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The Metamorphosis Of The Wallnut-Tree Of Borestall: Canto I. - Poem by William Basse

Iasper a Swayne vpon the Cotswold hill,
And Ieffrey, Shepheard on the banks of Thame,
Together met (as sometimes Shepheards will),
Iasper, who of a tale had heard the fame
That Iefferye told, desires to heare the same,
Which gentle Iefferye, easily entreated,
(At the desire of Iasper) thus repeated.

Who has not heard, How many ages since
The famous Nigel slew the savage Boare
That did the Countrey spoyle, and by his Prince
Full worthily rewarded was therfore
With lands, and woods, & forrest-walkes good store,
Wherein he built vpon the Monsters stall
A Mansion fayre, w&superc;&superh; by that name we call.
Of all the trees that yeilded foode or fruite
The horrid hog did kill, supplant, or gnaw
One only Wall-nut, then a tender Shute,
The fortune had to scape his cruell jaw
Which when the good & valorous Champion saw
Within his Castle wall, jn carefull sort,
He fenc'd it round in midst of all his Court.
A Raven much about that age (as me
My Muse jnformes) who oft had broke his fast
In the greene lofts of this jmproued Tree,
Coming of late in hope of like repast,
Findeing his host had now expir'd his last,
From his deepe throate he fetch'd a sigh so loud
As wak'd an Eccho in th'ore-whelming Cloud.
Towards the neighbouring woods in hast he flyes,
Where findeing first the Frith (or such a name)
He to the Trees reports with weeping eyes
Of their old freinds decease the dolefull fame,
And that no course was taken (was a shame)
To doe him his last rites, who was a Tree
Of so great fruits and such antiquitie.
They flourishing in greene & youthfull pride
Relish no newes that fate or death might send,
And doubting (as may seeme) he poorely dyed,
Who in his life so liberally did spend
His state, that little left was for his end,
Excus'd themselues, as being a generation
That to his bloud, or stock, had no relation.
But yet advis'd the Raven to repaire
To all the Nut-trees, which (they thought) he knew,
Who being of his kindred, would take care
For his last rites, to his deserued due.
Which Councell he doth jnstantly pursue,
And in those Woods, he first & quickly findes
The Hazle, whom he of this bus'ines mindes.
This was an honest Tree, but weake and poore
With charge of children great, that by him stooke,
Yet one that had in lib'rall deeds done more
Then some of them that bore a higher looke;
Yet at few wordes he gently vndertooke
In this so freindly office to be one,
So more would joyne; he was too meane alone.
I haue not (sayes the Raven) eaten all
My meate, or mast, in this my natiue land
But where I saw the Iordan Almonds fall
As thick vpon their famous Rivers sand
As yours doe here to Autumnes shakeing hand,
And where the odorous Nutmegs cheaper may
Be bought by th' peck, then by the pound we pay.
But being now three hundred yeares of age
(A time enough, if euer, to be wise)
I dare not my decaying wings engage
So farre abroade to seeke out your allyes;
To those that this fayre Island doth comprise
Herein to ioyne with you, I shall not fayle
My best perswasion, if that may prevayle.
This sayd, The sable herauld tooke his leaue,
And pond'ring well th'affayre he went about
In his old brayne, he sagely did conceiue
He must not only finde the Nut-trees out
But at such houses where he made no doubt
The Lords & Ladyes were great freinds vnto
The Ladye at whose house the Wall-nut grew.
And thus conceited The first flight he flew
Was to the great & auncient house of Thame,
Where stood another Wall-nut tree he knew
Of a fayre growth, and of a fruitfull fame,
To whom, full sadly, he reports the same
That to the Hazle he had done before,
And doth his help and presence both jmplore.
Whereat the gentle tree let fall a dew
Of yellow teares from his jndulgent eyes,
But vp his stayres the messenger did shew
Where he should finde a welcome to suffice
His appetite: The while he would advise
Some course to take, or to excuse this taske,
Which did no small consideration aske.
And when he had in his sound head revolu'd
The nature of the cause (and th'other fed)
He told him thus: My freind, I am resolu'd,
Although from hence I haue not travelled
These fifty yeares, yet for his sake that's dead
And more his Ladyes, when you next shall call
To wait vppon my Cousin's funerall.
From hence to Ditton was his second flight
Where he remembred, he did oft behold
A grove of Filberd trees (a plesant sight)
To whom his messuage solemnly he told,
And they, as curteous, grant him what he would,
And did the ablest of them all elect
Ready to goe, when he should so direct.
On his sad wings, with sweet encouragement
Thus strongly ymp'd, The mourning Post now bound
Is for the wildes of Sussex or of Kent,
(I know not which), and there vpon the ground
Of noble Delawar, or Wooton, found
A Chestnut tree, to whom (as to the rest)
He telles the newes and makes the same request.
The kinde Castanean thus did answer make;
I much condole (good freind) the newes I heare,
And for mine old deceased kindreds sake,
And more his Ladyes, I would fayne be there;
But being now aboue fourescore, I feare
My corps two fadoms round, and lazie roote,
Will neuer hold to walke so far afoote.
(For horse) a Camell will not carry me,
Or had I one that could, I could not ride:
And in a waggon, if your high wayes be
Like those of ours, I neuer shall abide.
Sir (sayes the Raven) take the Grauesend tide
Where you shall finde a Barge to bring vp you
To London first, and thence to Windsor too.
For I at Ditton (which to that is neere)
The Filberd tree already haue bespake,
And he (more young) shall wait vpon you there
(His loue assures me so to vndertake),
And thence to Thame the next dayes journey make,
To call the Wallnut, whom you shall arrive
At fifteene miles, & then to Borestall fiue.
But (sayes the Chestnut) when must be the day
Wheron we should this last good office doe,
That (sayes the Raven) you must name, say they,
Out of their fayre & kinde respects to you
That haue the longest journey thervnto,
They far more neare, their tyme on yours attends,
Trust me (sayd he) 'tis sayd like noble freinds.
This day (sayd he) is Tuesday, Mars his day,
By whose great helpe, or greater power, I shall
On Monday next, at Windsor (as you say)
The Filberd meete, that he and I may call
The Wallnut tree at Thame, and thence be all
At Borestall vpon Wednesday by night,
On Thursday to attend the funerall right.
This sayd, to bid the messenger farewell,
With rare respect he shooke him by the hand
With such a force, as from his sholders fell
A bayte of Nuts that cover'd all the land
That did within his large circumference stand:
And some the Raven tooke, and might as many
As laden would his horse, had he had any.
And so the black jndustrious Post retourning
First to the Filberd, in his place, declares
The Chestnuts resolution for this mourning,
And for the promis'd meeting him prepares:
Then to the Wallnut seconds these affayres,
And lastly to the Hazle makes relation
Of all, to keepe awake his expectation.
Thus feare I (Iasper) I haue been too long,
Yet hitherto my service but prepar'd:

That is (jndeede) thy co&mbar;on fault of song,
But yet goe on (good Iefferye): better heard
Were story none at all, then halfe declar'd;
And of the two, it is the lesse offence
To weary, then deceiue, the hearing sence.

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