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
 
A New Year’s Gift to Brian Lord Bishop of Sarum upon the Author’s Entering into Holy Orders, 1638
By William Cartwright (1611–1643)
 
NOW that the village reverence doth lie hid,
      As Egypt’s Wisdom did,
In birds and beasts, and that the tenant’s soul
      Goes with his New-year’s fowl;
    So that the cock and hen speak more        5
    Now, than in fables heretofore;
      And that the feather’d things
      Truly make love have wings:
Though we no flying present have to pay,
A quill yet snatch’d from thence may sign the day.        10
 
But, being the Canon bars me wit and wine,
      Enjoining the true Vine,
Being the bays must yield unto the Cross,
      And all be now one loss;
    So that my raptures are to steal        15
    And knit themselves in one pure zeal,
      And that my each day’s breath
      Must be a daily death:
Without all strain or fury I must than 1
Tell you this New-year brings you a new man.        20
 
New, not as th’ year, to run the same course o’er
      Which it hath run before,
Lest in the man himself there be a round,
      As in his humour ’s 2 found,
    And that return seem to make good        25
    Circling of actions, as of blood.
      Motion, as in a mill,
      Is busy standing still;
And by such wheeling we but thus prevail,
To make the serpent swallow his own tail.        30
 
Nor new by solemnising looser toys,
      And erring with less noise,
Taking the flag and trumpet from the sin,
      So to 3 offend within;
    As some men silence loud perfumes        35
    And draw them into shorter rooms:
      This will be understood
      More wary, not more good.
Sins too may be severe, and so, no doubt,
The vice but only sour’d, not rooted out.        40
 
But new, by th’ using of each part aright,
      Changing both step and sight;
That false direction come not from the eye,
      Nor the foot tread awry;
    That neither that the way aver        45
    Which doth toward fame, or profit, err,
      Nor this tread that path which
      Is not the right, but rich;
That thus the foot being fix’d, thus led the eye,
I pitch my walk low, but my prospect high.        50
 
New too, to teach my opinions not t’ submit
      To favour, or to wit;
Nor yet to walk on edges, where they may
      Run safe in broader way;
    Nor to search out for new paths, where        55
    Nor tracks nor footsteps do appear,
      Knowing that deeps are ways
      Where no impression stays;
Nor servile thus, nor curious, may I then
Approve my faith to Heaven, my life to men.        60
 
But I who thus present myself as new,
      Am thus made new by you.
Had not your rays dwelt on me, one long night
      Had shut me up from sight.
    Your beams exhale me from among        65
    Things tumbling in the common throng.
      Who thus with your fire burns,
      Now gives not, but returns.
To others then be this a day of thrift:
They do receive; but you, sir, make the gift.        70
 
Note 1. then. [back]
Note 2. moisture, i.e., the blood. [back]
Note 3. so as to. [back]
 
 
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