Hesperides, by Robert Herrick

Table of Contents

1. His Confession.
2. His Prayer for Absolution.
3. To Find God.
4. What God is.
5. Upon God.
6. Mercy and Love.
7. God’s Anger Without Affection.
8. God Not to Be Comprehended.
9. God’s Part.
10. Affliction.
11. Three Fatal Sisters.
12. Silence.
13. Mirth.
14. Loading and Unloading.
15. God’s Mercy.
16. Prayers Must have Poise.
17. To God: An Anthem Sung in the Chapel at Whitehall Before the King.
18. Upon God.
19. Calling and Correcting.
20. No Escaping the Scourging.
21. The Rod.
22. God has a Twofold Part.
23. God is One.
24. Persecutions Profitable.
25. To God.
26. Whips.
27. God’s Providence.
28. Temptation.
29. His Ejaculation to God.
30. God’s Gifts Not Soon Granted.
31. Persecutions Purify.
32. Pardon.
33. An Ode of the Birth of Our Saviour.
34. Lip-Labour.
35. The Heart.
36. Earrings.
37. Sin Seen.
38. Upon Time.
39. His Petition.
40. To God.
41. His Litany to the Holy Spirit.
42. Thanksgiving.
43. Cock-Crow.
44. All Things Run Well for the Righteous.
45. Pain Ends in Pleasure.
46. To God.
47. A Thanksgiving to God for His House.
48. To God.
49. Another to God.
50. None Truly Happy Here.
51. To His Ever-Loving God.
52. Another.
53. To Death.
54. Neutrality Loathsome.
55. Welcome what Comes.
56. To His Angry God.
57. Patience: Or, Comforts in Crosses.
58. Eternity.
59. To His Saviour, a Child: A Present by a Child.
60. The New-Year’s Gift.
61. To God.
62. God and the King.
63. God’s Mirth: Man’s Mourning.
64. Honours are Hindrances.
65. The Parasceve, or Preparation.
66. To God.
67. A Will to Be Working.
68. Christ’s Part.
69. Riches and Poverty.
70. Sobriety in Search.
71. Alms.
72. To His Conscience.
73. To His Saviour.
74. To God.
75. His Dream.
76. God’s Bounty.
77. To His Sweet Saviour.
78. His Creed.
79. Temptations.
80. The Lamp.
81. Sorrows.
82. Penitency.
83. The Dirge of Jephthah’s Daughter: Sung by the Virgins.
84. To God: On His Sickness.
85. Sins Loathed, and Yet Loved.
86. Sin.
87. Upon God.
88. Faith.
89. Humility.
90. Tears.
91. Sin and Strife.
92. An Ode, or Psalm to God.
93. Graces for Children.
94. God to Be First Served.
95. Another Grace for a Child.
96. A Christmas Carol Sung to the King in the Presence at Whitehall.
97. The New-Year’s Gift: Or, Circumcision’s Song. Sung to the King in the Presence at Whitehall.
98. Another New-Year’s Gift: Or, Song for the Circumcision.
99. God’s Pardon.
100. Sin.
101. Evil.
102. The Star-Song: A Carol to the King Sung at Whitehall.
103. To God.
104. To His Dear God.
105. To God: His Good Will.
106. On Heaven.
107. The Sum and the Satisfaction.
108. Good Men Afflicted Most.
109. Good Christians
110. The Will the Cause of Woe.
111. To Heaven.
112. The Recompense.
113. To God.
114. To God.
115. His Wish to God.
116. Satan.
117. Hell.
118. The Way.
119. Great Grief, Great Glory.
120. Hell.
121. The Bellman.
122. The Goodness of His God.
123. The Widows’ Tears: Or, Dirge of Dorcas.
124. To God in Time of Plundering.
125. To His Saviour. The New-Year’s Gift.
126. Doomsday.
127. The Poor’s Portion.
128. The White Island: Or, Place of the Blest.
129. To Christ.
130. To God.
131. Free Welcome.
132. God’s Grace.
133. Coming to Christ.
134. Correction.
135. God’s Bounty.
136. Knowledge.
137. Salutation.
138. Lasciviousness.
139. Tears.
140. God’s Blessing.
141. God, and Lord.
142. The Judgment-Day.
143. Angels.
144. Long Life.
145. Tears.
146. Manna.
147. Reverence.
148. Mercy.
149. Wages.
150. Temptation.
151. God’s Hands.
152. Labour.
153. Mora Sponsi, the Stay of the Bridegroom.
154. Roaring.
155. The Eucharist.
156. Sin Severely Punished.
157. Montes Scripturarum: The Mounts of the Scriptures.
158. Prayer.
159. Christ’s Sadness.
160. God Hears Us.
161. God.
162. Clouds.
163. Comforts in Contentions.
164. Heaven.
165. God.
166. His Power.
167. Christ’s Words on the Cross: My God, My God.
168. Jehovah.
169. Confusion of Face.
170. Another.
171. Beggars.
172. Good and Bad.
173. Sin.
174. Martha, Martha.
175. Youth and Age.
176. God’s Power.
177. Paradise.
178. Observation.
179. The Ass.
180. Observation.
181. Tapers.
182. Christ’s Birth.
183. The Virgin Mary.
184. Another.
185. God.
186. Another of God.
187. Another.
188. God’s Presence.
189. God’s Dwelling.
190. The Virgin Mary.
191. To God.
192. Upon Woman and Mary.
193. North and South.
194. Sabbaths.
195. The Fast, or Lent.
196. Sin.
197. God.
198. This, and the Next World.
199. Ease.
200. Beginnings and Endings.
201. Temporal Goods.
202. Hell Fire.
203. Abel’s Blood.
204. Another.
205. A Position in the Hebrew Divinity.
206. Penitence.
207. God’s Presence.
208. The Resurrection Possible and Probable.
209. Christ’s Suffering.
210. Sinners.
211. Temptations.
212. Pity and Punishment.
213. God’s Price and Man’s Price.
214. Christ’s Action.
215. Predestination.
216. Another.
217. Sin.
218. Another.
219. Another.
220. Prescience.
221. Christ.
222. Christ’s Incarnation.
223. Heaven.
224. God’s Keys
225. Sin.
226. Alms.
227. Hell Fire.
228. To Keep a True Lent.
229. No Time in Eternity.
230. His Meditation Upon Death.
231. Clothes for Continuance.
232. To God.
233. The Soul.
234. The Judgment-Day.
235. Sufferings.
236. Pain and Pleasure.
237. God’s Presence.
238. Another.
239. The Poor Man’s Part.
240. The Right Hand.
241. The Staff and Rod.
242. God Sparing in Scourging.
243. Confession.
244. God’s Descent.
245. No Coming to God Without Christ.
246. Another to God.
247. The Resurrection.
248. Co-Heirs.
249. The Number of Two.
250. Hardening of Hearts.
251. The Rose.
252. God’s Time Must End Our Trouble.
253. Baptism.
254. Gold and Frankincense.
255. To God.
256. The Chewing the Cud.
257. Christ’s Twofold Coming.
258. To God, His Gift.
259. God’s Anger.
260. God’s Commands.
261. To God.
262. To God.
263. Good Friday: Rex Tragicus; Or, Christ Going to His Cross.
264. His Words to Christ Going to the Cross.
265. Another to His Saviour.
266. His Saviour’s Words Going to the Cross.
267. His Anthem to Christ on the Cross.
269. To His Saviour’s Sepulchre: His Devotion.
270. His Offering, with the Rest, at the Sepulchre.
271. His Coming to the Sepulchre.




1. His Confession.

Look how our foul days do exceed our fair;

And as our bad, more than our good works are,

E’en so those lines, pen’d by my wanton wit,

Treble the number of these good I’ve writ.

Things precious are least numerous: men are prone

To do ten bad for one good action.

2. His Prayer for Absolution.

For those my unbaptised rhymes,

Writ in my wild unhallowed times;

For every sentence, clause, and word,

That’s not inlaid with Thee, my Lord,

Forgive me, God, and blot each line

Out of my book that is not Thine.

But if, ‘mongst all, thou find’st here one

Worthy Thy benediction;

That one of all the rest shall be

The glory of my work and me.

3. To Find God.

Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find

A way to measure out the wind;

Distinguish all those floods that are

Mix’d in that watery theatre;

And taste thou them as saltless there

As in their channel first they were.

Tell me the people that do keep

Within the kingdoms of the deep;

Or fetch me back that cloud again

Beshiver’d into seeds of rain;

Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears

Of corn, when summer shakes his ears;

Show me that world of stars, and whence

They noiseless spill their influence:

This if thou canst, then show me Him

That rides the glorious cherubim.

Keep, abide.

4. What God is.

God is above the sphere of our esteem,

And is the best known, not defining Him.

5. Upon God.

God is not only said to be

An Ens, but Supraentity.

6. Mercy and Love.

God hath two wings which He doth ever move;

The one is mercy, and the next is love:

Under the first the sinners ever trust;

And with the last He still directs the just.

7. God’s Anger Without Affection.

God when He’s angry here with anyone,

His wrath is free from perturbation;

And when we think His looks are sour and grim,

The alteration is in us, not Him.

8. God Not to Be Comprehended.

’Tis hard to find God, but to comprehend

Him, as He is, is labour without end.

9. God’s Part.

Prayers and praises are those spotless two

Lambs, by the law, which God requires as due.

10. Affliction.

God ne’er afflicts us more than our desert,

Though He may seem to overact His part:

Sometimes He strikes us more than flesh can bear;

But yet still less than grace can suffer here.

11. Three Fatal Sisters.

Three fatal sisters wait upon each sin;

First, fear and shame without, then guilt within.

12. Silence.

Suffer thy legs, but not thy tongue to walk:

God, the Most Wise, is sparing of His talk.

13. Mirth.

True mirth resides not in the smiling skin:

The sweetest solace is to act no sin.

14. Loading and Unloading.

God loads and unloads, thus His work begins,

To load with blessings and unload from sins.

15. God’s Mercy.

God’s boundless mercy is, to sinful man,

Like to the ever-wealthy ocean:

Which though it sends forth thousand streams, ’tis ne’er

Known, or else seen, to be the emptier;

And though it takes all in, ’tis yet no more

Full, and fill’d full, than when full fill’d before.

16. Prayers Must have Poise.

God, He rejects all prayers that are slight

And want their poise: words ought to have their weight.

17. To God: An Anthem Sung in the Chapel at Whitehall Before the King.

Verse. My God, I’m wounded by my sin,

And sore without, and sick within.

Ver. Chor. I come to Thee, in hope to find

Salve for my body and my mind.

Verse. In Gilead though no balm be found

To ease this smart or cure this wound,

Ver. Chor. Yet, Lord, I know there is with Thee

All saving health, and help for me.

Verse. Then reach Thou forth that hand of Thine,

That pours in oil, as well as wine,

Ver. Chor. And let it work, for I’ll endure

The utmost smart, so Thou wilt cure.

18. Upon God.

God is all fore-part; for, we never see

Any part backward in the Deity.

19. Calling and Correcting.

God is not only merciful to call

Men to repent, but when He strikes withal.

20. No Escaping the Scourging.

God scourgeth some severely, some He spares;

But all in smart have less or greater shares.

21. The Rod.

God’s rod doth watch while men do sleep, and then

The rod doth sleep, while vigilant are men.

22. God has a Twofold Part.

God, when for sin He makes His children smart,

His own He acts not, but another’s part;

But when by stripes He saves them, then ’tis known

He comes to play the part that is His own.

23. God is One.

God, as He is most holy known,

So He is said to be most one.

24. Persecutions Profitable.

Afflictions they most profitable are

To the beholder and the sufferer:

Bettering them both, but by a double strain,

The first by patience, and the last by pain.

25. To God.

Do with me, God, as Thou didst deal with John,

Who writ that heavenly Revelation.

Let me, like him, first cracks of thunder hear,

Then let the harps enchantments stroke mine ear:

Here give me thorns, there, in Thy kingdom, set

Upon my head the golden coronet;

There give me day; but here my dreadful night:

My sackcloth here; but there my stole of white.

Stroke, text strike.

26. Whips.

God has His whips here to a twofold end:

The bad to punish, and the good t’ amend.

27. God’s Providence.

If all transgressions here should have their pay,

What need there then be of a reckoning day?

If God should punish no sin here of men,

His providence who would not question then?

28. Temptation.

Those saints which God loves best,

The devil tempts not least.

29. His Ejaculation to God.

My God! look on me with Thine eye

Of pity, not of scrutiny;

For if Thou dost, Thou then shalt see

Nothing but loathsome sores in me.

O then, for mercy’s sake, behold

These my eruptions manifold,

And heal me with Thy look or touch;

But if Thou wilt not deign so much,

Because I’m odious in Thy sight,

Speak but the word, and cure me quite.

30. God’s Gifts Not Soon Granted.

God hears us when we pray, but yet defers

His gifts, to exercise petitioners;

And though a while He makes requesters stay,

With princely hand He’ll recompense delay.

31. Persecutions Purify.

God strikes His Church, but ’tis to this intent,

To make, not mar her, by this punishment;

So where He gives the bitter pills, be sure

’Tis not to poison, but to make thee pure.

32. Pardon.

God pardons those who do through frailty sin,

But never those that persevere therein.

33. An Ode of the Birth of Our Saviour.

In numbers, and but these few,

I sing Thy birth, O JESU!

Thou pretty baby, born here,

With sup’rabundant scorn here;

Who for Thy princely port here,

Hadst for Thy place

Of birth a base

Out-stable for Thy court here.

Instead of neat enclosures

Of interwoven osiers,

Instead of fragrant posies

Of daffodils and roses,

Thy cradle, Kingly Stranger,

As Gospel tells,

Was nothing else

But here a homely manger.

But we with silks, not crewels,

With sundry precious jewels,

And lily-work will dress Thee;

And as we dispossess Thee

Of clouts, we’ll make a chamber,

Sweet babe, for Thee

Of ivory,

And plaister’d round with amber.

The Jews they did disdain Thee,

But we will entertain Thee

With glories to await here,

Upon Thy princely state here;

And more for love than pity,

From year to year,

We’ll make Thee, here,

A freeborn of our city.

Crewels, worsteds.

Clouts, rags.

34. Lip-Labour.

In the old Scripture I have often read,

The calf without meal ne’er was offered;

To figure to us nothing more than this,

Without the heart lip-labour nothing is.

35. The Heart.

In prayer the lips ne’er act the winning part,

Without the sweet concurrence of the heart.

36. Earrings.

Why wore th’ Egyptians jewels in the ear?

But for to teach us, all the grace is there,

When we obey, by acting what we hear.

37. Sin Seen.

When once the sin has fully acted been,

Then is the horror of the trespass seen.

38. Upon Time.

Time was upon

The wing, to fly away;

And I call’d on

Him but awhile to stay;

But he’d be gone,

For ought that I could say.

He held out then

A writing, as he went;

And ask’d me, when

False man would be content

To pay again

What God and Nature lent.

An hour-glass,

In which were sands but few,

As he did pass,

He show’d, and told me, too,

Mine end near was;

And so away he flew.

39. His Petition.

If war or want shall make me grow so poor,

As for to beg my bread from door to door;

Lord! let me never act that beggar’s part,

Who hath Thee in his mouth, not in his heart:

He who asks alms in that so sacred Name,

Without due reverence, plays the cheater’s game.

40. To God.

Thou hast promis’d, Lord, to be

With me in my misery;

Suffer me to be so bold

As to speak, Lord, say and hold.

41. His Litany to the Holy Spirit.

In the hour of my distress,

When temptations me oppress,

And when I my sins confess,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When I lie within my bed,

Sick in heart and sick in head,

And with doubts discomforted,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the house doth sigh and weep,

And the world is drown’d in sleep,

Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the artless doctor sees

No one hope, but of his fees,

And his skill runs on the lees,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When his potion and his pill

Has, or none, or little skill,

Meet for nothing, but to kill;

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the passing bell doth toll,

And the furies in a shoal

Come to fright a parting soul,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the tapers now burn blue,

And the comforters are few,

And that number more than true,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the priest his last hath prayed,

And I nod to what is said,

‘Cause my speech is now decayed,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When, God knows, I’m toss’d about,

Either with despair, or doubt;

Yet before the glass be out,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the tempter me pursu’th

With the sins of all my youth,

And half damns me with untruth,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the flames and hellish cries

Fright mine ears, and fright mine eyes,

And all terrors me surprise,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the judgment is reveal’d,

And that open’d which was seal’d,

When to Thee I have appeal’d,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

42. Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving for a former, doth invite

God to bestow a second benefit.

43. Cock-Crow.

Bellman of night, if I about shall go

For to deny my Master, do thou crow.

Thou stop’dst St. Peter in the midst of sin;

Stay me, by crowing, ere I do begin:

Better it is, premonish’d for to shun

A sin, than fall to weeping when ’tis done.

44. All Things Run Well for the Righteous.

Adverse and prosperous fortunes both work on

Here, for the righteous man’s salvation;

Be he oppos’d, or be he not withstood,

All serve to th’ augmentation of his good.

45. Pain Ends in Pleasure.

Afflictions bring us joy in times to come,

When sins, by stripes, to us grow wearisome.

46. To God.

I’ll come, I’ll creep, though Thou dost threat,

Humbly unto Thy mercy-seat:

When I am there, this then I’ll do,

Give Thee a dart, and dagger too;

Next, when I have my faults confessed,

Naked I’ll show a sighing breast;

Which if that can’t Thy pity woo,

Then let Thy justice do the rest

And strike it through.

47. A Thanksgiving to God for His House.

Lord, Thou hast given me a cell

Wherein to dwell;

A little house, whose humble roof

Is weather-proof;

Under the spars of which I lie

Both soft and dry;

Where Thou my chamber for to ward

Hast set a guard

Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep

Me, while I sleep.

Low is my porch, as is my fate,

Both void of state;

And yet the threshold of my door

Is worn by th’ poor,

Who thither come, and freely get

Good words or meat;

Like as my parlour, so my hall

And kitchen’s small;

A little buttery, and therein

A little bin

Which keeps my little loaf of bread

Unclipt, unflead.

Some brittle sticks of thorn or briar

Make me a fire,

Close by whose living coal I sit,

And glow like it.

Lord, I confess, too, when I dine,

The pulse is Thine,

And all those other bits, that be

There placed by Thee;

The worts, the purslain, and the mess

Of water-cress,

Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent;

And my content

Makes those, and my beloved beet,

To be more sweet.

’Tis Thou that crown’st my glittering hearth

With guiltless mirth;

And giv’st me wassail bowls to drink,

Spiced to the brink.

Lord, ’tis Thy plenty-dropping hand,

That soils my land;

And giv’st me for my bushel sown,

Twice ten for one.

Thou mak’st my teeming hen to lay

Her egg each day;

Besides my healthful ewes to bear

Me twins each year,

The while the conduits of my kine

Run cream for wine.

All these, and better Thou dost send

Me, to this end,

That I should render, for my part,

A thankful heart;

Which, fired with incense, I resign,

As wholly Thine;

But the acceptance, that must be,

My Christ, by Thee.

Unflead, lit. unflay’d.

Purslain, an herb.

48. To God.

Make, make me Thine, my gracious God,

Or with Thy staff, or with Thy rod;

And be the blow, too, what it will,

Lord, I will kiss it, though it kill:

Beat me, bruise me, rack me, rend me,

Yet, in torments, I’ll commend Thee;

Examine me with fire, and prove me

To the full, yet I will love Thee;

Nor shall Thou give so deep a wound

But I as patient will be found.

49. Another to God.

Lord, do not beat me,

Since I do sob and cry,

And swoon away to die,

Ere Thou dost threat me.

Lord, do not scourge me,

If I by lies and oaths

Have soil’d myself or clothes,

But rather purge me.

50. None Truly Happy Here.

Happy’s that man to whom God gives

A stock of goods, whereby he lives

Near to the wishes of his heart:

No man is blest through every part.

51. To His Ever-Loving God.

Can I not come to Thee, my God, for these

So very many meeting hindrances,

That slack my pace, but yet not make me stay?

Who slowly goes, rids, in the end, his way.

Clear Thou my paths, or shorten Thou my miles,

Remove the bars, or lift me o’er the stiles;

Since rough the way is, help me when I call,

And take me up; or else prevent the fall.

I ken my home, and it affords some ease

To see far off the smoking villages.

Fain would I rest, yet covet not to die

For fear of future biting penury:

No, no, my God, Thou know’st my wishes be

To leave this life, not loving it, but Thee.

Rids way, gets over the ground.

52. Another.

Thou bid’st me come; I cannot come; for why?

Thou dwell’st aloft, and I want wings to fly.

To mount my soul, she must have pinions given;

For ’tis no easy way from earth to heaven.

53. To Death.

Thou bid’st me come away,

And I’ll no longer stay

Than for to shed some tears

For faults of former years,

And to repent some crimes

Done in the present times:

And next, to take a bit

Of bread, and wine with it:

To don my robes of love,

Fit for the place above;

To gird my loins about

With charity throughout;

And so to travel hence

With feet of innocence:

These done, I’ll only cry

God mercy, and so die.

54. Neutrality Loathsome.

God will have all, or none; serve Him, or fall

Down before Baal, Bel, or Belial:

Either be hot or cold: God doth despise,

Abhor, and spew out all neutralities.

55. Welcome what Comes.

Whatever comes, let’s be content withal:

Among God’s blessings there is no one small.

56. To His Angry God.

Through all the night

Thou dost me fright,

And hold’st mine eyes from sleeping;

And day by day,

My cup can say

My wine is mix’d with weeping.

Thou dost my bread

With ashes knead

Each evening and each morrow;

Mine eye and ear

Do see and hear

The coming in of sorrow.

Thy scourge of steel,

Ah me! I feel

Upon me beating ever:

While my sick heart

With dismal smart

Is disacquainted never.

Long, long, I’m sure,

This can’t endure,

But in short time ’twill please Thee,

My gentle God,

To burn the rod,

Or strike so as to ease me.

57. Patience: Or, Comforts in Crosses.

Abundant plagues I late have had,

Yet none of these have made me sad:

For why? My Saviour with the sense

Of suff’ring gives me patience.

58. Eternity.

O years! and age! farewell:

Behold, I go

Where I do know

Infinity to dwell.

And these mine eyes shall see

All times, how they

Are lost i’ th’ sea

Of vast eternity.

Where never moon shall sway

The stars; but she

And night shall be

Drown’d in one endless day.

59. To His Saviour, a Child: A Present by a Child.

Go, pretty child, and bear this flower

Unto thy little Saviour;

And tell Him, by that bud now blown,

He is the Rose of Sharon known.

When thou hast said so, stick it there

Upon His bib or stomacher;

And tell Him, for good handsel too,

That thou hast brought a whistle new,

Made of a clean strait oaten reed,

To charm His cries at time of need.

Tell Him, for coral, thou hast none,

But if thou hadst, He should have one;

But poor thou art, and known to be

Even as moneyless as He.

Lastly, if thou canst win a kiss

From those mellifluous lips of His;

Then never take a second on,

To spoil the first impression.

Handsel, earnest money.

60. The New-Year’s Gift.

Let others look for pearl and gold,

Tissues, or tabbies manifold:

One only lock of that sweet hay

Whereon the blessed baby lay,

Or one poor swaddling-clout, shall be

The richest New–Year’s gift to me.

Tabbies, shot silks.

61. To God.

If anything delight me for to print

My book, ’tis this: that Thou, my God, art in’t.

62. God and the King.

How am I bound to Two! God, who doth give

The mind; the king, the means whereby I live.

63. God’s Mirth: Man’s Mourning.

Where God is merry, there write down thy fears:

What He with laughter speaks, hear thou with tears.

64. Honours are Hindrances.

Give me honours! what are these,

But the pleasing hindrances?

Stiles, and stops, and stays that come

In the way ‘twixt me and home;

Clear the walk, and then shall I

To my heaven less run than fly.

65. The Parasceve, or Preparation.

To a love-feast we both invited are:

The figur’d damask, or pure diaper,

Over the golden altar now is spread,

With bread, and wine, and vessels furnished;

The sacred towel and the holy ewer

Are ready by, to make the guests all pure:

Let’s go, my Alma; yet, ere we receive,

Fit, fit it is we have our parasceve.

Who to that sweet bread unprepar’d doth come,

Better be starv’d, than but to taste one crumb.

Parasceve, preparation.

66. To God.

God gives not only corn for need,

But likewise sup’rabundant seed;

Bread for our service, bread for show,

Meat for our meals, and fragments too:

He gives not poorly, taking some

Between the finger and the thumb;

But for our glut and for our store,

Fine flour press’d down, and running o’er.

67. A Will to Be Working.

Although we cannot turn the fervent fit

Of sin, we must strive ‘gainst the stream of it;

And howsoe’er we have the conquest miss’d,

’Tis for our glory that we did resist.

68. Christ’s Part.

Christ, He requires still, wheresoe’er He comes

To feed or lodge, to have the best of rooms:

Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part

Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart.

69. Riches and Poverty.

God could have made all rich, or all men poor;

But why He did not, let me tell wherefore:

Had all been rich, where then had patience been?

Had all been poor, who had His bounty seen?

70. Sobriety in Search.

To seek of God more than we well can find,

Argues a strong distemper of the mind.

71. Alms.

Give, if thou canst, an alms; if not, afford,

Instead of that, a sweet and gentle word:

God crowns our goodness wheresoe’er He sees,

On our part, wanting all abilities.

72. To His Conscience.

Can I not sin, but thou wilt be

My private protonotary?

Can I not woo thee to pass by

A short and sweet iniquity?

I’ll cast a mist and cloud upon

My delicate transgression

So utter dark as that no eye

Shall see the hugg’d impiety;

Gifts blind the wise, and bribes do please

And wind all other witnesses;

And wilt not thou with gold be ti’d

To lay thy pen and ink aside?

That in the mirk and tongueless night

Wanton I may, and thou not write?

It will not be. And, therefore, now,

For times to come I’ll make this vow,

From aberrations to live free;

So I’ll not fear the Judge or thee.

Protonotary, once the title of the chief clerk in the Courts of Common Pleas and King’s Bench.

73. To His Saviour.

Lord, I confess, that Thou alone art able

To purify this my Augean stable:

Be the seas water, and the land all soap,

Yet if Thy blood not wash me, there’s no hope.

74. To God.

God is all sufferance here; here He doth show

No arrow nockt, only a stringless bow:

His arrows fly, and all His stones are hurl’d

Against the wicked in another world.

Nockt, placed ready for shooting.

75. His Dream.

I dreamt, last night, Thou didst transfuse

Oil from Thy jar into my cruse;

And pouring still Thy wealthy store,

The vessel full did then run o’er;

Methought I did Thy bounty chide

To see the waste; but ’twas replied

By Thee, dear God, God gives man seed

Ofttimes for waste, as for his need.

Then I could say that house is bare

That has not bread and some to spare.

76. God’s Bounty.

God’s bounty, that ebbs less and less

As men do wane in thankfulness.

77. To His Sweet Saviour.

Night hath no wings to him that cannot sleep,

And time seems then not for to fly, but creep;

Slowly her chariot drives, as if that she

Had broke her wheel, or crack’d her axletree.

Just so it is with me, who, list’ning, pray

The winds to blow the tedious night away,

That I might see the cheerful, peeping day.

Sick is my heart! O Saviour! do Thou please

To make my bed soft in my sicknesses:

Lighten my candle, so that I beneath

Sleep not for ever in the vaults of death;

Let me Thy voice betimes i’ th’ morning hear:

Call, and I’ll come; say Thou the when, and where.

Draw me but first, and after Thee I’ll run

And make no one stop till my race be done.

78. His Creed.

I do believe that die I must,

And be return’d from out my dust:

I do believe that when I rise,

Christ I shall see, with these same eyes:

I do believe that I must come,

With others, to the dreadful doom:

I do believe the bad must go

From thence, to everlasting woe:

I do believe the good, and I,

Shall live with Him eternally:

I do believe I shall inherit

Heaven, by Christ’s mercies, not my merit.

I do believe the One in Three,

And Three in perfect unity:

Lastly, that JESUS is a deed

Of gift from God: and here’s my creed.

79. Temptations.

Temptations hurt not, though they have access:

Satan o’ercomes none, but by willingness.

80. The Lamp.

When a man’s faith is frozen up, as dead;

Then is the lamp and oil extinguished.

81. Sorrows.

Sorrows our portion are: ere hence we go,

Crosses we must have; or, hereafter woe.

82. Penitency.

A man’s transgressions God does then remit,

When man He makes a penitent for it.

83. The Dirge of Jephthah’s Daughter: Sung by the Virgins.

O thou, the wonder of all days!

O paragon, and pearl of praise!

O virgin-martyr, ever blest

Above the rest

Of all the maiden train! We come,

And bring fresh strewings to thy tomb.

Thus, thus, and thus we compass round

Thy harmless and unhaunted ground;

And as we sing thy dirge, we will

The daffodil

And other flowers lay upon

The altar of our love, thy stone.

Thou wonder of all maids, liest here.

Of daughters all the dearest dear;

The eye of virgins; nay, the queen

Of this smooth green,

And all sweet meads; from whence we get

The primrose and the violet.

Too soon, too dear did Jephthah buy,

By thy sad loss, our liberty:

His was the bond and cov’nant, yet

Thou paid’st the debt:

Lamented maid! he won the day,

But for the conquest thou didst pay.

Thy father brought with him along

The olive branch and victor’s song:

He slew the Ammonites, we know,

But to thy woe;

And in the purchase of our peace,

The cure was worse than the disease.

For which obedient zeal of thine,

We offer here, before thy shrine,

Our sighs for storax, tears for wine;

And to make fine

And fresh thy hearse-cloth, we will, here,

Four times bestrew thee ev’ry year.

Receive, for this thy praise, our tears:

Receive this offering of our hairs:

Receive these crystal vials fill’d

With tears distill’d

From teeming eyes; to these we bring,

Each maid, her silver filleting,

To gild thy tomb; besides, these cauls,

These laces, ribbons, and these falls,

These veils, wherewith we use to hide

The bashful bride,

When we conduct her to her groom:

And all we lay upon thy tomb.

No more, no more, since thou art dead,

Shall we e’er bring coy brides to bed;

No more, at yearly festivals

We cowslip balls

Or chains of columbines shall make

For this or that occasion’s sake.

No, no; our maiden pleasures be

Wrapp’d in the winding-sheet with thee:

’Tis we are dead, though not i’ th’ grave:

Or, if we have

One seed of life left, ’tis to keep

A Lent for thee, to fast and weep.

Sleep in thy peace, thy bed of spice,

And make this place all paradise:

May sweets grow here: and smoke from hence

Fat frankincense:

Let balm and cassia send their scent

From out thy maiden-monument.

May no wolf howl, or screech-owl stir

A wing about thy sepulchre!

No boisterous winds, or storms, come hither

To starve or wither

Thy soft sweet earth! but, like a spring,

Love keep it ever flourishing.

May all shy maids, at wonted hours,

Come forth to strew thy tomb with flow’rs:

May virgins, when they come to mourn,

Male-incense burn

Upon thine altar! then return,

And leave thee sleeping in thy urn.

Cauls, nets for the hair.

Falls, trimmings hanging loosely.

Male-incense, incense in globular drops.

84. To God: On His Sickness.

What though my harp and viol be

Both hung upon the willow tree?

What though my bed be now my grave,

And for my house I darkness have?

What though my healthful days are fled,

And I lie number’d with the dead?

Yet I have hope, by Thy great power,

To spring; though now a wither’d flower.

85. Sins Loathed, and Yet Loved.

Shame checks our first attempts; but then ’tis prov’d

Sins first dislik’d are after that belov’d.

86. Sin.

Sin leads the way, but as it goes, it feels

The following plague still treading on his heels.

87. Upon God.

God, when He takes my goods and chattels hence,

Gives me a portion, giving patience:

What is in God is God; if so it be

He patience gives, He gives Himself to me.

88. Faith.

What here we hope for, we shall once inherit;

By faith we all walk here, not by the Spirit.

89. Humility.

Humble we must be, if to heaven we go:

High is the roof there; but the gate is low:

Whene’er thou speak’st, look with a lowly eye:

Grace is increased by humility.

90. Tears.

Our present tears here, not our present laughter,

Are but the handsels of our joys hereafter.

Handsels, earnest money, foretaste.

91. Sin and Strife.

After true sorrow for our sins, our strife

Must last with Satan to the end of life.

92. An Ode, or Psalm to God.

Dear God,

If Thy smart rod

Here did not make me sorry,

I should not be

With Thine or Thee

In Thy eternal glory.

But since

Thou didst convince

My sins by gently striking;

Add still to those

First stripes new blows,

According to Thy liking.

Fear me,

Or scourging tear me;

That thus from vices driven,

I may from hell

Fly up to dwell

With Thee and Thine in heaven.

93. Graces for Children.

What God gives, and what we take,

’Tis a gift for Christ, His sake:

Be the meal of beans and peas,

God be thanked for those and these:

Have we flesh, or have we fish,

All are fragments from His dish.

He His Church save, and the king;

And our peace here, like a spring,

Make it ever flourishing.

94. God to Be First Served.

Honour thy parents; but good manners call

Thee to adore thy God the first of all.

95. Another Grace for a Child.

Here a little child I stand

Heaving up my either hand;

Cold as paddocks though they be,

Here I lift them up to Thee,

For a benison to fall

On our meat and on us all. Amen.

Paddocks, frogs.

96. A Christmas Carol Sung to the King in the Presence at Whitehall.

Chor. What sweeter music can we bring,

Than a carol for to sing

The birth of this our heavenly King?

Awake the voice! awake the string!

Heart, ear, and eye, and everything

Awake! the while the active finger

Runs division with the singer.


1. Dark and dull night, fly hence away

And give the honour to this day

That sees December turn’d to May.

2. If we may ask the reason, say

The why and wherefore all things here

Seem like the spring-time of the year.

3. Why does the chilling winter’s morn

Smile like a field beset with corn?

Or smell like to a mead new shorn,

Thus, on the sudden?

4. Come and see

The cause, why things thus fragrant be:

’Tis He is born, whose quick’ning birth

Gives life and lustre, public mirth,

To heaven and the under-earth.

Chor. We see Him come, and know Him ours,

Who, with His sunshine and His showers,

Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

1. The darling of the world is come,

And fit it is we find a room

To welcome Him.

2. The nobler part

Of all the house here is the heart,

Chor. Which we will give Him; and bequeath

This holly and this ivy wreath,

To do Him honour; who’s our King,

And Lord of all this revelling.

Division, a rapid passage of music sung in one breath or a single syllable.

97. The New-Year’s Gift: Or, Circumcision’s Song. Sung to the King in the Presence at Whitehall.

1. Prepare for songs; He’s come, He’s come;

And be it sin here to be dumb,

And not with lutes to fill the room.

2. Cast holy water all about,

And have a care no fire goes out,

But ‘cense the porch and place throughout.

3. The altars all on fire be;

The storax fries; and ye may see

How heart and hand do all agree

To make things sweet. Chor. Yet all less sweet than He.

4. Bring Him along, most pious priest,

And tell us then, whenas thou seest

His gently-gliding, dove-like eyes,

And hear’st His whimpering and His cries;

How can’st thou this Babe circumcise?

5. Ye must not be more pitiful than wise;

For, now unless ye see Him bleed,

Which makes the bapti’m, ’tis decreed

The birth is fruitless. Chor. Then the work God speed.

1. Touch gently, gently touch; and here

Spring tulips up through all the year;

And from His sacred blood, here shed,

May roses grow to crown His own dear head.

Chor. Back, back again; each thing is done

With zeal alike, as ’twas begun;

Now singing, homeward let us carry

The Babe unto His mother Mary;

And when we have the Child commended

To her warm bosom, then our rites are ended.

Composed by M. Henry Lawes.

98. Another New-Year’s Gift: Or, Song for the Circumcision.

1. Hence, hence profane, and none appear

With anything unhallowed here;

No jot of leaven must be found

Conceal’d in this most holy ground.

2. What is corrupt, or sour’d with sin,

Leave that without, then enter in;

Chor. But let no Christmas mirth begin

Before ye purge and circumcise

Your hearts, and hands, lips, ears, and eyes.

3. Then, like a perfum’d altar, see

That all things sweet and clean may be:

For here’s a Babe that, like a bride,

Will blush to death if ought be spi’d

Ill-scenting, or unpurifi’d.

Chor. The room is ‘cens’d: help, help t’ invoke

Heaven to come down, the while we choke

The temple with a cloud of smoke.

4. Come then, and gently touch the birth

Of Him, who’s Lord of Heaven and Earth:

5. And softly handle Him; y’ad need,

Because the pretty Babe does bleed.

Poor pitied Child! who from Thy stall

Bring’st, in Thy blood, a balm that shall

Be the best New–Year’s gift to all.

1. Let’s bless the Babe: and, as we sing

His praise, so let us bless the King.

Chor. Long may He live till He hath told

His New–Years trebled to His old:

And when that’s done, to reaspire

A new-born Phœnix from His own chaste fire.

99. God’s Pardon.

When I shall sin, pardon my trespass here;

For once in hell, none knows remission there.

100. Sin.

Sin once reached up to God’s eternal sphere,

And was committed, not remitted there.

101. Evil.

Evil no nature hath; the loss of good

Is that which gives to sin a livelihood.

102. The Star-Song: A Carol to the King Sung at Whitehall.

The Flourish of Music; then followed the Song.

1. Tell us, thou clear and heavenly tongue,

Where is the Babe but lately sprung?

Lies he the lily-banks among?

2. Or say, if this new Birth of ours

Sleeps, laid within some ark of flowers,

Spangled with dew-light; thou canst clear

All doubts, and manifest the where.

3. Declare to us, bright star, if we shall seek

Him in the morning’s blushing cheek,

Or search the beds of spices through,

To find him out.

Star. No, this ye need not do;

But only come and see Him rest

A Princely Babe in’s mother’s breast.

Chor. He’s seen, He’s seen! why then a round,

Let’s kiss the sweet and holy ground;

And all rejoice that we have found

A King before conception crown’d.

4. Come then, come then, and let us bring

Unto our pretty Twelfth-tide King,

Each one his several offering;

Chor. And when night comes, we’ll give Him wassailing;

And that His treble honours may be seen,

We’ll choose Him King, and make His mother Queen.

103. To God.

With golden censers, and with incense, here

Before Thy virgin-altar I appear,

To pay Thee that I owe, since what I see

In, or without, all, all belongs to Thee.

Where shall I now begin to make, for one

Least loan of Thine, half restitution?

Alas! I cannot pay a jot; therefore

I’ll kiss the tally, and confess the score.

Ten thousand talents lent me, Thou dost write;

’Tis true, my God, but I can’t pay one mite.

Tally, the record of his score or debt.

104. To His Dear God.

I’ll hope no more

For things that will not come;

And if they do, they prove but cumbersome.

Wealth brings much woe;

And, since it fortunes so,

’Tis better to be poor

Than so t’ abound

As to be drown’d

Or overwhelm’d with store.

Pale care, avaunt!

I’ll learn to be content

With that small stock Thy bounty gave or lent.

What may conduce

To my most healthful use,

Almighty God, me grant;

But that, or this,

That hurtful is,

Deny Thy suppliant.

105. To God: His Good Will.

Gold I have none, but I present my need,

O Thou, that crown’st the will, where wants the deed.

Where rams are wanting, or large bullocks’ thighs,

There a poor lamb’s a plenteous sacrifice.

Take then his vows, who, if he had it, would

Devote to Thee both incense, myrrh and gold

Upon an altar rear’d by him, and crown’d

Both with the ruby, pearl, and diamond.

106. On Heaven.

Permit mine eyes to see

Part, or the whole of Thee,

O happy place!

Where all have grace,

And garlands shar’d,

For their reward;

Where each chaste soul

In long white stole,

And palms in hand,

Do ravish’d stand;

So in a ring,

The praises sing

Of Three in One

That fill the Throne;

While harps and viols then

To voices say, Amen.

107. The Sum and the Satisfaction.

Last night I drew up mine account,

And found my debits to amount

To such a height, as for to tell

How I should pay ‘s impossible.

Well, this I’ll do: my mighty score

Thy mercy-seat I’ll lay before;

But therewithal I’ll bring the band

Which, in full force, did daring stand

Till my Redeemer, on the tree,

Made void for millions, as for me.

Then, if thou bidst me pay, or go

Unto the prison, I’ll say, no;

Christ having paid, I nothing owe:

For, this is sure, the debt is dead

By law, the bond once cancelled.

Score, debt or reckoning.

Band, bond.

Daring, frightening.

108. Good Men Afflicted Most.

God makes not good men wantons, but doth bring

Them to the field, and, there, to skirmishing.

With trials those, with terrors these He proves,

And hazards those most whom the most He loves;

For Sceva, darts; for Cocles, dangers; thus

He finds a fire for mighty Mutius;

Death for stout Cato; and besides all these,

A poison, too, He has for Socrates;

Torments for high Attilius; and, with want,

Brings in Fabricius for a combatant:

But bastard-slips, and such as He dislikes,

He never brings them once to th’ push of pikes.

109. Good Christians

Play their offensive and defensive parts,

Till they be hid o’er with a wood of darts.

110. The Will the Cause of Woe.

When man is punish’d, he is plagued still,

Not for the fault of nature, but of will.

111. To Heaven.

Open thy gates

To him, who weeping waits,

And might come in,

But that held back by sin.

Let mercy be

So kind to set me free,

And I will straight

Come in, or force the gate.

112. The Recompense.

All I have lost that could be rapt from me;

And fare it well: yet, Herrick, if so be

Thy dearest Saviour renders thee but one

Smile, that one smile’s full restitution.

113. To God.

Pardon me, God, once more I Thee entreat,

That I have placed Thee in so mean a seat

Where round about Thou seest but all things vain,

Uncircumcis’d, unseason’d and profane.

But as Heaven’s public and immortal eye

Looks on the filth, but is not soil’d thereby,

So Thou, my God, may’st on this impure look,

But take no tincture from my sinful book:

Let but one beam of glory on it shine,

And that will make me and my work divine.

114. To God.

Lord, I am like to mistletoe,

Which has no root, and cannot grow

Or prosper but by that same tree

It clings about; so I by Thee.

What need I then to fear at all,

So long as I about Thee crawl?

But if that tree should fall and die,

Tumble shall heav’n, and down will I.

115. His Wish to God.

I would to God that mine old age might have

Before my last, but here a living grave,

Some one poor almshouse; there to lie, or stir

Ghostlike, as in my meaner sepulchre;

A little piggin and a pipkin by,

To hold things fitting my necessity,

Which rightly used, both in their time and place,

Might me excite to fore and after-grace.

Thy Cross, my Christ, fix’d ‘fore mine eyes should be,

Not to adore that, but to worship Thee.

So, here the remnant of my days I’d spend,

Reading Thy Bible, and my Book; so end.

Piggin, a small wooden vessel.

116. Satan.

When we ‘gainst Satan stoutly fight, the more

He tears and tugs us than he did before;

Neglecting once to cast a frown on those

Whom ease makes his without the help of blows.

117. Hell.

Hell is no other but a soundless pit,

Where no one beam of comfort peeps in it.

118. The Way.

When I a ship see on the seas,

Cuff’d with those wat’ry savages,

And therewithal behold it hath

In all that way no beaten path,

Then, with a wonder, I confess

Thou art our way i’ th’ wilderness;

And while we blunder in the dark,

Thou art our candle there, or spark.

119. Great Grief, Great Glory.

The less our sorrows here and suff’rings cease,

The more our crowns of glory there increase.

120. Hell.

Hell is the place where whipping-cheer abounds,

But no one jailer there to wash the wounds.

121. The Bellman.

Along the dark and silent night,

With my lantern and my light,

And the tinkling of my bell,

Thus I walk, and this I tell:

Death and dreadfulness call on

To the gen’ral session,

To whose dismal bar we there

All accounts must come to clear.

Scores of sins w’ave made here many,

Wip’d out few, God knows, if any.

Rise, ye debtors, then, and fall

To make payment while I call.

Ponder this, when I am gone;

By the clock ’tis almost one.

122. The Goodness of His God.

When winds and seas do rage

And threaten to undo me,

Thou dost, their wrath assuage

If I but call unto Thee.

A mighty storm last night

Did seek my soul to swallow,

But by the peep of light

A gentle calm did follow.

What need I then despair,

Though ills stand round about me;

Since mischiefs neither dare

To bark or bite without Thee?

123. The Widows’ Tears: Or, Dirge of Dorcas.

Come pity us, all ye who see

Our harps hung on the willow tree:

Come pity us, ye passers-by

Who see or hear poor widows cry:

Come pity us; and bring your ears

And eyes to pity widows’ tears.

Chor. And when you are come hither

Then we will keep

A fast, and weep

Our eyes out altogether.

For Tabitha, who dead lies here,

Clean washed, and laid out for the bier,

O modest matrons, weep and wail!

For now the corn and wine must fail:

The basket and the bin of bread,

Wherewith so many souls were fed,

Chor. Stand empty here for ever:

And ah! the poor

At thy worn door

Shall be relieved never.

Woe worth the time, woe worth the day

That ‘reaved us of thee, Tabitha!

For we have lost with thee the meal,

The bits, the morsels, and the deal

Of gentle paste and yielding dough

That thou on widows did’st bestow.

Chor. All’s gone, and death hath taken

Away from us

Our maundy; thus

Thy widows stand forsaken.

Ah, Dorcas, Dorcas! now adieu

We bid the cruse and pannier too:

Ay, and the flesh, for and the fish

Doled to us in that lordly dish.

We take our leaves now of the loom

From whence the housewives’ cloth did come:

Chor. The web affords now nothing;

Thou being dead,

The worsted thread

Is cut, that made us clothing.

Farewell the flax and reaming wool

With which thy house was plentiful;

Farewell the coats, the garments, and

The sheets, the rugs, made by thy hand;

Farewell thy fire and thy light

That ne’er went out by day or night:

Chor. No, or thy zeal so speedy,

That found a way

By peep of day,

To feed and cloth the needy.

But, ah, alas! the almond bough

And olive branch is withered now.

The wine press now is ta’en from us,

The saffron and the calamus.

The spice and spikenard hence is gone,

The storax and the cinnamon.

Chor. The carol of our gladness

Has taken wing,

And our late spring

Of mirth is turned to sadness.

How wise wast thou in all thy ways!

How worthy of respect and praise!

How matron-like didst thou go dressed!

How soberly above the rest

Of those that prank it with their plumes,

And jet it with their choice perfumes!

Chor. Thy vestures were not flowing:

Nor did the street

Accuse thy feet

Of mincing in their going.

And though thou here li’st dead, we see

A deal of beauty yet in thee.

How sweetly shows thy smiling face,

Thy lips with all-diffused grace!

Thy hands, though cold, yet spotless white,

And comely as the chrysolite!

Chor. Thy belly like a hill is,

Or as a neat

Clean heap of wheat,

All set about with lilies.

Sleep with thy beauties here, while we

Will show these garments made by thee;

These were the coats, in these are read

The monuments of Dorcas dead.

These were thy acts, and thou shall have

These hung as honours o’er thy grave;

Chor. And after us, distressed,

Should fame be dumb,

Thy very tomb

Would cry out, Thou art blessed.

Deal, portion.

Maundy, the alms given on Thursday in Holy Week.

Reaming, drawing out into threads.

Calamus, a fragrant plant, the sweet flag.

Chrysolite, the topaz.

124. To God in Time of Plundering.

Rapine has yet took nought from me;

But if it please my God I be

Brought at the last to th’ utmost bit,

God make me thankful still for it.

I have been grateful for my store:

Let me say grace when there’s no more.

125. To His Saviour. The New-Year’s Gift.

That little pretty bleeding part

Of foreskin send to me:

And I’ll return a bleeding heart

For New–Year’s gift to Thee.

Rich is the gem that Thou did’st send,

Mine’s faulty too and small;

But yet this gift Thou wilt commend

Because I send Thee all.

126. Doomsday.

Let not that day God’s friends and servants scare;

The bench is then their place, and not the bar.

127. The Poor’s Portion.

The sup’rabundance of my store,

That is the portion of the poor:

Wheat, barley, rye, or oats; what is’t

But He takes toll of? all the grist.

Two raiments have I: Christ then makes

This law; that He and I part stakes.

Or have I two loaves, then I use

The poor to cut, and I to choose.

128. The White Island: Or, Place of the Blest.

In this world, the isle of dreams,

While we sit by sorrow’s streams,

Tears and terrors are our themes


But when once from hence we fly,

More and more approaching nigh

Unto young Eternity


In that whiter island, where

Things are evermore sincere;

Candour here, and lustre there


There no monstrous fancies shall

Out of hell an horror call,

To create, or cause at all,


There in calm and cooling sleep

We our eyes shall never steep;

But eternal watch shall keep,


Pleasures, such as shall pursue

Me immortalised, and you;

And fresh joys, as never to

Have ending.

129. To Christ.

I crawl, I creep; my Christ, I come

To Thee for curing balsamum:

Thou hast, nay more, Thou art the tree

Affording salve of sovereignty.

My mouth I’ll lay unto Thy wound

Bleeding, that no blood touch the ground:

For, rather than one drop shall fall

To waste, my JESU, I’ll take all.

130. To God.

God! to my little meal and oil

Add but a bit of flesh to boil:

And Thou my pipkinet shalt see,

Give a wave-off’ring unto Thee.

131. Free Welcome.

God He refuseth no man, but makes way

For all that now come or hereafter may.

132. God’s Grace.

God’s grace deserves here to be daily fed

That, thus increased, it might be perfected.

133. Coming to Christ.

To him who longs unto his Christ to go,

Celerity even itself is slow.

134. Correction.

God had but one Son free from sin; but none

Of all His sons free from correction.

135. God’s Bounty.

God, as He’s potent, so He’s likewise known

To give us more than hope can fix upon.

136. Knowledge.

Science in God is known to be

A substance, not a quality.

137. Salutation.

Christ, I have read, did to His chaplains say,

Sending them forth, Salute no man by th’ way:

Not that He taught His ministers to be

Unsmooth or sour to all civility,

But to instruct them to avoid all snares

Of tardidation in the Lord’s affairs.

Manners are good; but till His errand ends,

Salute we must nor strangers, kin, or friends.

Tardidation, sloth.

138. Lasciviousness.

Lasciviousness is known to be

The sister to saturity.

139. Tears.

God from our eyes all tears hereafter wipes,

And gives His children kisses then, not stripes.

140. God’s Blessing.

In vain our labours are whatsoe’er they be,

Unless God gives the benedicite.

141. God, and Lord.

God is His name of nature; but that word

Implies His power when He’s called the Lord.

142. The Judgment-Day.

God hides from man the reck’ning day, that he

May fear it ever for uncertainty;

That being ignorant of that one, he may

Expect the coming of it every day.

143. Angels.

Angels are called gods; yet of them, none

Are gods but by participation:

As just men are entitled gods, yet none

Are gods of them but by adoption.

144. Long Life.

The longer thread of life we spin,

The more occasion still to sin.

145. Tears.

The tears of saints more sweet by far

Than all the songs of sinners are.

146. Manna.

That manna, which God on His people cast,

Fitted itself to ev’ry feeder’s taste.

147. Reverence.

True rev’rence is, as Cassiodore doth prove,

The fear of God commix’d with cleanly love.

Cassiodore, Marcus Aurelius Cassiodorus, theologian and statesman 497–575?

148. Mercy.

Mercy, the wise Athenians held to be

Not an affection, but a deity.

149. Wages.

After this life, the wages shall

Not shared alike be unto all.

150. Temptation.

God tempteth no one, as St. Austin saith,

For any ill, but for the proof of faith;

Unto temptation God exposeth some,

But none of purpose to be overcome.

151. God’s Hands.

God’s hands are round and smooth, that gifts may fall

Freely from them and hold none back at all.

152. Labour.

Labour we must, and labour hard

I’ th’ forum here, or vineyard.

153. Mora Sponsi, the Stay of the Bridegroom.

The time the bridegroom stays from hence

Is but the time of penitence.

154. Roaring.

Roaring is nothing but a weeping part

Forced from the mighty dolour of the heart.

155. The Eucharist.

He that is hurt seeks help: sin is the wound;

The salve for this i’ th’ Eucharist is found.

156. Sin Severely Punished.

God in His own day will be then severe

To punish great sins, who small faults whipt here.

157. Montes Scripturarum: The Mounts of the Scriptures.

The mountains of the Scriptures are, some say,

Moses, and Jesus, called Joshua:

The prophets, mountains of the Old are meant,

Th’ apostles, mounts of the New Testament.

158. Prayer.

A prayer that is said alone

Starves, having no companion.

Great things ask for when thou dost pray,

And those great are which ne’er decay.

Pray not for silver, rust eats this;

Ask not for gold, which metal is;

Nor yet for houses, which are here

But earth: such vows ne’er reach God’s ear.

159. Christ’s Sadness.

Christ was not sad, i’ th’ garden, for His own

Passion, but for His sheep’s dispersion.

160. God Hears Us.

God, who’s in heaven, will hear from thence;

If not to th’ sound, yet to the sense.

161. God.

God, as the learned Damascene doth write,

A sea of substance is, indefinite.

The learned Damascene, i.e., St. John of Damascus.

162. Clouds.

He that ascended in a cloud, shall come

In clouds descending to the public doom.

163. Comforts in Contentions.

The same who crowns the conqueror, will be

A coadjutor in the agony.

164. Heaven.

Heaven is most fair; but fairer He

That made that fairest canopy.

165. God.

In God there’s nothing, but ’tis known to be

Even God Himself, in perfect entity.

166. His Power.

God can do all things, save but what are known

For to imply a contradiction.

167. Christ’s Words on the Cross: My God, My God.

Christ, when He hung the dreadful cross upon,

Had, as it were, a dereliction

In this regard, in those great terrors He

Had no one beam from God’s sweet majesty.

Dereliction, abandonment.

168. Jehovah.

Jehovah, as Boëtius saith,

No number of the plural hath.

169. Confusion of Face.

God then confounds man’s face when He not bears

The vows of those who are petitioners.

170. Another.

The shame of man’s face is no more

Than prayers repell’d, says Cassiodore.

171. Beggars.

Jacob God’s beggar was; and so we wait,

Though ne’er so rich, all beggars at His gate.

172. Good and Bad.

The bad among the good are here mix’d ever;

The good without the bad are here plac’d never.

173. Sin.

Sin no existence; nature none it hath,

Or good at all, as learned Aquinas saith.

174. Martha, Martha.

The repetition of the name made known

No other than Christ’s full affection.

175. Youth and Age.

God on our youth bestows but little ease;

But on our age most sweet indulgences.

176. God’s Power.

God is so potent, as His power can

Draw out of bad a sovereign good to man.

177. Paradise.

Paradise is, as from the learn’d I gather,

A choir of bless’d souls circling in the Father.

178. Observation.

The Jews, when they built houses, I have read,

One part thereof left still unfinished,

To make them thereby mindful of their own

City’s most sad and dire destruction.

179. The Ass.

God did forbid the Israelites to bring

An ass unto Him for an offering,

Only, by this dull creature, to express

His detestation to all slothfulness.

180. Observation.

The Virgin Mother stood at distance, there,

From her Son’s cross, not shedding once a tear,

Because the law forbad to sit and cry

For those who did as malefactors die.

So she, to keep her mighty woes in awe,

Tortured her love not to transgress the law.

Observe we may, how Mary Joses then,

And th’ other Mary, Mary Magdalen,

Sat by the grave; and sadly sitting there,

Shed for their Master many a bitter tear;

But ’twas not till their dearest Lord was dead

And then to weep they both were licensed.

181. Tapers.

Those tapers which we set upon the grave

In fun’ral pomp, but this importance have:

That souls departed are not put out quite;

But as they walked here in their vestures white,

So live in heaven in everlasting light.

182. Christ’s Birth.

One birth our Saviour had; the like none yet

Was, or will be a second like to it.

183. The Virgin Mary.

To work a wonder, God would have her shown

At once a bud and yet a rose full-blown.

184. Another.

As sunbeams pierce the glass, and streaming in,

No crack or schism leave i’ th’ subtle skin:

So the Divine Hand worked and brake no thread,

But, in a mother, kept a maidenhead.

185. God.

God, in the holy tongue, they call

The place that filleth all in all.

186. Another of God.

God’s said to leave this place, and for to come

Nearer to that place than to other some,

Of local motion, in no least respect,

But only by impression of effect.

187. Another.

God is Jehovah call’d: which name of His

Implies or Essence, or the He that Is.

188. God’s Presence.

God’s evident, and may be said to be

Present with just men, to the verity;

But with the wicked if He doth comply,

’Tis, as St. Bernard saith, but seemingly.

189. God’s Dwelling.

God’s said to dwell there, wheresoever He

Puts down some prints of His high Majesty;

As when to man He comes, and there doth place

His Holy Spirit, or doth plant His Grace.

190. The Virgin Mary.

The Virgin Mary was, as I have read,

The House of God, by Christ inhabited;

Into the which He entered, but, the door

Once shut, was never to be open’d more.

191. To God.

God’s undivided, One in Persons Three,

And Three in inconfused unity.

Original of Essence there is none,

‘Twixt God the Father, Holy Ghost, and Son:

And though the Father be the first of Three,

’Tis but by order, not by entity.

192. Upon Woman and Mary.

So long, it seem’d, as Mary’s faith was small,

Christ did her woman, not her Mary call;

But no more woman, being strong in faith,

But Mary call’d then, as St. Ambrose saith.

193. North and South.

The Jews their beds and offices of ease,

Placed north and south for these clean purposes;

That man’s uncomely froth might not molest

God’s ways and walks, which lie still east and west.

194. Sabbaths.

Sabbaths are threefold, as St. Austin says:

The first of time, or Sabbath here of days;

The second is a conscience trespass-free;

The last the Sabbath of Eternity.

195. The Fast, or Lent.

Noah the first was, as tradition says,

That did ordain the fast of forty days.

196. Sin.

There is no evil that we do commit,

But hath th’ extraction of some good from it:

As when we sin, God, the great Chemist, thence

Draws out th’ elixir of true penitence.

197. God.

God is more here than in another place,

Not by His essence, but commerce of grace.

198. This, and the Next World.

God hath this world for many made, ’tis true:

But He hath made the World to Come for few.

199. Ease.

God gives to none so absolute an ease

As not to know or feel some grievances.

200. Beginnings and Endings.

Paul, he began ill, but he ended well;

Judas began well, but he foully fell:

In godliness not the beginnings so

Much as the ends are to be look’d unto.

201. Temporal Goods.

These temporal goods God, the most wise, commends

To th’ good and bad in common for two ends:

First, that these goods none here may o’er-esteem

Because the wicked do partake of them;

Next, that these ills none cowardly may shun,

Being, oft here, the just man’s portion.

202. Hell Fire.

The fire of hell this strange condition hath,

To burn, not shine, as learned Basil saith.

203. Abel’s Blood.

Speak, did the blood of Abel cry

To God for vengeance? Yes, say I,

Ev’n as the sprinkled blood called on

God for an expiation.

204. Another.

The blood of Abel was a thing

Of such a rev’rend reckoning,

As that the old world thought it fit

Especially to swear by it.

205. A Position in the Hebrew Divinity.

One man repentant is of more esteem

With God, than one that never sinned ‘gainst Him.

206. Penitence.

The doctors, in the Talmud, say,

That in this world one only day

In true repentance spent will be

More worth than heaven’s eternity.

207. God’s Presence.

God’s present everywhere, but most of all

Present by union hypostatical:

God, He is there, where’s nothing else, schools say,

And nothing else is there where He’s away.

Hypostatical, personal.

208. The Resurrection Possible and Probable.

For each one body that i’ th’ earth is sown,

There’s an uprising but of one for one;

But for each grain that in the ground is thrown,

Threescore or fourscore spring up thence for one:

So that the wonder is not half so great

Of ours as is the rising of the wheat.

209. Christ’s Suffering.

Justly our dearest Saviour may abhor us,

Who hath more suffered by us far, than for us.

210. Sinners.

Sinners confounded are a twofold way,

Either as when, the learned schoolmen say,

Men’s sins destroyed are when they repent,

Or when, for sins, men suffer punishment.

211. Temptations.

No man is tempted so but may o’ercome,

If that he has a will to masterdom.

212. Pity and Punishment.

God doth embrace the good with love; and gains

The good by mercy, as the bad by pains.

213. God’s Price and Man’s Price.

God bought man here with His heart’s blood expense;

And man sold God here for base thirty pence.

214. Christ’s Action.

Christ never did so great a work but there

His human nature did in part appear;

Or ne’er so mean a piece but men might see

Therein some beams of His Divinity:

So that in all He did there did combine

His human nature and His part divine.

215. Predestination.

Predestination is the cause alone

Of many standing, but of fall to none.

216. Another.

Art thou not destin’d? then with haste go on

To make thy fair predestination:

If thou can’st change thy life, God then will please

To change, or call back, His past sentences.

217. Sin.

Sin never slew a soul unless there went

Along with it some tempting blandishment.

218. Another.

Sin is an act so free, that if we shall

Say ’tis not free, ’tis then no sin at all.

219. Another.

Sin is the cause of death; and sin’s alone

The cause of God’s predestination:

And from God’s prescience of man’s sin doth flow

Our destination to eternal woe.

220. Prescience.

God’s prescience makes none sinful; but th’ offence

Of man’s the chief cause of God’s prescience.

221. Christ.

To all our wounds here, whatsoe’er they be,

Christ is the one sufficient remedy.

222. Christ’s Incarnation.

Christ took our nature on Him, not that He

‘Bove all things loved it for the purity:

No, but He dress’d Him with our human trim,

Because our flesh stood most in need of Him.

223. Heaven.

Heaven is not given for our good works here;

Yet it is given to the labourer.

224. God’s Keys

God has four keys, which He reserves alone:

The first of rain; the key of hell next known;

With the third key He opes and shuts the womb;

And with the fourth key he unlocks the tomb.

225. Sin.

There’s no constraint to do amiss,

Whereas but one enforcement is.

226. Alms.

Give unto all, lest he, whom thou deni’st,

May chance to be no other man but Christ.

227. Hell Fire.

One only fire has hell; but yet it shall

Not after one sort there excruciate all:

But look, how each transgressor onward went

Boldly in sin, shall feel more punishment.

228. To Keep a True Lent.

Is this a fast, to keep

The larder lean?

And clean

From fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish

Of flesh, yet still

To fill

The platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour,

Or ragg’d to go,

Or show

A downcast look and sour?

No; ’tis a fast to dole

Thy sheaf of wheat,

And meat,

Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,

From old debate

And hate;

To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;

To starve thy sin,

Not bin;

And that’s to keep thy Lent.

229. No Time in Eternity.

By hours we all live here; in Heaven is known

No spring of time, or time’s succession.

230. His Meditation Upon Death.

Be those few hours, which I have yet to spend,

Blest with the meditation of my end:

Though they be few in number, I’m content:

If otherwise, I stand indifferent.

Nor makes it matter Nestor’s years to tell,

If man lives long and if he live not well.

A multitude of days still heaped on,

Seldom brings order, but confusion.

Might I make choice, long life should be withstood;

Nor would I care how short it were, if good:

Which to effect, let ev’ry passing-bell

Possess my thoughts, “Next comes my doleful knell”:

And when the night persuades me to my bed,

I’ll think I’m going to be buried.

So shall the blankets which come over me

Present those turfs which once must cover me:

And with as firm behaviour I will meet

The sheet I sleep in as my winding-sheet.

When sleep shall bathe his body in mine eyes,

I will believe that then my body dies:

And if I chance to wake and rise thereon,

I’ll have in mind my resurrection,

Which must produce me to that General Doom,

To which the peasant, so the prince, must come,

To hear the Judge give sentence on the throne,

Without the least hope of affection.

Tears, at that day, shall make but weak defence,

When hell and horror fright the conscience.

Let me, though late, yet at the last, begin

To shun the least temptation to a sin;

Though to be tempted be no sin, until

Man to th’ alluring object gives his will.

Such let my life assure me, when my breath

Goes thieving from me, I am safe in death;

Which is the height of comfort: when I fall,

I rise triumphant in my funeral.

Affection, partiality.

231. Clothes for Continuance.

Those garments lasting evermore,

Are works of mercy to the poor,

Which neither tettar, time, or moth

Shall fray that silk or fret this cloth.

Tettar, scab.

232. To God.

Come to me, God; but do not come

To me as to the General Doom

In power; or come Thou in that state

When Thou Thy laws did’st promulgate,

Whenas the mountain quaked for dread,

And sullen clouds bound up his head.

No; lay Thy stately terrors by

To talk with me familiarly;

For if Thy thunder-claps I hear,

I shall less swoon than die for fear.

Speak Thou of love and I’ll reply

By way of Epithalamy,

Or sing of mercy and I’ll suit

To it my viol and my lute;

Thus let Thy lips but love distil,

Then come, my God, and hap what will.

Mountain, orig. ed. mountains.

233. The Soul.

When once the soul has lost her way,

O then how restless does she stray!

And having not her God for light,

How does she err in endless night!

234. The Judgment-Day.

In doing justice God shall then be known,

Who showing mercy here, few prized, or none.

235. Sufferings.

We merit all we suffer, and by far

More stripes than God lays on the sufferer.

236. Pain and Pleasure.

God suffers not His saints and servants dear

To have continual pain or pleasure here;

But look how night succeeds the day, so He

Gives them by turns their grief and jollity.

237. God’s Presence.

God is all-present to whate’er we do,

And as all-present, so all-filling too.

238. Another.

That there’s a God we all do know,

But what God is we cannot show.

239. The Poor Man’s Part.

Tell me, rich man, for what intent

Thou load’st with gold thy vestiment?

Whenas the poor cry out: To us

Belongs all gold superfluous.

240. The Right Hand.

God has a right hand, but is quite bereft

Of that which we do nominate the left.

241. The Staff and Rod.

Two instruments belong unto our God:

The one a staff is and the next a rod;

That if the twig should chance too much to smart,

The staff might come to play the friendly part.

242. God Sparing in Scourging.

God still rewards us more than our desert;

But when He strikes, He quarter-acts His part.

243. Confession.

Confession twofold is, as Austin says,

The first of sin is, and the next of praise.

If ill it goes with thee, thy faults confess:

If well, then chant God’s praise with cheerfulness.

244. God’s Descent.

God is then said for to descend, when He

Doth here on earth some thing of novity;

As when in human nature He works more

Than ever yet the like was done before.

245. No Coming to God Without Christ.

Good and great God! how should I fear

To come to Thee if Christ not there!

Could I but think He would not be

Present to plead my cause for me,

To hell I’d rather run than I

Would see Thy face and He not by.

246. Another to God.

Though Thou be’st all that active love

Which heats those ravished souls above;

And though all joys spring from the glance

Of Thy most winning countenance;

Yet sour and grim Thou’dst seem to me

If through my Christ I saw not Thee.

247. The Resurrection.

That Christ did die, the pagan saith;

But that He rose, that’s Christians’ faith.

248. Co-Heirs.

We are coheirs with Christ; nor shall His own

Heirship be less by our adoption.

The number here of heirs shall from the state

Of His great birthright nothing derogate.

249. The Number of Two.

God hates the dual number, being known

The luckless number of division;

And when He bless’d each sev’ral day whereon

He did His curious operation,

’Tis never read there, as the fathers say,

God bless’d His work done on the second day;

Wherefore two prayers ought not to be said,

Or by ourselves, or from the pulpit read.

250. Hardening of Hearts.

God’s said our hearts to harden then,

Whenas His grace not supples men.

251. The Rose.

Before man’s fall the rose was born,

St. Ambrose says, without the thorn;

But for man’s fault then was the thorn

Without the fragrant rose-bud born;

But ne’er the rose without the thorn.

252. God’s Time Must End Our Trouble.

God doth not promise here to man that He

Will free him quickly from his misery;

But in His own time, and when He thinks fit,

Then He will give a happy end to it.

253. Baptism.

The strength of baptism that’s within,

It saves the soul by drowning sin.

254. Gold and Frankincense.

Gold serves for tribute to the king,

The frankincense for God’s off’ring.

255. To God.

God, who me gives a will for to repent,

Will add a power to keep me innocent;

That I shall ne’er that trespass recommit

When I have done true penance here for it.

256. The Chewing the Cud.

When well we speak and nothing do that’s good,

We not divide the hoof, but chew the cud;

But when good words by good works have their proof,

We then both chew the cud and cleave the hoof.

257. Christ’s Twofold Coming.

Thy former coming was to cure

My soul’s most desp’rate calenture;

Thy second advent, that must be

To heal my earth’s infirmity.

Calenture, delirium caused by excessive heat.

258. To God, His Gift.

As my little pot doth boil,

We will keep this level-coil,

That a wave and I will bring

To my God a heave-offering.

Level-coil, the old Christmas game of changing chairs; to “keep

level-coil” means to change about.

259. God’s Anger.

God can’t be wrathful: but we may conclude

Wrathful He may be by similitude:

God’s wrathful said to be, when He doth do

That without wrath which wrath doth force us to.

260. God’s Commands.

In God’s commands ne’er ask the reason why;

Let thy obedience be the best reply.

261. To God.

If I have played the truant, or have here

Failed in my part, oh! Thou that art my dear,

My mild, my loving tutor, Lord and God!

Correct my errors gently with Thy rod.

I know that faults will many here be found,

But where sin swells there let Thy grace abound.

262. To God.

The work is done; now let my laurel be

Given by none but by Thyself to me:

That done, with honour Thou dost me create

Thy poet, and Thy prophet Laureate.

263. Good Friday: Rex Tragicus; Or, Christ Going to His Cross.

Put off Thy robe of purple, then go on

To the sad place of execution:

Thine hour is come, and the tormentor stands

Ready to pierce Thy tender feet and hands.

Long before this, the base, the dull, the rude,

Th’ inconstant and unpurged multitude

Yawn for Thy coming; some ere this time cry,

How He defers, how loath He is to die!

Amongst this scum, the soldier with his spear

And that sour fellow with his vinegar,

His sponge, and stick, do ask why Thou dost stay;

So do the scurf and bran too. Go Thy way,

Thy way, Thou guiltless man, and satisfy

By Thine approach each their beholding eye.

Not as a thief shalt Thou ascend the mount,

But like a person of some high account;

The Cross shall be Thy stage, and Thou shalt there

The spacious field have for Thy theatre.

Thou art that Roscius and that marked-out man

That must this day act the tragedian

To wonder and affrightment: Thou art He

Whom all the flux of nations comes to see,

Not those poor thieves that act their parts with Thee;

Those act without regard, when once a king

And God, as Thou art, comes to suffering.

No, no; this scene from Thee takes life, and sense,

And soul, and spirit, plot and excellence.

Why then, begin, great King! ascend Thy throne,

And thence proceed to act Thy Passion

To such an height, to such a period raised,

As hell, and earth, and heav’n may stand amazed.

God and good angels guide Thee; and so bless

Thee in Thy several parts of bitterness,

That those who see Thee nail’d unto the tree

May, though they scorn Thee, praise and pity Thee.

And we, Thy lovers, while we see Thee keep

The laws of action, will both sigh and weep,

And bring our spices to embalm Thee dead;

That done, we’ll see Thee sweetly buried.

Scurf and bran, the rabble.

264. His Words to Christ Going to the Cross.

When Thou wast taken, Lord, I oft have read,

All Thy disciples Thee forsook and fled.

Let their example not a pattern be

For me to fly, but now to follow Thee.

265. Another to His Saviour.

If Thou be’st taken, God forbid

I fly from Thee, as others did:

But if Thou wilt so honour me

As to accept my company,

I’ll follow Thee, hap hap what shall,

Both to the judge and judgment hall:

And, if I see Thee posted there,

To be all-flayed with whipping-cheer,

I’ll take my share; or else, my God,

Thy stripes I’ll kiss, or burn the rod.

266. His Saviour’s Words Going to the Cross.

Have, have ye no regard, all ye

Who pass this way, to pity Me,

Who am a man of misery!

A man both bruis’d, and broke, and one

Who suffers not here for Mine own,

But for My friends’ transgression!

Ah! Sion’s daughters, do not fear

The cross, the cords, the nails, the spear,

The myrrh, the gall, the vinegar;

For Christ, your loving Saviour, hath

Drunk up the wine of God’s fierce wrath;

Only there’s left a little froth,

Less for to taste than for to show

What bitter cups had been your due,

Had He not drank them up for you.

267. His Anthem to Christ on the Cross.

When I behold Thee, almost slain,

With one and all parts full of pain:

When I Thy gentle heart do see

Pierced through and dropping blood for me,

I’ll call, and cry out, thanks to Thee.

Vers. But yet it wounds my soul to think

That for my sin Thou, Thou must drink,

Even Thou alone, the bitter cup

Of fury and of vengeance up.

Chor. Lord, I’ll not see Thee to drink all

The vinegar, the myrrh, the gall:

Vers. Chor. But I will sip a little wine;

Which done, Lord, say: The rest is Mine.


This crosstree here

Doth Jesus bear,

Who sweet’ned first

The death accurs’d.

Here all things ready are, make haste, make haste away;

For long this work will be, and very short this day.

Why then, go on to act: here’s wonders to be done

Before the last least sand of Thy ninth hour be run;

Or ere dark clouds do dull or dead the mid-day’s sun.

Act when Thou wilt,

Blood will be spilt;

Pure balm, that shall

Bring health to all.

Why then, begin

To pour first in

Some drops of wine,

Instead of brine,

To search the wound

So long unsound:

And, when that’s done,

Let oil next run

To cure the sore

Sin made before.

And O! dear Christ,

E’en as Thou di’st,

Look down, and see

Us weep for Thee.

And tho’, love knows,

Thy dreadful woes

We cannot ease,

Yet do Thou please,

Who mercy art,

T’ accept each heart

That gladly would

Help if it could.

Meanwhile let me,

Beneath this tree,

This honour have,

To make my grave.

269. To His Saviour’s Sepulchre: His Devotion.

Hail, holy and all-honour’d tomb,

By no ill haunted; here I come,

With shoes put off, to tread thy room.

I’ll not profane by soil of sin

Thy door as I do enter in;

For I have washed both hand and heart,

This, that, and every other part,

So that I dare, with far less fear

Than full affection, enter here.

Thus, thus I come to kiss Thy stone

With a warm lip and solemn one:

And as I kiss I’ll here and there

Dress Thee with flow’ry diaper.

How sweet this place is! as from hence

Flowed all Panchaia’s frankincense;

Or rich Arabia did commix,

Here, all her rare aromatics.

Let me live ever here, and stir

No one step from this sepulchre.

Ravish’d I am! and down I lie

Confused in this brave ecstasy.

Here let me rest; and let me have

This for my heaven that was Thy grave:

And, coveting no higher sphere,

I’ll my eternity spend here.

Panchaia, a fabulous spice island in the Erythrean Sea.

270. His Offering, with the Rest, at the Sepulchre.

To join with them who here confer

Gifts to my Saviour’s sepulchre,

Devotion bids me hither bring

Somewhat for my thank-offering.

Lo! thus I bring a virgin flower,

To dress my Maiden Saviour.

271. His Coming to the Sepulchre.

Hence they have borne my Lord; behold! the stone

Is rolled away and my sweet Saviour’s gone.

Tell me, white angel, what is now become

Of Him we lately sealed up in this tomb?

Is He, from hence, gone to the shades beneath,

To vanquish hell as here He conquered death?

If so, I’ll thither follow without fear,

And live in hell if that my Christ stays there.

Of all the good things whatsoe’er we do,

God is the ΑΡΧE, and the ΤΕΛΟΣ too.

Notes to Noble Numbers.

3. Weigh me the Fire. 2 Esdras, iv. 5, 7; v. 9, 36: “Weigh me . . . the fire, or measure me . . . the wind,” etc.

4. God . . . is the best known, not. . . . August. de Ord. ii. 16: [Deus] scitur melius nesciendo.

5. Supraentity, το ηυπεροντôς ον, Plotinus.

7. His wrath is free from perturbation. August. de Civ. Dei, ix. 5: Ipse Deus secundum Scripturas irascitur, nec tamen ullâ passione turbatur. Enchir. ad Laurent. 33: Cum irasci dicitur Deus, non significatur perturbatio, qualis est in animo irascentis hominis.

9. Those Spotless two Lambs. “This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the Lord: two lambs of the first year without spot, day by day, for a continual burnt-offering.” (Numb. xxviii. 3.)

17. An Anthem sung in the Chapel of Whitehall. This may be added to Nos. 96–98, and 102, the poems on which Mr. Hazlitt bases his conjecture that Herrick may have held some subordinate post in the Chapel Royal.

37. When once the sin has fully acted been. Tacitus, Ann. xiv. 10: Perfecto demum scelere, magnitudo ejus intellecta est.

38. Upon Time. Were this poem anonymous it would probably be attributed rather to George Herbert than to Herrick.

41. His Litany to the Holy Spirit. We may quote again from Barron Field’s account in the Quarterly Review (1810) of his cross-examination of the Dean Prior villagers for Reminiscences of Herrick: “The person, however, who knows more of Herrick than all the rest of the neighbourhood we found to be a poor woman in the 99th year of her age, named Dorothy King. She repeated to us, with great exactness, five of his Noble Numbers, among which was his beautiful ‘Litany’. These she had learnt from her mother, who was apprenticed to Herrick’s successor at the vicarage. She called them her prayers, which she said she was in the habit of putting up in bed, whenever she could not sleep; and she therefore began the ‘Litany’ at the second stanza:—

‘When I lie within my bed,’ etc.”

Another of her midnight orisons was the poem beginning:—

“Every night Thou dost me fright,

And keep mine eyes from sleeping,” etc.

The last couplet, it should be noted, is misquoted from No. 56.

54. Spew out all neutralities. From the message to the Church of the Laodiceans, Rev. iii. 16.

59. A Present by a Child. Cp. “A pastoral upon the Birth of Prince Charles” (Hesperides 213), and Note.

63. God’s mirth: man’s mourning. Perhaps founded on Prov. i. 26: “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh”.

65. My Alma. The name is probably suggested by its meaning “soul”. Cp. Prior’s Alma.

72. I’ll cast a mist and cloud. Cp. Hor. I. Ep. xvi. 62: Noctem peccatis et fraudibus objice nubem.

75. That house is bare. Horace, Ep. I. vi. 45: Exilis domus est, ubi non et multa supersunt.

77. Lighten my candle, etc. The phraseology of the next five lines is almost entirely from the Psalms and the Song of Solomon.

86. Sin leads the way. Hor. Odes, III. ii. 32: Raro antecedentem scelestum Deseruit pede Poena claudo.

88. By Faith we . . . walk . . ., not by the Spirit. 2 Cor. v. 7: “We walk by faith, not by sight”. ‘By the Spirit’ perhaps means, ‘in spiritual bodies’.

96. Sung to the King. See Note on 17.

Composed by M. Henry Lawes. See Hesperides 851, and Note.

102. The Star–Song. This may have been composed partly with reference to the noonday star during the Thanksgiving for Charles II.‘s birth. See Hesperides 213, and Note.

We’ll choose him King. A reference to the Twelfth Night games. See Hesperides 1035, and Note.

108. Good men afflicted most. Taken almost entirely from Seneca, de Provid. 3, 4: Ignem experitur [Fortuna] in Mucio, paupertatem in Fabricio, . . . tormenta in Regulo, venenum in Socrate, mortem in Catone. The allusions may be briefly explained for the unclassical. At the siege of Dyrrachium, Marcus Cassius Scæva caught 120 darts on his shield; Horatius Cocles is the hero of the bridge (see Macaulay’s Lays); C. Mucius Scævola held his hand in the fire to illustrate to Porsenna Roman fearlessness; Cato is Cato Uticensis, the philosophic suicide; “high Atilius” will be more easily recognised as the M. Atilius Regulus who defied the Carthaginians; Fabricius Luscinus refused not only the presents of Pyrrhus, but all reward of the State, and lived in poverty on his own farm.

109. A wood of darts. Cp. Virg. Æn. x. 886: Ter secum Troius heros Immanem aerato circumfert tegmine silvam.

112. The Recompense. Herrick is said to have assumed the lay habit on his return to London after his ejection, perhaps as a protection against further persecution. This quatrain may be taken as evidence that he did not throw off his religion with his cassock. Compare also 124.

All I have lost that could be rapt from me. From Ovid, III. Trist. vii. 414: Raptaque sint adimi quae potuere mihi.

123. Thy light that ne’er went out. Prov. xxxi. 18 (of ‘the Excellent Woman’): “Her candle goeth not out by night”. All set about with lilies. Cp. Cant. Canticorum, vii. 2: Venter tuus sicut acervus tritici, vallatus liliis.

Will show these garments. So Acts ix. 39.

134. God had but one son free from sin. Augustin. Confess. vi.: Deus unicum habet filium sine peccato, nullum sine flagello, quoted in Burton, II. iii. 1.

136. Science in God. Bp. Davenant, on Colossians, 166, ed. 1639; speaking of Omniscience: Proprietates Divinitatis non sunt accidentia, sed ipsa Dei essentia.

145. Tears. Augustin. Enarr. Ps. cxxvii.: Dulciores sunt lacrymae orantium quàm gaudia theatorum.

146. Manna. Wisdom xvi. 20, 21: “Angels’ food . . . agreeing to every taste”.

147. As Cassiodore doth prove. Reverentia est enim Domini timor cum amore permixtus. Cassiodor. Expos. in Psalt. xxxiv. 30; quoted by Dr. Grosart. My clerical predecessor has also hunted down with much industry the possible sources of most of the other patristic references in Noble Numbers, though I have been able to add a few. We may note that Herrick quotes Cassiodorus (twice), John of Damascus, Boethius, Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernard, St. Augustine (thrice), St. Basil, and St. Ambrose — a goodly list of Fathers, if we had any reason to suppose that the quotations were made at first hand.

148. Mercy . . . a Deity. Pausanias, Attic. I. xvii. 1.

153. Mora Sponsi, the stay of the bridegroom. Maldonatus, Comm. in Matth. xxv.: Hieronymus et Hilarius moram sponsi p[oe]nitentiae tempus esse dicunt.

157. Montes Scripturarum. See August. Enarr. in Ps. xxxix., and passim.

167. A dereliction. The word is from Ps. xxii. 1: Quare me dereliquisti? “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” Herrick took it from Gregory’s Notes and Observations (see infra), p. 5: ‘Our Saviour . . . in that great case of dereliction’.

174. Martha, Martha. See Luke x. 41, and August. Serm. cii. 3: Repetitio nominis indicium est dilectionis.

177. Paradise. Gregory, p. 75, on “the reverend Say of Zoroaster, Seek Paradise,” quotes from the Scholiast Psellus: “The Chaldæan Paradise (saith he) is a Quire of divine powers incircling the Father”.

178. The Jews when they built houses. Herrick’s rabbinical lore (cp. 180, 181, 193, 207, 224), like his patristic, was probably derived at second hand through some biblical commentary. Much of it certainly comes from the Notes and Observations upon some Passages of Scripture (Oxford, 1646) of John Gregory, chaplain of Christ Church, a prodigy of oriental learning, who died in his 39th year, March 13, 1646. Thus in his Address to the Reader (3rd page from end) Gregory remarks: “The Jews, when they build a house, are bound to leave some part of it unfinished in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem,” giving a reference to Leo of Modena, Degli Riti Hebraici, Part I.

180. Observation. The Virgin Mother, etc. Gregory, pp. 24–27, shows that Sitting, the usual posture of mourners, was forbidden by both Roman and Jewish Law “in capital causes”. “This was the reason why . . . she stood up still in a resolute and almost impossible compliance with the Law. . . . They sat . . . after leave obtained . . . to bury the body.”

181. Tapers. Cp. Gregory’s Notes, p. 111: “The funeral tapers (however thought of by some) are of the same harmless import. Their meaning is to show that the departed souls are not quite put out, but having walked here as the children of the Light are now gone to walk before God in the light of the living.”

185. God in the holy tongue. J. G., p. 135: “God is called in the Holy Tongue . . . the Place; or that Fulness which filleth All in All”.

186, 187, 188, 189, 197. God’s Presence, Dwelling, etc. J. G., pp. 135–9: “Shecinah, or God’s Dwelling Presence”. “God is said to be nearer to this man than to that, more in one place than in another. Thus he is said to depart from some and come to others, to leave this place and to abide in that, not by essential application of Himself, much less by local motion, but by impression of effect.” “With just men (saith St. Bernard) God is present, in veritate, in deed, but with the wicked, dissemblingly.” “He is called in the Holy Tongue, Jehovah, He that is, or Essence.” “He is said to dwell there (saith Maimon) where He putteth the marks . . . of His Majesty; and He doth this by His Grace and Holy Spirit.”

190. The Virgin Mary. J. G., p. 86: “St. Ephrem upon those words of Jacob, This is the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven. This saying (saith he) is to be meant of the Virgin Mary . . . truly to be called the House of God, as wherein the Son of God . . . inhabited, and as truly the Gate of Heaven, for the Lord of heaven and earth entered thereat; and it shall not be set open the second time, according to that of Ezekiel (xliv. 2): I saw (saith he) a gate in the East; the glorious Lord entered thereat; thenceforth that gate was shut, and is not any more to be opened (Catena Arab. c. 58).”

192. Upon Woman and Mary. The reference is to Christ’s appearance to St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden after the Resurrection, John xx. 15, 16.

193. North and South. Comp. Hesper. 429. Observation. J. G., pp. 92, 93: “Whosoever (say the Doctors in Berachoth) shall set his bed N. and S., shall beget male children. Therefore the Jews hold this rite of collocation . . . to this day. . . . They are bound to place their . . . house of office in the very same situation . . . that the uncomely necessities . . . might not fall into the Walk and Ways of God, whose Shecinah or dwelling presence lieth W. and E.”

195. Noah the first was, etc. Cp. Gregory, Notes, p. 28.

201. Temporal goods. August., quoted by Burton, II. iii. 3: Dantur quidem bonis, saith Austin, ne quis mala aestimet, malis autem ne quis nimis bona.

203. Speak, did the blood of Abel cry, etc. Cp. Gregory’s Notes, pp. 118: “But did the blood of Abel speak? saith Theophylact. Yes, it cried unto God for vengeance, as that of sprinkling for propitiation and mercy.”

204. A thing of such a reverend reckoning. Cp. Gregory, 118–9: “The blood of Abel was so holy and reverend a thing, in the sense and reputation of the old world, that the men of that time used to swear by it”.

205. A Position in the Hebrew Divinity. From Gregory’s Notes, pp. 134, 5: “That old position in the Hebrew Divinity . . . that a repenting man is of more esteem in the sight of God than one that never fell away”.

206. The Doctors in the Talmud. From Gregory’s Notes, l.c.: “The Doctors in the Talmud say, that one day spent here in true Repentance is more worth than eternity itself, or all the days of heaven in the other world”.

207. God’s Presence. Again from Gregory’s Notes, pp. 136 sq.

208. The Resurrection. Gregory’s Notes, pp. 128–29, translating from a Greek MS. of Mathæus Blastares in the Bodleian: “The wonder of this is far above that of the resurrection of our bodies; for then the earth giveth up her dead but one for one, but in the case of the corn she giveth up many living ones for one dead one”.

243. Confession twofold is. August, in Ps. xxix. Enarr. ii. 19: Confessio gemina est, aut peccati, aut laudis.

254. Gold and frankincense. St. Matt. ii. 11. St. Ambrose. Aurum Regi, thus Deo.

256. The Chewing the Cud. Cp. Lev. xi. 6.

258. As my little pot doth boil, etc. This far-fetched little poem is an instance of Herrick’s habit of jotting down his thoughts in verse. In cooking some food for a charitable purpose he seems to have noticed that the boiling pot tossed the meat to and fro, or “waved” it (the priest’s work), and that he himself was giving away the meat he lifted off the fire, the “heave-offering,” which was the priest’s perquisite. This is the confusion or “level-coil” to which he alludes.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55