Tag Archives: John Pomfret

John Pomfret, “A Pastoral Essay on the Death of Queen Mary, Anno, 1694″

JOHN POMFRET

 “A Pastoral Essay on the Death of Queen Mary, Anno, 1694”

 

As gentle STREPHON to his Fold convey’d
A wand’ring Lamb, which from the Flocks had stray’d
Beneath a mournful Cypress Shade, he found
COSMELIA weeping on the dewy Ground.
Amaz’d with eager Haste, he ran to know                                               5
The fatal Cause of her intemp’rate Woe;
And clasping her to his impatient Breast,
In these soft Words his tender Care exprest

STREPHON.

Why mourns my dear COSMELIA, why appears
My Life, my Soul, dissolv’d in briny Tears?                                               10
Has some fierce Tyger thy lov’d Heifer slain,
While I was wand’ring on the neighb’ring Plain?
Or has some greedy Wolf devour’d thy Sheep?
What sad Misfortune makes COSMELIA weep?
Speak, that I may prevent thy Grief’s Increase;                                       15
Partake thy Sorrows, or restore thy Peace.

COSMELIA.

Do you not hear from far that mournful Bell?
‘Tis for —– I cannot the sad Tydings tell.
O, whither are my fainting Spirits fled!
‘Tis for CAELESTIA—STREPHON, O, —she’s dead!                                    20
The brightest Nymph, the Princess of the Plain,
By an untimely Dart, untimely slain.

STREPHON.

Dead! ‘tis impossible. She cannot die,
She’s too Divine, too much a Deity:
‘Tis a false Rumour some ill Swains have spread,                                     25
Who wish perhaps the good CAELESTIA dead.

COSMELIA.

Ah! No, the Truth in ev’ry Face appears,
For ev’ry Face you meet’s o’erflow’d with Tears.
Trembling, and pale, I ran thro’ all the Plain,
From Flock to Flock, and ask’d of ev’ry Swain;                                            30
But each, scarce lifting his dejected Head,
Cry’d O, COSMELIA! O, CAELESTIA dead!

STREPHON.

Something was meant by that ill-boading Croak
Of the prophetick Raven from the Oak,
Which strait by Lightning was in Shivers broke:                                          35
But we our Mischief feel, before we see,
Seiz’d and o’erwhelm’d at once with Misery.

COSMELIA.

Since then we have no Trophies to bestow,
No pompous Things to make a glorious Show,
(For all the Tribute a poor Swain can bring,                                                  40
In Rural Numbers, is to mourn and sing;)
Let us beneath the gloomy Shade rehearse
CAELESTIA’s sacred Praise in no less sacred Verse.

STREPHON.

CAELESTIA dead! then ‘tis in vain to live:
What’s all the Comfort that these Plains can give                                        45
Since she, by whose bright Influence alone
Our Flocks increas’d, and we rejoic’d, is gone.
Since she, who round such Beams of Goodness spread
As gave new Life to ev’ry Swain, is dead.

COSMELIA.

In vain we wish for the delightful Spring.                                                 50
What Joys can flow’ry May, or April bring,
When she, for whom spacious Plains were spread
With early Flow’rs, and cheerful Greens, is dead?
In vain did courtly DAMON warm the Earth,
To give to Summer Fruits a Winter Birth.                                                        55
In vain we Autumn wait, which crowns the Fields
With wealthy Crops, and various Plenty yields:
Since that fair Nymph, for whom the boundless Store
Of Nature was preserv’d, is now no more.

STREPHON.

Farewel for ever then to all that’s gay:                                                       60
You will forget to sing, and I to play.
No more with cheerful Songs in cooling Bow’rs
Shall we consume the pleasurable Hours.
All Joys are banish’d, all Delights are fled,
Ne’er to return, now fair CAELESTIA’s dead.                                                     65

COSMELIA.

If e’er I sing, they shall be mournful Lays
Of great CAELESTIA’s Name, CAELESTIA’s Praise:
How good she was, how generous, how wise!
How beautiful her Shape, how bright her Eyes!
How charming all, how she was ador’d,                                                             70
Alive; when dead, how much her loss deplor’d!
A noble Theme, and able to inspire
The humblest Muse with the sublimest Fire.
And since we do of such a Princess sing,
Let ours ascend upon a stronger Wing;                                                             75
And while we do the lofty Numbers join,
Her Name will make their Harmony Divine.
Raise then thy tuneful Voice, and be the Song
Sweet as her Temper, as her Virtue strong.

STREPHON.

When her great Lord to foreign Wars was gone,                                       80
And left CAELESTIA here to rule alone,
With how serene a Brow, how void of Fear
When Storms arose, did she the Vessel steer?
And, when the Raging of the Waves did cease,
How gentle was her Sway in times of Peace?                                                     85
Justice and Mercy did their Beams unite,
And round her Temples spread a glorious Light.
So quick she eas’d the Wrongs of ev’ry Swain,
She hardly gave them Leisure to complain.
Impatient to reward, but slow to draw                                                                 90
Th’ avenging Sword of necessary Law:
Like Heav’n, she took no pleasure to destroy:
With Grief she punish’d, and she sav’d with Joy.

COSMELIA.

When God-like BELLEGER from War’s Alarms
Return’d in Triumph to CAELESTIA’s Arms,                                                         95
She met her Hero with a full Desire,
But chaste as Light, and vigorous as Fire:
Such mutual Flames, so equally Divine,
Did in each Breast with such a Lustre shine,
His could not seem the greater, her’s the less:                                                  100
Both were immense, for both were in Excess.

STREPHON.

O, God-like Princess! O, thrice-happy Swains!
While she presided o’er the fruitful Plains;
While she for ever ravish’d from our Eyes,
To mingle with her Kindred of the skies,                                                             105
Did for your Peace her constant Thoughts employ;
The Nymph’s good Angel, and the Shepherd’s Joy.

COSMELIA.

All that was Noble beautify’d her Mind;
There Wisdom sat, with solid Reason join’d;
There too did Piety, and Greatness wait,                                                            110
Meekness on Grandeur, Modesty on State:
Humble amidst the Splendors of a Throne;
Plac’d above all, and yet despising none.
And when a Crown was forc’d on her by Fate,
She with some pain submitted to be Great.                                                       115

STREPHON.

Her pious Soul with Emulation strove
To gain the mighty PAN’s important Love:
To whose mysterious Rites she always came,
With such an active, so intense a Flame,
The Duties of Religion seem’d to be                                                                     120
Not more her Care, than her Felicity.

COSMELIA.

Virtue unmixt, without the least Allay,
Pure as the Light of a Celestial Ray,
Commanded all the Motions of the Soul,
With such a soft, but absolute Controul,                                                             125
That as she knew what best great PAN would please,
She still perform’d it with the greatest Ease.
Him for her high Exemplar she design’d,
Like him, benevolent to all Mankind.
Her Foes she pity’d, not desir’d their Blood,                                                       130
And to revenge their Crimes, she did them good:
Nay, all Affronts, so unconcern’d she bore,
(Maugre that violent Temptation, Pow’r,)
As if she thought it vulgar to resent,
Or wish’d Forgiveness their worst Punishment.                                                135

STREPHON.

Next mighty PAN, was her illustrious Lord,
His high Vicegerent, sacredly ador’d:
Him with such Piety and Zeal she lov’d,
The noble Passion ev’ry Hour improv’d.
Till it ascended to that glorious Height,                                                              140
‘Twas next, (if only next) to infinite.
This made her so entire a Duty pay,
She grew at last impatient to obey,
And met his Wishes with as prompt a Zeal,
As an Archangel his Creator’s Will.                                                                       145

COSMELIA.

Mature for Heav’n, the fatal Mandate came,
With it, a Chariot of Etherial Flame,
In which, Elijah like, she pass’d the Spheres;
Brought Joy to Heav’n, but left the World in Tears.

STREPHON.

Methinks I see her on the Plains of Light,                                                     150
All Glorious, all incomparably Bright!
While the immortal Minds around her gaze
On the excessive Splendour of her Rays,
And scarce believe a human Soul could be
Endow’d with such a stupendous Majesty.                                                           155

COSMELIA.

Who can lament too much? O, who can mourn
Enough o’er beautiful CAELESTIA’s Urn!
So great a Loss as this deserves Excess
Of Sorrow; all’s too little, that is less.
But to supply the Universal Woe,                                                                           160
Tears from all Eyes, without Cessation flow:
All that have pow’r to weep, or voice to groan,
With throbbing Breast CAELESTIA’s fate bemoan:
While Marble Rocks the common Griefs partake,
And eccho back those Cries they cannot make.                                                   165

STREPHON.

Weep then (once fruitful) Vales, and spring with Yew;
Ye thirsty barren Mountains, weep with Dew.
Let ev’ry Flow’r on this extended Plain
Not droop, but shrink into its Womb again,
Ne’er to receive anew its yearly Birth;                                                                     170
Let ev’ry thing that’s grateful, leave the Earth:
Let mournful Cypress, with each noxious Weed,
And baneful Venoms in their place succeed.
Ye purling quer’lous Brooks, o’ercharg’d with Grief
Haste swiftly to the Sea for more Relief;
Then tiding back, each to his sacred Head,                                                            175
Tell your astonish’d Springs, CAELESTIA’s dead:

COSMELIA.

Well have you sung, in an exalted Strain,
The fairest Nymph e’er grac’d the British Plain.
Who knows but some officious Angel may
Your grateful Numbers to her Ears convey:                                                           180
That she may smile upon us, from above,
And bless our mournful Plains with Peace and Love.

STREPHON.

But see, our Flocks do to their Folds repair,
For Night with sable Clouds obscures the Air,
Cold Damps descend from the unwholesome Sky,                                              185
And Safety bids us to our Cottage fly.
Tho’ with each Morn our Sorrows will return,
Each Ev’n, like Nightingales, we’ll sing and mourn,
Till Death conveys Us to the peaceful Urn.

NOTES:

Strephon Stock pastoral name for a shepherd; Fold “A pen or enclosure for domestic animals, esp. sheep” (OED).

3 Cypress “A well-known coniferous tree…often regarded as symbolic of mourning” (OED).

4   Cosmelia Pastoral name for a woman.

20 Caelestia Pomfret’s poetical name for Queen Mary II, from “Caelestis” which means sky or heavenly (A Latin Dictionary).

20-22 “she’s dead!…untimely slain” Queen Mary II died on 28 December 1694 from smallpox.

25 Swains “Countrymen” (OED).

41 Rural Numbers That is, rural poetry.

54 Damon Stock pastoral name.

80 to foreign Wars was gone William III, Mary’s husband, was often gone handling affairs on the continent and left Mary to rule alone (Encyclopedia Britannica).

94 Belleger Pomfret’s poetical name for William III; in modern Dutch the word translates as “investor;” from War’s Alarms William III fought and squashed a Jacobite rebellion on the continent, and participated in the Nine Years’ War (1688-1697) against Louis XIV of France (Encyclopedia Britannica).

114-15 when a Crown was forced on her…submitted to be Great The Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed James II, Mary’s father. As a result of her supporting her husband William invading England, Mary and her father were estranged (Encyclopedia Britannica).

117 Pan The god of nature.

121 Felicity Happiness (OED).

133 Maugre “To defy, oppose” (OED).

137 Vicegerent “A person appointed by a king or other ruler to act in his place or exercise certain of his administrative functions” (OED).

145 Archangel “An angel of the highest rank” (OED).

148 Elijah A prophet who defended the worship of the Jewish God; in 2 Kings 2:1-11, Elijah is transported to heaven by a whirlwind.

166 Yew An ancient tree common in England; often planted in churchyards and symbolic of funerary and death.

Source: Poems upon Several Occasions, 7th edition (London, 1727), p. 48. [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Ceneca Jackson

 

 

 

 

John Pomfret, “To his Friend under Affliction”

REVEREND JOHN POMFRET

“To his Friend under Affliction”

 None lives in this tumultuous State of things,
Where ev’ry Morning some new Trouble brings;
But bold Inquietudes will break his rest,
And gloomy Thoughts disturb his anxious Breast.
Angelick Forms, and happy Spirits are                                                      5
Above the Malice of perplexing Care:
But that’s a blessing too sublime, too high
For those who bend beneath Mortality.
If in the Body there was but one part
Subject to Pain, and sensible of Smart,                                                   10
And but one Passion could torment the Mind,
That Part, that Passion busy Fate would find.
But since Infirmities in both abound,
Since Sorrow both so many ways can wound,
‘Tis not so great a wonder that we grieve                                               15
Sometimes, as ‘tis a miracle we live.

The happiest Man that ever breath’d on Earth,
With all the Glories of Estate and Birth,
Had yet some anxious Care to make him know
No Grandeur was above the reach of Woe.                                           20
To be from all things that disquiet, free,
Is not consistent with Humanity.
Youth, Wit, and Beauty, are such charming things,
O’er which, if Affluence spreads her gaudy Wings,
We think the Person, who enjoys so much,                                          25
No Care can move, and no Affliction touch.
Yet could we but some secret method find
To view the dark Recesses of the Mind,
We there might see the hidden Seeds of Strife,
And Woes in Embryo rip’ning into Life;                                                 30
How some fierce Lust, or boist’rous Passion, fills
The lab’ring Spirit with prolific Ills
Pride, Envy, or Revenge, distract his Soul,
And all Right-reason’s God-like Pow’rs controul.
But if she must not be allow’d to sway,                                                 35
Tho’all without, appears serene and gay,
A cank’rous Venom on the Vitals preys,
And poisons all the Comforts of his Days.

External Pomp, and visible Success,
Sometimes contribute to our Happiness;                                             40
But that, which makes it genuine, refin’d,
Is a good Conscience, and a Soul resign’d:
Then, to whatever End Affliction’s sent,
To try our Virtues, or for Punishment,
We bear it calmly, tho’ a pond’rous Woe,                                              45
And still adore the Hand that gives the blow.
For in Misfortunes this advantage lies,
They make us humble, and they make us wise.
And he that can acquire such Virtues, gains
An ample Recompence for all his pains.                                               50

Too soft Caresses of a prosp’rous Fate
The pious Fervours of the Soul abate;
Tempt to luxurious Ease our careless Days,
And gloomy Vapours round the Spirits raise.
Thus lull’d into a sleep, we dosing lie,                                                    55
And find our Ruin in Security;
Unless some Sorrow comes to our Relief,
And breaks th’ Inchantment by a timely Grief.
But as we are allow’d to chear our sight,
In blackest Days, some glimmerings of Light:                                      60
So in the most dejected Hours we may
The secret Pleasure have to weep and pray.
And those Requests, the speediest passage find
To Heaven, which flow from an afflicted Mind:
And while to him we open our Distress,                                               65
Our Pains grow lighter, and our Sorrows less.
The finest Musick of the Grove, we owe
To mourning Philomel’s harmonious Woe;
And while her Grief’s in charming Notes express,
A Thorny Bramble pricks her tender Breast:                                        70
In warbling Melody she spends the Night,
And moves at once Compassion and Delight.

No Choice had e’er so happy an Event,
But he that made it, did that Choice repent.
So weak’s our Judgement, and so short’s our sight,                            75
We cannot level our own Wishes right:
And if sometimes we make a wise advance,
T’our selves we little owe, but much to chance.
So that when Providence, for secret Ends,
Corroding Cares, or sharp Affliction sends                                            80
We must conclude it best it should be so,
And not desponding, or impatient grow.
For he that will his confidence remove,
From boundless Wisdom, and eternal Love,
To place it on himself, or human Aid,                                                     85
Will meet those Woes he labours to evade.
But in the keenest Agonies of Grief,
Content’s a Cordial that still gives Relief.
Heaven is not always angry when he strikes,
But most Chastises those, whom most he likes.                                   90
And if with humble Spirits they complain,
Relieves the Anguish, or rewards the Pain.

NOTES:

3 Inquietudes Restlessness, uneasiness.

29 Seeds of Strife An allusion to Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man spreads strife, /And a slanderer separates intimate friends.”

31-33 Lust… Pride, Envy, or Revenge Four of the Seven Cardinal Sins; an allusion to them can be found in Proverbs 6:16-19.

38 Comforts of his Days. John 14:1-31, the belief in God as the Father and belief/faith in Christ.

39 Pomp Archaic: vain and boastful display (OED).

68 Philomel An allusion to the daughter of the ancient Athenian king, Pandion. She was raped by the husband (Tereus) of her sister (Procne). While Tereus pursued both Philomel and Procne, Philomel was turned into a swallow and Procne into a nightingale (in Latin versions, Philomel was turned into a nightingale and Procne into a swallow) (Oxford Dictionaries online). The nightingale is known for its unique song.

70 Thorny Bramble A prickly bush plant, also a biblical allusion to the “the Burning bush” in which God appeared before Moses. It is also a symbol of the purity of the Virgin Mary.

88 Cordial Stimulating medicine.

Source: Poems Upon Several Occasions (5th edition) (London, 1720), pp. 60-63. [Google Books]

Edited by Frankie Carrillo