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 (16051635)
C OME, 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 idiots 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
Well 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!
Well rather taste the bright Pomonas store. 50
No fruit shall scape
Our palates, from the damson to the grape.
Then, full, well seek a shade,
And hear what musics 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
Im 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 Berkleys 7 health,
Ill 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.
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 Colliers Note 1. 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.