Page images
PDF
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ANNO fETATIS 17.

ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT
DYING OF A COUGH.

O Pairest flower, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou had'st outlasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry;
For he, being amorous on that lovely dye

That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss, But killed, alas! and then bewailed his fatal bliss.

For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touched his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot

Of long uncoupled bed, and childless eld, W hich :mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach was held.

So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wandered long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceased his care:
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,

But, all unwares, with his cold kind embrace, Unhoused thy virgin soul from her fair biding place.

Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand:
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;

But then transformed him to a purple flower: Alack, that so tochange thee Winter had no power!

Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that *.hy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low delved tomb;

Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?
Oh no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that showed thou wast divine.

Resolve me then, O soul most surely blest,
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear
'IVIi me, bright Spirit, where'er thou hoverest."
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields, (if such there were;)

O say mo true, if thou wert mortal wight, And why from us so quickly thou did'st take thy flight?

Wert thou some star which from the ruined roof
Of shaked Olympus by mischance did'st fall;
Which careful Jove in nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall?
Or did of late earth's sons besiege the wall

Of sheeny Heaven, and thou some goddess rinl Amongst us here below to hide thy nectared head!

Or wert thou that just Maid, who once before

Forsook the hated earth, O tell me sooth,

And earnest again to visit us once more?

Or wert thou that sweet smiling youth?

Or that erowned matron sage, white-robed Truth 1

Or any other of that heavenly brood Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some

good?

Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who, having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat did'st post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
As if to show what ereatures Heaven doth breed

Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire, Toscom the sordid world, and unto Heaven aapire 1

But oh! why did'st thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy heavenly-loved innocence,
To slake hia wrath, whom sin hath made our ;.»,
To turn swift-rushing black perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering pestilence,

To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart 1 Rut thou can'st best perform that office where thou ait.

Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false-imagined loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild;
Think what a present thou to God haat sent,
And render him with patience what he lent;
This if thou do, he will an oflspring give,
That, till the world's last end, shall make thy name
to live.

ANNO ^ETATIS 19.

At a Vacation Exercise in the college, pan Latin, pan English. The Latin speeches ended, the English thus began.

Hail, native Language, that by sinews weak
Did'st move my first endeavouring tongue to speak,
And modest imperfect words with childish trips
Half unpronounced, slide through my infant lips,
Driving dumb Silence from the portal door,
Where he had mutely sat two years before!
Here I salutu thee, and thy pardon ask,
Thf now I use thee in my latter task:
Small loss it is that thence can come unto thee,
I know my tongue but little grace can do thee:
Thou needest not be ambitious to be first,
Believe me 1 have thither packed the worst:
And, if it happens as I did forecast,
The daintiest dishes shall he served up last,
1 pray thee then deny me not thy aid,
For this same small neglect that 1 have made:
But haste thee straight to do me once a pleasure,
And from thy wardrolie bring the chiefest treasure.
Not those new fangled toys, and trimming slight
Which takes our late fantasties with delight;
But cult those richest robes, and gayest attire,
Which deepest spirits, and choicest wits desire.
I have some naked thoughts that rove about,'
And loudly knock to have their passage out;
And, weary of their place do only stay
Till thou hast decked them in thy best array;
That so they may, without suspect or fears,
Fly swiftly to this fair assembly's ears;
Yet I had rather, if I were to choose,
Thy service in some graver subject use,
Such aa may make thec search thy coffen round,
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound:
Such where the deep transported mind may soar
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heaven's door
Look in, and see each blissful deity
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
Listening to what unshorn Apollo sings
To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Immortal nectar to her kingly sire:
Then passing through the spheres of watehful fire
And misty regions of wide air next under,
And hills of snow, and lofts of piled thunder,

May tell at length how green eyed Neptune raves
In Heaven's defiance mustering all his waves;
Then sing of seeret things that came to pass
When beldam Mature in her eradle was;
And last of kings, and queens, and heroes old.
Such as the wise Demodocus once told
In solemn songs at king Aleinous' fea**,
\Vhilr sad Ulysses' soul, and all the rest,
Are held with his melodious harmony
In willing chains and sweet captivity.
But fie, my wandering muse, how thou dost stray
Expectance calls thee now another way;
Thou knowest it must he now thy only bent
To keep in compass of thy predicament:
Then quick about thy proposed business come,
That to the next I may resign my room.

Then Ena is represented as father of the predicaments hls two sons, whereof the eldest stood for substance with his canout which Ens, thus speaking, explains.

Good luck befriend thee, son; for at thy birth, The fairy ladies danced upon the hearth; Thy drowsy nurse hath sworn she did them spy Come tripping to the room where thou didst lie, And sweetly singing round about thy bed, Strew all their blessings on thy sleeping head. She heard them give thee this, that thou should*.

still

From eyes of mortals walk invisible:
Yet there is something that doth force my fear;
For once it was my dismal hap to hear
A sybil old, bow-bent with erooked age,
That far events full wisely could presage,
And in time's long and dark prospective glass
Foresaw what future days should bring to pass;
"Your son," said she, (" nor can you it prevent,)
Shall subject be to many an aceident.
O'er all his brethren he shall reign as king,
Yet every one shall make him underling;
And those that can not live from him asunder,
Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under;
In worth and excellence he shall outgo them,
Yet, being above them, he shall be below them;
From others he shall stand in need of nothing,
Yet on his brother shall depend for clothing.
To find a foe it shall not be his hap;
And peace shall lull him in her flowery lap;
Yet shall he live in strife, and at his door
Devouring war shall never cease to roar;
Yea, it shall be his natural property
To harbour those that arc at enmity.
What power, what force, what mighty spell, if not
Your learned hands, can loose this Gordian knotV'

The next Quantity and Quality spake In prose, then Kent tun waa called by his name.

Rivers, arise; whether thou be the son Of utmost Tweed, or Oose, or gulfy Dun, Or Trent, who, like some carthborn giant spread* His thirty arms along the indented meads;

Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath;
Of Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death;
Or rocky Avon, or of sedgy Lee,
Or coaly Time, or ancient hallowed Dee;
Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name;
Or Medway smooth, or royal towered Thome.
1The reaL vta prooe.I

ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S

NATIVITY.

Composed l629.

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King,
Of wedded rnaiJ and virgin mother bom,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,

That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-teaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he won. at heaven's high council-
table

To sit the midst of Triual Unity,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,

Forsook the courts of everlasting day, And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy saered vein

Afford a present to the Infant God?

Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,

To weleome him to this his new abode,

Now while the Heaven, by the sun's team untrod,

Hath took no print of the approaching light, And all the spangled host keep wateh in squadrons bright'

See, how from far, upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards, haste with odours sweet;
O run, prevent them with thy humbic ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet:
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,

And join thy voice unto the angel choir From out his seeret altar, touched with hallowed fire

THE HYMN.

Il was the winter wild,
While the Heaven-born child,

All meanly wrapt, in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,
Had doffed her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize:
I! was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

Only with speeches fair
She worn the gentle air

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,
And on her naked shame.
Pollute with sinful blame,

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul defonniliea.

But he, her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek eyed Peace;

She, erowned with olive green, came s-TtU

sliding

Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And, waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes an universal peace through wa anrf

land.

Nor war, or battle's sound
Was heard the world around:

The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hooked chariot stood,
Unstained with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng And kings sat still with awful eye, As if they surely knew their sovereign Lord wa»

by.

But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of light

His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed
wave.

The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fixed in steadfast gozfl

Bending one way their preeious influence:
And will not take their flight,
'or all the morning light,

Or Lucifer that often warned them thence; 3ut in their glimmering orbs did glow, Jntil their Lord himself bespake, ar, J bid them go.

And, though the shady gloom
3ad given day her room,

The sun himself withheld his wonted •peed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame

The new enlightened world no more fhould

need;

rle saw a greater sun appear Than his bright throne, or burning •xlsttee, rotud bear.

The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,

Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan

Was kindly come to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy
keep.

When such music sweet
Their hearts and cars did greet,

As never was by mortal finger strook;
Divinely warbled voice
Answering the stringed noise,

As all their souls in blissful rapture took;
The air, such pleasures loath to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heaven-
ly eloM.

Nature that heard such sound,
Beneath the hollow round

Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling,
Now wu almost won
To think her part was done,

And that her reign had here its last fulfilling;
Sbr knew such harmony alone
Could hold all Heaven and earth in happier union.

At last surrounds their sight

A globe of cireular light.

Tail with long beams the shamefaced night arrayed;

The helmed cherubim,

& nd Bworded seraphim, Are Ken in glittering ranks with wings displayed;

Harping in loud and solemn choir,

Wsth unexpressive notes to Heaven's now-born
Heir.

Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made,

But when of oM the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellation set,

And the well balanced world on hinges hung;
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel
keep.

Ring out, ye erystal spheres,
Once bless our human cars,

(If ye have power to touch our senses so;)
And let your silver chime
Move m melodious time,

And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow;
And, with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full concert to the angelic symphony.

For if such holy song ,

Inwrap our fancy long,

Time will run back, and feteh the age of gold And speckled vanity Will sicken soon and die,

And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould;
And hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering
day.

Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,

Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Merey will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen;

With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;

And Heaven, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall

But wisest Fate says no,
This must not yet be so,

The babe yet lies in smiling infancy,
That on the bitter eross
Must redeem our loss:

So both himself and us to glorify:
Yet first to those yehained in sleep,
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through
the deep!

With such a horrid clang
As on Mount Sinai rang,

While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake:

The aged earth aghast,
With terror of that blast,

Shall from the surface to the centre shake;
When, at the world's last session,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread hu
throne

And (hen at last our bliss .
Full and perfect u,

But now begins; for from this happy day,
The old Dragon, under ground
In straiter limits bound,

Not half so far casts his usurped sway,
And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swindges the scaly horror of his folded tail.

The oracles are dumb,
No voice or hideous hum

Runs through the arehed roof in words deceit

ing.

Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,

With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leavmg.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetir ecE
The lonely mountains o'er,
And the resounding shore,

A voice of weeping heard and loud lament:
From haunted spring and dale,
Edged with poplar pale,

The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
With flower inwoven tresses torn
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets
mourn.

In conseerated earth,
And on the holy hearth,

The Lares, and Lemures, mourn with midnight

plaint;

In urns, and altars round,
A drear and dying sound

Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar Power foregoes his wonted
seat.

Peer and Baalim
Forsake their temples dim,

With that twice battered God of Palestine;s
And mooned Ashtaroth,
Heaven's queen and mother both,

Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;
The Libyc Hanunon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thum-
muz mourn.

And sullen Moloch, fled,
Hath left in shadows dread

His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals' ring
They call the grisly king,

In dismal dance about the furnace blue:
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.

Nor is Osiris seen

In Memphian grove or green,

Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings

loud:

Nor con he be at rest
Within his saerod chest;

Naught but profoundest hell can be his shroud;
In vain with timbrelled anthems dark
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipped ark.

He feels from Judah's land
The dreaded Infant's hand,

The ravs of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Nor all the gods beside
Longer dare abide,

Not Typhun huge ending in snaky twine: O'lr babe, to show his Godhead true, Oun in hit iwaddling bands control the damned erew.

So when the sun in bed, .
Curtained with cloudy red,

Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to the infernal jail,

Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave;
And the yellow skirted fayes,
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-Ion
maze.

But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest;

Time is our tedious song should here have ending,
Heaven's youngest teemed star
Hath fixed her polished car,

Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending;

And all about the courtly stable
Bright harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.

THE PASSION.

Erewhile of musie, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of air and earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly Infant's birth,
My muse with angels did divide to sing;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing;

In wintry solstice like the shortened light,
Soon swallowed up in dark and long outliving night.

For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my harp to notes of saddest wo,
Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,
Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than

so,
Which he for us did freely undergo:

Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too ha rd for human wighf

He, sovereign Priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshy tabernacle entered,
His starry front low rooft beneath the skies:
O what a mask was there, what a disguise:

Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide, Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's Ride.

These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Plrabus bound:
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings other where are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound;*

Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.

Befriend me, Night, best patroness of grief;
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »