The Turtle And Sparrow. An Elegiac Tale

Behind an unfrequented glade,
Where yew and myrtle mix their shade,
A widow Turtle pensive sat,
And wept her murder'd lover's fate.
The Sparrow chanced that way to walk,
(A bird that loves to chirp and talk)
Be sure he did the Turtle greet,
She answer'd him as she thought meet.
Sparrows and Turtles, by the bye,
Can think as well as you or I;
But how they did their thoughts express
The margin shows by T. and S.

T. My hopes are lost, my joys are fled,
Alas! I weep Columbo dead:
Come, all ye winged Lovers, come,
Drop pinks and daisies on his tomb;
Sing, Philomel, his funeral verse,
Ye pious Redbreasts deck his hearse;
Fair Swans, extend your dying throats,
Columbo's death requires your notes;
For him, my friend, for him I moan,
My dear Columbo, dead and gone.

Stretch'd on the bier Columbo lies,
Pale are his cheeks, and closed his eyes;
Those eyes, where beauty smiling lay,
Those eyes, where Love was used to play;
Ah! cruel Fate, alas how soon
That beauty and those joys are flown!

Columbo is no more: ye floods,
Bear the sad sound to distant woods;
The sound let echo's voice restore,
And say, Columbo is no more.
Ye floods, ye woods, ye echoes, moan
My dear Columbo, dead and gone.

The Dryads all forsook the wood,
And mournful Naiads round me stood,
The tripping Fawns and Fairies came,
All conscious of our mutual flame,
To sigh for him, with me to moan,
My dear Columbo, dead and gone.

Venus disdain'd not to appear,
To lend my grief a friendly ear;
But what avails her kindness now?
She ne'er shall hear my second vow:
The Loves that round their mother flow
Did in her face her sorrows view;
Their drooping wings they pensive hung,
Their arrows broke, their bows unstrung;
They heard attentive what I said,
And wept, with me, Columbo dead:
For him I sigh, for him I moan,
My dear Columbo, dead and gone.

'Tis ours to weep, great Venus said,
'Tis Jove's alone to be obey'd:
Nor birds nor goddesses can move
The just behests of fatal Jove;
I saw thy mate with sad regret,
And cursed the fowler's cruel net:
Ah! dear Columbo, how he fell,
Whom Turturella loved so well!
I saw him bleeding on the ground,
The sight tore up my ancient wound:
And whilst you wept, alas! I cried,
Columbo and Adonis died.

Weep, all ye streams, ye mountains, groan;
I mourn Columbo, dead and gone;
Still let my tender grief complain,
Nor day nor night that grief restrain;
I said, and Venus still replied,
Columbo and Adonis died.

S. Poor Turturella, hard thy case,
And just thy tears, alas, alas!
T. And hast thou loved, and canst thou hear
With piteous heart a lover's care!
Come, then, with me thy sorrows join,
And ease my woes by telling thine;
For thou, poor bird, perhaps may'st moan
Some Passerelia, dead and gone.

S. Dame turtle, this runs soft in rhyme,
But neither suits the place nor time;
The fowler's hand, whose cruel care
For dear Columbo set the snare,
The snare again for thee may set;
Two birds may perish in one net:
Thou shouldst avoid this cruel field,
And sorrow should to prudence yield.
'Tis sad to die -

T. ---- It may be so;
'Tis sadder yet to live in wo.
S. When widows use their canting strain
They seem resolved to wed again.
T. When widowers would this truth disprove,
They never tasted real love.
S. Love is soft joy and gentle strife,
His efforts all depend on life:
When he has thrown two golden darts,
And struck the lovers' mutual hearts,
Of his black shafts let death send one,
Alas! the pleasing game is done:
Ill is the poor survivor sped,
A corpse feels mighty cold in bed,
Venus said right, Nor tears can move
Nor plaints revoke the will of Jove.

All must obey the general doom,
Down from Alcides to Tom Thumb.
Grim Pluto will not be withstood
By force or craft. Tall Robinhood,
As well as little John, is dead.
(You see how deeply I am read)
With Fate's lean tipstaff non can dodge,
He'll find you out where'er you lodge.
Ajax, to shun his general power,
In vain absconded in a flower.
An idle scene Tythonus acted,
When to a grasshopper contracted;
Death struck them in those shapes again,
As once he did when they were men.

For reptiles perish, plants decay;
Flesh is but grass, grass turns to hay,
And hay is dung, and dung to clay.

Thus heads extremely nice discover
That folks may die some ten times over;
But oft by too refined a touch
To prove things plai
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

4:04 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme Text too long
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,184
Words 797
Stanzas 14
Stanza Lengths 12, 10, 6, 6, 6, 12, 12, 6, 8, 9, 16, 14, 3, 4

Matthew Prior

Matthew Prior was an English poet and diplomat. more…

All Matthew Prior poems | Matthew Prior Books

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