Norman Harold Hepple.

Lyrical forms in English; online

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ELEGIES

170. The Lamentation of David over Jonathan and
Saul

The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places :

How are the mighty fallen !

Tell it not in Gath,
Publish it not in the streets of Askelon ;
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew,
Neither let there be rain among you,

Nor fields of offerings :
For there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away,

The shield of Saul,

As though he had not been anointed with oil.
J^TFrom the blood of the slain,
f' From the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan turned not back,
And the sword of Saul returned not empty.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided.

They were swifter than eagles,

They were stronger than lions,

214



THE BIBLE and EDMUND SPENSER

Ye daughters of Israel,

Weep over Saul,

Who clothed you in scarlet with other delights,
Who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.

How are the mighty fallen

In the midst of battle !

Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.

1 am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan :

Very pleasant hast thou been unto me :
Thy love to me was wonderful,
Passing the love of women.

How are the mighty fallen

And the weapons of war perished !

THE BIBLE j 2 Samuel i. 19 27



171. Dido Dead from the November of The Shep-
beard's Calender



Up, then, Melpomene ! the mournefulst Muse of nyne,

Such cause of mourning never hadst afore ;
Up, grieslie ghostes ! and up my rufull ryme !

Matter of myrth now shalt thou have no more ;
For dead she is, that myrth thee made of yore.
Dido, my deare, alas ! is dead,
Dead, and lyeth wrapt in lead.

O heavie herse !

Let streaming teares be poured out in store ;
O carefull verse !



Shepheards, that by your flocks on Kentish downes abyde,
Waile ye this wofull waste of Natures warke ;

Waile we the wight whose presence was our pryde ;
Waile we the wight whose absence is our carke ;
The sonne of all the world is dimme and darke :

215



EDMUND SPENSER

The earth now lacks her wonted light,
And all we dwell in deadly night.

O heavie herse !

Breake we our pypes, that shrild as lowde as Larke ;
O care full verse !

3

Why do we longer live, (ah ! why live we so long ?)
Whose better dayes death hath shut up in woe ?
The fayrest floure our gyrlond all emong
Is faded quite, and into dust ygoe.
Sing now, ye shepheards daughters, sing no moe

The songs that Colin made you in her prayse,
But into weeping turne your wanton layes.

O heavie herse !

Now is time to dye : nay, time was long ygoe :
O carefull verse!

4
Whence is it, that the flouret of the field doth fade,

And lyeth buryed long in Winters bale ;
Yet, soone as spring his mantle hath displayde,
It floureth fresh, as it should never fayle ?
But thing on earth that is of most availe,

As vertues braunch and beauties budde,
Reliven not for any good.

O heavie herse !

The braunch once dead, the budde eke needes must quaile;
O carefull verse !

5

O thou great shepheard, Lobbin, how great is thy griefe !

Where bene the nosegayes that she dight for thee ?
The colourd chaplets wrought with a chiefe,

The knotted rush-ringes, and gilt Rosmaree ?
For she deemed nothing too deere for thee.
Ah ! they bene all yclad in clay ;
One bitter blast blewe all away.

O heavie herse !

Thereof nought remaynes but the memoree ;
O carefull verse !

216



EDMUND SPENSER



Ay me ! that dreerie Death should strike so mortall stroke,

That can undoe Dame Natures kindly course ;
The faded lockes fall from the loftie oke,

The flouds do gaspe, for dryd is theyr sourse,
And flouds of teares flowe in theyr stead perforse :
The mantled medowes mourne,
Theyr sondry colours tourne,

O heavie herse !

The heavens doe melt in teares without remorse ;
O carefull verse !



But maugre death, and dreaded Sisters deadly spight,

And gates of hel, and fyrie furies forse,
She hath the bonds broke of eternall night,

Her soule unbodied of the burdenous corpse.
Why then weepes Lobbin so without remorse ?
O Lobb ! thy losse no longer lament ;
Dido nis dead, but into heaven hent.

O happy herse !

Cease now, my Muse, now cease thy sorrowes sourse;
O joy full verse !



8

Why wayle we then ? why weary we the Gods with playnts,

As if some evill were to her betight ?
She raignes a goddesse now emong the saintes,

That whilome was the saynt of shepheards light,
And is enstal!6d nowe in heavens hight.
I see thee, blessed soule, I see
Walke in Elisian fieldes so free.

O happy herse !

Might I once come to thee, (O that I might !)
O joyfull verse !

217



EDMUND SPENSER and JOHN MILTON



Dido is gone afore ; (whose turne shall be the next ?)

There lives she with the blessed Gods in blisse,
There drincks she Nectar with Ambrosia mixt,

And joyes enjoyes that mortall men doe misse.
The honor now of highest gods she is,

That whilome was poore shepheards pryde,
While here on earth she did abyde.

O happy herse !

Cease now, my song, my woe now wasted is ;
O joyfull verse !

E. SPENSER



172. Lycidas

" In this Monody the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately
drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish seas, 1637."

Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,

Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never-sere,

I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,

And with forc'd ringers 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 10

Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.

He must not float upon his wat'ry bier

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 somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain and coy excuse:
So may some gentle Muse

218



JOHN MILTON

With lucky words favour my destin'd urn; so

And, as he passes, turn,

And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.

For we were nurst upon the self-same hill,

Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill.

Together both, ere the high lawns appeared

Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,

We drove afield, 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, 30

Toward heaven's descent had slop'd his westering wheel.

Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,

Temper'd to the oaten flute;

Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns with cloven heel

From the glad sound would not be absent long,

And old Damoetas loved to hear our song.

But O the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone, and never must return!
Thee shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown, 40

And all their echoes, mourn:
The willows and the hazel copses green
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays:
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the white-thorn blows;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear.

Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep 50
Closed o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep
Where your old bards, the famous Druids, He,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream:
Ay me, I fondly dream

219



JOHN MILTON

Had ye been there for what could that have done?

What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,

The Muse herself, for her enchanting son

Whom universal Nature did lament, 60

When by the rout that made the hideous roar

His gory visage down the stream was sent,

Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore?

Alas! what boots it with incessant care

To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade,

And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?

Were it not better done, as others use,

To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,

Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair?

Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise 70

(That last infirmity of noble mind),

To scorn delights, and live laborious days;

But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,

And think to burst out into sudden blaze,

Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears,

And slits the thin-spun life. " But not the praise,"

Phoebus replied, and touch'd my trembling ears;

"Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,

Nor in the glistering foil

Set off to th' world, nor in broad rumour lies; 80

But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes

And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;

As he pronounces lastly on each deed,

Of so much fame in heaven expect they meed."

O fountain Arethuse, and thou honour'd flood,
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocal reeds,
That strain I heard was of a higher mood:
But now my oat proceeds,
And listens to the herald of the sea

That came in Neptune's plea; 90

He ask'd the waves and ask'd the felon winds,
What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain?
And question'd every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beaked promontory:
They knew not of his story;

220



JOHN MILTON

And sage Hippotades their answer brings;

That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd,

The air was calm, and on the level brine

Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd.

It was that fatal and perfidious bark 100

Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,

That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.



Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow,
His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge
Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge
Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe:
"Ah! who hath reft," quoth he, "my dearest pledge?"
Last came, and last did go
The pilot of the Galilean lake;

Two massy keys he bore of metals twain, no

(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain);
He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake :
"How well could I have spared for thee, young swain,
Enow of such as for their bellies' sake
Creep and intrude and climb into the fold!"



Return Alpheus, the dread voice is past,
That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse,
And call the vales, and bid them hither cast
Their bells and flow'rets of a thousand hues.
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use 120

Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks,
Throw hither all your quaint enamell'd eyes
That on the green turf suck the honied show'rs
And purple all the ground with vernal flow'rs.
Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freak' d with jet,
The glowing violet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attir'd wood-bine, 130

221



JOHN MILTON

With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,

And every flower that sad embroidery wears :

Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed,

And daffodillies fill their cups with tears,

To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.

For so to interpose a little ease,

Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise;

Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas

Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurl'd,

Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides, 140

Where thou perhaps, under the whelming tide,

Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;

Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied,

Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,

Where the great Vision of the guarded mount

Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold;

Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth:

And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth !

Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more;
For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead, 150

Sunk though he be beneath the wat'ry floor;
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 locks he laves,
And hears the unexpressive nuptial song 160

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.

222



JOHN MILTON and ABRAHAM COWLEY

Thus sang the uncouth swain to th' oaks and rills, 170
While the still morn went out with sandals grey;
He touch'd the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Doric 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 blue:
To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.

J. MILTON

173. On the Death of Mr William Hervey

i

It was a dismal and a fearful night,

Scarce could the Morn drive on th' unwilling light,

When sleep, death's image, left my troubled breast,

By something liker death possest.
My eyes with tears did uncommanded flow,

And on my soul hung the dull weight

Of some intolerable fate.
What bell was that? Ah me! Too much I know!

2

My sweet companion, and my gentle peer,
Why hast thou left me thus unkindly here,
Thy end for ever, and my life, to moan?

O, thou hast left me all alone !
Thy soul and body, when death's agony

Besieged around thy noble heart,

Did not with more reluctance part
Than I, my dearest friend, do part from thee.

3

Ye fields of Cambridge, our dear Cambridge, say,
Have ye not seen us, walking every day?
Was there a tree about, which did not know

The- love betwixt us two ?
Henceforth, ye gentle trees, for ever fade,

Or your sad branches thicker join,

And into darksome shades combine,
Dark as the grave wherein my friend is laid.

223



ABRAHAM COWLEY

4

Large was his soul; as large a soul as e'er
Submitted to inform a body here;
High as the place 'twas shortly in Heaven to have,

But low and humble as his grave;
So high that all the virtues there did come

As to the chiefest seat

Conspicuous and great;
So low that for me too it made a room.

5

Knowledge he only sought, and so soon caught,
As if for him knowledge had rather sought;
Nor did more learning ever crowded lie

In such a short mortality.
Whene'er the skilful youth discoursed or writ,

Still did the notions throng

About his eloquent tongue;
Nor could his ink flow faster than his wit.

6

His mirth was the pure spirits of various wit,

Yet never did his God or friends forget;

And, when deep talk and wisdom came in view,

Retired, and gave to them their due.
For the rich help of books he always took,

Though his own searching mind before

Was so with notions written o'er,
As if wise Nature had made that her book.

7

With as much zeal, devotion, piety,

He always lived, as other saints do die.

Still with his soul severe account he kept,
Weeping all debts out ere he slept.

Then down in peace and innocence he lay,
Like the sun's laborious light,
Which still in water sets at night,

Unsullied with his journey of the day.

A. COWLEY



224



ALEXANDER POPE



174. Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady

What beck'ning ghost, along the moonlight shade

Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade ?

'Tis she ! but why that bleeding bosom gored ?

Why dimly gleams the visionary sword ?

Oh, ever beauteous, ever friendly ! tell,

Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well ?

To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,

To act a lover's or a Roman's part ?

Is there no bright reversion in the sky,

For those who greatly think, or bravely die ? 10

Why bade ye else, ye pow'rs ! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire ?
Ambition first sprung from your blessed abodes ;
The glorious fault of angels and of gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen pris'ners in the body's cage ;
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres; 20

Like Eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And, close confined to their own palace, sleep.

From these, perhaps, (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatched her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And sep'rate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.

But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou mean deserter of thy brother's blood! 3 o

See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks now fading at the blast of death;
Cold is that breast which warmed the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.

What can atone, oh ever-injured shade !
Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid ?



H.



225



ALEXANDER POPE

No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear

Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier.

By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed;

By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed; 40

By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,

By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned !

What though no friends in sable weeds appear,

Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,

And bear about the mockery of woe

To midnight dances and the public show ?

What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace,

Nor polished marble emulate thy face ?

What though no sacred earth allow thee room,

Nor hallowed dirge be muttered o'er thy tomb? 50

Yet shall thy grave with rising flow'rs be dressed,

And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:

There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow;

There the first roses of the year shall blow;

While angels with their silver wings o'ershade

The ground, now sacred by thy reliques made.

So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How loved, how honoured once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot ; 60

A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !

Poets themselves must fall like those they sung,
Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue.
Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays,
Shall shortly want the gen'rous tear he pays;
Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part,
And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart,
Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er,
The muse forgot, and thou beloved no more ! 70

A. POPE



226



THOMAS GRAY
175. Elegy written in a Country Churchyard



The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,

The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.



Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,

Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:

3

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower

The moping owl does to the moon complain

Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

4
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,

The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

5

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,

The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,

The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.



For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care ;

No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

P2 227



THOMAS GRAY

7
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,

Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke ;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!

How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke !

8

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure ;

Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the Poor.

9
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

10
Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault,

If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault

The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

ii

Can storied urn or animated bust

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?

Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,

Or Flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of Death ?

12

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;

Hands that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre :

J3

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of Time, did ne'er unroll ;

Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

228



THOMAS GRAY



Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear ;

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

15
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast

The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest,

Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.

16
Th' applause of listening senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their history in a nation's eyes

*7
Their lot forbad: nor circumscrib'd alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade thro' slaughter to a throne,

And shut the Gates of Mercy on Mankind;

18
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,

To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride

With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

19
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife

Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray ;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

20

Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,

Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,

Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

229



THOMAS GRAY

21

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse
The place of fame and elegy supply :

And many a holy text around she strews
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

22
For who, to dumb forgetful ness a prey,

This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?

23
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,

E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

24
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale relate ;
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,

Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

25
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,

" Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,

To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;

26
" There at the foot of yonder nodding beech

That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch,

And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

27
" Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,

Mutt'ring his wayward fancies would he rove;
Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn,

Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

230



THOMAS GRAY and WILLIAM COWPER

28

" One morn I miss'd him from the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his fav'rite tree ;

Another came; nor yet beside the rill,

Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he :

29

" The next with dirges due in sad array

Slow through the Church-way Path we saw him borne,
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay

Grav'd on the stone beneath yon agd thorn."

THE EPITAPH

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth,
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown',

Fair Science frown d not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy marked him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere ;

Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,


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