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EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE, 818TER TO SIR
UNDERNEATH this marble herse
Lies the subject of all verse,
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Death, ere thou hast slain another,
Learn'd, and fair, and good as she,
Time shall throw his dart at thee.
ON LUCY, COUNTESS OF BEDFORD. This morning, timely rapt with holy fire,
I thought to form unto my zealous Muse
What kind of creature I could most desire,
To honour, serve, and love; as poets use.
I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise,
Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great; I meant the day-star should not brighter rise,
Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat. I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride ; I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
Fit in that softer bosom to reside. Only a learned and a manly soul
I purposed her; that should, with even pow'rs, The rock, the spindle, and the shears control
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours. Such when I meant to feign, and wish'd to see,
My Muse bade, Bedford write, and that was she.
DRINK to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst, that from the soul doth rise,
Doth ask a drink divine :
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee, late, a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope that there
It could not wither'd be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me:
Since when, it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.
BREAK, Phant'sie, from thy cave of cloud,
And spread thy purple wings;
Now all thy figures are allow'd,
And various shapes of things ;
Create of airy forms a stream,
It must have blood, and naughi of phlegm;
And though it be a waking dream,
Yet let it like an odour rise
To all the senses here,
And fall like sleep upon their eyes,
Or music in their ear.
SIR HENRY WoTToN. 1568-1639.
FAREWELL, ye gilded follies ! pleasing troubles ;
Farewell, ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles ;
Fame's but a hollow echo, gold pure clay,
Honour the darling but of one short day,
Beauty, th' eye's idol, but a damask'd skin,
State but a golden prison to live in
And torture free-born minds; embroider'd trains
Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins ;
And blood, allied to greatness, is alone
Inherited, not purchased, nor our own.
Fame, honour, beauty, state, train, blood, and birth,
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.
I would be great, but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill ;
I would be high, but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke ;
I would be rich, but see men too unkind
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind;
I would be wise, but that I often see
The fox suspected while the ass goes free;
I would be fair, but see the fair and proud
Like the bright sun oft setting in a cloud;
I would be poor, but know the humble grass
Still trampled on by each unworthy ass ;
Rich, hated; wise, suspected; scorn'd if poor;
Great, fear'd; fair, temptea; high, still envied more.
I have wish'd all, but now I wish for neither
Great, high, rich, wise, nor fair-poor I'll be rather.
Would the world now adopt me for her heir,
Would beauty's queen entitle me “the fair,"
Fame speak me fortune's minion, could I vie
Angels* with India; with a speaking eye
* Angels, pieces of money. VOL. 1.-F
Command bare heads, bow'd knees, strike justice
dumb As well as blind and lame, or give a tongue To stones by epitaphs; be call'd great master In the loose rhymes of every poetaster; Could I be more than any man that lives, Great, fair, rich, wise, all in superlatives : Yet I more freely would these gifts resign, Than ever fortune would have made them mine; And hold one minute of this holy leisure Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure. Welcome, pure thoughts! welcome, ye silent groves! These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves. Now the wing'd people of the sky shall sing My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring; A prayer-book now shall be my looking-glass, In which I will adore sweet virtue's face; Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace cares, No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-faced fears : Then here I'll sit, and sigh my hot love's folly, And learn to affect a holy melancholy; And if Contentment be a stranger then, I'll ne'er look for it but in heav'n again.
I KNOW that all beneath the moon decays,
And what by mortals in this world is brought,
In Time's great periods shall return to naught,
That fairest states have fatal nights and days.
I know that all the Muse's heavenly lays,
With toil of sp’rit, which are so dearly bought,
As idle sounds, of few, or none are sought,
That there is nothing lighter than vain praise.
I know frail beauty like the purple flower,
To which one morn oft birth and death affords,
That love a jarring is of minds accords,
Where sense and will bring under Reason's power:
Know what I list, all this cannot me move,
But that, alas ! I both must write and love.
If cross'd with all mishaps be my poor life,
If one short day I never spent in mirth,
If my spirit with itself holds lasting strife,
If sorrow's death is but new sorrow's birth;
If this vain world be but a mournful stage,
Where slave-born man plays to the laughing stars,
If youth be toss'd with love, with weakness age;
If knowledge serves to hold our thoughts in wars,
If time can close the hundred mouths of Fame,
And make what's long since past, like that's to be;
If virtue only be an idle name,
If being born I was but born to die;
Why seek I to prolong these loathsome days?
The fairest rose in shortest time decays.
SWEET soul, which in the April of thy years,
For to enrich the heaven mad'st poor this round,
And now with flaming rays of glory crown'd,
Most bless'd abides above the sphere of spheres;
If heavenly laws, alas! have not thee bound
From looking to this globe that all upbears,
If truth and pity there above be found,
Oh deign to lend a look unto these tears,
Do not disdain (dear ghost) this sacrifice,
And though I raise not pillars to thy praise,
My off’rings take, let this for me suffice,
My heart a living pyramid I raise :
And whilst kings'tombs with laurels flourish green,
Thine shall with myrtles and these flow'rs be seen.