Samuel Daniel


 

Ulysses and the Siren

SIREN.
COME, worthy Greek !  Ulysses, come,
Possess those shores with me !
The winds and seas are troublesome,
And here we may be free !
    Here we may sit and view their toil
That travail in the deep,
And joy the day in mirth the while,
And spend the night in sleep.

ULYSSES.
Fair nymph !  if fame or honor were
To be attained with ease,
Then would I come and rest with thee,
And leave such toils as these.
    But here it dwells, and here must I
With danger seek it forth :
To spend the time luxuriously
Becomes not men of worth.

SIREN.
Ulysses, O be not deceiv'd
With that unreal name,
This honour is a thing conceiv'd,
And rests on others' fame.
    Begotten only to molest
Our peace, and to beguile
The best thing of our life—our rest,
And give us up to toil.

ULYSSES.
Delicious Nymph, suppose there were
No honour, nor report,
Yet manliness would scorn to wear
The time in idle sport ;
    For toil doth give a better touch
To make us feel our joy,
And ease finds tediousness as much
As labour finds annoy.

SIREN.
Then pleasure, likewise, seems the shore
Whereto tends all your toil,
Which you forego to make it more,
And perish oft the while.
    Who may disport them diversely,
Find never tedious day,
And ease may have variety,
As well as action may.

ULYSSES.
But natures of the noblest frame
These toils and dangers please ;
And they take comfort in the same
As much as you in ease ;
    And with the thought of actions past
Are recreated still :
When Pleasure leaves a touch at last,
To show that it was ill.

SIREN.
That doth Opinion only cause,
That's out of Custom bred,
Which makes us many other laws
Than ever Nature did.
    No widows wail for our delights,
Our sports are without blood ;
The world we see by warlike wights
Receives more hurt than good.

ULYSSES.
But yet the state of things require
These motions of unrest ;
And these great Spirits of high desire
Seem born to turn them best :
    To purge the mischiefs that increase,
And all good order mar,
For oft we see a wicked peace
To be well chang'd for war.

SIREN.
Well, well, Ulysses, then I see
I shall not have thee here :
And therefore I will come to thee,
And take my fortune there.
    I must be won, that cannot win,
Yet lost were I not won ;
For beauty hath created been
T' undo, or be undone.  

 
 
Source:
Selections from the Poetical Works of Samuel Daniel.
John Morris, Ed. Bath: Charles Clark, 1855.  13-16.


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