Poems

POEMS.

HOLY SONNETS.

I. La Cohona.

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,

Weaved in my low devout melancholy,

Thou which of good, hast, yea art treasury,

All changing unchanged Ancient of days,

But do not, with a vile crown of frail bays,

Reward my muses with sincerity,

But what thy thorny crown gained, that give me

A crown of glory, which doth flower always;

The ends crown our works, but thou crown'st our ends,

For at our ends begins our endless rest,

The first last end, now zealously possest,

With a strong sober thirst, my soul attends.

It is time that heart and voice be lifted high,

Salvation to all that will is nigh.

II. Annunciation.

Salvation to all that will is nigh,

That All, which always is All everywhere,

Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,

Which cannot die, yet cannot chose but die,

Lo, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie

In prison, in thy womb, and though he there

Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he will wear

Taken from thence, flesh, which deaths force may try.

Ere by the spheres time was created, thou

Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother,'

Whom thou conceives, conceived; yea thou art now

Thy Maker's maker, and thy Fathers mother,

Thou hast light in dark, and shut in little room,

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.

III. Nativity.

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves his well beloved imprisonment,
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come;
But Oh, for thee, for him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars, and wise men will travel to prevent
The effects of Herod's jealous general doom;
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how he
Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss him, and with him into Egypt go,
With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

IV. Temple.

With his kind mother who partakes thy woe,
Joseph turn back; see where your child doth sit,
Blowing, yea blowing out those sparks of wit,
Which himself on the doctor's did bestow;
The Word but lately could not speak, and lo
It suddenly speaks wonders, whence comes it,
That all which was, and all which should be writ,
A shallow seeming child, should deeply know I
His Godhead was not soul to his manhood,
Nor had time mellow'd him to this ripeness,
But as for one which hath a long task, it is good,
With the sun to begin his business,
He in his ages morning thus began
By miracles exceeding power of man.

V. Crucifying.

By miracles exceeding power of man,

He faith in some, envy in some begat,

For, what weak spirits admire, ambitious hate;

In both affections many to him ran,

But Oh! the worst are most, they will and can,

Alas, and do, unto the immaculate,

Whose creature Fate is, now prescribe a Fate,

Measuring self-life's infinity to span,

Nay to an inch, lo, where condemned he
Bears his own cross, which yet by and bye
When it bears him, he must bear more and die;
Now thou art lifted up, draw me to thee,
And at thy death giving such liberal dole,
Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soul.

VI. Resurrection.

Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soul,

Shall (though she now be in extreme degree

Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly,) be

Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard, or foul,

And life, by this death able, shall controul

Death, whom thy death slew; nor shall to me

Fear of first or last death, bring misery,

If in thy little book my name thou enroll,

Flesh in that long sleep is not putrefied,

But made that there, of which, and for which it was;

Nor can by other means be glorified.

May then sins sleep, and death soon from me pass,

That waked from both, I again risen may

Salute the last, and everlasting day.

VII. Ascension.

Salute the last, and everlasting day,

Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,

Ye whose just tears, or tribulation

Have purely washed, or burnt your drossy clay;

Behold the Highest, parting hence away,

Lightens the dark clouds, which he treads upon.

Nor doth he by ascending, show alone,

But first he, and he first enters the way,

O strong Ram, which hath batterM heaven for me,

Mild Lamb, which with thy blood, has mark'd the path;

Bright torch, which shin'st that I the way may see,

Oh, with thy own blood quench thy own just wrath,

And if thy holy Spirit, my muse did raise,

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.

VIII.

As due by many titles I resign

Myself to thee, 0 God; first I was made

By thee, and for thee, and when I was decayed

Thy blood bought that, the which before was thine,

I am thy son, made with thyself to shine,

Thy servant, whose pains thou hast still repaid,

Thy sheep, thine Image, and till I betrayed

Myself, a temple of thy Spirit divine;

Why doth the devil then usurp on me!

Why doth he steal, nay ravish, that's thy right?

Except thou rise and for thine own work fight,

Oh I shall soon despair, when I do see

That thou lov'st mankind well, yet wilt not chose me.

And Satan hates me, yet is loth to loose me.

IX.

Oh my black soul! now thou art summon'd

By sickness, death's herald, and champion;

Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done

Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled,

Or like a thief, which till death's doom be read,

Wisheth himself deliver'd from prison;

But damn'd and haled to execution,

Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned;

Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;

But who shall give thee that grace to begin?

Oh make thyself with holy mourning black,

And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;

Or wash thee in Christ's blood, which hath this might,

That being red, it dyes red souls to "white.

X.

This is my play's last scene; here heavens appoint
My pilgrimages last mile; and my race
Idly, yet quickly run, hath this last pace,
My spans last inch, my minutes latest point,
And gluttonous death, will instantly unjoint
My body, and my soul, and I shall sleep a space,
But my ever-waking part shall see that face,
Whose fear already shakes my every joint:

Then, as my soul, to heaven her first seat, takes flight,

And earth born body, in the earth shall dwell,

So, fall my sins, that all may have their right,

To where they are bred, and would press me to hell.

Impute me righteous, thus purged of evil,

For thus I leave the world, the flesh, the devil.

XI.

At the round earth's imagined corners, blow

Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise

From death, your numberless infinities

Of souls, and to your seatter'd bodies go,

All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow,

All whom war, death, age, agues, tyrannies,

Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes,

Shall behold God, and never taste deaths woe:

But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,

For, if above all these, my sins abound,

It is late to ask abundance of thy grace,

When we are there; here on this lowly ground,

Teach me how to repent; for that's as good

As if thou hadst seal'd my pardon, with thy blood.

XII.

If poisonous minerals, and if that tree,
Whose fruit threw death on else immortal us,
If lecherous goats, if serpents envious
Cannot he damn'd; Alas; why should I be?
Why should intent or reason, born in me,
Make sins, else equal, in me, more heinous?
And mercy being easy, and glorious
To God, in his stern wrath, why threatens he?
But who am I, that dare dispute with thee?

0 God, Oh! of thine only worthy blood,
And my tears, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
And drown it in my sins black memory,

That thou remember them, some claim as debt;

1 think it mercy, if thou wilt forget.

XIII.

Death, be not proud, though some have called theo

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,

For those, whom you think'st thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me;

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure, than from thee, much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and souls delivery;

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell.

And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,

And better, than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more, death thou shalt die.

XIV.

Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side,
Buffet, and scoff, scourge, and crucify me,
For I have sinn'd, and sinn'd, and only he,
Who could do no iniquity, hath died:
But by my death cannot be satisfied
My sins, which pass the Jews' impiety:
They kill'd once an inglorious man, but I
Crucify him daily, being now glorified;
Oh let me then his strange love still admire:
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment.
And Jacob came clothed in vile harsh attire
But to supplant, and with gainful intent,
God clothed himself in vile man's flesh, that so
He might be weak enough to suffer woe.

XV.

Why are we by all creatures waited on?

Why do the prodigal elements supply

Life and food to me, being more pure than I,

Simple, and further from corruption?

Why brook'st thou, ignorant horse, subjection?

Why dost thou, bull, and boar so seelily

Dissemble weakness, and by one man's stroke die,

Whose whole kind you might swallow and feed upon?

Weaker I am, woe is me, and worse than you,
You have not sinn'd, nor need be timorous,
But wonder at a greater wonder, for to us
Created nature doth these things subdue,
But their Creator, whom sin, nor nature tied,
For us, his creatures, and his foas, hath died.

XVI.

What if this present were the world's last night?

Mark in my heart, O soul, where thou dost dwell,

The picture of Christ crucified, and tell

Whether his countenance can thee affright;

Tears in his eyes quench the amazing light,

Blood fills his frowns, which from his pierc'd head fell;

And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell,

Which pray'd forgiveness for his foe's fierce spight?

No, no; but as in my idolatry

I said to all my profane mistresses,

Beauty, of pity, foulness only is

A sign of rigour: so I say to thee,

To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign'd,

This beauteous form assumes a piteous mind.

XVII.

Battkh my heart, three person'd God; for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise, and stand, overthrow me, and bend

Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an nsurpt totvn, to another due,

Labour to admit you; but O, to no end,

Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,

But is captived, and proves weak or untrue,

Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,

But am betrothed unto your enemy,

Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,

Take me to you, imprison me, for I

Except you enthral me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

XVIII.

Wilt thou love God, as he thee? then digest,
My soul, this wholesome meditation,
How God the spirit, by angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his temple in thy breast,
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The Father having begot a Son most blest,

And still begetting, (for he ne'er begun)

Hath deigned to choose thee by adoption, •

Co-heir to his glory, and Sabbath's endless rest;

And as a robbed man, which by search doth find

His stolen stuff sold, must lose or buy it again:

The Son of glory came down, and was slain,

Us whom he had made, and Satan stolen, to unbind.

'Twas much, that man was made like God before,

But, that God should be made like man, much more.

XIX.

Father, part of his double interest

Unto thy kingdom, thy Son gives to me,

His jointure in the knotty Trinity,

He keeps and gives to me his death's conquest.

This Lamb, whose death with life the world hath blest,

Was from the world's beginning slain, and he

Hath made two wills, which with the legacy

Of his and thy kingdom, do thy sons invest;

Yet such are these laws, that men argue yet

Whether a man those statutes can fulfil;

None doth, but thy all-healing grace and spirit,

Revive again what law and letter kill;

Thy law's abridgement, and thy last command

Is all but love; O let this last will stand!