« AnteriorContinuar »
Her plaints were interrupted with a sound
That seem'd from thickest bushes to proceed,
Some iolly shepheard sung a lustie round,
And to his voice had tun'd his oaten reed ;
Thither she went, an old man there she found,
(At whose right hand his little flock did feed)
Sat making baskets, his three sonnes among,
That learn'd their father's art, and learn'd his song.
Beholding one in shining armes appeare,
The seelie man and his were sore dismaid ;
But sweet Erminia comforted their feare,
Her ventall vp, her visage open laid.
You happie folke, of heau'n beloued deare,
Work on (quoth she) vpon your harmlesse traid,
These dreadfull armes, I beare, no warfare bring
To your sweet toile, nor those sweet tunes you sing.
But father, since this land, these townes and towres,
Destroied are with sword, with fire and spoile,
How may it be, unhurt, that you and yours
In safetie thus, applie your harmlesse toile ?
My sonne (quoth he) this pore estate of ours
Is euer safe from storme of warlike broile;
This wildernesse doth vs in safetie keepe,
No thundring drum, no trumpet breakes our sleepe.
Haply iust heau'n's defence and shield of right,
Doth loue the innocence of simple swaines,
The thunderbolts on highest mountains light,
And seld or neuer strike the lower plaines :
So kings haue cause to feare Bellonaes might,
Not they whose sweat and toile their dinner gaines,
Nor ever greedie soldier was entised
By pouertie, neglected and despised.
O pouertie, chefe of the heau’nly brood,
Dearer to me than wealth or kingly crowne !
No wish for honour, thirst of other's good,
Can moue my hart, contented with my owne:
We quench our thirst with water of this flood,
Nor fear we poison should therein be throwne :
These little flocks of sheepe and tender goates
Giue milke for food, and wooll to make us coates.
We little wish, we need but little wealth,
From cold and hunger vs to cloath and feed ;
These are my sonnes, their care preserues from stealth
Their father's flocks, nor servants moe I need:
Amid these groues I walke oft for my health,
And to the fishes, birds, and beastes giue heed,
How they are fed, in forrest, spring and lake,
And their contentment for ensample take.
Time was (for each one hath his doting time,
These siluer locks were golden tresses than)
That countrie life I hated as a crime,
And from the forrests sweet contentment ran,
To Memphis stately pallace would I clime,
And there became the mightie Caliphes man,
And though I but a simple gardner weare,
Yet could I marke abuses, see and heare.
Entised on with hope of future gaine,
I suffred long what did my soule displease;
But when my youth was spent, my hope was vaine,
I felt my native strength at last decrease ;
I gan my losse of lustie yeeres complaine,
And wisht I had enjoy'd the countries peace;
I bod the court farewell, and with content
My later age here have I quiet spent.
While thus he spake, Erminia husht and still
His wise discourses heard, with great attention,
His speeches graue those idle fancies kill,
Which in her troubled soule bred such dissention ;
After much thought reformed was her will,
Within those woods to dwell was her intention,
Till fortune should occasion new afford,
To turne her home to her desired lord.
She said, therefore, O shepherd fortunate !
That troubles some didst whilom feele and proue,
Yet liuest now in this contented state,
Let my mishap thy thoughts to pitie moue,
To entertaine me, as a willing mate
In shepherd's life, which I admire and loue;
Within these pleasant groues, perchance, my hart
Of her discomforts may vnload some part.
If gold or wealth, of most esteemed deare,
If iewells rich, thou diddest hold in prise,
Such store thereof, such plentie have I seen,
As to a greedie minde might well suffice:
With that downe trickled many a siluer teare,
Two christall streams fell from her watrie eies ;
Part of her sad misfortunes than she told,
And wept, and with her wept that shepherd old.
With speeches kinde, he gan the virgin deare
Towards his cottage gently home to guide ;
His aged wife there made her homely cheare,
Yet welcomde her, and plast her by her side.
The princesse dond a poore pastoraes geare,
A kerchiefe course vpon her head she tide ;
But yet her gestures and her lookes (I gesse)
Were such as ill beseem'd a shepherdesse.
Not those rude garments could obscure, and hide
The heau'nly beautie of her angel's face,
Nor was her princely ofspring damnitide,
Or ought disparag'de, by those labours bace ;
Her little flocks to pasture would she guide,
And milke her goates, and in their folds them place,
Both cheese and butter could she make, and frame
Her selfe to please the shepherd and his dame.
Of Mr. John Pomfret nothing is known but from a slight and confused account, prefixed to his poems by a nameless friend; who relates, that he was the son of the Rev. Mr. Pomfret, rector of Luton, in Bedfordshire; that he was bred at Cambridge", entered into orders, and was rector of Malden, in Bedfordshire, and might have risen in the church; but that, when he applied to Dr. Compton, bishop of London, for institution to a living of considerable value, to which he had been presented, he found a troublesome obstruction raised by a malicious interpretation of some passage in his Choice; from which it was inferred, that he considered happiness as more likely to be found in the company of a mistress than of a wife.
This reproach was easily obliterated; for it had happened to Pomfret, as to almost all other men who plan schemes of life; he had departed from his purpose, and was then married.
The malice of his enemies had, however, a very fatal consequence: the delay constrained his attendance in London, where he caught the smallpox, and died in 1703, in the thirty-sixth year of his age.
He published his poems in 1699; and has been always the favourite of that class of readers, who, without vanity or criticism, seek only their own amusement.
His Choice exhibits a system of life adapted to common notions, and equal to common expectations; such a state as affords plenty and tranquillity, without exclusion of intellectual pleasures. Perhaps no composition in our language has been oftener perused than Pomfret's Choice.
In his other poems there is an easy volubility; the pleasure of smooth metre is afforded to the ear, and the mind is not oppressed with ponderous, or entangled with intricate, sentiment. He pleases many; and he who pleases many must have some species of merit.
He was of Queen's college there, and, by the University Register, took his bachelor's degree in 1684, and master's in 1698. His father was of Trinity.