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Yet once more, O ye Laurels, and once more,
Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never sear,
I com to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
And with forc'd fingers rude
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear
Compels me to disturb your season due ;
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.
Who would not sing for Lycidas ? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not flote upon his watry bear
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Begin then, Sisters of the Sacred Well,
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring,
Begin, and somwhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain and coy excuse ;
So may som gentle Muse
With lucky words favour my destin'd urn,
And, as he passes, turn
And bid fair peace be to my sable shrowd ;
For we were nurst upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill ;
Together both, ere the high lawns appear’d
Under the opening eyelids of the Morn,
We drove a field, and both together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Batt’ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star that rose at ev’ning bright
Towards Heav'ns descent had slop'd his westering wheel.
Mean while the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to th’oaten flute,
Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns with clov'n heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long,
And old Damætas lov'd to hear our song.
But O the heavy change, now thou art gon,
Now thou art gon, and never must return !
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves
With wilde thyme and the gadding vine o'regrown
And all their echoes mourn.
The willows and the hazle copses green
Shall now no more. be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft layes.
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrop wear
When first the white thorn blows:
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds ear.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Clos'd o're the head of your lov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep
Where your old bards, the famous Druids ly,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wisard stream.
Ay me! I fondly dream !
Had ye bin there--for what could that have don?
What could the Muse her self that Orpheus bore,
The Muse her self, for her inchanting son,
Whom universal Nature did lament,
When by the rout that made the hideous roar
His goary visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore ?
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
To tend the homely slighted shepherds trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse ?
Were it not better don, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious dayes ;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life.
But not the praise,
Phæbus repli’d, and touch'd my trembling ears ;
Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watry floar;
So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky.
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of Him that walk'd the waves,
Where other groves and other streams along,
With nectar pure his oozy lock's he laves,
And hears the unexpressive nuptiall song
In the blest kingdoms meek of Joy and Love.
There entertain him all the saints above
In solemn troops and sweet societies,
That sing, and singing in their glory move,
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more ;
Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood.
Thus sang the uncouth swain to th’okes and rills,
While the still Morn went out with sandals grey ;
He touch'd the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Dorick lay ;
And now the sun had stretch'd out all the hills,
And now was dropt into the western bay;
At last he rose, and twitch'd his mantle blew ;
To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new.
All humane things are subject to decay,
And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey.
This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young
Was call’d to empire and had govern'd long,
In prose and verse was owned without dispute
Through all the realms of Nonsense absolute.
This aged prince, now flourishing in peace
And blest with issue of a large increase,
Worn out with business, did at length debate
To settle the succession of the state ;
And pond'ring which of all his sons was fit
To reign and wage immortal war with wit,
Cry'd, “ 'Tis resolved, for Nature pleads that he
“Should onely rule who most resembles me.
“Shadwell alone my perfect image bears,
“Mature in dulness from his tender years ;
“Shadwell alone of all my sons is he
“Who stands confirm'd in full stupidity.
“The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
“But Shadwell never deviates into sense.
Some beams of wit on other souls may fall,
“Strike through and make a lucid intervall ;
“ But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray,
“His rising fogs prevail upon the day.
“Besides, his goodly fabrick fills the eye
"And seems designed for thoughtless majesty,
as monarch oakes that shade the plai “And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign.
Whose righteous lore the prince had practis'd young
And from whose loyns recorded “Psyche” sprung.
His temples, last, with poppies were o’erspread,
That nodding seemed to consecrate his head.
Just at that point of time, if fame not lye,
On his left hand twelve reverend owls did fly.
So Romulus, 'tis sung, by Tyber's brook,
Presage of sway from twice six vultures took.
The admiring throng loud acclamations make,
And omens of his future empire take.
The syre then shook the honours of his head,
And from his brows damps of oblivion shed
Full on the filial dulness ; long he stood,
Repelling from his breast the raging God;
At length burst out in this prophetick mood :
“Heavens bless my son! from Ireland let him reign
“ To far Barbadoes on the western main ;
“Of his dominion may no end be known
“And greater than his father's be his throne ;
• Beyond ‘Love's Kingdom' let him stretch his pen!”
He paus’d, and all the people cry'd “Amen."
Then thus continu'd he: “ My son, advance
“ Still in new impudence, new ignorance.
“Success let others teach, learn thou from me
Pangs without birth and fruitless industry.
“Let · Virtuoso's' in five years be writ,
“Yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit.
“Let gentle George in triumph tread the stage,
“Make Dorimant betray, and Loveit rage ;
“ Let Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit,
“ And in their folly show the writers wit.
“ Yet still thy fools shall stand in thy defence
“ And justify their author's want of sense.
“Let 'em be all by thy own model made
“ Of dulness, and desire no foreign aid,
“ That they to future ages may be known,
“ Not copies drawn, but issue of thy own.
Nay, let thy men of wit too be the same, “ All full of thee and differing but in name. “ But let no alien Sedley interpose “ To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose.' “ And when false flowers of rhetoric thou would'st cull, “ Trust nature, do not labour to be dull;