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What in the world most fair appears,
Yea, even laughter, turns to tears:
And all the jewels which we prize,
Melt in these pendants of the eyes.
I have through every garden been,
Amongst the red, the white, the green ;
And yet from all those flowers I saw,
No honey but these tears could draw.
So the all-seeing sun each day
Distils the world with chymic ray ;
But finds the essence only showers,
Which straight in pity back he pours.
Yet happy they whom grief doth bless,
That weep the more, and see the less;
And, to preserve their sight more true,
Bathe still their eyes in their own dew.
So Magdalen in tears more wise
Dissolved those captivating eyes,
Whose liquid chains could flowing meet,
To fetter her Redeemer's feet.
Nor full sails hasting laden home,
Nor the chaste lady's pregnant womb,
Nor Cynthia teeming shows so fair
As two eyes, swoln with weeping, are.
The sparkling glance that shoots desire,
Drenched in these waves, does lose its fire.
Yea, oft the Thunderer pity takes,
And here the hissing lightning slakes.
The incense was to Heaven dear,
Not as a perfume, but a tear ;
And stars show lovely in the night,
But as they seem the tears of light.
Ope, then, mine eyes, your double sluice,
And practise so your noblest use ;
For others too can see, or sleep ;
But only human eyes can weep.
Now, like two clouds dissolving, drop,
And at each tear in distance stop :
Now, like two fountains, trickle down :
Now, like two floods o'er-run and drown :
Thus let your streams o'erflow your springs,
Till eyes and tears be the same things ;
And each the other's difference bears ;
55 These weeping eyes, those seeing tears.
TO MY WORTHY FRIEND MASTER GEORGE SANDYS,
ON HIS TRANSLATION OF THE PSALMS.
I press not to the choir, nor dare I greet
The holy place with my unhallowed feet ;
My unwashed Muse pollutes not things divine,
Nor mingles her profaner notes with thine ;
Here, humbly waiting at the porch, she stays,
And with glad ears sucks in thy sacred lays.
So, devout penitents of old were wont,
Some without door, and some beneath the font,
To stand and hear the Church's liturgies,
Yet not assist the solemn exercise :
Sufficeth her, that she a lay-place gain,
To trim thy vestments, or but bear thy train ;
Though not in tune nor wing she reach thy lark,
Her lyric feet may dance before the ark.
Who knows, but that her wandering cyes that run, 15
Now hunting glowworms, may adore the sun :
A pure flame may, shot by Almighty power
Into her breast, the earthly flame devour :
My eyes in penitential dew may steep
That brine, which they for sensual love did weep.
So (though 'gainst nature's course) fire may be quenched
With fire, and water be with water drenched;
Perhaps my restless soul, tired with pursuit
Of mortal beauty, seeking without fruit
Contentment there, which hath not, when enjoyed, 25
Quenched all her thirst, nor satisfied, though cloyed,
Weary of her vain search below, above
In the first Fair may find the immortal Love.
Prompted by thy example, then no more
In moulds of clay will I my God adore ;
But tear those idols from my heart, and write
What his blest Spirit, not fond love, shall indite;
Then I no more shall court the verdant bay,
But the dry leafless trunk on Golgotha ;
And rather strive to gain from thence one thorn, 35
Than all the flourishing wreaths by laureats worn.
How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns ! e'en as the flowers in spring ;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away,
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who could have thought my shrivelled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown ;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an hour; Making a chiming of a passing bell.
We say amiss,
This or that is :
Thy word is all, if we could spell.
Oh, that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither :
Nor doth my flower
Want a spring-shower,
My sins and I joining together.
But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own, 30
Thy anger comes, and I decline :
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone
Where all things burn,
When Thou dost turn,
And the least frown of thine is shown ?
35 And now in age I bud again, After so many deaths I live and write ;
I once more smell the dew and rain, And relish versing : O my only Light,
It cannot be
That I am he,
On whom thy tempests fell at night.
These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide :
Which when we once can find and prove, 45 Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.
Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind;
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mixt in that watery theatre;
And taste thou them as saltless there
As in their channel first they were;
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdoms of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshivered into seeds of rain;
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears
Of corn when summer shakes his ears;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence:
This thou canst, then show me Him
15 That rides the glorious Cherubim.
Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of Heaven's joy,
Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your divine sounds, and mixed power employ,
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce;
And to our high-raised phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure concent,
Aye sung before the sapphire-coloured throne
To Him that sits thereon,
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee ;
Where the bright Seraphim in burning row
Their loud up-lifted angel-trumpets blow;