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Daphnis Post by :wildwoods714 Category :Poems Author :Henry Vaughan Date :October 2011 Read :2651

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Daphnis

An Elegiac Eclogue. The Interlocutors, Damon, Menalcas.


Damon.

What clouds, Menalcas, do oppress thy brow,
Flow'rs in a sunshine never look so low?
Is Nisa still cold flint? or have thy lambs
Met with the fox by straying from their dams?

Menalcas.

Ah, Damon, no! my lambs are safe; and she
Is kind, and much more white than they can be.
But what doth life when most serene afford
Without a worm which gnaws her fairest gourd?
Our days of gladness are but short reliefs,
Giv'n to reserve us for enduring griefs:
So smiling calms close tempests breed, which break
Like spoilers out, and kill our flocks when weak.
I heard last May--and May is still high Spring--
The pleasant Philomel her vespers sing.
The green wood glitter'd with the golden sun.
And all the west like silver shin'd; not one
Black cloud; no rags, nor spots did stain
The welkin's beauty; nothing frown'd like rain.
But ere night came, that scene of fine sights turn'd
To fierce dark show'rs; the air with lightnings burn'd;
The wood's sweet syren, rudely thus oppress'd,
Gave to the storm her weak and weary breast.
I saw her next day on her last cold bed:
And Daphnis so, just so is Daphnis, dead!

Damon.

So violets, so doth the primrose, fall,
At once the Spring's pride, and its funeral.
Such easy sweets get off still in their prime,
And stay not here to wear the soil of time;
While coarser flow'rs, which none would miss, if past,
To scorching Summers and cold Autumns last.

Menalcas.

Souls need not time. The early forward things
Are always fledg'd, and gladly use their wings.
Or else great parts, when injur'd, quit the crowd,
To shine above still, not behind, the cloud.
And is't not just to leave those to the night
That madly hate and persecute the light?
Who, doubly dark, all negroes do exceed,
And inwardly are true black Moors indeed?

Damon.

The punishment still manifests the sin,
As outward signs show the disease within.
While worth oppress'd mounts to a nobler height,
And palm-like bravely overtops the weight.
So where swift Isca from our lofty hills
With loud farewells descends, and foaming fills
A wider channel, like some great port-vein
With large rich streams to fill the humble plain:
I saw an oak, whose stately height and shade,
Projected far, a goodly shelter made;
And from the top with thick diffused boughs
In distant rounds grew like a wood-nymph's house.
Here many garlands won at roundel-lays
Old shepherds hung up in those happy days
With knots and girdles, the dear spoils and dress
Of such bright maids as did true lovers bless.
And many times had old Amphion made
His beauteous flock acquainted with this shade:
His flock, whose fleeces were as smooth and white
As those the welkin shows in moonshine night.
Here, when the careless world did sleep, have I
In dark records and numbers nobly high,
The visions of our black, but brightest bard
From old Amphion's mouth full often heard;
With all those plagues poor shepherds since have known,
And riddles more, which future time must own:
While on his pipe young Hylas play'd, and made
Music as solemn as the song and shade.
But the curs'd owner from the trembling top
To the firm brink did all those branches lop;
And in one hour what many years had bred,
The pride and beauty of the plain, lay dead.
The undone swains in sad songs mourn'd their loss,
While storms and cold winds did improve the cross;
But nature, which--like virtue--scorns to yield,
Brought new recruits and succours to the field;
For by next spring the check'd sap wak'd from sleep,
And upwards still to feel the sun did creep;
Till at those wounds, the hated hewer made,
There sprang a thicker and a fresher shade.

Menalcas.

So thrives afflicted Truth, and so the light
When put out gains a value from the night.
How glad are we, when but one twinkling star
Peeps betwixt clouds more black than is our tar:
And Providence was kind, that order'd this
To the brave suff'rer should be solid bliss:
Nor is it so till this short life be done,
But goes hence with him, and is still his sun.

Damon.

Come, shepherds, then, and with your greenest bays
Refresh his dust, who lov'd your learned lays.
Bring here the florid glories of the spring,
And, as you strew them, pious anthems sing,
Which to your children and the years to come
May speak of Daphnis, and be never dumb.
While prostrate I drop on his quiet urn
My tears, not gifts; and like the poor that mourn
With green but humble turfs, write o'er his hearse
For false, foul prose-men this fair truth in verse.

"Here Daphnis sleeps, and while the great watch goes
Of loud and restless Time, takes his repose.
Fame is but noise; all Learning but a thought;
Which one admires, another sets at nought,
Nature mocks both, and Wit still keeps ado:
But Death brings knowledge and assurance too."

Menalcas.

Cast in your garlands! strew on all the flow'rs,
Which May with smiles or April feeds with show'rs,
Let this day's rites as steadfast as the sun
Keep pace with Time and through all ages run;
The public character and famous test
Of our long sorrows and his lasting rest.
And when we make procession on the plains,
Or yearly keep the holiday of swains,
Let Daphnis still be the recorded name,
And solemn honour of our feasts and fame.
For though the Isis and the prouder Thames
Can show his relics lodg'd hard by their streams:
And must for ever to the honour'd name
Of noble Murrey chiefly owe that fame:
Yet here his stars first saw him, and when Fate
Beckon'd him hence, it knew no other date.
Nor will these vocal woods and valleys fail,
Nor Isca's louder streams, this to bewail;
But while swains hope, and seasons change, will glide
With moving murmurs because Daphnis died.

Damon.

A fatal sadness, such as still foregoes,
Then runs along with public plagues and woes,
Lies heavy on us; and the very light,
Turn'd mourner too, hath the dull looks of night.
Our vales, like those of death, a darkness show
More sad than cypress or the gloomy yew;
And on our hills, where health with height complied,
Thick drowsy mists hang round, and there reside.
Not one short parcel of the tedious year
In its old dress and beauty doth appear.
Flow'rs hate the spring, and with a sullen bend
Thrust down their heads, which to the root still tend.
And though the sun, like a cold lover, peeps
A little at them, still the day's-eye sleeps.
But when the Crab and Lion with acute
And active fires their sluggish heat recruit,
Our grass straight russets, and each scorching day
Drinks up our brooks as fast as dew in May;
Till the sad herdsman with his cattle faints,
And empty channels ring with loud complaints.

Menalcas.

Heaven's just displeasure, and our unjust ways,
Change Nature's course; bring plagues, dearth, and decays.
This turns our lands to dust, the skies to brass,
Makes old kind blessings into curses pass:
And when we learn unknown and foreign crimes,
Brings in the vengeance due unto those climes.
The dregs and puddle of all ages now,
Like rivers near their fall, on us do flow.
Ah, happy Daphnis! who while yet the streams
Ran clear and warm, though but with setting beams,
Got through, and saw by that declining light,
His toil's and journey's end before the night.

Damon.

A night, where darkness lays her chains and bars,
And feral fires appear instead of stars.
But he, along with the last looks of day,
Went hence, and setting--sunlike--pass'd away.
What future storms our present sins do hatch
Some in the dark discern, and others watch;
Though foresight makes no hurricane prove mild,
Fury that's long fermenting is most wild.
But see, while thus our sorrows we discourse,
Ph(oe)bus hath finish'd his diurnal course;
The shades prevail: each bush seems bigger grown;
Darkness--like State--makes small things swell and frown:
The hills and woods with pipes and sonnets round,
And bleating sheep our swains drive home, resound.

Menalcas.

What voice from yonder lawn tends hither? Hark!
'Tis Thyrsis calls! I hear Lycanthe bark!
His flocks left out so late, and weary grown,
Are to the thickets gone, and there laid down.

Damon.

Menalcas, haste to look them out! poor sheep,
When day is done, go willingly to sleep:
And could bad man his time spend as they do,
He might go sleep, or die, as willing too.

Menalcas.

Farewell! kind Damon! now the shepherd's star
With beauteous looks smiles on us, though from far.
All creatures that were favourites of day
Are with the sun retir'd and gone away.
While feral birds send forth unpleasant notes,
And night--the nurse of thoughts--sad thoughts promotes:
But joy will yet come with the morning light,
Though sadly now we bid good night!

Damon.

Good night!


(The end)
Henry Vaughan's poem: Daphnis

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