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In this Monody the Author bewails a learned Friend, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637; and, by occasion, foretells the ruin of our corrupted Clergy, then in their height.
YET once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
With lucky words favour my destined urn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud!
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute;
Tempered to the oaten flute,
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel From the glad sound would not be absent long; And old Damotas loved to hear our song.
But, oh! 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.
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless 50 deep
Closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas?
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream.
"Had ye been there," . . . for what could that have
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,
Whom universal nature did lament,
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His gory visage down the stream was sent,
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
To scorn delights and live laborious days;
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed."
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honoured flood, Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned 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.
They knew not of his story;
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
He asked the waves, and asked the felon winds,
The air was calm, and on the level brine
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
(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!
Of other care they little reckoning make
A sheep-hook, or have learnt aught else the least 120 That to the faithful herdman's art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Daily devours apace, and nothing said.
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 flowerets of a thousand hues. Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks, On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks, Throw hither all your quaint enamelled eyes, That on the green turf suck the honeyed showers, 140 And purple all the ground with vernal flowers. Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies, The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine, The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet, The glowing violet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise,
Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more, For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor.