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For fear lest, if he chance to look on thee,
Thou turn to nought and quite confounded be.
But lowly fall before his mercy-seat,
Close-covered with the Lamb's integrity
From the just wrath of this avengeful threat
That sits upon the righteous throne on high:
His throne is built upon eternity,
More firm and durable than steel or brass,
Or the hard diamond, which them both doth pass.
His sceptre is the rod of Righteousness,
With which he bruiseth all his foes to dust,
And the great Dragon strongly doth repress
Under the rigour of his judgment just;
His seat is Truth, to which the faithful trust,
From whence proceed her beams, so pure and bright,
That all about him sheddeth glorious light:
Light far exceeding that bright-blazing spark
Which darted is from Titan's flaming head,
That with his beams enlumineth the dark
And dampish air, whereby all things are read,
Whose nature yet so much is marvelled
Of mortal wits that it doth much amaze
The greatest wizards which thereon do gaze.
But that immortal light which there doth shine
Is many thousand times more bright, more clear,
More excellent, more glorious, more divine,
Through which to God all mortal actions here,
And even the thoughts of men, do plain appear;
For from the Eternal Truth it doth proceed,
Through heavenly virtue which her beams do breed.
With the great glory of that wondrous light
His throne is all encompassed around,
And hid in his own brightness from the sight
Of all that look thereon with eyes unsound;
And underneath his feet are to be found
Thunder, and lightning, ard tempestuous fire,
The instruments of his avenging ire.
There in his bosom Sapience doth sit,
The sovereign dearling of the Deity,
Clad like a queen in royal robes, most fit
For so great power and peerless majesty,
And all with gems and jewels gorgeously
Adorned, that brighter than the stars appear,
And make her native brightness seem more clear.
And on her head a crown of purest gold
Is set, in sign of highest sovereignty ;
And in her land a sceptre she doth hold
With which she rules the house of God on high,
And menageth the ever-moving sky,
And in the same these lower creatures all
Subjected to her power imperial.
Both heaven and earth obey unto her will,
And all the creatures which they both contain;
For of her fulness, which the world doth fill,
They all partake, and do in state remain
As their great Maker did at first ordain,
Through observation of her high beheast,
By which they first were made and still increased.
The fairness of her face no tongue can tell,
For she the daughters of all women's race,
And angels eke, in beauty doth excel,
Sparkled on her from God's own glorious face,
And more increased by her own goodly grace,
That it doth far exceed all human thought,
Ne can on earth compared be to aught:
Ne could that painter, had he lived yet,
Which pictured Venus with so curious quill,
That all posterity admired it,
Have pourtrayed this, for all his maistering skill ;
Ne she herself, liad she remained still,
And were as fair as fabling wits do feign,
Could once come near this beauty sovereign.
But had those wits, the wonders of their days,
Or that sweet Teian poet which did spend.
His plenteous vein in setting forth her praise,
Seeni but a glimpse of this which I pretend, e
How wondrously would he her face commend,
Above that idol of his feigning thought,
That all the world should with his rhymes be fraught !
How then dare I, the novice of his art,
Presume to picture so divine a wight,
Or hope to express her least perfection's part,
Whose beauty fills the heavens with her light,
And darks the earth with shadow of her sight?
Ah, gentle Muse! thou art too weak and faint
The portrait of so heavenly hue to paint.
Let angels, which her goodly face behold
And see at will, her sovereign praises sing,
And those most saered mysteries unfold
Of that fair love of mighty Heaven's King;
Enough is me to admire so heavenly thing,
And, being thus with her huge love possessed,
In the only wonder of her self to rest.
But whoso may, thrice happy man him hold,
Of all on earth whom God so much doth grace,
And lets his own beloved to behold;
For in the view of her celestial face
All joy, all bliss, all happiness have place ;
Ne ought on earth can want unto the wight
Who of her self can win the wishful sight.
For she, out of her secret treasury,
Plenty of riches forth on him will pour,
Even heavenly riches, which there hidden lie
Within the closet of her chastest bower,
The eternal portion of her precious dower,
Which mighty God hath given to her free,
And to all those which thereof worthy be.
None thereof worthy be but those whom she
Vouchsafeth to her presence to receive,
And letteth them her lovely face to see,
Whereof such wondrous pleasure they conceive,
And sweet contentment, that it doth bereave
Their soul of sense through infinite delight,
And them transport from flesh into the sprite;
In which they see such admirable things
As carries them into an extasy,
And hear such heavenly notes and carollings
Of God's high praise, that fills the brazen sky,
And feel such joy and pleasure inwardly,
That maketh them all worldly cares forget,
And only think on that before them set.
Ne from thenceforth doth any fleshly sense
Or idle thought of carthly things remain,
But all that erst seemed sweet seems now offence,
And all that pleased erst now seems to pain :
Their joy, their comfort, their desire, their gain,
Is fixed all on that which now they see ;
All other sights but feigned shadows be.
And that fair lamp which useth to inflame
The hearts of men with self-consuming fire
Thenceforth seems foul, and full of sinful blame;
And all that pomp to which proud minds aspire
By name of honour, and so much desire,
Seems to them baseness, and all riches dross,
And all mirth sadness, and all lucre loss.
So full their eyes are of that gloricus sight,
And senses fraught with such satiety,
That in nought else on earth they can delight
But in the aspect of that felicity,
Which they have written in their inward eye,
On which they feed, and in their fastened mind
All happy joy and full contentment find.
Ah then, my hungry soul ! which long hast fed
On idle fancies of my foolish thought,
And, with false Beauty's flattering bait misled,
Hast after vain deceitful shadows sought,
Which all are fled, and now have left thee nought
But late repentance through thy folly's prief,
Ah! cease to gaze on matter of thy grief;
And look at last up to that sovereign light
From whose pure beams all perfect Beauty springs
That kindleth love in every godly sprite,
Even the Love of God, which loathing brings
Of this vile world and these gay-sceming things;
With whose sweet pleasures being so possessed,
Thy straying thonglits henceforth for ever rest.
MIXOR ELIZABETH AN POETRY.
In the six or seven years from 1590 to 1536, what
a world of wealth had thus been added to our poetry by Spenser alone! what a different thing from what it was before had the English language been made by his writings to natives, to foreigners, to all posterity! But England was now a land of song, and the busiest and most productive age of our poetical literature had fairly commenced. What are commonly called the minor poets of the Elizabethan age are to be counted by hundreds, and few of them are altogether without merit. If they have nothing else, the least gisted of them have at least something of the freshness and airiness of that balmy morn, some tones cauglit from their greater contemporaries, some echoes of the spirit of music that then filled the universal air. For the most part the minor Elizabethan poetry is remarkable for ingenuity and elaboration, often carried to the length of quaintness, both in the thought and the expression ; but, if there be more in it of art than of nature, the art is still that of a high school, and always consists in something more than the mere disguising of prose in the dress of poetry. If it is sometimes unnatural, it is at least very seldom simply insipid, like much of the well-sounding verse of more recent eras. The writers are always in earnest, whether with their nature or their art; they never write from no impulse, and with no object except that of stringing commonplaces into rhyme or rhythm ; even when it is most absurd, what they produce is still fanciful, or at the least fantastical. The breath of some sort of life or other is