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[A variation by William Collins, 1746.]
DIRGE IN CYMBELINE.
To fair Fidele's grassy tomb
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring Each opening sweet of earliest bloom, And rifle all the blooming Spring.
No wailing ghost shall dare appear,
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove, But shepherd lads assemble here,
And melting virgins own their love.
No wither'd witch shall here be seen,
And dress thy grave with pearly dew.
The red-breast oft at evening hours.
When howling winds and beating rain,
The tender thought on thee shall dwell.
Each lonely scene shall thee restore,
Edward King was the son of Sir John King, who during the later years of Elizabeth and the reigns of the first two Stuarts was royal Secretary for Ireland. He was a young man of many accomplishments and much promise. In 1626, when only fourteen years of age, he entered Christ's College, Cambridge, where Milton, then in his third college year, was laying the foundation for his future illustrious career. King became at once a favorite among the students. He composed verses — some of which, written in Latin, are still preserved, and after graduation he was made a fellow and tutor in the college. It was the intention of himself and his friends that he should enter the Church, and his studies were all directed towards preparing him for that important and responsible position. Just at the time when the promises of his life seemed brightest, he decided upon making a visit to some of his friends in Ireland, and took passage on board a vessel at Chester for that purpose. When off the Welsh coast the ship struck upon a rock, and through the blow leaked and gaped. "While the other voyagers busied themselves in vain with mortal life," says a contemporary," King, aspiring after the immortal, threw himself upon his knees, and as he prayed was swallowed up by the waters along with the vessel, and gave his life to God, on the 10th of August, in the year of salvation 1637, of his life twenty-five.” A few months after this deplorable event a small volume of verses in honor of the young scholar was published in Cambridge. It contained thirty-six pieces (twenty-three of which were in Greek or Latin), and one of them was entitled Lycidas and signed J. M., with the date “ Novemb. 1637.”
1 Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
3 Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
7 Begin, then, Sisters of the sacred well
So may some gentle 9 Muse
With lucky words favor my destin'd urn,
And, as he passes, turn
And bid fair peace be to my 10 sable shroud.
For we were nurs'd upon the self-same hill,11 Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill ;
Together both, ere the 12 high lawns appear'd
16 Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night, 30 Oft till the star that rose at evening bright
Toward heaven's descent had slop'd his 7 westering
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute;
Rough 19 Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns with cloven heel
But, O the heavy change, now thou art gone,
The willows and the hazel copses green,
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
Or 24 taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas? For neither were ye playing on 26 the steep
Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie,
Nor yet where 28 Deva spreads her wizard stream: