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And, all the while,

Without an envious eye
On any thriving under Fortune's smile,
Contented live, and then contented die.

Charles Cotton (1630-1687]

OF SOLITUDE

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Hail, old patrician trees, so great and good!

Hail, ye plebian underwood!

Where the poetic birds rejoice,
And for their quiet nests and plenteous food

Pay with their grateful voice.
Hail, the poor muse's richest manor seat!

Ye country houses and retreat,

Which all the happy gods so love,
That for you oft they quit their bright and great

Metropolis above.
Here nature does a house for me erect,

Nature the wise architect,

Who those fond artists does despise
That can the fair and living trees neglect,

Yet the dead timber prize.
Here let me careless and unthoughtful lying,

Hear the soft winds above me flying,

With all their wanton boughs dispute,
And the more tuneful birds to both replying,

Nor be myself too mute.
A silver stream shall roll his waters near,

Gilt with sunbeams here and there,

On whose enameled bank I'll walk,
And see how prettily they smile, and hear

How prettily they talk.
Ah wretched, and too solitary he,

Who loves not his own company!

He'll feel the weight of ’t many a day Unless he call in sin or vanity

To help to bear 't away.

The Cup

1599

O Solitude, first state of human-kind!

Which blest remained till man did find

Even his own helper's company.
As soon as two (alas!) together joined,

The serpent made up three.
Though God himself, through countless ages thee

His sole companion chose to be,

Thee, sacred Solitude alone,
Before the branchy head of numbers three

Sprung from the trunk of one.
Thou (though men think thine an unactive part)

Dost break and tame the unruly heart,

Which else would know no settled pace,
Making it move, well managed by thy art,

With swiftness and with grace.
Thou the faint beams of reason's scattered light

Dost like a burning-glass unite,

Dost multiply the feeble heat,
And fortify the strength, till thou dost bright

And noble fires beget.
Whilst this hard truth I teach, methinks, I see

The monster London laugh at me;

I should at thee too, foolish city,
If it were fit to laugh at misery,

But thy estate I pity.
Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,

And all the fools that crowd thee so,

Even thou who dost thy millions boast,
A village less than Islington wilt grow,
A solitude almost.

Abraham Cowley (1618–1667]

THE CUP

THE cup I sing is a cup of gold.

Ι
Many and many a century old,
Sculptured fair, and over-filled
With wine of a generous vintage, spilled

In crystal currents and foaming tides
All round its luminous, pictured sides.
Old Time enameled and embossed
This ancient cup at an infinite cost.
Its frame he wrought of metal that run
Red from the furnace of the sun.
Ages on ages slowly rolled
Before the glowing mass was cold,
And still he toiled at the antique mold, -
Turning it fast in his fashioning hand,
Tracing circle, layer, and band,
Carving figures quaint and strange,
Pursuing, through many a wondrous change,
The symmetry of a plan divine.
At last he poured the lustrous wine,
Crowned high the radiant wave with light,
And held alost the goblet bright,
Half in shadow, and wreathed in mist
Of purple, amber, and amethyst.

This is the goblet from whose brink
All creatures that have life must drink:
Foemen and lovers, haughty lord,
And sallow beggar with lips abhorred.
The new-born infant, ere it gain
The mother's breast, this wine must drain.
The oak with its subtle juice is fed,
The rose drinks till her cheeks are red,
And the dimpled, dainty violet sips
The limpid stream with loving lips.
It holds the blood of sun and star,
And all pure essences that are:
No fruit so high on the heavenly vine,
Whose golden hanging clusters shine
On the far-off shadowy midnight hills,
But some sweet influence it distils
That slideth down the silvery rills.
Here Wisdom drowned her dangerous thought,
The early gods their secrets brought;

A Strip of Blue

1601

Beauty, in quivering lines of light,
Ripples before the ravished sight;
And the unseen mystic spheres combine
To charm the cup and drug the wine.

All day I drink of the wine, and deep
In its stainless waves my senses steep;
All night my peaceful soul lies drowned
In hollows of the cup profound;
Again each morn I clamber up
The emerald crater of the cup,
On massive knobs of jasper stand
And view the azure ring expand:
I watch the foam-wreaths toss and swim
In the wine that o'erruns the jeweled rim:-
Edges of chrysolite emerge,
Dawn-tinted, from the misty surge:
My thrilled, uncovered front I lave,
My eager senses kiss the wave,
And drain, with its viewless draught, the lore
That kindles the bosom's secret core,
And the fire that maddens the poet's brain
With wild sweet ardor and heavenly pain.

John Townsend Trowbridge (1827

A STRIP OF BLUE

I do not own an inch of land,

But all I see is mine,-
The orchards and the mowing-fields,

The lawns and gardens fine.
The winds my tax-collectors are,

They bring me tithes divine,-
Wild scents and subtle essences,

A tribute rare and free;
And, more magnificent than all,

My window keeps for me
A glimpse of blue immensity,-

A little strip of sea.

Richer am I than he who owns

Great fleets and argosies; I have a share in every ship

Won by the inland breeze
To loiter on yon airy road

Above the apple-trees.
I freight them with my untold dreams;

Each bears my own picked crew;
And nobler cargoes wait for them

Than ever India knew,-
My ships that sail into the East

Across that outlet blue.

Sometimes they seem like living shapes,

The people of the sky,-
Guests in white raiment coming down

From Heaven, which is close by;
I call them by familiar names,

As one by one draws nigh,
So white, so light, so spirit-like,

From violet mists they bloom!
The aching wastes of the unknown

Are half reclaimed from gloom, Since on life's hospitable sea

All souls find sailing-room.

The ocean grows a weariness

With nothing else in sight;
Its east and west, its north and south,

Spread out from morn to night;
We miss the warm, caressing shore,

Its brooding shade and light.
A part is greater than the whole;

By hints are mysteries told.
The fringes of eternity,-

God's sweeping garment-fold,
In that bright shred of glittering sea,

I reach out for, and hold.

The sails, like flakes of roseate pearl,

Float in upon the mist;

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