THE PURPLE ISLAND - Phineas Fletcher Poems


Poems » phineas fletcher » the purple island


At that cave's mouth twice sixteen porters stand,
Receivers of the customary rent;
On each side four (the foremost of the band)
Whose office to divide what in is sent;
    Straight other four break it in pieces small;
    And at each hand twice five, which, grinding all,
Fit it for convoy, and this city's arsenal.

From thence a groom with wondrous volubility
Delivers all unto near officers,
Of nature like himself and like agility;
At each side four, that are the governors
    To see the vict'als shipped at fittest tide;
    Which straight from thence with prosp'rous channel slide
And in Koilia's port with nimble oars glide.

The haven, fram'd with wondrous sense and art,
Opens itself to all that entrance seek;
Yet if aught back would turn and thence depart,
With thousand wrinkles shuts the ready creek;
    But when the rent is slack, it rages rife,
    And mut'nies in itself with civil strife:
Thereto a little groom eggs it with sharpest knife.

Below dwells, in this city's market-place,
The island's common cook, Concoction;
Common to all; therefore in middle space
Is quarter'd fit, in just proportion;
    Whence never from his labour he retires;
    No rest he asks, or better change requires;
Both night and day he works, ne'er sleeps, nor sleep desires.

That heat which in his furnace ever fumeth,
Is nothing like to our hot parching fire,
Which, all consuming, self at length consumeth,
But moist'ning flames a gentle heat inspire,
    Which sure some inborn neighbour to him lendeth;
    And oft the bord'ring coast fit fuel sendeth,
And oft the rising fume, which down again descendeth.

Like to a pot, which under-hovering
Divided flames, the iron sides entwining,
Above is stopp'd with close-laid covering,
Exhaling fumes to narrow straits confining;
    So doubling heat his duty doubly speedeth;
    Such is the fire Concoction's vessel needeth,
Who daily all the isle with fit provision feedeth.

The shepherds guarded from the sparkling heat
Of blazing air, upon the flow'ry banks,
(Where various flowers damask the fragrant seat,
And all the grove perfume) in wonted ranks
    Securely sit them down, and sweetly play:
    At length thus Thirsil ends his broken lay,
Lest that the stealing night his later song might stay.

Thrice, O thrice happy shepherd's life and state,
When courts are happiness' unhappy pawns!
His cottage low and safely humble gate
Shuts out proud Fortune and her scorns and fawns.
    No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep;
    Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep,
Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

No Serian worms he knows, that with their threed
Draw out their silken lives; nor silken pride.
His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need,
Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed.
    No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright,
    No begging wants his middle fortune bite,
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.

Instead of music and base flattering tongues,
Which wait to first salute my lord's uprise,
The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs,
And birds' sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes.
    In country plays is all the strife he uses,
    Or song or dance unto the rural Muses;
And but in music's sports all differences refuses.

His certain life, that never can deceive him,
Is full of thousand sweets and rich content.
The smooth-leav'd beeches in the field receive him
With coolest shades, till noon-tide's rage is spent.
    His life is neither toss'd in boist'rous seas
    Of troublous world, nor lost in slothful ease.
Pleas'd and full blest he lives, when he his God can please.

His bed of wool yields safe and quiet sleeps,
While by his side his faithful spouse hath place.
His little son into his bosom creeps,
The lively picture of his father's face.
    Never his humble house or state torment him;
    Less he could like, if less his God had sent him;
And when he dies, green turfs, with grassy tomb, content him.