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.
 
“There Was a King”
XIII. Anonymous
 
THERE was a King of old,
That did in Jewry dwell;
Whether a God, or man, or both,
I’me sure I love him well.
 
Love him! why who doth not?        5
Did ever any wight
Not goodnesse, beauty, sweetnesse, love—
Not comfort, love, and light?
 
None ever did, or can;
But here’s the cause alone        10
Why he of all few lovers finds:
Alas! he is not knowne.
 
There are so many faire,
Hee’s lost amoung the throng;
Yet they that seek him no where else,        15
May finde him in a song.
 
This King, then, was a man,
Whose mother was a maide;
Himself was God, and, if you doubt,
Himself his mother made.        20
 
A wonder sure it was,
But so is all the rest:
For whilst she bore him in her wombe,
She wore him on her breast.
 
A King he was so high,        25
As by him all kings raigne;
Yet was his pompe not very great—
Twelve was his usuall traine.
 
And though no other prince
Did give a better pay,        30
Yet when he stood in greatest need
His subjects ran away.
 
This King he was a priest,
He was the sacrifice;
And he also the aulter was,        35
The gift yt sanctifies.
 
And though the sacrifice
The priests did ever eate,
The aulter, sacrifice, and priest,
And all here made our meate.        40
 
This God, Man, King, and Priest,
Almighty was, yet meeke:
He was most just, yet mercifull;
The guilty did him seeke.
 
He never any failed        45
That sought him in their need;
He never quenched the smoaking flaxe,
Nor brake the bruised reed.
 
He was the truest friend
That ever any tryed;        50
For whome he loved he never left—
For them he lived and dy’d.
 
And if you’ld know the folke
Yt brought him to his end,
Reade but his title, you shall finde        55
Him styled ‘the sinner’s friend.’
 
His life all wonder was,
But heer’s a wonder more,
That he yt was all life and love,
Should be belov’d no more.        60
 
Ile love him while I live;
To those that be his foes,
Though I them hate, I’ll wish no worse
Than his deare love to loose.
 
 
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