MUSAEUS: A MONODY TO THE MEMORY of Mr. POPE.
In Imitation of MILTON'S Lycidas.
1 SOrrowing I catch the reed, and call the Muse;
2 If yet a Muse on Britain's plain abide,
3 Since rapt MUSAEUS tun'd his parting strain:
4 With him they liv'd, with him perchance they dy'd.
5 For who e'er since their virgin train espy'd,
6 Or on the banks of Thames, or that mild plain,
7 Where Isis sparkles to the sunny ray?
8 Or have they deign'd to play,
9 Where Camus winds along his broider'd vale,
10 Feeding each white pink, and each daisie pied,
11 That mingling paint his rushy-fringed side?
12 Yet ah! celestial maids, ye are not dead;
13 Immortal as ye are, ye may not die:
14 And well I ween, ye cannot quite be fled,
15 Ere ye entune his mournful elegy.
16 Stay then awhile, O stay, ye fleeting fair;
17 Revisit yet, nor hallow'd Hippocrene,
18 Nor Thespia's shade; till your harmonious teen
19 Be grateful pour'd on some slow-ditted air,
20 Such tribute paid, again ye may repair
21 To what lov'd haunt you whilom did erect;
22 Whether Lycaeus, or that mountain fair
23 Trim Maenelaus, with piny verdure deck'd.
24 But now it boots you not in these to stray,
25 Or yet Cyllene's hoary shade to chuse,
26 Or where mild Ladon's swelling waters play.
27 Forego each vain excuse,
28 And haste to Thames's shores; for Thames shall join
29 Our sad society, and passing mourn,
30 Letting cold tears bedew his silver urn.
31 And, when the poet's wither'd grot he laves,
32 His reed-crown'd locks shall shake, his head shall bow,
33 His tide no more in eddies blithe shall rove,
34 But creep soft by with long-drawn murmurs slow.
35 For oft the poet rous'd his charmed waves
36 With martial notes, or lull'd with strains of love.
37 He must not now in brisk meanders flow
38 Gamesome, and kiss the sadly-silent shore,
39 Without the loan of some poetick woe.
40 Can I forget, how erst his osiers made
41 Sad sullen musick, as bleak Eurus fann'd?
42 Can I forget, how gloom'd yon laureat shade,
43 Ere death remorseless wav'd his ebon wand?
44 How, midst yon grot, each silver-trickling spring
45 Wander'd the shelly channels all among;
46 While as the coral roof did softly ring
47 Reponsive to their sweetly-doleful song?
48 Meanwhile all pale th' expiring poet laid,
49 And sunk his aweful head,
50 While vocal shadows pleasing dreams prolong:
51 For so, his sick'ning spirits to release,
52 They pour'd the balm of visionary peace.
53 First, sent from Cam's fair banks, like Palmer old,
a Tityrus, &c.] i. e. CHAUCER, a name frequently given him by Spenser. Vide Shep. Cal. Ecl. 2.6.12. and elsewhere. TITYRUS slow, with head all silver'd o'er,
55 And in his hand an oaken crook he bore,
56 And thus in antique guise short talk did hold.
57 "Grete clerk of Fame' is house, whose excellence
58 "Maie wele befitt thilk place of eminence,
59 "Mickle of wele betide thy houres last,
60 "For mich gode wirkè to me don and past.
61 "For syn the daies whereas my lyre ben strongen,
62 "And deftly many a mery laie I songen,
63 "Old Time, which alle things don maliciously,
64 "Gnawen with rusty tooth continually,[Page 306]
65 "Gnattrid my lines, that they all cancrid ben,
66 "Till at the last thou smoothen 'hem hast again;
67 "Sithence full semely gliden my rhymes rude,
68 "As, (if fitteth thilk similitude)
69 "Whannè shallow brooke yrenneth hobling on,
70 "Ovir rough stones it maken full rough song:
71 "But, them stones removen, this lite rivere
72 "Stealen forth by, making pleasant murmere:
73 "So my sely rhymes, whoso may them note,
74 "Thou maken everichone to ren right sote;
75 "And in my verse entuneth so fetisely,
76 "That men sayen I make trewe melody,
77 "And speaken every dele to myne honoure,
78 "Mich wele, grete clerk, betide thy parting houre! "
79 He ceas'd his homely rhyme.
b Colin Clout. ] i. e. SPENSER, which name he gives himself throughout his works. COLIN CLOUT, Eliza's shepherd swain,
81 The blithest lad that ever pip'd on plain,
82 Came with his reed soft-warbling on the way,
83 And thrice he bow'd his head with motion mild,
84 And thus his gliding numbers 'gan essay.
c The two first stanzas of this speech, as they relate to Pastoral, are written in the measure which Spenser uses in the first eclogue of the Shepherd's Calendar; the rest, where he speaks of Fable, are in the stanza of the Faery Queen. "Ah! luckless swain, alas! how art thou lorn,
86 "Who once like me could'st frame thy pipe to play
87 "Shepherds devise, and chear the ling'ring morn:
88 "Ne bush, ne breere, but learnt thy roundelay.[Page 307]
89 "Ah plight too sore such worth to equal right!
90 "Ah worth too high to meet such piteous plight!
91 "But I nought strive, poor Colin, to compare
92 "My Hobbin's, or my Thenot's rustick skill
93 "To thy deft Swains, whose dapper ditties rare
94 "Surpass ought else of quaintest shepherd's quill.
95 "Ev'n Roman Tityrus, that peerless wight,
96 "Mote yield to thee for dainties of delight.
97 "Eke when in Fable's flow'ry path you stray'd,
98 "Masking in cunning feints Truth's splendent face;
99 "Ne Sylph, ne Sylphid, but due tendence paid,
100 "To shield Belinda's lock from felon base,
101 "But all mote nought avail such harm to chase,
102 "Than Una fair 'gan droop her princely mein,
103 "Eke Florimel, and all my Faery race:
104 "Belinda far surpast by beauties sheen,
105 "Belinda, subject meet for such soft lay I ween.
106 "Like as in villag'd troop of birdlings trim,
107 "Where Chanticleer his red crest high doth hold,
108 "And quaking Ducks, that wont in lake to swim,
109 "And Turkeys proud, and Pigeons nothing bold;[Page 308]
110 "If chance the Peacock doth his plumes unfold
111 "Eftsoons their meaner beauties all decaying,
112 "He glist'neth purple, and he glist'neth gold,
113 "Now with bright green, now blue himself arraying.
114 "Such is thy beauty bright, all other beauties swaying.
115 "But why do I descant this toyish rhyme,
116 "And fancies light in simple guise pourtray?
117 "Listing to chear thee at this rueful time,
118 "While as black Death doth on thy heartstrings prey.
119 "Yet rede aright, and if this friendly lay
120 "Thou nathless judgest all too slight and vain,
121 "Let my well-meaning mend my ill essay:
122 "So may I greet thee with a nobler strain,
123 "When soon we meet for aye, in yon star-sprinkled plain."
124 Last came a bard of more exalted tread,
d Hight Thyrsis] i. e. MILTON. Lycidas, and the Epitaphium Damonis are the only Pastorals we have of Milton's; in the latter of which, where he laments Car. Deodates under the name of Damon, he calls himself Thyrsis. THYRSIS hight by Dryad, Fawn, or Swain,
126 Whene'er he mingled with the sylvan train;
127 But seldom that; for higher thoughts he fed;
128 For him full oft the heav'nly Muses led
129 To clear Euphrates, and the secret mount,
130 To Araby, and Eden, fragrant climes;
131 All which the sacred bard would oft recount:[Page 309]
132 And thus in strain, unus'd in grove or shade,
133 To sad MUSAEUS rightful homage paid.
134 "Thrice hail, thou heav'n-taught warbler, last and best
135 "Of all the train! Poet, in whom conjoin'd
136 "All that to ear, or heart, or head, could yield
137 "Rapture; harmonious, manly, clear, sublime!
138 "Accept this gratulation: may it chear
139 "Thy sinking soul; nor these corporeal ills
140 "Ought daunt thee, or appall. Know, in high heav'n
141 "Fame blooms eternal o'er that spirit divine,
142 "Who builds immortal verse. There thy bold Muse,
143 "Which while on earth could breathe Maeonian fire,
144 "Shall soar seraphick heights; while to her voice
145 "Ten thousand Hierarchies of angels harp
146 "Symphonious, and with dulcet harmonies
147 "Usher the song rejoicing. I meanwhile,
148 "To sooth thee in these irksome hours of pain,
149 "Approach thy visitant, with mortal laud
150 "To praise thee mortal. First, (as first beseems)
151 "For rhyme subdu'd; rhyme, erst the minstrel rude
152 "Of Chaos, Anarch old: she near his throne
153 "Oft taught the rattling elements to chime
154 "With tenfold din; till late to earth upborn
155 "On strident wing, what time fair poesie
156 "Emerg'd from Gothick cloud, and faintly shot
157 "Rekindling gleams of lustre. Her the fiend
158 "Oppress'd; forcing to utter uncouth dirge,
159 "Runick, or Leonine; and with dire chains[Page 310]
160 "Fetter'd her scarce-fledg'd pinion. I such bonds
161 "Aim'd to destroy, mistaking: bonds like these
162 "'Twere greater art t' ennoble, and refine.
163 "For this superior part MUSAEUS came:
164 "Thou cam'st, and at thy magick touch the chains
165 "Off dropt, and (passing strange!) soft-wreathed bands
166 "Of flow'rs their place supply'd! which well the Muse
167 "Might wear for choice, not force; obstruction none,
168 "But loveliest ornament. Wond'rous this, yet here
169 "The wonder rests not; various argument
170 "Remains for me, all doubting, where to cull
171 "The primal grace, where countless graces charm.
172 "Various this peaceful scene, this mineral roof;
173 "This 'semblance meet of coral, ore, and shell;
174 "These pointed crystals fair, 'mid each obscure
175 "Bright glist'ring; all these slowly-dripping rills,
176 "That tinkling stray amid the cooly cave.
177 "Yet not this various peaceful scene; with this
178 "Its mineral roof; nor this assemblage meet
179 "Of coral, ore, and shell; nor 'mid th' obscure
180 "These pointed crystals, glist'ring fair; nor rills,
181 "That straying tinkle thro' the cooly cave;
182 "Deal charms more various to each raptur'd sense,
183 "Than thy mellifluous lay —"
184 "Cease, friendly swain;
185 (MUSAEUS cry'd, and rais'd his aching head)
186 "All praise is foreign, but of true desert;
187 "Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.[Page 311]
188 "Ah! why recall the toys of thoughtless youth?
189 "When flow'ry fiction held the place of truth:
190 "When fancy rul'd; when trill'd each trivial strain,
191 "But idly sweet, and elegantly vain.
192 "O! in that strain, if all of wit had flow'd,
193 "All musick warbled, and all beauty glow'd;
194 "Had liveliest nature, happiest art combin'd,
195 "That lent each grace, and this each grace refin'd;
196 "Alas! how little were my proudest boast!
197 "The sweetest trifler of my tribe at most.
198 "To sway the judgment, while he charms the ear;
199 "To curb mad passion in its wild career;
200 "To blend with skill, as loftiest themes inspire,
201 "All reason's rigour, and all fancy's fire;
202 "Be this the poet's praise; with this uncrown'd,
203 "Wit dies a jest, and poetry a sound.
204 "Come then that honest fame; whose sober ray
205 "Or gilds the satire, or the moral lay,
206 "Which dawns, tho' thou, rough DONNE! hew out the line,
207 "But beams, sage HORACE, from each strain of thine.
208 "O! if, like these, one poet more could brave
209 "The venal statesman, or the titled slave;
210 "Brand frontless Vice, strip all her stars and strings,
211 "Nor spare her basking in the smile of kings:
212 "Yet stoop to Virtue, tho' the prostrate maid
213 "Lay sadly pale in bleak misfortune's shade:
214 "If grave, yet lively; rational, yet warm;
215 "Clear to convince, and eloquent to charm;[Page 312]
216 "He pour'd, for her lov'd cause, serene along
217 "The purest precept, in the sweetest song:
218 "For her lov'd cause, he trac'd his moral plan,
219 "Yon various region of bewild'ring man;
220 "Explor'd alike each scene, that frown'd or smil'd,
221 "The flow'ry garden, or the weedy wild;
222 "Unmov'd by sophistry, unaw'd by name,
223 "No dupe to doctrines, and no fool to fame;
224 "Led by no system's devious glare astray,
225 "As earth-born meteors glitter to betray:
226 "But all his soul to reason's rule resign'd,
227 "And heav'n's own views fair op'ning on his mind,
228 "Catch'd from bright nature's flame the living ray,
229 "Thro' passion's cloud pour'd in resistless day;
230 "And this great truth in all its lustre shew'd,
231 "That GOD IS WISE, and ALL CREATION GOOD:
232 "If this his boast, pour here the welcome lays:
233 "Praise less than this, is impotence of praise. "
234 "To pour that praise be mine," fair VIRTUE cry'd,
235 And shot all radiant, thro' an op'ning cloud.
236 But ah! my Muse, how will thy voice express
237 Th' immortal strain, harmonious, as it flow'd?
238 Ill suits immortal strain a dorick dress:
239 And far too high already hast thou soar'd.
240 Enough for thee, that, when the lay was o'er,
241 The goddess clasp'd him to her throbbing breast.
242 But what might that avail? Blind Fate before[Page 313]
243 Had op'd her shears, to slit his vital thread;
244 And who may hope gainsay her stern behest?
245 Then thrice he wav'd the hand, thrice bow'd the head,
246 And sigh'd his soul to rest.
247 Then wept the Nymphs; witness, ye waving shades!
248 Witness, ye winding streams! the Nymphs did weep;
249 The heav'nly Goddess too with tears did steep
250 Her plaintive voice, that echo'd thro' the glades;
251 And, "cruel gods," and "cruel stars," she cry'd:
252 Nor did the shepherds, thro' the woodlands wide,
253 On that sad day, or to the pensive brook,
254 Or stagnant river, drive their thirsty flocks;
255 Nor did the wild-goat bronze the steepy rocks;
256 And Philomel her custom'd oak forsook;
257 And roses wan were wav'd by zephyrs weak,
258 As Nature's self was sick;
259 And every lilly droop'd its velvet head;
260 And groan'd each faded lawn, and leasless grove;
261 Sad sympathy! yet sure his rightful meed,
262 Who charm'd all nature: well might Nature mourn
263 Thro' all her sweets; and flow'r, and lawn, and shade,
264 All vocal grown, all weep MUSAEUS dead.
265 Here end we, Goddess: this your shepherd sang,
266 All as his hands an ivy chaplet wove.
267 O! make it worthy of the sacred bard,
268 And make it equal to the shepherd's love.
269 Nor thou, MUSAEUS, from thine ear discard,[Page 314]
270 For well I ween thou hear'st my doleful song;
271 Whether 'mid angel troops, the stars among,
272 From golden harps thou call'st seraphick lays;
273 Or, anxious for thy dearest Virtue's fare,
274 Thou still art hov'ring o'er her tuneless sphere,
275 And mov'st some hidden spring her weal to raise.
276 Thus the fond swain on dorick oate essay'd,
277 Manhood's prime honours downing on his cheek:
278 Trembling he strove to court the tuneful maid
279 With stripling arts, and dalliance all too weak;
280 Unseen, unheard, beneath an hawthorn shade.
281 But now dun clouds the welkin 'gan to streak;
282 And now down-dropt the larks, and ceas'd their strain:
283 They ceas'd, and with them ceas'd the shepherd swain.