« PreviousContinue »
Nor need ye be together heapt.”
So one by one therein they crept,
• And, lying down, they soundly slept,
And safe as in a castle.
Puck is outwitted by Nymphidia the waiting-maid, and
Oberon challenged by Pigwiggen the knight of Mab. Immense preparations are made for this solemn appeal to arms. The arming of the combatants, the lists, the battle, are all described with the dignity becoming so mighty an occasion. Like other knights, the rivals having shattered their spears, throw them away, and fight with swords ; when Proserpine is prevailed on, by the prayers and tears of Queen Mab, to interfere. She restores peace, and gives the parties a draught of Lethe, which ends all animosity; and mirth and harmony are restored to the FAIRY COURT.
Far in the country of Arden
There won'd a knight, hight Cassamen,
As bold as Isenbras :
Fell was he and eager bent,
In battle and in tournament,
As was the good Sir Topas.
He had, as antique stories tell,
A daughter cleped Dowsabel,
A maiden fair and free.
And for she was her father's heir,
Full well she was ycond the leir
Of mickle courtesy.
The silk well couth she twist and twine,
And make the fine march-pain,
And with the needle work:
And she couth help the priest to say
His mattins on a holy-day,
And sing a psalm in kirk.
She wore a frock of frolic green,
Might well become a maiden queen,
Which seemly was to see ;
A hood to that so neat and fine,
In colour like the columbine,
Iwrought full featously.
Her features all as fresh above
As is the grass that grows by Dove,
And lythe as lass of Kent.
Her skin as soft as Lemster wool,
As white as snow on Peakish Hull,
Or swan that swims in Trent.
This maiden, in a morn betime,
Went forth when May was in the prime
To get sweet sety wall,
The honeysuckle, the harlock,
The lily, and the lady-smock,
To deck her summer hall.
Thus, as she wander'd here, and there,
And picked off the bloomy brier,
She chanced to espy
A shepherd sitting on a bank,
Like chanticleer he crowed crank,
And piped full merrily.
He learn'd his sheep, as he him list,
When he would whistle in his fist,
To feed about him round,
Whilst he full many a carol sang,
Until the fields and meadows rang,
And all the woods did sound.
In favour this same shepherd swain
Was like the bedlam Tamerlane,
Which held proud kings in awe :
But meek as any lamb might be ;
And innocent of ill as he
Whom his lewd brother slaw.
The shepherd wore a sheep-gray cloak,
Which was of the finest lock
That could be cut with sheer.
His mittens were of bauzons' skin,
His cockers were of cordiwin,
His hood of miniveer.
His awl and lingel in a thong,
His tar-box on his broad belt hung,
His breech of Cointree blue.
Full crisp and curled were his locks,
His brows as white as Albion rocks,
So like a lover true.
And piping still he spent the day,
So merry as the popinjay,
Which liked Dowsabel ;
That would she ought, or would she nought,
This lad would never from her thought,
She in love-longing fell.
At length she tucked up her frock,
White as a lily was her smock,
She drew the shepherd nigh :
But then the shepherd piped a good,
That all his sheep forsook their food
To hear this melody,
Thy sheep, quoth she, cannot be lean, That have a jolly shepherd swain,
The which can pipe so well : Yea, but (saith he) their shepherd may, If piping thus he pine away,
In love of Dowsabel. Of love, fond boy, take thou no keep, Quoth she, look well unto thy sheep,
Lest they should hap to stray.
Quoth he, so had I done full well,
Had I not seen fair Dowsabel
Come forth to gather May.
With that she 'gan to veil her head,
Her cheeks were like the roses red,
But not a word she said ;
With that the shepherd 'gan to frown,
He threw his pretty pipes adown,
And on the ground him laid. Saith she, I may not stay till night, And leave my summer hall undight,
And all for love of thee.
My cote, saith he, nor yet my fold,
Shall neither sheep nor shepherd hold,
Except thou favour me.
Saith she, yet lever I were dead,
Than I should lose my maidenhead,
And all for love of men.
Saith he, yet are you too unkind,
If in your heart you cannot find
To love us now and then.
And I to thee will be as kind
As Colin was to Rosalind,
Of courtesy the flower.
Then will I be as true, quoth she,
As ever maiden yet might be
Unto her paramour.
With that she bent her snow-white knee,
Down by the shepherd kneeled she,
And him she sweetly kist.
With that the shepherd whoop'd for joy,
Quoth he, there's never shepherd's boy
That ever was so blest.
The Bishop of Chichester was a copious writer of verse in all forms. His serious poetry has been much admired.
My once dear love, hapless that I no more
Must call thee so, the rich affection's store
That fed on hopes, lies now exhaust and spent,
Like sums of treasure unto bankrupts lent.
We, that did nothing study, but the way
To love each other, with which thoughts the day
Rose with delight to us, and with them set,
Must learn the hateful art, how to forget.
We, that did nothing wish that Heav'n could give,
Beyond ourselves, nor did desire to live