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 Nosce Teipsum: The Soul Compared to a Virgin Wooed in Marriage
By Sir John Davies (1570–1626)
 
AS a king’s daughter, being in person sought
  Of divers princes, who do neighbour near;
  On none of them can fix a constant thought,
  Though she to all do lend a gentle ear:
 
Yet she can love a foreign emperor,        5
  Whom of great worth and power she hears to be;
  If she be woo’d but by ambassador,
  Or but his letters, or his pictures see:
 
For well she knows, that when she shall be brought
  Into the kingdom where her spouse doth reign;        10
  Her eyes shall see what she conceiv’d in thought,
  Himself, his state, his glory, and his train.
 
So while the virgin Soul on earth doth stay,
  She woo’d and tempted is ten thousand ways,
  By these great powers, which on the earth bear sway;        15
  The wisdom of the world, wealth, pleasure, praise:
 
With these sometime she doth her time beguile,
  These do by fits her fantasy possess;
  But she distastes them all within a while,
  And in the sweetest finds a tediousness.        20
 
But if upon the world’s Almighty King
  She once do fix her humble loving thought;
  Who by His picture, drawn in every thing,
  And sacred messages, her love hath sought;
 
Of Him she thinks, she cannot think too much;        25
  This honey tasted still, is ever sweet;
  The pleasure of her ravished thought is such,
  As almost here she with her bliss doth meet:
 
But when in Heaven she shall His essence see,
  This is her sovereign good, and perfect bliss:        30
  Her longings, wishings, hopes all finished be,
  Her joys are full, her motions rest in this.
 
There is she crown’d with garlands of content,
  There doth she manna eat, and nectar drink;
  That Presence doth such high delights present,        35
  As never tongue could speak, nor heart could think.
 
 
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