Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Extracts from Mustapha: Chorus of Tartars
By Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (1554–1628)
 
VAST Superstition! Glorious style of weakness!
Sprung from the deep disquiet of man’s passion,
To dissolution and despair of Nature:
Thy texts bring princes’ titles into question:
Thy prophets set on work the sword of tyrants:        5
They manacle sweet Truth with their distinctions:
Let Virtue blood: teach Cruelty for God’s sake;
Fashioning one God; yet Him of many fashions,
Like many-headed Error, in their passions.
Mankind! Trust not these superstitious dreams,        10
Fear’s idols, Pleasure’s relics, Sorrow’s pleasures:
They make the wilful hearts their holy temples,
The rebels unto government their martyrs.
No: Thou child of false miracles begotten!
False miracles, which are but ignorance of cause,        15
Lift up the hopes of thy abjected prophets:
Courage and Worth abjure thy painted heavens.
Sickness, thy blessings are; Misery thy trial;
Nothing, thy way unto eternal being;
Death, to salvation; and the grave to heaven.        20
So blest be they, so angel’d, so eterniz’d
That tie their senses to thy senseless glories,
And die, to cloy the after-age with stories.
Man should make much of Life, as Nature’s table,
Wherein she writes the cypher of her glory.        25
Forsake not Nature, nor misunderstand her:
Her mysteries are read without Faith’s eye-sight:
She speaketh in our flesh; and from our senses
Delivers down her wisdoms to our reason.
If any man would break her laws to kill,        30
Nature doth for defence allow offences.
She neither taught the father to destroy:
Nor promis’d any man, by dying, joy. 1
 
Note 1. These last four lines are in allusion to the plot of Mustapha, which turns upon the murder of the unresisting and innocent Mustapha by his father Solyman, in consequence of certain unjust suspicions. [back]
 
 
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