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307                                            A Devout Lover

I HAVE a mistress, for perfections rare
In every eye, but in my thoughts most fair.
Like tapers on the altar shine her eyes;
Her breath is the perfume of sacrifice;
And wheresoe’er my fancy would begin,
Still her perfection lets religion in.
We sit and talk, and kiss away the hours
As chastely as the morning dews kiss flowers:
I touch her, like my beads, with devout care,
And come unto my courtship as my prayer.

308                             An Ode to Master Anthony Stafford

to hasten Him into the Country

            COME, spur away,
     I have no patience for a longer stay,
            But must go down
     And leave the chargeable noise of this great town:
         I will the country see,
         Where old simplicity,
            Though hid in gray,
            Doth look more gay
     Than foppery in plush and scarlet clad.
       Farewell, you city wits, that are
         Almost at civil war—
’Tis time that I grow wise, when all the world grows mad.
            More of my days
     I will not spend to gain an idiot’s praise;
            Or to make sport
     For some slight Puisne of the Inns of Court.
         Then, worthy Stafford, say,
         How shall we spend the day?
            With what delights
            Shorten the nights?
     When from this tumult we are got secure,
       Where mirth with all her freedom goes,
         Yet shall no finger lose;
Where every word is thought, and every thought is pure?
            There from the tree
     We’ll cherries pluck, and pick the strawberry;
            And every day
     Go see the wholesome country girls make hay,
         Whose brown hath lovelier grace
         Than any painted face
            That I do know
            Hyde Park can show:
     Where I had rather gain a kiss than meet
       (Though some of them in greater state
         Might court my love with plate)
The beauties of the Cheap, and wives of Lombard Street.
            But think upon
     Some other pleasures: these to me are none.
            Why do I prate
     Of women, that are things against my fate!
         I never mean to wed
         That torture to my bed:
            My Muse is she
            My love shall be.
     Let clowns get wealth and heirs: when I am gone
       And that great bugbear, grisly Death,
         Shall take this idle breath,
If I a poem leave, that poem is my son.
            Of this no more!
     We’ll rather taste the bright Pomona’s store.
            No fruit shall ’scape
     Our palates, from the damson to the grape.
         Then, full, we’ll seek a shade,
         And hear what music’s made;
            How Philomel
            Her tale doth tell,
     And how the other birds do fill the quire;
       The thrush and blackbird lend their throats,
         Warbling melodious notes;
We will all sports enjoy which others but desire.
            Ours is the sky,
     Where, at what fowl we please, our hawk shall fly:
            Nor will we spare
     To hunt the crafty fox or timorous hare;
         But let our hounds run loose
         In any ground they’ll choose;
            The buck shall fall,
            The stag, and all.
       Our pleasures must from their own warrants be,
         For to my Muse, if not to me,
         I’m sure all game is free:
Heaven, earth, are all but parts of her great royalty.

            And when we mean
     To taste of Bacchus’ blessings now and then,
            And drink by stealth
     A cup or two to noble Barkley’s health,
         I’ll take my pipe and try
         The Phrygian melody;
            Which he that hears,
            Lets through his ears
     A madness to distemper all the brain:
       Then I another pipe will take
         And Doric music make,
To civilize with graver notes our wits again.


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