Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
 
The Joys of the Redeemed
VII. Giles Fletcher
 
HERE may the hand that now in triumph shines,
And that (before they were invested thus)
In earthly bodies carried heavenly mindes,
Pitcht round about, in order glorious,
Their sunny tents and houses luminous,        5
  All their eternall day in songs employing,
  Joying their end, without end of their joying,
While their Almighty Prince Destruction is destroying.
 
Full, yet without satietie, of that
Which whets and quiets greedy appetite,        10
Where never sunne did rise, nor ever sat;
But one eternall day and endlesse light
Gives time to those whose time is infinite—
  Speaking with thought, obtaining without fee,
  Beholding him whom never eye could see,        15
And magnifying him that cannot greater be.
 
How can such joy as this want words to speak?
And yet what words can speak such joy as this?
Farre from the world, that might their quiet break,
Here the glad souls the face of beautie kisse,        20
Pour’d out in pleasure, on their beds of blisse;
  And drunk with nectar torrents, ever hold
  Their eyes on him, whose graces manifold
The more they do behold, the more they would behold.
 
Their sight drinks lovely fires in at their eyes,        25
Their brain sweet incense with fine breath accloyes,
That on God’s sweating altar burning lies;
Their hungrie eares feed on their heav’nly noise,
That Angels sing, to tell their untold ioyes;
  Their understanding naked truth, their wills        30
  The all and self-sufficient goodnesse fills,
That nothing here is wanting but the want of ills.
 
No sorrow now hangs clouding on their brow,
No bloudles maladie empales their face,
No age drops on their hairs his silver snow,        35
No nakednesse their bodies doth embase,
No poverty themselves and theirs disgrace,
  No fear of death the joy of life deuours,
  No vnchaste sleep their precious time deflowres;
No losse, no grief, no change wait on their winged hours.        40
 
But now their naked bodies scorn the cold,
And from their eyes joy looks, and laughs at pain;
The infant wonders how he came so old,
And old man how he came so young again;
Still resting, though from sleep they still refrain:        45
  Where all are rich, and yet no gold they ow,
  And all are kings, and yet no subjects know,
All full, and yet no time on food they do bestow.
 
For things that passe are past, and in this field
The indeficient spring no winter fears;        50
The trees together fruit and blossome yield,
The unfading lily leaves of silver beares;
And crimson rose a scarlet garland weares:
  And all of these on the saints’ bodies grow,
  Not, as they wont, on baser earth below:        55
Three rivers here, of milk, and wine, and honey, flow.
 
About the holy citie rowles a flood
Of moulten cry stall like a sea of glasse,
On which weak stream a strong foundation stood:
Of living diamonds the building was,        60
That all things els, besides itself, did passe,
  Her streets, instead of stones, the starres did pave,
  And little pearles for dust it seem’d to have,
On which soft streaming manna, like pure snow, did wave.
 
In midst of this citie celestiall,        65
Where the eternal temple should have rose,
Lightned th’ Idea Beatificall—
End and beginning of each thing that grows;
Whose self no end nor yet beginning knows,
  That hath no eyes to see, nor eares to heare,        70
  Yet sees and heares, and is all eye, all eare;
That nowhere is contain’d, and yet is everywhere:
 
Changer of all things, yet immutable;
Before and after all, the first and last;
That, moving all, is yet immoveable;        75
Great without quantitie, in whose forecast
Things past are present, things to come are past;
  Swift without motion, to whose open eye
  The hearts of wicked men unbrested lie;
At once absent and present to them, farre and nigh.        80
 
It is no flaming lustre, made of light;
No sweet consent, or well-tim’d harmonie;
Ambrosia for to feast the appetite,
Or flowerie odour, mix’d with spicerie,
No soft embrace, or pleasure bodily;        85
  And yet it is a kinde of inward feast,
  A harmony that sounds within the breast,
An odour, light, embrace, in which the soul doth rest.
 
A heav’nly feast, no hunger can consume;
A light unseen, yet shines in every place;        90
A sound no time can steal; a sweet perfume
No windes can scatter; an intire embrace
That no satietie can ere unlace:
  Ingrac’t into so high a favour, there
  The saints with their beawpeers whole worlds outweare,        95
And things unseen do see, and things unheard do heare.
 
Ye blessed souls, grown richer by your spoil,
Whose losse though great, is cause of greater gains,
Here may your weary spirits rest from toil,
Spending your endlesse ev’ning that remains        100
Among those white flocks and celestiall trains,
  That feed upon their Shepheard’s eyes, and frame
  That heavenly musick of so wondrous fame,
Psalming aloud the holy honours of his name!
 
Had I a voice of steel to tune my song,        105
Were every verse as smoothly fil’d as glasse,
And every member turned to a tongue,
And every tongue were made of sounding brasse;
Yet all that skill, and all this strength, alas!
  Should it presume to gild, were misadvis’d        110
  The place, where David hath new songs devis’d
As in his burning throne he sits emparadis’d,
 
Most happie Prince, whose eyes those starres behold,
Treading ours under feet! now maist thou poure
That overflowing skill, wherewith of old        115
Thou wont’st to combe rough speech; now maist thou showre
Fresh streams of praise vpon that holy bowre,
  Which well we heaven call: not that it rowls,
  But that it is the haven of our souls—
Most happie Prince, whose sight so heavenly sight beholds!        120
 
Ah, foolish shepheards, that were wont to esteem
Your God all rough and shaggy-hair’d to be!
And yet farre wiser shepheards then ye seem;
For who so poore (though who so rich) as he
When, with us hermiting in low degree,        125
  He wash’t his flocks in Jordan’s spotlesse tide,
  And, that his deare remembrance aye might bide,
Did to us come, and with us liv’d, and for us died?
 
But now so lively colours did embeam
His sparkling forehead, and so shiny rayes        130
Kindled his flaming locks, that down did stream
In curles along his neck, where sweetly playes
(Singing his wounds of love in sacred layes)
  His dearest Spouse, 1 spouse of the dearest Lover,
  Knitting a thousand knots over and over,        135
And dying still for love; but they her still recover.
 
Fair Egliset, that at his eyes doth dresse
Her glorious face, those eyes from whence are shed
Infinite belamours; where, to expresse
His love, high God all heav’n as captive leads,        140
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 heav’n do glean their blaze.
 
Note 1. Spouse: the Church. [back]
 
 
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