FROM THE LYRICAL POEMS OF ROBERT HERRICK
By Robert Herrick
Arranged with introduction by Francis Turner Palgrave
ROBERT HERRICK - Born 1591 : Died 1674
Those who most admire the Poet from whose many pieces a selection only is here offered, will, it is probable, feel most strongly (with the Editor) that excuse is needed for an attempt of an obviously presumptuous nature. The choice made by any selector invites challenge: the admission, perhaps, of some poems, the absence of more, will be censured:—Whilst others may wholly condemn the process, in virtue of an argument not unfrequently advanced of late, that a writer's judgment on his own work is to be considered final. And his book to be taken as he left it, or left altogether; a literal reproduction of the original text being occasionally included in this requirement.
If poetry were composed solely for her faithful band of true lovers and true students, such a facsimile as that last indicated would have claims irresistible; but if the first and last object of this, as of the other Fine Arts, may be defined in language borrowed from a different range of thought, as 'the greatest pleasure of the greatest number,' it is certain that less stringent forms of reproduction are required and justified. The great majority of readers cannot bring either leisure or taste, or information sufficient to take them through a large mass (at any rate) of ancient verse, not even if it be Spenser's or Milton's. Manners and modes of speech, again, have changed; and much that was admissible centuries since, or at least sought admission, has now, by a law against which protest is idle, lapsed into the indecorous. Even unaccustomed forms of spelling are an effort to the eye;—a kind of friction, which diminishes the ease and enjoyment of the reader.
These hindrances and clogs, of very diverse nature, cannot be disregarded by Poetry. In common with everything which aims at human benefit, she must work not only for the 'faithful': she has also the duty of 'conversion.' Like a messenger from heaven, it is hers to inspire, to console, to elevate: to convert the world, in a word, to herself. Every rough place that slackens her footsteps must be made smooth; nor, in this Art, need there be fear that the way will ever be vulgarized by too much ease, nor that she will be loved less by the elect, for being loved more widely.
Passing from these general considerations, it is true that a selection framed in conformity with them, especially if one of our older poets be concerned, parts with a certain portion of the pleasure which poetry may confer. A writer is most thoroughly to be judged by the whole of what he printed. A selector inevitably holds too despotic a position over his author. The frankness of speech which we have abandoned is an interesting evidence how the tone of manners changes. The poet's own spelling and punctuation bear, or may bear, a gleam of his personality. But such last drops of pleasure are the reward of fully-formed taste; and fully-formed taste cannot be reached without full knowledge. This, we have noticed, most readers cannot bring. Hence, despite all drawbacks, an anthology may have its place. A book which tempts many to read a little, will guide some to that more profound and loving study of which the result is, the full accomplishment of the poet's mission.
We have, probably, no poet to whom the reasons here advanced to justify the invidious task of selection apply more fully and forcibly than to Herrick. Highly as he is to be rated among our lyrists, no one who reads through his fourteen hundred pieces can reasonably doubt that whatever may have been the influences,—wholly unknown to us,—which determined the contents of his volume, severe taste was not one of them. PECAT FORTITER:—his exquisite directness and simplicity of speech repeatedly take such form that the book cannot be offered to a very large number of those readers who would most enjoy it. The spelling is at once arbitrary and obsolete. Lastly, the complete reproduction of the original text, with explanatory notes, edited by Mr Grosart, supplies materials equally full and interesting for those who may, haply, be allured by this little book to master one of our most attractive poets in his integrity.
In Herrick's single own edition of HESPERIDES and NOBLE NUMBERS, but little arrangement is traceable: nor have we more than a few internal signs of date in composition. It would hence be unwise to attempt grouping the poems on a strict plan: and the divisions under which they are here ranged must be regarded rather as progressive aspects of a landscape than as territorial demarcations. Pieces bearing on the poet as such are placed first; then, those vaguely definable as of idyllic character, 'his girls,' epigrams, poems on natural objects, on character and life; lastly, a few in his religious vein. For the text, although reference has been made to the original of 1647-8, Mr Grosart's excellent reprint has been mainly followed. And to that edition this book is indebted for many valuable exegetical notes, kindly placed at the Editor's disposal. But for much fuller elucidation both of words and allusions, and of the persons mentioned, readers are referred to Mr Grosart's volumes, which (like the same scholar's 'Sidney' and 'Donne'), for the first time give Herrick a place among books not printed only, but edited.
Robert Herrick's personal fate is in one point like Shakespeare's. We know or seem to know them both, through their works, with singular intimacy. But with this our knowledge substantially ends. No private letter of Shakespeare, no record of his conversation, no account of the circumstances in which his writings were published, remains: hardly any statement how his greatest contemporaries ranked him. A group of Herrick's youthful letters on business has, indeed, been preserved; of his life and studies, of his reputation during his own time, almost nothing. For whatever facts affectionate diligence could now gather. Readers are referred to Mr Grosart's 'Introduction.' But if, to supplement the picture, inevitably imperfect, which this gives, we turn to Herrick's own book, we learn little, biographically, except the names of a few friends,—that his general sympathies were with the Royal cause,—and that he wearied in Devonshire for London. So far as is known, he published but this one volume, and that, when not far from his sixtieth year. Some pieces may be traced in earlier collections; some few carry ascertainable dates; the rest lie over a period of near forty years, during a great portion of which we have no distinct account where Herrick lived, or what were his employments. We know that he shone with Ben Jonson and the wits at the nights and suppers of those gods of our glorious early literature: we may fancy him at Beaumanor, or Houghton, with his uncle and cousins, keeping a Leicestershire Christmas in the Manor-house: or, again, in some sweet southern county with Julia and Anthea, Corinna and Dianeme by his side (familiar then by other names now never to be remembered), sitting merry, but with just the sadness of one who hears sweet music, in some meadow among his favourite flowers of spring-time;—there, or 'where the rose lingers latest.' .... But 'the dream, the fancy,' is all that Time has spared us. And if it be curious that his contemporaries should have left so little record of this delightful poet and (as we should infer from the book) genial-hearted man, it is not less so that the single first edition should have satisfied the seventeenth century, and that, before the present, notices of Herrick should be of the rarest occurrence.
The artist's 'claim to exist' is, however, always far less to be looked for in his life, than in his art, upon the secret of which the fullest biography can tell us little—as little, perhaps, as criticism can analyse its charm. But there are few of our poets who stand less in need than Herrick of commentaries of this description,—in which too often we find little more than a dull or florid prose version of what the author has given us admirably in verse. Apart from obsolete words or allusions, Herrick is the best commentator upon Herrick. A few lines only need therefore here be added, aiming rather to set forth his place in the sequence of English poets, and especially in regard to those near his own time, than to point out in detail beauties which he unveils in his own way, and so most durably and delightfully.
When our Muses, silent or sick for a century and more after Chaucer's death, during the years of war and revolution, reappeared, they brought with them foreign modes of art, ancient and contemporary, in the forms of which they began to set to music the new material which the age supplied. At the very outset, indeed, the moralizing philosophy which has characterized the English from the beginning of our national history, appears in the writers of the troubled times lying between the last regnal years of Henry VIII and the first of his great daughter. But with the happier hopes of Elizabeth's accession, poetry was once more distinctly followed, not only as a means of conveying thought, but as a Fine Art. And hence something constrained and artificial blends with the freshness of the Elizabethan literature. For its great underlying elements it necessarily reverts to those embodied in our own earlier poets, Chaucer above all, to whom, after barely one hundred and fifty years, men looked up as a father of song: but in points of style and treatment, the poets of the sixteenth century lie under a double external influence—that of the poets of Greece and Rome (known either in their own tongues or by translation), and that of the modern literatures which had themselves undergone the same classical impulse. Italy was the source most regarded during the more strictly Elizabethan period; whence its lyrical poetry and the dramatic in a less degree, are coloured much less by pure and severe classicalism with its closeness to reality, than by the allegorical and elaborate style, fancy and fact curiously blended, which had been generated in Italy under the peculiar and local circumstances of her pilgrimage in literature and art from the age of Dante onwards. Whilst that influence lasted, such brilliant pictures of actual life, such directness, movement, and simplicity in style, as Chaucer often shows, were not yet again attainable: and although satire, narrative, the poetry of reflection, were meanwhile not wholly unknown, yet they only appear in force at the close of this period. And then also the pressure of political and religious strife, veiled in poetry during the greater part of Elizabeth's actual reign under the forms of pastoral and allegory, again imperiously breaks in upon the gracious but somewhat slender and artificial fashions of England's Helicon: the DIVOM NUMEN, SEDESQUE QUIETAE which, in some degree the Elizabethan poets offer, disappear; until filling the central years of the seventeenth century we reach an age as barren for inspiration of new song as the Wars of the Roses; although the great survivors from earlier years mask this sterility;—masking also the revolution in poetical manner and matter which we can see secretly preparing in the later 'Cavalier' poets, but which was not clearly recognised before the time of Dryden's culmination.
In the period here briefly sketched, what is Herrick's portion? His verse is eminent for sweet and gracious fluency; this is a real note of the 'Elizabethan' poets. His subjects are frequently pastoral, with a classical tinge, more or less slight, infused; his language, though not free from exaggeration, is generally free from intellectual conceits and distortion, and is eminent throughout for a youthful NAIVETE. Such, also, are qualities of the latter sixteenth century literature. But if these characteristics might lead us to call Herrick 'the last of the Elizabethans,' born out of due time, the differences between him and them are not less marked. Herrick's directness of speech is accompanied by an equally clear and simple presentment of his thought; we have, perhaps, no poet who writes more consistently and earnestly with his eye upon his subject. An allegorical or mystical treatment is alien from him: he handles awkwardly the few traditional fables which he introduces. He is also wholly free from Italianizing tendencies: his classicalism even is that of an English student,—of a schoolboy, indeed, if he be compared with a Jonson or a Milton. Herrick's personal eulogies on his friends and others, further, witness to the extension of the field of poetry after Elizabeth's age;—in which his enthusiastic geniality, his quick and easy transitions of subject, have also little precedent.
If, again, we compare Herrick's book with those of his fellow-poets for a hundred years before, very few are the traces which he gives of imitation, or even of study. During the long interval between Herrick's entrance on his Cambridge and his clerical careers (an interval all but wholly obscure to us), it is natural to suppose that he read, at any rate, his Elizabethan predecessors: yet (beyond those general similarities already noticed) the Editor can find no positive proof of familiarity. Compare Herrick with Marlowe, Greene, Breton, Drayton, or other pretty pastoralists of the HELICON—his general and radical unlikeness is what strikes us; whilst he is even more remote from the passionate intensity of Sidney and Shakespeare, the Italian graces of Spenser, the pensive beauty of PARTHENOPHIL, of DIELLA, of FIDESSA, of the HECATOMPATHIA and the TEARS OF FANCY.
Nor is Herrick's resemblance nearer to many of the contemporaries who have been often grouped with him. He has little in common with the courtly elegance, the learned polish, which too rarely redeem commonplace and conceits in Carew, Habington, Lovelace, Cowley, or Waller. Herrick has his CONCETTI also: but they are in him generally true plays of fancy; he writes throughout far more naturally than these lyrists, who, on the other hand, in their unfrequent successes reach a more complete and classical form of expression. Thus, when Carew speaks of an aged fair one
When beauty, youth, and all sweets leave her, Love may return, but lovers never!
Cowley, of his mistress—
Love in her sunny eyes does basking play, Love walks the pleasant mazes of her hair:
or take Lovelace, 'To Lucasta,' Waller, in his 'Go, lovely rose,'—we have a finish and condensation which Herrick hardly attains; a literary quality alien from his 'woodnotes wild,' which may help us to understand the very small appreciation he met from his age. He had 'a pretty pastoral gale of fancy,' said Phillips, cursorily dismissing Herrick in his THEATRUM: not suspecting how inevitably artifice and mannerism, if fashionable for awhile, pass into forgetfulness, whilst the simple cry of Nature partake in her permanence.
Donne and Marvell, stronger men, leave also no mark on our poet. The elaborate thought, the metrical harshness of the first, could find no counterpart in Herrick; whilst Marvell, beyond him in imaginative power, though twisting it too often into contortion and excess, appears to have been little known as a lyrist then:—as, indeed, his great merits have never reached anything like due popular recognition. Yet Marvell's natural description is nearer Herrick's in felicity and insight than any of the poets named above. Nor, again, do we trace anything of Herbert or Vaughan in Herrick's NOBLE NUMBERS, which, though unfairly judged if held insincere, are obviously far distant from the intense conviction, the depth and inner fervour of his high-toned contemporaries.
It is among the great dramatists of this age that we find the only English influences palpably operative on this singularly original writer. The greatest, in truth, is wholly absent: and it is remarkable that although Herrick may have joined in the wit-contests and genialities of the literary clubs in London soon after Shakespeare's death, and certainly lived in friendship with some who had known him, yet his name is never mentioned in the poetical commemorations of the HESPERIDES. In Herrick, echoes from Fletcher's idyllic pieces in the FAITHFUL SHEPHERDESS are faintly traceable; from his songs, 'Hear what Love can do,' and 'The lusty Spring,' more distinctly. But to Ben Jonson, whom Herrick addresses as his patron saint in song, and ranks on the highest list of his friends, his obligations are much more perceptible. In fact, Jonson's non-dramatic poetry,—the EPIGRAMS and FOREST of 1616, the UNDERWOODS of 1641, (he died in 1637),—supply models, generally admirable in point of art, though of very unequal merit in their execution and contents, of the principal forms under which we may range Herrick's HESPERIDES. The graceful love-song, the celebration of feasts and wit, the encomia of friends, the epigram as then understood, are all here represented: even Herrick's vein in natural description is prefigured in the odes to Penshurst and Sir Robert Wroth, of 1616. And it is in the religious pieces of the NOBLE NUMBERS, for which Jonson afforded the least copious precedents, that, as a rule, Herrick is least successful.
Even if we had not the verses on his own book, (the most noteworthy of which are here printed as PREFATORY,) in proof that Herrick was no careless singer, but a true artist, working with conscious knowledge of his art, we might have inferred the fact from the choice of Jonson as his model. That great poet, as Clarendon justly remarked, had 'judgment to order and govern fancy, rather than excess of fancy: his productions being slow and upon deliberation.' No writer could be better fitted for the guidance of one so fancy-free as Herrick; to whom the curb, in the old phrase, was more needful than the spur, and whose invention, more fertile and varied than Jonson's, was ready at once to fill up the moulds of form provided. He does this with a lively facility, contrasting much with the evidence of labour in his master's work. Slowness and deliberation are the last qualities suggested by Herrick. Yet it may be doubted whether the volatile ease, the effortless grace, the wild bird-like fluency with which he
Scatters his loose notes in the waste of air
are not, in truth, the results of exquisite art working in cooperation with the gifts of nature. The various readings which our few remaining manuscripts or printed versions have supplied to Mr Grosart's 'Introduction,' attest the minute and curious care with which Herrick polished and strengthened his own work: his airy facility, his seemingly spontaneous melodies, as with Shelley—his counterpart in pure lyrical art within this century—were earned by conscious labour; perfect freedom was begotten of perfect art;—nor, indeed, have excellence and permanence any other parent.
With the error that regards Herrick as a careless singer is closely twined that which ranks him in the school of that master of elegant pettiness who has usurped and abused the name Anacreon; as a mere light-hearted writer of pastorals, a gay and frivolous Renaissance amourist. He has indeed those elements: but with them is joined the seriousness of an age which knew that the light mask of classicalism and bucolic allegory could be worn only as an ornament, and that life held much deeper and further-reaching issues than were visible to the narrow horizons within which Horace or Martial circumscribed the range of their art. Between the most intensely poetical, and so, greatest, among the French poets of this century, and Herrick, are many points of likeness. He too, with Alfred de Musset, might have said
Quoi que nous puissions faire, Je souffre; il est trop tard; le monde s'est fait vieux. Une immense esperance a traverse la terre; Malgre nous vers le ciel il faut lever les yeux.
Indeed, Herrick's deepest debt to ancient literature lies not in the models which he directly imitated, nor in the Anacreontic tone which with singular felicity he has often taken. These are common to many writers with him:—nor will he who cannot learn more from the great ancient world ever rank among poets of high order, or enter the innermost sanctuary of art. But, the power to describe men and things as the poet sees them with simple sincerity, insight, and grace: to paint scenes and imaginations as perfect organic wholes;—carrying with it the gift to clothe each picture, as if by unerring instinct, in fit metrical form, giving to each its own music; beginning without affectation, and rounding off without effort;—the power, in a word, to leave simplicity, sanity, and beauty as the last impressions lingering on our minds, these gifts are at once the true bequest of classicalism, and the reason why (until modern effort equals them) the study of that Hellenic and Latin poetry in which these gifts are eminent above all other literatures yet created, must be essential. And it is success in precisely these excellences which is here claimed for Herrick. He is classical in the great and eternal sense of the phrase: and much more so, probably, than he was himself aware of. No poet in fact is so far from dwelling in a past or foreign world: it is the England, if not of 1648, at least of his youth, in which he lives and moves and loves: his Bucolics show no trace of Sicily: his Anthea and Julia wear no 'buckles of the purest gold,' nor have anything about them foreign to Middlesex or Devon. Herrick's imagination has no far horizons: like Burns and Crabbe fifty years since, or Barnes (that exquisite and neglected pastoralist of fair Dorset, perfect within his narrower range as Herrick) to-day, it is his own native land only which he sees and paints: even the fairy world in which, at whatever inevitable interval, he is second to Shakespeare, is pure English; or rather, his elves live in an elfin county of their own, and are all but severed from humanity. Within that greater circle of Shakespeare, where Oberon and Ariel and their fellows move, aiding or injuring mankind, and reflecting human life in a kind of unconscious parody, Herrick cannot walk: and it may have been due to his good sense and true feeling for art, that here, where resemblance might have seemed probable, he borrows nothing from MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM or TEMPEST. if we are moved by the wider range of Byron's or Shelley's sympathies, there is a charm, also, in this sweet insularity of Herrick; a narrowness perhaps, yet carrying with it a healthful reality absent from the vapid and artificial 'cosmopolitanism' that did such wrong on Goethe's genius. If he has not the exotic blooms and strange odours which poets who derive from literature show in their conservatories, Herrick has the fresh breeze and thyme-bed fragrance of open moorland, the grace and greenery of English meadows: with Homer and Dante, he too shares the strength and inspiration which come from touch of a man's native soil.
What has been here sketched is not planned so much as a criticism in form on Herrick's poetry as an attempt to seize his relations to his predecessors and contemporaries. If we now tentatively inquire what place may be assigned to him in our literature at large, Herrick has no single lyric to show equal, in pomp of music, brilliancy of diction, or elevation of sentiment to some which Spenser before, Milton in his own time, Dryden and Gray, Wordsworth and Shelley, since have given us. Nor has he, as already noticed, the peculiar finish and reserve (if the phrase may be allowed) traceable, though rarely, in Ben Jonson and others of the seventeenth century. He does not want passion; yet his passion wants concentration: it is too ready, also, to dwell on externals: imagination with him generally appears clothed in forms of fancy. Among his contemporaries, take Crashaw's 'Wishes': Sir J. Beaumont's elegy on his child Gervase: take Bishop King's 'Surrender':
My once-dear Love!—hapless, that I no more Must call thee so. . . . The rich affection's store That fed our hopes, lies now exhaust and spent, Like sums of treasure unto bankrupts lent:— We that did nothing study but the way To love each other, with which thoughts the day Rose with delight to us, and with them set, Must learn the hateful art, how to forget! —Fold back our arms, take home our fruitless loves, That must new fortunes try, like turtle doves Dislodged from their haunts. We must in tears Unwind a love knit up in many years. In this one kiss I here surrender thee Back to thyself: so thou again art free:—
take eight lines by some old unknown Northern singer:
When I think on the happy days I spent wi' you, my dearie, And now what lands between us lie, How can I be but eerie!
How slow ye move, ye heavy hours, As ye were wae and weary! It was na sae ye glinted by When I was wi' my dearie:—
—O! there is an intensity here, a note of passion beyond the deepest of Herrick's. This tone (whether from temperament or circumstance or scheme of art), is wanting to the HESPERIDES and NOBLE NUMBERS: nor does Herrick's lyre, sweet and varied as it is, own that purple chord, that more inwoven harmony, possessed by poets of greater depth and splendour,—by Shakespeare and Milton often, by Spenser more rarely. But if we put aside these 'greater gods' of song, with Sidney,—in the Editor's judgment Herrick's mastery (to use a brief expression), both over Nature and over Art, clearly assigns to him the first place as lyrical poet, in the strict and pure sense of the phrase, among all who flourished during the interval between Henry V and a hundred years since. Single pieces of equal, a few of higher, quality, we have, indeed, meanwhile received, not only from the master-singers who did not confine themselves to the Lyric, but from many poets—some the unknown contributors to our early anthologies, then Jonson, Marvell, Waller, Collins, and others, with whom we reach the beginning of the wider sweep which lyrical poetry has since taken. Yet, looking at the whole work, not at the selected jewels, of this great and noble multitude, Herrick, as lyrical poet strictly, offers us by far the most homogeneous, attractive, and varied treasury. No one else among lyrists within the period defined, has such unfailing freshness: so much variety within the sphere prescribed to himself: such closeness to nature, whether in description or in feeling: such easy fitness in language: melody so unforced and delightful. His dull pages are much less frequent: he has more lines, in his own phrase, 'born of the royal blood': the
Inflata rore non Achaico verba
are rarer with him: although superficially mannered, nature is so much nearer to him, that far fewer of his pieces have lost vitality and interest through adherence to forms of feeling or fashions of thought now obsolete. A Roman contemporary is described by the younger Pliny in words very appropriate to Herrick: who, in fact, if Greek in respect of his method and style, in the contents of his poetry displays the 'frankness of nature and vivid sense of life' which criticism assigns as marks of the great Roman poets. FACIT VERSUS, QUALES CATULLUS AUT CALVUS. QUANTUM ILLIS LEPORIS, DULCEDINIS, AMARITUDINIS AMORIS! INSERIT SANE, SED DATA OPERA, MOLLIBUS LENIBUSQUE DURIUSCULOS QUOSDAM; ET HOC, QUASI CATULLUS AUT CALVUS. Many pieces have been, here refused admittance, whether from coarseness of phrase or inferior value: yet these are rarely defective in the lyrical art, which, throughout the writer's work, is so simple and easy as almost to escape notice through its very excellence. In one word, Herrick, in a rare and special sense, is unique.
To these qualities we may, perhaps, ascribe the singular neglect which, so far as we may infer, he met with in his own age, and certainly in the century following. For the men of the Restoration period he was too natural, too purely poetical: he had not the learned polish, the political allusion, the tone of the city, the didactic turn, which were then and onwards demanded from poetry. In the next age, no tradition consecrated his name; whilst writers of a hundred years before were then too remote for familiarity, and not remote enough for reverence. Moving on to our own time, when some justice has at length been conceded to him, Herrick has to meet the great rivalry of the poets who, from Burns and Cowper to Tennyson, have widened and deepened the lyrical sphere, making it at once on the one hand more intensely personal, on the other, more free and picturesque in the range of problems dealt with: whilst at the same time new and richer lyrical forms, harmonies more intricate and seven-fold, have been created by them, as in Hellas during her golden age of song, to embody ideas and emotions unknown or unexpressed under Tudors and Stuarts. To this latter superiority Herrick would, doubtless, have bowed, as he bowed before Ben Jonson's genius. 'Rural ditties,' and 'oaten flute' cannot bear the competition of the full modern orchestra. Yet this author need not fear! That exquisite: and lofty pleasure which it is the first and the last aim of all true art to give, must, by its own nature, be lasting also. As the eyesight fluctuates, and gives the advantage to different colours in turn, so to the varying moods of the mind the same beauty does not always seem equally beautiful. Thus from the 'purple light' of our later poetry there are hours in which we may look to the daffodil and rose-tints of Herrick's old Arcadia, for refreshment and delight. And the pleasure which he gives is as eminently wholesome as pleasurable. Like the holy river of Virgil, to the souls who drink of him, Herrick offers 'securos latices.' He is conspicuously free from many of the maladies incident to his art. Here is no overstrain, no spasmodic cry, so wire-drawn analysis or sensational rhetoric, no music without sense, no mere second-hand literary inspiration, no mannered archaism:—above all, no sickly sweetness, no subtle, unhealthy affectation. Throughout his work, whether when it is strong, or in the less worthy portions, sanity, sincerity, simplicity, lucidity, are everywhere the characteristics of Herrick: in these, not in his pretty Pagan masquerade, he shows the note,—the only genuine note,—of Hellenic descent. Hence, through whatever changes and fashions poetry may pass, her true lovers he is likely to 'please now, and please for long.' His verse, in the words of a poet greater than himself, is of that quality which 'adds sunlight to daylight'; which is able to 'make the happy happier.' He will, it may be hoped, carry to the many Englands across the seas, east and west, pictures of English life exquisite in truth and grace:—to the more fortunate inhabitants (as they must perforce hold themselves!) of the old country, her image, as she was two centuries since, will live in the 'golden apples' of the West, offered to us by this sweet singer of Devonshire. We have greater poets, not a few; none more faithful to nature as he saw her, none more perfect in his art;—none, more companionable:—
F. T. P.
C H R Y S O M E L A
A SELECTION FROM THE LYRICAL POEMS OF ROBERT HERRICK
1. THE ARGUMENT OF HIS BOOK
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers, Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers; I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes, Of bride-grooms, brides, and of their bridal-cakes. I write of Youth, of Love;—and have access By these, to sing of cleanly wantonness; I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece, Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris. I sing of times trans-shifting; and I write How roses first came red, and lilies white. I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing The court of Mab, and of the Fairy King. I write of Hell; I sing, and ever shall Of Heaven,—and hope to have it after all.
2. TO HIS MUSE
Whither, mad maiden, wilt thou roam? Far safer 'twere to stay at home; Where thou mayst sit, and piping, please The poor and private cottages. Since cotes and hamlets best agree With this thy meaner minstrelsy. There with the reed thou mayst express The shepherd's fleecy happiness; And with thy Eclogues intermix: Some smooth and harmless Bucolics. There, on a hillock, thou mayst sing Unto a handsome shepherdling; Or to a girl, that keeps the neat, With breath more sweet than violet. There, there, perhaps such lines as these May take the simple villages; But for the court, the country wit Is despicable unto it. Stay then at home, and do not go Or fly abroad to seek for woe; Contempts in courts and cities dwell No critic haunts the poor man's cell, Where thou mayst hear thine own lines read By no one tongue there censured. That man's unwise will search for ill, And may prevent it, sitting still.
3. WHEN HE WOULD HAVE HIS VERSES READ
In sober mornings, do not thou rehearse The holy incantation of a verse; But when that men have both well drunk, and fed, Let my enchantments then be sung or read. When laurel spirts i' th' fire, and when the hearth Smiles to itself, and gilds the roof with mirth; When up the Thyrse is raised, and when the sound Of sacred orgies, flies A round, A round; When the rose reigns, and locks with ointments shine, Let rigid Cato read these lines of mine.
4. TO HIS BOOK
Make haste away, and let one be A friendly patron unto thee; Lest, rapt from hence, I see thee lie Torn for the use of pastery; Or see thy injured leaves serve well To make loose gowns for mackarel; Or see the grocers, in a trice, Make hoods of thee to serve out spice.
5. TO HIS BOOK
Take mine advice, and go not near Those faces, sour as vinegar; For these, and nobler numbers, can Ne'er please the supercilious man.
6. TO HIS BOOK
Be bold, my Book, nor be abash'd, or fear The cutting thumb-nail, or the brow severe; But by the Muses swear, all here is good, If but well read, or ill read, understood.
7. TO MISTRESS KATHARINE BRADSHAW, THE LOVELY, THAT CROWNED HIM WITH LAUREL
My Muse in meads has spent her many hours Sitting, and sorting several sorts of flowers, To make for others garlands; and to set On many a head here, many a coronet. But amongst all encircled here, not one Gave her a day of coronation; Till you, sweet mistress, came and interwove A laurel for her, ever young as Love. You first of all crown'd her; she must, of due, Render for that, a crown of life to you.
8. TO HIS VERSES
What will ye, my poor orphans, do, When I must leave the world and you; Who'll give ye then a sheltering shed, Or credit ye, when I am dead? Who'll let ye by their fire sit, Although ye have a stock of wit, Already coin'd to pay for it? —I cannot tell: unless there be Some race of old humanity Left, of the large heart and long hand, Alive, as noble Westmorland; Or gallant Newark; which brave two May fost'ring fathers be to you. If not, expect to be no less Ill used, than babes left fatherless.
9. NOT EVERY DAY FIT FOR VERSE
'Tis not ev'ry day that I Fitted am to prophesy: No, but when the spirit fills The fantastic pannicles, Full of fire, then I write As the Godhead doth indite. Thus enraged, my lines are hurl'd, Like the Sibyl's, through the world: Look how next the holy fire Either slakes, or doth retire; So the fancy cools:—till when That brave spirit comes again.
10. HIS PRAYER TO BEN JONSON
When I a verse shall make, Know I have pray'd thee, For old religion's sake, Saint Ben, to aid me
Make the way smooth for me, When, I, thy Herrick, Honouring thee on my knee Offer my Lyric.
Candles I'll give to thee, And a new altar; And thou, Saint Ben, shalt be Writ in my psalter.
11. HIS REQUEST TO JULIA
Julia, if I chance to die Ere I print my poetry, I most humbly thee desire To commit it to the fire: Better 'twere my book were dead, Than to live not perfected.
12. TO HIS BOOK
Go thou forth, my book, though late, Yet be timely fortunate. It may chance good luck may send Thee a kinsman or a friend, That may harbour thee, when I With my fates neglected lie. If thou know'st not where to dwell, See, the fire's by.—Farewell!
13. HIS POETRY HIS PILLAR
Only a little more I have to write: Then I'll give o'er, And bid the world good-night.
'Tis but a flying minute, That I must stay, Or linger in it: And then I must away.
O Time, that cut'st down all, And scarce leav'st here Memorial Of any men that were;
—How many lie forgot In vaults beneath, And piece-meal rot Without a fame in death?
Behold this living stone I rear for me, Ne'er to be thrown Down, envious Time, by thee.
Pillars let some set up If so they please; Here is my hope, And my Pyramides.
14. TO HIS BOOK
If hap it must, that I must see thee lie Absyrtus-like, all torn confusedly; With solemn tears, and with much grief of heart, I'll recollect thee, weeping, part by part; And having wash'd thee, close thee in a chest With spice; that done, I'll leave thee to thy rest.
15. UPON HIMSELF
Thou shalt not all die; for while Love's fire shines Upon his altar, men shall read thy lines; And learn'd musicians shall, to honour Herrick's Fame, and his name, both set and sing his lyrics.
To his book's end this last line he'd have placed:— Jocund his Muse was, but his Life was chaste.
16. THE COUNTRY LIFE:
TO THE HONOURED MR ENDYMION PORTER, GROOM OF THE BED-CHAMBER TO HIS MAJESTY
Sweet country life, to such unknown, Whose lives are others', not their own! But serving courts and cities, be Less happy, less enjoying thee. Thou never plough'st the ocean's foam To seek and bring rough pepper home: Nor to the Eastern Ind dost rove To bring from thence the scorched clove: Nor, with the loss of thy loved rest, Bring'st home the ingot from the West. No, thy ambition's master-piece Flies no thought higher than a fleece: Or how to pay thy hinds, and clear All scores: and so to end the year: But walk'st about thine own dear bounds, Not envying others' larger grounds: For well thou know'st, 'tis not th' extent Of land makes life, but sweet content. When now the cock (the ploughman's horn) Calls forth the lily-wristed morn; Then to thy corn-fields thou dost go, Which though well soil'd, yet thou dost know That the best compost for the lands Is the wise master's feet, and hands. There at the plough thou find'st thy team, With a hind whistling there to them: And cheer'st them up, by singing how The kingdom's portion is the plough. This done, then to th' enamell'd meads Thou go'st; and as thy foot there treads, Thou seest a present God-like power Imprinted in each herb and flower: And smell'st the breath of great-eyed kine, Sweet as the blossoms of the vine. Here thou behold'st thy large sleek neat Unto the dew-laps up in meat: And, as thou look'st, the wanton steer, The heifer, cow, and ox draw near, To make a pleasing pastime there. These seen, thou go'st to view thy flocks Of sheep, safe from the wolf and fox, And find'st their bellies there as full Of short sweet grass, as backs with wool: And leav'st them, as they feed and fill, A shepherd piping on a hill.
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 daffadils 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 Twelve-tide 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 i' th' 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 pit-falls then To catch the pilfering birds, not men.
—O 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 nought t' affright Sweet Sleep, that makes more short the night. CAETERA DESUNT—
17. TO PHILLIS, TO LOVE AND LIVE WITH HIM
Live, live with me, and thou shalt see The pleasures I'll prepare for thee: What sweets the country can afford Shall bless thy bed, and bless thy board. The soft sweet moss shall be thy bed, With crawling woodbine over-spread: By which the silver-shedding streams Shall gently melt thee into dreams. Thy clothing next, shall be a gown Made of the fleeces' purest down. The tongues of kids shall be thy meat; Their milk thy drink; and thou shalt eat The paste of filberts for thy bread With cream of cowslips buttered: Thy feasting-table shall be hills With daisies spread, and daffadils; Where thou shalt sit, and Red-breast by, For meat, shall give thee melody. I'll give thee chains and carcanets Of primroses and violets. A bag and bottle thou shalt have, That richly wrought, and this as brave; So that as either shall express The wearer's no mean shepherdess. At shearing-times, and yearly wakes, When Themilis his pastime makes, There thou shalt be; and be the wit, Nay more, the feast, and grace of it. On holydays, when virgins meet To dance the heys with nimble feet, Thou shalt come forth, and then appear The Queen of Roses for that year. And having danced ('bove all the best) Carry the garland from the rest, In wicker-baskets maids shall bring To thee, my dearest shepherdling, The blushing apple, bashful pear, And shame-faced plum, all simp'ring there. Walk in the groves, and thou shalt find The name of Phillis in the rind Of every straight and smooth-skin tree; Where kissing that, I'll twice kiss thee. To thee a sheep-hook I will send, Be-prank'd with ribbands, to this end, This, this alluring hook might be Less for to catch a sheep, than me. Thou shalt have possets, wassails fine, Not made of ale, but spiced wine; To make thy maids and self free mirth, All sitting near the glitt'ring hearth. Thou shalt have ribbands, roses, rings, Gloves, garters, stockings, shoes, and strings Of winning colours, that shall move Others to lust, but me to love. —These, nay, and more, thine own shall be, If thou wilt love, and live with me.
18. THE WASSAIL
Give way, give way, ye gates, and win An easy blessing to your bin And basket, by our entering in.
May both with manchet stand replete; Your larders, too, so hung with meat, That though a thousand, thousand eat,
Yet, ere twelve moons shall whirl about Their silv'ry spheres, there's none may doubt But more's sent in than was served out.
Next, may your dairies prosper so, As that your pans no ebb may know; But if they do, the more to flow,
Like to a solemn sober stream, Bank'd all with lilies, and the cream Of sweetest cowslips filling them.
Then may your plants be press'd with fruit, Nor bee or hive you have be mute, But sweetly sounding like a lute.
Last, may your harrows, shares, and ploughs, Your stacks, your stocks, your sweetest mows, All prosper by your virgin-vows.
—Alas! we bless, but see none here, That brings us either ale or beer; In a dry-house all things are near.
Let's leave a longer time to wait, Where rust and cobwebs bind the gate; And all live here with needy fate;
Where chimneys do for ever weep For want of warmth, and stomachs keep With noise the servants' eyes from sleep.
It is in vain to sing, or stay Our free feet here, but we'll away: Yet to the Lares this we'll say:
'The time will come when you'll be sad, 'And reckon this for fortune bad, 'T'ave lost the good ye might have had.'
19. THE FAIRIES
If ye will with Mab find grace, Set each platter in his place; Rake the fire up, and get Water in, ere sun be set. Wash your pails and cleanse your dairies, Sluts are loathsome to the fairies; Sweep your house; Who doth not so, Mab will pinch her by the toe.
20. CEREMONY UPON CANDLEMAS EVE
Down with the rosemary, and so Down with the bays and misletoe; Down with the holly, ivy, all Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas hall; That so the superstitious find No one least branch there left behind; For look, how many leaves there be Neglected there, maids, trust to me, So many goblins you shall see.
21. CEREMONIES FOR CANDLEMAS EVE
Down with the rosemary and bays, Down with the misletoe; Instead of holly, now up-raise The greener box, for show.
The holly hitherto did sway; Let box now domineer, Until the dancing Easter-day, Or Easter's eve appear.
Then youthful box, which now hath grace Your houses to renew, Grown old, surrender must his place Unto the crisped yew.
When yew is out, then birch comes in, And many flowers beside, Both of a fresh and fragrant kin, To honour Whitsuntide.
Green rushes then, and sweetest bents, With cooler oaken boughs, Come in for comely ornaments, To re-adorn the house. Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold; New things succeed, as former things grow old.
22. THE CEREMONIES FOR CANDLEMAS DAY
Kindle the Christmas brand, and then Till sunset let it burn; Which quench'd, then lay it up again, Till Christmas next return.
Part must be kept, wherewith to teend The Christmas log next year; And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend Can do no mischief there.
23. FAREWELL FROST, OR WELCOME SPRING
Fled are the frosts, and now the fields appear Reclothed in fresh and verdant diaper; Thaw'd are the snows; and now the lusty Spring Gives to each mead a neat enamelling; The palms put forth their gems, and every tree Now swaggers in her leafy gallantry. The while the Daulian minstrel sweetly sings With warbling notes her Terean sufferings. —What gentle winds perspire! as if here Never had been the northern plunderer To strip the trees and fields, to their distress, Leaving them to a pitied nakedness. And look how when a frantic storm doth tear A stubborn oak or holm, long growing there,— But lull'd to calmness, then succeeds a breeze That scarcely stirs the nodding leaves of trees; So when this war, which tempest-like doth spoil Our salt, our corn, our honey, wine, and oil, Falls to a temper, and doth mildly cast His inconsiderate frenzy off, at last, The gentle dove may, when these turmoils cease, Bring in her bill, once more, the branch of Peace.
24. TO THE MAIDS, TO WALK ABROAD
Come, sit we under yonder tree, Where merry as the maids we'll be; And as on primroses we sit, We'll venture, if we can, at wit; If not, at draw-gloves we will play, So spend some minutes of the day; Or else spin out the thread of sands, Playing at questions and commands: Or tell what strange tricks Love can do, By quickly making one of two. Thus we will sit and talk, but tell No cruel truths of Philomel, Or Phillis, whom hard fate forced on To kill herself for Demophon; But fables we'll relate; how Jove Put on all shapes to get a Love; As now a satyr, then a swan, A bull but then, and now a man. Next, we will act how young men woo, And sigh and kiss as lovers do; And talk of brides; and who shall make That wedding-smock, this bridal-cake, That dress, this sprig, that leaf, this vine, That smooth and silken columbine. This done, we'll draw lots who shall buy And gild the bays and rosemary; What posies for our wedding rings; What gloves we'll give, and ribbonings; And smiling at our selves, decree Who then the joining priest shall be; What short sweet prayers shall be said, And how the posset shall be made With cream of lilies, not of kine, And maiden's-blush for spiced wine. Thus having talk'd, we'll next commend A kiss to each, and so we'll end.
25. CORINA'S GOING A MAYING
Get up, get up for shame! the blooming morn Upon her wings presents the god unshorn. See how Aurora throws her fair Fresh-quilted colours through the air: Get up, sweet-slug-a-bed, and see The dew bespangling herb and tree. Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east, Above an hour since; yet you not drest, Nay! not so much as out of bed? When all the birds have matins said, And sung their thankful hymns: 'tis sin, Nay, profanation, to keep in,— Whenas a thousand virgins on this day, Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.
Rise; and put on your foliage, and be seen To come forth, like the Spring-time, fresh and green, And sweet as Flora. Take no care For jewels for your gown, or hair: Fear not; the leaves will strew Gems in abundance upon you: Besides, the childhood of the day has kept, Against you come, some orient pearls unwept: Come, and receive them while the light Hangs on the dew-locks of the night: And Titan on the eastern hill Retires himself, or else stands still Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying: Few beads are best, when once we go a Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come; and coming, mark How each field turns a street; each street a park Made green, and trimm'd with trees: see how Devotion gives each house a bough Or branch: each porch, each door, ere this, An ark, a tabernacle is Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove; As if here were those cooler shades of love. Can such delights be in the street, And open fields, and we not see't? Come, we'll abroad: and let's obey The proclamation made for May: And sin no more, as we have done, by staying; But, my Corinna, come, let's go a Maying.
There's not a budding boy, or girl, this day, But is got up, and gone to bring in May. A deal of youth, ere this, is come Back, and with white-thorn laden home. Some have dispatch'd their cakes and cream, Before that we have left to dream: And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth, And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth: Many a green-gown has been given; Many a kiss, both odd and even: Many a glance, too, has been sent From out the eye, love's firmament: Many a jest told of the keys betraying This night, and locks pick'd:—yet we're not a Maying.
—Come, let us go, while we are in our prime; And take the harmless folly of the time! We shall grow old apace, and die Before we know our liberty. Our life is short; and our days run As fast away as does the sun:— And as a vapour, or a drop of rain Once lost, can ne'er be found again: So when or you or I are made A fable, song, or fleeting shade; All love, all liking, all delight Lies drown'd with us in endless night. —Then while time serves, and we are but decaying, Come, my Corinna! come, let's go a Maying.
26. THE MAYPOLE
The May-pole is up, Now give me the cup; I'll drink to the garlands around it; But first unto those Whose hands did compose The glory of flowers that crown'd it.
A health to my girls, Whose husbands may earls Or lords be, granting my wishes, And when that ye wed To the bridal bed, Then multiply all, like to fishes.
27. THE WAKE
Come, Anthea, let us two Go to feast, as others do: Tarts and custards, creams and cakes, Are the junkets still at wakes; Unto which the tribes resort, Where the business is the sport: Morris-dancers thou shalt see, Marian, too, in pageantry; And a mimic to devise Many grinning properties. Players there will be, and those Base in action as in clothes; Yet with strutting they will please The incurious villages. Near the dying of the day There will be a cudgel-play, Where a coxcomb will be broke, Ere a good word can be spoke: But the anger ends all here, Drench'd in ale, or drown'd in beer. —Happy rusticks! best content With the cheapest merriment; And possess no other fear, Than to want the Wake next year.
28. THE HOCK-CART, OR HARVEST HOME: TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE MILDMAY, EARL OF WESTMORLAND
Come, Sons of Summer, by whose toil We are the lords of wine and oil: By whose tough labours, and rough hands, We rip up first, then reap our lands. Crown'd with the ears of corn, now come, And, to the pipe, sing Harvest Home.
Come forth, my lord, and see the cart Drest up with all the country art. See, here a maukin, there a sheet, As spotless pure, as it is sweet: The horses, mares, and frisking fillies, Clad, all, in linen white as lilies. The harvest swains and wenches bound For joy, to see the Hock-Cart crown'd. About the cart, hear, how the rout Of rural younglings raise the shout; Pressing before, some coming after, Those with a shout, and these with laughter. Some bless the cart; some kiss the sheaves; Some prank them up with oaken leaves: Some cross the fill-horse; some with great Devotion, stroke the home-borne wheat: While other rustics, less attent To prayers, than to merriment, Run after with their breeches rent. —Well, on, brave boys, to your lord's hearth, Glitt'ring with fire; where, for your mirth, Ye shall see first the large and chief Foundation of your feast, fat beef; With upper stories, mutton, veal And bacon, which makes full the meal, With sev'ral dishes standing by, As here a custard, there a pie, And here, all tempting frumenty. And for to make the merry cheer, If smirking wine be wanting here, There's that which drowns all care, stout beer: Which freely drink to your lord's health Then to the plough, the common-wealth; Next to your flails, your fanes, your vats; Then to the maids with wheaten hats: To the rough sickle, and crookt scythe,— Drink, frolic, boys, till all be blythe. Feed, and grow fat; and as ye eat, Be mindful, that the lab'ring neat, As you, may have their fill of meat. And know, besides, ye must revoke The patient ox unto the yoke, And all go back unto the plough And harrow, though they're hang'd up now. And, you must know, your lord's word's true, Feed him ye must, whose food fills you; And that this pleasure is like rain, Not sent ye for to drown your pain, But for to make it spring again.
29. THE BRIDE-CAKE
This day, my Julia, thou must make For Mistress Bride the wedding-cake: Knead but the dough, and it will be To paste of almonds turn'd by thee; Or kiss it thou but once or twice, And for the bride-cake there'll be spice.
30. THE OLD WIVES' PRAYER
Holy-Rood, come forth and shield Us i' th' city and the field; Safely guard us, now and aye, From the blast that burns by day; And those sounds that us affright In the dead of dampish night; Drive all hurtful fiends us fro, By the time the cocks first crow.
31. THE BELL-MAN
From noise of scare-fires rest ye free From murders, Benedicite; From all mischances that may fright Your pleasing slumbers in the night Mercy secure ye all, and keep The goblin from ye, while ye sleep. —Past one a clock, and almost two,— My masters all, 'Good day to you.'
33. TO THE GENIUS OF HIS HOUSE
Command the roof, great Genius, and from thence Into this house pour down thy influence, That through each room a golden pipe may run Of living water by thy benizon; Fulfil the larders, and with strength'ning bread Be ever-more these bins replenished. Next, like a bishop consecrate my ground, That lucky fairies here may dance their round; And, after that, lay down some silver pence, The master's charge and care to recompence. Charm then the chambers; make the beds for ease, More than for peevish pining sicknesses; Fix the foundation fast, and let the roof Grow old with time, but yet keep weather-proof.
33. HIS GRANGE, OR PRIVATE WEALTH
Though clock, To tell how night draws hence, I've none, A cock I have to sing how day draws on: I have A maid, my Prue, by good luck sent, To save That little, Fates me gave or lent. A hen I keep, which, creeking day by day, Tells when She goes her long white egg to lay: A goose I have, which, with a jealous ear, Lets loose Her tongue, to tell what danger's near. A lamb I keep, tame, with my morsels fed, Whose dam An orphan left him, lately dead: A cat I keep, that plays about my house, Grown fat With eating many a miching mouse: To these A Trasy I do keep, whereby I please The more my rural privacy: Which are But toys, to give my heart some ease:— Where care None is, slight things do lightly please.
34. A PASTORAL UPON THE BIRTH OF PRINCE CHARLES: PRESENTED TO THE KING, AND SET BY MR NIC. LANIERE
THE SPEAKERS: MIRTILLO, AMINTAS, AND AMARILLIS
AMIN. Good day, Mirtillo. MIRT. And to you no less; And all fair signs lead on our shepherdess. AMAR. With all white luck to you. MIRT. But say, What news Stirs in our sheep-walk? AMIN. None, save that my ewes, My wethers, lambs, and wanton kids are well, Smooth, fair, and fat; none better I can tell: Or that this day Menalchas keeps a feast For his sheep-shearers. MIRT. True, these are the least. But dear Amintas, and sweet Amarillis, Rest but a while here by this bank of lilies; And lend a gentle ear to one report The country has. AMIN. From whence? AMAR. From whence? MIRT. The Court. Three days before the shutting-in of May, (With whitest wool be ever crown'd that day!) To all our joy, a sweet-faced child was born, More tender than the childhood of the morn. CHORUS:—Pan pipe to him, and bleats of lambs and sheep Let lullaby the pretty prince asleep! MIRT. And that his birth should be more singular, At noon of day was seen a silver star, Bright as the wise men's torch, which guided them To God's sweet babe, when born at Bethlehem; While golden angels, some have told to me, Sung out his birth with heav'nly minstrelsy. AMIN. O rare! But is't a trespass, if we three Should wend along his baby-ship to see? MIRT. Not so, not so. CHOR. But if it chance to prove At most a fault, 'tis but a fault of love. AMAR. But, dear Mirtillo, I have heard it told, Those learned men brought incense, myrrh, and gold, From countries far, with store of spices sweet, And laid them down for offerings at his feet. MIRT. 'Tis true, indeed; and each of us will bring Unto our smiling and our blooming King, A neat, though not so great an offering. AMAR. A garland for my gift shall be, Of flowers ne'er suck'd by th' thieving bee; And all most sweet, yet all less sweet than he. AMIN. And I will bear along with you Leaves dropping down the honied dew, With oaten pipes, as sweet, as new. MIRT. And I a sheep-hook will bestow To have his little King-ship know, As he is Prince, he's Shepherd too. CHOR. Come, let's away, and quickly let's be drest, And quickly give:—the swiftest grace is best. And when before him we have laid our treasures, We'll bless the babe:—then back to country pleasures.
35. A DIALOGUE BETWIXT HIMSELF AND MISTRESS ELIZA WHEELER, UNDER THE NAME OF AMARILLIS
My dearest Love, since thou wilt go, And leave me here behind thee; For love or pity, let me know The place where I may find thee.
AMARIL. In country meadows, pearl'd with dew, And set about with lilies; There, filling maunds with cowslips, you May find your Amarillis.
HER. What have the meads to do with thee, Or with thy youthful hours? Live thou at court, where thou mayst be The queen of men, not flowers.
Let country wenches make 'em fine With posies, since 'tis fitter For thee with richest gems to shine, And like the stars to glitter.
AMARIL. You set too-high a rate upon A shepherdess so homely. HER. Believe it, dearest, there's not one I' th' court that's half so comely.
I prithee stay. AMARIL. I must away; Let's kiss first, then we'll sever; AMBO And though we bid adieu to day, We shall not part for ever.
36. A BUCOLIC BETWIXT TWO; LACON AND THYRSIS
LACON. For a kiss or two, confess, What doth cause this pensiveness, Thou most lovely neat-herdess? Why so lonely on the hill? Why thy pipe by thee so still, That erewhile was heard so shrill? Tell me, do thy kine now fail To fulfil the milking-pail? Say, what is't that thou dost ail?
THYR. None of these; but out, alas! A mischance is come to pass, And I'll tell thee what it was: See, mine eyes are weeping ripe. LACON. Tell, and I'll lay down my pipe.
THYR. I have lost my lovely steer, That to me was far more dear Than these kine which I milk here; Broad of forehead, large of eye, Party-colour'd like a pye, Smooth in each limb as a die; Clear of hoof, and clear of horn, Sharply pointed as a thorn; With a neck by yoke unworn, From the which hung down by strings, Balls of cowslips, daisy rings, Interplaced with ribbonings; Faultless every way for shape; Not a straw could him escape, Ever gamesome as an ape, But yet harmless as a sheep. Pardon, Lacon, if I weep; Tears will spring where woes are deep. Now, ai me! ai me! Last night Came a mad dog, and did bite, Ay, and kill'd my dear delight.
LACON Alack, for grief! THYR. But I'll be brief. Hence I must, for time doth call Me, and my sad playmates all, To his evening funeral. Live long, Lacon; so adieu!
LACON Mournful maid, farewell to you; Earth afford ye flowers to strew!
37. A PASTORAL SUNG TO THE KING
MONTANO, SILVIO, AND MIRTILLO, SHEPHERDS
MON. Bad are the times. SIL. And worse than they are we. MON. Troth, bad are both; worse fruit, and ill the tree: The feast of shepherds fail. SIL. None crowns the cup Of wassail now, or sets the quintel up: And he, who used to lead the country-round, Youthful Mirtillo, here he comes, grief-drown'd. AMBO. Let's cheer him up. SIL. Behold him weeping-ripe. MIRT. Ah, Amarillis! farewell mirth and pipe; Since thou art gone, no more I mean to play To these smooth lawns, my mirthful roundelay. Dear Amarillis! MON. Hark! SIL. Mark! MIRT. This earth grew sweet Where, Amarillis, thou didst set thy feet. AMBO Poor pitied youth! MIRT. And here the breath of kine And sheep grew more sweet by that breath of thine. This dock of wool, and this rich lock of hair, This ball of cowslips, these she gave me here. SIL. Words sweet as love itself. MON. Hark!— MIRT. This way she came, and this way too she went; How each thing smells divinely redolent! Like to a field of beans, when newly blown, Or like a meadow being lately mown. MON. A sweet sad passion—— MIRT. In dewy mornings, when she came this way, Sweet bents would bow, to give my Love the day; And when at night she folded had her sheep, Daisies would shut, and closing, sigh and weep. Besides (Ai me!) since she went hence to dwell, The Voice's Daughter ne'er spake syllable. But she is gone. SIL. Mirtillo, tell us whither? MIRT. Where she and I shall never meet together. MON. Fore-fend it, Pan! and Pales, do thou please To give an end... MIRT. To what? SIL. Such griefs as these. MIRT. Never, O never! Still I may endure The wound I suffer, never find a cure. MON. Love, for thy sake, will bring her to these hills And dales again. MIRT. No, I will languish still; And all the while my part shall be to weep; And with my sighs call home my bleating sheep; And in the rind of every comely tree I'll carve thy name, and in that name kiss thee. MON. Set with the sun, thy woes! SIL. The day grows old; And time it is our full-fed flocks to fold. CHOR. The shades grow great; but greater grows our sorrow:— But let's go steep Our eyes in sleep; And meet to weep To-morrow.
38. TO THE WILLOW-TREE
Thou art to all lost love the best, The only true plant found, Wherewith young men and maids distrest And left of love, are crown'd.
When once the lover's rose is dead Or laid aside forlorn, Then willow-garlands, 'bout the head, Bedew'd with tears, are worn.
When with neglect, the lover's bane, Poor maids rewarded be, For their love lost their only gain Is but a wreath from thee.
And underneath thy cooling shade, When weary of the light, The love-spent youth, and love-sick maid, Come to weep out the night.
39. THE FAIRY TEMPLE; OR, OBERON'S CHAPEL
DEDICATED TO MR JOHN MERRIFIELD, COUNSELLOR AT LAW
RARE TEMPLES THOU HAST SEEN, I KNOW, AND RICH FOR IN AND OUTWARD SHOW; SURVEY THIS CHAPEL BUILT, ALONE, WITHOUT OR LIME, OR WOOD, OR STONE. THEN SAY, IF ONE THOU'ST SEEN MORE FINE THAN THIS, THE FAIRIES' ONCE, NOW THINE.
A way enchaced with glass and beads There is, that to the Chapel leads; Whose structure, for his holy rest, Is here the Halcyon's curious nest; Into the which who looks, shall see His Temple of Idolatry; Where he of god-heads has such store, As Rome's Pantheon had not more. His house of Rimmon this he calls, Girt with small bones, instead of walls. First in a niche, more black than jet, His idol-cricket there is set; Then in a polish'd oval by There stands his idol-beetle-fly; Next, in an arch, akin to this, His idol-canker seated is. Then in a round, is placed by these His golden god, Cantharides. So that where'er ye look, ye see No capital, no cornice free, Or frieze, from this fine frippery. Now this the Fairies would have known, Theirs is a mixt religion: And some have heard the elves it call Part Pagan, part Papistical. If unto me all tongues were granted, I could not speak the saints here painted. Saint Tit, Saint Nit, Saint Is, Saint Itis, Who 'gainst Mab's state placed here right is. Saint Will o' th' Wisp, of no great bigness, But, alias, call'd here FATUUS IGNIS. Saint Frip, Saint Trip, Saint Fill, Saint Filly;— Neither those other saint-ships will I Here go about for to recite Their number, almost infinite; Which, one by one, here set down are In this most curious calendar.
First, at the entrance of the gate, A little puppet-priest doth wait, Who squeaks to all the comers there, 'Favour your tongues, who enter here. 'Pure hands bring hither, without stain.' A second pules, 'Hence, hence, profane!' Hard by, i' th' shell of half a nut, The holy-water there is put; A little brush of squirrels' hairs, Composed of odd, not even pairs, Stands in the platter, or close by, To purge the fairy family. Near to the altar stands the priest, There offering up the holy-grist; Ducking in mood and perfect tense, With (much good do't him) reverence. The altar is not here four-square, Nor in a form triangular; Nor made of glass, or wood, or stone, But of a little transverse bone; Which boys and bruckel'd children call (Playing for points and pins) cockall. Whose linen-drapery is a thin, Subtile, and ductile codling's skin; Which o'er the board is smoothly spread With little seal-work damasked. The fringe that circumbinds it, too, Is spangle-work of trembling dew, Which, gently gleaming, makes a show, Like frost-work glitt'ring on the snow. Upon this fetuous board doth stand Something for shew-bread, and at hand (Just in the middle of the altar) Upon an end, the Fairy-psalter, Graced with the trout-flies' curious wings, Which serve for watchet ribbonings. Now, we must know, the elves are led Right by the Rubric, which they read: And if report of them be true, They have their text for what they do; Ay, and their book of canons too. And, as Sir Thomas Parson tells, They have their book of articles; And if that Fairy knight not lies They have their book of homilies; And other Scriptures, that design A short, but righteous discipline. The bason stands the board upon To take the free-oblation; A little pin-dust, which they hold More precious than we prize our gold; Which charity they give to many Poor of the parish, if there's any. Upon the ends of these neat rails, Hatch'd with the silver-light of snails, The elves, in formal manner, fix Two pure and holy candlesticks, In either which a tall small bent Burns for the altar's ornament. For sanctity, they have, to these, Their curious copes and surplices Of cleanest cobweb, hanging by In their religious vestery. They have their ash-pans and their brooms, To purge the chapel and the rooms; Their many mumbling mass-priests here, And many a dapper chorister. Their ush'ring vergers here likewise, Their canons and their chaunteries; Of cloister-monks they have enow, Ay, and their abbey-lubbers too:— And if their legend do not lie, They much affect the papacy; And since the last is dead, there's hope Elve Boniface shall next be Pope. They have their cups and chalices, Their pardons and indulgences, Their beads of nits, bells, books, and wax- Candles, forsooth, and other knacks; Their holy oil, their fasting-spittle, Their sacred salt here, not a little. Dry chips, old shoes, rags, grease, and bones, Beside their fumigations. Many a trifle, too, and trinket, And for what use, scarce man would think it. Next then, upon the chanter's side An apple's-core is hung up dried, With rattling kernels, which is rung To call to morn and even-song. The saint, to which the most he prays And offers incense nights and days, The lady of the lobster is, Whose foot-pace he doth stroke and kiss, And, humbly, chives of saffron brings For his most cheerful offerings. When, after these, he's paid his vows, He lowly to the altar bows; And then he dons the silk-worm's shed, Like a Turk's turban on his head, And reverently departeth thence, Hid in a cloud of frankincense; And by the glow-worm's light well guided, Goes to the Feast that's now provided.
40. OBERON'S FEAST
SHAPCOT! TO THE THE FAIRY STATE I WITH DISCRETION DEDICATE: BECAUSE THOU PRIZEST THINGS THAT ARE CURIOUS AND UNFAMILIAR. TAKE FIRST THE FEAST; THESE DISHES GONE, WE'LL SEE THE FAIRY COURT ANON.
A little mushroom-table spread, After short prayers, they set on bread, A moon-parch'd grain of purest wheat, With some small glitt'ring grit, to eat His choice bits with; then in a trice They make a feast less great than nice. But all this while his eye is served, We must not think his ear was sterved; But that there was in place to stir His spleen, the chirring grasshopper, The merry cricket, puling fly, The piping gnat for minstrelsy. And now, we must imagine first, The elves present, to quench his thirst, A pure seed-pearl of infant dew, Brought and besweeten'd in a blue And pregnant violet; which done, His kitling eyes begin to run Quite through the table, where he spies The horns of papery butterflies, Of which he eats; and tastes a little Of that we call the cuckoo's spittle; A little fuz-ball pudding stands By, yet not blessed by his hands, That was too coarse; but then forthwith He ventures boldly on the pith Of sugar'd rush, and eats the sagge And well-bestrutted bees' sweet bag; Gladding his palate with some store Of emmets' eggs; what would he more? But beards of mice, a newt's stew'd thigh, A bloated earwig, and a fly; With the red-capt worm, that's shut Within the concave of a nut, Brown as his tooth. A little moth, Late fatten'd in a piece of cloth; With wither'd cherries, mandrakes' ears, Moles' eyes: to these the slain stag's tears; The unctuous dewlaps of a snail, The broke-heart of a nightingale O'ercome in music; with a wine Ne'er ravish'd from the flattering vine, But gently prest from the soft side Of the most sweet and dainty bride, Brought in a dainty daisy, which He fully quaffs up, to bewitch His blood to height; this done, commended Grace by his priest; The feast is ended.
41. THE BEGGAR TO MAB, THE FAIRY QUEEN
Please your Grace, from out your store Give an alms to one that's poor, That your mickle may have more. Black I'm grown for want of meat, Give me then an ant to eat, Or the cleft ear of a mouse Over-sour'd in drink of souce; Or, sweet lady, reach to me The abdomen of a bee; Or commend a cricket's hip, Or his huckson, to my scrip; Give for bread, a little bit Of a pease that 'gins to chit, And my full thanks take for it. Flour of fuz-balls, that's too good For a man in needy-hood; But the meal of mill-dust can Well content a craving man; Any orts the elves refuse Well will serve the beggar's use. But if this may seem too much For an alms, then give me such Little bits that nestle there In the pris'ner's pannier. So a blessing light upon You, and mighty Oberon; That your plenty last till when I return your alms again.
42. THE HAG
The Hag is astride, This night for to ride, The devil and she together; Through thick and through thin, Now out, and then in, Though ne'er so foul be the weather.
A thorn or a bur She takes for a spur; With a lash of a bramble she rides now, Through brakes and through briars, O'er ditches and mires, She follows the spirit that guides now.
No beast, for his food, Dares now range the wood, But hush'd in his lair he lies lurking; While mischiefs, by these, On land and on seas, At noon of night are a-working.
The storm will arise, And trouble the skies This night; and, more for the wonder, The ghost from the tomb Affrighted shall come, Call'd out by the clap of the thunder.
43. THE MAD MAID'S SONG
Good morrow to the day so fair; Good morning, sir, to you; Good morrow to mine own torn hair, Bedabbled with the dew.
Good morning to this primrose too; Good morrow to each maid; That will with flowers the tomb bestrew Wherein my Love is laid.
Ah! woe is me, woe, woe is me, Alack and well-a-day! For pity, sir, find out that bee, Which bore my Love away.
I'll seek him in your bonnet brave; I'll seek him in your eyes; Nay, now I think they've made his grave I' th' bed of strawberries.
I'll seek him there; I know, ere this, The cold, cold earth doth shake him; But I will go, or send a kiss By you, sir, to awake him.
Pray hurt him not; though he be dead, He knows well who do love him; And who with green turfs rear his head, And who do rudely move him.
He's soft and tender, pray take heed, With bands of cowslips bind him, And bring him home;—but 'tis decreed That I shall never find him.
44. THE CHEAT OF CUPID; OR, THE UNGENTLE GUEST
One silent night of late, When every creature rested, Came one unto my gate, And knocking, me molested.
Who's that, said I, beats there, And troubles thus the sleepy? Cast off; said he, all fear, And let not locks thus keep ye.
For I a boy am, who By moonless nights have swerved; And all with showers wet through, And e'en with cold half starved.
I pitiful arose, And soon a taper lighted; And did myself disclose Unto the lad benighted.
I saw he had a bow, And wings too, which did shiver; And looking down below, I spied he had a quiver.
I to my chimney's shine Brought him, as Love professes, And chafed his hands with mine, And dried his dropping tresses.
But when he felt him warm'd, Let's try this bow of ours And string, if they be harm'd, Said he, with these late showers.
Forthwith his bow he bent, And wedded string and arrow, And struck me, that it went Quite through my heart and marrow
Then laughing loud, he flew Away, and thus said flying, Adieu, mine host, adieu, I'll leave thy heart a-dying.
45. UPON CUPID
Love, like a gipsy, lately came, And did me much importune To see my hand, that by the same He might foretell my fortune.
He saw my palm; and then, said he, I tell thee, by this score here, That thou, within few months, shalt be The youthful Prince D'Amour here.
I smiled, and bade him once more prove, And by some cross-line show it, That I could ne'er be Prince of Love, Though here the Princely Poet.
46. TO BE MERRY
Let's now take our time, While we're in our prime, And old, old age is afar off; For the evil, evil days Will come on apace, Before we can be aware of.
47. UPON HIS GRAY HAIRS
Fly me not, though I be gray, Lady, this I know you'll say; Better look the roses red, When with white commingled. Black your hairs are; mine are white; This begets the more delight, When things meet most opposite; As in pictures we descry Venus standing Vulcan by.
48. AN HYMN TO THE MUSES
Honour to you who sit Near to the well of wit, And drink your fill of it!
Glory and worship be To you, sweet Maids, thrice three, Who still inspire me;
And teach me how to sing Unto the lyric string, My measures ravishing!
Then, while I sing your praise, My priest-hood crown with bays Green to the end of days!
49. THE COMING OF GOOD LUCK
So Good-Luck came, and on my roof did light, Like noiseless snow, or as the dew of night; Not all at once, but gently,—as the trees Are by the sun-beams, tickled by degrees.
50. HIS CONTENT IN THE COUNTRY
HERE, Here I live with what my board Can with the smallest cost afford; Though ne'er so mean the viands be, They well content my Prue and me: Or pea or bean, or wort or beet, Whatever comes, Content makes sweet. Here we rejoice, because no rent We pay for our poor tenement; Wherein we rest, and never fear The landlord or the usurer. The quarter-day does ne'er affright Our peaceful slumbers in the night: We eat our own, and batten more, Because we feed on no man's score; But pity those whose flanks grow great, Swell'd with the lard of other's meat. We bless our fortunes, when we see Our own beloved privacy; And like our living, where we're known To very few, or else to none.
51. HIS RETURN TO LONDON
From the dull confines of the drooping west, To see the day spring from the pregnant east, Ravish'd in spirit, I come, nay more, I fly To thee, blest place of my nativity! Thus, thus with hallow'd foot I touch the ground, With thousand blessings by thy fortune crown'd. O fruitful Genius! that bestowest here An everlasting plenty year by year; O place! O people! manners! framed to please All nations, customs, kindreds, languages! I am a free-born Roman; suffer then That I amongst you live a citizen. London my home is; though by hard fate sent Into a long and irksome banishment; Yet since call'd back, henceforward let me be, O native country, repossess'd by thee! For, rather than I'll to the west return, I'll beg of thee first here to have mine urn. Weak I am grown, and must in short time fall; Give thou my sacred reliques burial.
52. HIS DESIRE
Give me a man that is not dull, When all the world with rifts is full; But unamazed dares clearly sing, Whenas the roof's a-tottering; And though it falls, continues still Tickling the Cittern with his quill.
53. AN ODE FOR BEN JONSON
Ah Ben! Say how or when Shall we, thy guests, Meet at those lyric feasts, Made at the Sun, The Dog, the Triple Tun; Where we such clusters had, As made us nobly wild, not mad? And yet each verse of thine Out-did the meat, out-did the frolic wine.
My Ben! Or come again, Or send to us Thy wit's great overplus; But teach us yet Wisely to husband it, Lest we that talent spend; And having once brought to an end That precious stock,—the store Of such a wit the world should have no more.
54. TO LIVE MERRILY, AND TO TRUST TO GOOD VERSES
Now is the time for mirth; Nor cheek or tongue be dumb; For with [the] flowery earth The golden pomp is come.
The golden pomp is come; For now each tree does wear, Made of her pap and gum, Rich beads of amber here.
Now reigns the Rose, and now Th' Arabian dew besmears My uncontrolled brow, And my retorted hairs.
Homer, this health to thee! In sack of such a kind, That it would make thee see, Though thou wert ne'er so blind
Next, Virgil I'll call forth, To pledge this second health In wine, whose each cup's worth An Indian commonwealth.
A goblet next I'll drink To Ovid; and suppose Made he the pledge, he'd think The world had all one nose.
Then this immensive cup Of aromatic wine, Catullus! I quaff up To that terse muse of thine.
Wild I am now with heat: O Bacchus! cool thy rays; Or frantic I shall eat Thy Thyrse, and bite the Bays!
Round, round, the roof does run; And being ravish'd thus, Come, I will drink a tun To my Propertius.
Now, to Tibullus next, This flood I drink to thee; —But stay, I see a text, That this presents to me.
Behold! Tibullus lies Here burnt, whose small return Of ashes scarce suffice To fill a little urn.
Trust to good verses then; They only will aspire, When pyramids, as men, Are lost i' th' funeral fire.
And when all bodies meet In Lethe to be drown'd; Then only numbers sweet With endless life are crown'd.
55. THE APPARITION OF HIS, MISTRESS, CALLING HIM TO ELYSIUM
Come then, and like two doves with silvery wings, Let our souls fly to th' shades, wherever springs Sit smiling in the meads; where balm and oil, Roses and cassia, crown the untill'd soil; Where no disease reigns, or infection comes To blast the air, but amber-gris and gums. This, that, and ev'ry thicket doth transpire More sweet than storax from the hallow'd fire; Where ev'ry tree a wealthy issue bears Of fragrant apples, blushing plums, or pears; And all the shrubs, with sparkling spangles, shew Like morning sun-shine, tinselling the dew. Here in green meadows sits eternal May, Purfling the margents, while perpetual day So double-gilds the air, as that no night Can ever rust th' enamel of the light: Here naked younglings, handsome striplings, run Their goals for virgins' kisses; which when done, Then unto dancing forth the learned round Commix'd they meet, with endless roses crown'd. And here we'll sit on primrose-banks, and see Love's chorus led by Cupid; and we'll he Two loving followers too unto the grove, Where poets sing the stories of our love. There thou shalt hear divine Musaeus sing Of Hero and Leander; then I'll bring Thee to the stand, where honour'd Homer reads His Odyssees and his high Iliads; About whose throne the crowd of poets throng To hear the incantation of his tongue: To Linus, then to Pindar; and that done, I'll bring thee, Herrick, to Anacreon, Quaffing his full-crown'd bowls of burning wine, And in his raptures speaking lines of thine, Like to his subject; and as his frantic Looks shew him truly Bacchanalian like, Besmear'd with grapes,—welcome he shall thee thither, Where both may rage, both drink and dance together. Then stately Virgil, witty Ovid, by Whom fair Corinna sits, and doth comply With ivory wrists his laureat head, and steeps His eye in dew of kisses while he sleeps. Then soft Catullus, sharp-fang'd Martial, And towering Lucan, Horace, Juvenal, And snaky Persius; these, and those whom rage, Dropt for the jars of heaven, fill'd, t' engage All times unto their frenzies; thou shalt there Behold them in a spacious theatre: Among which glories, crown'd with sacred bays And flatt'ring ivy, two recite their plays, Beaumont and Fletcher, swans, to whom all ears Listen, while they, like sirens in their spheres, Sing their Evadne; and still more for thee There yet remains to know than thou canst see By glimm'ring of a fancy; Do but come, And there I'll shew thee that capacious room In which thy father, Jonson, now is placed As in a globe of radiant fire, and graced To be in that orb crown'd, that doth include Those prophets of the former magnitude, And he one chief. But hark! I hear the cock, The bell-man of the night, proclaim the clock Of late struck One; and now I see the prime Of day break from the pregnant east:—'tis time I vanish:—more I had to say, But night determines here; Away!
56. THE INVITATION
To sup with thee thou didst me home invite, And mad'st a promise that mine appetite Should meet and tire, on such lautitious meat, The like not Heliogabalus did eat: And richer wine would'st give to me, thy guest, Than Roman Sylla pour'd out at his feast. I came, 'tis true, and look'd for fowl of price, The bastard Phoenix; bird of Paradise; And for no less than aromatic wine Of maidens-blush, commix'd with jessamine. Clean was the hearth, the mantle larded jet, Which, wanting Lar and smoke, hung weeping wet; At last i' th' noon of winter, did appear A ragg'd soused neats-foot, with sick vinegar; And in a burnish'd flagonet, stood by Beer small as comfort, dead as charity. At which amazed, and pond'ring on the food, How cold it was, and how it chill'd my blood, I curst the master, and I damn'd the souce, And swore I'd got the ague of the house. —Well, when to eat thou dost me next desire, I'll bring a fever, since thou keep'st no fire.
57. TO SIR CLIPSBY CREW
Since to the country first I came, I have lost my former flame; And, methinks, I not inherit, As I did, my ravish'd spirit. If I write a verse or two, 'Tis with very much ado; In regard I want that wine Which should conjure up a line. Yet, though now of Muse bereft, I have still the manners left For to thank you, noble sir, For those gifts you do confer Upon him, who only can Be in prose a grateful man.
58. A COUNTRY LIFE: TO HIS BROTHER, MR THOMAS HERRICK
Thrice, and above, blest, my soul's half, art thou, In thy both last and better vow; Could'st leave the city, for exchange, to see The country's sweet simplicity; And it to know and practise, with intent To grow the sooner innocent; By studying to know virtue, and to aim More at her nature than her name; The last is but the least; the first doth tell Ways less to live, than to live well:— And both are known to thee, who now canst live Led by thy conscience, to give Justice to soon-pleased nature, and to show Wisdom and she together go, And keep one centre; This with that conspires To teach man to confine desires, And know that riches have their proper stint In the contented mind, not mint; And canst instruct that those who have the itch Of craving more, are never rich. These things thou knows't to th' height, and dost prevent That plague, because thou art content With that Heaven gave thee with a wary hand, (More blessed in thy brass than land) To keep cheap Nature even and upright; To cool, not cocker appetite. Thus thou canst tersely live to satisfy The belly chiefly, not the eye; Keeping the barking stomach wisely quiet, Less with a neat than needful diet. But that which most makes sweet thy country life, Is the fruition of a wife, Whom, stars consenting with thy fate, thou hast Got not so beautiful as chaste; By whose warm side thou dost securely sleep, While Love the sentinel doth keep, With those deeds done by day, which ne'er affright Thy silken slumbers in the night: Nor has the darkness power to usher in Fear to those sheets that know no sin. The damask'd meadows and the pebbly streams Sweeten and make soft your dreams: The purling springs, groves, birds, and well weaved bowers, With fields enamelled with flowers, Present their shapes, while fantasy discloses Millions of Lilies mix'd with Roses. Then dream, ye hear the lamb by many a bleat Woo'd to come suck the milky teat; While Faunus in the vision comes, to keep From rav'ning wolves the fleecy sheep: With thousand such enchanting dreams, that meet To make sleep not so sound as sweet; Nor call these figures so thy rest endear, As not to rise when Chanticlere Warns the last watch;—but with the dawn dost rise To work, but first to sacrifice; Making thy peace with Heaven for some late fault, With holy-meal and spirting salt; Which done, thy painful thumb this sentence tells us, 'Jove for our labour all things sells us.' Nor are thy daily and devout affairs Attended with those desp'rate cares Th' industrious merchant has, who for to find Gold, runneth to the Western Ind, And back again, tortured with fears, doth fly, Untaught to suffer Poverty;— But thou at home, blest with securest ease, Sitt'st, and believ'st that there be seas, And watery dangers; while thy whiter hap But sees these things within thy map; And viewing them with a more safe survey, Mak'st easy fear unto thee say, 'A heart thrice walled with oak and brass, that man Had, first durst plough the ocean.' But thou at home, without or tide or gale, Canst in thy map securely sail; Seeing those painted countries, and so guess By those fine shades, their substances; And from thy compass taking small advice, Buy'st travel at the lowest price. Nor are thine ears so deaf but thou canst hear, Far more with wonder than with fear, Fame tell of states, of countries, courts, and kings, And believe there be such things; When of these truths thy happier knowledge lies More in thine ears than in thine eyes. And when thou hear'st by that too true report, Vice rules the most, or all, at court, Thy pious wishes are, though thou not there, Virtue had, and moved her sphere. But thou liv'st fearless; and thy face ne'er shows Fortune when she comes, or goes; But with thy equal thoughts, prepared dost stand To take her by the either hand; Nor car'st which comes the first, the foul or fair:— A wise man ev'ry way lies square; And like a surly oak with storms perplex'd Grows still the stronger, strongly vex'd. Be so, bold Spirit; stand centre-like, unmoved; And be not only thought, but proved To be what I report thee, and inure Thyself, if want comes, to endure; And so thou dost; for thy desires are Confined to live with private Lar: Nor curious whether appetite be fed Or with the first, or second bread. Who keep'st no proud mouth for delicious cates; Hunger makes coarse meats, delicates. Canst, and unurged, forsake that larded fare, Which art, not nature, makes so rare; To taste boil'd nettles, coleworts, beets, and eat These, and sour herbs, as dainty meat:— While soft opinion makes thy Genius say, 'Content makes all ambrosia;' Nor is it that thou keep'st this stricter size So much for want, as exercise; To numb the sense of dearth, which, should sin haste it, Thou might'st but only see't, not taste it; Yet can thy humble roof maintain a quire Of singing crickets by thy fire; And the brisk mouse may feast herself with crumbs, Till that the green-eyed kitling comes; Then to her cabin, blest she can escape The sudden danger of a rape. —And thus thy little well-kept stock doth prove, Wealth cannot make a life, but love. Nor art thou so close-handed, but canst spend, (Counsel concurring with the end), As well as spare; still conning o'er this theme, To shun the first and last extreme; Ordaining that thy small stock find no breach, Or to exceed thy tether's reach; But to live round, and close, and wisely true To thine own self, and known to few. Thus let thy rural sanctuary be Elysium to thy wife and thee; There to disport your selves with golden measure; For seldom use commends the pleasure. Live, and live blest; thrice happy pair; let breath, But lost to one, be th' other's death: And as there is one love, one faith, one troth, Be so one death, one grave to both; Till when, in such assurance live, ye may Nor fear, or wish your dying day.
59. TO HIS PECULIAR FRIEND, MR JOHN WICKS
Since shed or cottage I have none, I sing the more, that thou hast one; To whose glad threshold, and free door I may a Poet come, though poor; And eat with thee a savoury bit, Paying but common thanks for it. —Yet should I chance, my Wicks, to see An over-leaven look in thee, To sour the bread, and turn the beer To an exalted vinegar; Or should'st thou prize me as a dish Of thrice-boil'd worts, or third-day's fish, I'd rather hungry go and come Than to thy house be burdensome; Yet, in my depth of grief, I'd be One that should drop his beads for thee.