Fitte the First
Sing, woodland Muse, Frank Sylvan, brave old buck! In nankeens, he, white stockings, waistcoat white, Green coat, and linen of the amplest cut, White as the snow, tied by a ribbon black Around the swelling apple of his throat, While broad of brim a white hat tops the man, Forth sallies, white-haired, rosy cock of health, To meet old Winter on the morning hill. Hail, let it drive, he cares not—be it caught Even in the thickets of his eyebrows shag, There let it melt at leisure; he disdains To raise his gloveless hand to brush away The sleet that sparkles on his glowing cheek: 'Tis but refreshment. Lifting up his face, With nostrils broad and large, the vigorous hairs Down growing thence, he snuffs the Norland blast, Clear, fresh, and free, rejoicing in the cold. But more he loves, when on a gurly morn The surly wind has roused the curly deep, And o'er the Eastern height he smells the sea, To take the headland bluff: seaward he stands, Sniffing the salt white spray, his own bluff face All red and pickled with the German brine. Loose, large, and flowing to his convex point, Our hero's ruffles, lo! they bear a brooch, Fast by his heart, with Charles the Martyr's hair. An ancestor of Frank's fought well for Charles Through all his wars; and, on that eve of doom, Kneeling he wept upon his Sovereign's knee: The meek King called his child Elizabeth, And made the Princess with her scissors cut A small lock from his neck:—“Be it to thee, My friend and brother, a memorial slight, But best in its simplicity to one Pure of self-seeking—a memorial slight Of all that thou hast done for England's crown, And this poor family.” Thus the Martyr said, Giving that token. And his servant took, Kissed the gray hair, and pressed it to his heart. A stout heart wears it still, a loyal heart and true. A jolly bachelor Frank, in Sylvan Lodge, Bosomed in woods, he keeps his easy state: A squire of good broad acres, his old house Is strong of beef, brown bread, and home-brewed ale; And at his buttery-hatch the wandering poor Are aye regaled, and sent upon their way. His country life has kept his salient points Unblunted, red his cheek and fresh his heart; While rambles far through wild peculiar tribes Have made him largely tolerant, and lent A humorous twinkle to his keen gray eye. All picturesque varieties of man, All oddities of being, starting out In bold relief from life's strange canvas, find Grace in his eyes; but wo to them that dare Abuse discretion, for like any lynx He looks them through and through, and, hot of blood, Snorts in his ire, and drives them from his gate— His gate still open to the modest poor! For, generous as himself, his little niece, Who rules his house with many opening keys, Bears out his heart and hand—“Brown Molly” she From her complexion; but her clear brown face Was cut with Beauty's chisel, clean and fine In every feature; fairy-like, her form Is grace itself; but oh her true young heart Is more than beauty, and is more than grace.
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