Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
An Ode upon a Question Moved Whether Love Should Continue for Ever
By Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583–1648)
 
HAVING interr’d her Infant-birth
  The watery ground that late did mourn
  Was strew’d with flowers for the return
Of the wish’d bridegroom of the earth.
 
The well-accorded birds did sing        5
  Their hymns unto the pleasant time,
  And in a sweet consorted chime
Did welcome in the cheerful spring.
 
To which, soft whistles of the wind,
  And warbling murmurs of a brook,        10
  And varied notes of leaves that shook,
An harmony of parts did bind.
 
When with a love none can express
  That mutually happy pair,
  Melander and Celinda fair,        15
The season with their loves did bless.
 
Long their fix’d eyes to Heaven bent
  Unchangèd, they did never move;
  As if so great and pure a love
No glass but it could represent.        20
 
When with a sweet though troubled look
  She first brake silence, saying, ‘Dear friend,
  O that our love might take no end,
Or never had beginning took.’
*        *        *        *        *
Then with a look, it seem’d, denied        25
  All earthly power but hers, yet so
  As if to her breath he did owe
This borrow’d life, he thus replied:
 
‘O no, Belov’d, I am most sure
  These vertuous habits we acquire        30
  As being with the soul entire
Must with it evermore endure.
 
Else should our souls in vain elect,
  And vainer yet were Heaven’s laws,
  When to an everlasting cause        35
They give a perishing effect.
 
Nor here on earth then, nor above,
  One good affection can impair;
  For where God doth admit the fair,
Think you that He excludeth Love?        40
 
These eyes again thine eyes shall see,
  These hands again thine hand enfold,
  And all chaste blessings can be told
Shall with us everlasting be.
 
For if no use of sense remain        45
  When bodies once this life forsake,
  Or they could no delight partake,
Why should they ever rise again?
 
And if every imperfect mind
  Make love the end of knowledge here,        50
  How perfect will our love be where
All imperfection is refin’d.
 
Let then no doubt, Celinda, touch,
  Much less your fairest mind invade;
  Were not our souls immortal made,        55
Our equal loves can make them such.
 
So when from hence we shall be gone,
  And be no more, nor you, nor I;
  As one another’s mystery
Each shall be both, yet both but one.        60
 
 
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