Poems from a Heart of Love

Saturday, 2 August 2014

William Drummond of Hawthornden

William Drummond (1585–1649), Selected Poetry
Vol. 40, pp. 326-330 of The Harvard Classics

"Here is the pleasant place - and nothing wanting is, save She, alas!" How often we too are faced with like adversity. So sings Drummond - a master songster and composer.


Saint John Baptist

THE LAST and greatest Herald of Heaven’s King
Girt with rough skins, hies to the deserts wild,
Among that savage brood the woods forth bring,
Which he more harmless found than man, and mild.
His food was locusts, and what there doth spring,
With honey that from virgin hives distill’d;
Parch’d body, hollow eyes, some uncouth thing
Made him appear, long since from earth exiled.
There burst he forth: All ye whose hopes rely
On God, with me amidst these deserts mourn,
Repent, repent, and from old errors turn!
—Who listen’d to his voice, obey’d his cry?
  Only the echoes, which he made relent,
  Rung from their flinty caves, Repent! Repent!







Madrigal


MY thoughts hold mortal strife;
I do detest my life,
And with lamenting cries
Peace to my soul to bring
Oft call that prince which here doth monarchize:
—But he, grim grinning King,
Who caitiffs scorns, and doth the blest surprize,
Late having deck’d with beauty’s rose his tomb,
Disdains to crop a weed, and will not come.


Life

THIS Life, which seems so fair,
Is like a bubble blown up in the air
By sporting children’s breath,
Who chase it everywhere
And strive who can most motion it bequeath.
And though it sometimes seem of its own might
Like to an eye of gold to be fix’d there,
And firm to hover in that empty height,
That only is because it is so light.
—But in that pomp it doth not long appear;
For when ’tis most admired, in a thought,
Because it erst was nought, it turns to nought.

Human Folly

THIS Life, which seems so fair,
Is like a bubble blown up in the air
By sporting children’s breath,
Who chase it everywhere
And strive who can most motion it bequeath.
And though it sometimes seem of its own might
Like to an eye of gold to be fix’d there,
And firm to hover in that empty height,
That only is because it is so light.
—But in that pomp it doth not long appear;
For when ’tis most admired, in a thought,
Because it erst was nought, it turns to nought.


The Problem

DOTH then the world go thus, doth all thus move?
Is this the justice which on Earth we find?
Is this that firm decree which all doth bind?
Are these your influences, Powers above?
Those souls which vice’s moody mists most blind,
Blind Fortune, blindly, most their friend doth prove;
And they who thee, poor idol Virtue! love,
Ply like a feather toss’d by storm and wind.
Ah! if a Providence doth sway this all
Why should best minds groan under most distress?
Or why should pride humility make thrall,
And injuries the innocent oppress?
Heavens! hinder, stop this fate; or grant a time
When good may have, as well as bad, their prime!


To His Lute

MY lute, be as thou wert when thou didst grow
With thy green mother in some shady grove,
When immelodious winds but made thee move,
And birds their ramage did on thee bestow.
Since that dear Voice which did thy sounds approve,
Which wont in such harmonious strains to flow,
Is reft from Earth to tune those spheres above,
What art thou but a harbinger of woe?
Thy pleasing notes be pleasing notes no more,
But orphans’ wailings to the fainting ear;
Each stroke a sigh, each sound draws forth a tear;
For which be silent as in woods before:
Or if that any hand to touch thee deign,
Like widow’d turtle still her loss complain.


For the Magdalene

‘THESE eyes, dear Lord, once brandons of desire,
Frail scouts betraying what they had to keep,
Which their own heart, then others set on fire,
Their trait’rous black before thee here out-weep;
These locks, of blushing deeds the gilt attire,
Waves curling, wrackful shelves to shadow deep,
Rings wedding souls to sin’s lethargic sleep,
To touch thy sacred feet do now aspire.
In seas of care behold a sinking bark,
By winds of sharp remorse unto thee driven,
O let me not be Ruin’s aim’d-at-mark!
My faults confessed, Lord, say they are forgiven.’
Thus sighed to Jesus the Bethanian fair,
His tear-wet feet still drying with her hair.


Content and Resolute

AS when it happeneth that some lovely town
Unto a barbarous besieger falls,
Who there by sword and flame himself installs,
And, cruel, it in tears and blood doth drown;
Her beauty spoiled, her citizens made thralls,
His spite yet so can not her all throw down
But that some statue, arch, fane of renown
Yet lurks unmaimed within her weeping walls:
So, after all the spoil, disgrace, and wrack,
That time, the world, and death, could bring combined,
Amidst that mass of ruins they did make,
Safe and all scarless yet remains my mind.
From this so high transcending rapture springs,
That I, all else defaced, not envy kings.


Alexis, Here She Stayed; Among These Pines

ALEXIS, here she stayed; among these pines,
Sweet hermitress, she did alone repair;
Here did she spread the treasure of her hair,
More rich than that brought from the Colchian mines;
She set her by these muskéd eglantines.—
The happy place the print seems yet to bear;—
Her voice did sweeten here thy sugared lines,
To which winds, trees, beasts, birds, did lend their ear:
Me here she first perceived, and here a morn
Of bright carnations did o’erspread her face;
Here did she sigh, here first my hopes were born,
And I first got a pledge of promised grace;
But ah! what served it to be happy so,
Sith passéd pleasures double but new woe?


Summons to Love

PHœBUS, arise!
And paint the sable skies
With azure, white, and red:
Rouse Memnon’s mother from her Tithon’s bed
That she may thy career with roses spread:
The nightingales thy coming eachwhere sing:
Make an eternal Spring!
Give life to this dark world which lieth dead;
Spread forth thy golden hair
In larger locks than thou wast wont before,
And emperor-like decore
With diadem of pearl thy temples fair:
Chase hence the ugly night
Which serves but to make dear thy glorious light

—This is that happy morn,
That day, long-wishèd day
Of all my life so dark,
(If cruel stars have not my ruin sworn
And fates my hopes betray),
Which, purely white, deserves
An everlasting diamond should it mark.
This is the morn should bring unto this grove
My Love, to hear and recompense my love.
Fair King, who all preserves,
But show thy blushing beams,
And thou two sweeter eyes
Shalt see than those which by Penéus’ streams
Did once thy heart surprize.
Now, Flora, deck thyself in fairest guise:
If that ye winds would hear
A voice surpassing far Amphion’s lyre,
Your furious chiding stay;
Let Zephyr only breathe,
And with her tresses play.
—The winds all silent are,
And Phœbus in his chair
Ensaffroning sea and air
Makes vanish every star:
Night like a drunkard reels
Beyond the hills, to shun his flaming wheels:
The fields with flowers are deck’d in every hue,
The clouds with orient gold spangle their blue;
Here is the pleasant place—
And nothing wanting is, save She, alas!


 

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