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Thou, Scythian-like, dost round thy lands above
The Sun's gilt tent for ever move;
And still, as thou in pomp dost go,
The shining pageants of the world attend thy show.
Nor amidst all these triumphs dost thou scorn
The humble glow-worms to adorn,
And with those living spangles gild (O greatness without pride !) the bushes of the field.
When, goddess, thou lift'st up thy waken'd head
Out of the morning's purple bed,
Thy quire of birds about thee play,
And all the joyful world salutes the rising day.
All the world's bravery that delights our eyes,
Is but thy several liveries ;
Thou the rich dye on them bestow'st, Thy nimble pencil paints this landscape as thou go'st.
ON THE DEATH OF MR. CRASHAW.
Poet and Saint! to thee alone are given
The two most sacred names of earth and heaven;
The hard and rarest union which can be,
Next that of Godhead, with humanity.
Long did the Muses banish'd slaves abide,
And built vain pyramids to mortal pride ;
Like Moses, thou (though spells and charms withstand)
Hast brought them nobly home, back to their holy land.
How well, blest swan, did Fate contrive thy death,
And made thee render up thy tuneful breath
In thy great mistress' arms! Thou most divine
And richest offering of Loretto's shrine,
Where, like some holy sacrifice t'expire,
A fever burns thee, and Love lights the fire.
Angels, they say, brought the famed chapel there,
And bore the sacred load in triumph through the air.
'Tis surer much they brought thee there; and they
And thou, their charge, went singing all the way.
Hail, bard triumphant! and some care bestow
On us the poets militant below,
Oppos’d by our old enemy, adverse chance,
Attack'd by envy and by ignorance,
Enchain'd by beauty, tortured by desires,
Expos’d by tyrant love to savage beasts and fires;
Thou from low earth in nobler flames didst rise,
And, like Elijah, mount alive the skies.
Hail, old patrician trees, so great and good !
Hail, ye plebeian underwood!
Where the poetic birds rejoice,
And for their quiet nests and plenteous food
Pay with their grateful voice.
Muse's richest manor-seat ! Ye country-houses and retreat, Which all the happy gods so love, That for you oft they quit their bright and great Metropolis above.
Here nature does a house for me erect,
Nature! the fairest architect,
Who those fond artists does despise
That can the fair and living trees neglect,
Yet the dead timber prize.
Here let me, careless and unthoughtful lying,
Hear the soft winds above me flying,
With all their wanton boughs dispute,
And the more tuneful birds to both replying,
Nor be myself, too, mute.
A silver stream shall roll his waters near,
Gilt with the sunbeams here and there;
On whose enamelld bank I'll walk,
And see how prettily they smile,
And hear how prettily they talk.
Ah! wretched, and too solitary he,
Who loves not his own company!
He'll feel the weight of it many a day,
Unless he calls in sin or vanity
To help to bear it away.
O Solitude ! first state of humankind !
Which bless'd remain'd till man did find
Even his own helper's company:
As soon as two, alas ! together join'd,
The serpent made up three.
Though God Himself, through countless ages, thee
His sole companion chose to be,-
Thee, sacred Solitude ! alone,
Before the branchy head of number's tree
Sprang from the trunk of one;
Thou (though men think thine an unactive part)
Dost break and tame th’unruly heart,
Which else would know no settled pace;
Making it move, well managed by thy art,
With swiftness and with grace.
Thou the faint beams of reason’s scatter'd light
Dost, like a burning-glass, unite,
Dost multiply the feeble heat,
And fortify the strength, till thou dost bright
And noble fires beget.
GEORGE WITHER was born A.D. 1588, the descendant of a good family in Hampshire. He went to London in order to try his for. tunes at court; but, writing there his Abuses stripped and whipped, he found no other preferment than a prison. It was for him a fortunate imprisonment, since, while undergoing it, he composed his Shepherd's Hunting. Wither became a violent Puritan, and wrote innumerable tracts, poetical, political, and polemical, which allowed no sphere for the exercise of his genius. When the civil wars broke out, he sold his estate in order to raise a troop of horse for the Parliament. He rose to the rank of major-general, and served, with various success,
till he was taken prisoner by the Royalists; when his life was spared by Charles at the intercession of Denham, who urged for him the singular plea, “ that, while Wither lived, he (Denham) could not be accounted the worst poet in England.” On the Restoration, the property which he had acquired during the interregnum was confiscated; he was subsequently imprisoned for libel, and died in obscurity and poverty A.D. 1669. The Shepherd's Hunting has survived the wreck of Wither's numerous works, owing
to its fidelity to Nature. There is a truthfulness in its rural delineations which makes it an anticipation of the descriptive poetry of a later age. The following extract alludes to the imprisonment above mentioned.
[From The Shepherd's Hunting.]
Now though for her sake I'm crost,
Though my best hopes I have lost,
And knew she would make my trouble
Ten times more than ten times double,-
I would love and keep her too,
Spite of all the world could do.
For though banish'd from my flocks,
And confined within these rocks,
Here I waste away the light,
And consume the sullen night,-
She doth for my comfort stay,
And keeps many cares away.
Though I miss the flowery fields,
With those sweets the spring-tide yields ;
Though I may not see those groves,
Where the shepherds chant their loves,
And the lasses more excel
Than the sweet-voiced Philomel ;
Though of all those pleasures past
Nothing now remains at last,
But remembrance (poor relief),
That more makes than mends my grief,-
She's my mind's companion still,
Maugre Envy's evil will:
(Whence she should be driven too,
Were 't in mortals' power to do.)
She doth tell me where to borrow
Comfort in the midst of sorrow;
Makes the desolatest place
To her presence be a grace,
And the blackest discontents
Be her fairest ornaments.
In my former days of bliss
Her divine skill taught me this,
That from every thing I saw
I could some invention draw;
And raise pleasure her height
Through the meanest object's sight :
By the murmur of a spring,
Or the least bough’s rustling ;
By a daisy, whose leaves spread,
Shut when Titan goes to bed;
Or a shady bush or tree,
She could more infuse in me
Than all Nature's beauties can
In some other wiser man.
By her help I also now
Make this churlish place allow
Some things that may sweeten gladness
In the very gall of sadness :
The dull loneness, the black shade
That those hanging vaults have made ;
The strange music
of the wavus
Beating on these hollow caves ;
This black den, which rocks emboss,
Overgrown with eldest moss ;
The rude portals, that give light
More to terror than delight;
This my chamber of neglect,
Wall'd about with disrespect,-
From all these, and this dull air,
A fit object for despair,
She hath taught me by her might
To draw comfort and delight.
Therefore thou, best earthly bliss,
I will cherish thee for this!
Poesie, thou sweet'st content
That e'er Heaven to mortals lent;
Though they as a trifle leave thee,
Whose dull thoughts cannot conceive thee,
Though thou be to them a scorn
That to naught but earth are born ;
Let my life no longer be
Than I am in love with thee!
Though our wise ones call it madness,
Let me never taste of sadness
If I love not thy madd’st fits
Above all their greatest wits !
And though some too seeming holy
Do account thy raptures folly,
Thou dost teach me to contemn
What makes knaves and fools of them.