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As one that inly mourned; so was she sad,
And heavy sat upon her palfrey slow ;
Seemed in her heart some hidden core she had,
And by her in a line a milk-white lamb she led.
So pure and innocent, as that same lamb,
She was in life and every virtuous lore,
And by descent from royal lineage came
Of ancient kings and queens, that had of yore
Their sceptres stretcht from east to western shore,
And all the world in their subjection held ;
Till that infernal fiend, with foul uproar,
Forewasted all their land, and them expelled;
Whom to avenge, she had this knight from far compelled.
Behind her, far away, a dwarf did lag,
That lazy seemed in being ever last,
Or wearied in bearing of her bag
Of needments at his back. Thus as they past,
The day with clouds was sudden overcast,
Jove an hideous storm of rain
into his leman's lap so fast, That every wight to shroud it did constrain, And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain.
Enforced to seek some covert nigh at hand,
A shady grove, not far away, they spied,
That promised aid the tempest to withstand;
Whose lofty trees, yclad with summer's pride,
Did spread so broad, that heaven's light did hide;
Nor pierceable with power of any star:
And all within were paths and alleys wide,
With footing worn, and leading inward far;
Fair harbor, that them seems; so in they entered are.
And forth they pass, with pleasure forward led,
Joying to hear the birds' sweet harmony,
Which, therein shrouded from the tempest dread,
Seemed in their song to scorn the cruel sky.
Much can they praise the trees, so straight and high, -
The sailing Pine; the Cedar, proud and tall;
The vine-prop Elm; the Poplar, never dry;
The builder, Oak, sole king of forests all ;
The Aspin, good for staves; the Cypress, funeral.
The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerors,
And poets sage; the Fir, that weepeth still;
The Willow, worn of forlorn paramours;
The Yew, obedient to the bender's will;
The Birch, for shafts; the Sallow, for the mill;
The Myrrh, sweet bleeding in the bitter wound;
The warlike Beech; the Ash, for nothing ill;
The fruitful Olive, and the Plantain round;
The carver Holme; the Maple, seldom inward sound.
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
Until the blustering storm is overblown,
When, weening to return whence they did stray,
They cannot find that path which first was shown,
But wander to and fro, in ways unknown,
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween,
That makes them doubt their wits be not their own;
So many paths, so many turnings seen,
That which of them to take, in divers doubt they been.
SHAKSPEARE. 1564-1616. But little is known, with certainty, of the incidents of Shakspeare's life. He was born at Stratford-on-Avon, was the son of a wool-comber or glover, and received some education at a grammar-school. While yet a minor, he married Anne Hathaway, a woman seven years older than himself. He had one son, two daughters, and three grandsons; the latter died without children, and there now remains no descendant of the great poet.
It is supposed his dramatic genius was developed by being admitted behind the scenes, at the performances of the London players, in Stratford. He removed to London when about twenty-two years of age, where he soon rose to distinction in the theatre. He was considered “ of good account,” as an actor ; " but the cause of his unexampled success was his immortal dramas, the delight and wonder of his age,
"That so did take Eliza and our James.'»
He was familiar with the nobles, wits and poets, of his day, and was usually styled the “gentle Shakspeare.” He received annually from the theatre what was equal to £1500 at the present day. In the fulness of his fame, with a handsome competency, and before age had chilled the enjoyments of life, the poet returned to his native town, to spend the remainder of his days among the quiet scenes and the friends of his youth. Four years he spent in this dignified retirement, and the history of literature scarcely presents another such picture of calm felicity and satisfied ambition. He died at the early age of fifty-two years.
In miscellaneous poetry, with the exception of the Faery Queen, there are no poems equal to those of this great dramatist. His sonnets are mostly addressed to some male object, and are extravagant and enthusiastic in their character, though they bear the impress of strong passion and deep sincerity. The following beautiful sonnet seems to have been produced by a feeling of premature age.
" That time of year, thou mayest in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do bang
Upon these boughs that shake against the cold,
Bare, ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang;
In me thou seest the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which, by and by, black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest ;
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed by that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long."
[From "Romeo and Juliet."]
LOVE SCENE, BY NIGHT, IN A GARDEN.
Romeo. He jests at scars, that never felt a wound !
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
(Juliet appears above, at a window.)
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she ;
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off —
It is my lady; oh, it is my love !- -
She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that?
I will answer it;
I am too bold; 't is not to me she speaks.
Two of the fairest stars of all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return...
What if her eyes were there, they in her head ?-
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp. Her eyes, in heaven,
Would through the airy region stream so bright,
That birds would sing, and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!
Juliet. Ah me!
Rom. She speaks.
O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art
As glorious to this sight, being o'er my head,
As is a wingéd messenger of heaven,
Unto the white-upturnéd, wondering eyes
Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him,
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds,
And sails upon the bosom of the air.
Jul. 0, Romeo, Rorneo wherefore art thou Romeo ?
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet!
Rom. Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this ? (Aside.)
Jul. 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is not hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name !
What's in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And, for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
Rom. I take thee at thy word ;
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized ;
Henceforth, I never will be Romeo.
Jul. What man art thou, that thus, bescreened in night, So stumblest on my counsel ?
Rom. By a name,
I know not how to tell thee who I am;
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee;
Had I it written, I would tear the word.
Jul. My ears have yet not drunk a hundred words
Of that tongue's uttering, yet I know the sound.
Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague ?
Rom. Neither, fair saint, if either thee dislike.
Jul. How com’st thou hither, tell me, and wherefore ? The orchard walls are high, and hard to climb; And the place death, considering who thou art, If any of my
kinsmen find thee here. Rom. With love's light wings, did I o'er-perch these walls, For stony limits cannot hold love out, And what love can do, that dares love attempt ; Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me.
Jul. If they do see thee, they will murder thee.
Rom. Alack! there lies more peril in thine eye Than twenty of their swords; look thou but sweet, And I am proof against their enmity.
Jul. I would not for the world they saw thee here.
Rom. I have night's cloak to hide me from their eyes ;
And but thou love me, let them find me here;
My life were better ended by their hate,
Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.
Jul. By whose direction found'st thou out this place?
Rom. By love, that first did prompt me to inquire;
He lent me counsel, and I lent him eyes.
I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore, washed by the furthest sea,
I would adventure for such merchandise.
Jul. Thou know'st the mask of night is on my face,
Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek,