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The weary mariner so fast not flies
An howling tempest, harbour to attain ;
Nor shepherd hastes, when frays of wolves arise,
So fast to fold, to save his bleating train;
As I, wing'd with contempt and just disdain,
Now fly the world and what it most doth prize,
And sanctuary seek, free to remain
From wounds of abject times and envy's eyes.
Once did this world to me seem sweet and fair,
While senses' light mind's prospective kept blind :
Now like imagin’d landscape in the air,
And weeping rain-bows, her best joys I find;
Or if ought here is had that praise should have,
It is a life obscure, and silent grave
Thrice happy he, who, by some shady grove,
Far from the clamorous world, doth live his own;
Though solitary, who is not alone,
But doth converse with that Eternal Love.
O how more sweet is birds' harmonious moan,
Or the hoarse sobbings of the widow'd dove,
Than those smooth whisperings near a prince's throne,
Which good make doubtful, do the evil approve!
O how more sweet is Zephyr's wholesome breath,
And sighs embalm’d. which new-born flowers unfold,
Than that applause vain honour doth bequeath!
How sweet are streams to poison drunk in gold !
The world is full of horrors, troubles, slights ;
Woods' harmless shades have only true delights.
Sweet bird, that sing?st away the early hours,
Of winters past or coming void of care,
Well-pleased with delights which present are,
Fair seasons, budding sprays, sweet-smelling flowers!
To rocks, to springs, to rills, from leavy bowers
Thou thy Creator's goodness dost declare,
And what dear gifts on thee he did not spare ;
A stain to human sense in sin that lowers.
What soul can be so sick, which by thy songs,
Attir'd in sweetness, sweetly is not driven
Quite to forget earth’s. turmoils, spites, and wrongs,
And lift a reverend eye and thought to heaven?
Sweet artless songster, thou my mind dost raise
To airs of spheres, yes, and to angels' lays.
As when it happeneth, that some lovely town
Unto a barbarous besieger falls,
Who there by sword and flame himself instals,
And, cruel, it in tears and blood doth drown;
Her beauty spoil'd, her citizens made thralls,
His spite yet so cannot her all throw down,
But that some statue, arch, fane of renown,
Yet lurks unmaim'd within her weeping walls :
So, after all the spoil, disgrace, and wreck,
That time, the world, and death, could bring combin'd,
Amidst that mass of ruins they did make
Safe and all scarless yet remains my mind :
From this so high transcending rapture springs,
That I, all else defac’d, not envy kings.
TO SIR WILLIAM ALEXANDER, EARL OF STERLINE.
Though I have twice been at the doors of Death,
And twice found shut those gates which ever mourn,
This but a lightning is, truce ta’en to breath,
For late-born sorrows augur fleet return.
Amidst thy sacred cares, and courtly toils,
Alexis, when thou shalt hear wandering fame
Tell, Death hath triumph'd o'er my mortal spoils,
And that on earth I am but a sad name;
If thou e'er held me dear, by all our love,
By all that bliss, those joys heaven here us gave,
I conjure thee, and by the Maids of Jove,
To grave this short remembrance on my grave-
Here Damon lies, whose songs did some time grace
The murmuring Esk: may roses shade the place !