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supposed to have been written, like the preceding ones, at Horton, in Buckinghamshire.
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.
Begin, then, sisters of the sacred well,
With lucky words favor my destin'd urn,
And bid fair peace to be my sable shroud:
For we were nurst upon the self-same hill,
Tow'rds heav'n's descent had slop'd his west'ring wheel.
Temper'd to the oaten flute;
Rough Satyrs danc'd; and Fauns with cloven heel
But, O the heavy change, now thou art gone,
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
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 deep
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream :19
Had ye been there-for what could that have done?
Whom universal Nature did lament,
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
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 Neæra's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise (That last infirmity of noble minds) 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 reply'd, and touch'd my trembling ears; "Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glist'ning foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumor lies,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed."
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honor'd-blood, 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;
He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds,
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
Built in the eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
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 inscrib'd with woe.20 "Ah! who hath reft," quoth he, "my dearest pledge?" Last came and last did go.21
The pilot of the Galilean lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain
(The golden opes, and iron shuts amain),
He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake:
"How well could I have spar'd for thee, young swain,
"And shove away the worthy bidden guest;
"Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold "A sheep-hook, or have learn'd aught else the least
"That to the faithful herdman's art belongs!
"What recks it then? What need they? They are sped;
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs "Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw; "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed;
"But swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw,
"Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
The musk-rose, and the well-attir'd woodbine,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise.-
Where thou perhaps, under the whelming tide,
Where the great Vision of the guarded Mount26
Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth:
Weep no more, woful Shepherds, weep no more,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor;
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,
Now Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more;
Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,
At last he rose, and twitch'd his mantle blue:
16" Without the meed of some melodious tear."-Catullus uses the word in a like sense, when alluding to the elegies of Simonides in his touching expostulation with his friend, Cornificius, whom he requests to come and see him during a time of depression:
Paulum quid lubet allocutionis
Prythee a little talk for ease, for ease,
17 66 Begin, and somewhat loudly," &c.
The first of these lines has a poor prosaic effect, like one of the inane mixtures of familiarity and assumed importance in the "Pindaric" writers of the age. And "hence with denial vain" is a very unnecessary piece of harshness towards the poor Muses, who surely were not disposed to ill-treat the young poet.
18 “Clos'd o'er the head," &c.—The very best image of drowning he could have chosen, especially during calm weather, both as regards sufferer and spectator. The combined sensations of darkness, of liquid enclosure, and of the final interposition of a heap of waters between life and the light of day, are those which most absorb the faculties of a drowning person. Haud insubmersus loquor.
19" Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream."-The river Dee, in Spenser's and Drayton's poetry, and old British history, is celebrated for its ominous character and its magicians.