Page images
PDF
EPUB

Most happy Prince, whose eyes those stars behold,

Treading ours under feet! now may'st thou pour That overflowing skill, wherewith of old Thou wontst to comb rough speech, now mayst thou

shower Fresh streams of praise upon that holy bower, Which well we heaven call; not that it rolls, But that it is the haven of our soulsMost happy Prince, whose sight so heavenly sight be

holds ! Ah, foolish shepherds, that were wont to esteem

Your God all rough and shaggy-haired to be!
And yet far wiser shepherds than ye seem;

For who so poor (though who so rich) as He
When, with us hermiting in low degree,
He washed his flocks in Jordan's spotless tide,
And that his dear remembrance aye might bide,
Did to us come, and with us lived, and for us died.
But now so lively colours did embeam

His sparkling forehead, and so shiny rays
Kindled his flaming locks, that down did stream

In curls along his neck, where sweetly plays
(Singing his wounds of love in sacred lays)
His dearest spouse, spouse of the dearest lover,
Knitting a thousand knots over and over,
And dying still for love; but they her still recover.
Fair Egliset, that at his eyes

doth dress
Her glorious face, those eyes from whence are shed
Infinite belamours; where, to express

His love, high God all heav'n as captive leads,

And all the banners of his grace dispreads, And in those windows doth his arms englaze, And on those eyes the angels all do gaze, And from those eyes the lights of heaven do glean their

blaze. Impotent words; weak lines that strive in vain;

In vain, alas! to tell so heavenly sight! So heavenly sight as none can greater feign,

Feign what he can, that seems of greatest might: Could

any yet compare with Infinite ? Infinite sure those joys; my words but light: Light is the palace where she dwells; oh then, how

bright!

ROBERT HERRICK.

(1591-16-) ROBERT HERRICK, or Heyrick, was born in Cheapside, London, in 1591. About the year 1615, he was entered of St. John's College, Cambridge, which he left, after a three years' residence, for Trinity Hall, with the intention of preparing himself for the law. His university expenses appear to have been defrayed by Sir William Herrick, his uncle, who was goldsmith to King James I. Having gained the patronage of the Earl of Exeter, Herrick abandoned the study of the law; and, entering holy orders, was, October 1st, 1629, through the interest of the above nobleman, presented by Charles I. to the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire, then vacant by the promotion of Dr. Barnaby Potter to the see of Car. lisle. Here he passed about twenty years of his life amongst a people who seem to have been of a like character with Giles Fletcher's parishioners of Alderton, Instead of dying prematurely, however, as did that more sensitive poet, by way of protest against their want of culture and appreciation, the jovial Herrick contented himself with the revenge of branding his flock as a “wild amphibious race, churlish as the seas, and rude as savages." About 1647, he was ejected from his benefice, a loss of which the gain was that it “recalled him from it long and irksome banishment” to the “ blest place of his nativity.” With the intermission of the exercise of his clerical functions, Herrick seems to have held in abeyance all claim to the sanctity of the clerical character. He lived in Westminster, and took his full share in the wild gaiety and the tavern jollities in which the full-blooded life of the wits of the age so freely expended itself; but his conduct, on his own penitent assurance, was at this time more blameless than his verses. With the restoration of Charles II., H rick recovere his preferment, and died in some unascertained year later than 1660.

In 1647, about the time of the loss of his vicarage, Herrick published his “Noble Numbers : or his Pious Pieces, wherein (amongst other things) he sings the birth of his Christ, and sighes for his Saviour's suffering on the Crosse.” His muse is harmonious, and some of his pieces exhibit an exquisite tenderness combined with a deep religious experience. In 1648, Herrick published his “Hesperides; or, Works both Humane and Divine," which he dedicated to “the most illustrious and most hopeful Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.” In default of space to discuss the heterogeneous and unassimilated elements of a character in which all elements seem to have been present, but uncombined, we cannot do better than allow Herrick to epitomize himself in the following metrical “ Argument of his Book:”—

" I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,

Of April, May, of June, and July flowers;
I sing of May-poles, hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes.
I write of youth, of love, and have access
By these to sing of cleanly wantonness;
I sing of dews, of rains, and, piece by piece,
or balm, of oil, of spice, and amber-greece.
I sing of times trans-shifting; and I write
How roses first came red, and lilies white;
I write of grores; of twilights; and I sing
The court of Mab, and of the fairy king.
I write of hell; I sirg, and ever shall,
Of heaver, and hope to have it after all.”

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 at heart and sick in head, And with doubts disquieted,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me! When the house doth sigh and weep, And the world is drowned 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 my 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,
Because my speech is now decayed,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me!
When, God knows, I'm tost 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 revealed, And that opened which was sealed, When to Thee I have appealed,

Sweet Spirit, comfort me

A THANKSGIVING 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 the poor,
Who hither come, and freely get

Good words or meat.
Like as my parlour, so my hall,

And kitchen small;
A little buttery, and therein

A little bin,
Which keeps my little loaf of bread

Unchipt, unflead.
Some brittle stacks of thorn or briar

Make me a fire,
Close by whose living coal I sit,

Ănd glow like it.

« PreviousContinue »