A PASTORAL UPON THE BIRTH OF PRINCE |
CHARLES. PRESENTED TO THE KING, AND
SET BY MR. NIC. LANIERE
The Speakers, Mirtillo, Amintas and Amarillis.
Amin. Good-day, Mirtillo. Mirt. And to you no less,
And all fair signs lead on our shepherdess.
Amar. With all white luck to you. Mirt. But say,
Stirs in our sheep-walk ? Amin. None, save that my ewes,
My wethers, lambs, and wanton kids are well,
Smooth, fair and fat ! none better I can tell :
Or that this day Menalchas keeps a feast
For his sheep-shearers. Mirt. True, these are the least ;
But, dear Amintas and sweet Amarillis,
Rest but a while here, by this bank of lilies,
And lend a gentle ear to one report
The country has. Amin. From whence ? Amar. From
whence ? Mirt. The Court.
Three days before the shutting in of May
(With whitest wool be ever crown'd that day !)
To all our joy a sweet-fac'd child was born,
More tender than the childhood of the morn.
Chor. Pan pipe to him, and bleats of lambs and sheep,
Let lullaby the pretty prince asleep !
Mirt. And that his birth should be more singular
At noon of day was seen a silver star,
Bright as the wise men's torch, which guided them
To God's sweet babe, when born at Bethlehem ;
While golden angels (some have told to me)
Sung out his birth with heavenly minstrelsy.
Amin. O rare ! But is't a trespass if we three
Should wend along his babyship to see ?
Mirt. Not so, not so.
Chor. But if it chance to prove
At most a fault, 'tis but a fault of love.
Amar. But, dear Mirtillo, I have heard it told
Those learned men brought incense, myrrh and gold
From countries far, with store of spices sweet,
And laid them down for offerings at his feet.
Mirt. 'Tis true, indeed ; and each of us will bring
Unto our smiling and our blooming king
A neat, though not so great an offering.
Amar. A garland for my gift shall be
Of flowers ne'er suck'd by th' thieving bee ;
And all most sweet ; yet all less sweet than he.
Amin. And I will bear, along with you,
Leaves dropping down the honeyed dew,
With oaten pipes as sweet as new.
Mirt. And I a sheep-hook will bestow,
To have his little kingship know,
As he is prince, he's shepherd too.
Chor. Come, let's away, and quickly let's be dress'd,
And quickly givethe swiftest grace is best.
And when before him we have laid our treasures,
We'll bless the babe, then back to country pleasures.
[ Note: p.280-281:
213. And all most sweet, yet all less sweet than he.
It is characteristic of Herrick that in his Noble
Numbers ( The New-Year's Gift ) he repeats
this line, applying it to Christ.
Oaten pipes . . . Sheep-hooks. The idea of these
homely gifts is taken from the offerings of the
shepherds and their boys in the Miracle Plays :
Thus in the first Towneley Play the gifts are a
' lyttl spruse cofer,' a ball and a bottle ; in the
York, a brooch with a tin bell, two cob nuts on a
riband, and a horn spoon that will hold forty peas.
In the Chester Play double gifts are offered : a
bottle, hood, and shepherd's pipe, by the boys ;
and a bell, spoon, and cup, by the shepherds.
(English Miracle Plays, ed. Pollard.)
Know thy when. So in The Star-song Herrick
sings: Thou canst clear all doubts and manifest
the where. ]
Herrick, Robert. Works of Robert Herrick. vol I.
Alfred Pollard, ed.
London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1891. 105-106; 280-281.
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Created by Anniina Jokinen on July 11, 1999.
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