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So souls on meditations live,
And shun thereby immortal death ;
Nor art thou ever nearer rest,
Than when thou find'st me most opprest.
First think, my soul! if I have foes
That take a pleasure in my care,
And to procure these outward woes
Have thus entrapt me unaware,
Thou should'st by much more careful be,
Since greater foes lay wait for thee.
Then, when mew'd up in grates of steel,
Minding those joys mine eyes do miss,
Thou find'st no torment thou dost feel
So grievous as privation is;
Muse how the damn'd, in flames that glow,
Pine in the loss of bliss they know.
Thou seest there's given so great might
To some that are but clay as I,
Their very anger can affright;
Which, if in
espy, Thus think: if mortal's frowns strike fear, How dreadful will God's wrath appear !
By my late hopes, that now are crost,
Consider those that firmer be;
And make the freedom I have lost
A means that may remember Thee :
Had Christ not thy redeemer been,
What horrid thrall thou hadst been in !
These iron chairs, these bolts of steel,
Which other poor offenders grind,
The wants and cares which they do feel,
May bring some greater thing to mind;
For by their grief thou shalt do well
To think upon the pains of hell.
Or, when through me thou seest a man
Condemn’d unto a mortal death,
How sad he looks, how pale, how wan,
Drawing with fear his panting breath;
Think, if in that such grief thou see,
How sad will, Go, ye cursed! be.
Again, when he that fear'd to die,
Past hope, doth see his pardon brought,
Read but the joy that's in his eye,
And then convey it to thy thought;
There think, betwixt my heart and thee,
How sweet will, Come, ye blessed! be.
Thus if thou do, though closed here,
My bondage I shall deem the less,
I neither shall have cause to fear,
Nor yet bewail
For whether live, or pine, or die,
We shall have bliss eternally.
Trust me! I see the cage doth some birds good;
And, if they do not suffer too much wrong,
Will teach them sweeter descants than the wood.
Believe't! I like the subject of thy song :
It shews thou art in no distemper'd mood;
But cause to hear the residue I long,
My sheep to-morrow I will nearer bring,
And spend the day to hear thee talk and sing.
Yet ere we part, Philarete, areed
Of whom thou learn’dst to make such songs as these.
I never yet heard any shepherd's reed
Tune in mishap a strain that more could please.
Surely thou do'st invoke, at this thy need,
Some power that we neglect in other lays;
For here's a name and words, that but few swains.
Have mention'd at their meeting on the plains.
Philarete. Indeed 'tis true; and they are sore to blame That do so much neglect it in their songs; For thence proceedeth such a worthy fame As is not subject unto'envy's wrongs; That is the most to be respected name Of our true Pan, whose worth sits on all tongues,
And what the ancient shepherds used to praise In sacred anthems upon holidays."
He that first taught his music such a strain
Was that sweet shepherd* who, until a King,
Kept sheep upon the honey-milky plain,
That is enrich'd by Jordan's watering :
He in his troubles eas'd the body's pains,
By measures rais'd to the soul's ravishing;
And his sweet numbers only, most divine,
Gave first the being to this song of mine.
Let his good spirit ever with thee dwell,
That I might hear such music every day!
Thanks, swain! But hark, thy wether rings his bell,
And swains to fold or homeward drive away.
And yon goes Cuddy; therefore fare thou well !
I'll make his sheep for me a little stay;
And, if thou think it fit, I'll bring him too
Next morning hither
Prithee, Willy ! do.
Cuddy here relates, how all
Pity Philarete's thrall;
Who, requested, doth relate
The true cause of his estate ;
Which broke off, because 'twas long,
They begin a three-man song.
WILLY. CUDDY. PH'I'L A RETE.
LO, Philarete! thy old friend here, and I,
Are come to visit thee in these thy bands,
Whilst both our flocks, in an enclosure by,
Do pick the thin grass from the fallowed lands.
He tells me thy restraint of liberty
Each one throughout the country understands;
And there is not a gentle-natur'd lad
On all these downs, but for thy sake is sad.