Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
LXXVIII. Thomas Churchyard
… CHARITIE 1 is the only staffe and stay
To all estates; for where she stoutly stands,
She sets all free, and breaketh bondage-bands:
Forgiues great sinnes, and suffers many a wrong;
She giues a badge that euery Christian weares;        5
And in all worlds hir liurey lasteth long:
It garded is all round about with teares,
And she hirselfe a branch of oliue beares,
In signe of peace, and mercie mixt with grace,
That pitie takes of eurie rufull case.        10
This charitie giues as much as men may craue,
And soone forgets the bounties she bestowes;
Takes great delight the life of man to saue
By vertue of good turnes that from hir floes,
Whose sent is like the white and sweet red rose:        15
For all hir giftes and graces beares such flowres,
That makes poor men to laugh when fortune lowres.
On charitie the hungrie dailie feeds,
As lambes and sheepe in fruitfull pastures liue:
She giues few words where she bestoes good deeds;        20
The more we neede, the sooner will she giue:
As corn from chaffe is sifted through the siue,
So shee tries out from dust and drosse the gold,
As wisdome doth the woorth of men vnfold.
This charitie is first that fauour findes,        25
And shall be last, that wins our world’s good-will,
Begot by grace, and nurst in noble mindes,
That staies and stands vpon their honor still:
’Tis seen far off, as torch is on an hill;
Felt near at hand, and found out by the light        30
Which in darke daies doth glad ech good man’s sight.
When fortune’s wrath hath wounded many a wight,
She brings a boxe of balm to heal ech sore,
That makes sad mind and heauie hart so light,
It neuer thinks on wretched chance no more.        35
If charitie like victor goes before,
Come after hir, proud world, with all thy braues!
Like conqueror she triumphs on hir slaues.
Note 1. LXXVIII. Thomas Churchyard.—He was a celebrated writer of prose and poetry in the age of Elizabeth. His works are chiefly of a secular character. The first specimen here is transcribed from “A Mvsicall Consort of Heauenly Harmonie, compounded out of manie parts of musicke, called Chvrchyard’s Charitie.” This work appeared in 1595, and was dedicated “To the Right Honorable Robert Deverevx, Earle of Essex.” The “Verses fit for euery one to knowe and confesse” are an extract from a rare work in Lambeth Palace library, entitled “The Wonders of the Air:” date 1602. Churchyard contributed one of the poetical translations to the Old Version of Psalms. [back]

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