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Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
15 That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring ; Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string. Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse : So may some gentle Muse With lucky words favour my destined urn; And as he passes turn, And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud. For we were nursed upon the self-same hill, Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill. Together both, ere the high lawns appeared Under the opening eyelids of the Morn, We drove a-field, and both together heard What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn, Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night, Oft till the star that rose at evening, bright, Toward heaven's descent had sloped his westering
But, oh the heavy change, now thou art gone,
45 Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze, Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When first the white-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds' ear.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep 50 Closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas? For neither were ye playing on the steep, Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie, Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high, Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream: 55 Ay me! I fondly dream! Had ye been there—for what could that have done What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore, The Muse herself, for her enchanting son, Whom universal Nature did lament, When by the rout that made the hideous roar His gory visage down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus, to the Lesbian shore?
Alas! what boots it with incessant care To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade, 65 And strictly meditate the thankless Muse? Were it not better done, as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise- 70 That last infirmity of noble mindTo scorn delights, and live laborious days; But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, And think to burst out into sudden blaze, Comes the blind Fury with the abhorrèd shears, 75 And slits the thin-spun life. But not the praise,' Phæbus replied, and touched my trembling ears; 'Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil, Nor in the glistering foil Set-off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies; But lives, and spreads aloft by those pure eyes, And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; As he pronounces lastly on each deed, Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed.'
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honoured flood, 85 Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned with vocal reeds,
That strain I heard was of a higher mood :
95 And sage Hippotades their answer brings, That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed; The air was calm, and on the level brine Sleek Panope with all her sisters played. It was that fatal and perfidious bark, Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark, That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow, His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge, Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge
105 Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe. “Ah! who hath reft (quoth he) my dearest pledge?' Last came, and last did go, The pilot of the Galilean lake; Two massy keys he bore of metals twain, (The golden opes, the iron shuts amain,) He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake, • How well could I have spared for thee, young swain, Enow of such as for their bellies' sake Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold !
115 Of other çare they little reckoning make, Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast, And shove away the worthy bidden guest; Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold A sheep-hook, or have learned aught else the least That to the faithful herdman's art belongs ! What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past