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THE ARGUMENT OF THE HESPERIDES.
I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
Of April, May, of June, and July-flowers;
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bride-grooms, brides, and of their bridal-cakes.
I write of Youth, of Love ;—and have access
By these, to sing of cleanly wantonness;
I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece,
Of balm, of oil, of spice, and ambergris.
I sing of times trans-shifting ; and I write
How roses first came red, and lilies white.
I write of groves, of twilights, and I sing
The court of Mab, and of the Fairy King.
I write of Hell ; I sing, and ever shall
Of Heaven,-and hope to have it after all.
WHEN HE WOULD HAVE HIS VERSES READ.
In sober mornings, do not thou rehearse
The holy incantation of a verse ;
But when that men have both well drunk, and fed,
Let my enchantments then be sung or read.
When laurel spirts i' th’ fire, and when the hearth
Smiles to itself, and gilds the roof with mirth;
When up the Thyrse is raised, and when the sound
Of sacred orgies, flies around, around;
When the rose reigns, and locks with ointments shine
Let rigid Cato read these lines of mine.
CORINNA'S GOING A MAYING,
Get up, get up for shame! the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each Aower has wept, and bow'd toward the east,
Above an hour since ; yet you not drest,
Nay! not so much as out of bed ?
When all the birds have matins said,
And sung their thankful hymns : 'tis sin,
Nay, profanation, to keep in,-
Whenas a thousand virgins on this day,
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.
Rise ; and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the Spring-time, fresh and green,
And sweet as Flora. Take no care
For jewels for your gown, or hair :
Fear not; the leaves will strew
Gems in abundance upon you :
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept :
Come, and receive them while the light
Hangs on the dew-locks of the night :
And Titan on the eastern hill
Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth. Wash, dress, be brief in praying :
Few beads are best, when once we go a Maying.
Come, my Corinna, come ; and coming, mark
How each field turns a street; each street a park
Made green, and trimm'd with trees : see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch : each porch, each door, ere this,
An ark, a tabernacle is
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove ;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street,
And open fields, and we not see't ?
Come, we'll abroad : and let's obey
The proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a Maying.
There's not a budding boy, or girl, this day,
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
A deal of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
Some have dispatch'd their cakes and cream,
Before that we have left to dream :
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth :
Many a green gown has been given ;
Many a kiss, both odd and even :
Many a glance, too, has been sent
From out the eye, love's firmament:
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick'd :-yet we're not a Maying.
-Come, let us go, while we are in our prime ;
And take the harmless folly of the time !
We shall grow old apace, and die
Before we know our liberty.
Our life is short; and our days run
As fast away as does the sun :-
And as a vapour, or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again :
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade ;
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drown'd with us in endless night.
-Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna! come, let's go a Maying.
Some ask'd me where the Rubies grew :
And nothing I did say,
But with my finger pointed to
The lips of Julia.
Some ask'd how Pearls did grow, and where :
Then spoke I to my girl,
To part her lips, and shew me there
The quarrelets of Pearl.
Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the misletoe ;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
The greener box, for show.
The holly hitherto did sway ;
Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter-day,
Or Easter's eve appear.
Then youthful box, which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew.
When yew is out, then birch comes in,
And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
To honour Whitsuntide.
Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift ; each thing his turn does hold ;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.
Her eyes the glow-worm lend thee,
The shooting stars attend thee ;
And the elves also,
Whose little eyes glow
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.
No Will-o’th’-Wisp mis-light thee,
Nor snake or slow-worm bite thee;
But on, on thy way,
Not making a stay,
Since ghost there's none to affright thee.
Let not the dark thee cumber;
What though the moon does slumber?
The stars of the night
Will lend thee their light,
Like tapers clear, without number.
Then, Julia, let me woo thee,
Thus, thus to come unto me ;
And when I shall meet
Thy silvery feet,
My soul I'll pour into thee.
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may:
Old Time is still a-flying ; And this same flower that smiles to-day,
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best, which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times, still succeed the former.
-Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry ;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.
Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do ye fall so fast?
Your date is not so past,
But you may stay yet here a-while,
To blush and gently smile ;
And go at last.