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Thomas Randolph

(1605-1635 / England)

An Ode to Master Anthony Stafford to hasten Him into the Country


COME, spur away,
   I have no patience for a longer stay,
   But must go down
   And leave the chargeable noise of this great town:
   I will the country see,
   Where old simplicity,
   Though hid in gray,
   Doth look more gay
   Than foppery in plush and scarlet clad.
   Farewell, you city wits, that are
   Almost at civil war--
'Tis time that I grow wise, when all the world grows mad.

   More of my days
   I will not spend to gain an idiot's praise;
   Or to make sport
   For some slight Puisne of the Inns of Court.
   Then, worthy Stafford, say,
   How shall we spend the day?
   With what delights
   Shorten the nights?
   When from this tumult we are got secure,
   Where mirth with all her freedom goes,
   Yet shall no finger lose;
Where every word is thought, and every thought is pure?

   There from the tree
   We'll cherries pluck, and pick the strawberry;
   And every day
   Go see the wholesome country girls make hay,
   Whose brown hath lovelier grace
   Than any painted face
   That I do know
   Hyde Park can show:
   Where I had rather gain a kiss than meet
   (Though some of them in greater state
   Might court my love with plate)
The beauties of the Cheap, and wives of Lombard Street.

   But think upon
   Some other pleasures: these to me are none.
   Why do I prate
   Of women, that are things against my fate!
   I never mean to wed
   That torture to my bed:
   My Muse is she
   My love shall be.
   Let clowns get wealth and heirs: when I am gone
   And that great bugbear, grisly Death,
   Shall take this idle breath,
If I a poem leave, that poem is my son.

   Of this no more!
   We'll rather taste the bright Pomona's store.
   No fruit shall 'scape
   Our palates, from the damson to the grape.
   Then, full, we'll seek a shade,
   And hear what music 's made;
   How Philomel
   Her tale doth tell,
   And how the other birds do fill the quire;
   The thrush and blackbird lend their throats,
   Warbling melodious notes;
We will all sports enjoy which others but desire.

   Ours is the sky,
   Where at what fowl we please our hawk shall fly:
   Nor will we spare
   To hunt the crafty fox or timorous hare;
   But let our hounds run loose
   In any ground they'll choose;
   The buck shall fall,
   The stag, and all.
   Our pleasures must from their own warrants be,
   For to my Muse, if not to me,
   I'm sure all game is free:
Heaven, earth, are all but parts of her great royalty.

   And when we mean
   To taste of Bacchus' blessings now and then,
   And drink by stealth
   A cup or two to noble Barkley's health,
   I'll take my pipe and try
   The Phrygian melody;
   Which he that hears,
   Lets through his ears
   A madness to distemper all the brain:
   Then I another pipe will take
   And Doric music make,
To civilize with graver notes our wits again.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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