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But see! the Virgin blest
240 Hath fixed her polished car, Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attend
ing; And all about the courtly stable Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.
To hear the lark begin his flight,
Hence, loathèd Melancholy,
Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born In Stygian cave forlorn, 'Mongst horrid shapes and shrieks and sights
unholy ! Find out some uncouth cell, Where brooding darkness spreads his jealous
wings, And the night-raven sings;
There under ebon shades and low-browed rocks, As ragged as thy locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
30 Sport that wrinkled Care derides, And Laughter holding both his sides. Come, and trip it as you go, On the light fantastic toe; And in thy right hand lead with thee
35 The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty; And if I give thee honour due, Mirth, admit me of thy crew, To live with her, and live with thee, In unreproved pleasures free:
And young and old come forth to play
These delights if thou canst give,
Hence, vain deluding Joys,
The brood of Folly without father bred! How little you bested,
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys? Dwell in some idle brain,
5 And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess, As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sun-beams, Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train. 10 But hail, thou Goddess sage and holy, Hail, divinest Melancholy ! Whose saintly visage is too bright To hit the sense of human sight, And therefore to our weaker view
15 O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue; Black, but such as in esteem Prince Memnon's sister might beseem, Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove To set her beauty's praise above The sea nymphs, and their powers offended. Yet thou art higher far descended: Thee bright-haired Vesta long of yore To solitary Saturn bore; His daughter she (in Saturn's reign
25 Such mixture was not held a stain). Oft in glimmering bowers and glades He met her, and in secret shades Of woody Ida's inmost grove, Whilst yet there was no fear of Jove. Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure, Sober, steadfast, and demure, All in a robe of darkest grain, Flowing with majestic train, And sable stole of cypress lawn
35 Over thy decent shoulders drawn. Come, but keep thy wonted state, With even step, and musing gait, And looks commercing with the skies, Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes: There, held in holy passion still, Forget thyself to marble, till With a sad leaden downward cast Thou fix them on the earth as fast. And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet, 45 Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet, And hears the Muses in a ring Aye round about Jove's altar sing; And add to these retired Leisure, That in trim gardens takes his pleasure; But first, and chiefest, with thee bring Him that yon soars on golden wing, Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne, The cherub Contemplation;
50 I 20
And the mute Silence hist along,
55 'Less Philomel will deign a song, In her sweetest, saddest plight, Smoothing the rugged brow of Night, While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke Gently o'er the accustomed oak:
60 Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly, Most musical, most melancholy ! Thee, chauntress, oft the woods among, I woo to hear thy even-song; And missing thee, I walk unseen On the dry smooth-shaven green, To behold the wandering moon, Riding near her highest noon, Like one that had been led astray Through the heaven's wide pathless way, 70 And oft, as if her head she bowed, Stooping through a fleecy cloud. Oft on a plat of rising ground, I hear the far-off curfew sound, Over some wide-watered shore,
75 Swinging slow with sullen roar; Or if the air will not permit, Some still removed place will fit, Where glowing embers through the room Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
80 Far from all resort of mirth, Save the cricket on the hearth, Or the bellman's drowsy charm To bless the doors from nightly harm. Or let my lamp at midnight hour Be seen in some high lonely tower, Where I may oft out-watch the Bear, With thrice-great Hermes; or unsphere The spirit of Plato, to unfold What worlds or what vast regions hold 90 The immortal mind that hath forsook Her mansion in this fleshly nook; And of those demons that are found In fire, air, flood, or underground, Whose power hath a true consent
95 With planet or with element. Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy In sceptred pall come sweeping by, Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line, Or the tale of Troy divine, Or what (though rare) of later age Ennobled hath the buskined stage. But, O sad Virgin! that thy power Might raise Musæus from his bower; Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
105 Such notes as, warbled to the string, Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek, And made Hell grant what love did seek; Or call up him that left half-told The story of Cambuscan bold,
Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
145 Entice the dewy-feathered Sleep; And let some strange mysterious dream Wave at his wings in airy stream Of lively portraiture displayed, Softly on my eyelids laid;
190 And as I ke, sweet music breathe Above, about, or underneath, Sent by some spirit to mortals good, Or the unseen Genius of the wood. But let my due feet never fail To walk the studious cloister's pale, And love the high embowed roof, With antique pillars massy proof, And storied windows richly dight, Casting a dim religious light. There let the pealing organ blow, To the full-voiced quire below, In service high and anthems clear, As may with sweetness, through mine ear, Dissolve me into ecstasies,
165 And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods and desert caves,
56 Had ye been there - for what could that have
done? What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore, The Muse herself, for her enchanting son, Whom universal nature did lament,
60 When by the rout that made the hideous roar His gory visage down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore?
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade, And strictly meditate the thankless Muse? Were it not better done, as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise (That last infirmity of noble mind) To scorn delights and live laborious days; But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, And think to burst out into sudden blaze, 74 Comes the blind Fury with the abhorrèd shears, And slits the thin-spun life. “But not the praise,” Phæbus replied, and touched my trembling ears: “Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil, Nor in the glistering foil Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies; 80 But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; As he pronounces lastly on each deed, Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed." 84
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honoured flood, Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned with vocal recds, That strain I heard was of a higher mood: But now my oat proceeds, And listens to the herald of the sea, That came in Neptune's plea.
90 He asked the waves, and asked the felon winds, What hard mishap hath doomed this gentle swain ?
LYCIDAS In this Monody the Author bewails a learned Friend,
unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637; and by occasion foretells the
ruin of our corrupted Clergy, then in their height. Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more, Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere, I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude, And with forced fingers rude Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year. 5 Bitter constraint and sad occasion dear Compels me to disturb your season due; For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime, Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer. Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme. He must not float upon his watery bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, Without the meed of some melodious tear. Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well
15 That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring; Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string. Hence with denial vain and coy excuse; So may some gentle Muse With lucky words favour my destined urn, And as he passes turn, And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill, Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill; Together both, ere the high lawns appeared 25 Under the opening eyelids of the morn, We drove a-field, and both together heard What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn, Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night, Oft till the star that rose at evening, bright, 30 Toward heaven's descent had sloped his westering
wheel. Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute, Tempered to the oaten flute; Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel From the glad sound would not be absent long; And old Damætas loved to hear our song.
36 But O the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return!
The glowing violet,
145 The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine, With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head, And every flower that sad embroidery wears; Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed, And daffodillies fill their cups with tears, 150 To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies. For so to interpose a little ease, Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise, Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding
And questioned every gust of rugged wings That blows from off each beakèd promontory: They knew not of his story;
95 And sage Hippotades their answer brings, That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed; The air was calm, and on the level brine Sleek Panope with all her sisters played. It was that fatal and perfidious bark, Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark, That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow, His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge, Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge 105 Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe. “Ah! who hath reft," quoth he, “my dearest
pledge ?" Last came, and last did go, The pilot of the Galilean lake; Two massy keys he bore of metals twain (The golden opes, the iron shuts amain). He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake: “How well could I have spared for thee, young
swain, Enough of such as for their bellies' sake, Creep and intrude and climb into the fold!
115 Of other care they little reckoning make Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast, And shove away the worthy bidden guest. Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how
to hold A sheep-hook, or have learnt aught else the least That to the faithful herdman's art belongs ! What recks it them? What need they? They are
sped; And when they list, their lean and flashy songs Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw; The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed, 125 But swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread; Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw Daily devours apace, and nothing said. But that two-handed engine at the door 130 Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.”
Return, Alpheus; the dread voice is past That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse, And call the vales, and bid them hither cast Their bells and flowrets of a thousand hues. 135 Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use Of shades and wanton winds and gushing brooks, On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks, Throw hither all your quaint enamelled eyes, That on the green turf suck the honeyed showers, And purple all the ground with vernal flowers. 141 Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies, The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine, The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet,
Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurled; Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
156 Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world; Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied, Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,
160 Where the great vision of the guarded mount Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold. Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with
ruth; And 0 ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth. Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no
more, For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead,
166 Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor; So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed, And yet anon repairs his drooping head, And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky: 171
rills, While the still morn went out with sandals
gray; He touched the tender stops of various quills, With eager thought warbling his Doric lay: And now the sun had stretched out all the hills, And now was dropt into the western bay. 191 At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue: To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new.