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And they ere long I hope will have an end;
Or though they have not, much I do not care.
So this it was made me that question move,
And not suspect of honest Willy's love.
Alas! thou art exiled from thy flock,
And quite beyond the deserts here confin'd,
Hast nothing to converse with but a rock,
Or at least out-laws in their caves half pin’d;
And do'st thou at thy own misfortune mock,
Making thyself too, to thyself unkind ?
When heretofore we talk'd, we did embrace;
But now I scarce can come to see thy face.
Yet all that, Willy! is not worth thy sorrow,
For I have mirth here thou would'st not believe :
From deepest cares the highest joys I borrow.
If ought chance out this day may make me grieve,
I'll learn to mend or scorn it by to-morrow.
This barren place yields somewhat to relieve,
For I have found sufficient to content me,
And more true bliss than ever freedom lent me,
Are prisons then grown places of delight?
'Tis as the conscience of the prisoner is:
The very grates are able to affright
The guilty man, that knows his deeds amiss ;
All outward pleasures are exiled quite,
And it is nothing of itself but this :
Abhorred loneness, darkness, sadness, pains,
Numbn-cold, sharp hunger, scorching thirst,
Willy. And these are nothing?
Nothing yet to me:
Only my friend's restraint is all my pain;
And since I truly find my conscience free
From that my loneness too, I reap some gain.
But grant in this no discontentment be,
It doth thy wished liberty restrain ;
And to thy soul I think there's nothing nearer,
For I could never hear thee prize ought dearer.
True, I did ever set it at a rate
Too dear for any mortal's worth to buy:
'Tis not our greatest shepherd's whole estate
Shall purchase from me my least liberty ;
But I am subject to the powers of fate,
And to obey them is no slavery :
They may do much, but when they have done all,
Only my body they may bring in thrall.
And 'tis not that, my Willy ! 'tis my mind;
My mind's more precious freedom I so weigh,
A thousand ways they may my body bind,
In thousand thralls, but ne'er my mind betray;
And thence it is that I contentment find,
And bear with patience this my load away:
I'm still myself, and that I'd rather be,
Than to be lord of all these downs in fee.
Willy. Nobly resolv’d! and I do joy to hear't; For 'tis the mind of man indeed that's all : There's nought so hard but a brave heart will bear't; The guiltless men count great afflictions small : They'll look on death and torment, yet not fear't, Because they know ’tis rising so to fall.
Tyrants may boast they to much power are born, Yet he hath more that tyrannies can scorn.
'Tis right; but I no tyrannies endure,
Nor have I suffer'd ought worth name of care.
Whate'er thou'lt call't, thou may'st, but I am sure
Many more pine, that much less pained are.
Thy look, methinks, doth say thy meaning's pure,
And by this past I find what thou dost dare;
But I could never yet the reason know,
Why thou art lodged in this house of woe.
Nor I, by Pan! 'nor never hope to do;
But thus it pleases some, and I do guess
Partly a cause that moves them thereunto;
Which neither will avail me to express,
Nor thee to hear, and therefore let it go :
We must not say, they do so that oppress;
Yet I shall ne'er to sooth them or the times,
Injure myself by bearing others' crimes.
Then now thou may'st speak freely: there's none
hears, But he, whom I do hope, thou dost not doubt.
True; but if doors and walls have gotten ears,
And closet-whisperings may be spread about,
Do not blame him that in such causes fears
What in his passion he may blunder out:
In such a place, and such strict times as these,
Where what we speak is took as others please.
But yet to-morrow, if thou come this way,
I'll tell thee all my story to the end :
'Tis long, and now I fear thou canst not stay,
Because thy flock must water'd be and penn’d,
And night begins to muffle up the day;
Which to inform thee how alone I spend,
I'll only sing a sorry prisoner's lay
I fram'd this morn; which, though it suits no
Is such as fits me, and sad thraldom yields.
Well; I will set my kit another string,
And play unto it whilst that thou dost sing.
NOW that my body, dead-alive,
Bereav'd of comfort, lies in thrall,
Do thou, my soul ! begin to thrive,
And unto honey turn this gall;
So shall we both, through outward woe,
The way to inward comfort know.
As to the flesh we food do give
To keep in us this mortal breath ;