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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

 

 

 

 

Stephen Duck, “To Death. An Irregular Ode”

STEPHEN DUCK

 “To DEATH. An Irregular ODE”

I.

HAIL, formidable KING!
My Muse thy dreaded fame shall sing.
Why should old HOMER’S pompous lays
Immortalize ACHILLES’ Praise!
Or why should ADDISON’S harmonious Verse                                   5
Our MARLBRO’S nobler Deeds rehearse?
Alas! no more these Heroes shine;
Their Pow’r is all subdu’d by Thine.
Where are these mighty Leaders now,
Great POMPEY, CAESAR, and Young AMMON too,                            10
Who thought he drew immortal Breath ?
These bold ambitious Sons of MARS
Who dy’d the Globe with bloody Wars,
Are vanquish’d all by thee, victorious DEATH !

II.

Ev’n while they liv’d, their Martial Hate                                                 15
But firmer fix’d thy Throne;
Nor, tho’ it hasten’d others Fate,
Could it delay their own.
Nor didst thou want their Rage to kill;
Thy own can execute thy Will;                                                          20
Whene’er thou dost exert thy Pow’r,
A Thousand morbid Troops thy Call obey;
Sometimes thy wasting Plagues devour,
And sweep whole realms away.
Now with contagious Biles the City mourns,                                         25
And now thy scorching Fever burns,
Or trembling Quartan chills;
Of Heat and Cold the dire extremes
Now freeze, now fire the Blood with Flames,
Till various Torment kills.                                                                  30

III.

CONSUMPTIONS, and Rheumatic Pain,
And Apoplectic Fits, that rack the Brain;
Soul-panting Asthmas, Dropsy, and Catarrh,
Gout, Palsy, Lunacy and black Despair;
Pangs, that neglected Lovers feel;                                                     35
Corroding Jealousy, their earthly Hell,
Which makes the injur’d Woman wild;
And pow’rful Spleen that gets the Man with Child;
Physicians, surgeons, Bawds, and Whores, and Wine,
Are all obsequious servants of Thine;                                                         40
Nay, and RELIGION, too
When Hypocrites their interest pursue,
Or frantic Zeal inspires,
It calls for Racks, and Wheels, and Fires:
Then all our mystic Articles of Faith                                                             45
Instead of saving Life, become the Cause of DEATH.

IV.

GREAT MONARCH! how secure must be thy Crown,
When all these Things conspire to prop thy Throne?
Yet, in thy universal Reign,
Thou dost not use tyrannic Sway.                                                        50
Whate’er the Weak and Tim’rous say,
Who tremble at thy Frown;
Thou art propitious to our Pain,
And break’st the groaning Pris’ner’s Chain,
Which Tyranny put on.                                                                   55
In Thee the Lover quits his Care,
Nor longer courts the cruel Fair,
Her Coldness mourns no more:
In Thee Ambition ends it Race,
And finds at length the destin’d Place,                                                60
It ne’er could find before:
The Merchant too, who plows the Main,
In greedy Quest of Gain,
By Thee to happier Climes is brought,
Than those his wild, insatiate Av’rice sought.                                            65

V.

PROPITIOUS Succourer of the Distrest,
Who often, by the Dead, dost make the Living blest !
How could profusive Heirs attend
Their Mistress, Bottle, Ball, and Play,
If timely Thou wert not their Friend,                                                    70
To snatch the scraping Sire away?
How would dull Poets weary Time
With their insipid Rhyme,
And teaze and tire the Reader’s Ears
With Party Feuds, and Paper Wars,                                                     75
If Thou, great Critic! didst not use
Thy Pow’r, to point a Period for their Muse?
The Bard, at thy decisive Will,
Discards his mercenary Quill,
Then all his mighty Volumes lie                                                           80
Hid in the peaceful Tomb of vast Obscurity.

VI.

I, like the rest, advance my Lays;
With uncouth Numbers, rumble forth a Song,
Sedately dull, to celebrate thy Praise;
And lash, and spur the heavy lab’ring Muse along:                                 85
But soon the fatal Time must come,
(Ordanin’d by Heav’n’s unerring Doom)
When Thou shalt cut the vital Thread,
And shove the verbal Embryos from my Head.
Thence, since I’m sure to meet my Fate,                                            90
How vain would Hope appear?
Since Fear cannot protract the Date,
How foolish ‘twere to fear?
I’ll strive, at least, to stand prepared,
Thy Summons to obey;                                                                  95
Nor would I think thy Sentence hard,
Nor wish, nor fear the Day;
But live in conscious Peace, and die without Dismay.

VII.

FALLACIOUS Reas’ners wrong Thee, when
They call the Laws severe.                                                                   100
Severe! to whom? To wicked Men:
Then let the Wicked fear.
Thou judgest all with equal Laws,
No venal Witness backs thy Cause,
NoNo Bribes to Thee are known;                                                105
If thy impartial Hand but strike,
The Prince and Peasant fall alike,
The Courtier and the Clown.
What tho’ a-while the Beggar groans,
While Kings enjoy their gilded Thrones?                                           110
What are Distinctions, Pomp, and Regal Train,
And Honours, got with Care, and kept with Pain?
One friendly Stroke of Thine sets level all again.
All earthly Grandeur must decline;
Nay, ev’n Great GEORGE’S Pow’r submit to Thine:                                  115
But thy Dominion shall endure,
Till PHOEBUS measures Time no more:
Then all shall be in dark Oblivion cast,
And ev’ry mortal Kingdom fall; but thine shall fall the last.

NOTES:

1 King King George II (1683-1760), reigned from 1727.

3 Homer (Precise birth/death unknown; estimated to be ~750BCE). Ancient classical Grecian poet, author of the epics The Iliad and The Odyssey

4 Achilles Highly-acclaimed and famous warrior from Greek mythos; central character of The Iliad.

5 Addison Joseph Addison (1672-1719), author and co-founder of The Spectator, and poet.

6 Marlboro John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722). English statesman whose lengthy career earned him extreme fame, power, and wealth.

10 Pompey (106 BC-48 BC) Supremely successful military general of Ancient Rome; Caesar Julius Caesar (100 BC-44 BC), prominent Roman statesman, prose author, and dictator. Assassinated by his own senators; Young Ammon Possibly refers to Molech, an ancient God worshipped by Phoenicians and Canaanites.

12 Mars Mars was a figure of meaningful conflict and male aggression in the Roman mythos.

27 Quartan A malarial fever that reoccurs every 72 hours.

33 Dropsy Medical condition where swelling of fluid beneath the skin causes great pain.

33 Catarrh A disorder of inflammation of mucous membranes in an airway or bodily cavity.

38 Spleen Most often used in this period to describe the nature of melancholy or hysterical affectation. But in this context, used to describe the surge of emotion that man feels towards women; ends in pregnancy.

39 Bawd A prostitute.

44 Racks, Wheels, Fires Refers to various methods of torture associated with religious inquisitions; the rack stretched an individual to dislocate/break limbs; the wheel was an actual wagon wheel that an individual was strapped to, then beaten. Fires could refer to a funeral pyre or burning at the stake.

45 Articles of Faith Refers to passages of the Bible that suggest death as a solution for sins.

62 Main Refers to the merchant “plowing” the main street of a city; a peddler seeking profit.

117 Phoebus Another name for Apollo, the god of the Sun in classical Greek mythology.

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1738), pp. 99-104. [Google Books]

Edited by Spencer Lam