Percy's Reliques - Corydon's Doleful Knell.

Corydon's Doleful Knell.

            This little simple elegy is given, with some corrections, from two copies, one of which is in The golden Garland of princely Delights.

            The burthen of the song, DING DONG, &c. is at present appropriated to burlesque subjects, and therefore may excite only ludicrous ideas in a modern reader; but in the time of our poet it usually accompanied the most solemn and mournful strains. Of this kind is that fine aerial dirge in Shakspeare's Tempest:

"Full fadom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are corrall made;
Those are pearles that were his eyes:
Nothing of him, that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange:
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark; now I heare them, Ding dong bell."
                "Burthen, Ding, dong."

                I make no doubt but the poet intended to conclude the above air in a manner the most solemn and expressive of melancholy.

MY Phillida, adieu love!
For evermore farewel!
Ay me! I've lost my true love,
And thus I ring her knell,
Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong,
My Phillida is dead!
I'll stick a branch of willow
At my fair Phillis' head.

For my fair Phillida
Our bridal bed was made:
But 'stead of silkes so gay,
She in her shroud is laid.
Ding, &c.

Her corpse shall be attended
By maides in fair array,
Till the obsequies are ended,
And she is wrapt in clay.
Ding, &c.

Her herse it shall be carried
By youths, that do excell;
And when that she is buried,
I thus will ring her knell,
Ding, &c.

A garland shall be framed
By art and natures skill,
Of sundry-colour'd flowers,
In token of good-will.[ 1]
Ding, &c.

And sundry-colour'd ribbands
On it I will bestow;
But chiefly black and yellowe:[ 2]
With her to grave shall go.
Ding, &c.

I'll decke her tomb with flowers,
The rarest ever seen,
And with my tears, as showers,
I'll keepe them fresh and green.
Ding, &c.

Instead of fairest colours,
Set forth with curious art,[ 3]
Her image shall be painted
On my distressed heart.
Ding, &c.

And thereon shall be graven
Her epitaph so faire,
"Here lies the loveliest maiden,
That e'er gave shepheard care."
Ding, &c.

In sable will I mourne;
Blacke shall be all my weede:
Ay me! I am forlorne,
Now Phillida is dead!
Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong,
My Phillida is dead!
I'll stick a branch of willow
At my fair Phillis' head.

NOTES

1. It is a custom in many parts of England, to carry a flowery garland before the corpse of a woman who dies unmarried.

2. See above, preface to No. xi. book v.

3. This alludes to the painted effigies of alabaster, anciently erected upon tombs and monuments.

 

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