This beautiful poem, which possesses a classical elegance hardly to be expected in the age of James I. is printed from the fourth edition of Davison's Poems,[ 1] &c. 1621. It is also found in a later miscellany, intitled, Le Prince d'Amour, 1660, 8vo. Francis Davison, editor of the poems above referred to, was son of that unfortunate secretary of state, who suffered so much from the affair of Mary Queen of Scots. These poems, he tells us in his preface, were written by himself, by his brother [Walter], who was a soldier in the wars of the Low Countries, and by some dear friends "anonymoi." Among them are found some pieces by Sir J. Davis, the Countess of Pembroke, Sir Philip Sidney, Spenser, and other wits of those times.
In the fourth vol. of Dryden's Miscellanies, this poem is attributed to Sydney Godolphin, Esq.; but erroneously, being probably written before he was born. One edit. of Davison's book was published in 1608. Godolphin was born in 1610, and died in 1642-3.-- Ath. Ox. ii. 23.
IT chanc'd of late a shepherd swain,
That went to seek his straying sheep,
Within a thicket on a plain
Espied a dainty nymph asleep.
Her golden hair o'erspread her face;
Her careless arms abroad were cast;
Her quiver had her pillows place;
Her breast lay bare to every blast.
The shepherd stood and gaz'd his fill;
Nought durst he do; nought durst he say;
Whilst chance, or else perhaps his will,
Did guide the god of love that way.
The crafty boy that sees her sleep,
Whom if she wak'd he durst not see;
Behind her closely seeks to creep,
Before her nap should ended bee.
There come, he steals her shafts away,
And puts his own into their place;
Nor dares he any longer stay,
But, ere she wakes, hies thence apace.
Scarce was he gone, but she awakes,
And spies the shepherd standing by:
Her bended bow in haste she takes,
And at the simple swain lets flye.
Forth flew the shaft, and pierc'd his heart.
That to the ground he fell with pain:
Yet up again forthwith he start,
And to the nymph he ran amain.
Amazed to see so strange a sight,
She shot, and shot, but all in vain:
The more his wounds, the more his might,
Love yielded strength amidst his pain.
Her angry eyes were great with tears,
She blames her hand, she blames her skill;
The bluntness of her shafts she fears,
And try them on herself she will.
Take heed, sweet nymph, trye not thy shaft,
Each little touch will pierce thy heart:
Alas! thou know'st not Cupids craft;
Revenge is joy; the end is smart.
Yet try she will, and pierce some bare;
Her hands were glov'd, but next to hand
Was that fair breast, that breast so rare,
That made the shepherd senseless stand.
That breast she pierc'd; and through that breast
Love found an entry to her heart:
At feeling of this new-come guest,
Lord! how this gentle nymph did start!
She runs not now; she shoots no more;
Away she throws both shaft and bow:
She seeks for what she shunn'd before,
She thinks the shepherd's haste too slow.
Though mountains meet not, lovers may:
What other lovers do, did they:
The god of love sate on a tree,
And laught that pleasant sight to see.
1. See the full title in Book vi. No. iv.