Verse > Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey > Poetical Works
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Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–47).  The Poetical Works.  1880.
 
Ecclesiastes
Chapter V
 
WHEN that repentant tears hath cleansed clear from ill
The charged breast; and grace hath wrought therein amending will;
With bold demands then may his mercy well assail
The speech man saith, without the which request may none prevail.
More shall thy penitent sighs his endless mercy please,        5
Than their importune suits, which dream that words God’s wrath appease.
For heart, contrite of fault, is gladsome recompense;
And prayer, fruit of Faith, whereby God doth with sin dispense.
As fearful broken sleeps spring from a restless head,
By chattering of unholy lips is fruitless prayer bred.        10
In waste of wind, I rede, 1 vow nought unto the Lord,
Whereto thy heart to bind thy will, freely doth not accord;
For humble vows fulfill’d, by grace right sweetly smoke:
But bold behests, broken by lusts, the wrath of God provoke.
Yet bet 2 with humble heart thy frailty to confess,        15
Than to boast of such perfectness, whose works such fraud express.
With feigned words and oaths contract with God no guile;
Such craft returns to thine own harm, and doth thyself defile.
And though the mist of sin persuade such error light,
Thereby yet are thy outward works all dampned in his sight.        20
As sundry broken dreams us diversly abuse,
So are his errors manifold that many words doth use.
With humble secret plaint, few words of hot effect,
Honour thy Lord; allowance vain of void desert neglect.
Though wrong at times the right, and wealth eke need oppress,        25
Think not the hand of justice slow to follow the redress.
For such unrighteous folk as rule withouten dread,
By some abuse or secret lust he suffereth to be led.
The chief bliss that in earth to living man is lent,
Is moderate wealth to nourish life, if he can be content.        30
He that hath but one field, and greedily seeketh nought,
To fence the tiller’s hand from need, is king within his thought.
But such as of their gold their only idol make,
No treasure may the raven of their hungry hands aslake.
For he that gapes for gold, and hoardeth all his gain,        35
Travails in vain to hide the sweet that should relieve his pain.
Where is great wealth, there should be many a needy wight
To spend the same; and that should be the rich man’s chief delight.
The sweet and quiet sleeps that wearied limbs oppress,
Beguile the night in diet thin, not feasts of great excess:        40
But waker 3 lie the rich; whose lively heat with rest
Their charged bulks 4 with change of meats cannot so soon digest.
Another righteous doom I saw of greedy gain;
With busy cares such treasures oft preserved to their bane:
The plenteous houses sackt; the owners end with shame        45
Their sparkled goods; their needy heirs, that should enjoy the same,
From wealth despoiled bare, from whence they came they went;
Clad in the clothes of poverty, as Nature first them sent.
Naked as from the womb we came, if we depart,
With toil to seek that we must leave, what boot to vex the heart?        50
What life lead testy men then, that consume their days
In inward frets, untemper’d hates, at strife with some always.
Then gan I praise all those, in such a world of strife,
As take the profit of their goods, that may be had in life.
For sure the liberal hand that hath no heart to spare        55
This fading wealth, but pours it forth, it is a virtue rare:
That makes wealth slave to need, and gold become his thrall,
Clings 5 not his guts with niggish 6 fare, to heap his chest withal;
But feeds the lusts of kind with costly meats and wine;
And slacks the hunger and the thirst of needy folk that pine.        60
No glutton’s feast I mean in waste of spence 7 to strive;
But temperate meals the dulled spirits with joy thus to revive.
No care may pierce where mirth hath temper’d such a breast:
The bitter gall, season’d with sweet, such wisdom may digest.
 
Note 1. I advise. [back]
Note 2. Better. [back]
Note 3. Wakeful. [back]
Note 4. Bodies. [back]
Note 5. Starve. [back]
Note 6. Niggard. [back]
Note 7. Expense. [back]
 
 
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