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CXXIV

SONNET.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ;
For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death ; nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture be,

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Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow :
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou’rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell ;
And poppy' or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke. Why swell'st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally ;
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

John Donne.

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CXXV

LYCIDAS.

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Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never-sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude;
And; with forced fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year :
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.

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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

wheel.
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
Tempered to the oaten flute;
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long ; 35
And old Dametas loved to hear our song.

But, oh the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone and never must return!
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods and desert caves,
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown,
And all their echoes, mourn :
The willows and the hazel copses green
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
As killing as the canker to the rose,

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.

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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,

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That strain I heard was of a higher mood :
But now my oat proceeds,
And listens to the herald of the sea
That came in Neptune's plea.

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He asked the waves, and asked the felon winds,
What hard mishap hath doomed this gentle swain?
And questioned every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beaked promontory:
They knew not of his story;

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;

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And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
But, swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread :
Beside what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said :
But that two-handed engine at the door
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.'

Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past
That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse,
And call the vales, and bid them hither cast
Their bells, and flowerets of a thousand hues.
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart-star sparely looks,
Throw hither all your quaint enamelled eyes,
That on the green turf suck the honied showers,
And purple all the ground with vernal flowers.
Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet,
The glowing violet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine,
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears :
Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed,
And daffodillies fill their cups with tears,
To strew the laureat hearse where Lycid lies.
For, so to interpose a little ease,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise ;
Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas
Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurled,
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps, under the whelming tide,
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;

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