Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
An Ode to Master Anthony Stafford to Hasten Him into the Country
By Thomas Randolph (1605–1635)
 
                COME, 1 spur away,
        I have no patience for a longer stay,
                But must go down
        And leave the chargeable 2 noise of this great town:
            I will the country see,        5
            Where old simplicity,
                Though hid in gray,
                Doth look more gay
        Than foppery in plush and scarlet clad.
          Farewell, you city wits, that are        10
            Almost at civil war—
’Tis time that I grow wise, when all the world grows mad.
 
                More of my days
        I will not spend to gain an idiot’s praise;
                Or to make sport        15
        For some slight Puisne of the Inns of Court. 3
            Then, worthy Stafford, say,
            How shall we spend the day?
                With what delights
                Shorten the nights?        20
        When from this tumult we are got secure,
          Where mirth with all her freedom goes,
            Yet shall no finger lose; 4
Where every word is thought, and every thought is pure?
 
                There from the tree        25
        We’ll cherries pluck, and pick the strawberry;
                And every day
        Go see the wholesome country girls make hay,
            Whose brown hath lovelier grace
            Than any painted face        30
                That I do know
                Hyde Park 5 can show:
        Where I had rather gain a kiss than meet
          (Though some of them in greater state
            Might court my love with plate)        35
The beauties of the Cheap, 6 and wives of Lombard Street.
 
                But think upon
        Some other pleasures: these to me are none.
                Why do I prate
        Of women, that are things against my fate!        40
            I never mean to wed
            That torture to my bed:
                My Muse is she
                My love shall be.
        Let clowns get wealth and heirs: when I am gone        45
          And the great bugbear, grisly Death,
            Shall take this idle breath,
If I a poem leave, that poem is my son.
 
                Of this no more!
        We’ll rather taste the bright Pomona’s store.        50
                No fruit shall ’scape
        Our palates, from the damson to the grape.
            Then, full, we’ll seek a shade,
            And hear what music’s made;
                How Philomel        55
                Her tale doth tell,
        And how the other birds do fill the quire;
          The thrush and blackbird lend their throats,
            Warbling melodious notes;
We will all sports enjoy which others but desire.        60
 
                Ours is the sky,
        Where at what fowl we please our hawk shall fly:
                Nor will we spare
        To hunt the crafty fox or timorous hare;
            But let our hounds run loose        65
            In any ground they choose;
                The buck shall fall,
                The stag, and all.
        Our pleasures must from their own warrants be,
          For to my Muse, if not to me,        70
            I’m sure all game is free:
Heaven, earth, are all but parts of her great royalty.
 
                And when we mean
        To taste of Bacchus’ blessings now and then,
                And drink by stealth        75
        A cup or two to noble Berkley’s 7 health,
            I’ll take my pipe and try
            The Phrygian melody;
                Which he that hears,
                Lets through his ears        80
        A madness to distemper all the brain:
          Then I another pipe will take
            And Doric music make,
To civilize with graver notes our wits again.
 
Note 1. Thomas Randolph, after an honourable career as a student pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge, went to London, where his rare promise procured his adoption as one of the “sons of Ben,” before he had actually accomplished any great achievement in verse. Anthony Stafford was a noted prose writer of the day, an account of whose works may be found in Collier’s Rarest Books in the English Language, iv., 90. [back]
Note 2. Chargeable: expensive. [back]
Note 3. Puisne of the Inns of Court: a junior student in the law courts. [back]
Note 4. No finger lose: Randolph himself had lost a finger in a fray. [back]
Note 5. Hyde Park was originally a game preserve, but became a fashionable promenade in the reign of Charles II. [back]
Note 6. The Cheap: Cheapside, the principal retail street of old London. [back]
Note 7. Noble Barclay: perhaps Sir John Berkley, Governor of Exeter, to whom Herrick addresses the lines:
  Stand forth, brave man, since fate has made thee here
The Hector over aged Exeter.
 
 
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