Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
An Hymn of True Happiness
LXIII. William Drummond
    AMIDST 1 the azure cleare
    Of Jordan’s sacred streames,
Jordan, of Libanon the offspring deare,
    When zephires flowres vnclose,
    And sunne shines with new beames,        5
With graue and statelie grace a nymphe arose.
    Vpon her head shee ware
    Of amaranthes a crowne;
Her left hand palmes, her right a brandon 2 beare.
    Vnvail’d skinne’s whitenesse lay,        10
    Gold haires in curles hang downe,
Eyes sparkled ioy, more bright than starre of day.
    The flood a throne her rear’d
    Of waues, most like that heauen
Where beaming starres in glorie turne ensphear’d:        15
    The air stood calme and cleare,
    No sigh by windes was giuen;
Birdes left to sing, heards feed, her voice to heare.
    “World-wand’ring sorrie wights,
    Whom no thing can content,        20
Within these varying lists of dayes and nights
    Whose life, ere known amisse,
    In glittering griefes is spent,
Come learne,” said shee, “what is your choicest blisse;
    “From toyle and pressing cares        25
    How ye may respit finde,
A sanctuarie from soule-thralling snares,
    A port to harboure sure,
    In spite of waues and winde,
Which shall, when times’ houre-glass is runne, endure.        30
    “Not happie is that life
    Which yee as happie hold:
No; but a sea of feares, a field of strife,
    Charg’d on a throne to sit,
    With diademes of gold,        35
Preseru’d by force, and still obseru’d by wit.
    “Huge treasures to enioy,
    Of all her gemmes spoyle Inde,
All Seres’ silke in garments to imploy,
    Deliciouslie to feed,        40
    The phœnix’ plumes to finde
To rest vpon, or decke your purple bed;
    “Fraile beautie to abuse,
    And, wanton Sybarites,
On past or present touch of sense to muse;        45
    Neuer to hear of noise
    But what the ear delites,
Sweet musick’s charmes, or charming flatterer’s voice.
    “Nor can it blisse you bring,
    Hidde nature’s depthes to know,        50
Why matter changeth, whence each forme doth spring;
    Nor that your fame should range,
    And after-worlds it blow
From Tanais to Nile, from Nile to Gange.
    “All these haue not the powre        55
    To free the minde from feares,
Nor hiddeous horror can allay one howre,
    When Death in stealthe doth glance,
    In sickness lurke or yeares,
And wakes the soule from out her mortall trance.        60
    “No; but blest life is this:
    With chaste and pure desire
To turne vnto the load-starre of all blisse,
    On God the minde to rest,
    Burnt vp with sacred fire,        65
Possessing him, to bee by him possest;
    “When to the baulmie east
    Sunne doth his light imparte,
Or when he diueth in the lowlie west
    And rauisheth the day,        70
    With spotlesse hand and hart,
Him cheerefullie to praise, and to Him pray;
    “To heed each action so
    As euer in his sight,
More fearing doing ill than passiue woe;        75
    Not to seeme other thing
    Than what yee are aright;
Neuer to doe what may repentance bring:
    “Not to bee blowne with pride,
    Nor mou’d at glorie’s breath,        80
Which, shadow-like, on wings of time doth glide;
    So malice to disarme,
    And conquer hastie wrath,
As to doe good to those that worke your harme:
    “To hatch no base desires,        85
    Or gold or land to gaine,
Well pleased with what by vertue one acquires;
    To haue the wit and will
    Consorting in one straine,
Than what is good to haue no higher skill:        90
    “Neuer on neighbour’s well
    With cockatrice’s eye
To look, nor make another’s heauen your hell;
    Nor to be beautie’s thrall;
    All fruitlesse loue to flie,        95
Yet louing still a loue transcending all,—
    “A loue, which, while it burnes
    The soule with fairest beames,
To that vncreatde Sunne the soule it turnes,
    And makes such beautie proue        100
    That, if sense saw her gleames,
All lookers-on would pine and die for loue.
    “Who such a life doth liue
    Yee happie euen may call,
Ere ruthlesse Death a whished end him giue;        105
    And after then, when giuen,
    More happie by his fall,
For humane’s earth enioying angels’ heauen.
    “Swift is your mortall race,
    And glassie is the field;        110
Vaste are desires not limited by grace:
    Life a weak tapper is;
    Then while it light doth yeeld,
Leaue flying ioyes, embrace this lasting blisse.”
    This when the nymph had said,        115
    She diu’d within the flood,
Whose face with smyling curles long after staid;
    Then sighes did zephyres presse,
    Birdes sang from euerie wood,
And ecchoes rang—“This was true happinesse.”        120
Note 1. LXIII. William Drummond of Hawthornden united in an eminent degree the characters of poet and historian. He wrote the history of Scotland during the reigns of the five first Jameses, and also poems, consisting of Sonnets, Epigrams, Epitaphs, and some large pieces, of which many are on moral and sacred subjects. His sonnets rank among the most perfect specimens of this kind of composition; and in all his sacred poetry there is a genuine poetical feeling, and a natural sweetness and simplicity exhibited, which charm the reader. Ben Jonson, the contemporary of Drummond, said that his verses “smelled of the schooles,” but they were generally the schools of Nature. Drummond’s poems first appeared in 1616; but the most perfect edition of his “Flowers of Sion” was published in 1623. [back]
Note 2. Torch. [back]

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