Page images

Expecting fire from your eyes,
To kindle this his sacrifice.

When your hands untie these strings,
Think you've an angel by the wings;
One that gladly will be nigh,

To wait upon each morning sigh;
To flutter in the balmy air,

Of your well-perfumed prayer.

These white plumes of his he'll lend you,
Which every day to Heaven will send you :
To take acquaintance of the sphere,
And all the smooth-faced kindred there.
And though Herbert's name do owe
These devotions; fairest, know
That while I lay them on the shrine
Of your white hand, they are mine.

[ocr errors]

Against Frresolution and Delay in Matters of Religion.


(Version of 1653.)

What Heaven-besiegèd heart is this

Stands trembling at the Gate of Bliss:

Holds fast the door, yet dares not venture

Fairly to open and to enter?

Whose definition is A Doubt

'Twixt life and death, 'twixt In and Out.

Ah! linger not, loved soul: a slow
And late consent was a long No,
Who grants at last, a great while tried
And did his best, to have denied:
What magic-bolts, what mystic bars
Maintain the Will in these strange wars?
What fatal, yet fantastic, bands
Keep the free heart from his own hands?
Say, lingering Fair, why comes the birth
Of your brave soul so slowly forth?
Plead your pretences (O you strong
In weakness!) why you choose so long
In labour of yourself to lie,

Not daring quite to live nor die.

So when the Year takes cold we see
Poor waters their own prisoners be:
Fetter'd and lock'd up fast they lie
In a cold self-captivity.

Th' astonish'd Nymphs their Flood's strange fate deplore
To find themselves their own severer shore.

Love, that lends haste to heaviest things,

In you alone hath lost his wings.

Look round and read the World's wide face,
The field of Nature or of Grace;

Where can you fix, to find excuse

Or pattern for the pace you use?

Mark with what faith fruits answer flowers,

And know the call of Heaven's kind showers :

Each mindful plant hastes to make good
The hope and promise of his bud.

Seed-time's not all: there should be harvest too.

Alas! and has the Year no Spring for you?

Both winds and waters urge their way,

And murmur if they meet a stay.

Mark how the curled waves work and wind,
All hating to be left behind.

Each big with business thrusts the other,
And seems to say: "Make haste, my brother."
The aery nation of neat doves,

That draw the chariot of chaste Loves,
Chide your delay: yea, those dull things,
Whose ways have least to do with wings,
Make wings, at least, of their own weight,
And by their love control their fate.
So lumpish steel, untaught to move,
Learn'd first his lightness by his love.

Whate'er love's matter be, he moves
By th' even wings of his own doves,
Lives by his own laws, and does hold

In grossest metals his own gold.

All things swear friends to Fair and Good,

Yea suitors: man alone is wooed,

Tediously wooed, and hardly won:

Only not slow to be undone ;

As if the bargain had been driven

So hardly betwixt Earth and Heaven,

Our God would thrive too fast, and be
Too much a gainer by 't, should we
Our purchased selves too soon bestow
On Him, who has not loved us so.
When love of us called Him to see
If we'd vouchsafe His company,

He left His Father's Court, and came
Lightly as a lambent flame,

Leaping upon the hills, to be

The humble King of you and me.

Nor can the cares of His whole crown

(When one poor sigh sends for Him down) Detain Him, but He leaves behind

The late wings of the lazy wind,

Spurns the tame laws of Time and Place,

And breaks thro' all ten heavens to our embrace. Yield to his siege, wise soul, and see

Your triumph in His victory.

Disband dull fears, give Faith the day:

To save your life, kill your Delay.
'Tis cowardice that keeps this field;

And want of courage not to yield.

Yield then, O yield, that Love may win

The Fort at last, and let Life in.
Yield quickly, lest perhaps you prove

Death's prey before the prize of Love.
This fort of your fair self, if 't be not won,
He is repulsed indeed; but you're undone.

Divine Epigrams.



Two went to pray! O, rather say
One went to brag, th' other to pray;
One stands up close and treads on high,
Where th' other dares not send his eye.
One nearer to God's altar trod,

The other to the altar's God.

-Mark xii., 17.

All we have is God's, and yet
Cæsar challenges a debt;

Nor hath God a thinner share,
Whatever Cæsar's payments are.
All is God's; and yet 'tis true
All we have is Cæsar's too.
All is Cæsar's: and what odds,

So long as Cæsar's self is God's?

[ocr errors]


That on her lap she casts her humble eye,

'Tis the sweet pride of her humility.

The fair star is well fix'd, for where, O, where,

Could she have fix'd it on a fairer sphere?

'Tis Heaven, 'tis Heaven she sees, Heaven's God there lies;

She can see Heaven, and ne'er lift up her eyes.

« PreviousContinue »