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Whoever this world's happiness would see
Must as entirely cast off thee,
As they who only heaven desire
Do from the world retire.
This was my error, this my gross mistake,
Myself a demi-votary to make.
Thus with Sapphira and her husband's fate,
(A fault which I, like them, am taught too late,)
For all that I give up I nothing gain,
And perish for the part which I retain.
Teach me not then, O thou fallacious Muse!
The court and better king ť' accuse;
The heaven under which I live is fair,
The fertile soil will a full harvest bear:
Thine, thine is all the barrenness, if thou
Makest me sit still and sing when I should plough.
When I but think how many a tedious year
Our patient sovereign did attend
His long misfortune's fatal end;
How cheerfully, and how exempt from fear,
On the Great Sovereign's will he did depend,
I ought to be accursed if I refuse
To wait on his, O thou fallacious Muse!
Kings have long hands, they say, and though I be
So distant, they may reach at length to me.
However, of all princes thou
Shouldst not reproach rewards for being small or

Thou! who rewardest but with popular breath,
And that, too, after death!'


1 Beneath this gloomy shade,

By Nature only for my sorrows made,

I'll spend this voice in cries,
In tears I'll waste these eyes,
By love so vainly fed;
So lust of old the deluge punished.
Ah, wretched youth, said I;
Ah, wretched youth! twice did I sadly cry;
Ah, wretched youth! the fields and floods reply.

2 When thoughts of love I entertain,

I meet no words but Never, and In vain:
Never! alas! that dreadful name
Which fuels the infernal flame:
Never! my time to come must waste;
In vain! torments the present and the past:
In vain, in vain! said I,
In vain, in vain! twice did I sadly cry;
In vain, in vain! the fields and floods reply.

3 No more shall fields or floods do so, For I to shades more dark and silent

go: All this world's noise appears to me A dull, ill-acted comedy: No comfort to my wounded sight, In the sun's busy and impert'nent light. Then down I laid my head, Down on cold earth, and for a while was dead, And

my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled.

4 Ah, sottish soul! said I,

When back to its cage again I saw it fly:
Fool! to resume her broken chain,
And row her galley here again!
Fool! to that body to return,
Where it condemned and destined is to burn!

Once dead, how can it be
Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee,
That thou shouldst come to live it o'er again in me?


1 Tell me, O tell! what kind of thing is Wit,

Thou who master art of it;
For the first matter loves variety less;
Less women love it, either in love or dress:
A thousand different shapes it bears,
Comely in thousand shapes appears:
Yonder we saw it plain, and here 'tis now,

Like spirits, in a place, we know not how.
2 London, that vends of false ware so much store,

In no ware deceives us more:
For men, led by the colour and the shape,
Like Zeuxis' birds, fly to the painted grape.
Some things do through our judgment pass,
As through a multiplying-glass;
And sometimes, if the object be too far,
We take a falling meteor for a star.

3 Hence 'tis a wit, that greatest word of fame,

Grows such a common name;
And wits by our creation they become,
Just so as tit'lar bishops made at Rome.
"Tis not a tale, 'tis not a jest,
Admired with laughter at a feast,
Nor florid talk, which can that title gain;
The proofs of wit for ever must remain.

4. 'Tis not to force some lifeless verses meet

With their five gouty feet;

All everywhere, like man's, must be the soul,
And reason the inferior powers control.
Such were the numbers which could call
The stones into the Theban wall.
Such miracles are ceased; and now we see
No towns or houses raised by poetry.

5 Yet ’tis not to adorn and gild each part;

That shows more cost than art.
Jewels at nose and lips but ill appear;
Rather than all things wit, let none be there.
Several lights will not be seen,
If there be nothing else between.
Men doubt, because they stand so thick i the sky,
If those be stars which paint the galaxy.

6 'Tis not when two like words make up one noise,

Jests for Dutch men and English boys;
In which who finds out wit, the same may see
In anʼgrams and acrostics poetry.
Much less can that have any place
At which a virgin hides her face;
Such dross the fire must purge away; 'tis just
The author blush there where the reader must.

7 'Tis not such lines as almost crack the stage,

When Bajazet begins to rage:
Nor a tall met’phor in the bombast way,
Nor the dry chips of short-lunged Seneca:
Nor upon all things to obtrude
And force some old similitude.
What is it then, which, like the Power Divine,
We only can by negatives define ?

8 In a true piece of wit all things must be,

Yet all things there agree:
As in the ark, joined without force or strife,
All creatures dwelt, all creatures that had life.
Or as the primitive forms of all,
If we compare great things with small,
Which without discord or confusion lie,
In that strange mirror of the Deity.


1 Hail, old patrician trees, so great and good!

Hail, ye plebeian underwood !
Where the poetic birds rejoice,
And for their quiet nests and plenteous food
Pay with their grateful voice.

2 Hail the poor Muse's richest manor-seat!

Ye country houses and retreat,
Which all the happy gods so love,
That for you oft they quit their bright and great
Metropolis above.

3 Here Nature does a house for me erect,

Nature ! the fairest architect,
Who those fond artists does despise
That can the fair and living trees neglect,
Yet the dead timber prize.

4 Here let me, careless and unthoughtful lying,

Hear the soft winds above me flying,
With all their wanton boughs dispute,
And the more tuneful birds to both replying,
Nor be myself, too, mute.

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