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251. SPORT

The merry waves dance up and down and play,

Sport is granted to the sea ;
Birds are the quiristers of the empty air,

Sport is never wanting there ;
The ground doth smile at the spring's flowery birth,

Sport is granted to the earth ;
The fire its cheering flame on high doth rear,

Sport is never wanting there.
If all the elements, the earth, the sea,

Air, and fire, so merry be,
Why is man's mirth so seldom and so small,
Who is compounded of them all ?

A. COWLEY.

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The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks, and gapes for drink again.
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair ;
The sea itself, which one would think
Should have but little need of drink-
Drinks ten thousand rivers up,
So filled that they o’erflow the cup.
The busy sun--and one would guess
By's drunken fiery face no less-
Drinks up the sea, and when he's done,
The moon and stars drink up the sun :
They drink and dance by their own light;
They drink and revel all the night.
Nothing in nature's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl then, fill it high,
Fill up the glasses there ; for why
Should every creature drink but I;
Why, man of morals, tell me why?

A. COWLEY.

253. TO HIS MISTRESS

TYRIAN dye why do you wear,
You whose cheeks best scarlet are ?

Why do you fondly pin
Pure linens o'er your skin,

Your skin that's whiter far ?
Casting a dusky cloud before a star

Why bears your neck a golden chain ?
Did Nature make your hair in vain,

Of gold most pure and fine ?
With gems why do you shine ?

They, neighbours to your eyes,
Show but like Phosphor when the Sun doth rise.
I would have all my mistress' parts
Owe more to Nature than the arts ;

I would not woo the dress,
Or one whose nights give less

Contentment than the day ;
She 's fair whose beauty only makes her gay.

A. COWLEY.

254. WELCOME, GREAT STAGIRITE WELCOME, great Stagirite! and teach me now

All I was born to know.
Thy scholar's victories thou dost far outdo;

He conquered th' earth; the whole world you ! Welcome, learned Cicero ! whose blessed tongue and wit

Preserves Rome's greatness yet. Thou art the first of orators ; only he

Who best can praise thee, next must be. Welcome, the Mantuan swan, Virgil the wise ;

Whose verse walks highest, but not flies ; Who brought green Poesy to her perfect age,

And mad'st that art which was a rage.
Tell me, ye mighty Three, what shall I do

To be like one of you ?
But you have climbed the mountain's top! there sit

On the calm flourishing head of it;
And whilst, with wearied steps, we upward go,
See us, and clouds, below.

A. COWLEY.

255. THE WISH

WELL then, I now do plainly see
This busy world and I shall ne'er agree.
The very honey of all earthly joy
Does, of all meats, the soonest cloy ;

And they, methinks, deserve my pity
Who for it can endure the stings,
The crowd and buzz and murmurings

Of this great hive, the city!

4

Ah yet, ere I descend to the grave,
May I a small house and large garden have ;
And a few friends, and many books, both true,
Both wise, and both delightful too !

And since Love ne'er will from me flee,-
A Mistress moderately fair,
And good as guardian angels are,

Only beloved, and loving me !
O founts ! Oh, when in you shall I
Myself eased of unpeaceful thoughts espy?
O fields ! O woods! when, when shall I be made
The happy tenant of your shade ?

Here's the spring-head of Pleasure's flood !
Here's wealthy Nature's treasury,
Where all the riches lie that she

Has coined and stamped for good.
Pride and ambition here
Only in far-fetched metaphors appear ;
Here naught but winds can hurtful murmurs scatter,
And naught but echo flatter.

The gods, when they descended, hither
From heaven did always choose their way;
And therefore we may boldly say

That 'tis the way too thither.
How happy here should I
And one dear She live, and embracing die !
She who is all the world, and can exclude
In deserts solitude.

I should have then this only fear :
Lest men, when they my pleasures see,
Should all come imitate me,
And so make a city here.

A. COWLEY.

256. MILTON
AGES elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard :
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth, asked ages more.
Thus genius rose and set at ordered times,
And shot a dayspring into distant climes,
Ennobling every region that he chose ;
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose ;
And, tedious years of Gothic darkness passed,
Emerged all splendour in our isle at last.
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main,
Then show far off their shining plumes again.

W. COWPER (Table Talk).

257. BOOKS

Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthralled.
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgement, hoodwinked. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error leads them by a tune entranced.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing, therefore, without pause or choice,
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.

W. COWPER (The Task, Bk. vi).

258. EVENING

COME, Evening, once again, season of peace ;
Return, sweet Evening, and continue long !
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
With matron-step slow-moving, while the night
Treads on thy sweeping train ; one hand employed
In letting fall the curtain of repose
On bird and beast, the other charged for man
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day :
Not sumptuously adorned, nor needing aid,
Like homely-featured night, of clustering gems ;
A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow,
Suffices thee; save that the moon is thine
No less than hers, not worn indeed on high
With ostentatious pageantry, but set
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.

W. COWPER (The Task, Bk. iv).

259. ENGLAND

ENGLAND, with all thy faults, I love thee still-
My country! and, while yet a nook is left
Where English minds and manners may be found,
Shall be constrained to love thee. Though thy clime
Be fickle, and thy year most part deformed
With dripping rains, or withered by a frost,
I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies,
And fields without a flower, for warmer France
With all her vines; nor for Ausonia's groves
Of golden fruitage, and her myrtle bowers.

W. COWPER (The Task, Bk. ii).

260. EPITAPH ON A HARE
HERE lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,

Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,

Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo,
Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,

Who, nursed with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confined,

Was still a wild Jack-hare.
Though duly from my hand he took

His pittance every night,
He did it with a jealous look,

And, when he could, would bite.
His diet was of wheaten bread,

And milk, and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,

With sand to scour his maw.
On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,

On pippins' russet peel ;
And, when his juicy salads failed,

Sliced carrot pleased him well.
A Turkey carpet was his lawn,

Whereon he loved to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,

And swing his rump around.
His frisking was at evening hours,

For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching showers,

Or when a storm drew near.
Eight years and five round-rolling moons

He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,

And every night at play.
I kept him for his humour' sake,

For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,

And force me to a smile.
But now, beneath this walnut-shade

He finds his long, last home,
And waits in snug concealment laid,

Till gentler Puss shall come.
He, still more aged, feels the shocks

From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.

W. COWPER.

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