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358                                                Anacreontics

1. Drinking

THE thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks and gapes for drink again;
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair;
The sea itself (which one would think
Should have but little need of drink)
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
So fill’d that they o’erflow the cup.
The busy Sun (and one would guess
By ’s drunken fiery face no less)
Drinks up the sea, and when he’s done,
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun:
They drink and dance by their own light,
They drink and revel all the night:
Nothing in Nature’s sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl, then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses there—for why
Should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why?

359                                              2. The Epicure

UNDERNEATH this myrtle shade,
On flowery beds supinely laid,
With odorous oils my head o’erflowing,
And around it roses growing,
What should I do but drink away
The heat and troubles of the day?
In this more than kingly state
Love himself on me shall wait.
Fill to me, Love! nay, fill it up!
And mingled cast into the cup
Wit and mirth and noble fires,
Vigorous health and gay desires.
The wheel of life no less will stay
In a smooth than rugged way:
Since it equally doth flee,
Let the motion pleasant be.
Why do we precious ointments shower?—
Nobler wines why do we pour?—
Beauteous flowers why do we spread
Upon the monuments of the dead?
Nothing they but dust can show,
Or bones that hasten to be so.
Crown me with roses while I live,
Now your wines and ointments give:
After death I nothing crave,
Let me alive my pleasures have:
All are Stoics in the grave.

360                                                3. The Swallow

FOOLISH prater, what dost thou
So early at my window do?
Cruel bird, thou’st ta’en away
A dream out of my arms to-day;
A dream that ne’er must equall’d be
By all that waking eyes may see.
Thou this damage to repair
Nothing half so sweet and fair,
Nothing half so good, canst bring,
Tho’ men say thou bring’st the Spring.

361                                On the Death of Mr. William Hervey

IT was a dismal, and a fearful night,
Scarce could the Morn drive on th’ unwilling Light.
When Sleep, Death’s image, left my troubled breast
        By something liker Death possest.
My eyes with tears did uncommanded flow,
       And on my soul hung the dull weight
       Of some intolerable fate.
What bell was that? Ah me! too much I know!
My sweet companion, and my gentle peer,
Why hast thou left me thus unkindly here,
Thy end for ever, and my life to moan?
       O thou hast left me all alone!
Thy soul and body, when death’s agony
       Besieged around thy noble heart,
       Did not with more reluctance part
Than I, my dearest Friend, do part from thee.
My dearest Friend, would I had died for thee!
Life and this world henceforth will tedious be:
Nor shall I know hereafter what to do
       If once my griefs prove tedious too.
Silent and sad I walk about all day,
       As sullen ghosts stalk speechless by
       Where their hid treasures lie;
Alas! my treasure’s gone; why do I stay?
Say, for you saw us, ye immortal lights,
How oft unwearied have we spent the nights,
Till the Ledæan stars, so famed for love,
       Wonder’d at us from above!
We spent them not in toys, in lusts, or wine;
       But search of deep Philosophy,
       Wit, Eloquence, and Poetry—
Arts which I loved, for they, my Friend, were thine.
Ye fields of Cambridge, our dear Cambridge, say,
Have ye not seen us walking every day?
Was there a tree about which did not know
       The love betwixt us two?
Henceforth, ye gentle trees, for ever fade;
       Or your sad branches thicker join,
       And into darksome shades combine,
Dark as the grave wherein my Friend is laid!
Large was his soul; as large a soul as e’er
Submitted to inform a body here;
High as the place ’twas shortly in Heaven to have,
       But low and humble as his grave;
So high that all the virtues there did come,
       As to their chiefest seat
       Conspicuous and great;
So low, that for me too it made a room.
Knowledge he only sought, and so soon caught,
As if for him Knowledge had rather sought;
Nor did more learning ever crowded lie
       In such a short mortality.
Whene’er the skilful youth discoursed or writ,
       Still did the notions throng
      About his eloquent tongue,
Nor could his ink flow faster than his wit.
His mirth was the pure spirits of various wit,
Yet never did his God or friends forget;
And when deep talk and wisdom came in view,
       Retired, and gave to them their due.
For the rich help of books he always took,
       Though his own searching mind before
       Was so with notions written o’er,
As if wise Nature had made that her book.
With as much zeal, devotion, piety,
He always lived, as other saints do die.
Still with his soul severe account he kept,
       Weeping all debts out ere he slept.
Then down in peace and innocence he lay,
       Like the sun's laborious light,
       Which still in water sets at night,
Unsullied with his journey of the day.
But happy Thou, ta’en from this frantic age,
Where ignorance and hypocrisy does rage!
A fitter time for Heaven no soul e’er chose—
       The place now only free from those.
There ’mong the blest thou dost for ever shine;
       And wheresoe’er thou casts thy view
       Upon that white and radiant crew,
See’st not a soul clothed with more light than thine.

362                                             The Wish

WELL then! I now do plainly see
This busy world and I shall ne’er agree.
The very honey of all earthly joy
Does of all meats the soonest cloy;
     And they, methinks, deserve my pity
Who for it can endure the stings,
The crowd, and buzz, and murmurings,
     Of this great hive, the city.
Ah, yet, ere I descend to the grave,
May I a small house and large garden have;
And a few friends, and many books, both true,
Both wise, and both delightful too!
     And since love ne’er will from me flee,
A Mistress moderately fair,
And good as guardian angels are,
     Only beloved and loving me.
O fountains! when in you shall I
Myself eased of unpeaceful thoughts espy?
O fields! O woods! when, when shall I be made
The happy tenant of your shade?
     Here’s the spring-head of Pleasure’s flood:
Here’s wealthy Nature’s treasury,
Where all the riches lie that she
     Has coin’d and stamp’d for good.
Pride and ambition here
Only in far-fetch’d metaphors appear;
Here nought but winds can hurtful murmurs scatter,
And nought but Echo flatter.
     The gods, when they descended, hither
From heaven did always choose their way:
And therefore we may boldly say
     That ’tis the way too thither.

How happy here should I
And one dear She live, and embracing die!
She who is all the world, and can exclude
In deserts solitude.
     I should have then this only fear:
Lest men, when they my pleasures see,
Should hither throng to live like me,
     And so make a city here.


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