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To nurse the saplings tall, and curl the grove
With ringlets quaint, and wanton windings wove.
And all my plants I save from nightly ill
Of noisome winds, and blasting vapours chill :
And from the boughs brush off the evil dew,
And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue,
Or what the cross dire-looking planet smites;
Or hurtful worm with canker'd venom bites.
When Evening gray doth rise, I fetch my
Over the mount, and all his hallow'd ground,
And early ere the odorous breath of Morn
Awakes the slumb'ring leaves, or tassel'd horn
Shakes the high thicket, haste I all about,
Number my ranks, and visit every sprout
With puissant words, and murmurs made to bless;
But else in deep of night, when drowsiness
Hath lock'd up mortal sense, then listen I
To the celestial Sirens' harmony,
That sit upon the nine infolded spheres,
And sing to those that hold the vital shears,
And turn the adamantin spindle round,
On which the fate of gods and men is wound.
Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie,
To lull the daughters of Necessity,
And keep unsteady Nature to her law,
And the low world in measur'd motion draw
After the heav'nly tune, which none can hear
Of human mold with gross unpurged ear;
And yet such music worthiest were to blaze
The peerless hight of her inmortal praise,
Whose lustre leads us, and for her most fit,
If my inferior hand or voice could hit
Inimitable sounds, yet as we go,
Whate'er the skill of lesser gods can show,
I will assay, her worth to celebrate,
And so attend ye toward her glittering state ;
Where ye may all that are of noble stem
Approach, and hiss her sacred vesture's hem.
O'ER the smooth enamel'd green,
Where no print of step hath been,
Follow me as I sing
And touch the warbled string,
Under the shady roof
Of branching elm star-proof.
I will bring you where she sies,
Clad in splendor as befits
Such a rural queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.
Nymphs and Shepherds dance no more
By sandy Ladon's lillied banks, On old Lycæus or Cyllene hoar
Trip no more in twilight ranks,
Though Erymanth your loss deplore,
A better soil shall give ye shanks.
From the story Mänalus
Bring your flocks and live with us,
shall have greater grace
To serve the Lady of this place.
Though Syrinx your Pan's mistress were,
Yet Syrinx well might wait on her.
Such a rural queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.
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
corrupted clergy, then in their highth.
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and orice 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 rhime.
He must not-flote upon his wat'ry 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,
may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favor my
And as he passes turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud :
For we were nurst 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 a-field, and both together heard
What time the grey-fly winds her sultry horn,
Batı’ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night
Oft till the star that rose at evening bright, [wheel.
Towards Heav'n's descent had slop'd his west'ring
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to th' 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 O the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return! Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown, And all their echoes mourn. 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 shepherds' ear. Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas ? For neither were ye playing on the steep,