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3. DEATH. From death we rose to life; 'tis but the same, Thro' life to pass again from whence we came. With shame we see our passions can prevail, Where reason, certainty, and virtue fail : Honour, that empty name, can death despise ; Scorn'd love to death, as to a refuge, flies : And sorrow waits for death with longing eyes. Hope triumphs o'er the thoughts of death and fate ; Cheats fools, and flatters the unfortunate. We fear to lose what a small time must waste, Till life itself grows the disease at last : Begging for life, we beg for more decay, And to be long a dying only pray.
XCIII. MATTHEW PRIOR.
1. VANITY OF HUMAN THINGS. The workman here obey the master's call, To gild the turret and to paint the wall ; To mark the pavement there with various stone, And on the jasper steps to rear the throne : The spreading cedar that an age had stood, Supreme of trees and mistress of the wood, Cut down and carved my shining roof adorns, And Lebanon his ruined honour mourns.
A thousand artists show their cunning power,
To raise the wonders of the ivory tower:
A thousand maidens ply the purple loom,
To weave the bed and deck the regal room.
Till Tyre confesses her exhausted store,
That on her coast the murex is no more :
Till from the Parian isle and Libya's coast,
The mountains grieve their hopes of marble lost;
And India's woods return their just complaint:
Their brood decayed and want of elephant.
My full design with vast expense achieved,
I came, beheld, admired, reflected, grieved:
I chid the folly of my thoughtless haste;
For, the work perfected, the joy was past.
my new courts sad thought did still repair; And round my gilded halls hung hovering care.
In vain on silken beds I sought repose,
And restless oft from purple couches rose;
Vexatious thought stiĩl found my flying mind
Nor bound to limits nor to place confined :
Haunted my nights and terrified my days :
Stalked through my gardens, and pursued my ways,
Nor shut from artful bower, nor lost in winding maze.
Yet take thy bent, my soul; another sense
Indulge; add music to magnificence:
Essay, if harmony may grief control,
Or power of sound prevail upon the soul.
Often our seers and poets have confessed,
That music's force can tame the furious beast ;
Can make the wolf or foaming boar restrain
: the lion drop his crested mane,
Attentive to the song ; the lynx forget
His wrath to man and lick the minstrel's feet.
Are we, alas ! less savage yet than these ?
Else music, sure, may human cares appease.
I spake my purpose : and the cheerful choir
Parted their notes of harmony : the lyre
Softened the timbrel's noise : the trumpet's sound
Provoked the Dorian flute (both sweeter found
When mixed); the fife the viol’s notes refined,
And every strength with every grace was joined.
Each morn they waked me with a sprightly lay :
Of opening heaven they sung and gladsome day.
Each evening their repeated skill expressed
Scenes of repose and images of rest;
Yet still in vain : for music gather'd thought :
But how unequal the effects it brought!
The soft ideas of the cheerful note,
Lightly received, were easily forgot :
The solemn violence of the graver sound
Knew to strike deep and leave a lasting wound.
And now reflecting I with grief descry
The sickly lust of the fantastic eye;
How the weak organ is with seeing cloyed,
Flying ere night what it at noon enjoyed.
(unhappy search of thought :) I found
The fickle ear soon glutted with the sound,
Condemned eternal changes to pursue,
Tired of the last and eager of the new.
I bade the virgins and the youth advance,
To temper music with the sprightly dance.
In vain! too low the mimic motions seem;
What takes our heart, must merit our esteem.
Nature, I thought, performed too mean a part,
Forming her movements to the rules of art:
And vexed I found that the musician's hand
Had o'er the dancer's mind too great command.
If haply Abra's will be now inclined
To range the woods or chase the flying hind:
Soon as the sun awakes, the sprightly court
Leave their repose and hasten to the sport.
In lessen'd royalty and humbled state,
Thy king, Jerusalem, descends to wait
Till Abra comes.
She comes ! a milk-white steed,
Mixture of Persia's and Arabia's breed,
Sustains the nymph: her garments flying loose
(As the Sidonian maids or Thracian use)
Ànd half her knee and half her breast appear,
By art, like negligence, disclosed and bare.
Her left hand guides the hunting courser's fright
A silver bow she carries in her right:
And from the golden quiver at her side,
Rustles the ebon arrow's feathered pride.
Sapphires and diamonds on her front display
An artificial moon's encreasing ray.
Diana, huntrees, mistress of the groves,
The favourite Abra speaks and looks and moves.
Her as the present goddess I obey ;
Beneath her feet the captive game I lay,
The mingled chorus sings Diana's fame :
and horns in louder peels proclaim Her mystic praise: the vocal triumphs bound Against the hills : the hills reflect the sound.
If, tired this evening with the hunted woods,
To the large fish ponds or the glassy floods
Her mind tomorrow points: a thousand hands,
To-night employed, obey the king's commands.
Upon the watery beach an artful pile
Of planks is joined and forms a moving isle.
A golden chariot in the midst is set,
And silver cygnets seem to feel its weight.
Abra, bright queen, ascends her gaudy throne,
In semblance of the Grecian Venus known:
Tritons and sea-green Naiads round her move;
And sing in moving strains the force of love :
Whilst, as the approaching pageant does appear,
And echoing crowds speak mighty Venus near,
I, her adorer, too, devoutly stand
Fast on the utmost margin of the land,
With arms and hopes extended, to receive
The fancied goddess rising from the wave.
XCIV. SIR EDWARD SHERBURNE,
O thou eternal Mind! whose wisdom sees
And rules our changes by unchanged degrees;
As with delight on thy grave works we look,
Say, art thou too with our light follies took?
For when thy bounteous hand, in liberal showers
Each way diffused thy various blessings pours;
We catch at them with strife, as vain to sight
As children, when for nuts they scrambling fight.
This snatching at a sceptre breaks it ; he
That broken does ere he can grasp
see; The poor world seeming like a ball that lights Betwixt the hands of powerful opposites : Which, wbile they cantonise in their bold pride, They but an immaterial point divide. 0! 'whilst for wealthy spoils these fight, let me, Though poor, enjoy a happy peace with thee.
XCV. THOMAS HEYWOOD.
SONG OF THE SHEPHERDS.
We, that have known no greater state
Than this we live in, praise our fate ;
For courtly silks in cares are spent,
When country's russet breeds content.
The power of sceptres we admire,
But sheep-hooks for our own desire.
Simple and low is our condition,
For here with us is no ambition :
We with the sun our flocks unfold,
Whose rising makes their fleeces gold.
Our music from the birds we borrow,
They bidding us, we them, good morrow.
Our habits are but coa rse and plain,
Yet they defend from wind and rain.
As warm too, in an equal eye,
As those bestain’d in scarlet dye.
The shepherd with his home-spun lass
As many happy hours doth pass,
As courtiers with their costly girls,
Though richly deck'd in gold and pearls ;
And, though but plain, to purpose woo,
Nay, often with less danger too.
Those that delight in dainties' store.
One stomach feed at once, no more ;
And when with homely fare we feast,
With us as well it does digest;
And many times we better speed,
For our wild fruits no surfeits breed.
If we sometimes the willow wear,
By subtle swains that dare forswear,
We wonder whence it comes, and fear
They've been at court and learnt it there.
XCVI. THOMAS SOUTH ERN.
1. LYING. I couid betray him then, as he has me: But am I sure by that to right myself ?