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Though some churls at our mirth repine,
Round your foreheads garlands twine,
Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
And let us all be merry.




Now every lad is wondrous trim,
And no man minds his labour;
Our lasses have provided them
A bag-pipe and a tabor.

Young men and maids and girls and boys
Give life to one another's joys,

And you anon shall by their noise
Perceive that they are merry.

Rank misers now do sparing shun,
Their hall of music soundeth ;

And dogs thence with whole shoulders run,
So all things here aboundeth.

The country folk themselves advance,
For Crowdy-mutton's come out of France,
And Jack shall pipe, and Jill shall dance,
And all the town be merry.

Ned Swash hath fetched his bands from pawn, And all his best apparel;

Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn

With droppings of the barrel.

And those that hardly all the year
Had bread to eat or rags to wear,
Will have both clothes and dainty fare
And all the day be merry.





The wenches with their wassail-bowls
About the street are singing,
The boys are come to catch the owls,
The wild-mare in is bringing.

Our kitchen-boy hath broke his box,
And to the dealing of the ox
Our honest neighbours come by flocks,
And here they will be merry.





Then wherefore in these merry days
Should we I pray be duller?
No, let us sing our roundelays

To make our mirth the fuller;
And whilest thus inspired we sing
Let all the streets with echoes ring:
Woods, and hills, and every-thing
Bear witness we are merry.


[From Hallelujah.]

I On those great waters now I am,
Of which I have been told,
That whosoever thither came

Should wonders there behold.
In this unsteady place of fear,

Be present, Lord, with me;
For in these depths of water here
I depths of danger see.

2 A stirring courser now I sit,
A headstrong steed I ride,
That champs and foams upon the bit
Which curbs his lofty pride.

The softest whistling of the winds

Doth make him gallop fast;

And as their breath increased he finds
The more he maketh haste.

3 Take Thou, oh Lord! the reins in hand, Assume our Master's room;

Vouchsafe Thou at our helm to stand,
And pilot to become.

Trim Thou the sails, and let good speed
Accompany our haste;

Sound Thou the channels at our need,
And anchor for us cast.

4 A fit and favourable wind
To further us provide;

And let it wait on us behind,
Or lackey by our side.

From sudden gusts, from storms, from sands,
And from the raging wave;

From shallows, rocks, and pirates' hands,
Men, goods, and vessel save.

5 Preserve us from the wants, the fear, And sickness of the seas;

But chiefly from our sins, which are
A danger worse than these.
Lord! let us also safe arrive
Where we desire to be;
And for Thy mercies let us give
Due thanks, and praise to Thee.


I Now the glories of the year
May be viewed at the best,
And the earth doth now appear
In her fairest garments dress'd :

Sweetly smelling plants and flowers
Do perfume the garden bowers;
Hill and valley, wood and field,
Mixed with pleasure profits yield.
2 Much is found where nothing was,
Herds on every mountain go,
In the meadows flowery grass
Makes both milk and honey flow;
Now each orchard banquets giveth,
Every hedge with fruit relieveth ;
And on every shrub and tree
Useful fruits or berries be.

3 Walks and ways which winter marr'd
By the winds are swept and dried;
Moorish grounds are now so hard
That on them we safe may ride:
Warmth enough the sun doth lend us,
From his heat the shades defend us;
And thereby we share in these
Safety, profit, pleasure, ease.

4 Other blessings, many more,
At this time enjoyed may be,
And in this my song therefore
Praise I give, O Lord! to Thee:

Grant that this my free oblation
May have gracious acceptation,
And that I may well employ
Everything which I enjoy.


[Third part of Hallelujah.]

As this my carnal robe grows old,

Soil'd, rent, and worn by length of years, Let me on that by faith lay hold

Which man in life immortal wears :

So sanctify my days behind, So let my manners be refined, That when my soul and flesh must part, There lurk no terrors in my heart.

So shall my rest be safe and sweet
When I am lodgèd in my grave;
And when my soul and body meet,
A joyful meeting they shall have ;

Their essence then shall be divine, This muddy flesh shall starlike shine, And God shall that fresh youth restore Which will abide for evermore.


[BORN about 1588, died 1623. Christ's Victory and Triumph in Heaven and Earth over and after Death was published in 1640.]

Giles, the brother of Phineas, and cousin of John Fletcher, is one of the chief poets of what may be called the Spenserian School, which 'flourished' in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Spenser and Chaucer were the supreme names in nondramatic poetry till Milton arose; and in the Jacobean period the Plantagenet poet was eclipsed by the Elizabethan; and thus it was Spenser that the lesser poetic spirits of the age looked up to as their master, and upon their writings his influence is deeply impressed. Amongst these retainers of 'Colin' must be counted Milton when young, before he had developed his own style and become himself an original power, himself a master ; and not the least of the interests that distinguish Giles Fletcher and his fellow Spenserians is that Milton extended to them the study and attention which he gave with no ordinary sympathy to 'our sage and serious Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than Scotus and Aquinas.'

These words of Milton's suggest some leading characteristics of the Spenserian school. It too proposed to be 'sage and serious.' It inclined indeed to be didactic. In that notorious production, 'The Purple Island,' we have in fact a lecture on Anatomy. More commonly its purpose was directly ethical; and it must be allowed that the artist is at times lost in the moralist.

Giles Fletcher is eminently a religious poet—in the technical sense of the word, as happily also in the more general sense. He deals with Christian themes: 1' Christ's Victory in Heaven,' I 'Christ's Victory on Earth," Christ's Triumph over Death, Christ's Triumph after Death'; and it is his special distinction, that in handling such themes he does not sink into a mere rhyming dogmatist, but writes with a genuine enthusiasm and joy. For certainly what has commonly been written for 'religious' poetry has been 'religious' rather than poetical. Its orthodoxy may have

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