1598
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode.

Poems: in divers Humors. [In] The Encomion of Lady Pecunia: or the Praise of Money. By Richard Barnfeild, Graduate in Oxford.

Richard Barnfield


A brief rural ode in couplets; reprinted in England's Helicon, this became Richard Barnfield's best-known poem. Wells sees a similarity to the description of Phaedria's bower in Faerie Queene 2.6.24 (1972) 57, though the verbal parallel is to stanza 25: "And she more sweet, then any bird on bough, | Would oftentimes emongst them beare a part."

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "This poet, of whom little is known, except that he was author of The Affectionate Shepheard, 1594, 12mo, and two or three other scarce publications, of which the last was Poems in divers humors, 1598, 4to, has two pieces in this collection [England's Helicon], one with his name at p. 126, the other subscribed Ignoto, taken from the Poems abovementioned. Meres ranks him 'among our best for pastoral.' The song is to be found at p. 59, and begins, 'As it fell upon a day'" British Bibliographer 3 (1812) xiv.

E. K. Chambers: "From Poems in Divers Humours (1598). This poem, with another from the same volume, was printed as Shakespeare's in The Passionate Pilgrim (1599), but there can be little doubt that it is really by Barnfield" English Pastorals (1906) 80.

See J. B. Henneman, "Barnfield's Ode 'As it fell upon a Day'" in An English Miscellany for Dr. Furnival (1901).



As it fell upon a Day,
In the merrie Month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade,
Which a grove of Myrtles made,
Beastes did leape, and Birds did sing,
Trees did grow, and Plants did spring:
Every thing did banish mone,
Save the Nightingale alone.
Shee (poore Bird) as all forlorne,
Leand her Breast up-till a Thorne;
And there sung the dolefulst Ditty,
That to heare it was great Pitty.
Fie, fie, fie, now would she cry
Teru Teru, by and by:
That to heare her so complaine,
Scarce I could from Teares complaine,
For her griefes so lively showne,
Made me thinke upon mine owne.
Ah (thought I) thou mournst in vaine;
None takes Pitty on thy paine:
Senselesse Trees, they cannot heere thee;
Ruthlesse Beares, they wil not cheer thee,
King Pandion, hee is dead:
All thy friends are lapt in Lead.
All thy fellow Birds doe singe,
Carelesse of thy sorrowing.
Whilst as fickle Fortune smilde,
Thou and I, were both beguilde.
Everie one that flatters thee,
Is no friend in miserie:
Words are easie, like the winde;
Faithfull friends are hard to finde:
Everie man will bee thy friend,
Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend:
But if store of Crownes be scant,
No man will supply thy want.
If that one be prodigall,
Bountifull, they will him call:
And with such-like flattering,
Pitty but hee were a King.
If he bee adict to vice,
Quickly him, they will intice.
If to Woemen hee be bent,
They have at Commaundement.
But if Fortune once doe frowne,
Then farewell his great renowne:
They that fawnd on him before,
Use his company no more.
Hee that is thy friend indeed,
Hee will helpe thee in thy neede:
If thou sorrowe, hee will weepe;
If thou wake, hee cannot sleepe:
Thus of everie griefe, in hart
Hee, with thee, doeth beare a Part.
These are certaine Signes, to know
Faithfull friend, from flatt'ring foe.

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