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A Translation Of The Nightingale Out Of Strada

Now the declining sun 'gan downwards bend
From higher heavens, and from his locks did send
A milder flame, when near to Tiber's flow
A lutinist allay'd his careful woe
With sounding charms, and in a greeny seat
Of shady oake took shelter from the heat.
A Nightingale oreheard him, that did use
To sojourn in the neighbour groves, the muse
That fill'd the place, the Syren of the wood;
Poore harmless Syren, stealing neare she stood
Close lurking in the leaves attentively
Recording that unwonted melody:
Shee cons it to herselfe and every strayne
His finger playes her throat return'd again.
The lutinist perceives an answeare sent
From th' imitating bird and was content
To shewe her play; more fully then in hast
He tries his lute, and (giving her a tast
Of the ensuing quarrel) nimbly beats
On all his strings; as nimbly she repeats,
And (wildely ranging ore a thousand keys)
Sends a shrill warning of her after-layes.
With rolling hand the Lutinist then plies
His trembling threads; sometimes in scornful wise
He brushes down the strings and keemes them all
With one even stroke; then takes them severall
And culles them ore again. His sparkling joynts
(With busy descant mincing on the points)
Reach back with busy touch: that done hee stayes,
The bird replies, and art with art repayes,
Sometimes as one unexpert or in doubt
How she might wield her voice, shee draweth out
Her tone at large and doth at first prepare
A solemne strayne not weav'd with sounding ayre,
But with an equall pitch and constant throate
Makes clear the passage of her gliding noate;
Then crosse division diversly shee playes,
And loudly chanting out her quickest layes
Poises the sounds, and with a quivering voice
Falls back again: he (wondering how so choise,
So various harmony should issue out
From such a little throate) doth go about
Some harder lessons, and with wondrous art
Changing the strings, doth upp the treble dart,
And downwards smites the base; with painefull stroke
Hee beats, and as the trumpet doth provoke
Sluggards to fight, even so his wanton skill
With mingled discords joynes the hoarse and shrill:
The Bird this also tunes, and while she cutts
Sharp notes with melting voice, and mingled putts
Measures of middle sound, then suddenly
Shee thunders deepe, and juggs it inwardly,
With gentle murmurs, cleare and dull shee sings,
By course, as when the martial warning rings:
Beleev't the minstrel blusht; with angry mood
Inflam'd, quoth hee, thou chauntresse of the wood,
Either from thee Ile beare the prize away,
Or vanquisht break my lute without delay.
Inimitable accents then hee straynes;
His hand flyes ore the strings: in one hee chaynes
Four different numbers, chasing here and there,
And all the strings belabour'd everywhere:
Both flatt and sharpe hee strikes, and stately grows
To prouder straynes, and backwards as he goes
Doubly divides, and closing upp his layes
Like a full quire a shouting consort playes;
Then pausing stood in expectation
If his corrival now dares answeare on;
But shee when practice long her throate had whett,
Induring not to yield, at once doth sett
Her spiritt all of worke, and all in vayne;
For while shee labours to express againe
With nature's simple touch such diverse keyes,
With slender pipes such lofty noates as these,
Orematcht with high designes, orematcht with woe,
Just at the last encounter of her foe
Shee faintes, shee dies, falls on his instrument
That conquer'd her; a fitting monument.
 So far even little soules are driven on,
 Struck with a vertuous emulation.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:04 min read
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William Strode

William Strode (c. 1602 – 1645) was an English poet, Doctor of Divinity and Public Orator of Oxford University, one of the Worthies of Devon of John Prince (d.1723). more…

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