Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
 
Sonets
XXII. John Davies
 
I.
IF 1 in a three-square glasse, as thick as cleare,
(Being but dark earth, though made diaphanall)
Beauties diuine, that rauish, seme appeare,
Making the soule with ioy in trance to fall;
What then, my soule, shalt thou in heau’n behold,        5
In that cleare mirror of the TRINITY?
What though it were not that it could be told?
For ’tis a glorious yet dark mistery!
It is that which is furthest from description,
Whose beaming beauty’s more then infinite:        10
It’s glorie’s monument, whose superscription
Is, Here lies Light, alone indefinite:
  Then, O light limitlesse, let me, poore me,
  Still liue obscure, so I may still see thee.
 
II.
WERE manne’s thoughts to be measured by daies,
        15
Ten thousand thoughts ten thousand daies should haue,
Which in a day the mynd doth daily raise;
For still the mind’s in motion like a waue:
Or should his daies be measured by thought,
Then times shortst moment they would faster flee:        20
Yet thought doth make his life both long and nought—
That’s nought if longe, and longe if nought it bee!
If longe it bee, for being nought, though short,
The shortest thought of longe life is too longe,
Which thinkes it longe in laboure, short in sport;        25
So thought makes life to be still old, or yonge:
  But sith its full of thought, sith full of synnes,
  Think it may ende, as thought of it beginnes.
 
III.
WHILES in my soule I feel the soft warme hand
Of grace, to thaw the frozen dregs of sin,        30
She, angell arm’d, on Eden’s walls doth stand,
To keep out outward ioyes that would come in.
But when that holy hand is tane away,
And that my soule congealeth, as before,
She outward comfort seeks with care each way,        35
And runs to meet them at each sence’s door.
Yet they but at the first sight only please;
They shrink, or breed abhorr’d satiety.
But diuine comforts, far vnlike to these,
Do please the more, the more they stay and be.        40
  Then outward ioyes I inwardly detest,
  Sith they stay not, or stay but in vnrest.
 
IV.
TRUE loue is Charity begun to be,
Which is when Loue beginneth to be true;
But to the high’st growes louing Charity,        45
When she the High’st alone doth loue to view.
O Charity! that euermore doost flame
In that dread Maiestie’s eternall brest,
When by thy heate shall my loue lose hir name,
And made to flame, like thee, in restlesse rest?        50
Well-featured flesh too base a subiect is
For sour’raign loue’s diuine ay blest imbrace:
The loue of flesh loues nought but flesh; but this
Loues nought that sauors of a thing so base.
  Then be the priest, and as an host I’le dy,        55
  Offerd to heau’n in flames of Charity.
 
V.
THE OFTER sinne, the more griefe, shewes a saint;
The ofter sinne, the less griefe, notes a fiend:
But oft with griefe to sinne the soule doth taint;
And oft to sinne with ioy the soule doth rend.        60
To sinne on hope is sinne most full of feare;
To sinne of malice is the diuel’s sinne:
One is that Christ may greater burden beare,
The other, that his death might still beginne.
To sinne of frailtie is a sinne but weake;        65
To sinne in strength the stronger makes the blame:
The first the reed Christ bare hath powre to breake,
The last his thornie crowne can scarce vnframe:
  But, finally, to sinne malitiously,
  Reed, crowne, nor crosse, hath power to crucifie.        70
 
VI.
A RIGHTEOUS man still feareth all his deeds,
Lest done for feare or in hypocrisie:
Hypocrisie, as with the corne doe weeds,
Still growes vp with faith, hope, and charitie.
But it bewraies they are no hypocrites,        75
That most of all hypocrisie doe feare:
For who are worst of all in their owne sights,
In God’s deere sight doe best of all appeare.
To feare that we nor loue nor feare aright
Is no lesse perfect feare, than rightest loue:        80
And to suspect our steps in greatest light
Doth argue, God our hearts and steps doth moue:
  But right to run, and feare no whit at all,
  Presageth we are neere a fearefull fall.
 
VII.
IN th’ act of sinne the guilt of conscience
        85
Doth spoile our sport, sith our soules fainting bleed;
For that worme feeds vpon our inward sense
More than sinne’s manna outward sense doth feed:
But he on whom God’s glorious face doth shine,
The more his griefes, the more his ioyes abound;        90
For who are drunke with diuine pleasures’ wine
Can feele no torments which the senses wound.
Then ’tis a torment nere to be tormented
In vertue’s cause, nor for sinne’s fowle default:
And no worse tempting, than nere to be tempted;        95
For we must peace attaine by sinne’s assault.
  Then blessed is the crosse that brings the crowne,
  And glorious is the shame that gaines renowne.
 
Note 1. XXII. John Davies.—Usually called John Davies of Hereford, to distinguish him from Sir John Davies, he was a contemporary of Sir Philip Sidney. His poetical works are numerous: consisting of “Microcosmos,” “Summa Totalis, or All in All, and the same for ever;” “The Holy Roode, or Christ’s Cross: containing Christ crucified, described in speaking picture;” “The Muses’ Sacrifice, or Divine Meditations;” “The Scourge of Folly;” “Humours Heau’n on Earth; with the ciuil warres of Death and Fortune;” “Witte’s Pilgrimage, by poetical essaies, through a world of Amorous Sonnets, Soule’s Passions, and other passages, divine, philosophical, and moral:” etc., etc. From these various works the specimens in this volume are derived. [back]
 
 
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