Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
I. The Divine Element—(God, Christ, the Holy Spirit)
Delight in God
Francis Quarles (1592–1644)
I LOVE, and have some cause to love, the earth,—
  She is my Maker’s creature, therefore good;
She is my mother, for she gave me birth;
  She is my tender nurse, she gives me food:
  But what ’s a creature, Lord, compared with thee?        5
  Or what ’s my mother or my nurse to me?
I love the air,—her dainty sweets refresh
  My drooping soul, and to new sweets invite me;
Her shrill-mouthed choir sustain me with their flesh,
  And with their polyphonian notes delight me:        10
  But what ’s the air, or all the sweets that she
  Can bless my soul withal, compared to thee?
I love the sea,—she is my fellow-creature,
  My careful purveyor; she provides me store;
She walls me round; she makes my diet greater;        15
  She wafts my treasure from a foreign shore:
  But, Lord of oceans, when compared with thee,
  What is the ocean or her wealth to me?
To heaven’s high city I direct my journey,
  Whose spangled suburbs entertain mine eye;        20
Mine eye, by contemplation’s great attorney,
  Transcends the crystal pavement of the sky:
  But what is heaven, great God, compared to thee?
  Without thy presence, heaven ’s no heaven to me.
Without thy presence, earth gives no refection;        25
  Without thy presence, sea affords no treasure;
Without thy presence, air ’s a rank infection;
  Without thy presence, heaven ’s itself no pleasure:
  If not possessed, if not enjoyed in thee,
  What ’s earth, or sea, or air, or heaven to me?        30
The highest honors that the world can boast
  Are subjects far too low for my desire;
The brightest beams of glory are, at most,
  But dying sparkles of thy living fire;
  The loudest flames that earth can kindle be        35
  But nightly glow-worms, if compared to thee.
Without thy presence, wealth is bags of cares;
  Wisdom but folly; joy, disquiet—sadness;
Friendship is treason, and delights are snares;
  Pleasures but pain, and mirth but pleasing madness;        40
  Without thee, Lord, things be not what they be,
  Nor have their being, when compared with thee.
In having all things, and not thee, what have I?
  Not having thee, what have my labors got?
Let me enjoy but thee, what further crave I?        45
  And having thee alone, what have I not?
  I wish nor sea nor land; nor would I be
  Possessed of heaven, heaven unpossessed of thee!

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