Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Man’s Civil War
By Robert Southwell (c. 1561–1595)
 
MY hovering thoughts would fly to heaven
  And quiet nestle in the sky,
Fain would my ship in Virtue’s shore
  Without remove at anchor lie.
 
But mounting thoughts are halèd down 1        5
  With heavy poise of mortal load,
And blustring storms deny my ship
  In Virtue’s haven secure abode.
 
When inward eye to heavenly sights
  Doth draw my longing heart’s desire,        10
The world with jesses 2 of delights
  Would to her perch my thoughts retire,
 
Fond Fancy trains to Pleasure’s lure, 3
  Though Reason stiffly do repine;
Though Wisdom woo me to the saint,        15
  Yet Sense would win me to the shrine.
 
Where Reason loathes, there Fancy loves,
  And overrules the captive will;
Foes senses are to Virtue’s lore,
  They draw the wit their wish to fill.        20
 
Need craves consent of soul to sense,
  Yet divers bents breed civil fray;
Hard hap where halves must disagree,
  Or truce of halves the whole betray!
 
O cruel fight! where fighting friend        25
  With love doth kill a favouring foe,
Where peace with sense is war with God,
  And self-delight the seed of woe!
 
Dame Pleasure’s drugs are steeped in sin,
  Their sugared taste doth breed annoy;        30
O fickle sense! beware her gin,
  Sell not thy soul to brittle joy!
 
Note 1. Halèd down: hauled. [back]
Note 2. Jesses: The short strap, usually of leather, fastened about the leg of a hawk used in falconry and continually worn. [back]
Note 3. Trains to Pleasure’s lure: To train was the usual term in falconry for drawing or enticing the hawk back to the fist. “The lure” was the decoy. [back]
 
 
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