Of an Island


There was an island, rich by Nature’s grace;
In all the world it was the sweetest place,
Surrounded with the seas, whose waves don’t miss2
To do her homage, and her feet do kiss.3
Each wave did seem4 by turn to5 bow down low,                   5
And proud to touch her as they overflow.6
Armies of waves in troops high tides brought7 on,
Whose wat’ry arms did8 glister like9 the sun,
And on their backs burthens of ships did10 bear,
Placing them in her havens with great care.11                         10
Not mercenary, for no pay they’d have,12
Yet13 as her guard did14 watch to keep her safe,
And in a ring they circled15 her about,
Strong as a wall, to keep her foes without.16
The winds did serve her, and on clouds did17 ride,                 15
Blowing their trumpets loud on every side;
Serving18 as scouts, they searched19 in every lane,
And galloped20 in the forests,21 fields, and plain.
While she did please the gods, she did live safe,22
And they all kind of pleasures to her gave.23                            20
For all this place was24 fertile, rich, and fair;
Both woods and hills and dales in prospects were.25
Birds pleasure took,26 and with delight did27 sing;
In praises of this isle the woods did28 ring.
Trees thrived with joy, for she their roots well fed,29             25
And,30 tall with pride, their tops did31 overspread,
Danced32 with the winds when they did33 sing and blow,
Played34 like a wanton kid, or a35 swift roe.
Their several branches several birds did36 bear,
Which hopped and skipped,37 and always merry were;38     30
Their leaves did39 wave, and, rushing, make a noise,
And40 many ways strived to express41 their joys.
All42 flowers there looked43 fresh and gay with mirth,
Whilst they were44 danced upon the lap of Earth.
Th’isle was their mother,45 they her children sweet,               35
Born from her loins, got by Apollo great,
Who dressed and pruned them often with great care,46
And washed their leaves with dew to make them fair,47
Which being done,48 he wiped49 those drops away
With webs of heat,50 which he weaves every day,                   40
Paint5152 them with several colors intermixed,
Veiled53 them with shadows every leaf betwixt.
Their heads he dress’d, their hairy leaves spread out,54
Wreathed round their crowns his golden beams about,55
For he this isle esteemed56 above the rest;                                45
Of all his wives he had, he loved57 her best.
Daily he did present her with some gift:58
Twelve ells of light, to make her smocks59 for shift,
Which, every time he came, he put60 on clean,61
And changèd oft, that she may lovely seem.62                          50
And when he from her went,63 the world to see,
He left64 his sister65 for her66 company,
Whose name is Cynthia67—though pale, yet clear,
Which makes her always in dark clouds appear.
Besides, he left68 his stars to wait, for fear69                             55
His isle too sad should be70 when he’s not there,
And from his bounty clothed71 them all with light,
Which makes them twinkle in a frosty night.
He never brought72 hot beams to do her harm,
Nor let73 her take a cold, but lapped74 her warm;                    60
He75 mantles rich of equal heat o’erspread,76
And covered77 her with color crimson red.
He gave78 another o’er her head to lie—
The colour is a pure bright azure sky—
And with soft air did79 line them all within,                              65
Like80 furs in winter, in summer satin thin.
With silver clouds he fringèd81 them about,
And82 spangled meteors glist’ring hung83 without.
Thus gave her84 change, lest she85 should weary grow,
Or think them old, and so away them throw.                           70
Nature adorned86 this island all throughout
With landscapes, riv’lets, prospects round about;87
There hills88 o’ertopped89 the dales, which level be,90
Covered91 with cattle feeding eagerly.92
Grass grew93 up even to the belly high,                                     75
Where beasts that chew their cud lay pleasantly,94
Whisking their tails about, the flies to beat,
Or else to cool them from the sultry heat.
Nature, willing to th’gods her love95 to show,
Sent plenty in, like Nile’s great overflow,                                  80
And temperate seasons gave,96 and equal lights:
Warm97 sunshine days, and dewy moonshine nights.
And in this pleasant island, peace did dwell;
No noise of war or sad tale could it tell.

  1. Of an Island.] A Description of an Island. 1664, 1668
  2. don’t miss] not miss’d 1664, 1668
  3. do kiss.] they Kiss’d; 1664; they kiss’d: 1668
  4. Each wave did seem] Where every Wave 1653
  5. to] do 1653
  6. as they overflow.] when as they did Flow; 1664; when as they did flow. 1668
  7. brought] bring 1653
  8. did] do 1653
  9. like] as 1664, 1668
  10. did] do 1653
  11. Placing them in her havens with great care.] And in her Havens places them with care; 1653
  12. for no pay they’d have,] They no will have, 1653
  13. Yet] But 1664, 1668
  14. did] they 1653
  15. circled] circle 1653
  16. without.] still out. 1653
  17. The winds did serve her, and on clouds did] So Windes do serve, and on the Cloudes do 1653
  18. Serving] And serve 1653
  19. they searched] do search 1653
  20. galloped] gallop 1653
  21. forests,] Forrest, 1653
  22. While she did please the gods, she did live safe,] And while shee please the Gods, in safety lives, 1653
  23. And they all kind of pleasures to her gave.] They to delight her, all fine Pleasures gives. 1653
  24. was] is 1653
  25. prospects were.] Propsects are. 1653
  26. took,] take, 1653
  27. did] do 1653
  28. did] do 1653
  29. thrived with joy, for she their roots well fed,] thrive with joy, this Isle their Roots do feed, 1653
  30. And,] Grow 1653
  31. did] they 1653
  32. Danced] Dance 1653
  33. did] do 1653
  34. Played] Play 1653
  35. a] the 1653
  36. did] do 1653
  37. hopped and skipped,] hop, and Skip, 1653
  38. were;] are. 1653
  39. did] do 1653
  40. And] Thus 1653
  41. strived to express] do strive t’expresse 1653
  42. All] And 1653
  43. looked] look 1653
  44. were] are 1653
  45. Th’isle was their mother,] Their Mother the Island, 1653; Th’Isle their Mother was; 1668
  46. Who dressed and pruned them often with great care,] Who takes great care to dresse, and prune them oft, 1653
  47. And washed their leaves with dew to make them fair,] And with cleare Dew he washes their Leaves soft. 1653
  48. Which being done,] When he hath done, 1653
  49. wiped] wipes 1653
  50. A marginal note reads, “Sunbeams”.
  51. Paint] Paints 1653
  52. A marginal note reads, “There would be no colors, if no light.”
  53. Veiled] Veiles 1653
  54. dress’d, their hairy leaves spread out,] dresses, spreads their hairy leaves, 1653
  55. Wreathed round their crowns his golden beams about,] And round their Crownes his golden Beames he wreaths. 1653
  56. esteemed] esteemes 1653
  57. he had, he loved] we find he loves 1653
  58. Daily he did present her with some gift:] Presents her daily with some fine new Gift, 1653
  59. A marginal note in 1653 reads, “These smocks are the days.” In 1664 and 1668 it reads, “Those smocks are the days.”
  60. came, he put] comes, he puts 1653
  61. clean,] Fair, 1664; fair, 1668
  62. And changèd oft, that she may lovely seem.] And changes oft, that shee may lovely seem. 1653; That Lovely she and Handsome might appear, 1664; That Lovely she, and Handsome might appear. 1668
  63. from her went,] goeth from her, 1653
  64. left] leaves 1653
  65. A marginal note in 1653 reads, “The moon.” This note does not appear in 1664 or 1668.
  66. for her] her for 1664; her, for 1668
  67. Whose name is Cynthia] Cynthia she is, 1653
  68. left] leaves 1653
  69. for fear] on her, 1664, 1668
  70. His isle too sad should be] Lest she should Grieve too much, 1664; Lest she should grieve too much, 1668
  71. clothed] cloaths 1653
  72. brought] brings 1653
  73. let] lets 1653
  74. lapped] laps 1653
  75. He] With 1653
  76. o’erspread,] doth spread, 1653
  77. covered] covers 1653
  78. gave] gives 1653
  79. did] doth 1653
  80. Like] As 1653
  81. fringèd] fringes 1653
  82. And] Where 1653
  83. hung] hang 1653
  84. gave her] gives her 1653; gave he 1664, 1668
  85. she] he 1668
  86. adorned] adornes 1653
  87. riv’lets, prospects round about;] Prospects, and Rills that run about. 1653
  88. There hills] Hills 1664, 1668
  89. o’ertopped] o’re top 1653; over-top’d 1664, 1668
  90. be,] were, 1664, 1668
  91. Covered] And cover’d all 1664, 1668
  92. eagerly.] there; 1664; there. 1668
  93. Grass grew] Where Grasse growes 1653
  94. lay pleasantly,] in Pleasure lye. 1653
  95. willing to th’gods her love] her Love to th’ Gods willing 1664, 1668
  96. And temperate seasons gave,] Gave temperate Seasons, 1653
  97. Warm] The 1653