An imitation of Spenser's October eclogue: despite the encouragements of Tityrus, Damon forswears poetry. Tityrus is the "Johnson" of the title (Ben Jonson), and Damon his "son" Thomas Randolph. The "shepherd of Stagira" is Aristotle.
Robert Southey, in a scathing review, includes Randolph in a list of notable seventeenth-century poets omitted from Chalmers's English Poets: "Sylvester, the best parts of George Wither, Quarles, May, Herbert, Herrick, Lovelace, Cleveland, and Randolph" Quarterly Review 11 (July 1814) 489.
European Magazine: "He seems to have possessed a foretaste of the polish which lyric poetry has received within the last few years. His muse is full of wit and fire, and perhaps his happiest effusions are those in which he indulges the full play of his humour" "The Book-Worm" 79 (February 1821) 140.
John Jay Parry glosses the "desolation" at Cambridge: "It seems natural to refer this to the plague which caused the closing of the university from April to November, 1630, during which time Randolph was almost certainly in London" Randolph, Poems (1917) 363n.
Under this beech why sits't thou here so sad
Son Damon, that wast erst a joviall lad?
These groves were wont to Eccho with the sound
Of thy shrill reed, while every Nymph danc'd round.
Rowse up thy soule, Parnassus mount stands high,
And must be climb'd with painefull industrie.
You Father on his forked top sit still,
And see us panting up so steepe a hill;
But I have broke my reed, and deeply swore
Never with wax, never to joynt it more.
Fond boy 'twas rashly done; I meant to thee,
Of all the sons I have, by legacie
To have bequeath'd my pipe, thee, thee of all,
I meant it should her second Master call.
And doe you thinke I durst presume to play
Where Tityrus had worne his lip away!
Live long thy selfe to tune it; 'tis from thee,
It has not from it self such Harmony.
But if we ever such disaster have
As to compose our Tytirus in his grave;
Yonder upon yon aged Oak, that now
Old trophies beares on every sacred bow,
We'le hang it up a relique, we will doe it,
And learned swains shall pay devotion to it.
Canst thou farewell unto the Muses bid?
Then bees shall loath the Thyme, the new wean'd Kid
Browze on the buds no more; the teeming ewes
Henceforth the tender fallows shall refuse.
I by those Ladies now do nothing set;
Let 'em for me some other servant get:
They shall no more be Mistresses of mine,
No, though my pipe had hope to equall thine.
Thine which the floods have stopt their course to hear;
To which the spotted Linx hath lent an eare.
Which while the severall Ecchoes would repeat,
The Musick has been sweet, the Art so great
That Pan himself amaz'd at thy deep aires,
Sent thee of his own bowl to drown thy cares.
Of all the Gods Pan doth the Pipe respect,
The rest unlearned pleasures more affect.
Pan can distinguish what thy Raptures be
From Bavius loose lascivious Minstralsie,
Or Maevius windy Bagpipe, Maevius, he
Whose wit is but a Tavern Tympanie.
If ever I flock of my own doe feed,
My fattest Lambs shall on his Altar bleed.
Two Altars I will build him, and each yeare
Will sacrifice two wel-fed Bullocks there.
Two that have horns; that while they butting stand
Strike from their feet a cloud of numerous sand.
But what can make thee leave the Muses man,
That such a Patron hast as mighty Pan?
Whence is thy fury? Did the partiall eare
Of the rude Vulgar, when they late did heare
Aegon, and thee contend which best should play,
Him Victour deem, and give thy kid away?
Does Amarillis cause this high despaire?
Or Galatea's coynesse breed thy care?
Neither of these, the Vulgar I contemn;
Thy pipe not alwaies Tytirus wins with them:
And as for Love, in sooth I doe not know
Whether he wears a bow, and shafts or no.
Or did I, I a way could quickly find,
To win the beauteous Galatea's mind,
Or Amarillis: I to both could send
Apples that with Hesperian fruit contend:
And on occasion could have quickly guest
Where two fayr ring-doves built their amorous nest.
If none of these, my Damon then aread
What other cause can so much passion breed!
Father I will, in those indulgent ears
I dare unload the burden of my fears.
The Reapers that with whetted siccles stand,
Gathering the falling ears i' th' other hand;
Though they endure the scorching summers heat,
Have yet some wages to allay their sweat:
The Lopper that doth fell the sturdy Oak
Labours, yet has good pay for every stroke.
The Plowman is rewarded: only we
That sing, are paid with our own melody.
Rich churls have learn't to praise us, and admire,
But have not learn't to think us worth the hire.
So toyling Ants perchance delight to hear
The summer musique of the Grassopper,
But after rather let him starve with pain,
Then spare him from their store one single grain.
As when great Junos beauteous Bird displaies
Her starry tail, the boyes doe run and gaze
At her proud train; so look they now adaies
On Poets; and doe think if they but praise,
Or pardon what we sing, enough they doe:
I, and 'tis well if they doe so much too.
My rage is swel'd so high I cannot speak it,
Had I Pan's pipe, or thine I now should break it!
Let moles delight in Earth; Swine dunghils rake;
Crows prey on Carrion; Frogs a pleasure take
In slimy pools; And Niggards wealth admire;
But we, whose souls are made of purer fire,
Have other aimes: Who songs for gain hath made,
Has of a liberall Science fram'd a Trade.
Hark how the Nightingale in yonder tree,
Hid in the boughes, warbles melodiously
Her various musique forth, while the whole Quire
Of other birds, flock around, and all admire!
But who rewards her? will the ravenous Kite
Part with her prey, to pay for her delight?
Or will the foolish, painted pratling Jay
Now turn'd a hearer, to requite her play
Lend her a straw? or any of the rest
Fetch her a feather when she builds her nest?
Yet sings she ne're the lesse, till every den
Doe catch at her last notes: And shall I then
His fortunes Damon 'bove my own commend,
Who can more cheese into the market send?
Clowns for posterity may cark and care,
That cannot out-live death but in an Heire:
By more then wealth we propagate our Names,
That trust not to successions, but our Fames.
Let hide-bound churls yoak the laborious Oxe,
Milk hundred goats, and shear a thousand flocks;
Plant gainful Orchards, and in silver shine;
Thou of all fruits should'st only prune the Vine:
Whose fruit being tasted, might erect thy brain
To reach some ravishing, high, and lofty strain;
The double birth of Bacchus to expresse,
First in the grape, the second in the presse.
And therefore tell me boy, what is't can move
Thy mind, once fixed on the Muses Love?
When I contented liv'd by Cham's fair streams,
Without desire to see the prouder Thames,
I had no flock to care for, but could sit
Under a willow covert, and repeat
Those deep and learned layes, on every part
Grounded on judgment, subtilty, and Art,
That the great Tutour to the greatest King,
The shepheard of Stagira, us'd to sing:
The shepheard of Stagira, that unfolds
All natures closet, shows what e're it holds;
The matter, form, sense, motion, place, and measure
Of every thing contain'd in her vast treasure.
How Elements doe change; What is the cause
Of Generation; what the Rule and Laws
The Orbs doe move by; Censures every starre,
Why this is fixt, and that irregular;
Knows all the Heavens, as if he had been there,
And help't each Angell turn about her spheare.
The thirsty pilgrim travelling by land,
When the feirce Dog-starre doth the day command,
Half choak't with dust, parch't with the soultry heat;
Tir'd with his journey, and o'recome with sweat,
Finding a gentle spring, at her cool brink
Doth not with more delight sit down and drink,
Then I record his songs: we see a cloud,
And fearing to be wet, doe run and shroud
Under a bush; when he would sit and tell
The cause that made her mystie wombe to swell;
Why it sometimes in drops of rain doth flow,
Sometimes dissolves her self in flakes of snow:
Nor gaz'd he at a Comet, but would frame
A reason why it wore a beard of flame.
Ah Tytirus, I would with all my heart,
Even with the best of my carv'd mazers part,
To hear him as he us'd divinely shew,
What 'tis that paints the divers-colour'd bow:
Whence Thunders are discharg'd, whence the winds stray,
What foot through heaven hath worn the milky way!
And yet I let this true delight alone,
Call'd thence to keep the flock of Corydon.
Ah woe is me, anothers flock to keep;
The care is mine, the master shears the sheep!
A flock it was that would not keep together;
A flock that had no fleece, when it came hither.
Nor would it learn to listen to my layes,
For 'twas a flock made up of severall strayes;
And now I would return to Cham, I hear
A desolation frights the Muses there!
With rustique swains I mean to spend my time
Teach me there father to preserve my rime.
To morrow morning I will counsel thee,
Meet me at Faunus Beech; for now you see
How larger shadows from the mountains fall,
And Corydon doth Damon, Damon, call.
Damon, 'tis time my flock were in the fold,
More then high time; did you not erst behold
How Hesperus above yon clouds appear'd,
Hesperus leading forth his beauteous heard?