Poems and Extracts/On his Muse

On his Muse

(From the Shepherd's hunting)

By George Wither


For though banished from my flocks
And confin'ed within these rocks,
Here I waste away the light,
And consume the sullen night,
She doth for my comfort stay
And keeps many cares away,
Though I miss the flowery fields,
With these fruits the spring-tide yields,
Though I may not see those groves
Where the Shepherds chaunt their loves, 10
And the Lasses more excel

Than the sweet-voiced Philomel;
Though all these pleasures past
Nothing now remains at last
But remembrance, poor relief
That more makes than mends my grief;
She's my minds companion still
Maugre envy's evil will,
Whence she should be driven too
Wer't in mortals power to do.20
She doth tell me where to borrow
Comfort in the midst of sorrow,
Makest the desolatest place
To her presence be a grace,
And the blackest discontents
To be pleasing ornaments.
In my former days of bliss
Her divine skill taught me this,
That from every thing I saw
I could some invention draw,30

By the murmur of a spring
Or the least boughs rusteling;
By a daisy whose leaves spread
Shut when Titan goes to bed;
Or a shady bush or tree
She could more infuse in me,
Than all nature's beauties can
In some other wiser.
By her help I also now
Make this churlish place allow 40
Some things that may sweeten gladness,
In the very gall of sadness.
The dull loneness, the black shade
That these hanging vaults have made,
The strange music of the waves,
Beating on these hollow caves;
This black den which rocks emboss
Overgrown with eldest moss

The rude portals that give light
More to terror than delight; 50
This my chamber of neglect,
Walled about with disrespect;
From all these and this dull air,
A fit object for despair,
She hath taught me by her might
To draw comfort and delight.
Therefore thou best, earthly bliss
I will cherish thee for this,—
Poesy!—thou sweetest content
That e'er heaven to mortals lent60
Though they as a trifle leave thee
Whose dull thoughts cannot conceive thee;
Though thou be to them a scorn
That to nought but earth art born;
Let my Life no longer be
Than I am in love with thee;

Though our wise-ones call thee madness
Let me never taste of gladness
If I love not thy maddest fits
More than all their greatest wits.70
And though some too, seeming holy,
Do accout thy raptures folly,
Thou dost teach me to contenm
What makes knaves and fools of them.
Oh high Power! that oft doth carry
Men above . . . . .