown on me,
Sometimes to have the hated lethargy.
Then, dark Forgetfulness, that only art
The friend of lunatics, seize on that part
Of memory which hourly shows her me!
Or suffer still her waking fantasy,
Even at the instant when I dream of her,
To dream the like of me! so shall we err
In pleasure's endless maze without offence,
And both connex as souls in innocence.

His sorrow this way yet had further gone,
For now his soul, all in confusion,
Discharg'd her passions on all things she met,
And, rather than on none, on counterfeit.
For in her suff'rings she will sooner frame
Subjects fantastical, forms without name,
Deceive itself against her own conceit,
Then want to work on somewhat thought of weight.
Hence comes it, those affections which are tied
To an enforced bed, a worthless bride,
(Wanting a lawful hold) our loving part
To subjects of less worth doth soon convert
Her exercise, which should be nobly free,
Rather on dogs, or dice, than idle be.
Thus on his memory, poor soul, he cast
His exclamations; and the day had pass'd
With him as sadly as his sighs were true,
And on this subject. When (as if he flew)
Leap'd from a near grove (as he thought) a man,
And to th' adjoining wood as quickly ran;
This stay'd his thoughts. And, whilst the other fled,
He rose, scarce knowing why, and followed.
It was a gentle swain, on whose sweet youth
Fortune had thrown her worst, and all men's ruth;
Who, like a satyr now, from men's abode
The uncouth paths of gloomy deserts trod;
Deep, sullen vales, that never mercy won,
To have a kind look from the pow'rful sun;
But mantled up in shades as fearful night,
Could merry hearts with awful terror smite.
Sad nooks and dreadful clefts of mighty rocks
That knew no guest within their careless locks,
But baneful serpents, hated beasts of prey,
And fatal fowl, that from the blessed day
Hid their abhorred heads; these, only these,
Were his companions and his cottages.
Wayfaring man, for aftertimes y-bore,
Whoe'er thou be, that on the pleasant shore
Of my dear Tavy hap'st to tread along,
When Willy sings no more his rural song,
But long dissolv'd to dust, shall hardly have
A tear or verse bestow'd upon his grave—
Think on that hapless lad, for all his meed,
Who first this lay tun'd to an oaten reed;
Then ask the swains who, in the valleys deep,
Sing lays of love and feed their harmless sheep,
Ask them for Ramsham (late a gallant wood
Whose gaudy nymphs, tripping beside the flood,
Allur'd the sea-gods from their brackish strands
To court the beauties of the upper lands);
And near to it, halfway, a high-brow'd hill,
Whose maiden sides ne'er felt a coulter's ill,
Thou may'st behold, and (if thou list) admire
An arched cave cut in a rock entire,
Deep, hollow, hideous, overgrown with grass,
With thorns and briars, and sad mandragoras:
Poppy and henbane thereby grew so thick,
That had the earth been thrice as lunatic
As learn'd Copernicus in sport would frame her,
We there had sleepy simples found to tame her.
The entrance to it was of brick and stone,
Brought from the ruin'd tower of Babylon.
On either side the door a pillar stood,
Whereon of yore, before the general flood,
Industrious Seth in characters did score
The mathematics' soul-enticing lore.
Cheek-swoll'n Lyæus near one pillar stood,
And from each hand a bunch, full with the blood
Of the care-killing vine, he crushed out,
Like to an artificial water-spout;
But of what kind it was, the writers vary:
Some say 'twas claret, others swear canary.
On th' other side, a statue strangely fram'd,
And never till Columbus' voyage nam'd,
The Genius of America blew forth
A fume that hath bewitched all the north.
A noise of ballad-makers, rhymers, drinkers,
Like a mad crew of uncontrolled tinkers,
Lay there, and drank, and sung, and suck'd, and writ
Verse without measure, volumes without wit;
Complaints and sonnets, vows to young Cupido,
May be in such a manner as now I do.
He that in some fair day of summer sees
A little commonwealth of thrifty bees
Send out a pretty colony, to thrive
Another where, from their too-peopled hive,
And marks the young adventurers with pain
Fly off and on, and forth, and back again,
May well conceive with how much labour these
Drunk, writ, and wrong'd the learn'd Pierides;
Yet time, as soon as e'er their works were done,
Threw them and it into oblivion.
Into this cave the forlorn shepherd enters,
And Celadyne pursues; yet ere he venters
On such an obscure place, knowing the danger
Which oft betided there the careless stranger,
Moly or such preservative he takes,
And thus assur'd, breaks through the tangling brakes;
Searcheth each nook to find the hapless swain,
And calls him oft, yet seeks and calls in vain.
At last, by glimm'ring of some glowworms there,
He finds a dark hole and a winding stair;
Uncouth and hideous the descent appears,
Yet, unappall'd with future chance or fears,
Essays the first step, and goes boldly on;
Pieces of rotten wood on each side shone,
Which, rather than to guide his vent'rous pace,
With a more dreadful horror fill'd the place.
Still he descends, and many a step doth make,
As one whose naked foot treads on a snake:
The stairs so worn, he feareth in a trice
To meet some deep and deadly precipice.
Thus came he down into a narrow vault,
Whose rocky sides (free from the smallest fault,
Enforc'd by age or weather) and the roof
Stood firmly strong and almost thunder-proof.
'Twas long; and at the far-off further end
A little lamp he spies, as he had kenn'd
One of the fixed stars; the light was small,
And distance made it almost nought at all.
Tow'rds it he came, and, from the swain which fled,
These verses fall'n took up, went near and read:

Listen! ye gentle winds, to my sad moan;
And, mutt'ring brooks, attend my heavy plaints.
Ye melodists, which in the low groves sing,
Strive with your fellows for sweet skill no more,
But wail with me! and if my song ye pass
For dreary notes, match with the nightingale.
Henceforward with the rueful nightingale
No other but sad groves shall hear my moan,
And night bear witness of my doleful plaints.
Sweet songs of love let others quaintly sing,
For fate decrees I shall be known no more
But by my woes. All pleasures from me pass,
As gliding torrents to the ocean pass,
Ne'er to come back. The all-voice nightingale
Comforts her fellows, and makes dear her moan;
But (where I would) regardless are my plaints,
And but for echo should unanswer'd sing;
Can there in others be affection more
Than is in me, yet be neglected more?
Then such neglect and love shall no man pass.
For voice she well may mate the nightingale,
And from her syren's song I learn'd to moan;
Yet she, as most imperfect deems my plaints,
Though too too long I them have us'd to sing,
Yet to no happier key she lets me sing.
Shall I then change? O, there are others more
(As I hear shepherds wailing, when I pass
In deserts wild to hear the nightingale)
Whose ears receive no sound of any moan,
But hear their praises rather than our plaints.
Then since to flint I still address my plaints,
And my sad numbers to a deaf ear sing,
My cries shall beat the subtile air no more,
But all my woes imprison; and so pass
The poor rest of my days. No nightingale
Shall be disturb'd in forests with my moan.
And when through inpent moan I hide my plaints,
And what I should sing makes me live no more,
Tell her my woes did pass the nightingale.

Sad swain, quoth Celadyne, whoe'er thou be,
I grieve not at my pains to follow thee;
Thou art a fit companion for my woe,
Which hearts sunk into misery should know.
O, if thou hear me, speak: take to thy home!
Receive into this dismal living tomb
A sorrow-laden wretch! one that would die
And tread the gloomy shades of destiny
Only to meet a soul that could relate
A story true as his and passionate!
By this a sad and heavy sound began
To fill the cave; and by degrees he wan
So near, he heard a well-accorded lute,
Touch'd by a hand had struck the Thracian mute.
Had it been heard when sweet Amphion's tones
Gave motion to the dull and senseless stones;
When, at the notes his skilful fingers warble,
The pebble took the flint, the flint the marble;
And rolling from the quarry justly fall,
And masonless built Cadmus' town a wall.
Each one each other to this labour woo,
And were the workmen and materials too.
Had this man play'd when t' other touch'd his lyre,
Those stones had from the wall been seen retire;
Or stopp'd half-way to hear him striking thus,
Though each had been a stone of Sisyphus.
Nay, the musician had his skill approv'd,
And been as ravish'd as the rocks he mov'd.
Celadyne listen'd; and the arched skies
Might wish themselves as many ears as eyes,
That they might teach the star-bestudded spheres
A music new, and more divine than theirs.
To these sad sweet strings, as e'er woe befriended,
This verse was married:—

Yet one day's rest for all my cries!
One hour amongst so many!
Springs have their sabbaths; my poor eyes
Yet never met with any.

He that doth but one woe miss,
O Death, to make him thine;
I would to God that I had his,
Or else that he had mine!

By this sad wish we two should have
A fortune and a wife;
For I should wed a peaceful grave,
And he a happy life.

Yet let that man whose fortunes swim
So high by my sad woe,
Forbear to tread a step on him That died to make them so.

Only to acquit my foes,
Write this where I am lain:
Here lies the man whom others' woes
And those he lov'd have slain.

_____ Here the music ended.
But Celadyne leaves not his pious quest;
For, as an artist curiously address'd
To some conclusion, having haply found
A small encouragement on his first ground,
Goes cheerful on; nor from it can be won,
Till he have perfected what he begun:
So he pursues, and labours all he can,
Since he had heard the voice, to find the man.
A little door, at last, he in the side
Of the long-stretched entry had descried,
And coming to it with the lamp, he spies
These lines upon a table writ:—

Love! when I met her first whose slave I am,
To make her mine, why had I not thy flame?
Or else thy blindness not to see that day?
Or if I needs must look on her rare parts,
Love! why to wound her had I not thy darts,
Since I had not thy wings to fly away?

Winter was gone; and by the lovely spring
Each pleasant grove a merry quire became,
Where day and night the careless birds did sing,
Love, when I met her first whose slave I am.

She sat and listen'd (for she lov'd his strain)
To one whose songs could make a tiger tame;
Which made me sigh, and cry, O happy swain!
To make her mine, why had I not thy flame?

I vainly sought my passion to control:
And therefore (since she loves the learned lay),
Homer, I should have brought with me thy soul,
Or else thy blindness, not to see that day!

Yet would I not (mine eyes) my days outrun
In gazing (could I help it, or the arts),
Like him that died with looking on the sun;
Or if I needs must, look on her rare parts!

Those, seen of one who every herb would try,
And what the blood of elephants imparts
To cool his flame, yet would he (forced) cry,
Love! why to wound her had I not thy darts?

O Dædalus! the lab'rinth fram'd by thee
Was not so intricate as where I stray;
There have I lost my dearest liberty,
Since I had not thy wings to fly away.

_____His eyes,
And still attentive ears, do now discover
Sufficient cause to think some hapless lover
Inhabited this dark and sullen cell,
Where none but shame or dismal grief would dwell.
As I have seen a fowler, by the floods
In winter time, or by the fleeced woods,
Steal softly, and his steps full often vary,
As here and there flutters the wished quarry;
Now with his heel, now with his toe he treads,
Fearing the crackling of the frozen meads;
Avoids each rotten stick near to his foot,
And creeps, and labours thus to get a shoot:
So Celadyne approaches near the door,
Where sighs amaz'd him as the lute before;
Sighs fetch'd so deep, they seem'd of pow'r to carry
A soul fit for eternity to marry.
Had Dido stood upon her cliffs and seen
Ilium's Æneas stealing from a queen,
And spent her sighs as pow'rful as were these,
She had enforc'd the fair Nereides
To answer hers; those had the Naiads won,
To drive his winged pine round with the sun,
And long ere Drake (without a fearful wrack)
Girdled the world, and brought the wand'rer back.
Celadyne gently somewhat oped the door,
And by a glimm'ring lamp upon the floor
Descried a pretty curious rocky cell;
A spout of water in one corner fell
Out of the rock upon a little wheel,
Which speedy as it could the water feel
Did, by the help of other engines lent,
Set soon on work a curious instrument,
Whose sound was like the hollow, heavy flute,
Join'd with a deep, sad, sullen cornemute.
This had the unknown shepherd set to play
Such a soul-thrilling note, that if that day
Celadyne had not seen this uncouth youth
Descend the cave, he would have sworn for truth
That great Apollo, slid down from his sphere,
Did use to practise all his lessons there.
Upon a couch the music's master lay;
And whilst the handless instrument did play
Sad heavy accents to his woes as deep,
To woo him to an everlasting sleep,
Stretch'd carelessly upon his little bed,
His eyes fix'd on the floor, his careful head
Leaning upon his palm, his voice but faint,
Thus to the sullen cave made his complaint:

Fate! yet at last be merciful. Have done!
Thou canst ask nothing but confusion:
Take then thy fill! strike till thine edge be dull!
Thy cruelty will so be pitiful.
He that at once hath lost his hopes and fears
Lives not, but only tarries for more years!
Much like an aged tree which moisture lacks,
And only standeth to attend the axe.
So have, and so do I : I truly know
How men are born, and whither they shall go;
I know that like to silkworms of one year,
Or like a kind and wronged lover's tear,
Or on the pathless waves a rudder's dint,
Or like the little sparkles of a flint,
Or like to thin round cakes with cost perfum'd,
Or fireworks only made to be consum'd;
I know that such is man, and all that trust
In that weak piece of animated dust.
The silkworm droops, the lover's tears soon shed,
The ship's way quickly lost, the sparkle dead;
The cake burns out in haste, the firework's done,
And man as soon as these as quickly gone.
Day hath her night; millions of years shall be
Bounded at last by long eternity.
The roses have their spring, they have their fall,
So have the trees, beasts, fowl, and so have all;
The rivers run and end: stars rise and set;
There is a heat, a cold, a dry, a wet;
There is a heaven, a hell, an earth, a sky;
Or teach me something new, or let me die!
Dear fate, be merciful by prayers won,
Teach me once what Death is, and all is done!
Thou may'st object; there's somewhat else to learn;
O do not bring me back unto the quern
To grind for honours, when I cannot tell
What will be said in the next chronicle!
Let my unblemish'd name meet with a tomb
Deservedly unspurn'd at, and at home!
I know there are possessions to inherit;
But since the gate is stopp'd up to all merit,
Some hapless souls, as I, do well observe it,
The way to lose a place is to deserve it.
I am not ignorant besides of this,
Each man the workman of his fortune is;
But to apply and temper well his tools,
He follow must th' advice of babes and fools;
Though virtue and reward be the extremes
Of fortune's line, yet there are other beams,
Some sprigs of bribery imp'd in the line;
Pand'rism or flatt'ry from the Florentine,
Which whoso catches, comes home crown'd with bay,
Ere he that runs the right line runs half way.
What love and beauty is (thou know'st, O Fate!)
I have read over; and, alas! but late;
Their wounds yet bleed, and yet no help is nigh;
Then teach me something new, or let me die!

Honours and places, riches, pleasures be
Beyond my star, and not ordain'd for me;
Or sure the way is lost, and those we hold
For true, are counterfeits to those of old.
How sprout they else so soon, like osier tops,
Which one spring breeds and which next autumn lops?
Why are they else so fading: so possess'd
With guilt and fear, they dare not stand the test?
Had virtue and true merit been the basis,
Whereon were rais'd their honours and high places,
They had been stronger seated, and had stood
To after ages, as our ancient blood,
Whose very names, and courages well steel'd,
Made up an army, and could crown a field.
Open the way to merit and to love!
That we may teach a Cato and a dove
To heart a cause and weigh affection dear,
And I will think we live, not tarry here.

Further his plaint had gone (if needed more),
But Celadyne, now widing more the door,
Made a small noise, which startling up the man,
He straight descried him, and anew began:
What sorrow, or what curiosity,
Say (if thou be a man), conducted thee
Into these dark and unfrequented cells,
Where nought but I and dreadful horror dwells?
Or if thou be a ghost, for pity say
What pow'r, what chance, hath led thee to this way?
If so thou be a man, there can nought come
From them to me, unless it be a tomb,
And that I hold already. See ! I have
Sufficient too to lend a king a grave,
A bless'd one too, within these hollow vaults;
Earth hides but bodies, but oblivion, faults.
Or if thou be a ghost sent from above,
Say, is not blessed virtue and fair love,
Faith and just gratitude, rewarded there?
Alas ! I know they be: I know they wear
Crowns of such glory, that their smallest ray
Can make us lend th' Antipodes a day:
Nay, change our sphere, and need no more the sun
Than those that have that light whence all begun.
Stay further inquisition, quoth the swain,
And know I am a man, and of that train
Which near the western rivers feed their flocks.
I need not make me known; for if the rocks
Can hold a sculpture, or the pow'r of verse
Preserve a name, the last-born may rehearse
Me and my fortunes. Curiosity
Led me not hither: chance, in seeing thee,
Gave me the thread, and by it I am come
To find a living man within a tomb.
Thy plaints I have o'erheard.; and let it be
No wrong to them that they were heard of me.
May be that Heaven's great providence hath led
Me to these horrid caves of night and dread,
That, as in physic by some signature
Nature herself doth point us out a cure:
The liverwort is by industrious art
Known physical and sovereign for that part
Which it resembles; and if we apply
The eye-bright by the like unto the eye,
Why may'st not thou (disconsolate) as well
From me receive a cure, since in me dwell
All those sad wrongs the world hath thrown on thee;
Which wrought so much on my proclivity,
That I have entertain'd them, and th' are grown
And so incorporated, and mine own,
That grief, elixir-like, hath turn'd me all
Into itself; and therefore physical?
For if in herbs there lie this mystery,
Say, why in other bodies may not we
Promise ourselves the like? why shouldst not thou
Expect the like from me this instant now?
And more, since Heaven hath made me for thy cure
Both the physician and the signature.
Ah! Celadyne, quoth he, and think't not strange
I call thee by thy name; though times' now change
Makes thee forget what mine is, with my voice
I have recorded thine: and if the choice
Of all our swains, which by the western rills
Feed their white flocks and tune their oaten quills,
Were with me now, thou only art the man
Whom I would choose for my physician.
The others I would thank and wish away.
There needs but one sun to bring in the day,
Nor but one Celadyne to clear my night
Of discontent, if any human wight
Can reach that possibility: but know
My griefs admit no parallax; they go,
Like to the fixed stars, in such a sphere,
So high from meaner woes and common care
That thou canst never any distance take
'Twixt mine and others' woes; and till thou make
And know a diff'rence in my saddest fate,
The cause, the station and the ling'ring date,
From other men which are in grief o'ergone
(Since it is best read by comparison),
Thou never canst attain the least degree
Of hope to work a remedy on me.
I know to whom I speak. On Isis' banks,
And melancholy Cherwell, near the ranks
Of shading willows, often have we lain
And heard the Muses and Apollo's strain
In heavenly raptures, as the pow'rs on high
Had there been lecturers of poesy,
And nature's searcher, deep philosophy;
Yet neither these, nor any other art
Can yield a means to cure my wounded heart.
Stay then from losing longer time on me,
And in these deep caves of obscurity
Spend some few hours to see what is not known
Above; but on the wings of rumour blown.
Here is the fairies' court, if so they be.
With that he rose. Come near, and thou shalt see
Who are my neighbours. And with that he led
(With such a pace as lovers use to tread
Near sleeping parents) by the hand the swain
Unto a pretty seat, near which these twain
By a round little hole had soon descried
A trim feat room, about a fathom wide,
As much in height, and twice as much in length,
Out of the main rock cut by artful strength.
The two-leav'd door was of the mother pearl,
Hinged and nail'd with gold. Full many a girl,
Of the sweet fairy ligne, wrought in the loom
That fitted those rich hangings clad the room.
In them was wrought the love of their great king,
His triumphs, dances, sports, and revelling:
And learned Spenser, on a little hill
Curiously wrought, lay, as he tun'd his quill;
The floor could of respect complain no loss,
But neatly cover'd with discolour'd moss,
Woven into stories, might for such a piece
Vie with the richest carpets brought from Greece.
A little mushroom (that was now grown thinner,
By being one time shaven for the dinner
Of one of Spain's grave grandees, and that day
Out of his greatness' larder stol'n away
By a more nimble elf than are their wits,
Who practise truth as seldom as their spits)—
This mushroom (on a frame of wax y-pight,
Wherein was wrought the strange and cruel fight
Betwixt the troublous commonwealth of flies,
And the sly spider with industrious thighs)
Serv'd for a table; then a little elf
(If possible, far lesser than itself),
Brought in the covering made of white rose leaves,
And (wrought together with the spinner's sleaves)
Met in the table's middle in right angles;
The trenchers were of little silver spangles:
The salt the small bone of a fish's back,
Whereon in little was express'd the wrack
Of that deplored mouse, from whence hath sprung
That furious battle Homer whilom sung
Betwixt the frogs and mice: so neatly wrought
Yet could not work it lesser in a thought.
Then on the table, for their bread, was put
The milk-white kernels of the hazel nut;
The cupboard, suitable to all the rest,
Was as the table with like cov'ring dress'd.
The ewer and bason were, as fitting well,
A periwinkle and a cockle-shell:
The glasses pure, and thinner than we can
See from the sea-betroth'd Venetian,
Were all of ice not made to overlast
One supper, and betwixt two cowslips cast:
A prettier fashion hath not yet been told,
So neat the glass was, and so feat the mould.
A little spruce elf then (just of the set
Of the French dancer or such marionette)
Clad in a suit of rush, woven like a mat,
A monkshood flow'r then serving for a hat;
Under a cloak made of the spider's loom:
This fairy (with them held a lusty groom)
Brought in his bottles; neater were there none.
And every bottle was a cherrystone.
To each a seed pearl served for a screw,
And most of them were fill'd with early dew.
Some choicer ones, as for the king most meet,
Held mel-dew and the honeysuckle's sweet.
All things thus fitted; straightways follow'd in
A case of small musicians, with a din
Of little hautboys, whereon each one strives
To show his skill; they all were made of seives,
Excepting one, which puff'd the player's face,
And was a chibole, serving for the bass.
Then came the service. The first dishes were
In white broth boil'd a crammed grasshopper;
A pismire roasted whole; five crayfish eggs;
The udder of a mouse; two hornets' legs;
Instead of olives, cleanly pickl'd sloes;
Then of a bat were serv'd the pettitoes;
Three fleas in souse, a cricket from the brine;
And of a dormouse, last, a lusty chine.
Tell me, thou grandee, Spain's magnifico,
Couldst thou e'er entertain a monarch foe,
Without exhausting most thy rents and fees,
Told by a hundred thousand marvedis,
That bragging poor account? If we should hear
Some one relate his incomes every year
To be five hundred thousand farthings told,
Could ye refrain from laughter? could ye hold?
Or see a miser sitting down to dine
On some poor sprat new squeezed from the brine,
Take out his spectacles, and with them eat,
To make his dish seem larger and more great;
Or else to make his gold its worth surpass,
Would see it through a multiplying glass:
Such are their audits; such their high esteems;
A Spaniard is still less than what he seems:
Less wise, less potent; rich, but glorious;
Prouder than any and more treacherous.
But let us leave the braggadocio here,
And turn to better company and cheer.
The first course thus serv'd in, next follow'd on
The fairy nobles, ushering Oberon,
Their mighty king, a prince of subtle pow'r,
Clad in a suit of speckled gilliflow'r.
His hat by some choice master in the trade
Was (like a helmet) of a lily made.
His ruff a daisy was, so neatly trim,
As if of purpose it had grown for him.
His points were of the lady-grass, in streaks,
And all were tagg'd, as fit, with titmouse beaks.
His girdle, not three times as broad as thin,
Was of a little trout's self-spangled skin.
His boots, for he was booted at that tide,
Were fitly made of half a squirrel's hide.
His cloak was of the velvet flow'rs, and lin'd
With flow'r-de-luces of the choicest kind.
Down sat the king; his nobles did attend;
And after some repast he 'gan commend
Their hawks and sport. This in a brave place flew:
That bird too soon was taken from the mew:
This came well through the fowl, and quick again
Made a brave point straight up upon her train.
Another for a driver none came nigh;
And such a hawk truss'd well the butterfly.
That was the quarry which their pastime crown'd;
Their hawks were wagtails, most of them mew'd round.
Then of their coursers' speed, sure-footing pace,
Their next discourse was; as that famous race,
Engender'd by the wind, could not compare
With theirs, no more than could a Flemish mare
With those fleet steeds that are so quickly hurl'd,
And make but one day's journey round the world.
Nay, in their praises, some one durst to run
So far to say, that if the glorious sun
Should lame a horse, he must come from the spheres
And furnish up his team with one of theirs.
Those that did hear them vaunt their excellence
Beyond all value with such confidence,
Stood wond'ring how so little elfs as these
Durst venture on so great hyperboles;
But more upon such horses. But it ceas'd
(I mean the wonder) when each nam'd his beast.
My nimble squirrel, quoth the king, and then
Pinching his hat, is but a minute's ken.
The earth ran speedy from him, and I dare
Say, if it have a motion circular,
I could have run it round ere she had done
The half of her circumvolution.
Her motion, lik'd with mine, should almost be
As Saturn's, mine the primum mobile.
Then, looking on the fairies most accounted,
I grant, quoth he, some others were well mounted,
And praise your choice; I do acknowledge that
Your weasel ran well too; so did your rat;
And were his tail cut shorter to the fashion,
You in his speed would find an alteration.
Another's stoat had pass'd the swiftest tegs,
If somewhat sooner he had found his legs;
His hare was winded well; so had indeed
Another's rabbit tolerable speed.
Your cat (quoth he) would many a courser baffle;
But sure he reins not half well in a snaffle.
I know her well; 'twas Tybert that begat her,
But she is flew, and never will be fatter:
The vare was lastly prais'd, and all the kind,
But on their pasterns they went weak behind.
What brave discourse was this! now tell me, you
That talk of kings and states, and what they do;
Or gravely silent with a Cato's face,
Chew ignorance until the later grace;
Or such, who (with discretion then at jar)
Dare check brave Grenville and such sons of war,
With whom they durst as soon have measur'd swords,
(Howe'er their pens fight or wine-prompted words)
As not have left him all with blood besmear'd,
Or ta'en an angry lion by the beard.
Forbear that honour'd name! you, that in spite
Take pains to censure, more than he to fight,
Trample not on the dead! those wrongly lay
The not-success, who soonest ran away.
Kill not again whom Spain would have repriev'd!
Had ten of you been Grenvilles, he had liv'd.
Were it not better that you did apply
Your meat, unlaugh'd at of the standers-by?
Or (like the fairy king) talk of your horse,
Or such as you, for want of something worse.
Let that dear name for ever sacred be:
Cæsar had enemies, and so had he;
But Grenville did that Roman's fate transcend,
And fought an enemy into a friend.
Thus with small things I do compose the great.
Now comes the king of fairies' second meat;
The first dish was a small spawn'd fish and fried,
Had it been lesser, it had not been spied;
The next, a dozen larded mites; the third,
A goodly pie fill'd with a lady-bird.
Two roasted flies, then of a dace the poll,
And of a miller's thumb a mighty joll;
A butterfly which they had kill'd that day,
A brace of fern-webs pickled the last May.
A well-fed hornet taken from the souse,
A lark's tongue dried, to make him to carouse.
As when a lusty sawyer, well prepar'd,
His breakfast eaten, and his timber squar'd,
About to raise up as he thinketh fit
A good sound tree above his sawing pit,
His neighbours call'd; each one a lusty heaver,
Some steer the roller, others ply the lever;
Heave here, says one; another calls, shove thither;
Heave, roll, and shove! cry all, and altogether;
Look to your foot, sir, and take better heed,
Cries a by-stander, no more haste than need;
Lift up that end there; bring it gently on;
And now thrust all at once, or all is gone,
Hold there a little; soft; now use your strength,
And with this stir, the tree lies fit at length:
Just such a noise was heard when came the last
Of Oberon's second mess. One cried, hold fast;
Put five more of the guard to't, of the best;
Look to your footing; stop awhile and rest;
One would have thought, with so much strength and din,
They surely would have brought Behemoth in,
That mighty ox which (as the Rabbins say)
Shall feast the Jews upon the latter day.
But at the last, with all this noise and cry,
Ten of the guard brought in a minnow-pie.
The mountain labour'd and brought forth a mouse,
And why not in this mighty prince's house
As any others? Well, the pie was placed,
And then the music struck, and all things graced.
It was a concert of the choicest set
That never stood to tune, or right a fret;
For Nature to this king such music sent,
Most were both players and the instrument.
No famous sensualist, whate'er he be,
Who in the brazen leaves of history
Hath his name register'd, for vast expense
In striving how to please his hearing sense,
Had ever harmony chose for his ear
So fit as for this king; and these they were.
The treble was a three-mouth'd grasshopper,
Well tutor'd by a skilful quirister:
An ancient master, that did use to play
The friskings which the lambs do dance in May,
And long time was the chiefest call'd to sing,
When on the plains the fairies made a ring;
Then a field-cricket, with a note full clean,
Sweet and unforc'd and softly sung the mean,
To whose accord, and with no mickle labour,
A pretty fairy play'd upon a tabor:
The case was of a hazel-nut, the heads
A bat's-wing dress'd, the snares were silver threads;
A little stiffen'd lamprey's skin did suit
All the rest well, and serv'd them for a flute;
And to all these a deep well-breasted gnat,
That had good sides, knew well his sharp and flat,
Sung a good compass, making no wry face,—
Was there as fittest for a chamber bass.
These choice musicians to their merry king
Gave all the pleasure which their art could bring.
At last he ask'd a song; but ere I fall
to sing it over in my Pastoral,
Give me some respite: now the day grows old,
And 'tis full time that I had pitch'd my fold.
When next sweet morning calls us from our beds,
With harmless thoughts and with untroubled heads,
Meet we in Rowden meadows, where the flood
Kisses the banks, and courts the shady wood;
A wood wherein some of these lays were dress'd,
And often sung by Willy of the west:
Upon whose trees the name of Licea stands,
Licea more fleeting than my Tavy's sands.
Grow old, ye rinds! and shed away that name;
But oh! what hand shall wipe away her shame?
There let us meet. And if my younger quill
Bring not such raptures from the sacred hill
With others, to whom Heaven infused breath
When reign'd our glorious dear Elizabeth,
(The nurse of learning and the blessed arts,
The centre of Spain's envy and our hearts),
If that the Muses fail me not, I shall
Perfect the little fairies' festival,
And charm your ears so with that prince's song,
That those fair nymphs which daily tread along
The western rivers and survey the fountains,
And those which haunt the woods, and sky-kiss'd mountains,
Shall learn and sing it to ensuing times
When I am dust. And, Tavy, in my rhymes
Challenge a due; let it thy glory be,
That famous Drake and I were born by thee!





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