TO HIS RETIRED FRIEND, AN INVITA-|
TION TO BRECKNOCK.
by Henry Vaughan
SINCE last we met, thou and thy horse—my dear—
Have not so much as drunk, or litter'd here ;
I wonder, though thyself be thus deceas'd,
Thou hast the spite to coffin up thy beast ;
Or is the palfrey sick, and his rough hide
With the penance of one spur mortified ?
Or taught by thee—like Pythagoras's ox—
Is then his master grown more orthodox?
Whatever 'tis, a sober cause't must be
That thus long bars us of thy company.
The town believes thee lost, and didst thou see
But half her suff'rings, now distress'd for thee,
Thou'ldst swear—like Rome—her foul, polluted walls
Were sack'd by Brennus and the savage Gauls.
Abominable face of things ! here's noise
Of banged mortars, blue aprons, and boys,
Pigs, dogs, and drums, with the hoarse, hellish notes
Of politicly-deaf usurers' throats,
With new fine Worships, and the old cast team
Of Justices vex'd with the cough and phlegm.
'Midst these the Cross looks sad, and in the Shire-
Hall furs of an old Saxon Fox appear,
With brotherly ruffs and beards, and a strange sight
Of high monumental hats, ta'en at the fight
Of 'Eighty-eight ; while ev'ry burgess foots
The mortal pavement in eternal boots.
Hadst thou been bach'lor, I had soon divin'd
Thy close retirements, and monastic mind ;
Perhaps some nymph had been to visit, or
The beauteous churl was to be waited for,
And like the Greek, ere you the sport would miss
You stay'd, and stroked the distaff for a kiss.
But in this age, when thy cool, settled blood
Is ti'd t'one flesh, and thou almost grown good,
I know not how to reach the strange device,
Except—Domitian-like—thou murder'st flies.
Or is't thy piety ? for who can tell
But thou may'st prove devout, and love a cell,
And—like a badger—with attentive looks
In the dark hole sit rooting up of books.
Quick hermit ! what a peaceful change hadst thou,
Without the noise of haircloth, whip, or vow !
But there is no redemption ? must there be
No other penance but of liberty ?
Why, two months hence, if thou continue thus,
Thy memory will scarce remain with us,
The drawers have forgot thee, and exclaim
They have not seen thee here since Charles, his reign,
Or if they mention thee, like some old man,
That at each word inserts—“Sir, as I can
Remember”—so the cyph'rers puzzle me
With a dark, cloudy character of thee.
That—certs !—I fear thou wilt be lost, and we
Must ask the fathers ere't be long for thee.
Come ! leave this sullen state, and let not
And precious wit lie dead for want of thine.
Shall the dull market-landlord with his rout
Of sneaking tenants dirtily swill out
This harmless liquor ? shall they knock and beat
For sack, only to talk of rye and wheat ?
O let not such prepost'rous tippling be
In our metropolis ; may I ne'er see
Such tavern-sacrilege, nor lend a line
To weep the rapes and tragedy of wine !
Here lives that chymic, quick fire which betrays
Fresh spirits to the blood, and warms our lays.
I have reserv'd 'gainst thy approach a cup
That were thy Muse stark dead, shall raise her up,
And teach her yet more charming words and skill
Than ever Coelia, Chloris, Astrophil,
Or any of the threadbare names inspir'd
Poor rhyming lovers with a mistress fir'd.
Come then ! and while the slow icicle hangs
At the stiff thatch, and Winter's frosty pangs
Benumb the year, blithe—as of old—let us
'Midst noise and war of peace and mirth discuss.
This portion thou wert born for : why should we
Vex at the time's ridiculous misery ?
An age that thus hath fool'd itself, and will
—Spite of thy teeth and mine—persist so still.
Let's sit then at this fire, and while we steal
A revel in the town, let others seal,
Purchase or cheat, and who can, let them pay,
Till those black deeds bring on the darksome day.
Innocent spenders we ! a better use
Shall wear out our short lease, and leave th' obtuse
Rout to their husks ; they and their bags at best
Have cares in earnest ; we care for a jest.
Vaughan, Henry. The Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. vol II.
E. K. Chambers, Ed. London, Lawrence & Bullen Ltd., 1896. 73-76.
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