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External Poems on Nymphs



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The Nymph's Reply

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,--
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
The coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Sir Walter Raleigh; 1500's
The Shepherd's Commendation of His Nymph

What shepherd can express
The favour of her face
To whom, in this distress,
I do appeal for grace?
 A thousand Cupids fly
 About her gentle eye;

From which each throws a dart,
That kindleth soft sweet fire
Within my sighing heart,
Possessed by desire:
 No sweeter life I try
 Than in her love to die!

The lily in the field,
That glories in his white,
For pureness now must yield
And render up his right;
 Heaven pictured in her face
 Doth promise joy and grace.

Fair Cynthia's silver light,
That beats on running streams,
Compares not with her white,
Whose hairs are all sunbeams:
 So bright my Nymph doth shine
 As day unto my eyne!

With this, there is a red,
Exceeds the damask-rose,
Which in her cheeks is spread,
Where every favour grows;
 In sky there is no star,
 But she surmounts it far.

When Phoebus from the bed
Of Thetis doth arise,
The morning, blushing red,
In fair carnation-wise,
 He shows in my Nymph's face,
 As Queen of every grace.

This pleasant lily-white,
This taint of roseate red,
This Cynthia's silver light,
This sweet fair Dea spread,
 These sunbeams in mine eye,
 These beauties, make me die!

Edward De Vere; 1500's


The Water Nymphs

They hide in the brook when I seek to draw nearer,
Laughing amain when I feign to depart;
Often I hear them, now faint and now clearer—
Innocent bold or so sweetly discreet.
Are they Nymphs of the Stream at their playing
Or but the brook I mistook for a voice?
Little care I; for, despite harsh Time’s flaying,
Brook voice or Nymph voice still makes me rejoice.

Ellis Parker Butler; 1900's
Rusalka (The Water-Nymph)

In lakeside leafy groves a friar
Escaped the world; out there he passed
His summer days in constant prayer,
Deep studies and eternal fast.
Already with a humble shovel
The elder dug himself a grave,
And calling saints to bless his hovel,
Death—nothing other—did he crave.

So once upon a falling night he
Bowed down beside his drooping shack
And meekly prayed to the Almighty.
The grove was turning slowly black;
Above the lake the mist was lifting;
Through milky clouds across the sky
A ruddy moon was softly drifting,
When water drew the friar’s eye –

He looks; his heart is full of trouble,
Of fear he cannot quite explain;
He sees the waves rise more than double
And suddenly grow calm again.
Then, white as first snow of the highlands,
Light-footed as nocturnal shade,
There comes ashore and sits in silence
Upon the bank a naked maid.

She looks at him and brushes gently
The hair and water off her arms.
He shakes with fear and looks intently
At her seductive, luscious charms.
With eager hand she waves and beckons,
Nods quickly, smiling from afar,
And shoots within two flashing seconds
Into still water like a star.

The glum old man slept not an instant
All night. All day not once he prayed;
Before his eyes still hung and glistened
The wondrous girl’s persistent shade.
The grove puts on the gown of nightfall;
The moon walks on the cloudy floor;
And there’s the maiden—young, delightful,
Reclining on the spellbound shore.

She looks at him, her hair she brushes,
Smiles, sends him kisses sweet and wild,
Plays with the waves—caresses, splashes –
Now laughs, now whimpers like a child,
Moans tenderly, calls louder, louder…
“Here, monk, here, monk! To me, to me!”
Then vanishes in limpid water,
And all is silent instantly…

On the third day the ardent hermit
Was sitting on the shore, in love,
Awaiting the voluptuous mermaid,
As shade was lying on the grove.
Night ceded to the sun’s emergence;
By then the monk had disappeared.
It’s said a crowd of local urchins
Saw floating there a wet grey beard.

A.S. Pushkin (translated by Genia Gurarie); 1819


Sources:
-http://www.famous-poems.biz/Famous-Poems/Famous-Poems-The-Nymphs-Reply-By-Sir-Walter-Raleigh-sonnet-Favorite.htm
-http://www.classicallovepoems.com/edward-de-vere-love-poems/the-shepherds-commendation-of-his-nymph.html
-http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/ellis_parker_butler/poems/4374.html
-http://clover.slavic.pitt.edu/tales/rusalka.html


ECM Nymph Text

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