AGAINST CONSTANCY Tell me no more of constancy, The frivolous pretense Of cold age, narrow jealousy, Disease, and want of sense. Let duller fools, on whom kind chance Some easy heart has thrown, Despairing higher to advance, Be kind to one alone. Old men and weak, whose idle flame Their own defects discovers, Since changing can but spread their shame, Ought to be constant lovers. But we, whose hearts do justly swell With not vainglorious pride, Who know how we in love excel, Long to be often tried. Then bring my bath, and strew my bed, As each kind night returns, I’ll change a mistress till I’m dead – And fate change me to worms. FROM: The Oxford Library of English Poetry Volume II Sackville to Keats Chosen & edited by John Wain
Come, see real
of this painful world.
On Love and Barley – Haiku of Basho
ON THE DEATH OF MR CRASHAW
Poet and Saint! to thee alone are given
The two most sacred names of Earth and Heaven,
The hard and rarest Union which can be
Next that of Godhead with Humanitie.
Long did the Muses banisht Slaves abide,
And built vain Pyramids to mortal pride;
Like Moses Thou (though Spells and Charms withstand)
Hast brought them nobly home back to their Holy Land.
Ah wretched We, Poets of Earth! but Thou
Wert Living the same Poet which thou’rt Now.
Whilst Angels sing to thee their ayres divine,
And joy in an applause so great as thine.
Equal society with them to hold,
Thou need’st not make new Songs, but say the Old.
And they (kind Spirits!) shall all rejoice to see
How little less than They, Exalted Man may be.
Still the old Heathen Gods in Numbers dwell,
The Heav’nliest thing on earth still keeps up Hell.
Nor have we yet quite purg’d the Christian Land;
Still Idols here like Calves at Bethel stand.
And though Pans Death long since all Oracles breaks,
Yet still in Rhyme the Fiend Apollo speaks;
Nay with the worst of Heathen dotage we
(Vain men!) the Monster Woman Deifie;
Find Stars, and tie our Fates there in a Face,
And Paradise in them by whom we lost it, place.
What different faults corrupt our Muses thus
Wanton as Girles, as old Wives, Fabulous!
Thy spotless Muse, like Mary, did contain
The boundless Godhead; she did well disdain
That her eternal Verse employ’d should be
On a less subject than Eternitie;
And for a sacred Mistress scorn’d to take,
But her whom God himself scorn’d not his Spouse to make.
It (in a kind) her Miracle did do;
A fruitful Mother was, and Virgin too.
How well (blest Swan) did Fate contrive thy death;
And make thee render up thy tuneful breath
In thy great Mistress arms? thou most divine
And richest Off’ering of Loretto’s shrine!
Where like some holy Sacrifice t’ expire
A Fever burns thee, and Love lights the Fire.
Angels (they say) brought the fam’d Chappel there,
And bore the sacred Load in Triumph through the air.
‘Tis surer much they brought thee there, and They,
And Thou, their charge, went singing all the way.
Pardon, my Mother Church, if I consent
That Angels led him when from thee he went,
For even in Error sure no Danger is
When joyn’d with so much Piety as His.
Ah, mighty God, with shame I speak’t, and grief,
Ah that our greatest Faults were in Belief!
And our weak Reason were ev’en weaker yet,
Rather than thus our Wills too strong for it.
His Faith perhaps in some nice Tenents might
Be wrong; his Life, I’m sure, was in the right.
And I myself a Catholick will be,
So far at least, great Saint, to Pray to thee.
Hail, Bard Triumphant! and some care bestow
On us, the Poets Militant Below!
Oppos’ed by our old En’emy, adverse Chance,
Attack’ed by Envy, and by Ignorance,
Enchain’d by Beauty, tortur’d by Desires,
Expos’d by Tyrant-Love to savage Beasts and Fires.
Thou from low earth in nobler Flames didst rise,
And like Elijah, mount Alive the skies.
Elisha-like (but with a wish much less,
More fit thy Greatness, and my Littleness)
Lo here I beg (I whom thou once didst prove
So humble to Esteem, so Good to Love)
Not that thy Spirit might on me Doubled be,
I ask but Half thy mighty Spirit for Me;
And when my Muse soars with so strong a Wing,
‘Twill learn of things Divine, and first of Thee to sing.
TO HIS COY MISTRESS Had we but World enough and Time, This coyness Lady were no crime. We would sit down, and think which way To walk, and pass our long Love’s day. Thou by the Indian Ganges side Should’st Rubies find: I by the Tide Of Humber would complain. I would Love you ten years before the Flood: And you should if you please refuse Till the conversion of the Jews. My vegetable Love should grow Vaster than Empires and more slow. An hundred years should go to praise Thine Eyes, and on thy Forehead Gaze; Two hundred to adore each Breast, But thirty thousand to the rest. An Age at least to every part, And the last Age should show your Heart. For Lady you deserve this state; Nor would I love at lower rate. But at my back I always hear Time’s winged Chariot hurrying near: And yonder all before us lye Desarts of vast Eternity. Thy Beauty shall no more be found; Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound My echoing Song; then Worms shall try That long-preserved Virginity: And your quaint Honour turn to dust; And into ashes all my Lust. The Grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. Now therefore, while the youthful hew Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing Soul transpires At every pore with instant Fires, Now let us sport us while we may; And now, like am’rous birds of prey, Rather at once our Time devour Than languish in his slow-chapt pow’r. Let us roll all our Strength and all Our sweetness, up into one Ball: And tear our Pleasures with rough strife, Through the Iron gates of Life: Thus, though we cannot make our Sun Stand still, yet we will make him run.
A CONTEMPLATION UPON FLOWERS Brave flowers, that I could gallant it like you And be as little vaine, You come abroad, and make a harmelesse shew, And to your beds of Earthe againe: You are not proud, you know your birth For your Embroidered garments are from Earth: You doe obey your months, and times, but I Would have it ever spring, My fate would know no winter, never die Nor thinke of such a thing; Oh that I could my bed of Earthe but view And Smile, and looke as Chearefully as you: Oh teach me to see Death, and not to fear But rather to take truce; How often have I seen you at a Bier, And there look fresh and spruce; You fragrant flowers, then teach me that my breath Like yours may sweeten, and perfume my Death.
THE MORNING WATCH O joys! Infinite sweetness! With what flowres, And shoots of glory, my soul breakes, and buds! All the long houres Of night, and Rest Through the still shrouds Of sleep, and Clouds, This Dew fell on my Breast; O how it Blouds, And Spirits all my Earth! heark! In what Rings, And Hymning Circulations the quick world Awakes, and sings; And rising winds, And failing springs, Birds, beasts, all things Adore him in their kinds. Thus all is hurl’d In sacred Hymnes, and Order, the great Chime And Symphony of nature. Prayer is The world in tune, A spirit-voyce, And vocall joyes Whose Echo is heav’ns blisse. O let me climbe. When I lye down! The Pious soul by night Is like a clouded starre, whose beames though said To shed their light Under some Cloud Yet are above, And shine, and move Beyond that mistie shroud. So in my Bed That Curtain’d grave, though sleep, like ashes, hide My lamp, and life, both shall in thee abide.
INGRATEFULL BEAUTY THREATENED Know Celia, (since thou art so proud,) ‘Twas I that gave thee thy renown: Thou hadst, in the forgotten crowd Of common beauties, liv’d unknown, Had not my verse exhal’d thy name And with it impt the wings of fame. That killing power is none of thine, I gave it to thy voyce, and eyes: Thy sweets, thy graces, are all mine: Thou are my star, shin’st in my skies; Then dart not from thy borrowed sphere Lightning on him that fixt thee there. Tempt me with such affrights no more, Lest what I made, I uncreate: Let fools thy mystique forms adore, I’ll know thee in thy mortall state; Wise Poets that wrapp’d Truth in tales, Knew her themselves through all her vailes.
An example of 17th century PR.
After Donne I decided to read one of the Metaphysical poets each day for the next seven days. Today’s poet is George Herbert.
PRAYER Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age, Gods breath in man returning to his birth, The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage, The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth; Engine against th’Almightie, sinners towre, Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear, The six-daies world transposing in an houre, A kind of tune, which all things heare and fear; Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse, Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best, Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest, The milkie way, the bird of Paradise, Church-bells beyond the stares heard, the souls blood, The land of spices, something understood.
from the HOLY SONNETS
At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise
From death, you numberlesse infinities
Of soules, and to your scattered bodies goe,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,
All whom warre, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despaire, law, chance, hath slaine, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never taste deaths woe.
But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,
For, if above all these, my sinnes abound,
‘Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,
When wee are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach mee how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.
Eight Metaphysical Poets
Edited with an Introduction
and Notes by