Untitled [Give me a free and noble style]


Give me a2 free and noble style that goes3
In an uncurbed strain, though wild it shows:4
Though5 it runs wild about,6 it cares not where,
It shows more courage than it doth of fear.
Give me a style that Nature frames, not Art,               5
For Art doth seem to take the pedant’s part.
And that seems noble, which is easy, free,
And not bound up7 with o’ernice pedantry.

The Hunting of the Hare

Betwixt two ridges of plowed land sat1 Wat,
Whose body, pressed to th’earth, lay close and squat.2
His nose upon his two fore-feet close lies,3
Glaring obliquely with his great grey eyes.4
His head he always sets5 against the wind;                            5
If turn his tail, his hairs blow up behind6
And make him to get cold, but he, being wise,7
Doth keep8 his coat still down, so warm he lies.
Thus rests he9 all the day till th’sun10 doth set;
Then up he riseth,11 his relief12 to get,                                    10
Walking about13 until the sun doth rise,
Then coming back in’s former posture lies.14
At last, poor Wat was found, as he there lay,
By huntsmen which came with their dogs that way,15
Whom seeing, he got up, and fast did run,16                         15
Hoping some ways the cruel dogs to shun.
But they by nature have17 so quick a scent,
That by their nose they traced18 what way he went,
And with their deep, wide mouths set forth a cry,
Which answered was by echoes19 in the sky.                        20
Then Wat was struck with terror and with fear,
Seeing each shadow, thought the dogs were there,20
And running out some distance from their cry,21
To hide himself his thoughts he did employ.22
Under a clod of earth in sand-pit wide                                    25
Poor Wat sat close, hoping himself to hide.
There long he had not been,23 but straight in’s24 ears
The winding horns and crying dogs he hears.
Then starting up25 with fear, he leap’d, and such26
Swift speed he made, the ground he scarce did touch.27    30
Into a great thick wood straight ways he got,28
And29 underneath a broken bough he sat,30
Where31 every leaf that with the wind did shake
Did bring32 such terror, that his heart did33 ache.
That place he left; to champaign plains he went,                 35
Winding about for to deceive their scent,
And while they snuffling were to find his track,
Poor Wat, being weary, his swift pace did slack.
On his two hinder legs for ease he sat;34
His fore-feet rubbed his face from dust and sweat.             40
Licking his feet, he wiped his ears so clean
That none could tell that Wat had hunted been.
But casting round about his fair grey35 eyes,
The hounds in full career he near him spies.
To Wat it was so terrible a sight                                               45
Fear gave him wings, and made his body light:
Though weary was36 before, by running long,
Yet now his breath he never felt more strong,
Like those that dying are, think health returns,
When ’tis but a faint blast, which life out burns,                  50
For spirits seek to guard the heart about,
Striving with Death, but Death doth quench them out.
The hounds37 so fast came on, and with such cry,38
That he no hopes had39 left, nor help could ’spy.40
With that, the winds did pity poor Wat’s case,                      55
And with their breath the scent blew from that41 place;
Then every42 nose was43 busily employed,
And every nostril was44 set open wide,
And every head did45 seek a several way
To find the46 grass or track where the scent47 lay.                60
For witty industry is never slack;48
’Tis like to witchcraft, and49 brings lost things back.
But50 though the wind had tied the scent up close,
A busy dog thrust in his snuffling nose
And drew it out, with it51 did foremost run;                          65
Then horns blew loud, for th’rest52 to follow on.
The great slow-hounds, their throats did set a base;
The fleet swift hounds, as tenors next in place;
The little beagles did53 a trebble sing,
And through the air their voices54 round did ring,55           70
Which made such56 consort as they ran along,
That, had they spoken words, ’t had been a song.57
The horns kept time; the men did58 shout for joy,
And seemed most valiant,59 poor Wat to60 destroy,
Spurring their horses to a full career,                                     75
Swam61 rivers deep, leaped62 ditches without fear,
Endangered63 life and limbs, so fast they’d64 ride,
Only to see how patiently Wat died.
At last65 the dogs so near his heels did get,
That they66 their sharp teeth in67 his breech did set.           80
Then tumbling down he fell,68 with weeping eyes
Gave69 up his ghost, and thus, poor Wat, he dies.
Men, hooping loud, such acclamations made70
As if the Devil they imprisoned had,71
When they did but72 a shiftless creature kill;                        85
To hunt there needs no valiant soldier’s skill.
But men do73 think that exercise and toil,
To keep their health, is best which makes most spoil,
Thinking that food and nourishment so good
Which doth proceed from others’74 flesh and blood.           90
When they do lions, wolves, bears, tigers see
To kill poor75 sheep, they say76 they cruel be,
But for themselves, all creatures think too few,
For luxury, wish God would make more77 new,
As if God did make78 creatures for man’s meat,                    95
To give79 them life and sense, for man to eat,
Or else for sport or recreation’s sake,
Destroy80 those lives that God saw good to81 make,
Making their stomachs graves, which full they fill
With murthered bodies, which82 in sport they kill.              100
Yet man doth think himself so gentle, mild,83
When of all creatures he’s most cruel, wild,84
And is so proud, thinks only he shall live,85
That God a godlike nature did him86 give,
And that all creatures for his sake alone                                 105
Were made,87 for him to tyrannize upon.

The Hunting of the Stag


There was a stag did in the forest lie,
Whose neck was long, whose horns were2 branched up high.
His haunch was broad, sides large, and back was long;
His legs were nervous, and his joints were strong.
His hair lay sleek and smooth; he was so fair,3                     5
None in the forest might with him compare.4
In summer’s heat he in cool brakes him lay,5
Which, being high, did keep the sun away;6
In evenings cool and7 dewy mornings new8
Would he rise up,9 and all the forest view.10                          10
Then walking to some clear and crystal brook,11
Not for to drink, but on his horns to look,
Taking such pleasure in his stately crown,
His pride forgot12 that dogs might pull him down.
From thence he to13 a shady wood did go,                             15
Where straightest pines and tallest cedars grow;
And upright olives, which th’loving vine oft twines;14
And slender birch bows head15 to golden mines;16
Small aspen stalk which shakes like agues cold,
That from perpetual motion never hold;                                20
The sturdy oak which on the seas17 doth ride;
Fir, which tall masts doth make, where sails are tied;
The weeping maple; and the poplar green,
Whose cooling buds in salves have healing been;
The fatting18 chestnut; and the hazel small;                          25
The smooth-rind beech, which groweth large and tall;
The loving myrtle fit for19 amorous kind;
The yielding willow, for20 inconstant mind;
The cypress sad, which makes the funeral hearse;
And sycamores, where lovers write their verse;                  30
And juniper, which gives a pleasant smell;
And21 many more, which were too long to tell.
Round22 from their sappy roots sprout branches small;
Some call it underwood, that’s never tall.
There walking through, the stag was hindered much;        35
The bending twigs his horns did often touch.23
While he on24 tender leaves and buds did browse,
His eyes were troubled with the broken boughs.
Then straight he sought25 this labyrinth to26 unwind,
But27 hard it was his first way out to find.                             40
Unto this wood a rising hill was near;28
The sweet wild thyme and marjoram grew there,29
And winter sav’ry,30 which was never set,
Of31 which the stag took great delight32 to eat.
But looking down upon33 the valleys low,                             45
He saw there34 grass and cowslips thick did35 grow,
And springs, which digged36 themselves a passage out,
Much like as serpents wind each field about,
Rising in winter high, do37 overflow
The flow’ry banks, but make38 the soil to39 grow.                50
And40 as he went, thinking therein to feed,
He ’spied41 a field which sowed was with wheat seed.
The blades were grown a handful high and more,
Which sight to42 taste did soon invite him o’er.
In haste he went, fed43 full, then down did lie;44                 55
The owner, coming there, did him espy,45
Straight called his dogs to hunt him from that place;
At last it came46 to be a forest chase.
The chase grew hot; the stag apace did run;
Dogs followed close, and men for sport did come.47            60
At last a troop of men, horse, dogs did meet,
Which made the hart to try his nimble feet.
Full swift he was; his horns he bore up high;
The48 men did shout; the dogs ran yelping by.
And bugle horns with several notes did blow;                      65
Huntsmen to cross the stag did sideways go.
The horses beat their hooves against dry ground,
Raising such clouds of dust, their ways scarce found.
Their sides ran down with sweat, as if they were
New come from wat’ring,49 dropping50 every hair.             70
The dogs, their tongues out of their mouths hung long;
Their sides did like a feverish pulse beat strong;51
Their short ribs heaved52 up high, then fell down53 low,
As bellows draw in wind that they may54 blow.
Men tawny grew; the sun their skins did turn;                     75
Their mouths were dry; their bowels felt to burn.
The stag, so hot as coals when kindled through,55
Yet swiftly ran when he the dogs did view.56
Coming at length unto a river’s side,
Whose current flowed as with a falling tide,                         80
There he leaped in, thinking some while to stay57
To wash his sides, his burning heat t’allay,58
Hoping59 the dogs could not in water60 swim,
But was61 deceived: the dogs do enter in.62
Like fishes, tried to swim in water low,63                               85
But64 out, alas, his horns too high did show.65
The66 dogs were covered over head and ears;67
No part is seen, only their nose appears.68
The stag and river like a race did show,
He striving still the river69 to outgo,                                        90
Whilst men and horses down the banks did run,70
Encouraging the dogs to follow on,
Where in the water,71 like a looking-glass,
He by reflection saw72 their shadows pass.
Fear did his breath cut73 short; his limbs did74 shrink        95
Like those the cramp75 makes to th’bottom76 sink.
Thus out of breath, no longer could he stay,
But leaped77 on land and swiftly ran78 away.
Change gave him79 ease, ease strength; in strength hope lives;
Hope joys the heart, and joy light heels80 still gives.81        100
His feet did like82 a feathered arrow fly,83
Or like a wingèd bird, that mounts the sky.84
The dogs, like ships that sail with wind and tide,
Which85 cut the air, and waters deep divide,
Or like as greedy merchants, which for gain86                     105
Venture their life, and traffic on the main.87
The hunters, like to boys which, without fear,88
To see a sight will hazard life that’s dear,89
Which sad become90 when mischief takes not91 place,
And92 out of countenance, as with disgrace,                         110
But when they see a ruin and a fall,
Return93 with joy, as if they’d conquered94 all.
And thus did their three several passions meet:95
First the desire to catch the dogs made fleet,96
Then fear the stag made97 run, his life to save,                    115
Whilst men for love of mischief digged98 his grave.
The angry dust flew in each face about,99
As if ’twould with revenge their eyes put out,100
Yet they all101 fast went on with a huge cry.102
The stag no hope had left, nor help did ’spy;103                    120
His heart so heavy grew with grief and care,
That his small feet his body scarce could104 bear.
Yet loath to die or yield to foes was he,
And105 to the last would strive for victory.
’Twas not for want of courage he did run,                             125
But that an army against one did come.106
Had he the valor of bold Caesar107 stout,
Yet yield he must108 to them, or die no doubt.
Turning his head, as if he dared their spite,
Prepared himself against them all to fight.                            130
Single he was; his horns were all his helps
To guard him from a multitude of whelps.
Besides, a company of men were there,
If dogs should fail, to strike him everywhere.
But to the last his fortune he’d109 try out;                               135
Then men and dogs did110 circle him about.
Some bit; some barked; all plied111 him at the bay,
Where with his horns he tossèd112 some away.
But Fate his thread had spun; he113 down did fall,
Shedding some tears at his own funeral.                                140

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.

The Ruin of this Island


This island lived in peace full many a day,
So long as she unto the gods did pray.
But she grew proud with plenty and with ease,
Adored herself, and2 did the gods displease.
She flung their altars down, her own set up,3                           5
And she alone would have divine worship.4
The gods grew angry, and commanded Fate
To alter and to ruin quite the state.
For they had changed their mind of late, they said,
And did repent unthankful man th’had made.                         10
Fates wondered much to hear what said the gods,
That they and mortal men5 were at great odds,
And found them apt to change, thought it did show6
As if the gods did not poor men foreknow.7
“For why,” said they, “if men do evil grow,                                15
The gods, foreseeing all, men’s hearts did8 know
Long, long before they did man first create;9
If so, what need they change or alter fate?
’Twas in their pow’r10 to make them good or ill;
Wherefore,11 men cannot do just what they will.                    20
Then why do gods complain against them so,
Since men are made by them such ways to go?
If evil power hath gods to oppose,
Two12 equal deities it plainly shows;
The one pow’r cannot keep obedience long,13                          25
If disobedient power14 be as strong.
And,15 being ignorant how men will prove,
Know not16 how strong or long will last their love.”17
But may’t not be the course of gods’ decree18
To love obedience whensoe’er it be?19                                       30
They from the first a changing power create,20
And for that work make21 destiny and fate.22
It is the mind of man23 that’s apt to range;
The minds of gods are not subject to change.24
Then did the Fates unto the planets go,                                      35
And told them they malignity must throw
Into this island, for the gods would25 take
Revenge on them who did26 their laws forsake.
With that, the planets drew, like27 with a screw,
Bad vapors from the Earth, and then did view28                      40
What place to squeeze that poison, in29 which all
The venom was, that’s got from the world’s ball,30
Which31 through men’s veins, like molten lead, it came,
And did like oil their spirits all inflame,32
Where malice boiled with rancor, spleen, and spite.               45
In war and fraud, injustice took delight,
Thinking which way their lusts they might fulfill,33
Committed thefts, rapes, murthers at their will;34
Parents and children did unnat’ral grow,35
And every friend was turned a cruel foe;36                               50
Nay,37 innocency no protection had;
Religious men were thought to be stark mad;
In witches, wizards they did38 put their trust;
Extortions, bribes were thought to be most just;
Like Titans’ race, all in a tumult rose,39                                      55
Blasphemous words against high Heaven throws.40
The gods41 in rage unbound42 the winds to43 blow
In foreign nations,44 formerly their foe.
Where they did plant themselves, no Britons live,45
For why the gods their lives and land them give.46                  60
Compassion wept, and Virtue wrung her hands
To see that right was banished from their lands.
Thus winds and seas, the planets, fates, and all
Conspired to work her ruin and her fall.
But those that keep the laws of God on high                              65
Shall live in peace, in graves shall quiet lie.47
And ever after like the gods shall be,
Enjoy all pleasure, know no misery.