Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
For the Magdalene
By William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649)
‘THESE 1 eyes, dear Lord, once brandons of desire,
Frail scouts betraying what they had to keep,
Which their own heart, then others set on fire,
Their trait’rous black before thee here out-weep;
These locks, of blushing deeds the gilt attire,        5
Waves curling, wrackful shelves to shadow deep,
Rings wedding souls to sin’s lethargic sleep,
To touch thy sacred feet do now aspire. 2
In seas of care behold a sinking bark,
By winds of sharp remorse unto thee driven,        10
O let me not be Ruin’s aim’d-at mark!
My faults confessed, Lord, say they are forgiven.’
Thus sighed to Jesus the Bethanian fair,
His tear-wet feet still drying with her hair.
Note 1. From Flowers of Sion, 1623. Line 1, Brandons: torches. The folio and the collected edition of 1656 read tapers. [back]
Note 2. Lines 5–8, Prof. Schelling finds these lines permeated with subtle punning, interpreting them as follows: “These locks, the gilt (i.e., the golden and gilty) attire of blushing deeds; waves (of hair and of the sea) curling to shadow deep (conceal in their depths) wrackful shelves (shipwrecking reefs); rings (ringlets of hair), which wed souls, etc., do now aspire to touch thy sacred feet.” [back]

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