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In this Monody the Author bewails a learned Friend, unfortunately
drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637; and,
Begin, then, Sisters of the sacred well
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
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, 40 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, 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 shepherd's ear. Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless 50
His gory visage down the stream was sent,
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honoured flood. Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned with vocal reeds, 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. 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 beakèd promontory. They knew not of his story; And sage Hippotades their answer brings, That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed :
The air was calm, and on the level brine
100 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 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 110 (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 ! Of other care 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 learnt aught else the least 120 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 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; Besides 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 honeyed showers, 140 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 daffadillies fill their cups with tears,
150 To strew the laureate 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; Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied, Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,
160 Where the great Vision of the guarded mount Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold. Look homeward, Angel, now; and melt with ruth : And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.
Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more, For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead, Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor.