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that wont, on pipes of oaten reed,
Oft times to plaine your loves concealed smart;
And with your piteous layes have learnd to breed
Compassion in a countrey lasses hart:
Hearken, ye gentle shepheards, to my song,
And place my dolefull plaint your plaints emong.

To you

alone I sing this mournfull verse,

The mournfulst verse that ever man heard tell :
To you whose softened hearts it may empierse
With dolours dart for death of Astrophel.
To you I sing and to none other wight,
For well I wot my rymes bene rudely dight.

Yet as they been, if any nycer wit
Shall hap to heare, or covet them to read :
Thinke he, that such are for such ones most fit,
Made not to please the living but the dead.
And if in him found pity ever place,
Let him be moov'd to pity such a case.

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Shepheard borne in

Of gentlest race that ever shepheard bore,
About the grassie bancks of Hamony
Did keepe his sheep, his litle stock and store.
Full carefully he kept them day and night,
In fairest fields; and Astrophel he hight.

Young Astrophel, the pride of shepheards praise,
Young Astrophell, the rusticke Lasses love:
Far passing all the pastors of his daies,
In all that seemly shepheard might behove.
In one thing onely fayling of the best,
That he was not so happie as the rest.

For from the time that first the Nymph his mother
Him forth did bring, and taught her lambs to feed;
A sclender swaine, excelling far each other,

In comely shape, like her that did him breed,
He grew up fast in goodnesse and in grace,
And doubly faire woxe both in mynd and face.

Which daily more and more he did augment,
With gentle usage and demeanure myld:
That all mens hearts with secret ravishment
He stole away, and weetingly beguyld.
Ne Spight it selfe, that all good things doth spill,
Found ought in him, that she could say was ill.

His sports were faire, his joyance innocent,
Sweet without sowre, and honny without gall

And he himselfe seemd made for meriment,
Merily masking both in bowre and hall.
There was no pleasure nor delightfull play,
When Astrophel so ever was away.

For he could pipe, and daunce, and caroll sweet,
Emongst the shepheards in their shearing feast;
As somers larke that with her song doth greet
The dawning day forth comming from the East.
And layes of love he also could compose:
Thrise happie she, whom he to praise did chose.

Full many Maydens often did him woo,
Them to vouchsafe emongst his rimes to name,
Or make for them as he was wont to doo
For her that did his hart with love inflame.
For which they promised to dight for him
Gay chapelets of flowers and gyrlonds trim.

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And many a Nymph both of the wood and brooke,
Soone as his oaten pipe began to shrill,

Both christall wells and shadie groves forsooke,
To heare the charmes of his enchanting skill;
And brought him presents, flowres if it were prime,
Or mellow fruit if it were harvest time.

But he for none of them did care a whit,
Yet Woodgods for them often sighed sore:
Ne for their gifts unworthie of his wit,
Yet not unworthie of the countries store.
For one alone he cared, for one he sigh't,
His lifes desire, and his deare loves delight.

Stella the faire, the fairest star in skie,
As faire as Venus or the fairest faire,
(A fairer star saw never living eie,)

Shot her sharp pointed beames through purest aire.
Her he did love, her he alone did honor,

His thoughts, his rimes, his songs were all upon her.


To her he vowd the service of his daies,
On her he spent the riches of his wit:
For her he made hymnes of immortall praise,
Of onely her he sung, he thought, he writ.
Her, and but her, of love he worthie deemed;
For all the rest but litle he esteemed.

Ne her with ydle words alone he wowed,
And verses vaine, (yet verses are not vaine,)
But with brave deeds to her sole service vowed,
And bold atchievements her did entertaine.
For both in deeds and words he nourtred was,
Both wise and hardie, (too hardie alas!)

In wrestling nimble, and in renning swift,
In shooting steddie, and in swimming strong :
Well made to strike, to throw, to leape, to lift,
And all the sports that shepheards are emong.
In every one he vanquisht every one,

He vanquisht all, and vanquisht was of none.

Besides, in hunting such felicitie

Or rather infelicitie he found,

That every field and forest far away

He sought, where salvage beasts do most abound.

No beast so salvage but he could it kill;

No chace so hard, but he therein had skill.

Such skill, matcht with such courage as he had,
Did prick him foorth with proud desire of praise
To seek abroad, of daunger nought ydrad,

His mistresse name, and his owne fame, to raise.
What needeth perill to be sought abroad,
Since, round about us, it doth make aboad!

It fortuned as he that perilous game
In forreine soyle pursued far away;
Into a forest wide and waste he came,
Where store he heard to be of salvage pray.


So wide a forest and so waste as this,
Nor famous Ardeyn, nor fowle Arlo, is.

There his welwoven toyles, and subtil traines,
He laid the brutish nation to enwrap:

So well he wrought with practise and with paines,
That he of them great troups did soone entrap.
Full happie man (misweening much) was hee,
So rich a spoile within his power to see.

Eftsoones, all heedlesse of his dearest hale,
Full greedily into the heard he thrust,
To slaughter them, and worke their finall bale,
Least that his toyle should of their troups be brust.
Wide wounds emongst them many one he made,
Now with his sharp borespear, now with his blade.

His care was all how he them all might kill,
That none might scape, (so partiall unto none:)
Ill mynd so much to mynd anothers ill,
As to become unmyndfull of his owne.
But pardon that unto the cruell skies,
That from himselfe to them withdrew his eies.

So as he rag'd emongst that beastly rout,
A cruell beast of most accursed brood

Upon him turnd, (despeyre makes cowards stout,)
And, with fell tooth accustomed to blood,
Launched his thigh with so mischievous might,
That it both bone and muscles ryved quight.

So deadly was the dint and deep the wound,
And so huge streames of blood thereout did flow,
That he endured not the direfull stound,

But on the cold deare earth himselfe did throw;
The whiles the captive heard his nets did rend,
And, having none to let, to wood did wend.

Ah! where were ye this while his shepheard peares,
To whom alive was nought so deare as hee:



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