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That her bright glorie else hath much defamed.
But who can tell what cause had that faire Mayd
To use him so that used her so well;
Or who with blame can iustly her upbrayd,
For loving not? for who can love compell?
And, sooth1 to say, it is foolhardie thing,
Rashly to wyten 2 creatures so divine;
For demigods they be, and first did spring
From heaven, though graft in frailnesse feminine.
And well I wote,3 that oft I heard it spoken,
How one, that fairest Helene did revile,
Through judgement of the gods to been ywroken,1
Lost both his eyes, and so remaynd long while,
Till he recanted had his wicked rimes,
And made amends to her with treble praise.
Beware therefore, ye groomes, I read 5 betimes,
How rashly blame of Rosalind ye raise."
"Ah! shepheards, (then said Colin,) ye ne weet
How great a guilt upon your heads ye draw,
To make so bold a doome, with words unmeet,
Of thing celestiall which ye never saw.
For she is not like as the other crew
Of shepheards daughters which emongst you bee,
But of divine regard and heavenly hew,
Excelling all that ever ye did see.
Not then to her that scorned thing so base,
But to my selfe the blame that lookt so hie:
So hie her thoughts as she her selfe have place,
1 Sooth, truth. • Ywroken, avenged, punished. 5 Read, advise. • Weet, know.
Ver. 920.- How one, &c.] This story is told of the poet Stesich
And loath each lowly thing with loftie eie.
Yet so much grace let her vouchsafe to grant
To simple swaine, sith1 her I may not love:
Yet that I may her honour paravant,2
And praise her worth, though far my wit above.
Such grace shall be some guerdon for the griefe,
And long affliction which I have endured:
Such grace sometimes shall give me some reliefe, 945
And ease of paine which cannot be recured.
And ye, my fellow shepheards, which do see
And hear the languours of my too long dying,
Unto the world for ever witnesse bee,
That hers I die, nought to the world denying,
This simple trophe 3 of her great conquest."
So, having ended, he from ground did rise;
And after him uprose eke all the rest.
All loth to part, but that the glooming skies
Warnd them to draw their bleating flocks to rest. 955
1 Sith, since. 2 Paravant, publicly.
UPON THE DEATH OF THE MOST NOBLE AND VALOROUS
DEDICATED TO THE MOST BEAUTIFULL AND
* This lady had been the wife of Sir Philip Sidney, and was now married to the celebrated Earl of Essex. She was the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham.
SHEPHEARDS, 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 pace my dolefull plaint your plaints emong.
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 wot1 my rymes bene rudely dight.2
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.
A GENTLE Shepheard borne in Arcady,
Of gentlest race that ever shepheard bore,
About the grassie bancks of Hæmony
Did keepe his sheep, his little 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 Astrophel, 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,
Astrophel and the accompanying poems are specimens of the many lamentations in verse which the untimely death of Sir Philip Sidney called forth. They are none of them above mediocrity in point of poetical merit, and are deficient in the simplicity belonging to the expression of true feeling, which is somewhat singular, as the writers were, undoubtedly, sincere mourners.