Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Vol. 2
George Gilfillan

Part 7 out of 7

Playing 'bout thy fair eyelids:
By each peachy-blossomed cheek,
And thy satin skin, more sleek
And white than Flora's whitest lilies,
Or the maiden daffodillies:
By that ivory porch, thy nose:
By those double-blanched rows
Of teeth, as in pure coral set:
By each azure rivulet,
Running in thy temples, and
Those flowery meadows 'twixt them stand:
By each pearl-tipt ear by nature, as
On each a jewel pendent was:
By those lips all dewed with bliss,
Made happy in each other's kiss.


Oh, those smooth, soft, and ruby lips,
* * * * *
Whose rosy and vermilion hue
Betrays the blushing thoughts in you:
Whose fragrant, aromatic breath
Would revive dying saints from death,
Whose siren-like, harmonious air
Speaks music and enchants the ear;
Who would not hang, and fixed there
Wish he might know no other sphere?
Oh for a charm to make the sun
Drunk, and forget his motion!
Oh that some palsy or lame gout
Would cramp old Time's diseased foot!
Or that I might or mould or clip
His speedy wings, whilst on her lip
I quench my thirsty appetite
With the life-honey dwells on it!
* * * * *
Then on his holy altar, I
Would sacrifice eternally,
Offering one long-continued mine
Of golden pleasures to thy shrine.



1 My mind to me a kingdom is,
Such perfect joy therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That God or nature hath assigned:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

2 No princely port, nor wealthy store,
Nor force to win a victory;
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to win a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall,
For why, my mind despise them all.

3 I see that plenty surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soonest fall;
I see that such as are aloft,
Mishap doth threaten most of all;
These get with toil, and keep with fear:
Such cares my mind can never bear.

4 I press to bear no haughty sway;
I wish no more than may suffice;
I do no more than well I may.
Look what I want, my mind supplies;
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
My mind's content with anything.

5 I laugh not at another's loss,
Nor grudge not at another's gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
I brook that is another's bane;
I fear no foe, nor fawn on friend;
I loathe not life, nor dread mine end.

6 My wealth is health and perfect ease,
And conscience clear my chief defence;
I never seek by bribes to please,
Nor by desert to give offence;
Thus do I live, thus will I die;
Would all do so as well as I!


1 An old song made by an aged old pate,
Of an old worshipful gentleman, who had a great estate,
That kept a brave old house at a bountiful rate,
And an old porter to relieve the poor at his gate:
Like an old courtier of the queen's,
And the queen's old courtier.

2 With an old lady, whose anger one word assuages;
They every quarter paid their old servants their wages,
And never knew what belonged to coachmen, footmen, nor pages,
But kept twenty old fellows with blue coats and badges:
Like an old courtier, &c.

3 With an old study filled full of learned old books,
With an old reverend chaplain, you might know him by his looks,
With an old buttery hatch worn quite off the hooks,
And an old kitchen, that maintained half-a-dozen old cooks:
Like an old courtier, &c.

4 With an old hall, hung about with pikes, guns, and bows,
With old swords and bucklers, that had borne many shrewd blows,
And an old frieze coat, to cover his worship's trunk-hose,
And a cup of old sherry, to comfort his copper nose:
Like an old courtier, &c.

5 With a good old fashion, when Christmas was come,
To call in all his old neighbours with bagpipe and drum,
With good cheer enough to furnish every old room,
And old liquor able to make a cat speak, and man dumb:
Like an old courtier, &c.

6 With an old falconer, huntsmen, and a kennel of hounds,
That never hawked, nor hunted, but in his own grounds;
Who, like a wise man, kept himself within his own bounds,
And when he died, gave every child a thousand good pounds:
Like an old courtier, &c.

7 But to his eldest son his house and lands he assigned,
Charging him in his will to keep the old bountiful mind,
To be good to his old tenants, and to his neighbours be kind:
But in the ensuing ditty you shall hear how he was inclined:
Like a young courtier of the king's,
And the king's young courtier.

8 Like a flourishing young gallant, newly come to his land,
Who keeps a brace of painted madams at his command,
And takes up a thousand pounds upon his father's land,
And gets drunk in a tavern till he can neither go nor stand:
Like a young courtier, &c.

9 With a newfangled lady, that is dainty, nice, and spare,
Who never knew what belonged to good housekeeping or care,
Who buys gaudy-coloured fans to play with wanton air,
And seven or eight different dressings of other women's hair:
Like a young courtier, &c.

10 With a new-fashioned hall, built where the old one stood,
Hung round with new pictures that do the poor no good,
With a fine marble chimney, wherein burns neither coal nor wood,
And a new smooth shovel-board, whereon no victual ne'er stood:
Like a young courtier, &c.

11 With a new study, stuffed full of pamphlets and plays,
And a new chaplain, that swears faster than he prays,
With a new buttery hatch, that opens once in four or five days,
And a new French cook, to devise fine kickshaws and toys:
Like a young courtier, &c.

12 With a new fashion, when Christmas is drawing on,
On a new journey to London straight we all must begone,
And leave none to keep house, but our new porter John,
Who relieves the poor with a thump on the back with a stone:
Like a young courtier, &c.

13 With a new gentleman usher, whose carriage is complete,
With a new coachman, footmen, and pages to carry up the meat,
With a waiting gentlewoman, whose dressing is very neat,
Who, when her lady has dined, lets the servants not eat:
Like a young courtier, &c.

14 With new titles of honour, bought with his father's old gold,
For which sundry of his ancestors' old manors are sold;
And this is the course most of our new gallants hold,
Which makes that good housekeeping is now grown so cold
Among the young courtiers of the king,
Or the king's young courtiers.



1 There is a garden in her face,
Where roses and white lilies grow;
A heavenly paradise is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits do grow;
There cherries grow that none may buy,
Till cherry-ripe themselves do cry.

2 Those cherries fairly do enclose
Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,
They look like rose-buds filled with snow:
Yet them no peer nor prince may buy,
Till cherry-ripe themselves do cry.

3 Her eyes like angels watch them still;
Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threatening with piercing frowns to kill
All that approach with eye or hand
These sacred cherries to come nigh,
Till cherry-ripe themselves do cry.


1 In melancholic fancy,
Out of myself,
In the vulcan dancy,
All the world surveying,
Nowhere staying,
Just like a fairy elf;
Out o'er the tops of highest mountains skipping,
Out o'er the hills, the trees, and valleys tripping,
Out o'er the ocean seas, without an oar or shipping.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

2 Amidst the misty vapours,
Fain would I know
What doth cause the tapers;
Why the clouds benight us
And affright us,
While we travel here below.
Fain would I know what makes the roaring thunder,
And what these lightnings be that rend the clouds asunder,
And what these comets are on which we gaze and wonder.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

3 Fain would I know the reason
Why the little ant,
All the summer season,
Layeth up provision
On condition
To know no winter's want;
And how housewives, that are so good and painful,
Do unto their husbands prove so good and gainful;
And why the lazy drones to them do prove disdainful.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go 1

4 Ships, ships, I will descry you
Amidst the main;
I will come and try you
What you are protecting,
And projecting,
What's your end and aim.
One goes abroad for merchandise and trading,
Another stays to keep his country from invading,
A third is coming home with rich wealth of lading.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

5 When I look before me,
There I do behold
There's none that sees or knows me;
All the world's a-gadding,
Running madding;
None doth his station hold.
He that is below envieth him that riseth,
And he that is above, him that's below despiseth,
So every man his plot and counter-plot deviseth.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

6 Look, look, what bustling
Here I do espy;
Each another jostling,
Every one turmoiling,
The other spoiling,
As I did pass them by.
One sitteth musing in a dumpish passion,
Another hangs his head, because he's out of fashion,
A third is fully bent on sport and recreation.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

7 Amidst the foamy ocean,
Fain would I know
What doth cause the motion,
And returning
In its journeying,
And doth so seldom swerve!
And how these little fishes that swim beneath salt water,
Do never blind their eye; methinks it is a matter
An inch above the reach of old Erra Pater!
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

8 Fain would I be resolved
How things are done;
And where the bull was calved
Of bloody Phalaris,
And where the tailor is
That works to the man i' the moon!
Fain would I know how Cupid aims so rightly;
And how these little fairies do dance and leap so lightly;
And where fair Cynthia makes her ambles nightly.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go!

9 In conceit like Phaeton,
I'll mount Phoebus' chair;
Having ne'er a hat on,
All my hair a-burning
In my journeying,
Hurrying through the air.
Fain would I hear his fiery horses neighing,
And see how they on foamy bits are playing;
All the stars and planets I will be surveying!
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

10 Oh, from what ground of nature
Doth the pelican,
That self-devouring creature,
Prove so froward
And untoward,
Her vitals for to strain?
And why the subtle fox, while in death's wounds is lying,
Doth not lament his pangs by howling and by crying;
And why the milk-white swan doth sing when she's a-dying.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou got

11 Fain would I conclude this,
At least make essay,
What similitude is;
Why fowls of a feather
Flock and fly together,
And lambs know beasts of prey:
How Nature's alchemists, these small laborious creatures,
Acknowledge still a prince in ordering their matters,
And suffer none to live, who slothing lose their features.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

12 I'm rapt with admiration,
When I do ruminate,
Men of an occupation,
How each one calls him brother,
Yet each envieth other,
And yet still intimate!
Yea, I admire to see some natures further sundered,
Than antipodes to us. Is it not to be wondered,
In myriads ye'll find, of one mind scarce a hundred!
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

13 What multitude of notions
Doth perturb my pate,
Considering the motions,
How the heavens are preserved,
And this world served,
In moisture, light, and heat!
If one spirit sits the outmost circle turning,
Or one turns another continuing in journeying,
If rapid circles' motion be that which they call burning!
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

14 Fain also would I prove this,
By considering
What that which you call love is:
Whether it be a folly
Or a melancholy,
Or some heroic thing!
Fain I'd have it proved, by one whom love hath wounded,
And fully upon one his desire hath founded,
Whom nothing else could please though the world were rounded.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

15 To know this world's centre,
Height, depth, breadth, and length,
Fain would I adventure
To search the hid attractions
Of magnetic actions,
And adamantic strength.
Fain would I know, if in some lofty mountain,
Where the moon sojourns, if there be trees or fountain;
If there be beasts of prey, or yet be fields to hunt in.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go?

16 Fain would I have it tried
By experiment,
By none can be denied;
If in this bulk of nature,
There be voids less or greater,
Or all remains complete?
Fain would I know if beasts have any reason;
If falcons killing eagles do commit a treason;
If fear of winter's want makes swallows fly the season.
Hallo, my fancy, whither wilt thou go;

17 Hallo, my fancy, hallo,
Stay, stay at home with me,
I can thee no longer follow,
For thou hast betrayed me,
And bewrayed me;
It is too much for thee.
Stay, stay at home with me; leave off thy lofty soaring;
Stay thou at home with me, and on thy books be poring;
For he that goes abroad, lays little up in storing:
Thou'rt welcome home, my fancy, welcome home to me.

'Alas, poor scholar!
Whither wilt thou go?'
'Strange alterations which at this time be,
There's many did think they never should see.'


1 Come, follow, follow me,
You, fairy elves that be;
Which circle on the green,
Come, follow Mab, your queen.
Hand in hand let's dance around,
For this place is fairy ground.

2 When mortals are at rest,
And snoring in their nest;
Unheard and unespied,
Through keyholes we do glide;
Over tables, stools, and shelves,
We trip it with our fairy elves.

3 And if the house be foul
With platter, dish, or bowl,
Up-stairs we nimbly creep,
And find the sluts asleep;
There we pinch their arms and thighs;
None escapes, nor none espies.

4 But if the house be swept,
And from uncleanness kept,
We praise the household maid,
And duly she is paid;
For we use, before we go,
To drop a tester in her shoe.

5 Upon a mushroom's head
Our tablecloth we spread;
A grain of rye or wheat
Is manchet which we eat;
Pearly drops of dew we drink,
In acorn cups filled to the brink.

6 The brains of nightingales,
With unctuous fat of snails,
Between two cockles stewed,
Is meat that's easily chewed;
Tails of worms, and marrow of mice,
Do make a dish that's wondrous nice.

7 The grasshopper, gnat, and fly,
Serve us for our minstrelsy;
Grace said, we dance a while,
And so the time beguile;
And if the moon doth hide her head,
The glow-worm lights us home to bed.

8 On tops of dewy grass
So nimbly do we pass,
The young and tender stalk
Ne'er bends when we do walk;
Yet in the morning may be seen
Where we the night before have been.



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