Dorus asks Myrtilus for a song, who obliges by repeating the complaint of Thirsil (Phineas Fletcher) to Thomalin (Fletcher's friend Jo. Tomkins). Cambridge has treated Thirsil very badly: "My fish (the guerdon of my toil and pain) | He causelesse seaz'd, and with ungratefull spite | Bestow'd upon a lesse deserving swain: | The cost and labour mine, his all the gain." In this respect Thirsil has been treated no differently than was his father Thelgon, whose preferments all went to the detestable Gripus. We are told that "Thelgon's lately dead," which helps to date this eclogue to about 1612. Thirsil resolves to take leave of Cambridge, and Thomalin declares that it is no place for him, either. The song concludes with a chorus of farewells, imitating the adieus in Spenser's December.
Henry Headley: "In [the first edition of Lycidas] Milton had written 'humming" tide,' which is perhaps more expressive and poetical. His first epithet he had probably from the following fine passage of Fletcher: 'While humming rivers by his cabin creeping, | Rock soft his slumbering thoughts in quiet case.' Eclog. 2." Select Beauties of Ancient English Poetry (1787; 1810) 2:155-56.
Alexander Fraser Tytler: "Dorus and Myrtilus sitting on the beach, while the weather is unfavourable for fishing, amuse themselves with a song. Myrtilus relates the cause of Thrisil's abandoning the employment of a fisher, and forsaking his native streams. The Author's father's misfortunes are again touch'd on, in the character of Thelgon, couched under a beautiful allegory. Thirsil affected with the ungenerous fate of his friend, and resenting likewise his own unmerited hardships, forswears for ever his country and his occupation. His parting with Thomalin, and the haunts and delights of his youth, are described with all the force and tenderness of poetical expression" Piscatorie Eclogs and Poetical Miscellanies (1771) 18.
Robert Southey: "Giles Fletcher (the father I suppose) was involved in some factious opposition to Dr. Good, the Provost of King's College; and confessed the slander and falsehood of the charges he had assisted in bringing against him. There are several letters upon this matter among the Lansdowne MS. p. 46, No. 23, 19, and seq." Common-Place Book (1849-51) 4:291.
Abram Barnett Langdale: "There are several circumstances which indicate that the eclogue was written in 1612 and not in 1615.... In the poem (st. 2) we are informed that it was composed several months after the author's removal. These facts harmonize with the first break of September 13, 1612, and not with that of March 25, 1615" Phineas Fletcher (1937) 62.
Frank S. Kastor: "His bitterest poem, it was written shortly after his father's death and reveals a full awareness that he will have to leave Cambridge. One version, probably the first, is a dialogue between Thirsil (Phineas) and Thomalin (Tomkins). In the published version Phineas adds a framing dialogue between Dorus and Myrtilus in five-line stanzas and excludes one of his most vitriolic slashes at Cambridge" Giles and Phineas Fletcher (1978) 84-85.
Abram Barnett Langdale identifies Gripus as Roger Goad (1538-1610, provost of King's College Cambridge; Phineas Fletcher (1937) 34.
DORUS. MYRTILUS. THOMALIN. THIRSIL.
Myrtil, why idle sit we on the shore?
Since stormy windes, and waves intestine spite
Impatient rage of sail, or bending oare;
Sit we, and sing, while windes and waters fight;
And carol lowd of love, and loves delight.
Dorus, ah rather stormy seas require
With sadder song the tempests rage deplore:
In calms let's sing of love, and lovers fire.
Tell we how Thirsil late our seas forswore,
When forc't he left our Chame, and desert shore.
Now as thou art a lad, repeat that lay;
Myrtil, his songs more please my ravisht eare,
Then rumbling brooks that with the pebles play,
Then murmuring seas broke on the banks to heare,
Or windes on rocks their whistling voices teare.
Seest thou that rock, which hanging o're the main
Looks proudly down? there as I under lay,
Thirsil with Thomalin I heard complain,
Thomalin, (who now goes sighing all the day)
Who thus 'gan tempt his friend with Chamish boyes to stay.
Thirsil, what wicked chance, or lucklesse starre
From Chamus streams removes thy boat and minde?
Farre hence thy boat is bound, thy minde more farre;
More sweet, or fruitfull streams where canst thou finde?
Where fisher-lads, or Nymphs more fair, or kinde?
The Muses selves sit with the sliding Chame:
Chame and the Muses selves do love thy name.
Where thou art lov'd so dear, so much to hate is shame.
The Muses me forsake, not I the Muses;
Thomalin, thou know'st how I them honour'd ever:
Not I my Chame, but me proud Chame refuses:
His froward spites my strong affections sever;
Else, from his banks could I have parted never.
But like his Swannes, when now their fate is nigh,
Where singing sweet they liv'd, there dead they lie;
So would I gladly live, so would I gladly die.
His stubborn hands my net hath broken quite:
My fish (the guerdon of my toil and pain)
He causelesse seaz'd, and with ungratefull spite
Bestow'd upon a lesse deserving swain:
The cost and labour mine, his all the gain.
My boat lies broke; my oares crackt, and gone:
Nought ha's he left me, but my pipe alone,
Which with his sadder notes may help his master moan.
Ungratefull Chame! how oft hath Thirsil crown'd
With songs and garlands thy obscurer head?
That now thy name through Albion loud doth sound.
Ah foolish Chame! who now in Thirsils stead
Shall chant thy praise, since Thelgon's lately dead?
He whom thou lov'st, can neither sing, nor play;
His dusty pipe, scorn'd, broke, is cast away:
Ah foolish Chame! who now shall grace thy holy-day?
Too fond my former hopes! I still expected
With my desert his love should grow the more:
Ill can he love, who Thelgons love rejected,
Thelgon, who more hath grac'd his gracelesse shore,
Then any swain that ever sang before.
Yet Gripus he prefer'd, when Thelgon strove:
I wish no other curse he ever prove;
Who Thelgon causelesse hates, still may he Gripus love.
Thirsil, but that so long I know thee well,
I now should think thou speak'st of hate, or spite:
Can such a wrong with Chame, or Muses dwell,
That Thelgons worth and love with hate they 'quite?
Thomalin, judge thou; and thou that judgest right,
Great King of seas, (that grasp'st the Ocean) heare,
If ever thou thy Thelgon lovedst deare:
Though thou forbear a while, yet long thou canst not bear.
When Thelgon here had spent his prentise-yeares,
Soon had he learnt to sing as sweet a note,
As ever strook the churlish Chamus eares:
To him the river gives a costly boat,
That on his waters he might safely float,
The songs reward, which oft unto his shore
He sweetly tun'd: Then arm'd with sail, and oare,
Dearely the gift he lov'd, but lov'd the giver more.
Scarce of the boat he yet was full possest,
When, with a minde more changing then his wave,
Again bequeath'd it to a wandring guest,
Whom then he onely saw; to him he gave
The sails, and oares: in vain poore Thelgon strave,
The boat is under sail, no boot to plain:
Then banisht him, the more to eke his pain,
As if himself were wrong'd, and did not wrong the swain.
From thence he furrow'd many a churlish sea,
The viny Rhene, and Volgha's self did passe,
Who sleds doth suffer on his watry lea,
And horses trampling on his ycie face:
Where Phoebus prison'd in the frozen glasse,
All winter cannot move his quenched light,
Nor in the heat will drench his chariot bright:
Thereby the tedious yeare is all one day and night.
Yet little thank, and lesse reward he got:
He never learn'd to sooth the itching eare:
One day (as chanc't) he spies that painted boat,
Which once was his: though his of right it were,
He bought it now again, and bought it deare.
But Chame to Gripus gave it once again,
Gripus the basest and most dung-hil swain,
That ever drew a net, or fisht in fruitfull main.
Go now, ye fisher-boyes, go learn to play,
To play, and sing along your Chamus shore:
Go watch, and toyl, go spend the night and day,
While windes and waves, while storms and tempests roar;
And for your trade consume your life, and store:
Lo your reward; thus will your Chamus use you.
Why should you plain, that lozel swains refuse you?
Chamus good fishers hates, the Muses selves abuse you.
Ah Thelgon, poorest, but the worthiest swain,
That ever grac't unworthy povertie!
How ever here thou liv'dst in joylesse pain,
Prest down with grief, and patient miserie;
Yet shalt thou live when thy proud enemie
Shall rot, with scorn and base contempt opprest.
Sure now in joy thou safe and glad doth rest,
Smil'st at those eager foes, which here thee so molest.
Thomalin, mourn not for him: he's sweetly sleeping
In Neptunes court, whom here he sought to please;
While humming rivers by his cabin creeping,
Rock soft his slumbering thoughts in quiet ease:
Mourn for thy self, here windes do never cease;
Our dying life will better fit thy crying:
He softly sleeps, and blest is quiet lying.
Who ever living dies, he better lives by dying.
Can Thirsil then our Chame abandon ever?
And never will our fishers see again?
Who 'gainst a raging stream doth vain endeavour
To drive his boat, gets labour for his pain:
When fates command to go, to lagge is vain.
As late upon the shore I chanc't to play,
I heard a voice, like thunder, lowdly say,
Thirsil, why idle liv'st? Thirsil, away, away.
Thou God of seas, thy voice I gladly heare;
Thy voice (thy voice I know) I glad obey:
Onely do thou my wandring whirry steer;
And when it erres, (as it will eas'ly stray)
Upon the rock with hopefull anchour stay.
Then will I swimme, where's either sea, or shore,
Where never swain, or boat was seen afore:
My trunk shall be my boat, my arm shall be my oare.
Thomalin, me thinks I heare thy speaking eye
Woo me my posting journey to delay:
But let thy love yeeld to necessitie:
With thee, my friend, too gladly would I stay,
And live, and die: were Thomalin away,
(Though now I half unwilling leave his stream)
How ever Chame doth Thirsil lightly deem,
Yet would thy Thirsil lesse proud Chamus scorns esteem.
Who now with Thomalin shall sit, and sing?
Who left to play in lovely myrtils shade?
Or tune sweet ditties to as sweet a string?
Who now those wounds shall 'swage in covert glade,
Sweet-bitter wounds, which cruel love hath made?
You fisher-boyes, and sea-maids dainty crue,
Farewell; for Thomalin will seek a new,
And more respectfull stream: ungratefull Chame adieu.
Thomalin, forsake not thou the fisher-swains,
Which hold thy stay and love at dearest rate:
Here mayst thou live among their sportfull trains,
Till better times afford thee better state:
Then mayst thou follow well thy guiding fate:
So live thou here with peace, and quiet blest;
So let thy love afford thee ease and rest;
So let thy sweetest foe recure thy wounded breast.
But thou, proud Chame, which thus hast wrought me spite,
Some greater river drown thy hatefull name:
Let never myrtle on thy banks delight,
But willows pale, the badge of spite and blame,
Crown thy ungratefull shores with scorn and shame.
Let dirt and mud thy lazie waters seise,
Thy weeds still grow, thy waters still decrease:
Nor let thy wretched love to Gripus ever cease.
Farewell ye streams, which once I loved deare;
Farewell ye boyes, which on your Chame do float;
Muses farewell, if there be Muses here;
Farewell my nets, farewell my little boat:
Come sadder pipe, farewell my merry note:
My Thomalin, with thee all sweetnesse dwell;
Think of thy Thirsil, Thirsil loves thee well.
Thomalin, my dearest deare, my Thomalin, farewell.
Ah haplesse boy, the fishers joy and pride!
Ah wo is us we cannot help thy wo!
Our pity vain: ill may that swain betide,
Whose undeserved spite hath wrong'd thee so.
Thirsil, with thee our joy, and wishes go.
Dorus, some greater power prevents thy curse:
So vile, so basely lives that hatefull swain;
So base, so vile, that none can wish him worse.
But Thirsil much a better state doth gain,
For never will he finde so thanklesse main.