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But now their naked bodies scorn the cold,
And from their eyes joy looks and laughs at pain; The infant wonders how he came so old,
The old man how he came so young again;
Still resting, though from sleep they still refrain;
The indeficient spring no winter fears;
The unfading lily leaves of silver bears,
And crimson rose a scarlet garment wears;
Of molten crystal, like a sea of glass,
Of living diamonds the building was,
That all things else, besides itself, did pass.
Where the eternal temple should have rose,
End and beginning of each thing that grows;
Whose self no end nor yet beginning knows,
Before and after all, the first and last ;
Great without quantity; in whose forecast
Swift without motion; to whose open eye
No sweet consent, or well-tuned harmony;
Or flowery odour mixed with spicery;
No soft embrace or pleasure bodily ;
A light unseen, yet shines in every place;
No winds can scatter; an entire embrace
That no satiety can e'er unlace; Ingraced into so high a favour there, The saints with their beaupeers whole worlds out wear, And things unseen do see, and things unheard do hear. Ye blessed souls, grown richer by your spoil,
Whose loss, though great, is cause of greater gains; Here may your weary spirits rest from toil,
Spending your endless evening that remains
Among those white flocks and celestial trains
SIR JOHN DAVIES.
Sir John DAVIES, a native of Wiltshire, was born in 1570. He was educated at Oxford, and after having been called to the bar, he was expelled, and returned to the University. While here, he composed his principal work, a noble poem on The Immortality of the Soul. A few years after he was sent to Parliament, and restored to his rank at the bar. He filled several judicial offices in Ireland, under James I., and was finally appointed Chief Justice of the King's Bench, but he died before he could undertake the duties of the office: this happened in 1626.
Sir John was the author of several works upon historical and legal subjects, but is here noticed on account of his noble poem, The Immortality of the Soul, which is remarkable for the clear and logical conduct of the argument, and, considering the age in which it was written, for the smooth and equable flow of the
FALSE AND TRUE KNOWLEDGE.
Why did my parents send me to the schools,
That I with knowledge might enrich my mind,
And did corrupt the root of all mankind ?
For when God's hand had written in the hearts
Of the first parents all the rules of good,
That ever were, before, or since the flood;
And when their reason's eye was sharp and clear,
And (as an eagle can behold the sun,)
As th' intellectual angels could have done;
E'en then to shew, the spirit of lies suggests,
That they were blind because they saw not ill; And breathed into their uncorrupted breasts
A curious wish which did corrupt their will.
For that same ill they did desire to know,
Which ill being nought but a defeet of good, In all God's works the devil could not shew,
While man their Lord in his perfection stood.
So that themselves were first to do the ill,
Ere they thereof the knowledge could attain, Like him that knew not poison's power to kill,
Until (by tasting it) himself was slain.
E'en so by tasting of that fruit forbid,
Where they sought knowledge, they did error find; III they desired to know, and ill they did;
And to give passion eyes, made reason blind.
For then their minds did first in passion see
Those wretched shapes of misery and woeOf nakedness, of shame, of poverty,
Which then their own experience made them know.
But then grew reason dark, that she no more
Could the fair forms of good and truth discern; Bats they became, that eagles were before,
And this they got by their desire to learn.
But we, their wretched offspring, what do we?
Do not we still taste of the fruit forbid, Whilst with fond fruitless euriosity
In books profane we seek for knowledge hid?
What is this knowledge, but the sky-stolen fire,
For which the thief still chained in ice doth sit ? And which the poor rude satyr did admire,
And needs would kiss, but burnt his lips with it?
In fine, what is it, but the fiery coach,
Which the youth sought and found his death withal ? Or the boy's wings, which when he did approach
The sun's hot beams, did melt and let him fall ?
And yet, alas, when all our lamps are burned,
Our bodies wasted, and our spirits spent; When we have all the learned volumes turned
Which yield men's wits both help and ornament;
What can we know ? or what can we discern,
When error chokes the windows of the mind ? The divers forms of things, how can we learn,
That have been even from our birth-day blind?
When Reason's lamp, which (like the sun in sky)
Throughout man's little world her beams did spread, Is now become a sparkle, which doth lie
Under the ashes, half extinct and dead :
How can we hope that through the eye and ear
This dying sparkle, in this cloudy place, Can recollect these beams of knowledge clear,
Which were infused in the first minds by grace?
So might the heir, whose father hath in play
Wasted a thousand pounds of ancient rent, By painful earnings of one groat a day,
Hope to restore the patrimony spent.
The wits that dived most deep and soared most high,
Seeking man's powers, have found his weakness such : “Skill comes so slow, and life so fast doth fly,
We learn so little and forget so much.”
For this the wisest of all mortal men
Said, he knew nought, but that he nought did know; And the great mocking master mocked not then
When he said truth was buried deep below.