Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SHEPHERD'S PIPE: FOURTH ECLOGUE, by WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SHEPHERD'S PIPE: FOURTH ECLOGUE, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Under an aged oak was willie laid
Last Line: Nor made a truer moan.
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, William Of Tavistock
Subject(s): Death; Manwood, Thomas (d. 1613); Dead, The


In this the Author bewails the death of one whom he shadoweth under the
name of Philarete, compounded of the Greek words
φιλος and αρετη, a
lover of virtue, a name well befitting him to whose memory these lines are
consecrated, being sometime his truly loved (and now as much lamented) friend
Mr. Thomas Manwood, son to the worthy Sir Peter Manwood, knight.

UNDER an aged oak was Willie laid,
Willie, the lad who whilom made the rocks
To ring with joy, whilst on his pipe he play'd,
And from their masters woo'd the neighb'ring flocks:
But now o'ercome with dolours deep
That nigh his heart-strings rent,
Ne car'd he for his silly sheep,
Ne car'd for merriment.
But chang'd his wonted walks
For uncouth paths unknown,
Where none but trees might hear his plaints,
And echo rue his moan.
Autumn it was when droop'd the sweetest flow'rs,
And rivers, swoll'n with pride, o'erlook'd the banks;
Poor grew the day of summer's golden hours,
And void of sap stood Ida's cedar-ranks.
The pleasant meadows sadly lay
In chill and cooling sweats
By rising fountains, or as they
Fear'd winter's wastfull threats.
Against the broad-spread oak,
Each wind in fury bears;
Yet fell their leaves not half so fast
As did the shepherd's tears.

As was his seat, so was his gentle heart,
Meek and dejected, but his thoughts as high
As those aye-wand'ring lights, who both impart
Their beams on us, and heaven still beautify.
Sad was his look (O, heavy fate!
That swain should be so sad,
Whose merry notes the forlorn mate
With greatest pleasure clad,)
Broke was his tuneful pipe
That charm'd the crystal floods,
And thus his grief took airy wings
And flew about the woods.

Day, thou art too officious in thy place,
And night too sparing of a wished stay.
Ye wand'ring lamps, O be ye fix'd a space!
Some other hemisphere grace with your ray.
Great Phœbus! Daphne is not here,
Nor Hyacinthus fair;
Phœbe! Endymion and thy dear
Hath long since cleft the air.
But ye have surely seen
(Whom we in sorrow miss)
A swain whom Phœbe thought her love,
And Titan deemed his.

But he is gone; then inwards turn your light,
Behold him there: here never shall you more;
O'erhang this sad plain with eternal night;
Or change the gaudy green she whilom wore
To fenny black! Hyperion great
To ashy paleness turn her!
Green well befits a lover's heat,
But black beseems a mourner.
Yet neither this thou canst,
Nor see his second birth,
His brightness blinds thine eye more now,
Than thine did his on earth.

Let not a shepherd on our hapless plains
Tune notes of glee, as used were of yore!
For Philarete is dead. Let mirthful strains
With Philarete cease for evermore!
And if a fellow-swain do live
A niggard of his tears,
The shepherdesses all will give
To store him part of theirs.
Or I would lend him some,
But that the store I have
Will all be spent before I pay
The debt I owe his grave.

O what is left can make me leave to moan,
Or what remains but doth increase it more?
Look on his sheep: alas! their master's gone.
Look on the place where we two heretofore
With locked arms have vow'd our love,
(our love which time shall see
In shepherds' songs for ever move,
And grace their harmony,)
It solitary seems.
Behold our flow'ry beds;
Their beauties fade, and violets
For sorrow hang their heads.

'Tis not a cypress' bough, a count'nance sad,
A mourning garment, wailing elegy,
A standing hearse in sable vesture clad,
A tomb built to his name's eternity,
Although the shepherds all should strive
By yearly obsequies,
And vow to keep thy fame alive
In spite of destinies,
That can suppress my grief:
All these and more may be,
Yet all in vain to recompense
My greatest loss of thee.

Cypress may fade, the countenance be chang'd,
A garment rot, an elegy forgotten,
A hearse 'mongst irreligious rites be rang'd,
A tomb pluck'd down, or else through age be rotten:
All things th' unpartial hand of Fate
Can raze out with a thought,
These have a sev'ral fixed date
Which ended, turn to nought.
Yet shall my truest cause
Of sorrow firmly stay,
When these effects the wings of Time
Shall fan and sweep away.

Look as a sweet rose fairly budding forth
Bewrays her beauties to th' enamour'd morn,
Until some keen blast from the envious North
Kills the sweet bud that was but newly born;
Or else her rarest smells delighting
Make her herself betray,
Some white and curious hand inviting
To pluck her thence away:
So stands my mournful case,
For had he been less good,
He yet (uncropp'd) had kept the stock
Whereon he fairly stood.

Yet though so long he liv'd not as he might,
He had the time appointed to him given.
Who liveth but the space of one poor night,
His birth, his youth, his age is in that even.
Who ever doth the period see
Of days by Heaven forth plotted,
Dies full of age, as well as he
That had more years allotted.
In sad tones then my verse
Shall with incessant tears
Bemoan my hapless loss of him,
And not his want of years.

In deepest passions of my grief-swoll'n breast
(Sweet soul!) this only comfort seizeth me,
That so few years did make thee so much blest,
And gave such wings to reach eternity.
Is this to die? No: as a ship,
Well built, with easy wind,
A lazy hulk doth far outstrip,
And soonest harbour find:
So Philarete fled,
Quick was his passage given,
When others must have longer time
To make them fit for heaven.

Then not for thee these briny tears are spent,
But as the nightingale against the breer
'Tis for myself I moan, and do lament
Not that thou left'st the world, but left'st me here:
Here, where without thee all delights
Fail of their pleasing pow'r,
All glorious days seem ugly nights;
Methinks no April show'r
Embroider should the earth,
But briny tears distil,
Since Flora's beauties shall no more
Be honour'd by thy quill.

And ye his sheep (in token of his lack),
Whilom the fairest flock on all the plain,
Yean never lamb, but be it cloth'd in black:
Ye shady sycamores, when any swain
To carve his name upon your rind
Doth come, where his doth stand,
Shed drops, if he be so unkind
To raze it with his hand.
And thou, my loved Muse,
No more shouldst numbers move,
But that his name should ever live,
And after death my love.

This said, he sigh'd, and with o'erdrowned eyes
Gaz'd on the heavens for what he miss'd on earth.
Then from the ground full sadly 'gan arise
As far from future hope as present mirth;
Unto his cote with heavy pace
As ever sorrow trod
He went with mind no more to trace
Where mirthful swains abode;
And as he spent the day,
The night he pass'd alone.
Was never shepherd lov'd more dear,
Nor made a truer moan.

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