Page images

Like the fabled fountain of the Azores, but with a more various power, the magic of this Art can confer on each period of life its appropriate blessing: on early years Experience, on maturity Calm, on age, Youthfulness. Poetry gives treasures more golden than gold,' leading us in higher and healthier ways than those of the world, and interpreting to us the lessons of Nature. But she speaks best for herself. Her true accents, if the plan has been executed with success, may be heard throughout the following pages: wherever the Poets of England are honoured, wherever the dominant language of the world is spoken, it is hoped that they will find fit audience.


Some poems, especially in Book I, have been added:either on better acquaintance; in deference to critical suggestions; or unknown to the Editor when first gathering his harvest. For aid in these after-gleanings he is specially indebted to the excellent reprints of rare early verse given us by Dr. Hannah, Dr. Grosart, Mr. Arber, Mr. Bullen, and others, and (in regard to the additions of 1883) to the advice of that distinguished Friend, by whom the final choice has been so largely guided. The text has also been carefully revised from authoritative sources. It has still seemed best, for many reasons, to retain the original limit by which the selection was confined to those then no longer living. But the Editor hopes that, so far as in him lies, a complete and definitive collection of our best Lyrics, to the central year of this fast-closing century, is now offered.


The Golden Treasury

Book First



Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

5 The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day.
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay,
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet, 10 Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit, In every street these tunes our ears do greet, Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo! Spring! the sweet Spring!

T. Nash.




Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie:

There I couch, when owls do cry:

On the bat's back I do fly

5 After summer merrily.

Merrily, merrily, shall I live now,

Under the blossom that hangs on the bough!

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]



Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:

Courtsied when you have, and kiss'd

The wild waves whist,

Foot it featly here and there;

And, sweet Sprites, the burthen bear
Hark, hark!


The watch-dogs bark:

Hark, hark! I hear

The strain of strutting chanticleer

Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow!


W. Shakespeare


Phoebus, arise!

And paint the sable skies

With azure, white, and red:

Rouse Memnon's mother from her Tithon's bed

That she may thy career with roses spread:
The nightingales thy coming each-where sing:
Make an eternal Spring!

Give life to this dark world which lieth dead; 5 Spread forth thy golden hair

In larger locks than thou wast wont before,
And emperor-like decore

With diadem of pearl thy temples fair:

Chase hence the ugly night

10 Which serves but to make dear thy glorious light.

This is that happy morn,

That day, long-wished day

Of all my life so dark,

(If cruel stars have not my ruin sworn

15 And fates my hopes betray),

Which, purely white, deserves

An everlasting diamond should it mark.

This is the morn should bring unto this grove
My Love, to hear and recompense my love.

20 Fair King, who all preserves,

But show thy blushing beams,

And thou two sweeter eyes

Shalt see than those which by Penéus' streams
Did once thy heart surprize.

25 Now, Flora, deck thyself in fairest guise:
If that ye winds would hear

A voice surpassing far Amphion's lyre,
Your furious chiding stay;

Let Zephyr only breathe

30 And with her tresses play.
-The winds all silent are,
And Phoebus in his chair
Ensaffroning sea and air
Makes vanish every star:

35 Night like a drunkard reels

Beyond the hills, to shun his flaming wheels:
The fields with flowers are deck'd in every hue,
The clouds with orient gold spangle their blue;
Here is the pleasant place-

40 And nothing wanting is, save She, alas!

W. Drummond of Hawthornden




When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of out-worn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
3 When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
10 Or state itself confounded to decay,

Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate-
That Time will come and take my Love away:
-This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.
W. Shakespeare



Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, But sad mortality o'ersways their power, How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, Whose action is no stronger than a flower? 5 O how shall summer's honey breath hold out Against the wreckful siege of battering days, When rocks impregnable are not so stout Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays? O fearful meditation! where, alack!

10 Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid? Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back, Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?

O! none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
W. Shakespeare.

« PreviousContinue »