1700 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

T. A., "A Pastoral, on the Death of Mr. Dryden" Luctus Britannici, or, the Tears of the British Muses for the Death of John Dryden (1700) 20-22.



DAMON.
Tell me Alexis, tell thy faithful Swain,
Why my lov'd Shepherd thus forsake's the Plain?
Now in this cheerful Season of the Year,
When smiling Nymphs fresh Garlands do prepare,
Why shou'd the lov'd Alexis Disappear?
Thy Flocks are well, thy Charming Nisa's kind,
And Damon love's thee too, nor can'st thou find,
Beyond all these, ought to affect thy Mind.

ALEXIS.
Ah Damon that ungrateful Search decline,
I've News will shock thy Breast, as well as mine;
Thou may'st besure it is no common thing,
Can drive me from the Glories of the Spring;
No Vulgar Sorrow could prevail above
Care of my Flocks, and Thine and Nisa's Love.
Know'st thou, Palaemon?

DAMON.
That you might have spar'd,
What swain of Great Palaemon ha's not hear'd?
When their best Arts the Rival Shepherds try'd,
I hear'd Palaemon the Great Cause decide.
With such a Grace he clos'd the envious Fray,
That both the Jarring Youths went Pleas'd away.
Oft with commanding skill He'd Charm the Plains,
And ravish with soft Airs, th' attentive Swains,
Who doubt if Pan himself ha's sweeter Strain.
We chuse May-Lady before long, and then,
I hope to hear his Tuneful Voice agen.

ALEXIS.
Alas! fond Youth, thy fruitless hopes give o'er,
This Great, this Lov'd Palaemon is no more;
Breathless and Cold, the lost Palaemon lie's,
Cold as this Earth, thus moisten'd from my Eyes.

DAMON.
Forbid it Pan! and yet it must be so,
My mind presents the boding Omen now,
Which only could Palaemon's Death foreshew.
You knew the well-grown Captain of my Flock,
Fairest and best of all my Fleeces Stock;
High on his branching front he bore the Bell,
Which to th' inferior Herd did Danger tell,
When e'er the treach'rous Woolf a Slaughter meant,
He rung t' Alarm, and baulk't the sly Intent.
Th' obsequious Flock ne'er from their Leader rov'd,
Nor tasted Grass, but what he first approv'd.
This valu'd Sheep, a little while ago,
Sunk and Expir'd before the Wat'ring Trough;
The cause to me unknown; and as He fell,
A rev'rend Nod, rung out the fatal Knell;
With great amaze, th' unwelcome sound I hear'd,
Much griev'd my Loss, but more the Omen fear'd.

ALEXIS.
Shepherd, thy fears were Just, the sad portent
Is fatally explain'd in this Event;
For as that Sheep thy wand'ring Flock did lead,
Just so Palaemon did the Shepherds Head.
When growing Worth reach'd forward to the Bays,
He would with Joy, the bold Pretender raise,
And be himself the Herald to his Praise.
Fix'd high in fame, He gladly did dispense
To blooming Wit, a rip'ning Influence,
If o'er inform'd, the Muse would soar too high,
And on advent'rous Pinions sought the Sky;
To bring her gently down, he knew the Lure,
And made her fall Delightful and Secure,
Or should her flames on lazy Wings aspire,
With active Vigour he'd improve the Fire.
But while I strive to pay the Debt I owe
To His commanding Skill, I only Show
How high it was in Him, in me, how low.
Yet this I have however, to excuse
The flowing Error of a Mourning Muse,
That when this uninspir'd Scroll was writ,
W' had lost the Genius of our English Wit.