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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Faithful Shepherdess

By John Fletcher (1579–1625)

  • [Clorin, a shepherdess, watching by the grave of her lover, is found by a Satyr.]

  • CLORIN—Hail, holy earth, whose cold arms do embrace

    The truest man that ever fed his flocks

    By the fat plains of fruitful Thessaly.

    Thus I salute thy grave, thus do I pay

    My early vows, and tribute of mine eyes,

    To thy still lovèd ashes: thus I free

    Myself from all ensuing heats and fires

    Of love: all sports, delights, and jolly games,

    That shepherds hold full dear, thus put I off.

    Now no more shall these smooth brows be begirt

    With youthful coronals, and lead the dance.

    No more the company of fresh fair maids

    And wanton shepherds be to me delightful:

    Nor the shrill pleasing sound of merry pipes

    Under some shady dell, when the cool wind

    Plays on the leavès: all be far away,

    Since thou art far away, by whose dear side

    How often have I sat, crowned with fresh flowers

    For summer’s queen, whilst every shepherd’s boy

    Puts on his lusty green, with gaudy hook,

    And hanging script of finest cordevan!

    But thou art gone, and these are gone with thee,

    And all are dead but thy dear memory;

    That shall outlive thee, and shall ever spring,

    Whilst there are pipes, or jolly shepherds sing.

    And here will I, in honor of thy love,

    Dwell by thy grave, forgetting all those joys

    That former times made precious to mine eyes,

    Only remembering what my youth did gain

    In the dark hidden virtuous use of herbs.

    That will I practice, and as freely give

    All my endeavors, as I gained them free.

    Of all green wounds I know the remedies

    In men or cattle, be they stung with snakes,

    Or charmed with powerful words of wicked art;

    Or be they love-sick, or through too much heat

    Grown wild, or lunatic; their eyes, or ears,

    Thickened with misty film of dulling rheum:

    These I can cure, such secret virtue lies

    In herbs applièd by a virgin’s hand.

    My meat shall be what these wild woods afford,

    Berries and chestnuts, plantains, on whose cheeks

    The sun sits smiling, and the lofty fruit

    Pulled from the fair head of the straight-grown pine.

    On these I’ll feed with free content and rest,

    When night shall blind the world, by thy side blessed.

    [A Satyr enters.]
    Satyr—Through yon same bending plain

    That flings his arms down to the main,

    And through these thick woods have I run,

    Whose bottom never kissed the sun.

    Since the lusty spring began,

    All to please my master Pan,

    Have I trotted without rest

    To get him fruit; for at a feast

    He entertains this coming night

    His paramour the Syrinx bright:

    But behold a fairer sight!

    By that heavenly form of thine,

    Brightest fair, thou art divine,

    Sprung from great immortal race

    Of the gods, for in thy face

    Shines more awful majesty

    Than dull weak mortality

    Dare with misty eyes behold,

    And live: therefore on this mold

    Lowly do I bend my knee

    In worship of thy deity.

    Deign it, goddess, from my hand

    To receive whate’er this land

    From her fertile womb doth send

    Of her choice fruits; and—but lend

    Belief to that the Satyr tells—

    Fairer by the famous wells

    To this present day ne’er grew,

    Never better, nor more true.

    Here be grapes, whose lusty blood

    Is the learned poet’s good;

    Sweeter yet did never crown

    The head of Bacchus: nuts more brown

    Than the squirrels’ teeth that crack them;

    Deign, O fairest fair, to take them.

    For these, black-eyed Driope

    Hath oftentimes commanded me

    With my clasped knee to climb.

    See how well the lusty time

    Hath decked their rising cheeks in red,

    Such as on your lips is spread.

    Here be berries for a queen;

    Some be red, some be green;

    These are of that luscious meat

    The great god Pan himself doth eat:

    All these, and what the woods can yield,

    The hanging mountain, or the field,

    I freely offer, and ere long

    Will bring you more, more sweet and strong;

    Till when humbly leave I take,

    Lest the great Pan do awake,

    That sleeping lies in a deep glade,

    Under a broad beech’s shade.

    I must go, I must run,

    Swifter than the fiery sun.

    Clorin—And all my fears go with thee.

    What greatness, or what private hidden power,

    Is there in me to draw submission

    From this rude man and beast? sure, I am mortal,

    The daughter of a shepherd; he was mortal,

    And she that bore me mortal; prick my hand

    And it will bleed; a fever shakes me, and

    The self-same wind that makes the young lambs shrink,

    Makes me a-cold: my fear says I am mortal:

    Yet I have heard (my mother told it me)

    And now I do believe it, if I keep

    My virgin flower uncropped, pure, chaste, and fair,

    No goblin, wood-god, fairy, elf, or fiend,

    Satyr, or other power that haunts the groves,

    Shall hurt my body, or by vain illusion

    Draw me to wander after idle fires,

    Or voices calling me in dead of night

    To make me follow, and so tole me on

    Through mire, and standing pools, to find my ruin.

    Else why should this rough thing, who never knew

    Manners nor smooth humanity, whose heats

    Are rougher than himself, and more misshapen,

    Thus mildly kneel to me? Sure there’s a power

    In that great name of Virgin, that binds fast

    All rude uncivil bloods, all appetites

    That break their confines. Then, strong Chastity,

    Be thou my strongest guard; for here I’ll dwell

    In opposition against fate and hell.