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A SONG TO SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
Spirit, whose bliss beyond this cloudy sphere
Is with the rising, and the setting light,
Who, far remov'd from all that grieves us here,
For ever happy, and for ever bright,
Yet lookest down with pity from on high,
'Midst airs of immortality:
O, with what pure and never-ending song,
Song, that uplift upon the wings of love,
May gain access to that celestial throng,
Shall I now soar above,
And in the silver flood of morning play,
And view thy face, and brighten into day?
Forgive me, then, O love-enlarged soul,
Or love itself in pure felicity,
If, questioning my nature's fast controul,
I slip my bonds, and wander unto thee;
But, ah! too well I know
That this may not be so,
Till that prefixed doom from heav'n be spent: Then for a little while,
If measure may beguile,
Let thy sweet deeds become my argument;
That all the wide hereafter may behold
Thy mind more perfect than refined gold.
But this is to enlarge the liberal air,
And pour fresh light into the diamond,
To herald that the fragrant rose is fair,
And that the sun in beauty doth abound;
So vain, and so excessful is the thought
To add to Sidney aught:
Yet cannot I forego the sweet delight,
More sweet to me than music or the spring,
Or than the starry beams of summer's night,
Thy sweetest praise, O Astrophel, to sing;
Till the wide woods, to which I teach the same,
Shall echo with thy name;
And ev'ry fount that in the valley flows,
Shall stay it's fall, and murmur at the close.
Nor yet shall time, a thing not understood,
Nor weary space forbid me my desire;
The nimble mind can travel where it would,
More swift than winds, or than the greedy fire;
So shall my thoughts aspire
To that eternal seat, where thou art laid
In brightness without shade;
Thy golden locks, that in wide splendour flow,
Crowned with lilies, and with violets,
And amaranth, which that good angel sets
With joy upon thy radiant head to blow;
(Soft flow'rs, unknown to woe,
That in the blissful meads of heav'n are found ;)
The whilst full quires around
With silver hymns, and dulcet harmony,
Make laud unto the glorious throne of grace,
And fill thy ears with true felicity;
Such is the happy place,
Which thou by thy heroic toil hast won,
Such is the place, to which my sacred verses run.
Then I believe, that at thy birth was set
Some purer planet in the lofty sky,
Which a sweet influence did on earth beget;
That all the shepherds which on ground did lie,
Beholding there that unexampled light,
That made like day the night,
Were fill'd with hope and great expectancy,
That Pan himself would on the earth appear,
To bless th' unbounded year.
ZERBINO INSTRUCTED BY THE MUSE.
It was the jolly, and earth-teeming spring;
The daffodils did in the meads appear,
That still their pensive heads do lowly fling,
As shedding for Narcissus' fate a tear;
Whom beauty to that sad event did bring,
That loved in a stream himself too dear,
And pined with the vain delight away;
Such pleasure did his face to him convey.
Now Dian, for he was to Dian dear,
As well by beauty, as his virtue's charm,
Perceiving how he lov'd that mirror clear,
In which his fatal beauty did him harm,
Would not remove him, as it may appear,
But with soft pity did his fate disarm;
She turn'd him to a pale, and silken flow'r,
That on itself still gazes to this hour.
No fountain, be its silver water pure,
Unless sad herbs have in its wave been thrown
By those that can the charmed moon allure
To leave her sphere, but reckons for its own
The pale narcissus, that with passion pure
Still feeds upon itself; but, newly blown,
The nymphs will pluck it from its tender stalk,
And say, "Go, fool, and to thy image talk."
And Procne, in the marble plains of air,
For Itys did with weeping song complain;
But time had somewhat soften'd her despair,
And pity did prevail through all the strain;
And yet her restless passage did declare
The fatal wrongs of Tereus did remain ;
Her weeping song, upon the silv'ry brim,
Resounded of poor Itys, and of him.
On whatso forehead she that myrtle laid,
In yet unpractis'd youth, and flow'ring age,
That sacred head was by her counsel sway'd:
Nor can he in the foaming chase engage,
Nor practise yet the gainful merchant's trade,
Nor seek of mighty war the iron rage,
Nor yet to love can yield his spirit pure;
But is her pupil, and must so endure.
But wisest kings, that with a sacred eye
Behold their subjects, and allot to each
Their gracious smiles, and equal majesty,
With condescension of their awful speech,
When they approve th' immortal poësy,
Protect the man, that can with wisdom teach
What virtue to true spirits doth unfold,
By great example of the times of old.
They fill him with deep cups of Bacchus old,
And bless him with the fat of venison;
The while some ancient tale is strictly told,
And reverend age doth give its benison
To what the stately tables do uphold:
Then music, that is sure a denizen
Of Phoebus' court, with some immortal air,
The light digestion doth for him prepare.
So then upon the stringed harp he sings
A song, that may delight Olympian Jove,
Of something, which he learnt beside the springs
Of Helicon, that with eternal love
He fills the feast, and to sweet madness brings
The breast of him, who from his throne above
Doth bow his ear to catch the sacred song,
And drinketh with delight the music strong.
A DIALOGUE of two shepherds.
The softer season now will soon be here,
To clothe the world in purple, and in green;
And Philomel, that rules the warbling year,
Her gentle descants will ensue, between
The flow'ring orange, and the myrtle green;
And Phoebus, who too much his course delays,
Enthron'd in joy, will lengthen out the days.
Then shall we lie amid the meads again,
And crown our locks with garlands of the spring,
And from our slender pipes breathe out a strain
Of joyous welcome, and sweet revelling,
To which the shepherds, and their nymphs will sing;
And ever, 'gainst the warm and summer hours,
The laughing Pan we will y-bind in flow'rs.
For now, the bitter cold of winter past,
The lovely mavis singeth on the bough;
And I, who thought the cruel time surpast
All other ills, which I have felt till now,
To Pan, and Flora will renew my vow;
And eke to Phœbus, that with golden ray,
O happy light! doth over-crown the day.
Methinks, already on my reeds I blow,
And charm the world with glory of my song;
For winter now is gone, and with it woe,
And sparkling summer will be here ere long;
Then cast I here away the winter's wrong:
This day I call the fairest of the year,
That shows the soft delights of spring are near.
I know not, Thenot, sith thy speech is so,
Or happy, or unhappy thee to call;
But youthful minds cannot endure with woe,
But of soft joy, and hope are prodigal,
Whereby into more grief oftimes they fall:
But let not the like case in thee be found,
Who shall, I think, in happiness abound.
But, foolish boy, is summer then so near?
The grass-hoppers are wiser far than thee;
And Philomel can better count the year,
That finds it not of promise yet so free,
But foreign to our meads she still would be;
All prodigal delights before their time
Must perish in dark winter's baleful clime.
The wint'ry wind, which is but sleeping now,
Shall blow throughout the reeds, of which you boast,
Ere from the river's brink, to breathe your vow,
You gather the soft stalks, that to their cost
Must to and fro in the wild storm be tost;
But not the less their music will be sweet, [meet.
When with the spring, and with your voice they
I think you see the summer in the face
Of that divine, and merest paragon;
That violet, to whom all plants are base,
That star, that is but joy to look upon,
With whom you would be in the world alone
And fain would die, so in her sight to die,
And count it gain, and cheap felicity.
O happy shepherd, yet unhappy too!
'Twas here you saw the lovely summer smile;
Forgetful, that the coming days renew
The wasteful winter, while you so beguile
Yourself with love, and softly smoothe your style;
Wherein in silver songs we soon shall hear
Of whate'er crowns the forehead of the year.
The fault of age, which age may yet amend;
But wot you well, that women's hearts are light,
And purpose frail; when fairest they intend,
They oft are seen to wander from the right;
So folly, and so fraud their leaves may blight:
But some as lovely, and as fix'd in soul,
As that fair star, that lights the northern pole.
And so may she, to whom your vows are due,
With fair requital those sweet vows repay;
But lose not soul and honour in her view,
Nor think within her arms to make delay
Of time and season, that for none can stay;
For lovers, that the summer antedate,
Will scant endure, when those soft days abate.
This glorious index of a heav'nly book, Not seldom, as in youthful years he stood,
Divinest Spenser would admiring look; And, framing thence high wit and pure desire, Imagin'd deeds, that set the world on fire!
How oft, O Moon, in thy most tragic face,
The travell'd map of mournful history,
Some record of long-perish'd woe I trace,
Fetch'd from old kings' moth-eaten memory;
Which thou, perhaps, didst in its acting see,
The perturbation of its doleful birth,
Then crawling on to sad maturity,
And it's last sleep in the forgetful earth:
But if, in style proportion'd to its worth,
We raise it up, to shake the world again,
To madness we shall turn heart-easing mirth,
With horror laying waste the minds of men:
O, marble is the flesh, unmov'd can be,
When it beholds so fearful tragedy!
I grieve to think, so often as I muse,
Musing on sweet and bitter argument, How many souls posterity doth lose,
In that they leave behind no monument: Souls, that have fed upon divinest thought,
Yet lacking utt'rance of their music's store, To us, that breathe hereafter, are as nought,
Or question'd but as names, that dwelt before: Were it sad chance, that them of fame bereft, Love, grief, or sickness, or resentful woe, Or abstinence of virtue made a theft
Of that, which virtue to itself doth owe; The cause unknown, their worth unwritten too, Let the world weep, for they are pity's due!
The nightingale is mute, and so art thou,
Whose voice is sweeter than the nightingale :
While ev'ry idle scholar makes a vow,
Above thy worth and glory to prevail :
Yet shall not envy to that level bring
The true precedence, which is born in thee; Thou art no less the prophet of the Spring, Though in the woods thy voice now silent be: For silence may impair, but cannot kill
The music, that is native to thy soul; Nor thy sweet mind, in this thy froward will, Upon thy purest honour have controul: But, since thou will not to our wishes sing, This truth I speak, thou art of poets king.
The largest reign of silence yet hath sway
In beauty, which is music to the soul; The lily hath no voice, yet shames the day;
Nay, the sweet air is liken'd in controul: The silver Moon, more paler than desire,
That with unvoiced wheel doth climb on high, In meditation's ear is as a quire,
That leads th' o'er-visioned Night along the sky: All silence in it's pleasure hath a voice,
If balanc'd in the fine esteem of thought;