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Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Nods, and becks, and wreathèd smiles,
Such as hang on Hebè's 1 cheek,
And love to live in dimples sleek ;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it, as you go,
On the light fantastic toe ;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph sweet Liberty ;
And, if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreprovèd pleasures free ;
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And singing startle the dull night,
From his watch-tow'r in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise ;
Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good morrow,
Through the sweet-briar, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine :
While the cock, with lively din,
Scatters the rear of Darkness thin ;
And to the stack, or the barn-door,
Stoutly struts his dames before :
Oft list'ning how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumb'ring morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill :
Some time walking, not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate
1 The goddess of youth
Where the great Sun begins his state,
Robed in flames and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liv'ries dight;
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o'er the furrowed land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his sithe,
And ev'ry shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Whilst the landskip round it measures ;
Russet lawns and fallows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray ;
Mountains, on whose barren breast
The lab'ring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim with daisies pied,
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide :
Tow'rs and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The Cynosure of neighb'ring eyes.
Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes
From betwixt two agèd oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis, 1 met,
Are at their sav'ry dinner set
Of herbs, and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phillis 1 dresses ;
And then in haste her bow'r she leaves,
With Thestylis 1 to bind the sheaves ;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tanned haycock in the mead.
Sometimes with secure delight
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks sound
i Stock-names of rustics in classical pastoral poetry.
To many a youth, and many a maid,
Dancing in the chequered shade ;
And young and old come forth to play
On a sun-shine holy-day,
Till the live-long day-light fail :
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How fairy Mab the junkets eat ;
She was pinched, and pulled, she said ;
And he, by friar's lantern led,
Tells how the drudging Goblin 2 swet,
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shad'wy flail hath threshed the corn,
That ten day-lab'rers could not end ;
Then lies him down the lubbar fiend,
And, stretched out all the chimney's length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength ;
And crop-full out of doors he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whisp'ring winds soon lulled asleep.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace, whom all commend.
There let Hymen 3 oft appear
Kate In saffron robe, with taper clear, · Jack o' Lantern, or Will o'the Wisp, a familiar figure in popular superstition.
Robin Goodfellow, Shakespeare's Puck. Naturally mischievous, he could still be induced to perform various domestic tasks by a small prosent, such as a bowl of cream. • The god of marriage.
And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask, and antique pageantry :
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson's learned sock 1 be on,
Or sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs, a
Married to immortal verse ;
Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
In notes, with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning ;
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony ;
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heaped Elysian flow'rs, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regained Eurydice. 8
These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.
With the enchanting melody of this poem in our ears, and with its main outlines well in mind, we pass on at once to its companion piece.
Hence, vain deluding Joys,
The brood of Folly without father bred !
How little you bestead,
Or fill the fixèd mind with all your toys !
Dwell in some idle brain,
And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sun-beams;
Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners 1 of Morpheus' train.
But hail, thou Goddess, sage and holy,
Hail, divinest Melancholy !
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And therefore to our weaker view
O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue ;
Black, but such as in .esteem
Prince Memnon's 2 sister might beseem,
Or that starred Ethiop queen 3 that strove
To set her beauty's praise above
The Sea-Nymphs', and their pow'rs offended :
Yet thou art higher far descended :
Thee, bright-haired Vesta, long of yore,
The solitary Saturn bore ;
His daughter she,-in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a stain-;
Oft in glimmering bow'rs and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
Whilst yet there was no fear of Jove.
Attendants; cp. “Midsummer Night's Dream,” ii. i.