St. Peter's Complaint

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1202016St. Peter's ComplaintRobert Southwell

Launch forth, my soul, into a main of tears,
Full fraught with grief, the traffic of thy mind;
Torn sails will serve thoughts rent with guilty fears,
Give care the stern, use sighs instead of wind:
Remorse thy pilot, thy misdeed thy card,
Torment thy haven, shipwreck thy best reward.

Shun not the shelf of most deserved shame,
Stick in the sands of agonizing dread;
Content thee to be storms' and billows' game,
Divorced from grace, thy soul to penance wed:
Fly not from foreign ills, fly from the heart,
Worse than the worst of ills is that thou art.

Give vent unto the vapours of thy breast,
That thicken in the brim of cloudy eyes;
Where sin was hatch'd, let tears now wash the nest,
Where life was lost, recover life with cries;
Thy trespass foul, let not thy fears be few,
Baptize thy spotted soul in weeping dew.

Fly mournful plaints, the echoes of my ruth,
When screeches in my frightened conscience ring,
Sob out my sorrows, fruits of mine untruth,
Report the smart of sin's infernal sting;
Tell hearts that languish in the sorriest plight,
There is on earth a far more sorry wight.

A sorry wight, the object of disgrace.
The monument of fear, the map of shame,
The mirror of mishap, the stain of place,
The scorn of time, the infamy of fame,
An excrement of earth, to heaven hateful,
To man injurious, to God ungrateful.

Ambitious heads, dream you of Fortune's pride,
Fill volumes with your forged goddess' praise;
You Fancy's drudges, plunged in Folly's tide,
Devote your fabling wits to lovers' lays :
Be you, sharpest griefs that ever rung !
Text to my thoughts, theme to my plaining tongue.

Sad subject of my sin hath stored my mind,
With everlasting matter of complaint;
My themes an endless alphabet do find.
Beyond the pangs which Jeremy doth paint;
That eyes with errors may just measure keep,
Most tears I wish, that have most cause to weep.

All weeping eyes resign your tears to me,
A sea will scantly rinse my ordured soul;
Huge horrors in high tides must drowned be;
Of every tear my crime exacteth toll;
These stains are deep, few drops take out no such;
Even salve with sore, and most is not too much.

I fear'd with life to die, by death to live;
I left my guide,—now left, and leaving God;
To breathe in bliss I fear'd my breath to give,
I fear'd for heavenly sign an earthly rod;
These fears I fear'd, fears feeling no mishaps.
Oh! fond, oh! faint, oh! false, oh! faulty lapse!

How can I live, that thus my life denied?
What can I hope, that lost my hope in fear?
What trust in one, that truth itself defied?
What good in him, that did his God forswear?
O sin of sins! of ills the very worst;
O matchless wretch! O caitiff most accurst!

Vain in my vaunts, I vow'd, if friends had fail'd,
Alone Christ's hardest fortunes to abide:
Giant in talk, like dwarf in trial quail'd,
Excelling none but in untruth and pride.
Such distance is between high words and deeds!
In proof, the greatest vaunter seldom speeds.

Ah! rashness, hasty rise to murdering leap,
Lavish in vowing, blind in seeing what;
Soon sowing shames that long remorse must reap,
Nursing with tears that over-sight begat;
Scout of repentance, harbinger of blame,
Treason to wisdom, mother of ill name.

The born-blind beggar, for received sight.
Fast in his faith and love to Christ remain'd;
He stooped to no fear, he fear'd no might.
No change his choice, no threats his truth distain'd:
One wonder wrought him in his duty sure,
I, after thousands, did my Lord abjure.

Could servile fear of rend'ring Nature's due.
Which growth in years was shortly like to claim,
So thrall my love, that I should thus eschew
A vowfed death, and miss so fair an aim?
Die, die disloyal wretch, thy life detest;
For saving thine, thou hast forsworn the best.

Ah! life, sweet drop, drown'd in a sea of sours,
A flying good, posting to doubtful end;
Still losing months and years to gain new hours,
Fain times to have and spare, yet forced to spend;
Thy growth, decrease; a moment all thou hast.
That gone ere known; the rest, to come, or past.

Ah! life, the maze of countless straying ways,
Open to erring steps and strew'd with baits.
To bind weak senses into endless strays,
Aloof from Virtue's rough, unbeaten straits
A flower, a play, a blast, a shade, a dream,
A living death, a never-turning stream.

And could I rate so high a life so base?
Did fear with love cast so uneven account,
That for this goal I should run Judas' race.
And Caiaphas' rage in cruelty surmount?
Yet they esteemed thirty pence his price;
I, worse than both, for nought denied him thrice.

The mother-sea, from overflowing deep,
Sends forth her issue by divided veins.
Yet back her offspring to their mother creep,
To pay the purest streams with added gains.
But I, that drank the drops of heavenly flood,
Bemired the Giver with returning mud!

Is this the harvest of his sowing toil?
Did Christ manure thy heart to breed him briers?
Or doth it need this unaccustom'd soil.
With hellish dung to fertile heaven's desires?
No, no, the marl that perjuries do yield.
May spoil a good, not fat a barren field.

Was this for best deserts the direst meed?
Are highest worths well waged with spiteful hire?
Are stoutest vows repeal'd in greatest need?
Should friendship, at the first affront, retire?
Blush, craven sot, lurk in eternal night;
Crouched in the darkest cave from loathed light!

Ah! wretch, why was I named son of a Dove,
Whose speeches voided spite and breathed gall?
No kin I am unto the bird of love,
My stony name much better suits ray fall:
My oaths were stones, my cruel tongue the sling.
My God the mark at which my spite did fling!

Were all the Jewish tyrannies too few
To glut thy hungry looks with his disgrace?
That these more hateful tyrannies must shew,
And spit thy poison in thy Maker's face?
Didst thou to spare his foes put up thy sword,
To brandish now thy tongue against thy Lord?

Ah! tongue, that didst his praise and Godhead sound.
How wert thou stain'd with such detesting words,
That every word was to his heart a wound,
And lanced him deeper than a thousand swords?
What rage of man, yea what infernal sprite,
Could have disgorged more loathsome dregs of spite?

Why did the yielding sea, like marble way,
Support a wretch more wavering than the waves?
Whom doubt did plunge, why did the waters stay,
Unkind in kindness, murdering while it saves ?
Oh that this tongue had then been fishes' food.
And I devour'd, before this cursing mood!

These surges, depths and seas, unfirm by kind,
Rough gusts, and distance both from ship and shore,
Were titles to excuse my staggering mind;
Stout feet might falter on that liquid floor.
But here no seas, no blasts, no billows were,
A puff of woman's wind bred all my fear.

O coward troops, far better arm'd than hearted!
Whom angry words, whom blows could not provoke;
Whom though I taught how sore my weapon smarted,
Yet none repaid me with a wounding stroke.
Oh no! that stroke could but one moiety kill;
I was reserved both halves at once to spill.

Ah! whither was forgotten love exiled;
Where did the truth of pledged promise sleep?
What in my thoughts begat this ugly child,
That could through rented souls thus fiercely creep?
O viper, fear their death by whom thou livest;
All good thy ruins wreck, all ills thou givest!

Threats threw me not, torments I none assay'd;
My fray with shades; conceits did make me yield,
Wounding my thoughts with fears; selfly dismay'd,
I neither fought nor lost,—I gave the field:
Infamous foil! a maiden's easy breath
Did blow me down, and blast my soul to death.

Titles I make untruths: am I a rock,
That with so soft a gale was overthrown?
Am I fit pastor for the faithful flock,
To guide their souls that murder'd thus mine own?
A rock of ruin! not a rest to stay;
A pastor,—not to feed, but to betray.

Fidelity was flown when fear was hatch'd,
Brood incompatible in Virtue's nest!
Courage can less with cowardice be match'd,
Prowess nor love lodged in divided breast.
O Adam's child, cast by a silly Eve,
Heir to thy father's foils, and born to grieve!

In Thabor's joys I eager was to dwell,
An earnest friend while pleasures' light did shine;
But when eclipsed glory prostrate fell,
These zealous heats to sleep I did resign;
And now, my mouth hath thrice his name defiled.
That cried so loud three dwellings there to build.

When Christ, attending the distressful hour,
With His surcharged breast did bless the ground,
Prostrate in pangs, raining a bleeding shower,
Me, like myself, a drowsy friend He found.
Thrice, in His care, sleep-closed by careless eye,
Presage how Him my tongue should thrice deny.

Parting from Christ my fainting force declined,
With lingering foot I follow'd him aloof;
Base fear out of my heart his love unshrined,
Huge in high words, but impotent in proof.
My vaunts did seem hatch'd under Samson's locks,
Yet woman's words did give me murdering knocks.

So fare lukewarm desires in crazy love,
Far off, in need, with feeble foot they train;
In tides they swim, low ebbs they scorn to prove;
They suck their friends' delights, but shun their pain.
Hire of an hireling mind is earned shame:
Take now thy due, bear thy begotten blame.

Ah! cool remissness, virtue's quartan fever,
Pining of love, consumption of grace;
Old in the cradle, languor dying ever,
Soul's wilful famine, sin's soft-stealing pace;
The undermining ill of zealous thought,
Seeming to bring no harms, till all be brought!

O portress of the door of my disgrace.
Whose tongue unlock'd the truth of vowed mind;
Whose words from coward's heart did courage chase,
And let in deathful fears my soul to blind ;
Oh, hadst thou been the portress to my tomb.
When thou wert portress to that cursed room!

Yet love was loath to part, fear loath to die;
Stay, danger, life, did counterplead their causes;
I, favouring stay and life, bade danger fly,
But danger did except against these clauses:
Yet stay and live I would, and danger shun,
And lost myself, while I my verdict won.

I staid, yet did my staying farthest part;
I lived, but so, that saving life I lost it;
Danger I shunn'd, but to my sorer smart,
I gained nought, but deeper danger crossed it.
What danger, distance, death, is worse than this.
That runs from God and spoils his soul of bliss?

O John, my guide unto this earthly hell,
Too well acquainted in so ill a court,
(Where railing mouths with blasphemies did swell,
With tainted breath infecting all resort,)
Why didst thou lead me to this hell of evils,
To show myself a fiend among the devils?

Ill precedent, the tide that wafts to vice;
Dumb orator, that woos with silent deeds,
Writing in works lessons of ill advice;
The doing tale that eye in practice reads.
Taster of joys to unacquainted hunger.
With leaven of the old seasoning the younger.

It seems no fault to do that all have done;
The number of offenders hides the sin;
Coach drawn with many horse doth easily run,
Soon followeth one where multitudes begin.
Oh, had I in that Court much stronger been.
Or not so strong as first to enter in!

Sharp was the weather in that stormy place,
Best suiting hearts benumb'd with hellish frost,
Whose crusted malice could admit no grace:
Where coals are kindled to the warmers' cost;
Where fear my thoughts candied with icy cold,
Heat did my tongue to perjuries unfold.

O hateful fire (ah! that I ever saw it)!
Too hard my heart was frozen for thy force;
Far hotter flames it did require to thaw it,
Thy hell-resembling heat did freeze it worse.
Oh that I rather had congeal'd to ice,
Than bought thy warmth at such a damning price!

O wakeful bird! proclaimer of the day.
Whose piercing note doth daunt the lion's rage;
Thy crowing did myself to me bewray,
My frights and brutish heats it did assuage.
But oh! in this alone, unhappy cock.
That thou to count my foils wert made the clock!

O bird! the just rebuker of my crime,
The faithful waker of my sleeping fears,
Be now the daily clock to strike the time,
When stinted eyes shall pay their task of tears;
Upbraid my ears with thine accusing crow,
To make me rue what first it made me know.

O mild revenger of aspiring pride!
Thou can'st dismount high thoughts to low effects;
Thou madest a cock me for my fault to chide,
My lofty boasts this lowly bird corrects.
Well might a cock correct me with a crow,
Whom hennish cackling first did overthrow.

Weak weapons did Goliah's fumes abate,
Whose storming rage did thunder threats in vain;
His body huge, harness'd with massy plate,
Yet David's stone brought death into his brain;
With staff and sling as to a dog he came,
And with contempt did boasting fury tame.

Yet David had with bear and lion fought,
His skilful might excused Goliah's foil;
The death is eased that worthy hand hath wrought;
Some honour lives in honourable spoil.
But I, on whom all infamies must light.
Was hiss'd to death with words of woman's spite.

Small gnats enforced th' Egyptian King to stoop,
Yet they in swarms, and arm'd with piercing stings,
Smart, noise, annoyance, made his courage droop;-
No small incumbrance such small vermin brings:
I quail'd at words that neither bit nor stung,
And those deliver'd from a woman's tongue.

Ah fear! abortive imp of drooping mind;
Self-overthrow, false friend, root of remorse;
Sighted in seeing ills, in shunning blind,
Foil'd without field, by fancy not by force;
Ague of valour, frenzy of the wise.
Fine honour's stain, love's frost, the mint of lies.

Can virtue, wisdom, strength, by woman spill'd
In David's, Solomon's, and Samson's falls,
With semblance of excuse my error gild,
Or lend a marble gloss to muddy walls?
O no! their fault had show of some pretence,
No veil can hide the shame of my offence.

The blaze of beauty's beams allured their looks;
Their looks, by seeing oft, conceived love;
Love, by effecting, swallow'd pleasure's hooks;
Thus beauty, love, and pleasure them did move.
These Syrens' sugar'd tunes rock'd them to sleep,
Enough to damn, yet not to damn so deep.

But gracious features dazzled not mine eyes;
Two homely droils were authors of my death;
Not love, but fear, my senses did surprise,
Not fear of force, but fear of woman's breath;
And those unarm'd, ill-graced, despised, unknown:
So base a blast my truth hath overthrown!

O women! woe to men; traps for their falls;
Still actors in all tragical mischances;
Earth's necessary ills, captiving thralls,
Now murdering with your tongues, now with your glances;
Parents of life and love, spoilers of both,
The thieves of hearts, false, do you love or loath!

In time, Lord! thine eyes with mine did meet,
In them I read the ruins of my fall;
Their cheering rays, that made misfortune sweet,
Into my guilty thoughts pour'd floods of gall:
Their heavenly looks, that bless'd where they beheld,
Darts of disdain and angry checks did yield.

O sacred eyes! the springs of living light,
The earthly heavens where angels joy to dwell,
How could you deign to view my deathful plight,
Or let your heavenly beams look on my hell?
But those unspotted eyes encounter'd mine,
As spotless sun doth on the dunghill shine.

Sweet volumes, stored with learning fit for saints,
Where blissful quires imparadise their minds;
Wherein eternal study never faints,
Still finding all, yet seeking all it finds:
How endless is your labyrinth of bliss,
Where to be lost the sweetest finding is!

Ah wretch! how oft have I sweet lessons read
In those dear eyes, the registers of truth!
How oft have I my hungry wishes fed,
And in their happy joys redress'd my ruth!
Ah! that they now are heralds of disdain.
That erst were ever pitiers of my pain!

Yon flames divine, that sparkle out your heats,
And kindle pleasing fires in mortal hearts;
You nectar'd ambries of soul-feeding meats;
You graceful quivers of love's dearest darts;
You did vouchsafe to warm, to wound, to feast,
My cold, my stony, my now famish'd breast.

The matchless eyes, match'd only each by other,
Were pleased on my ill matched eyes to glance;
The eye of liquid pearl, the purest mother,
Broach'd tears in mine to weep for my mischance;
The cabinets of grace unlock'd their treasure,
And did to my misdeed their mercies measure.

These blazing comets, lightning flames of love,
Made me their warming influence to know;
My frozen heart their sacred force did prove,
Which at their looks did yield like melting snow:
They did not joys in former plenty carve,
Yet sweet are crumbs where pined thoughts do starve.

O living mirrors! seeing whom you show.
Which equal shadow worths with shadow'd things,
Yea, make things nobler than in native hue,
By being shaped in those life-giving springs;
Much more my image in those eyes was graced,
Than in myself whom sin and shame defaced!

All-seeing eyes, more worth than all you see,
Of which one is the other's only price;
I worthless am, direct your beams on me,
With quickening virtue cure my killing vice.
By seeing things you make things worth the sight,
You seeing, salve, and being seen, delight!

Oh! pools of Hesebon, the baths of grace.
Where happy spirits dive in sweet desires;
Where saints delight to glass their glorious face,
Whose banks make echo to the angel quires;
An echo sweeter in the sole rebound,
Than angels' music in the fullest sound!

Oh eyes ! whose glances are a silent speech,
In cipher'd works high mysteries disclosing;
Which, with a look, all sciences can teach,
Whose texts to faithful hearts need little glosing;
Witness unworthy I, who in a look
Learned more by rote, than all the scribes by book!

Though malice still possess'd their harden'd minds,
I, though too hard, learned softness in thine eye.
Which iron knots of stubborn will unbinds,
Offering them love, that love with love will buy.
This did I learn, yet they could not discern it;
But woe, that I had now such need to learn it!

O suns; all but yourselves in light excelling,
Whose presence day, whose absence causeth night;
Whose neighbour-course brings Summer, cold expelling,
Whose distant periods freeze away delight.
Ah! that I lost your bright and fostering beams,
To plunge my soul in these congealed streams!

Oh! gracious spheres, where love the centre is,
A native place for our self-laden souls;
The compass, love,—a cope that none can miss.
The motion, love,—that round about us rolls:
Oh! spheres of love, whose centre, cope and motion,
Is love of us, love that invites devotion!

Oh! little worlds, the sums of all the best,
Whose glory, heaven; God, sun; all virtues, stars;
Whose fire,—a love that next to heaven doth rest;
Air,—light of life that no distemper mars;
Whose water grace, whose seas, whose springs, whose showers.
Clothe Nature's earth with everlasting flowers!

What mixtures these sweet elements do yield.
Let happy worldings of these worlds expound;
But simples are by compounds far excelled.
Both suit a place where all best things abound;
And if a banish'd wretch guess not amiss,
All but one compound frame of perfect bliss.

I, cast-out from these worlds, exiled roam,
Poor saint from heaven, from fire cold salamander!
Lost fish from those sweet waters' kindly home,
From land of life stray 'd pilgrim still I wander.
I know the cause: these worlds had never hell,
In which my faults have best deserved to dwell.

Oh Bethlem-cisterns! David's most desire,
Prom which my sins like fierce Philistines keep;
To fetch your drops what champion should I hire,
That I therein my wither'd heart may steep?
I would not shed them like that holy king:
His were but types, these are the figured thing.

Oh! turtle twins all bathed in virgin's milk,
Upon the margin of full-flowing banks,
Whose graceful plume surmounts the finest silk,
Whose sight enamoureth heaven's most happy ranks:
Could I forswear this heavenly pair of doves.
That caged, in care for me were groaning loves!

Twice Moses' hand did. strike the stubborn rock,
Ere stony veins would yield their crystal blood;
Thine eyes, one look, served as an only knock
To make my heart gush out a weeping flood,
Wherein my sins, as fishes, spawn their fry,
To show their inward shames, and then to die.

But oh! how long demur I on his eyes,
Whose look did pierce my heart with healing wound!
Lancing imposthumed sore of perjured lies,
Which these two issues of mine eyes have found;
Where run it must till death the issues stop,
And penal life hath purged the final drop.

Like solest swan, that swims in silent deep,
And never sings but obsequies of death,
Sigh out thy plaints, and sole in secret weep,
In suing pardon spend thy perjured breath;
Attire thy soul in sorrow's mourning weed,
And at thine eyes let guilty conscience bleed.

'Still in the 'lembic of thy doleful breast
Those bitter fruits that from thy sins do grow;
For fuel, self-accusing thoughts be best;
Use fear as fire, the coals let penance blow;
And seek none other quintessence but tears,
That eyes may shed what enter'd at thine ears.

Come sorrowing tears, the offspring of my grief.
Scant not your parent of a needful aid;
In you I rest the hope of wish'd relief,
By you my sinful debts must be defray'd:
Your power prevails, your sacrifice is grateful,
By love obtaining life to men most hateful.

Come good effect of ill-deserving cause,
111 gotten imps, yet virtuously brought forth;
Self-blaming probates of infringed laws,
Yet blamed faults redeeming with your worth;
The signs of shame in you each eye may read.
Yet, while you guilty prove, you pity plead.

O beams of mercy; beat on sorrow's cloud,
Pour suppling showers upon my parched ground;
Bring forth the fruit to your due service vow'd,
Let good desires with like deserts be crown'd:
Water young blooming virtue's tender flow'r.
Sin did all grace of riper growth devour.

Weep balm and myrrh, you sweet Arabian trees,
With purest gums perfume and pearl your rine;
Shed on your honey-drops, you busy bees,
I, barren plant, must weep unpleasant brine:
Hornets I hive, salt drops their labour plies,
Suck'd out of sin, and shed by showering eyes.

If David, night by night, did bathe his bed,
Esteeming longest days too short to moan;
Tears inconsolable if Anna shed,
Who in her son her solace had forgone;
Then I to days and weeks, to months and years,
Do owe the hourly rent of stintless tears.

If love, if loss, if fault, if spotted fame,
If danger, death, if wrath, or wreck of weal,
Entitle eyes true heirs to earned blame,
That due remorse in such events conceal:
That want of tears might well enrol my name,
As chiefest saint in kalendar of shame.

Love, where I loved, was due and best deserved;
No love could aim at more love-worthy mark;
No love more loved than mine of him I served;
Large use he gave, a flame for every spark.
This love I lost, this loss a life must rue;
Yea, life is short to pay the ruth is due.

I lost all that I had, who had the most,
The most that will can wish, or wit devise:
I least perform'd that did most vainly boast,
I stain'd my fame in most infamous wise.
What danger then, death, wrath, or wreck can move
More pregnant cause of tears than this I prove?

If Adam sought a veil to scarf his sin,
Taught by his fall to fear a scourging hand;
If men shall wish that hills should wrap them in,
When crimes in final doom come to be scann'd;
What mount, what cave, what centre can conceal
My monstrous fact, which even the birds reveal?

Come shame, the livery of offending mind,
The ugly shroud that overshadoweth blame;
The mulct at which foul faults are justly fined;
The damp of sin, the common slime of fame,
By which imposthamed tongues their humours purge;
Light shame on me, I best deserved the scourge.

Cain's murdering hand imbrued in brother's blood,
More mercy than my impious tongue may crave;
He kill'd a rival with pretence of good,
In hope God's doubled love alone to have.
But fear so spoil'd my vanquish'd thoughts of love,
That perjured oaths my spiteful hate did prove.

Poor Agar from her sphere enforced to fly,
In wilds Barsabian wandering alone,
Doubting her child through helpless drought would die,
Laid it aloof, and set her down to moan:
The heavens with prayers, her lap with tears she filled;
A mother's love in loss is hardly still'd.

But, Agar, now bequeath thy tears to me;
Fears, not effects, did set afloat thine eyes.
But, wretch! I feel more than was fear'd by thee;
Ah! not my son, my soul it is that dies.
It dies for drought, yet hath a spring in sight:
Worthy to die, that would not live, and might.

Fair Absalom's foul faults compared with mine,
Are brightest sands to mud of Sodom's lake;
High aims, young spirits, birth of royal line,
Made him play false where kingdoms were the stake:
He gazed on golden hopes, whose lustre wins,
Sometimes, the gravest wits to grievous sins.

But I, whose crime cuts off the least excuse,
A kingdom lost, but hoped no mite of gain;
My highest mark was but the worthless use
Of some few lingering hours of longer pain.
Ungrateful child, his parent he pursued,
I, giants' war with God himself renew'd!

Joy, infant saints, whom in the tender flower
A happy storm did free from fear of sin!
Long is their life that die in blissful hour;
Joyful such ends as endless joys begin:
For long they live that live till they be nought:
Life saved by sin, is purchase dearly bought!

This lot was mine; your fate was not so fierce,
Whom spotless death in cradle rock'd asleep;
Sweet roses, mix'd with lilies, strew'd your hearse,
Death virgin-white in martyrs' red did steep;
Your downy heads both pearls and rubies crown'd,
My hoary locks did female fears confound.

You bleating ewes, that wail this wolvish spoil
Of sucking lambs new bought with bitter throes;
To embalm your babes your eyes distil their oil,
Each heart to tomb her child wide rapture shows.
Rue not their death, whom death did but revive,
Yield ruth to me that lived to die alive.

With easy loss sharp wrecks did he eschew,
That sindonless aside did naked slip:
Once naked grace no outward garment knew,
Such are his robes whom sin did never strip.
I, rich in vaunts, display'd pride's fairest flags,
Disrobed of grace, am wrapp'd in Adam's rags.

When, traitor to the Son, in Mother's eyes
I shall present my humble suit for grace,
What blush can paint the shame that will arise,
Or write my inward feelings on my face?
Might she the sorrow with the sinner see,
Though I'm despised, my grief might pitied be!

But ah! how can her ears my speech endure,
Or scent by breath still reeking hellish steam?
Can Mother like what did the Son abjure,
Or heart deflower'd a Virgin's love redeem?
The Mother nothing loves that Son doth loathe:
Ah! loathsome wretch, detested of them both!

O sister nymphs, the sweet renowned pair,
That bless Bethania bounds with your abode!
Shall I infect that sanctified air,
Or stain those steps where Jesus breathed and trod?
No, let your prayers perfume that sweeten'd place;
Turn me with tigers to the wildest chace.

Could I revived Lazarus behold,
The third of that sweet trinity of saints,
Would not astonish'd dread my senses hold?
Ah yes! my heart even with his naming faints:
I seem to see a messenger from hell,
That my prepared torments comes to tell.

O John! James! we made a triple cord
Of three most loving and best loved friends;
My rotten twist was broken with a word,
Pit now to fuel fire among the fiends.
It is not ever true though often spoken,
That triple-twisted cord is hardly broken.

The devils dispossess'd, that out I threw
In Jesus' name, now impiously forsworn,
Triumph to see me caged in their mew,
Trampling my ruins with contempt and scorn.
My perjuries were music to their dance,
And now they heap disdain on my mischance.

Our rock, say they, is riven; oh, welcome hour
Our eagle's wings are clipp'd that wrought so high;
Our thundering cloud made noise, but cast no shower;
He prostrate lies that would have scaled the sky;
In woman's tongue our rubber found a rub,
Our cedar now is shrunk into a shrub.

These scornful words upbraid my inward thought,
Proofs of their damned prompters' neighbour-voice:
Such ugly guests still wait upon the naught,
Fiends swarm to souls that swerve from virtue's choice:
For breach of plighted truth this true I try;
Ah! that my deed thus gave my word the lie!

Once, and but once, too dear a once to twice it!
A heaven in earth, saints near myself I saw:
Sweet was the sight, but sweeter loves did spice it,
But sights and loves did my misdeed withdraw.
From heaven and saints, to hell and devils estranged,
Those sights to frights, those loves to hates are changed.

Christ, as my God, was templed in my thought,
As man. He lent mine eyes their dearest light;
But sin His temple hath to ruin brought,
And now he lighteneth terror from His sight.
Now of my late unconsecrate desires,
Profaned wretch! I taste the earned hires.

Ah! sin, the nothing that doth all things file,
Outcast from heaven, earth's curse, the cause of hell;
Parent of death, author of our exile,
The wreck of souls, the wares that fiends do sell;
That men to monsters, angels turns to devils,
Wrong of all rights, self-ruin, root of evils.

A thing most done, yet more than God can do;
Daily new done, yet ever done amiss;
Friended of all, yet unto all a foe;
Seeming an heaven, yet banishing from bliss;
Served with toil, yet paying nought but pain,
Man's deepest loss, though false-esteemed gain.

Shot, without noise; wound, without present smart;
First seeming light, proving in fine a load;
Entering with ease, not easily won to part,
Far in effects from that the shows abode;
Indorsed with hope, subscribed with despair,
Ugly in death, though life did feign it fair.

Oh! forfeiture of heaven! eternal debt,
A moment's joy ending in endless fires;
Our nature's scum, the world's entangling net,
Night of our thoughts, death of all good desires.
Worse than all this, worse than all tongues can say,
Which man could owe, but only God defray.

This fawning viper, dumb till he had wounded,
With many mouths doth now upbraid my harms;
My sight was veil'd till I myself confounded,
Then did I see the disenchanted charms:
Then could I cut the anatomy of sin,
And search with lynxes' eyes what lay within.

Bewitching ill, that hides death in deceits,
Still borrowing lying shapes to mask thy face;
Now know I the deciphering of thy sleights;
A cunning dearly bought with loss of grace:
Thy sugar'd poison now hath wrought so well,
That thou hast made me to myself a hell.

My eyes read mournful lessons to my heart,
My heart doth to my thought the grief expound;
My thought the same doth to my tongue impart,
My tongue the message in the ears doth sound;
My ears back to my heart their sorrows send;
Thus circling griefs run ronnd without an end.

My guilty eye still seems to see my sin,
All things are characters to spell my fall;
What eye doth read without, heart rues within,
What heart doth rue, to pensive thought is gall,
Which when the thought would by the tongue digest,
The ear conveys it back into the breast.

Thus gripes in all my parts do never fail,
Whose only league is now in bartering pains:
What I engross they traffic by retail,
Making each others' miseries their gains:
All bound for ever prentices to care,
Whilst I in shop of shame trade sorrow's ware.

Pleased with displeasing lot I seek no change;
I wealthiest am when richest in remorse;
To fetch my ware no seas nor lands I range;
For customers to buy I nothing force:
My home-bred goods at home are bought and sold,
And still in me my interest I hold.

My comfort now is comfortless to live
In orphan state, devoted to mishap;
But from the root that sweetest fruit did give,
I scorn'd to graff in stock of meaner sap.
No juice can joy me but of Jesse's flower,
Where heavenly root hath true reviving power.

At Sorrow's door I knock'd, they craved my name:
I answer'd, one unworthy to be known.
What one? say they. One worthiest of blame.
But who? a wretch, not God's, nor yet his own.
A man? Oh no! a beast; much worse. What creature?
A rock. How call'd ? the rock of scandal, Peter!

From whence? From Caiaphas' house. Ah! dwell you there?
Sin's farm I rented there, but now would leave it.
What rent? my soul. What gain? unrest and fear.
 Dear purchase! Ah! too dear; will yon receive it?
What shall we give? Fit tears and times to plain me.
Come in, they say. Thus griefs did entertain me.

With them I rest true prisoner in their jail,
Chain'd in the iron links of basest thrall;
Till Grace, vouchsafing captive soul to bail,
In wonted see degraded loves install.
Days pass in plaints, the night without repose;
I wake to sleep; I sleep in waking woes.

Sleep, Death's ally, oblivion of tears,
Silence of passions, blame of angry sore,
Suspense of loves, security of fears,
Wrath's lenity, heart's ease, storm's calmest shore;
Senses' and souls' reprieval from all cumbers,
Benumbing sense of ill with quiet slumbers.

Not such my sleep, but whisperer of dreams,
Creating strange chimeras, feigning frights;
Of day-discourses giving fancy themes,
To make dumb-show with worlds of antic sights;
Casting true griefs in fancy's forged mould,
Brokenly telling tales rightly foretold.

This sleep most fitly suiteth sorrow's bed,
Sorrow, the smart of ill, Sin's eldest child;
Best, when unkind in killing whom it bred;
A rack for guilty thoughts, a bit for wild;
The scourge that whips, the salve that cures offence;
Sorrow, my bed and home, while life hath sense.

Here solitary muses nurse their griefs,
In silent loneness burying worldly noise;
Attentive to rebukes, deaf to reliefs,
Pensive to foster cares, careless of joys;
Ruing life's loss under death's dreary roofs,
Solemnizing my funeral behoofs.

A self-contempt the shroud, my soul the corse.
The bier, an humble hope, the hearse-cloth, fear;
The mourners, thoughts, in black of deep remorse.
The hearse, grace, pity, love and mercy bear:
My tears, my dole, the priest, a zealous will,
Penance, the tomb, and doleful sighs the knell.

Christ! health of fever'd soul, heaven of the mind,
Force of the feeble, nurse of infant loves,
Guide to the wandering foot, light to the blind,
Whom weeping wins, repentant sorrow moves;
Father in care, mother in tender heart,
Revive and save me, slain with sinful dart.

If King Manasses, sunk in depth of sin,
With plaints and tears recover'd grace and crown,
A worthless worm some mild regard may win,
And lowly creep, where flying threw it down.
A poor desire I have to mend my ill,
I should, I would, I dare not say, I will.

I dare not say I will, but wish I may;
My pride is check'd, high words the speaker spilt.
My good, O Lord ! Thy gift. Thy strength mistay,
Give what Thou bidst, and then bid what Thou wilt.
Work with me what of me thou dost request,
Then will I dare the worst and love the best.

Prone look, cross'd arms, bent knee and contrite heart,
Deep sighs, thick sobs, dew'd eyes and prostrate pray'rs,
Most humbly beg release of earned smart,
And saving shroud in mercy's sweet repairs.
If justice should my wrongs with rigour wage,
Fears would despairs, ruth breed a hopeless rage.

Lazar at pity's gate I ulcer'd lie.
Craving the refuse crumbs of children's plate;
My sores I lay in view to Mercy's eye,
My rags bear witness of my poor estate:
The worms of conscience that within me swarm,
Prove that my plaints are less than is my harm.

With mildness, Jesu, measure mine offence;
Let true remorse Thy due revenge abate;
Let tears appease when trespass doth increase;
Let pity temper Thy deserved hate;
Let grace forgive, let love forget my fall:
With fear I crave, with hope I humbly call.

Redeem my lapse with ransom of Thy love,
Traverse th' indictment, rigour's doom suspend;
Let frailty favour, sorrows succour move,
Be Thou Thyself, though changeling I offend.
Tender my suit, cleanse this defiled den,
Cancel my debts, sweet Jesu, say Amen!