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To holy hands and humble hearts,
More swords and shields
Than sin hath snares, or Hell hath darts.
Only be sure
The hands be pure
That hold these weapons; and the eyes
Those of turtles,1 chaste and true;
Wakeful and wise:
Here is a friend shall fight for you,
Hold but this book before
Let Prayer alone to play his part;
But O the heart,
That studies this high art,
Must be a sure house-keeper :
And yet no sleeper.
Dear soul, be strong,
Mercy will come ere long,
And bring his bosom fraught with blessings,
Flowers of never-fading graces,
To make immortal dressings
For worthy souls, whose wise embraces
Store up themselves for Him, Who is alone
The Spouse of virgins, and the Virgin's Son.
But if the noble Bridegroom, when He come,
Shall find the loitering heart from home;
Leaving her chaste abode
To gad abroad
Among the gay mates of the god of flies;
To take her pleasure, and to play
And keep the devil's holiday;
To dance in th' sunshine of some smiling
1 Turtle doves.
2 Beelzebub. Cf. Paradise Lost, II. 299.
Sphere of sweet and sugar'd lies;
Some slippery pair,
Of false, perhaps as fair,
Flattering but forswearing, eyes;
Doubtless some other heart
Will get the start
Meanwhile, and stepping in before,
Will take possession of the sacred store
Of hidden sweets and holy joys;
Words which are not heard with ears
(Those tumultuous shops of noise)
Effectual whispers, whose still voice
The soul itself more feels than hears;
Amorous languishments, luminous trances ;
Sights which are not seen with eyes;
Spiritual and soul-piercing glances,
Whose pure and subtle lightning flies
Home to the heart, and sets the house on fire
And melts it down in sweet desire:
Yet does not stay
To ask the windows' leave to pass that
Delicious deaths, soft exhalations
Of soul; dear and divine annihilations;
A thousand unknown rites
Of joys, and rarefied delights;
An hundred thousand goods, glories, and graces; And many a mystic thing,
Which the divine embraces
Of the dear Spouse of spirits, with them will bring;
For which it is no shame
That dull mortality must not know a name.
Of all this hidden store
Of blessings, and ten thousand more
(If when He come
He find the heart from home)
Doubtless He will unload
Himself some otherwhere,
And pour abroad
His precious sweets
On the fair soul whom first He meets.
O fair! O fortunate! O rich! O dear!
O happy and thrice-happy she,
Dear silver-breasted dove
Whoe'er she be,
Whose early love
With winged vows,
Makes haste to meet her morning Spouse,
And close with His immortal kisses.
Happy indeed who never misses
To improve that precious hour,
And every day
Seize her sweet prey,
All fresh and fragrant as He rises,
Dropping with a balmy shower
A delicious dew of spices;
O let the blissful heart hold fast
Her heavenly armful; she shall taste
At once ten thousand paradises;
She shall have power
To rifle and deflower
The rich and roseal 1 spring of those rare sweets,
Which with a swelling bosom there she meets :
Boundless and infinite, bottomless treasures
Of pure inebriating pleasures.
Happy proof! she shall discover
What joy, what bliss,
heavens at once it is
To have her God become her Lover.
1 Sweet as a rose.
COUNSEL CONCERNING HER CHOICE
DEAR, Heaven designed soul,
Amongst the rest
Of suitors that besiege your maiden breast
Why may not I
My fortune try
And venture to speak one good word,
Not for myself, alas! but for my dearer Lord?
You have seen already in this lower sphere
Of froth and bubbles, what to look for here :
Say, gentle soul, what can you find
But painted shapes,
Peacocks and apes,
Gilded dunghills, glorious lies;
And deep disguises,
Oaths of water, words of wind?
Truth bids me say 'tis time you cease to trust
Your soul to any son of dust.
'Tis time you listen to a braver love,
Which from above
Calls you up higher
And bids you come
And choose your room
Among His own fair sons of fire;
Where you among
The golden throng,
That watches at His palace doors,
May pass along,
And follow those fair stars of
Stars much too fair and pure to wait upon
The false smiles of a sublunary sun.
Sweet, let me prophesy that at last 't will prove
Your wary 1 love
his purer and more precious vows,
And means them for a far more worthy Spouse
Than this World of lies can give ye:
Even for Him, with Whom nor cost,
Nor love, nor labour can be lost;
Him Who never will deceive ye.
Let not my Lord, the mighty Lover
Of souls, disdain that I discover
The hidden art
Of His high stratagem to win your heart:
It was His heavenly art
Kindly to cross you
In your mistaken love;
That, at the next remove
Thence, He might toss you
And strike your troubled heart
Home to Himself, to hide it in His breast,
The bright ambrosial nest
Of love, of life, and everlasting rest.
That thus shall wake
Your wise soul, never to be won
Now with a love below the sun.
Your first choice fails; O when you choose again May it not be among the sons of men!
1 Timorously prudent.