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FROM " A DIRGE.”
Sweet groves, to you!
You hills that highest dwell,
And all you humble vales, adieu !
You wanton brooks and solitary rocks,
My dear companions all, and you, my tender flocks ! Farewell, my pipe, and all those pleasing songs whose moving strains Delighted once the fairest nymphs that dance upon the plains !
You discontents, whose deep and over-deadly smart
Have without pity broke the truest heart,
Sighs, tears, and every sad annoy,
That erst did with me dwell,
And others joy,
THE SHEPHERD'S RESOLUTION.
Shall I, wasting in despair,
Die because a woman's fair ?
Or make pale my cheeks with care
'Cause another's rosy are ?
Be she fairer than the day,
Or the flowery meads in May;
If she be not so to me,
What care I how fair she be?
Shall my foolish heart be pined
'Cause I see a woman kind ?
Or a well-disposed nature
Joined with a lovely feature ?
Be she meeker, kinder than
The turtle-dove or pelican;
If she be not so to me,
What care I how kind she be?
Great or good, or kind or fair,
I will ne'er the more despair :
If she love me, this believe-
I will die ere she shall grieve.
If she slight me when I woo,
I can scorn and let her go :
If she be not fit for me,
What care I for whom she be ?
BROWNE. WILLIAM BROWNE was descended from a respectable stock, and born at Tavistock A.D, 1590. He was educated at Oxford, and returned thither, in his later life, as tutor to the Earl of Caernarvon. He lived subsequently in the family of the Earl of Pembroke; and is supposed to have settled finally at Ottery St. Mary's, in Devonshire. He died A.D. 1645. There is in the poetry of William Browne an extraordinary sense of the beautiful, and a vivid appreciation of pastoral and sylvan scenery. His muse is of a delicate temperament, and seems ever to breathe & southern air. In his descriptive passages he rather delineates special objects, like the ancients, than presents us with landscapes, like the modern poets. In moral sweetness and inventive grace he bears an analogy to Spenser, though he lacks his strength and variety.
As I have seen upon a bridall-day
Full many maides clad in their best array,
In honour of the bride come with their flaskets
Fill'd full with flowres : others in wicker-baskets
Bring from the marish rushes, to o'erspread
The ground whereon to church the lovers tread ;
Whilst that the quaintest youth of all the plaine
Ushers their way with many a piping straine :
So, as in joy, at this faire river's birth
Triton came up a channell with his mirth,
And call’d the neighb'ring nymphs, each in her turne,
To poure their pretty rivilets from their urne;
To waite upon this new-delivered spring.
Some, running through the meadows, with them bring
Cowslip and mint: and 'tis another's lot
To light upon some gardener's curious knot,
Whence she upon her brest (love's sweete repose)
Doth bring the queene of flowers, the English rose.
Some from the fen bring reeds, wilde-thyme from downes;
Some from a grove the bay that poets crownes ;
Some from an aged rocke the mosse hath torne,
And leaves him naked unto winter's storme:
Another from her bankes (in meere good-will)
Brings nutriment for fish, the camomill.
Thus all bring somewhat, and doe overspread
The way the spring unto the sea doth tread.
This while the floud, which yet the rocke up pent,
And suffered not with jocund merriment
To tread rounds in his spring, came rushing forth,
As angry that his waves (he thought) of worth
Should not have libertie, nor helpe the prime.
* * Right so this river stormes :
But broken forth, as Tavy creepes upon
The westerne vales of fertile Albion.
Here dashes roughly on an aged rocke,
That his extended passage doth up locke;
There intricately 'mongst the woods doth wander,
Losing himself in many a wry meander :
Here, amorously bent, clips some faire meade ;
And then, disperst in rills, doth measures treade
Upon her bosom 'mongst her flow'ry rankes :
There in another place beares downe the bankes
Of some day-labouring wretch: heere meets a rill,
And with their forces joynde cut out a mill
Into an iland; then in jocund guise
Survayes his conquest, lauds his enterprise :
Here digs a cave at some high mountaine's foote;
There undermines an oak, tears up his roote :
Thence rushing to some country farme at hand,
Breakes o'er the yeoman's mounds; sweepes from his land
His harvest hope of wheate, of rye, or pease,
And makes that channell which was shepheard's lease :
Here, as our wicked age doth sacriledge,
Helpes downe an abbey; then a naturall bridge
By creeping under ground he frameth out;
As who should say he eyther went about
To right the wrong he did, or hid his face
For having done a deed so vile and base :
So ranne this river on, and did bestirre
Himselfe to finde his fellow-traveller.
By this had chanticleer, the village cock,
Bidden the goodwife for her maids to knock ;
And the swart ploughman for his breakfast stayed,
That he might till those lands were fallow laid;
The hills and valleys here and there resound
With the re-echoes of the deep-mouth'd hound;
Each shepherd's daughter with her cleanly pail
Was come a-field to milk the morning's meal;
And ere the sun had climb'd the eastern hills,
To gild the muttering bourns and pretty rills,
Before the labouring bee had left the hive,
And nimble fishes, which in rivers dive,
Began to leap and catch the drowned fly,
I rose from rest, not infelicity.
Look, as a sweet rose fairly budding forth
Betrays her beauties to th' enamour'd morn,
Until some keen blast from the envious north
Kills the sweet bud that was but newly born;
Or else her rarest smells, delighting,
Make herself betray
Some white and curious hand, inviting
To pluck her thence away.
JAMES SHIRLEY, the last great dramatist of the early school, was born in London A.D. 1596, and educated first at Oxford, and subsequently at Cambridge. On leaving the University he took orders, and held a living at St. Alban's. Becoming a Roman Catholic, he surrendered his ecclesiastical preferment, and earned his subsistence as a teacher in a grammar-school. Soon afterwards he repaired to London, where he was eminently successful as a dramatic writer, and had other opportunities of advancement, of which, had he not stood averse to courtly arts, he might have largely availed himself. In 1637 Shirley went to Ireland; and several of the plays which he wrote at this time were first acted in the theatre established in Dublin by John Ogilby, under the patronage of the Earl of Strafford. On the breaking out of the great Rebellion, Shirley took the side of the monarchy. The restoration of Charles II. produced no change in his depressed fortunes. The theatres were reopened; but their license exceeded even that which had preceded the reign of Puritanism. Shirley had resolved to write for them no more; and he kept his resolution. He lived chiefly in London till the great fire of 1666. The fatigues and losses connected with that event were too much for his then enfeebled frame; he and his wife sank beneath the shock, and died on the same day. They were buried together in the church of St. Giles in the Fields, Middlesex.
The blamelessness of Shirley's life, and the amiability of his disposition, made him the favourite of his contemporaries. In dra. matic composition he possessed an extraordinary facility and originality, as well as great copiousness of thought, brilliancy of fancy, and richness of imagery. Of his lyrical genius the following is a noble specimen.
DEATH'S FINAL CONQUEST.
The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things.
There is no armour against fate :
Death lays his icy hand on kings.
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still,
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow;
Then boast no more your mighty deeds.
Upon Death's purple altar now
See where the victor-victim bleeds.
All heads must come
To the cold tomb;
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.
THE life of Milton must ever be differently regarded according to the religious and political opinions of those who reflect on it. He was born A.D. 1608, and received an education both learned and religious from his father, a clergyman and accomplished musician. At Cambridge he was distinguished not only for his youthful learning, but for his noble beauty, which won for him the name of the “ lady” of his college. On leaving the University he continued to prosecute his studies with intense assiduity at his father's house at Horton in Buckinghamshire. Rich in all the classic learning of