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But could youth last, and love still breede,
Had joyes no date, had* age no mede,
Then those delights my mind might moue,
To live with thee and be thy loue.
The idea of Herrick's beautiful Song
" To the Virgins to make much of Time," the Editor has stated is taken from Spenser. Since then he has found that the hint may have been just as likely taken from the following passage in Tasso’s Jerusalem, thus translated by Fairfax.
The joyous birds, hid under green-wood shade,
Sung merry notes on every branch and bough,
The wind, that in the leaves and waters play'd,
With murmurs sweet now sung, and whistled now:
Ceased the birds, the wind loud answer made,
And while they sung, it rumbled soft and low;
Thus, were it hap or cunning, chance or art,
The wind in this strange music bore it's part. A wondrous bird with party coloured plumes,' sung this love lay:
The gentle budding rose, quoth she, behold,
That first scant peeping forth with virgin beams,
Half ope, half shut, her beauties doth unfold
In it's fair leaves, and, less seen, fairer seems,
And after spreads them forth more broad and bold,
Then languisheth, and dies in last extremes;
Nor seems the same, that decked bed and bow'r
Of many a lady late, and paramour.
So, in the passing of a day, doth pass
The bud and blossom of the life of man,
Nor ere doth flourish more; but, like the grass
Cut down, becometh wither'd, pale, and wan :
Oh, gather then the rose, while time thou hast ;
Short is the day, done when it scant began ;
Gather the rose of love, while yet thou mayst
Loving be lov’d, embracing be embrac'd.
She ceas'd; and as approving all she spoke,
The choir of birds their heavenly tunes renew, &c.
B. XVI. verses 12 to 16.
Spenser is well known to have translated and transferred into his Faerie Queene many of Tasso's most beautiful passages; the following lines from the Bower of Bliss, Fairfax had before him when he rendered the quotation just given :
The ioyous birdes, shrouded in chearefull shade,
Their notes unto the voice attempred sweete;
Th' angelicall soft trembling voyces made
To th' instruments divine respondence meet ;
The silver-sounding instruments did meet
With the base murmure of the waters fall;
The waters fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call ;
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all.
Here, where this delightful music was heard, the * fair witch Acrasia,' was solacing herself with a new lover,--she engaged in “ wanton joys,”—
The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely lay
• Ah! see, whoso fayre thing doest faine to see,
In springing flowre the image of thy day!
Ah! see the virgin rose, how sweetly shee
Doth first peepe foorth with bashfull modestee,
That fairer seemes the lesse ye see her may !
Lo! see soone after how more bold and free
Her bared bosome she doth broad display ;
Lo! see soone after how she fades and falls away.
So passeth, in the passing of a day,
Of mortall life, the leafe, the bud, the flowre ;
Ne more doth flourish after first decay,
That erst was sought to deck both bed and bowre
Of many a lady, and many a paramoure!
Gather therefore the rose whilest yet is prime,
For soone comes age that will her pride defloure :
Gather the rose of love whilest yet is time,
Whilest loving thou mayst loved be with equall crime.
He ceast; and then gan all the quire of birdes
Their diverse notes tattune unto his lay, &c. &c.
Faerie Queene, B. 2, Can. xii. ver. 71 to 76. Spensers Facrie Queene was printed only a few years previous to the Tasso of Fairfax.
Though I am young and cannot tell
Either what Death, or Love, is well,
Yet I have heard they both bear darts,
And both do aim at buman hearts :
And then again, I have been told,
Love wounds with heat, as Death with cold;
So that I fear they do but bring
Extremes to touch and mean one thing,
As in a ruin we it call
One thing to be blown up, or fall ;
Or to our end, like way may have,
By flash of lightning, or a wave ;
So Love's inflamed shaft or brand
May kill as soon as Death's cold hand,
Except Love's fires the virtue have
To fright the frost out of the grave.
(Sung by Karolin in the Sad Shepherd.]
See the chariot at hand here of Love,
Wherein my Lady rideth !
Each that draws is a swan or a dove,
And well the car Love guideth.
As she goes, all hearts do duty
Unto her beauty ;
And enamour'd, do wish, so they might
But enjoy such a sight,
That they still were to run by her side,
Through swords, through seas, whither she would ride.
Do but look on her eyes, they do light
All that Love's world compriseth!
Do but look on her hair it is bright
As Love's star when it riseth !
Do but mark, her forehead's smoother
Than words that sooth her:
And from her arched brows, such a grace
Sheds itself thro' her face,
As alone there triumphs to the life
All the gain, all the good of the elements strife.
Have you seen but a bright lily grow,
Before rude hands have touch'd it? Have you mark'd but the fall of the snow
Before the soil hath smutch'd it?