Yea, it is best, dear friends, who have so oft
Fed full my ears with praises sweet and soft,
Sweeter and softer than my song should win,
Too sweet and soft - I must not listen more,
Lest its dear perilous honey make me mad,
And once again an overweening lad
Presume against Apollo. Nay, no more!
'Tis not to pipes like mine sing stars at morn,
Nor stars at night dance in their solemn dance:
Nay, stars! why tell of stars? the very thrush
Putteth my daintiest cunning to the blush
And boasteth him the hedgerow laureate.
Yea, dimmest daisies lost amid the grass,
One might have deemed blessed us for looking at,
Would rather choose, - yea, so it is, alas! -
The meanest bird that from its tiny throat
Droppeth the pearl of one monotonous note,
Than any music I can bring to pass.
So, let me go: for, while I linger here,
Piping these dainty ditties for your ear,
To win that dearer honey for my own,
Daylong my Thestylis doth sit alone,
Weeping, mayhap, because the gods have given
Song but not sheep - the rarer gift of heaven;
And little Phyllis solitary grows,
And little Corydon unheeded goes.
Sheep are the shepherd's business, - let me go, -
Piping his pastime when the sun is low:
But I, alas! the other order keep,
Piping my business, and forgot my sheep.
My song that once was as a little sweet
Savouring the daily bread we all must eat,
Lo! it has come to be my only food:
And, as a lover of the Indian weed
Steals to a self-indulgent solitude,
To draw the dreamy sweetness from its root,
So from the strong blithe world of valorous deed
I steal away to suck this singing weed;
And while the morning gathers up its strength,
And while the noonday runneth on in might,
Until the shadows and the evening light
Come and awake me with a fear at length,
Prone in some hankering covert hid away,
Fain am I still my piping to prolong,
And for the largess of a bounteous day
Dare pay my maker with a paltry song.
Welcome the song that like a trumpet high
Lifts the tired head of battle with its cry,
Welcome the song that from its morning heights
Cheers jaded markets with the health of fields,
Brings down the stars to mock the city lights.
Or up to heaven a shining ladder builds.
But not to me belongeth such a grace,
And, were it mine, 'tis not in amorous shade
To river music that such song is made:
The song that moves the battle on awoke
To the stern rhythm of the swordsman's stroke,
The song that fans the city's weary face
Sprang not afar from out some leafy place,
But bubbled spring-like in its dingiest lane
From out a heart that shared the city's pain;
And he who brings the stars into the street
And builds that shining ladder for our feet,
Dwells in no mystic Abora aloof,
But shares the shelter of the common roof;
He learns great metres from the thunderous hum,
And all his songs pulse to the human beat.
But I am Corydon, I am not he,
Though I no more that Corydon shall be
To make a sugared comfit of my song.
So now I go, go back to Thestylis -
How her poor eyes will laugh again for this!
Go back to Thestylis, and no more roam
In melancholy meadows mad to sing,
But teach our little home itself to sing.
Yea, Corydon, now cast thy pipe away - -
See, how it floats upon the stream, and see
There it has gone, and now - away! away!
But O! my pipe, how sweet thou wert to me!