Percy's Reliques - Ulysses and the Syren.

Ulysses and the Syren.

            This affords a pretty poetical contest between pleasure and honour. It is found at the end of "Hymen's triumph: a pastoral tragicomedie," written by Daniel, and printed among his works, 4to. 1623.[ 1] Daniel, who was a contemporary of Drayton's, and is said to have been poet laureat to Queen Elizabeth, was born in 1562, and died in 1619. Anne Countess of Dorset, Pembroke, and Montgomery (to whom Daniel had been tutor), has inserted a small portrait of him in a full length picture of herself; preserved at Appleby Castle, in Cumberland.

            This little poem is the rather selected for a specimen of Daniel's poetic powers, as it is omitted in the later edition of his works, 2 vols.

12mo. 1718.

SYREN

"Come, worthy Greeke, Ulysses come,
Possesse these shores with me,
The windes and seas are troublesome,
And here we may be free.
Here may we sit and view their toyle,
That travaile in the deepe,
Enjoy the day in mirth the while,
And spende the night in sleepe."

ULYSSES

"Faire nymph, if fame or honour were
To be attain'd with ease,
Then I would come and rest with thee,
And leave such toiles as these:
But here it dwels, and here must I
With danger seek it forth;
To spend the time luxuriously
Becomes not men of worth."

SYREN

"Ulysses, O be not deceiv'd
With that unreall name:
This honour is a thing conceiv'd,
And rests on others' fame.
Begotten only to molest
Our peace, and to beguile
(The best thing of our life) our rest,
And give us up to toyle!"

ULYSSES

"Delicious nymph, suppose there were
Nor honor, nor report,
Yet manlinesse would scorne to weare
The time in idle sport:
For toyle doth give a better touch
To make us feele our joy;
And ease findes tediousnes, as much
As labour yeelds annoy."

SYREN

"Then pleasure likewise seethes the shore,
Whereto tendes all your toyle;
Which you forego to make it more,
And perish oft the while.
Who may disport them diversly,
Find never tedious day;
And ease may have variety,
As well as action may."

ULYSSES

"But natures of the noblest frame
These toyles and dangers please;
And they take comfort in the same,
As much as you in ease:
And with the thought of actions past
Are recreated still:
When pleasure leaves a touch at last
To shew that it was ill."

SYREN

"That doth opinion only cause,
That's out of custom bred;
Which makes us many other laws
Than ever nature did.
No widdowes waile for our delights,
Our sports are without blood;
The world we see by warlike wights
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 borne to turne them best:
To purge the mischiefes, that increase
And all good order mar:
For oft we see a wicked peace
To be well chang'd for war."

SYREN

"Well, well, Ulysses, then I see
I shall not have thee here;
And therefore I will come to thee.
And take my fortune there.
I must be wonne that cannot win,
Yet lost were I not wonne:
For beauty hath created bin
T' undoo or be undone."

NOTES

1. In this edition it is collated with a copy printed at the end of his "Tragedie of Cleopatra Lond, 1607," 12mo.

 

Previous Next