Phineas Fletcher

(1582 - 1650 / England)

The Happy Shepherd


Thrice, oh, thrice happy, shepherd's life and state!
When courts are happiness' unhappy pawns!
His cottage low and safely humble gate
Shuts out proud Fortune with her scorns and fawns
No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep,
Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep;
Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

No Syrian worms he knows, that with their thread
Draw out their silken lives: nor silken pride:
His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need,
Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed:
No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright;
For begging wants his middle fortune bite:
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.

Instead of music, and base flattering tongues,
Which wait to first salute my lord's uprise;
The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs,
And birds' sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes
In country plays is all the strife he uses;
Or sing, or dance unto the rural muses;
And but in music's sports all difference refuses.

His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets, and rich content;
The smooth-leaved beeches in the field receive him
With coolest shades, till noontide rage is spent;
His life is neither toss'd in boist'rous seas
Of troublous word, nor lost in slothful ease:
Pleased and full blest he lives, when he his God can please.

His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place;
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face:
Never his humble house nor state torment him:
Less he could like, if less his God had sent him;
And when he dies, green turfs, with grassy tomb, content him.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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