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Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Vol. 1 by George Gilfillan

Part 8 out of 8

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And like a thunderbolt wide passage tear,
Flinging all to the earth with her enchanted spear.

Her goodly armour seem'd a garden green,
Where thousand spotless lilies freshly blew;
And on her shield the lone bird might be seen,
The Arabian bird, shining in colours new;
Itself unto itself was only mate;
Ever the same, but new in newer date:
And underneath was writ, 'Such is chaste single state.'

Thus hid in arms she seem'd a goodly knight,
And fit for any warlike exercise:
But when she list lay down her armour bright,
And back resume her peaceful maiden's guise;
The fairest maid she was, that ever yet
Prison'd her locks within a golden net,
Or let them waving hang, with roses fair beset.

Choice nymph! the crown of chaste Diana's train,
Thou beauty's lily, set in heavenly earth;
Thy fairs, unpattern'd, all perfection stain:
Sure heaven with curious pencil at thy birth
In thy rare face her own full picture drew:
It is a strong verse here to write, but true,
Hyperboles in others are but half thy due.

Upon her forehead Love his trophies fits,
A thousand spoils in silver arch displaying:
And in the midst himself full proudly sits,
Himself in awful majesty arraying:
Upon her brows lies his bent ebon bow,
And ready shafts; deadly those weapons show;
Yet sweet the death appear'd, lovely that deadly blow.

* * * * *

A bed of lilies flower upon her cheek,
And in the midst was set a circling rose;
Whose sweet aspect would force Narcissus seek
New liveries, and fresher colours choose
To deck his beauteous head in snowy 'tire;
But all in vain: for who can hope t' aspire
To such a fair, which none attain, but all admire?

Her ruby lips lock up from gazing sight
A troop of pearls, which march in goodly row:
But when she deigns those precious bones undight,
Soon heavenly notes from those divisions flow,
And with rare music charm the ravish'd ears,
Daunting bold thoughts, but cheering modest fears:
The spheres so only sing, so only charm the spheres.

Yet all these stars which deck this beauteous sky
By force of th'inward sun both shine and move;
Throned in her heart sits love's high majesty;
In highest majesty the highest love.
As when a taper shines in glassy frame,
The sparkling crystal burns in glittering flame,
So does that brightest love brighten this lovely dame.


Fond man, that looks on earth for happiness,
And here long seeks what here is never found!
For all our good we hold from Heaven by lease,
With many forfeits and conditions bound;
Nor can we pay the fine and rentage due:
Though now but writ and seal'd, and given anew,
Yet daily we it break, then daily must renew.

Why shouldst thou here look for perpetual good,
At every loss against Heaven's face repining?
Do but behold where glorious cities stood,
With gilded tops, and silver turrets shining;
Where now the hart fearless of greyhound feeds,
And loving pelican in safety breeds;
Where screeching satyrs fill the people's empty steads.

Where is the Assyrian lion's golden hide,
That all the East once grasp'd in lordly paw?
Where that great Persian bear, whose swelling pride
The lion's self tore out with ravenous jaw?
Or he which, 'twixt a lion and a pard,
Through all the world with nimble pinions fared,
And to his greedy whelps his conquer'd kingdoms shared?

Hardly the place of such antiquity,
Or note of these great monarchies we find:
Only a fading verbal memory,
An empty name in writ is left behind:
But when this second life and glory fades,
And sinks at length in time's obscurer shades,
A second fall succeeds, and double death invades.

That monstrous Beast, which nursed in Tiber's fen,
Did all the world with hideous shape affray;
That fill'd with costly spoil his gaping den,
And trod down all the rest to dust and clay:
His battering horns pull'd out by civil hands,
And iron teeth lie scatter'd on the sands;
Backed, bridled by a monk, with seven heads yoked stands.

And that black Vulture,[1] which with deathful wing
O'ershadows half the earth, whose dismal sight
Frighten'd the Muses from their native spring,
Already stoops, and flags with weary flight:
Who then shall look for happiness beneath?
Where each new day proclaims chance, change, and death,
And life itself's as fleet as is the air we breathe.

[1] 'Black Vulture:' the Turk.


Thrice, oh, thrice happy, shepherd's life and state!
When courts are happiness, unhappy pawns!
His cottage low and safely humble gate
Shuts out proud Fortune, with her scorns and fawns
No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep:
Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep;
Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

No Serian worms he knows, that with their thread
Draw out their silken lives; nor silken pride:
His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need,
Not in that proud Sidonian tineture dyed:
No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright,
Nor begging wants his middle fortune bite;
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.

Instead of music, and base flattering tongues,
Which wait to first salute my lord's uprise,
The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs,
And birds' sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes:
In country plays is all the strife he uses,
Or sing, or dance unto the rural Muses,
And but in music's sports all difference refuses.

His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content;
The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him
With coolest shades, till noontide rage is spent;
His life is neither toss'd in boisterous seas
Of troublous world, nor lost in slothful ease;
Pleased, and full blest he lives, when he his God can please.

His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face:
Never his humble house nor state torment him;
Less he could like, if less his God had sent him;
And when he dies, green turfs, with grassy tomb, content him.


'Ah, dearest Lord! does my rapt soul behold thee?
Am I awake, and sure I do not dream?
Do these thrice-blessed arms again enfold thee?
Too much delight makes true things feigned seem.
Thee, thee I see; thou, thou thus folded art:
For deep thy stamp is printed on my heart,
And thousand ne'er-felt joys stream in each melting part.'

Thus with glad sorrow did she sweetly 'plain her,
Upon his neck a welcome load depending;
While he with equal joy did entertain her,
Herself, her champions, highly all commending:
So all in triumph to his palace went;
Whose work in narrow words may not be pent:
For boundless thought is less than is that glorious tent.

There sweet delights, which know nor end nor measure;
No chance is there, nor eating times succeeding:
No wasteful spending can impair their treasure;
Pleasure full grown, yet ever freshly breeding:
Fulness of sweets excludes not more receiving;
The soul still big of joy, yet still conceiving;
Beyond slow tongue's report, beyond quick thought's perceiving.

There are they gone; there will they ever bide;
Swimming in waves of joys and heavenly loves:
He still a bridegroom, she a gladsome bride;
Their hearts in love, like spheres still constant moving;
No change, no grief, no age can them befall;
Their bridal bed is in that heavenly hall,
Where all days are but one, and only one is all.

And as in his state they thus in triumph ride,
The boys and damsels their just praises chant;
The boys the bridegroom sing, the maids the bride,
While all the hills glad hymens loudly vaunt:
Heaven's winged shoals, greeting this glorious spring,
Attune their higher notes, and hymens sing:
Each thought to pass, and each did pass thought's loftiest wing.

Upon his lightning brow love proudly sitting
Flames out in power, shines out in majesty;
There all his lofty spoils and trophies fitting,
Displays the marks of highest Deity:
There full of strength in lordly arms he stands,
And every heart and every soul commands:
No heart, no soul, his strength and lordly force withstands.

Upon her forehead thousand cheerful graces,
Seated on thrones of spotless ivory;
There gentle Love his armed hand unbraces;
His bow unbent disclaims all tyranny;
There by his play a thousand souls beguiles,
Persuading more by simple, modest smiles,
Than ever he could force by arms or crafty wiles.

Upon her cheek doth Beauty's self implant
The freshest garden of her choicest flowers;
On which, if Envy might but glance askant,
Her eyes would swell, and burst, and melt in showers:
Thrice fairer both than ever fairest eyed;
Heaven never such a bridegroom yet descried;
Nor ever earth so fair, so undefiled a bride.

Full of his Father shines his glorious face,
As far the sun surpassing in his light,
As doth the sun the earth with flaming blaze:
Sweet influence streams from his quickening sight:
His beams from nought did all this _All_ display;
And when to less than nought they fell away,
He soon restored again by his new orient ray.

All heaven shines forth in her sweet face's frame:
Her seeing stars (which we miscall bright eyes)
More bright than is the morning's brightest flame,
More fruitful than the May-time Geminies:
These, back restore the timely summer's fire;
Those, springing thoughts in winter hearts inspire,
Inspiriting dead souls, and quickening warm desire.

These two fair suns in heavenly spheres are placed,
Where in the centre joy triumphing sits:
Thus in all high perfections fully graced,
Her mid-day bliss no future night admits;
But in the mirrors of her Spouse's eyes
Her fairest self she dresses; there where lies
All sweets, a glorious beauty to emparadise.

His locks like raven's plumes, or shining jet,
Fall down in curls along his ivory neck;
Within their circlets hundred graces set,
And with love-knots their comely hangings deck:
His mighty shoulders, like that giant swain,
All heaven and earth, and all in both sustain;
Yet knows no weariness, nor feels oppressing pain.

Her amber hair like to the sunny ray,
With gold enamels fair the silver white;
There heavenly loves their pretty sportings play,
Firing their darts in that wide flaming light:
Her dainty neck, spread with that silver mould,
Where double beauty doth itself unfold,
In the own fair silver shines, and fairer borrow'd gold.

His breast a rock of purest alabaster,
Where loves self-sailing, shipwreck'd, often sitteth.
Hers a twin-rock, unknown but to the shipmaster;
Which harbours him alone, all other splitteth.
Where better could her love than here have nested,
Or he his thoughts than here more sweetly feasted?
Then both their love and thoughts in each are ever rested.

Run now, you shepherd swains; ah! run you thither,
Where this fair bridegroom leads the blessed way:
And haste, you lovely maids, haste you together
With this sweet bride, while yet the sunshine day
Guides your blind steps; while yet loud summons call,
That every wood and hill resounds withal,
Come, Hymen, Hymen, come, dress'd in thy golden pall.

The sounding echo back the music flung,
While heavenly spheres unto the voices play'd.
But see! the day is ended with my song,
And sporting bathes with that fair ocean maid:
Stoop now thy wing, my muse, now stoop thee low:
Hence mayst thou freely play, and rest thee now;
While here I hang my pipe upon the willow bough.

So up they rose, while all the shepherds' throng
With their loud pipes a country triumph blew,
And led their Thirsil home with joyful song:
Meantime the lovely nymphs, with garlands new
His locks in bay and honour'd palm-tree bound,
With lilies set, and hyacinths around,
And lord of all the year and their May sportings crown'd.


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