Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
XIV. Sir Nicholas Breton
From “An Excellent Poeme upon the longing of a blessed heart, which loathing the world doth long to be with Christ.”

MEN talke of loue that know not what it is;
For could we know what loue may be indeede,
We would not haue our mindes so led amisse
With idle toyes that wanton humours feede:
But in the rules of higher reason read        5
  What loue may be so from the world conceal’d,
  Yet all too plainely to the world reveal’d.
It is too cleare a brightnesse for man’s eye;
Too high a wisedome for his wits to finde;
Too deepe a secret for his sense to trie;        10
And all too heauenly for his earthly minde:
It is a grace of such a glorious kinde
  As giues the soule a secret power to know it,
  But giues no heart nor spirit power to show it.
It is of heauen and earth the highest beautie;        15
The powerfull hand of heauen’s and earth’s creation;
The due commander of all spirits’ duetie;
The Deitie of angels’ adoration;
The glorious substance of the soule’s saluation:
  The light of truthe that all perfection trieth,        20
  And life that giues the life that neuer dieth.
It is the height of God, and hate of ill,
Tryumph of trueth, and falshood’s ouerthrow;
The onely worker of the highest will,
And onely knowledge that doeth knowledge know,        25
And onely ground where it doeth onely growe:
  It is in summe the substance of all blisse,
  Without whose blessing all thing nothing is.
But in itselfe itselfe it all containeth,
And from itselfe but of itselfe it giueth;        30
It nothing loseth, and it nothing gaineth,
But in the glorie of itselfe it liueth,
A ioy which soone away all sorrow driueth:
  The prooued truth of all perfections’ storie,
  Our God incomprehensible in glorie.        35
Thus is it not a riddle to be read,
And yet a secret to be found in reading;
But when the heart ioynes issue with the head,
In settled faith to seeke the Spirit’s feeding,
While in the woundes, that euer fresh are bleeding        40
  In Christ his side, the faithfull soule may see
  In perfect life what perfect loue may be.
No further seeke then for to finde out loue
Than in the lines of euerliuing blisse,
Where carefull conscience may in comfort prooue        45
In sacred loue that heauenly substance is,
That neuer guides the gracious minde amisse;
  But makes the soule to finde in life’s behoue
  What thing indeed, and nothing else, is loue.
Then make no doubt if either good or bad,        50
If this or that, in substance or in thought,
And by what meanes it may be sought or had,
Whereof it is, and how it may be wrought:
Let it suffice the word of truth hath taught:
  It is the grace but of the liuing God,        55
  Before beginning that with him abode.
It brought forth power to worke, wisdome to will,
Justice to iudge, mercie to execute,
Vertue to plant, charitie to fill,
Time to direct, truths falshood to confute,        60
Pitie to pleade in penitence’s suite,
  Patience to bide, and peace to giue thee rest,
  To prooue how loue doth make the spirit blest.
And this is God, and this same God is loue,
For God and loue in Charitie are one:        65
And Charitie is that same God aboue,
In whome doth liue that onely loue alone,
Without whose grace true loue is neuer none:
  Then seeke no further what is loue to finde,
  But onely carie God within thy minde.        70
Leaue in the world to looke for any loue;
For on the earth is little faith to finde,
And faithlesse hearts in too much trueth doe proue
Loue doth not liue where care is so vnkind:
Men in their natures differ from their kinde:        75
  Sinne fils the world so full of secret euils,
  Men should be gods to men, but they are deuils.
Christ lou’d to death, yet loue did neuer die;
For loue by death did worke the death of death!
Oh liuing loue! oh heauenly mysterie!        80
Too great a glory for this world beneathe,
The blessed breathing of the highest breathe.
  Blest are they borne that onely finde in thee,
  Oh blessed God, what blessed loue may be!
*      *      *      *      *      *
Amidde the skie there is one onely sunne;        85
Amidde the ayre one onely phœnix flies;
One onely time by which all houres doe runne;
One onely life that liues and neuer dies;
One onely eye that euerie thought descries;
  One onely light that shewes our onely loue;        90
  One onely loue; and that is God aboue.
To say yet further what this loue may be,
It is a holy heauenly excellence;
Aboue the power of any eye to see,
Or wit to finde by world’s experience:        95
It is the spirit of life’s quintessence;
  Whose rare effects may partly be perceiued,
  But to the full can neuer be conceiued.
It is repentance’ sweet restoratiue;
The Rosa solis the sicke soule reuiueth;        100
It is the faithfull heart’s preseruatiue;
It is the hauen where happie grace arriueth;
It is the life that death of power depriueth:
  It is, in summe, the euerlasting blisse,
  Where God alone in all his glorie is.        105
It is a ioy that neuer comes in iest;
A comfort that doth cast off euery care;
A rule wherein the life of life doth rest,
Where all the faithfull finde their happie fare;
A good that doth but onely God declare;        110
  A line that his right hand doth draw so euen,
  As leads the soule the hyway unto heauen.
If then henceforth you aske what thing is loue,
In light, in life, in grace, in God, goe looke it;
And if in these you doe not truely prooue        115
How in your hearts you may for euer booke it,
Vnhappy thinke yourselues you haue mistook it:
  For why? the life that death hath ouer-trod
  Is but the loue of Grace, and that is God.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.