Friday, May 04, 2007

a song for summer

Here is another poem from Parnassus, the anthology compiled by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1874 (pdf).
The Grasshopper, by Richard Lovelace (1649)

To my Noble Friend, Mr. Charles Cotton

O thou that swing'st upon the waving hair
    Of some well-filled oaten beard,
Drunk every night with a delicious tear
    Dropped thee from heaven, where now th' art reared.

The joys of earth and air are thine entire,
    That with thy feet and wings dost hop and fly;
And when thy poppy works thou dost retire
    To thy carved acorn-bed to lie.

Up with the day, the sun thou welcom'st then,
    Sport'st in the gilt-plats of his beams,
And all these merry days mak'st merry men,
    Thyself, and Melancholy streams.

But ah the sickle!  Golden ears are cropped;
    Ceres and Bacchus bid good-night;
Sharpe frosty fingers all your flowers have topped,
    And what scythes spared, winds shave off quite.

Poore verdant fool! and now green ice, thy joys
    Large and as lasting, as thy perch of grass,
Bid us lay in 'gainst winter, rain, and poise
    Their floods, with an o'erflowing glass.

Thou best of men and friends!  we will create
    A genuine summer in each other's breast;
And spite of this cold time and frozen fate
    Thaw us a warm seat to our rest.

Our sacred hearths shall burn eternally
    As vestal flames, the North-wind, he
Shall strike his frost-stretched wings, dissolve and fly
    This Etna in Epitome.

Dropping December shall come weeping in,
    Bewail th' usurping of his reign;
But when in showers of old Greek we begin,
    Shall cry he hath his crown again!

Night, as clear Hesper, shall our tapers whip
    From the light casements, where we play,
And the dark hag from her black mantle strip,
    And stick there everlasting day.

Thus richer than untempted kings are we,
    That asking nothing, nothing need:
Though Lord of all what seas embrace; yet he
    That wants himself, is poor indeed.
A biography of Lovelace is here.

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