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This life, which seems so fair,
Is like a bubble blown up in the air
By sporting children's breath,
Who chase it everywhere,
And strive who can most motion it bequeath; 5
And though it sometime seem of its own might,
Like to an eye of gold, to be fix'd there,
And firm to hover in that empty height,
That only is because it is so light.
But in that pomp it doth not long appear;

For even when most admir'd, it in a thought,
As swellid from nothing, doth dissolve in nought.

I 20




Thrice happy he, who by some shady grove,
Far from the clamorous world doth live his own,
Though solitare, yet who is not alone,
But doth converse with that eternal love.
O how more sweet is birds' harmonious moan, 5
Or the soft sobbings of the widow'd dove,
Than those smooth whisp'rings near a prince's

Which good make doubtful, do the evil approve !
O how more sweet is zephyr's wholesome breath,
And sighs perfum'd, which do the flowers unfold,
Than that applause vain honour doth bequeath!
How sweet are streams to poison drunk in gold !

The world is full of horrors, falsehoods, slights; Woods' silent shades have only true delights.

A sound of music touched mine ears, or rather
Indeed entranced my soul. As I stole nearer,
Invited by the melody, I saw
This youth, this fair-faced youth, upon his lute,
With strains of strange variety and harmony,
Proclaiming, as it seemed, so bold a challenge
To the clear quiristers of the woods, the birds,
That, as they flocked about him, all stood silent,
Wondering at what they heard. I wondered too.

AMET. And so do I; good, on!

A nightingale,
Nature's best skilled musician, undertakes
The challenge, and for every several strain
The well-shaped youth could touch, she sung her

He could not run division with more art
Upon his quaking instrument than she,
The nightingale, did with her various notes
Reply to; for a voice and for a sound,
Amethus, 'tis much easier to believe
That such they were than hope to hear again.

AMET. How did the rivals part?

You term them rightly; For they were rivals, and their mistress, harmony. Some time thus spent, the young man grew at last Into a pretty anger, that a bird,

Whom art had never taught cliffs, moods, or notes,
Should vie with him for mastery, whose study
Had busied many hours to perfect practice:
To end the controversy, in a rapture
Upon his instrument he plays so swiftly,
So many voluntaries and so quick,
That there was curiosity and cunning, 140
Concord in discord, lines of differing method
Meeting in one full centre of delight.

AMET. Now for the bird !

The bird, ordained to be
Music's first martyr, strove to imitate
These several sounds; which when her warbling

throat Failed in, for grief down dropped she on his lute, And brake her heart. It was the quaintest sadness, To see the conqueror upon her hearse To weep a funeral elegy of tears; That, trust me, my Amethus, I could chide

150 Mine own unmanly weakness, that made me A fellow-mourner with him. AMET.

I believe thee.
MEN. He looked upon the trophies of his art,
Then sighed, then wiped his eyes, then sighed and

Alas, poor creature! I will soon revenge
This cruelty upon the author of it;
Henceforth this lute, guilty of innocent blood,
Shall never more betray a harmless peace
To an untimely end;" and in that sorrow,

JOHN FORD (fl. 1639)



ACT I, SCENE I MEN. Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales Which poets of an elder time have feigned To glorify their Tempe, bred in me Desire of visiting that paradise. To Thessaly I came; and living private, Without acquaintance of more sweet companions Than the old inmates to my love, my thoughts, I day by day frequented silent groves And solitary walks. One morning early This accident encountered me: I heard The sweetest and most ravishing contention That art and nature ever were at strife in.

AMET. I cannot yet conceive what you infer By art and nature. MEN.

I shall soon resolve ye.



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and ease,


Can you paint a thought ? or number
Every fancy in a slumber?
Can you count soft minutes roving
From a dial's point by moving?
Can you grasp a sigh? or, lastly,
Rob a virgin's honour chastely?

No, O, no! yet you may
Sooner do both that and this,
This and that, and never miss,

Than by any praise display Beauty's beauty; such a glory, As beyond all fate, all story,

All arms, all arts,

All loves, all hearts, Greater than those or they, Do, shall, and must obey.

Can but please
The outward senses, when the mind

Is or untroubled or by peace refined. IST VOICE. Crowns may flourish and decay, 5

Beauties shine, but fade away. 2ND VOICE. Youth may revel, yet it must

Lie down in a bed of dust. 3RD VOICE. Earthly honours flow and waste,

Time alone doth change and last. 10 COOR. Sorrows mingled with contents pre

pare Rest for care; Love only reigns in death; though

art Can find no comfort for a broken





GEORGE WITHER (1588-1667)





Him to flatter most suppose,
That prefers before the rose,
Or the lilies while they grow,
Or the flakes of new-fall’n snow,
Her complexion whom he loveth;
And yet this, my Muse approveth.
For in such a beauty meets
Unexpressèd moving sweets,
That the like unto them no man
Ever saw but in a woman.

Look on moon! on stars ! or sun!
All God's creatures overrun!
See if all of them presents
To your mind, such sweet contents;
Or if you from them can take
Ought that may a beauty make,
Shall one half so pleasing prove
As is hers whom you do love!



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Think not, though, my Muse now sings
Mere absurd or feigned things !
If to gold I like her hair,
Or to stars her eyes so fair,
Though I praise her skin by snow,
Or by pearls her double-row,
'Tis that you might gather thence
Her unmatched excellence.

Eyes as fair (for eyes) hath she
As stars fair (for stars) may be.
And each part as fair doth show
In its kind as white in snow.
'Tis no grace to her at all,
If her hair I sunbeams call;
For, were there power in art
So to portrait every part,
All men might those beauties see
As they do appear to me,
I would scorn to make compare
With the glorious'st things that are.

Nought I e'er saw fair enow
But the hair the hair to show;
Yet some think him over bold
That compares it but to gold.
He from reason seems to err
Who, commending of his dear,
Gives her lips thc rubies' hue,
Or by pearls her teeth doth shew;
But what pearls, what rubies can
Seem so lovely fair to man
As her lips whom he doth love,
When in sweet discourse they move?
Or her lovelier teeth, the while
She doth bless him with a smile?

Stars, indeed, fair creatures be!
Yet, amongst us, where is he
Joys not more, the while he lies
Sunning in his mistress' eyes
Than in all the glimmering light
Of a starry winter's night?

Shall I, wasting in despair,
Die, because a woman's fair ?
Or make pale my cheeks with care,
'Cause another's rosy are?
Be she fairer than the day,
Or the flowery meads in May!

If she be not so to me,
What care I how fair she be?


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WILLIAM BROWNE (1591-1643)

Whose names would die but for some hired pen.
No; if I praise, virtue shall draw me to it, 165
And not a base procurement make me do it.
What now I sing is but to pass away
A tedious hour, as some musicians play;
Or make another my own griefs bemoan;
Or to be least alone when most alone.

In this can I as oft as I will choose
Hug sweet content by my retired Muse,
And in a study find as much to please
As others in the greatest palaces.
Each man that lives, according to his power,
On what he loves bestows an idle hour. 176
Instead of hounds that make the wooded hills
Talk in a hundred voices to the rills,
I like the pleasing cadence of a line
Struck by the consort of the sacred Nine. 180
In lieu of hawks, the raptures of my soul
Transcend their pitch and baser earth's control.
For running horses, Contemplation flies
With quickest speed to win the greatest prize.
For courtly dancing, I can take more pleasure 185
To hear a verse keep time and equal measure.
For winning riches, seek the best directions
How I may well subdue mine own affections.
For raising stately piles for heirs to come,
Here in this poem I erect my tomb.

190 And Time may be so kind in these weak lines To keep my name enroll'd past his that shines In gilded marble or in brazen leaves: Since verse preserves, when stone and brass de

ceives. Or if (as worthless) Time not lets it live 195 To those full days which others' Muses give, Yet I am sure I shall be heard and sung Of most severest eld and kinder young Beyond my days; and, maugre Envy's strife, Add to my name some hours beyond my life. 200



FROM BOOK II, SONG IV Yet as when I with other swains have been Invited by the maidens of our green To wend to yonder wood, in time of year 135 When cherry-trees enticing burdens bear, He that with wreathed legs doth upwards go, Plucks not alone for those which stand below; But now and then is seen to pick a few To please himself as well as all his crew: Or if from where he is he do espy Some apricock upon a bough thereby, Which overhangs the tree on which he stands, Climbs up and strives to take it with his hands: So if to please myself I somewhat sing, 145 Let it not be to you less pleasuring. No thirst of glory tempts me, for my strains Befit poor shepherds on the lowly plains; The hope of riches cannot draw from me One line that tends to servile flattery,

150 Nor shall the most in titles on the earth Blemish my Muse with an adulterate birth, Nor make me lay pure colours on a ground Where nought substantial can be ever found. No; such as sooth a base and dunghill spirit 155 With attributes fit for the most of merit, Cloud their free Muse; as, when the sun doth

shine On straw and dirt mix'd by the sweating hyne, It nothing gets from heaps so much impure But noisome steams that do his light obscure.

My freeborn Muse will not like Danae be, 161 Won with base dross to clip with slavery; Nor lend her choicer balm to worthless men,


Now was the Lord and Lady of the May Meeting the May-pole at the break of day, And Cælia, as the fairest on the green, Not without some maids' envy chosen queen. Now was the time com'n, when our gentle swain Must in his harvest or lose all again.

146 Now must he pluck the rose lest other hands, Or tempests, blemish what so fairly stands: And therefore, as they had before decreed, Our shepherd gets a boat, and with all speed, 150 In night, that doth on lovers' actions smile, Arrived safe on Mona's fruitful isle.

Between two rocks (immortal, without mother,) That stand as if out-facing one another,

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