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The Muses' train (whereof yourself are chief)
Only to me participate their grief:
To sooth their humours I do lend them ears.
“He gives a poet, that his verses hears."
Till thy return, by hope they only live;
Yet had they all, they all away would give:
The world and they so ill-according be,
That wealth and poets never can agree.
Few live in court that of their good have care,
"The Muses' friends are everywhere so rare.
Some praise thy worth (that it did never know),
Only because the better sort do so,
Whose judgment never further doth extend,
Than it doth please the greatest to commend :
So great an ill upon desert doth chance,
When it doth pass by beastly ignorance.
Why art thou slack, whilst no man put his hand
To praise the mount where Surrey's towers must
Or who the groundsil of that work doth lay,
Whilst like a wand'rer thou abroad doth stray,
Clipp'd in the arms of some Italian dame,
When thou shouldst rear an Ilion to thy name?
When shall the Muses by fair Norwich dwell,
To be the city of the learned well ?
Or Phæbus' altars there with incense heap'd,
As once in Cyrrha or in Thebe kept?
Or when shall that fair hoof-plow'd spring distil
From great Mount Surrey, out of Leonard's Hill ?
Till thou return, the court I will exchange
For some poor cottage or some country grange,
Where to our distaves, as we sit and spin,
My maid and I will tell what things have been.
Our lutes unstrung shall hang upon the wall,
Our lessons serve
to wrap our tow withal, And pass the night, whiles winter-tales we tell, Of many things that long ago befell : Or tune such homely carols as were sung In country sport when we ourselves were young,
In pretty riddles to bewray our loves,
In questions, purpose, or in drawing gloves.
The noblest spirits, to virtue most inclined,
These here in court thy greatest want do find:
Others there be, on which we feed our eye,
Like arras-work, or such like imag'ry :
Many of us desire Queen Cath'rine's state
But very few her virtues imitate,
Then, as Ulysses' wife, write I to thee,
Make no reply, but come thyself to me.
How near I am now to a happiness
That earth exceeds not; not another like it.
The treasures of the deep are not so precious
As are the conceal'd comforts of a man
Lock'd up in woman's love. I scent the air
Of blessings when I come but near the house.
What a delicious breath marriage sends forth,
The violet bed's not sweeter! Happy wedlock
Is like a banqueting-house built in a garden,
On which the spring's chaste flowers take delight
To cast their modest odours
Now for a welcome
Able to draw men's envies upon man;
A kiss, now, that will hang upon my lip
As sweet as morning dew upon a rose,
And full as long.
BENJAMIN Jonson. 1574–1637.
FROM CYNTHIA'S REVELS.
QUEEN and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep;
Seated in thy silver chair,
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright.
Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia's shining orb was made
Heaven to clear, when day did close ; Bless us then with wished sight, Goddess excellently bright. Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal-shining quiver; Give unto the flying heart
Space to breathe, how short soever: Thou that makest a day of night, Goddess excellently bright,
Still to be neat, still to be dress'd,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be powder'd, still perfumed:
Lady, it is to be presumed,
Though art's hid causes are not found,
All is not sweet, all is not sound.
Give me a look, give me a face,
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:
Such sweet neglect more taketh me,
Than all th' adulteries of art;
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.
EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE, BISTER TO BIR
UNDERNEATH this marble herse
Lies the subject of all verse,
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Death, ere thou hast slain another,
Learn'd, and fair, and good as she,
Time shall throw his dart at thee.
ON LUCY, COUNTESS OF BEDFORD. This morning, timely rapt with holy fire,
I thought to form unto my zealous Muse What kind of creature I could most desire,
To honour, serve, and love; as poets use. I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise,
Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great; I meant the day-star should not brighter rise,
Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat. I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride ; I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
Fit in that softer bosom to reside. Only a learned and a manly soul
I purposed her; that should, with even pow'rs, The rock, the spindle, and the shears control
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours. Such when I meant to feign, and wish'd to see,
My Muse bade, Bedford write, and that was she.
DRINK to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst, that from the soul doth rise,
Doth ask a drink divine:
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee, late, a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope that there
It could not wither'd be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me:
Since when, it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.
BREAK, Phant'sie, from thy cave of cloud,
And spread thy purple wings; Now all thy figures are allow'd,
And various shapes of things ; Create of airy forms a stream, It must have blood, and naught of phlegm; And though it be a waking dream,
Yet let it like an odour rise
To all the senses here,
And fall like sleep upon their eyes,
Or music in their ear.
EPITAPH ON ELIZABETH L. H.
UNDERNEATH this stone doth lie
As much beauty as could die :
Which in life did harbour give
To more virtue than doth live.