Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Extracts from the Poems: Sextain
By William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649)
 
THE HEAVEN doth not contain so many stars,
So many leaves not prostrate lie in woods,
When autumn ’s old, and Boreas sounds his wars,
So many waves have not the ocean floods,
As my rent mind hath torments all the night,        5
And heart spends sighs, when Phœbus brings the light.
 
Why should I been a partner of the light,
Who, crost in birth by bad aspects of stars,
Have never since had happy day nor night?
Why was not I a liver in the woods,        10
Or citizen of Thetis’ crystal floods,
Than made a man, for love and fortune’s wars?
 
I look each day when death should end the wars,
Uncivil wars, ’twixt sense and reason’s light;
My pains I count to mountains, meads, and floods,        15
And of my sorrow partners make the stars;
All desolate I haunt the fearful woods,
When I should give myself to rest at night.
 
With watchful eyes I ne’er behold the night,
Mother of peace, but ah! to me of wars,        20
And Cynthia queen-like shining through the woods,
When straight those lamps come in my thought, whose light
My judgment dazzled, passing brightest stars,
And then mine eyes en-isle themselves with floods.
 
Turn to their springs again first shall the floods,        25
Clear shall the sun the sad and gloomy night,
To dance about the pole cease shall the stars,
The elements renew their ancient wars
Shall first, and be depriv’d of place and light,
Ere I find rest in city, fields, or woods.        30
 
End these my days, indwellers of the woods,
Take this my life, ye deep and raging floods;
Sun, never rise to clear me with thy light,
Horror and darkness, keep a lasting night;
Consume me, care, with thy intestine wars,        35
And stay your influence o’er me, bright stars!
 
In vain the stars, indwellers of the woods,
Care, horror, wars, I call, and raging floods,
For all have sworn no night shall dim my sight.
 
 
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