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Argentile and Curan. - Albion's England (excerpt)

The Brutons thus departed hence, seven kingdoms here begun,--
Where diversely in divers broils the Saxons lost and won,--
King Edel and king Adelbright in Diria jointly reign;
In loyal concord during life these kingly friends remain.
When Adelbright should leave his life, to Edel thus he says:
'By those same bonds of happy love, that held us friends always,
By our bi-parted crown, of which the moiety is mine,
By God, to whom my soul must pass, and so in time may thine,
I pray thee, nay I conjure thee, to nourish as thine own
Thy niece, my daughter Argentile, till she to age be grown;
And then, as thou receivest it, resign to her my throne.'
A promise had for this bequest, the testator he dies;
But all that Edel undertook, he afterward denies.
Yet well he fosters for a time the damsel, that was grown
The fairest lady under Heaven; whose beauty being known,
A many princes seek her love, but none might her obtain:
For gripple Edel to himself her kingdom sought to gain,
And for that cause from sight of such he did his ward restrain.
By chance one Curan, son unto a prince in Danske, did see
The maid, with whom he fell in love as much as one might be.
Unhappy youth, what should he do? his saint was kept in mew,
Nor he, nor any noble man admitted to her view.
One while in melancholy fits he pines himself away,
Anon he thought by force of arms to win her, if he may,
And still against the king's restraint did secretly inveigh.
At length the high controller Love, whom none may disobey,
Imbased him from lordliness, unto a kitchen drudge:
That so at least of life or death she might become his judge.
Access so had to see, and speak, he did his love bewray,
And tells his birth: her answer was she husbandless would stay.
Meanwhile the king did beat his brains his booty to achieve,
Nor caring what became of her, so he by her might thrive.
At last his resolution was some peasant should her wive.
And (which was working to his wish) he did observe with joy
How Curan, whom he thought a drudge, scap'd many an amorous toy.
The king, perceiving such his vein, promotes his vassal still,
Lest that the baseness of the man should let, perhaps, his will.
Assured therefore of his love, but not suspecting who
The lover was, the king himself in his behalf did woo.
The lady, resolute from love, unkindly takes that he
Should bar the noble, and unto so base a match agree;
And therefore shifting out of doors, departed thence by stealth,
Preferring poverty before a dangerous life in wealth.
When Curan heard of her escape, the anguish in his heart
Was more than much, and after her from court he did depart:
Forgetful of himself, his birth, his country, friends, and all,
And only minding (whom he miss'd) the foundress of his thrall.
Nor means he after to frequent or court or stately towns,
But solitarily to live amongst the country grounds.
A brace of years he lived thus, well pleased so to live,
And shepherd-like to feed a flock himself did wholly give.
So wasting love, by work, and want, grew almost to the wane;
But then began a second love, the worser of the twain.
A country wench, a neatherd's maid, where Curan kept his sheep,
Did feed her drove: and now on her was all the shepherd's keep.
He borrow'd on the working days his holy russets oft;
And of the bacon's fat, to make his startops black and soft;
And lest his tarbox should offend he left it at the fold;
Sweet grout, or whig, his bottle had as much as it might hold;
A sheave of bread as brown as nut, and cheese as white as snow;
And wildings or the season's fruit he did in scrip bestow.
And whilst his pie-bald cur did sleep, and sheep-hook lay him by,
On hollow quills of oaten straw he piped melody;
But when he spied her, his saint, he wip'd his greasy shoes,
And clear'd the drivel from his beard and thus the shepherd woos:
'I have, sweet wench, a piece of cheese, as good as tooth may chaw,
And bread and wildings souling well' and therewithal did draw
His lardry.
'Thou art too elvish, faith thou art too elvish, and too coy;
Am I (I pray thee) beggarly, that such a flock enjoy?
I know I am not; yet that thou dost hold me in disdain
Is brim abroad, and made a gibe to all that keep this plain.
There be as quaint (at least that think themselves as quaint) that crave
The match, that thou (I know not why) mayst, but mislik'st to have.
'Then choose a shepherd. With the Sun he doth his flock unfold,
And all the day on hill or plain he merry chat can hold
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:14 min read

William Warner

William Warner was an English poet. more…

All William Warner poems | William Warner Books

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