The Shepheards Sirena

A poem by Michael Drayton

DORILVS in sorrowes deepe,
Autumne waxing olde and chill,
As he sate his Flocks to keepe
Vnderneath an easie hill:
Chanc'd to cast his eye aside
On those fields, where he had scene,
Bright SIRENA Natures pride,
Sporting on the pleasant greene:
To whose walkes the Shepheards oft,
Came her god-like foote to finde,
And in places that were soft,
Kist the print there left behinde;
Where the path which she had troad,
Hath thereby more glory gayn'd,
Then in heau'n that milky rode,
Which with Nectar Hebe stayn'd:
But bleake Winters boystrous blasts,
Now their fading pleasures chid,
And so fill'd them with his wastes,
That from sight her steps were hid.
Silly Shepheard sad the while,
For his sweet SIRENA gone,
All his pleasures in exile:
Layd on the colde earth alone.
Whilst his gamesome cut-tayld Curre,
With his mirthlesse Master playes,
Striuing him with sport to stirre,
As in his more youthfull dayes,
DORILVS his Dogge doth chide,
Layes his well-tun'd Bagpype by,
And his Sheep-hooke casts aside,
There (quoth he) together lye.
When a Letter forth he tooke,
Which to him SIRENA writ,
With a deadly down-cast looke,
And thus fell to reading it.
DORILVS my deare (quoth she)
Kinde Companion of my woe,
Though we thus diuided be,
Death cannot diuorce vs so:
Thou whose bosome hath beene still,
Th' onely Closet of my care,
And in all my good and ill,
Euer had thy equall share:
Might I winne thee from thy Fold,
Thou shouldst come to visite me,
But the Winter is so cold,
That I feare to hazard thee:
The wilde waters are waxt hie,
So they are both deafe and dumbe,
Lou'd they thee so well as I,
They would ebbe when thou shouldst come;
Then my coate with light should shine,
Purer then the Vestall fire:
Nothing here but should be thine,
That thy heart can well desire:
Where at large we will relate,
From what cause our friendship grewe,
And in that the varying Fate,
Since we first each other knewe:
Of my heauie passed plight,
As of many a future feare,
Which except the silent night,
None but onely thou shalt heare;
My sad hurt it shall releeue,
When my thoughts I shall disclose,
For thou canst not chuse but greeue,
When I shall recount my woes;
There is nothing to that friend,
To whose close vncranied brest,
We our secret thoughts may send,
And there safely let it rest:
And thy faithfull counsell may,
My distressed case assist,
Sad affliction else may sway
Me a woman as it list:
Hither I would haue thee haste,
Yet would gladly haue thee stay,
When those dangers I forecast,
That may meet thee by the way,
Doe as thou shalt thinke it best,
Let thy knowledge be thy guide,
Liue thou in my constant breast,
Whatsoeuer shall betide.
He her Letter hauing red,
Puts it in his Scrip againe,
Looking like a man halfe dead,
By her kindenesse strangely slaine;
And as one who inly knew,
Her distressed present state,
And to her had still been true,
Thus doth with himselfe debate.
I will not thy face admire,
Admirable though it bee,
Nor thine eyes whose subtile fire
So much wonder winne in me:
But my maruell shall be now,
(And of long it hath bene so)
Of all Woman kind that thou
Wert ordain'd to taste of woe;
To a Beauty so diuine,
Paradise in little done,
O that Fortune should assigne,
Ought but what thou well mightst shun,
But my counsailes such must bee,
(Though as yet I them conceale)
By their deadly wound in me,
They thy hurt must onely heale,
Could I giue what thou do'st craue
To that passe thy state is growne,
I thereby thy life may saue,
But am sure to loose mine owne,
To that ioy thou do'st conceiue,
Through my heart, the way doth lye,
Which in two for thee must claue
Least that thou shouldst goe awry.
Thus my death must be a toy,
Which my pensiue breast must couer;
Thy beloued to enioy,
Must be taught thee by thy Louer.
Hard the Choise I haue to chuse,
To my selfe if friend I be,
I must my SIRENA loose,
If not so, shee looseth me.
Thus whilst he doth cast about,
What therein were best to doe,
Nor could yet resolue the doubt,
Whether he should stay or goe:
In those Feilds not farre away,
There was many a frolike Swaine,
In fresh Russets day by day,
That kept Reuells on the Plaine.
Nimble TOM, sirnam'd the Tup,
For his Pipe without a Peere,
And could tickle Trenchmore vp,
As t'would ioy your heart to heare.
RALPH as much renown'd for skill,
That the Taber touch'd so well;
For his Gittern, little GILL,
That all other did excell.
ROCK and ROLLO euery way,
Who still led the Rusticke Ging,
And could troule a Roundelay,
That would make the Feilds to ring,
COLLIN on his Shalme so cleare,
Many a high-pitcht Note that had,
And could make the Eechos nere
Shout as they were wexen mad.
Many a lusty Swaine beside,
That for nought but pleasure car'd,
Hauing DORILVS espy'd,
And with him knew how it far'd.
Thought from him they would remoue,
This strong melancholy fitt,
Or so, should it not behoue,
Quite to put him out of 's witt;
Hauing learnt a Song, which he
Sometime to Sirena sent,
Full of Iollity and glee,
When the Nimph liu'd neere to Trent
They behinde him softly gott,
Lying on the earth along,
And when he suspected not,
Thus the Iouiall Shepheards song.

Neare to the Siluer Trent,
Sirena dwelleth:
Shee to whom Nature lent
All that excelleth:
By which the Muses late,
And the neate Graces,
Haue for their greater state
Taken their places:
Twisting an Anadem,
Wherewith to Crowne her,
As it belong'd to them
Most to renowne her.
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke,
Let the Swanes sing her,
And with their Musick,
Along let them bring her.

Tagus and Pactolus
Are to thee Debter,
Nor for their gould to vs
Are they the better:
Henceforth of all the rest,
Be thou the Riuer,
Which as the daintiest,
Puts them downe euer,
For as my precious one,
O'r thee doth trauell,
She to Pearl Parragon
Turneth thy grauell.
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke,
Let thy Swanns sing her,
And with their Musicke,
Along let them bring her.

Our mournefull Philomell,
That rarest Tuner,
Henceforth in Aperill
Shall wake the sooner,
And to her shall complaine
From the thicke Couer,
Redoubling euery straine
Ouer and ouer:
For when my Loue too long
Her Chamber keepeth;
As though it suffered wrong,
The Morning weepeth.
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke,
Let thy Swanes sing her,
And with their Musick,
Along let them bring her.

Oft have I seene the Sunne
To doe her honour.
Fix himselfe at his noone,
To look vpon her,
And hath guilt euery Groue,
Euery Hill neare her,
With his flames from aboue,
Striuing to cheere her,
And when shee from his sight
Hath her selfe turned,
He as it had beene night,
In Cloudes hath mourned.
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke,
Let thy Swanns sing her,
And with their Musicke,
Along let them bring her.

The Verdant Meades are seene,
When she doth view them,
In fresh and gallant Greene,
Straight to renewe them,
And euery little Grasse
Broad it selfe spreadeth,
Proud that this bonny Lasse
Vpon it treadeth:
Nor flower is so sweete
In this large Cincture
But it upon her feete
Leaueth some Tincture.
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke,
Let thy Swanes sing her,
And with thy Musick,
Along let them bring her.

The Fishes in the Flood,
When she doth Angle,
For the Hooke striue a good
Them to intangle;
And leaping on the Land
From the cleare water,
Their Scales vpon the sand,
Lauishly scatter;
Therewith to paue the mould
Whereon she passes,
So her selfe to behold,
As in her glasses.
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Ranke,
Let thy Swanns sing her,
And with their Musicke,
Along let them bring her.

When shee lookes out by night,
The Starres stand gazing,
Like Commets to our sight
Fearefully blazing,
As wondring at her eyes
With their much brightnesse,
Which to amaze the skies,
Dimming their lightnesse,
The raging Tempests are Calme,
When shee speaketh,
Such most delightsome balme
From her lips breaketh.
Cho. On thy Banke,
In a Rancke, &c.

In all our Brittany,
Ther's not a fayrer,
Nor can you fitt any:
Should you compare her.
Angels her eye-lids keepe
All harts surprizing,
Which looke whilst she doth sleepe
Like the Sunnes rising:
She alone of her kinde
Knoweth true measure
And her vnmatched mind
Is Heauens treasure:
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke
Let thy Swanes sing her,
And with their Musick,
Along let them bring her.

Fayre Doue and Darwine cleere
Boast yee your beauties,
To Trent your Mistres here
Yet pay your duties,
My Loue was higher borne
Tow'rds the full Fountaines,
Yet she doth Moorland scorne,
And the Peake Mountaines;
Nor would she none should dreame,
Where she abideth,
Humble as is the streame,
Which by her slydeth,
Cho. On thy Bancke,
In a Rancke,
Let thy Swannes sing her,
And with their Musicke,
Along let them bring her.

Yet my poore Rusticke Muse,
Nothing can moue her,
Nor the means I can vse,
Though her true Louer:
Many a long Winters night,
Haue I wak'd for her,
Yet this my piteous plight,
Nothing can stirre her.
All thy Sands siluer Trent
Downe to the Humber,
The sighes I haue spent
Neuer can number.
Cho. On thy Banke
In a Ranke,
Let thy Swans sing her
And with their Musicke
Along let them bring her.

Taken with this suddaine Song,
Least for mirth when he doth look
His sad heart more deeply stong,
Then the former care he tooke.
At their laughter and amaz'd,
For a while he sat aghast
But a little hauing gaz'd,
Thus he them bespake at last.
Is this time for mirth (quoth he)
To a man with griefe opprest,
Sinfull wretches as you be,
May the sorrowes in my breast,
Light vpon you one by one,
And as now you mocke my woe,
When your mirth is turn'd to moane;
May your like then serue you so.
When one Swaine among the rest
Thus him merrily bespake,
Get thee vp thou arrant beast
Fits this season loue to make?
Take thy Sheephooke in thy hand,
Clap thy Curre and set him on,
For our fields 'tis time to stand,
Or they quickly will be gon.
Rougish Swinheards that repine
At our Flocks, like beastly Clownes,
Sweare that they will bring their Swine,
And will wroote vp all our Downes:
They their Holly whips haue brac'd,
And tough Hazell goades haue gott;
Soundly they your sides will baste,
If their courage faile them not.
Of their purpose if they speed,
Then your Bagpypes you may burne,
It is neither Droane nor Reed
Shepheard, that will serue your turne:
Angry OLCON sets them on,
And against vs part doth take
Euer since he was out-gone,
Offring Rymes with us to make.
Yet if so our Sheepe-hookes hold,
Dearely shall our Downes be bought,
For it neuer shall be told,
We our Sheep-walkes sold for naught.
And we here haue got vs Dogges,
Best of all the Westerne breed,
Which though Whelps shall lug their Hogges,
Till they make their eares to bleed:
Therefore Shepheard come away.
When as DORILVS arose,
Whistles Cut-tayle from his play,
And along with them he goes.


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