Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A NYMPH'S SONG; IN PRAISE OF THE LOVER OF VIRTUE, by GEORGE WITHER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A NYMPH'S SONG; IN PRAISE OF THE LOVER OF VIRTUE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Gentle swain, good speed befall thee
Last Line: Shall by some be thought restored.
Subject(s): Virtue

Gentle swain, good speed befall thee;
And in love still prosper thou!
Future times shall happy call thee,
Tho' thou lie neglected now:
Virtue's lovers shall commend thee,
And perpetual fame attend thee.

Happy are these woody mountains,
In whose shadow thou dost hide;
And as happy are those fountains,
By whose murmurs thou dost bide:
For contents are here excelling,
More than in a prince's dwelling.

These thy flocks do clothing bring thee,
And thy food out of the fields;
Pretty songs the birds do sing thee;
Sweet perfumes the meadow yields:
And what more is worth the seeing,
Heaven and earth thy prospect being?

None comes hither who denies thee
Thy contentments for despite;
Neither any that envies thee
That wherein thou dost delight:
But all happy things are meant thee,
And whatever may content thee.

Thy affection reason measures,
And distempers none it feeds;
Still so harmless are thy pleasures,
That no other's grief it breeds:
And if night beget thee sorrow,
Seldom stays it till the morrow.

Why do foolish men so vainly
Seek contentment in their store,
Since they may perceive so plainly,
Thou art rich in being poor:
And that they are vex'd about it,
Whilst thou merry art without it?

Why are idle brains devising,
How high titles may be gain'd,
Since by those poor toys despising,
Thou hast higher things obtained?
For the man who scorns to crave them,
Greater is than they that have them.

If all men could taste that sweetness,
Thou dost in thy meanness know,
Kings would be to seek where greatness
And their honours to bestow,
For if such content would breed them.
As they would not think they need them.

And if those who so aspiring
To the court preferments be,
Knew how worthy the desiring
Those things are, enjoyed by thee,
Wealth and titles would hereafter
Subjects be for scorn and laughter.

He that courtly styles affected
Should a May-Lord's honour have;
He, that heaps of wealth collected,
Should be counted as a slave:
And the man with few'st things cumbered,
With the noblest should be numbered.

Thou their folly hast discerned,
That neglect thy mind and thee;
And to slight them thou hast learned,
Of what title e'er they be:
That no more with thee obtaineth,
Than with them by meanness gaineth.

All their riches, honours, pleasures,
Poor unworthy trifles seem,
If compared with thy treasures,
And do merit no esteem:
For they true contents provide thee,
But from them can none divide thee.

Whether thralled or exiled,
Whether poor or rich thou be,
Whether praised or reviled,
Not a rush it is to thee:
This nor that thy rest doth win thee,
But the mind which is within thee.

Then, oh why, so madly dote we
On those things that us o'erload?
Why no more their vainness note we,
But still make of them a god?
For alas! they still deceive us,
And in greatest need they leave us.

Therefore have the fates provided
Well, thou happy swain, for thee,
That may'st here so far divided
From the world's distractions be:
Thee distemper let them never,
But in peace continue ever.

In these lonely groves enjoy thou
That contentment here begun;
And thy hours so pleas'd employ thou,
Till the latest glass be run:
From a fortune so assured,
By no temptings be allured.

Much good do't them with their glories,
Who in courts of princes dwell;
We have read in antique stories,
How some rose and how they fell:
And 'tis worthy well the heeding,
There's like end, where's like proceeding.

Be thou still in thy affection
To thy noble mistress true;
Let her never-match'd perfection
Be the same unto thy view:
And let never other beauty
Make thee fail in Love or Duty.

For if thou shalt not estranged
From thy course professed be,
But remain for aye unchanged,
Nothing shall have power on thee:
Those that slight thee now shall love thee,
And in spite of spite approve thee.

So these virtues now neglected
To be more esteem'd will come;
Yea, those toys so much affected,
Many shall be wooed from:
And the Golden Age deplored
Shall by some be thought restored.

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