Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
 
Stanzas from “The Lamentation of the Lost Sheepe”
LXXX. G. Ellis
 
OH 1 why should man, that bears the stamp of heauen,
So much abase heauen’s holy will and pleasure?
Or why was sence and reason to him giuen,
That in his sinne cannot containe a measure,
But still neglects his soule’s celestiall treasure?        5
  He knowes he must account for euery sinne,
  And yet committeth sins that countless bin.
 
This to peruse, deare God, doth kill my soule,
But that thy mercie quickeneth it againe:
Oh heare me, Lorde, in bitternesse of dole,        10
That of my sinnes do prostrate heere complaine,
And for the same poure forth my teares amaine,
  And at thy feete with Marie knock for grace,
  Though wanting Marie’s teares to wet my face.
 
She, happy sinner, saw her life misse-led,        15
At sight whereof her inward heart did bleede;
To witnesse with her outward teares were shed:
Oh blessed saint, and oh most blessed deed!
For on the teares of sinners angels feede.
  But wretched I, that see more teares than shee,        20
  Nor grieue within, nor yet weepe outwardly.
 
When she had lost thy presence but one day,
The want was such her hart could not sustaine;
But to thy tombe alone she tooke her waie,
And there with mournfull sighes she did complaine,        25
And down her face teares trickled like the raine.
  Nor from her sence once stird or moued was she,
  Vntill againe she got a sight of thee.
 
But I haue lost thy presence all my daies,
And still am slacke to seeke thee as I should;        30
My wretched soule in wicked sinne so stayes,
I am vnmeet to seeke thee, though I would;
I haue so strayed from thee in by-waies.
  Yet if I could with teares thy comming tend,
  I know I should, as she, finde thee my friend.        35
 
No, no! the secret Searcher of all harts
Both sees and knowes the deeds that I haue done;
And for each deed will pay me home with smarts:
No shew can shaddow what I haue misdone,
No place can serue his will decreed to shunne.        40
  I should deceiue myselfe to think that he
  For sinne would punish others, and not me.
 
Our first-borne sire, first breeder of man’s thrall,
For one bare sinne was of perfection reft;
And all mankinde was banisht by his fall        45
From paradice, and vnto sorrowe left,
And former comfort was from him bereft.
  If he for one, and all for him feele paine,
  Then for so many what shall I sustaine?
 
The angels, made to attend on God in glory,        50
Were thrust from heauen, and onely for one sinne,
That but in thought, (for so records the story,)
For which they still in lasting darkenesse bin,
And cannot sunne’s bright shining comfort win.
  If these once glorious thus tormented be,        55
  I, poor lost sheepe, what will become of me?
 
What will become of me, that not in thought,
In thought alone, but in each word and deede
A thousand thousand deadly sinnes haue wrought,
And still do worke, whereat my hart doth bleed,        60
Being by sinne out of the right way led?
  Which makes me thus bewaile, lament, and grieue;
  For griefe and sorrow must my cares relieue.
*        *        *        *        *
From the green pastures, mounts, and meades,
And from the cristall current of heauen’s ioies,        65
The woolfe hath cast me, and foule errour leades
My soone seduced steps to such annoies,
That where I feed my staruing food destroies.
  Seeke me, deere Shepherd; else I shall be lost,
  From blessed vales to thornes and thistles tost.        70
 
Oh seeke me, Christ, as once thy mercie sought
Downe-falling Dauid from thy mountaine’s lawes;
Oh seeke thine own, thine own whom thou hast bought,
And keepe me from the draggon’s open iawes,
Where sinne betraies for euerie slender cause.        75
  For from the treasure of thy sacred side
  Thou paidst the ransome of accursed pride.
 
With shame-sick Adam haue I hid my head,
Vnparadiz’d from my angell-like state,
And from the presence of thy Father fled,        80
My soule sepultur’d in my bodie’s hate.
My heape of sinnes hath bard that blessed gate
  Was op’ned wide by that deep sluce was made
  Within that wound, where mercie’s balm was laid.
 
Paine-pearced Shepheard, master of that fold,        85
Old Israell brought into thy spatious field;
For which thy selfe thy glorious selfe hath sold,
Making a dearth such store of manna yeeld,
With which the parcht and desart plaines were fild;
  That where thy lambs from sweet repast were driuen,        90
  They banket with celestiall food from heauen.
 
Thou drankest freting vinegar with gall,
To make their bitter waters hunny-sweete;
That spungy moysture, that in deadly thrall
For thy pale lips the sonnes of men thought meete:        95
From such a holy Shepheard who would fleete?
  None but myselfe, who, hauing lost my marke,
  Wander alone in shame’s despised darke.
 
Behold my feete intangled in the bryers,
And enuious brambles teare my fleece away:        100
To loose them, Lord, my gasping soule desires,
Least to the rauens I become a praie:
Such fruit they reape that runne so farre astraie.
  Then on thy shoulders take me to thy folde,
  The sheep whom thou hast bought, and Sathan solde.        105
 
Fiue tallents didst thou paie, whereon was fram’d
The seale of death, imprest with crimson bloud;
Two in thy hands, two in thy feete remainde,
One in thy side. These bought that heauenly food,
That feeds the soule with his eternall good.        110
  Oh bring me then, sweet Christ, where I may feed
  On that for which I sigh, and thou didst bleed!
 
Note 1. LXXX. G. Ellis.—This author wrote a poem, now very rare, entitled “The Lamentation of the Lost Sheepe.” [back]
 
 
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