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
 
To the Lady Margaret, Countess of Cumberland
By Samuel Daniel (1562–1619)
 
HE that of such a height hath built his mind,
And rear’d the dwelling of his thoughts so strong,
As neither fear nor hope can shake the frame
Of his resolvèd powers; nor all the wind
Of vanity or malice pierce to wrong        5
His settled peace, or to disturb the same,
What a fair seat hath he, from whence he may
The boundless wastes and wilds of man survey!
 
And with how free an eye doth he look down
Upon these lower regions of turmoil!        10
Where all the storms of passion mainly beat
On flesh and blood; where honour, power, renown
Are only gay afflictions, golden toil;
Where greatness stands upon as feeble feet
As frailty doth, and only great doth seem        15
To little minds, who do it so esteem.
 
He looks upon the mightiest monarch’s wars
But only as on stately robberies;
Where evermore the fortune that prevails
Must be the right: the ill-succeeding mars        20
The fairest and the best-faced enterprise.
Great pirate Pompey lesser pirates quails:
Justice, he sees, (as if seduced) still
Conspires with power, whose cause must not be ill.
 
He sees the face of right t’ appear as manifold        25
As are the passions of uncertain man;
Who puts it in all colours, all attires,
To serve his ends and make his courses hold.
He sees, that let deceit work what it can,
Plot and contrive base ways to high desires,        30
That the all-guiding Providence doth yet
All disappoint, and mocks this smoke of wit.
 
Nor is he mov’d with all the thunder cracks
Of tyrants’ threats, or with the surly brow
Of Pow’r, that proudly sits on others’ crimes,        35
Charg’d with more crying sins than those he checks.
The storms of sad confusion, that may grow
Up in the present for the coming times,
Appal not him, that hath no side at all
But of himself, and knows the worst can fall.        40
 
Although his heart (so near allied to earth)
Cannot but pity the perplexed state
Of troublous and distress’d mortality,
That thus make way unto the ugly birth
Of their own sorrows, and do still beget        45
Affliction upon imbecility;
Yet seeing thus the course of things must run,
He looks thereon not strange, but as foredone.
 
And whilst distraught ambition compasses,
And is encompass’d; whilst as craft deceives,        50
And is deceiv’d; whilst man doth ransack man,
And builds on blood, and rises by distress;
And th’ inheritance of desolation leaves
To great-expecting hopes: he looks thereon
As from the shore of peace, with unwet eye,        55
And bears no venture in impiety.
 
 
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