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In this Monody, the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish seas, 1637. And by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their highth.
Y Et once more, O ye laurels, and once more
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never-sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude:
And, with forc'd fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year :
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer: -
Who would not sing for Lycidas ? He knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring;
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse :
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favour my destin'd urn;
And, as he passes, turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud,
For we were nurs’d upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill.
Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,
We drove afield, and both together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star, that rose, at evening, bright,
Toward heaven's descent had slop'd his westering
wheel. Mean while the rural ditties were not mute, Temper’d to the oaten flute : Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns with cloven heel From the glad sound would not be absent long : And old Damætas lov'd to hear our song.
But, О the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return! Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desart caves With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown: And all their echoes mourti
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the white-thorn blows;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless
Clos’d o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep,
Where your old Bards, the famous Druids, lie,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wisard stream:
Ay me! I fondly dream !
Had ye been there--for what could that have done?
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,
The Muse herself, for her enchanting son,
Whom universal Nature did lament,
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His goary visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore?
Alas! what boots it with incessant care
To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life. “But not the praise,”
Phæbus replied, and touch'd my trembling ears ;
“ Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies;
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfect witness of all judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed.”
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honour'd flood,
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown’d with vocal reeds!
That strain I heard was of a higher mood:
But now my oat proceeds,
And listens to the herald of the sea
That came in Neptune's plea ;
He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds,
What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain}
And question'd every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beaked promontory:
They knew not of his story;
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd ;
The air was calm, and on the level brine
Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd.
It was the fatal and perfidious bark,
Built in the eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark, ';
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow,
His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge,
Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge
Like to that sanguine flower inscrib'd with woe.
“ Ah! Who hath reft (quoth he) my dearest
pledge ?” Last came, and last did go, The pilot of the Galilean lake; Two massy keys he bore of metals twain, (The golden opes, the iron shuts amain,) He shook his miter'd locks, and stern bespake: “ How well could I have spar'd for thee young
swain, Enow of such, as for their bellies' sake Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold? Of other care they little reckoning make, Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast, And shove away the worthy bidden guest; Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to
hold A sheep-hook, or have learn'd aught else the least That to the faithful herdman's art belongs !