Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Ulysses and the Siren
By Samuel Daniel (1562–1619)
Siren.  COME, 1 worthy Greek! Ulysses, come,
    Possess these shores with me:
  The winds and seas are troublesome,
    And here we may be free.
  Here may we sit and view their toil        5
    That travail in the deep,
  And joy the day in mirth the while,
    And spend the night in sleep.
Ulysses.  Fair Nymph, if fame or honour were
    To be attain’d with ease,        10
  Then would I come and rest with thee,
    And leave such toils as these.
  But here it dwells, and here must I
    With danger seek it forth:
  To spend the time luxuriously        15
    Becomes not men of worth.
Siren.  Ulysses, O be not deceived
    With that unreal name;
  This honour is a thing conceived,
    And rests on others’ fame:        20
  Begotten only to molest
    Our peace, and to beguile
  The best thing of our life—our rest,
    And give us up to toil.
Ulysses.  Delicious Nymph, suppose there were        25
    No honour nor report,
  Yet manliness would scorn to wear
    The time in idle sport:
  For toil doth give a better touch
    To make us feel our joy,        30
  And ease finds tediousness as much
    As labour yields annoy.
Siren.  Then pleasure likewise seems the shore
    Whereto tends all your toil,
  Which you forego to make it more,        35
    And perish oft the while.
  Who may disport them diversely
    Find never tedious day,
  And ease may have variety
    As well as action may.        40
Ulysses.  But natures of the noblest frame
    These toils and dangers please;
  And they take comfort in the same
    As much as you in ease;
  And with the thought of actions past        45
    Are recreated still:
  When Pleasure leaves a touch at last
    To show that it was ill.
Siren.  That doth Opinion only cause
    That’s out of Custom bred,        50
  Which makes us many other laws
    Than ever Nature did.
  No widows wail for our delights,
    Our sports are without blood;
  The world we see by warlike wights        55
    Receives more hurt than good.
Ulysses.  But yet the state of things require
    These motions of unrest;
  And these great Spirits of high desire
    Seem born to turn them best:        60
  To purge the mischiefs that increase
    And all good order mar:
  For oft we see a wicked peace
    To be well changed for war.
Siren.  Well, well, Ulysses, then I see        65
    I shall not have thee here:
  And therefore I will come to thee,
    And take my fortune there.
  I must be won, that cannot win,
    Yet lost were I not won;        70
  For beauty hath created been
    T’ undo, or be undone.
Note 1. Come, worthy Greek! Ulysses, come.  From Homer’s Odyssey, xii., 184. “It is to be observed particularly,” writes Mr. Quiller-Couch (Golden Pomp), “with what ease this song of ‘well-languaged Daniel’ runs upon the tongue. Such ease would be remarkable in a lyric of mere emotion or ecstasy: it is wonderful in lines that discuss a question of high morality.” [back]

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