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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.
So swiftly from the impious king she fled,
And swiftly has e'er since pursu'd her flight,
Still weeping for the cruel rage, that shed
The guiltless soul of Itys, in despite
Of that vile king;-but whither am I led
In soft description from the wand'ring knight?
Zerbino through the valley took his way:
The zephyrs with his golden crest did play,
As much delighted with the beauteous fruit,
That, like a banquet, on his helm y-shone,
When joyous marriage doth with parents suit,
And the sweet music is so touch'd, and blown
From shawm, and trumpet, dulcimer, and lute,
That Jealousy with love doth look thereon;
And Hymen with a golden song doth tell,
How the pure marriage doth with angels dwell!
The shrill cicada deafen'd with her song
The sultry air, and made the hills to quake;
The fishes to the depth of rivers throng,
The birds within the leaves a descant make;
The heat doth do their pretty music wrong:
Now, quitting the cold woods, the speckled snake,
Exulting in the burning light, displays
His forked tongue, and revels in the blaze.
Enduring not the flashing beams of day,
The knight betook him to a flow'ry shade,
Wherein in gentle slumber as he lay,
The restless fancy such amusement made,
With revel in his thoughts, and elfish play,
It seem'd he wander'd in a beauteous glade,
Where silv'ry orange, and the myrtle sweet,
In soft embraces o'er his head did meet.
He deem'd he heard, and so he truly did,
A song, of sweetness to ascend the sky,
And rest amid the bliss to us forbid,
Until indeed our latest moments fly,
And all, that to our earthly sight was hid,
In radiant prospect doth before us lie;
He deem'd he heard a tender virgin sing
This song of love, and anthem for a king.
"O youthful guest, whose lineaments divine
Bespeak you of the blood of kings to be,
That softly wander on these shores of mine,
Where all things of delight you well may see,
If to diviner wisdom you incline,
And thirst for fruit of immortality,
Zerbino, to your sight I will declare
What wonders are in earth, in sea, in air.
"The silv'ry dragons to the team of thought,
That feed upon the pleasure of the air,
From out their silent caverns shall be brought,
And yoked to the wheel; do you prepare,
Zerbino, as when greatest things are wrought,
To fortify your breast with sacred prayer;
For in a little space you shall behold
The courts of amber, and the gates of gold!
"I tell you, you shall walk the shades of night,
And hear the song, that can turn back the day,
For hell, Zerbino, opens to my might,
And upward to the morning I can stray:
The muse I am, that offer to your sight
The banks of Lethe, and the starry way:
No harm shall meet you on your sacred road;
For virtue in all worlds hath her abode.
""Tis virtue, not your golden arms, can save
Your soul from Evil, that with wand'ring flight
Doth journey on the wing of Care, and brave
The fine perdition of the beamy light;
For rest is not her consort, by the wave
Of Stygian darkness, or the crystal height;
But with an iron plume she beats the air,
Incessant on her journey of despair:
"Not feared by the mind, whose beauteous thought
Is dear to angels, and with angel's wing
O'er - shadow'd, when to depths of darkness
And fed with nectar of immortal spring:
Zerbino, without fear of aught,
As Virgil did of old, the poet's king,
Ascend with me into the crystal air,
And see what love, and what delights are there.
"I will you show the palace of the moon,
And take you in the track of Phoebus' car,
In all his glorious altitude at noon;
Where you may wonder, how each little star,
Like pearl, upon the milky air is strewn ;
And see the world diminish'd from afar:
Awake, Zerbino, for the sun is high,
And we ere night must to Olympus fly.
"Awake, Zerbino!" and the knight awoke,
And saw before him, on the flow'ry ground,
The beauteous Muse, that like an angel spoke,
More soft than is in spring the thunder's sound:
A golden plume from each fair shoulder broke,
And with a laurel leaf her hair was bound;
Her hair, that like Italian harvest shone,
When burning Etna flameth them upon!
She stood in height as stately, and as tall,
As some fair temple, to Diana dear,
On which the golden light of Heav'n doth fall,
That staineth with its face the silver year:
Round which, when Jove doth to his daughter call,
The golden-hoofed harts do start for fear,
And fly into the sacred woods again:
So stood the Muse upon the flow'ry plain.
And in her hand a myrtle branch she bore,
With bud and blossom beauteously adorn'd,
And shining leaves, a very plenteous store;
Which she had fairly pluck'd, and not suborn'd,
From off the bright, and ever-sacred floor,
With which the house of Phoebus is adorn'd:
The little bees of that celestial air
Still murmur'd in its leaves, and blossoms fair.
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.
So said the Shepherd to his younger peer,
The while to pasture for the night he drove
In meads, where his soft charge no winds may fear;
But Thenot, whose delight was all in love,
Found little in his counsel to approve ;
But weaving a soft crown of myrtle green,
He bound in thought the forehead of his queen.
May, queen of blossoms,
And fulfilling flowers,
With what pretty music
Shall we charm the hours?
Wilt thou have pipe and reed,
Blown in the open mead?
Or to the lute give heed
In the green bowers!
Thou hast no need of us,
Or pipe or wire,
That hast the golden bee
Ripen'd with fire;
And many thousand more
Songsters that thee adore,
Filling earth's grassy floor
With new desire.
Thou hast thy mighty herds,
Tame, and free livers;
Doubt not, thy music too,
In the deep rivers;
And the whole plumy flight,
Warbling the day and night;
Up at the gates of light,
See, the lark quivers!
When with the jacinth
Coy fountains are tressed;
And for the mournful bird
Green woods are dressed,
That did for Tereus pine;
Then shall our songs be thine,
To whom our hearts incline:
MAY, be thou blessed!
ON BEHOLDING THE PORTRAITURE OF SIR PHILIP
SIDNEY, IN THE GALLERY AT PENSHURST.
The man that looks, sweet Sidney, in thy face,
Beholding there love's truest majesty,
And the soft image of departed grace,
Shall fill his mind with magnanimity : There may he read unfeign'd humility, And golden pity, born of heav'nly brood, Unsullied thoughts of immortality,
And musing virtue, prodigal of blood: Yes, in this map of what is fair and good,
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, that dwelt before: Or question'd but as names, 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;