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William Browne

Epitaphs: In Obitum

In Obitum M S, X° Maij, 1614

May! Be thou never grac'd with birds that sing,
Nor Flora's pride!
In thee all flowers and roses spring,
Mine only died.

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Autumn

Autumn it was when droop'd the sweetest flow'rs,
And rivers, swoll'n with pride, o'erlook'd the banks;
Poor grew the day of summer's golden hours,
And void of sap stood Ida's cedar-ranks.
The pleasant meadows sadly lay
In chill and cooling sweats
By rising fountains, or as they
Fear'd winter's wastfull threats.

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Music on the Thames

As I have seen when on the breast of Thames
A heavenly bevy of sweet English dames,
In some calm ev'ning of delightful May,
With music give a farewell to the day,
Or as they would, with an admired tone,
Greet Night's ascension to her ebon throne,
Rapt with their melody a thousand more
Run to be wafted from the bounding shore.

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To England

Hail, thou my native soil! thou blessed plot
Whose equal all the world affordeth not!
Show me who can so many crystal rills,
Such sweet-clothed valleys or aspiring hills;
Such wood-ground, pastures, quarries, wealthy mines;
Such rocks in whom the diamond fairly shines;
And if the earth can show the like again,
Yet will she fail in her sea-ruling men.

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On the Countess Dowager of Pembroke

Underneath this sable herse
Lies the subject of all verse:
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother:
Death, ere thou hast slain another,
Fair and learn'd, and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.

Marble piles let no man raise
To her name: for after days
Some kind woman born as she,
Reading this, like Niobe
Shall turn marble, and become
Both her mourner and her tomb.

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Song

FOR her gait, if she be walking;
Be she sitting, I desire her
For her state's sake; and admire her
For her wit if she be talking;
Gait and state and wit approve her;
For which all and each I love her.

Be she sullen, I commend her
For a modest. Be she merry,
For a kind one her prefer I.
Briefly, everything doth lend her
So much grace, and so approve her,
That for everything I love her.

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A Song

Gentle nymphs, be not refusing,
Love's neglect is time's abusing,
They and beauty are but lent you;
Take the one and keep the other;
Love keeps fresh what age doth smother;
Beauty gone you will repent you.

'Twill be said when ye have proved,
Never swains more truly loved:
Oh then fly all nice behaviour!
Pity fain would (as her duty)
Be attending still on Beauty,
Let her not be out of favour.

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The Seasons

The year hath first his jocund spring,
Wherein the leaves, to birds' sweet carolling,
Dance with the wind; then sees the summer's day
Perfect the embryon blossom of each spray;
Next cometh autumn, when the threshèd sheaf
Loseth his grain, and every tree his leaf;
Lastly, cold winter's rage, with many a storm,
Threats the proud pines which Ida's top adorn,
And makes the sap leave succourless the shoot,
Shrinking to comfort his decaying root.

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The Charm

Son of Erebus and Night,
Hie away; and aim thy flight
Where consort none other fowl
Than the bat and sullen owl;
Where upon the limber grass
Poppy and mandragoras
With like simples not a few
Hang for ever drops of dew.

Where flows Lethe without coil
Softly like a stream of oil.
Hie thee thither, gentle Sleep:
With this Greek no longer keep.
Thrice I charge thee by my wand;
Thrice with moly from my hand
Do I touch Ulysses' eyes,
And with the jaspis: Then arise,
Sagest Greek....

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May Day Customs

I have seen the Lady of the May
Set in an arbour, on a holiday,
Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swains
Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's strains,
When envious night commands them to be gone
Call for the merry youngsters one by one,
And for their well performance soon disposes:
To this a garland interwove with roses,
To that a carvèd hook or well-wrought scrip,
Gracing another with her cherry lip;
To one her garter, to another then
A handkerchief cast o'er and o'er again;
And none returneth empty that hath spent
His pains to fill their rural merriment.

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