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When thirsty grief in wine we steep,

When healths and draughts go free, Fishes that tipple in the deep

Know no such liberty.

When, linnet-like confined, I

With shriller note shall sing
The mercy, sweetness, majesty,

And glories of my king;
When I shall voice aloud how good

He is, how great should be,
Th' enlarged winds, that curl the flood,

Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage ;
Minds, innocent and quiet, take

That for an hermitage :
If I have freedom in my love,

And in my soul am free ;
Angels alone, that soar above,

Enjoy such liberty.




(JAMES SHIRLEY was born in London, in 159+, and studied both at Oxford and Cambridge. He took orders, then taught in a school, and afterwards wrote plays; but the theatres being suppressed by Parliament, he again became a teacher, and published some elementary works. The losses and misery caused to him by the Great Fire of London brought on an illness which caused his death, in 1666.

His poems show that his talents were enlisted in the cause of virtue ; and they well agree with the blameless life he led.]

The glories of our birth and state

Are shadows, not substantial things ;
There is no armour against fate :
Death lays his icy hands on kings;

Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,



And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

Some men with swords may reap the field,

And plant fresh laurels where they kill ; But their strong nerves at last must yield, They tame but one another still ;

Early or late,

They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow,

Then boast no more your mighty deeds ; Upon Death's purple altar, now,

See where the victor victim bleeds :

All heads must come

To the cold tomb :

Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.

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FROM Oberon, in fairy land,

The king of ghosts and shadows there, Mad Robin I, at his command, Am sent to view the night-sports here.

What revel rout

Is kept about,
In every corner where I go,

I will o'ersee,

And merry be, And make good sport, with ho, ho, ho !


More swift than lightning can I fly

About this airy welkin soon,
And, in a minute's space, descry
Each thing that's done below the moon.

There's not a hag

Or ghost shall wag,
Or cry, 'ware goblins ! where I go;

But Robin I

Their feats will spy,
And send them home with ho, ho, ho !

Whene'er such wanderers I meet,

As from their night-sports they trudge home, With counterfeiting voice I greet, And call them on with me to roam :

Through woods, through lakes ;

Through bogs, through brakes ; Or else, unseen, with them I go,

All in the nick,

To play some trick,
And frolic it, with ho, ho, ho !

Sometimes I meet them like a man,

Sometimes an ox, sometimes a hound;
And to a horse I turn me can,
To trip and trot about them round.

But if to ride
My back they stride,

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