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For sports, for pageantry, and plays,
Thou hast thy eves and holydays;
On which the young men and maids meet,
To exercise their dancing feet;
Tripping the comely country round,
With daffodils and daisies crown'd.
Thy wakes, thy quintels, here thou hast;
Thy May-poles, too, with garlands graced :
Thy morris-dance, thy Whitsun-ale,
Thy shearing-feast, which never fail ;
Thy harvest-home, thy wassail-bowl,
That's toss'd up after fox i’ th' hole;
Thy mummeries, thy Twelfth-night kings
And queens, thy Christmas revellings :
Thy nut-brown mirth, thy russet wit ;
And no man pays too dear for it.
To these thou hast thy times to go,
And trace the hare in treacherous snow;
Thy witty wiles to draw and get
The lark into the trammel net;
Thou hast thy cockrood, and thy glade
To take the precious pheasant made;
Thy lime-twigs, snares, and pitfalls, then
To catch the pilfering birds, not men.
Oh happy life, if that their good
The husbandmen but understood!
Who all the day themselves do please,
And younglings, with such sports as these ;
And lying down, have naught to affright
Sweet sleep, that makes more short the night.
A BRAHAM COWLEY. 1618-1667.
What shall I do to be for ever known,
And make the age to come my own,
I shall, like beasts or common people, die,
Unless you write my elegy ;
Whilst others great, by being born, are grown;
Their mothers' labour, not their own.
In this scale gold, in th’ other fame does lie,
The weight of that mounts this so high. These men are Fortune's jewels moulded bright;
Brought forth with their own fire and light: If I, her vulgar stone, for either look,
Out of myself it must be strook.
Yet I must on. What sound is't strikes mine ear?
Sure I Fame's trumpet hear :
It sounds like the last trumpet: for it can
Raise up the buried man.
Unpass'd Alps stop me; but I'll cut them all,
And march, the Muses' Hannibal.
Hence, all the flattering vanities that lay
Nets of roses in the way!
Hence, the desire of honours or estate,
And all that is not above Fate !
Hence, Love himself, that tyrant of my days!
Which intercepts my coming praise.
Come, my best friends, my books! and lead me on;
'Tis time that I were gone.
Welcome, great Stagyrite! and teach me now
All I was born to know:
Thy scholar's victories thou dost far outdo;
He conquer'd th' earth, the whole world you. Welcome, learn'd Cicero! whose bless'd tongue and Preserves Rome's greatness yet:
[wit Thou art the first of orators; only he
Who best can praise thee, next must be.
Welcome the Mantuan swan, Virgil the wise!
Whose verse walks highest, but not flies; Who brought green Poesy to her perfect age,
And made that art which was a rage. Tell me, ye mighty Three! what shall I do
To be like one of you?
But you have climb'd the mountain's top, there sit
On the calm flourishing head of it,
And, whilst with wearied steps we upward go,
See us and clouds below.
This only grant me, that my means may lie
Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
Some honour I would have,
Not from great deeds, but good alone;
Thi unknown are better than ill-known :
Rumour can ope the grave.
Acquaintance I would have, but when't depends.
Not on the number, but the choice of friends.
Books should, not business, entertain the light,
And sleep, as undisturb’d as death, the night.
My house a cottage more
Than palace; and should fitting be
For all my use, no luxury.
My garden painted o'er
With Nature's hand, not Art's; and pleasures yield,
Horace might envy in his Sabine field.
Thus would I double my life's fading space;
For he that runs it well, twice rums his race.
And in this true delight,
These unbought sports, this happy state,
I would not fear nor wish my fate ;
But boldly say each night,
To-morrow let my sun his beams display,
Or in clouds hide them; I have lived to-day.
In a deep vision's intellectual scene,
Beneath a bower for sorrow made,
Th' uncomfortable shade
of the black yew's unlucky green
Mix'd with the mourning willow's careful gray,
Where reverend Cham cuts out his famous way,
The melancholy Cowley lay :
And lo! a Muse appear'd to's closed sight
(The Muses oft in lands of vision play),
Bodied, array'd, and seen, by an internal light.
A golden harp with silver strings she bore;
A wondrous hieroglyphic robe she wore,
In which all colours and all figures were,
That Nature or that Fancy can create,
That art can never imitate;
And with loose pride it wanton'd in the air.
In such a dress, in such a well-clothed dream,
She used of old, near fair Ismenus' stream,
Pindar, her Theban favourite, to meet;
A crown was on her head, and wings were on her
feet. She touch'd him with her harp, and raised him from
the ground; The shaken strings melodiously resound.
“Art thou return'd at last,” said she,
“To this forsaken place and me?
Thou prodigal! who didst so loosely waste
Of all thy youthful years the good estate ;
Art thou return’d here to repent too late,
And gather husks of learning up at last,
Now the rich harvest-time of life is past,
And winter marches on so fast ?
But, when I meant t'adopt thee for my son,
And did as learn'd a portion assign
As ever any of the mighty Nine
Had to their dearest children done;
When I resolved t' exalt thy anointed name,
Among the spiritual lords of peaceful fame;
Thou, changeling! thou, bewitch'd with noise and
Wouldst into courts and cities from me go; (show,
Wouldst see the world abroad, and have a share
In all the follies and the tumults there :
Thou wouldst, forsooth, be something in a state,
And business thou wouldst find and wouldst create;
Business! the frivolous pretence
Of human lusts to shake off innocence;
Business! the grave impertinence;
Business! the thing which I of all things hate ;
Business! the contradiction of thy fate.
“Go, renegado! cast up thy account,
And see to what amount
Thy foolish gains by quitting me:
The sale of knowledge, fame, and liberty,
The fruits of thy unlearn'd apostasy.
Thou thought'st, if once the public storm were past,
All thy remaining life should sunshine be;
Behold! the public storm is spent at last,
The sovereign's toss'd at sea no more,
And thou, with all the noble company,
Art got at last to shore.
But, whilst thy fellow-voyagers I see
All march'd up to possess the promised land,
Thou, still alone, alas ! dost gaping stand
Upon the naked beach, upon the barren sand !
“As a fair morning of the blessed spring,
After a tedious, stormy night,
Such was the glorious entry of our king ;
Enriching moisture dropp'd on everything :
Plenty he sow'd below, and cast about him light!
But then, alas! to thee alone,
One of old Gideon's miracles was shown;
For every tree and every herb around
With pearly dew was crown'd,
And upon all the quicken'd ground