1684 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Oldham

Thomas Flatman, "On the Death of Mr. John Oldham. Pindaric Pastoral Ode" Oldham, Remains (1684) sigs. A-A2.



I.
Undoubtedly 'tis thy peculiar Fate,
Ah, miserable Astragon!
Thou art condemn'd alone
To bear the Burthen of a wretched Life,
Still in this howling Wilderness to roam,
While all thy Bosom-friends unkindly go,
And leave thee to lament them here below.
Thy dear Alexis would not stay,
Joy of thy Life, and Pleasure of thine Eyes,
Dear Alexis went away
With an invincible Surprize;
Th' Angel-like Youth early dislik'd this State,
And chearfully submitted to his Fate.
Never did Soul of a Celestial Birth
Inform a purer piece of Earth.
O that 'twere not in vain
To wish what's past might be retriev'd again!
Thy Dotage, thy Alexis, then
Had answer'd all thy Vows and Pray'rs,
And Crown'd with pregnant Joys thy silver Hairs,
Lov'd to this day among the living Sons of Men.

II.
And thou, my Friend, hast left me too,
Menalcas! poor Menalcas! even thou,
Of whom so loudly Fame has spoke
In the Records of her immortal Book,
Whose disregarded Worth Ages to come
Shall wail with Indignation o'er thy Tomb.
Worthy wert thou to live, as long as Vice
Should need a Satyr, that the frantick Age
Might tremble at the Lash of thy poetick Rage.
Th' untutor'd World in after Times
May live uncensur'd for their Crimes,
Freed from the Dreads of thy reforming Pen,
Turn to old Chaos once again.
Of all th' instructive Bards, whose more than Theban Lyre.
Could savage Souls with manly Thoughts inspire,
Menalcas worthy was to live.
Say, you his Fellow-Shepherds that survive,
Tell me, you mournful Swains,
Has my ador'd Menalcas left behind;
In all these pensive Plains
A gentler Shepherd with a braver mind:
Which of you all did more Majestick Show,
Or wore the Garland on a sweeter Brow?

III.
—But wayward Astragon resolves no more
The Loss of his Menalcas to deplore:
The place to which he wisely is withdrawn
Is altogether blest;
There no Clouds o'erwhelm his Breast,
No Midnight Cares can break his Rest;
For all is everlasting cheerful Dawn.
The Poet's Bliss there shall he long possess,
Perfect Ease and soft Recess;
The treacherous World no more shall him deceive;
Of Hope and Fortune he has taken Leave:
And now in mighty Triumph does he reign,
(His Head adorn'd with Beams of Light)
O'er the unthinking Rabble's Spite,
And the dull wealthy Fool's disdain.
Thrice happy he that dies the Muses Friend,
He needs no Obelisque, no Pyramid
His sacred Dust to hide;
He needs not for his Memory to provide;
For he might well foresee his Praise can never end.