Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
 
Aquignispicium
LX. Thomas Scot
 
GOD 1 bends his bow, but shoots not: see it stands
As if the stiffe string were in man’s owne hands;
For God first plac’d it so, that man might know
How prone to peace he is, to war how slow.
That couenant which he made with Noah he keeps,        5
His mercy ever wakes, his justice sleeps;
And though our sins a second deluge craves,
Hee’l drench the world no more in those salt waves.
“What hurt from heauen fals, first from the earth proceeds,
“And man’s misfortunes springs from man’s misdeeds;”        10
Misdeeds that from ourselves, friends, country, come,
And where they shall on all, light but on some.
The snow, haile, raine, are by the sun’s pure beams
Exhal’d from standing marshes, whose streames
Infect the ayre with foggy mists, and then        15
Are bottled up in clouds for sinfull men;
And for man’s good in season they distill,
Or out of season, to amend his ill:
The plagues we feele fall at the head and foot
Are shafts against God our hands first upward shoot.        20
  Presumptuous sins, in country and at court,
Greatnesse and grace, and favour, do support.
The pulpit flatters; justice sits and smiles,
Making a gainefull skill of ling’ring wiles:
“Who hath great friends lives free, and wanteth faults;        25
“But without friends the upright innocent haults.”
Vice now provides us rayment, meate and drinke,
So how t’ increas ’t, not how to curb ’t, we thinke.
Old men waxe impudent, lascivious, wilde—
That fits them best which scarce becomes a childe.        30
Young men are stubborne, disobedient, stout,
And rule and teach, even from the swathing clout;
They all things know, and can, but (what they ought)
Themselves and vertue—these they never sought.
Fashions from Spain, France, Germanie, and Rome,        35
And Turkie too, with their religions come;
So they are suited fayre from top to toe,
And each new suite in a new faith they goe.
Matrons that are not dead nor yet alive,
But betwixt both, in some part vegetive,        40
Crowne their smooth scalps with haire, which now makes brave
A second mistris, ready for the grave.
Young maids (that go for such) are mothers known,
And such as should be none, are virgins showne.
O Modesty, where dwel’st thou? Womanhood        45
Is scarce by our high English understood:
Vice grows so common, that it is far more
Opprobrious to be chaste than be a whore.
All things are out of order; lawes are made
Strong means not to defend, but to invade.        50
Then why should we limit the sea, or fire,
Without their bounds, and not our owne desire?
Southward, th’ Armado, and the fleetes of Spaine,
(Oft beaten) 2 seeme to threaten us againe;
And east and west 3 the seas would meet, we see,        55
But that (O wonder!) northward blest we bee.
The want of water was the cause before
Those huge-built hulkes could not approach our shore,
Who came resolv’de of conquest, and did stand
As if they meant to beare away our land.        60
Poor Ile, so small thou wert, and they so great,
Too scant a sea for them that was thy seat;
But had they staide till now, now might they ride
On the swolne waves at ease in all their pride,
And into every haven their bold ships stere,        65
As if no sands, barres, shallowes, had been there.
We know, whens’ere they come, God can provide
Such seas so high, so uncontrol’d a tide,
Able, without their envie or their ayde,
To bury us: for see how he hath layd        70
Our workes all levell—draines, dykes, sluces, banks,
Fields, pastures, gardens, mannors, farmes, and franks;
With man their owner, and what man doth feed,
Are buried with a sea of teares indeed.
 
Note 1. LX. Thomas Scot wrote “Philomythie, or Philomythologie. Wherein Outlandish Birds, Beasts, and Fishes are taught to speake true English plainely,” which was first published in 1616. A second edition, much enlarged, was printed in 1622, “for Francis Constable, at the White Lyon, in Paul’s Churchyard.” [back]
Note 2. Ann. Dom. 1588. [back]
Note 3. The seas broke in before West, now East [back]
 
 
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