Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From ‘The Hind and the Panther’
By John Dryden (1631–1700)
(See full text.)

A MILK-WHITE Hind, immortal and unchanged,
Fed on the lawns and in the forest ranged;
Without unspotted, innocent within,
She feared no danger, for she knew no sin.
Yet had she oft been chased with horns and hounds,        5
And Scythian shafts, and many wingèd wounds
Aimed at her heart; was often forced to fly,
And doomed to death, though fated not to die.
  Not so her young; for their unequal line
Was hero’s make, half human, half divine.        10
Their earthly mold obnoxious was to fate,
The immortal part assumed immortal state.
Of these a slaughtered army lay in blood,
Extended o’er the Caledonian wood,
Their native walk; whose vocal blood arose        15
And cried for pardon on their perjured foes.
Their fate was fruitful, and the sanguine seed,
Endued with souls, increased the sacred breed.
So captive Israel multiplied in chains,
A numerous exile, and enjoyed her pains.        20
With grief and gladness mixed, their mother viewed
Her martyred offspring and their race renewed;
Their corps to perish, but their kind to last,
So much the deathless plant the dying fruit surpassed.
  Panting and pensive now she ranged alone,        25
And wandered in the kingdoms once her own.
The common hunt, though from their rage restrained
By sovereign power, her company disdained,
Grinned as they passed, and with a glaring eye
Gave gloomy signs of secret enmity.        30
’Tis true she bounded by and tripped so light,
They had not time to take a steady sight;
For truth has such a face and such a mien
As to be loved needs only to be seen.
  The bloody Bear, an independent beast,        35
Unlicked to form, in groans her hate expressed.
Among the timorous kind the quaking Hare
Professed neutrality, but would not swear.
Next her the buffoon Ape, as atheists use,
Mimicked all sects and had his own to chuse;        40
Still when the Lion looked, his knees he bent,
And paid at church a courtier’s compliment.
The bristled baptist Boar, impure as he,
But whitened with the foam of sanctity,
With fat pollutions filled the sacred place,        45
And mountains leveled in his furious race;
So first rebellion founded was in grace.
But since the mighty ravage which he made
In German forests had his guilt betrayed,
With broken tusks and with a borrowed name,        50
He shunned the vengeance and concealed the shame,
So lurked in sects unseen. With greater guile
False Reynard fed on consecrated spoil;
The graceless beast by Athanasius first
Was chased from Nice, then by Socinus nursed,        55
His impious race their blasphemy renewed,
And Nature’s King through Nature’s optics viewed;
Reversed they viewed him lessened to their eye,
Nor in an infant could a God descry.
New swarming sects to this obliquely tend,        60
Hence they began, and here they all will end.
  What weight of ancient witness can prevail,
If private reason hold the public scale?
But gracious God, how well dost thou provide
For erring judgments an unerring guide!        65
Thy throne is darkness in the abyss of light,
A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
O teach me to believe thee thus concealed,
And search no farther than thy self revealed;
But her alone for my director take,        70
Whom thou hast promised never to forsake!
My thoughtless youth was winged with vain desires;
My manhood, long misled by wandering fires,
Followed false lights; and when their glimpse was gone,
My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.        75
Such was I, such by nature still I am;
Be thine the glory and be mine the shame!
Good life be now my task; my doubts are done;
What more could fright my faith than Three in One?
Can I believe eternal God could lie        80
Disguised in mortal mold and infancy,
That the great Maker of the world could die?
And after that, trust my imperfect sense
Which calls in question his omnipotence?
Can I my reason to my faith compel,        85
And shall my sight and touch and taste rebel?
Superior faculties are set aside;
Shall their subservient organs be my guide?
Then let the moon usurp the rule of day,
And winking tapers show the sun his way;        90
For what my senses can themselves perceive
I need no revelation to believe.
Can they, who say the Host should be descried
By sense, define a body glorified,
Impassible, and penetrating parts?        95
Let them declare by what mysterious arts
He shot that body through the opposing might
Of bolts and bars impervious to the light,
And stood before his train confessed in open sight.
For since thus wondrously he passed, ’tis plain        100
One single place two bodies did contain;
And sure the same omnipotence as well
Can make one body in more places dwell.
Let Reason then at her own quarry fly;
But how can finite grasp infinity?        105
  ’Tis urged again, that faith did first commence
By miracles, which are appeals to sense,
And thence concluded, that our sense must be
The motive still of credibility.
For latter ages must on former wait,        110
And what began belief must propagate.
  But winnow well this thought, and you shall find
’Tis light as chaff that flies before the wind.
Were all those wonders wrought by power Divine
As means or ends of some more deep design?        115
Most sure as means, whose end was this alone,
To prove the Godhead of the Eternal Son.
God thus asserted: Man is to believe
Beyond what Sense and Reason can conceive,
And for mysterious things of faith rely        120
On the proponent Heaven’s authority.
If then our faith we for our guide admit,
Vain is the farther search of human wit;
As when the building gains a surer stay,
We take the unuseful scaffolding away.        125
Reason by sense no more can understand;
The game is played into another hand.
Why choose we then like bilanders to creep
Along the coast, and land in view to keep,
When safely we may launch into the deep?        130
In the same vessel which our Savior bore,
Himself the pilot, let us leave the shore,
And with a better guide a better world explore.
Could he his Godhead veil with flesh and blood
And not veil these again to be our food?        135
His grace in both is equal in extent;
The first affords us life, the second nourishment.
And if he can, why all this frantic pain
To construe what his clearest words contain,
And make a riddle what he made so plain?        140
To take up half on trust and half to try,
Name it not faith, but bungling bigotry.
Both knave and fool the merchant we may call,
To pay great sums and to compound the small,
For who would break with Heaven, and would not break for all?        145
Rest then, my soul, from endless anguish freed:
Nor sciences thy guide, nor sense thy creed.
Faith is the best insurer of thy bliss;
The bank above must fail before the venture miss.

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