Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Philomela
By Richard Barnfield (1574–1627)
 
AS 1 it fell upon a day
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a grove of myrtles made,
Beasts did leap and birds did sing,        5
Trees did grow and plants did spring;
Everything did banish moan
Save the Nightingale alone:
She, poor bird as all forlorn
Leaned her breast up-till a thorn,        10
And there sung the dolefull’st ditty,
That to hear it was great pity.
Fie, fie, fie! now would she cry;
Tereu, Tereu! 2 by and by;
That to hear her so complain        15
Scarce I could from tears refrain;
For her griefs so lively shown
Made me think upon mine own.
Ah! thought I, thou mourn’st in vain,
None takes pity on thy pain:        20
Senseless trees they cannot hear thee,
Ruthless beasts they will not cheer thee:
King Pandion 3 he is dead,
All thy friends are lapp’d in lead;
All thy fellow birds do sing        25
Careless of thy sorrowing:
Even so, poor bird, like thee,
None alive will pity me.
 
Note 1. From Poems: In Divers Humours, 1598. Perhaps no poet of this great period is considered with so regretful a recollection as the author of this immortal lyric. “Our first-born Keats,” Mr. Swinburne names him, which Prof. Schelling explains as “probably in allusion to his proficiency in the heptasyllabic trochaics of this poem, a favorite measure with Keats.” There is something I think more internal and personal than the mere technique of his verses which makes him the literary father of Crashaw, and literary grandfather of Keats; for there are, perhaps, no three English poets, who, in a certain intense personal quality, clothed in the rich garments of an abundant vocabulary, soared so high in the same realms of melodious diction as these three. A longer version was included in the Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, appended to The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599. A collection, made by the piratical publisher, William Jaggard, of some genuine sonnets, etc., by Shakespeare, and other writers, all credited, by the title page, to Shakespeare. The present poem was “conveyed” with Poems in Divers Humours and appended to The Encomion of Lady Pecunia: or the Praise of Money, the last book of verses written by Barnfield. [back]
Note 2. Tereu, Tereu: for the meaning of this cry see the note to Sidney’s The Nightingale (No. 79). [back]
Note 3. Pandion: Philomela’s father. [back]
 
 
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