Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
VI. Human Experience
“I would I were an excellent divine”
Nicholas Breton (1545–1626)
 
I WOULD I were an excellent divine,
  That had the Bible at my fingers’ ends;
That men might hear out of this mouth of mine
  How God doth make his enemies his friends;
Rather than with a thundering and long prayer        5
Be led into presumption, or despair.
 
This would I be, and would none other be,
  But a religious servant of my God;
And know there is none other God but he,
  And willingly to suffer mercy’s rod,—        10
Joy in his grace, and live but in his love,
And seek my bliss but in the world above.
 
And I would frame a kind of faithful prayer,
  For all estates within the state of grace,
That careful love might never know despair,        15
  Nor servile fear might faithful love deface;
And this would I both day and night devise
To make my humble spirit’s exercise.
 
And I would read the rules of sacred life;
  Persuade the troubled soul to patience;        20
The husband care, and comfort to the wife,
  To child and servant due obedience;
Faith to the friend, and to the neighbor peace,
That love might live, and quarrels all might cease.
 
Prayer for the health of all that are diseased,        25
  Confession unto all that are convicted,
And patience unto all that are displeased,
  And comfort unto all that are afflicted,
And mercy unto all that have offended,
And grace to all, that all may be amended.        30
 
 
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