Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

For the bright firmament

Shootes forth no flame
So silent, but is eloquent
In speaking the Creator's name.
No
unregarded star

Contracts its light
Into so small a character,
Remov'd far from our humane sight:
But if we stedfast looke,

We shall discerne
In it, as in some holy booke,
How man may heavenly knowledge learne.
It tells the conqueror,

That farre-stretcht powre,
Which his proud dangers traffique for,
Is but the triumph of an houre.
That from the farthest North,

Some nation may,
Yet undiscovered, issue forth,
And ore his new-got conquest sway.
Some nation yet shut in

With hills of ice
May be let out to scourge his sinne,
Till they shall equall him in vice.
And then they likewise shall

Their ruine have;
For as your selves your empires fall,
And every kingdome hath a grave.
Thus those coelestiall fires,

Though seeming mute,
The fallacie of our desires
And all the pride of life confute.
For they have watcht since first

The world had birth:
And found sinne in it selfe accurst,
And nothing permanent on Earth.

93

LOVELACE. RICHARD LOVELACE, son of Sir William Lovelace of Woolwich, was born in 1618, and educated at Gloucester Hall, Oxford. He served in the army, under Goring; and, after the conclusion of the war, fixed his abode at Lovelaee Place, near Canterbury. He was chosen to present to the House of Commons the Kentish petition in favour of the king. For doing so he was committed to the Gate House prison. After having spent his fortune in the king's cause, he formed a regiment for the French service, and was severely wounded at Dunkirk. On his return to England he languished in neglect and poverty till 1658, when he died of consumption, in an obscure lodging near Shoe Lane. Lovelace was celebrated for the beauty of his person, and his noble manners, full at once of dignity and courtesy. He was not more fortunate in private life than in his public career. A lady to whom he was attached, and whom he has celebrated under the name of Lucasta, having heard a report that he had died of his wounds at Dunkirk, accepted another suitor. The troubles of the time left Lovelace little leisure for writing; but his fame is securely embalmed in a single poem, his Song to Althea, written in prison.

SONG.

TO ALTHEA, FROM PRISON.

When Love, with unconfined wings,

Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings

To whisper at my grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,

And fetter'd with her eye,-
The birds, that wanton in the air,

Know no such liberty.
When flowing cups run swiftly round

With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses bound,

Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,

When healths and draughts go free,-
Fishes, that tipple in the deep,

Know no such liberty.
When, like committed linnets, I

With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,

And glories of my king;'
Charles I., in whose cause Lovelace was then in prison.

When I shall voice aloud how good

He is, how great should be,
Enlarged winds, that curl the food,

Know no such liberty.
Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take

These for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,

And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.

HERRICK.

ROBERT HERRICK, the son of a goldsmith in Cheapside, was born A.D. 1591. He became a clergyman; and was presented by Charles I. with the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire. During the great Rebellion he lost his preferment, which he recovered on the Restoration. Herrick's poems are distinguished by so brilliant a fancy, as well as by so much terseness and finish, that they must ever hold a high place amid the lyrical poetry of England. Many of them are remarkable also for their classical and antique character, as though the southern vales of Devonshire had recalled to the mind of their author the plains of Attica and Sicily. Unfortunately they are too often disgraced by a license for which no excuse can be found in their author's plea,

“Loose were his verses, but his life was chaste," and from which the Grecian models of Herrick are almost invari. ably exempt.

TO MEADOWS.

Ye have been fresh and green,

Ye have been fill'd with flowers;
And ye the walks have been

Where maids have spent their hours.
Ye have beheld where they

With wicker arks did come,
To kiss and bear away

The richer cowslips home.

You've heard them sweetly sing,

And seen them in a round;Each virgin like a spring

With honeysuckles crown'd. But now we see none here

Whose silvery feet did tread, And, with dishevell’d hair,

Adorn'd this smoother mead. Like unthrifts, having spent

Your stock, and needy grown, Ye 're left here to lament

Your poor estates alone.

TO DAFFODILS.

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet, the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd its noon.

Stay, stay
Until the hasting day

Has run
But to the even song ;
And having pray'd together, we
Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay as you,
We have as short a spring ;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you or any thing.

We die,
As your hours do, and dry

Away,
Like to the summer's rain,
Or as the pearls of morning dew,
Ne'er to be found again.

TO BLOSSOMS.

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,

Why do ye fall so fast?

Your date is not so past;
But you may stay yet here awhile,

To blush and ntly smile,

And go at last.

What, were ye born to be

An hour or half's delight,

And so to bid good night?
'Twas pity Nature brought ye forth

Merely to show your worth,

And lose you quite.
But you are lovely leaves, where we

May read how soon things have

Their end, though ne'er so brave :
And after they have shown their pride,

Like you, awhile, they glide

Into the grave.

DAVENANT.

SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT was born at Oxford A.D. 1605. His father was an innkeeper. He was educated at Lincoln College ; and afterwards taken successively into the households of the Duchess of Richmond and the poet Lord Brooke. After writing

for the stage during a short period, he was made poet-laureate. Subsequently he embraced the profession of arms; and was made by the Earl of Newcastle lieutenant-general of his ordnance. At the siege of Gloucester, King Charles conferred upon Davenant the honours of knighthood. On the ruin of the royal cause he retired to France, where he made his submission to the Catholic Church. He was next sent on an expedition to Virginia by Queen Henrietta Maria; but the ship in which he sailed having been captured, he was thrown as a prisoner into Cowes Castle. His life was saved, as is believed, at the instance of Milton, on whose behalf the intercession of Davenant proved not less effectual at the Restoration. After the return of Charles II., Davenant devoted himself to dramatic compositions, which do not possess merit of a high order. His Gondibert is remarkable for the vigour and the intellect it displays, though written, unfortunately, in a metre more suited to elegiac than to narrative composition. It was commenced when Davenant resided in the Louvre, and further carried on during the poet's imprisonment at Cowes Castle. Half his design having been there completed, Davenant put his work aside, under the expectation of being hanged within a few days. “It is high time,” he remarks, with a good-humoured dignity, in his postscript,“ to strike sail, and cast anchor (though I have run but half my course), when, at the helm, I am threatened with death; who, though he can visit us but once, seems troublesome, and even in the innocent

« НазадПродовжити »