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
 
Ode to Master Anthony Stafford
By Thomas Randolph (1605–1635)
 
        COME, spur away,
I have no patience for a longer stay,
        But must go down,
And leave the chargeable noise of this great town;
        I will the country see,        5
        Where old simplicity,
        Though hid in grey,
        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.
        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;
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 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, and wives of Lombard Street.
 
        But think upon
Some other pleasures: these to me are none.
        Why did 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,
Whereat 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 ’ll 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, all are 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 Barkley’s 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 civilise with graver notes our wits again.
 
 
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