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Thy service in some graver subject use,
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound:
Such where the deep transported mind may soar
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heaven's door
Look in, and see each blissful Deity
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
Listening to what unshorn Apollo sings
To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Immortal nectar to her kingly Sire;
Then, passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
And misty regions of wide air next under,
And hills of snow and lofts of pilèd thunder,
May tell at length how green-eyed Neptune raves,
In heaven's defiance mustering all his waves;
Then sing of secret things that came to pass
When beldam Nature in her cradle was;
And last of Kings and Queens and Heroes old,
Such as the wise Demodocus once told
In solemn songs at king Alcinoüs' feast,
While sad Ulysses' soul and all the rest
Are held, with his melodious harmony,
In willing chains and sweet captivity.
But fie, my wandering Muse, how thou dost stray!
Expectance calls thee now another way.
Thou know'st it must be now thy only bent
To keep in compass of thy Predicament.
Then quick about thy purposed business come,
That to the next I may resign my room.
Then Ens is represented as Father of the Predicaments, his ten
Sons; whereof the eldest stood for SUBSTANCE with his Canons;
which Ens, thus speaking, explains :-
Good luck befriend thee, son; for at thy birth
The faery Ladies danced upon the hearth.
The drowsy Nurse hath sworn she did them spy
Come tripping to the room where thou didst lie,
And, sweetly singing round about thy bed,
Strew all their blessings on thy sleeping head.
She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still
From eyes of mortals walk invisible.
Yet there is something that doth force my fear;
For once it was my dismal hap to hear
A Sibyl old, bow-bent with crooked age,
That far events full wisely could presage,
And, in Time's long and dark prospective-glass,
Foresaw what future days should bring to pass.
“Your Son," said she, "(nor can you it prevent)
Shall subject be to many an Accident.
O’er all his Brethren he shall reign as King;
Yet every one shall make him underling,
And those that cannot live from him asunder
Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under.
In worth and excellence he shall outgo them;
Yet, being above them, he shall be below them.
From others he shall stand in need of nothing,
Yet on his Brothers shall depend for clothing.
To find a foe it shall not be his hap,
And peace shall lull him in her flowery lap;
Yet shall he live in strife, and at his door
Devouring war shall never cease to roar;
Yea, it shall be his natural property
To harbour those that are at enmity.”
What power, what force, what mighty spell, if not
Your learned hands, can loose this Gordian knot?
The next, QUANTITY and QUALITY, spake in prose: then RELATION
was called by his name.
Rivers, arise: whether thou be the son
Of utmost Tweed, or Ouse, or gulfy Dun,
Or Trent, who, like some earth-born Giant, spreads
His thirty arms along the indented meads,
Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath,
Or Sevren swift, guilty of maiden's death,
Or rocky Avon, or of sedgy Lea,
Or coaly Tyne, or ancient hallowed Dee,
Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name,
Or Medway smooth, or royal-towered Thame.
The rest was prose.
EREWHILE of music, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of Air and Earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly Infant's birth,
My muse with Angels did divide to sing;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing,
In wintry solstice like the shortened light
Soon swallowed up in dark and long outliving night.
For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my Harp to notes of saddest woe,
Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,
Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so,
Which he for us did freely undergo:
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight!
He, sovran Priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly Tabernacle entered,
His starry front low-roofed beneath the skies:
Oh, what a mask was there, what a disguise !
Yet more: the stroke of death he must abide;
Then lies him meekly down fast by his Brethren's
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phæbus bound.
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, otherwhere are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound:
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.
Befriend me, Night, best Patroness of grief!
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flattered fancy to belief
That Heaven and Earth are coloured with my woe;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know:
The leaves should all be black whereon I write,
And letters, where my tears have washed, a wannish
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirled the prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting Cherub feels
To bear me where the Towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood.
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store,
And here, though grief my feeble hands up-lock,
Yet on the softened quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;
For sure so well instructed are my tears
That they would fitly fall in ordered characters.
Or, should I thence, hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their Echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguiled)
Might think the infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud. This Subject the Author finding to be above the years he had when
he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
(1630) What needs my Shakespeare, for his honoured bones, The labour of an age in pilèd stones? Or that his hollowed relics should be hid Under a star-ypointing pyramid ? Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame, What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name? Thou, in our wonder and astonishment, Hast built thyself a livelong monument. For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art, Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart Hath, from the leaves of thy unvalued book, Those Delphic lines with deep impression took; Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving, Dost make us marble, with too much conceiving; And, so sepulchred, in such pomp dost lie, That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.
ON THE UNIVERSITY CARRIER Who sickened in the time of his Vacancy, being forbid to go to
London by reason of the Plague.
(1631) HERE lies old Hobson. Death hath broke his girt, And here, alas ! hath laid him in the dirt; Or else, the ways being foul, twenty to one He's here stuck in a slough, and overthrown. 'T was such a shifter that, if truth were known, Death was half glad when he had got him down; For he had any time this ten years full Dodged with him betwixt Cambridge and The Bull. And surely Death could never have prevailed, Had not his weekly course of carriage failed; But lately, finding him so long at home, And thinking now his journey's end was come, And that he had ta'en up his latest Inn,