Pastoral Poems (Breton); Selected Poetry (Wither); Pastoral Poetry (Browne)/Visions
I saw a silver swan swim down the Lea,
Singing a sad farewell unto the vale,
While fishes leapt to hear her melody,
And on each thorn a gentle nightingale
And many other birds forbore their notes,
Leaping from tree to tree, as she along
The panting bosom of the current floats,
Rapt with the music of her dying song:
When from a thick and all-entangled spring
A neatherd rude came with no small ado,
Dreading an ill presage to hear her sing,
And quickly struck her tender neck in two;
Whereat the birds, methought, flew thence with speed,
And inly griev'd for such a cruel deed.
A rose, as fair as ever saw the North,
Grew in a little garden all alone;
A sweeter flower did Nature ne'er put forth,
Nor fairer garden yet was never known:
The maidens danc'd about it morn and noon,
And learned bards of it their ditties made;
The nimble fairies by the pale-faced moon
Water'd the root and kiss'd her pretty shade.
But well-a-day, the gard'ner careless grew;
The maids and fairies both were kept away,
And in a drought the caterpillars threw
Themselves upon the bud and every spray.
God shield the stock! if heaven send no supplies,
The fairest blossom of the garden dies.
Down in a valley, by a forest's side,
Near where the crystal Thames rolls on her waves,
I saw a mushroom stand in haughty pride.
As if the lilies grew to be his slaves;
The gentle daisy, with her silver crown,
Worn in the breast of many a shepherd's lass;
The humble violet, that lowly down
Salutes the gay nymphs as they trimly pass:
These, with a many more, methought, complain'd
That Nature should those needless things produce,
Which not alone the sun from others gain'd
But turn it wholly to their proper use:
I could not choose but grieve that Nature made
So glorious flowers to live in such a shade.
A gentle shepherd, born in Arcady,
That well could tune his pipe, and deftly play
The nymphs asleep with rural minstrelsy,
Methought I saw, upon a summer's day,
Take up a little satyr in a wood,
All masterless forlorn as none did know him,
And nursing him with those of his own blood,
On mighty Pan he lastly did bestow him;
But with the god he long time had not been,
Ere he the shepherd and himself forgot,
And most ingrateful, ever stepp'd between
Pan and all good befell the poor man's lot:
Whereat all good men griev'd, and strongly swore
They never would be foster-fathers more.