Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology
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Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
 
From Lycidas

John Milton (1608–1674)
 
YET 1 once more, O ye Laurels, and once more
Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never-sear,
I com to pluck your Berries harsh and crude,
And with forc’d fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.        5
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew        10
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not flote upon his watry bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of som melodious tear …
 
  For we were nurst upon the self-same hill,        15
Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill.
Together both, ere the high Lawns appear’d
Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,
We drove a field, and both together heard
What time the Gray-fly winds her sultry horn,        20
Batt’ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the Star that rose, at Ev’ning, bright
Toward Heav’ns descent had slop’d his westering wheel …
 
  But O the heavy change, now thou art gon,
Now thou art gon, and never must return!        25
Thee Shepherd, thee the Woods, and desert Caves,
With wilde Thyme and the gadding Vine o’ergrown,
And all their echoes mourn.
The Willows, and the Hazle Copses green,
Shall now no more be seen,        30
Fanning their joyous Leaves to thy soft layes.
As killing as the Canker to the Rose,
Or Taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze,
Or Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrop wear,
When first the White thorn blows;        35
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to Shepherds ear …
 
  Alas! What boots it with uncessant care
To tend the homely slighted Shepherds trade,
And strictly meditate the thankles Muse,
Were it not better don as others use,        40
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra’s hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of Noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious dayes;        45
But the fair Guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with th’abhorred shears,
And slits the thin spun life. But not the praise,
Phœbus repli’d, and touch’d my trembling ears;        50
Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to th’world, nor in broad rumour lies,
But lives and spreds aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfet witnes of all judging Jove;        55
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heav’n expect thy meed …
 
  Weep no more, woful Shepherds weep no more,
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watry floar,        60
So sinks the day-star in the Ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new spangled Ore,
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,        65
Through the dear might of him that walk’d the waves
Where other groves, and other streams along,
With Nectar pure his oozy Lock’s he laves,
And hears the unexpressive nuptiall Song,
In the blest Kingdoms meek of joy and love.        70
There entertain him all the Saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet Societies
That sing, and singing in their glory move,
And wipe, the tears for ever from his eyes …
 
Note 1. Milton. From Lycidas. I have bier and o’ergrown for bear and o’regrown. [back]
 
 
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