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Let me be soft and supple to thy will,
Small to myself, to others mild,
Although by stealth
My flesh get on; yet let her sister My soul bid nothing, but preserve her wealtb :
The growth of flesh is but a blister;
Childhood is health.
FULL of rebellion, I would die,
O tame my heart;
It is thy highest art To captivate strong holds to thee.
If thou shalt let this venom lurk,
And thence by kind
Vanish into a wind, Making thy workmanship deceit.
O smooth my rugged heart, and there
Is sapless grown,
And a much fitter stone To hide my dust, than thee to hold.
LORD, with what care hast thou begirt us round !
Parents first season us : then schoolmasters
Deliver us to laws; they send us bound To rules of reason, holy messengers,
Pulpits and Sundays, sorrow dogging sin,
Afflictions sorted, anguish of all sizes,
Fine nets and stratagems to catch us in, Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,
Blessings beforehand, ties of gratefulness,
The sound of glory ringing in our ears ;
Without, our shame; within, our consciences; Angels and grace, eternal hopes and fears.
Yet all these fences and their whole array
WHEN first thou didst entice to thee my heart,
I thought the service brave : So many joys I writ down for my part,
Besides what I might have
I looked on thy furniture so fine,
And made it fine to me; Thy glorious household-stuff did me entwine,
And 'tice me unto thee. Such stars I counted mine : both heaven and earth Paid me my wages in a world of mirth.
What pleasures could I want, whose King I served,
Where joys my fellows were ? Thus argued into hopes, my thoughts reserved
No place for grief or fear ; Therefore
sudden soul caught at the place, And made her youth and fierceness seek thy face :
At first thou gavest me milk and sweetnesses ;
I had my wish and way : My days were strew'd with flowers and happiness :
There was no month but May. But with my years sorrow did twist and grow, And made a party unawares for woe.
My flesh began unto my soul in pain,
Sicknesses cleave my bones, Consuming agues dwell in every vein,
And tune my breath to groans : Sorrow was all my soul ; I scarce believed, Till grief did tell me roundly, that I lived.
When I got health, thou took’st away my life,
And more ; for my friends die : My mirth and edge was lost ; a blunted knife
Was of more use than I.
Whereas my birth and spirit rather took
The way that takes the town; Thou didst betray me to a lingering book,
And wrap me in a gown.
Yet, for I threaten'd oft the siege to raise,
Not simpering all mine age, Thou often didst with Academic praise
Melt and dissolve my rage.
Yet lest perchance I should too happy be
In my unhappiness, Turning my purge to food, thou throwest me
Into more sicknesses. Thus doth thy power cross-bias me, not making Thine own gift good, yet me from my ways taking.
Now I am here, what thou wilt do with me
None of my books will show : I read, and sigh, and wish I were a tree;
For sure then I should grow To fruit or shade : at least some bird would trust Her household to me, and I should be just.
Yet, though thou troublest me, I must be meek;
In weakness must be stout. Well, I will change the service, and go seek
Some other Master out. Ah, my dear God! though I am clean forgot, Let me not love thee, if I love thee not.
LORD, I confess my sin is great ;
Great is my sin. Oh! gently treat With thy quick flower, thy momentary bloom ;
Whose life still pressing
Is one undressing,
Man's age is two hours' work, or three;
Each day doth round about us see. Thus are we to delights : but we are all
To sorrows old,
If life be told
O let thy height of mercy then
Compassionate short-breathed men,
I do confess
Sweeten at length this bitter bowl,
Which thou hast pour'd into my soul ; Thy wormwood turn to health, winds to fair weather :
For if thou stay,
I and this day,