Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
The Christian Navy
CXXXI. Anthony Nixon
Wherein Is Plainely Described the Perfit Course to Sayle to the Hauen of Eternall Happinesse

THE WRETCHED 1 seas of worldly pleasures vayne,
The mischiefes and the harmes that come thereby,
The flattering showes that trouble most the brayne,
The noysome lusts and fancies there that lie,
That causers are of euerlasting payne,        5
  I will declare, and which way we should runne,
  What course to keep, what dangers we should shun.
Within these seas, when first we enter in,
When first to wind our sayles committed be,
When pleasantly on calmed streames we swimme,        10
A mightie rocke we straight at hand may see,
All massie gold, all deckt and garnisht trimme:
  The compasse great with corners out doth lye,
  The height whereof doth reach the starrie skye:
A stately rocke beset with diamonds fayre,        15
And powldred round about with rubies red,
Where emeralds greene do glister in the ayre,
With mantle blue of saphyres ouerspred;
Where wants no stone that Nature can repayre:
  Another heauen for the time it seemes,        20
  And oft for heauen foolish man it deemes.
With swelling sandes it lyes encompast round,
And many a ragged reach it sendeth out,
Whereby a thousand thousands haue bin drown’d;
Yet neuer cease they for to sayle about,        25
In gazing still vpon this gorgeous ground,
  Till on the sands with hasty course they slide,
  And lose themselues vpon this piere of pride.
No danger greater shalt thou lightly find,
That more mishap or mischiefe more doth make,        30
Then this, that plucks away eche mortall minde,
And causeth him contrary course to take;
Who, forward bent with foolish pride-puft winde,
  Forsakes the way, till keele on sands he knocke,
  And dasheth all asunder on this rocke.        35
A wretched rocke, that, mounting to the skye,
Contenting not himselfe with earthly spoyle,
Once ouerthrew the angels sitting hye,
And cast them headlong from their happy soyle
To darkest place, where wayling now they lye:        40
  The chiefe estates and princes here below
  Haue right good cause this dangerous place to know.
*      *      *      *      *      *
Fly thou this rocke, and take good heede thereto:
For whoso keepes this dreadfull dangerous way,
Will runne the race that him will quite vndoe,        45
And misse the marke, by sayling thus astray,
That should him bring this happie hauen to.
  No greater harme can hap to mortall kinde,
  Then for to runne upon this danger blind.
For whoso once vpon the same doth fall,        50
Forgetteth God, forgets his owne estate;
Of good or vertue makes no count at all,
So he may liue aloft without a mate;
And, for t’ attayne a little glory small,
  He nought esteemes of mighty Loue his wrath,        55
  Though nought haue greater perill then pride hath.
But to auoyde this rocke and hazzard great,
Strike thou thy sayles, and beare thy count’nance low;
Shun sumptuous shew, regard not lordly seate,
Nor to be knowne: seeke rather God to know,        60
Who, being Lord and Prince of glory great,
  In poore attire, and simple shew beside,
  Came down from hie, to teach vs to shun pride.
Remember still how that the lofty mindes,
That in this world doe seeke to glister so,        65
Blowne on this rocke by fond vaine-glorious winds,
Fall headlong downe to euerlasting woe,
Where no release of torments they shall finde;
  But as they wont in colours bright to goe,
  So bright in flames of fire shall overthrow.        70
Note 1. CXXXI. Anthony Nixon.—He was the author of “The Christian Navy, etc.;” a work which was published in 1602, and dedicated to “John Whitgift, archbishop of Canterburie.” Nixon also wrote “Elisae’s Memoriall,” an extract from which is printed as the concluding piece of these volumes. [back]

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