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Phineas Fletcher

A Litany

DROP, drop, slow tears,
   And bathe those beauteous feet
Which brought from Heaven
   The news and Prince of Peace:
Cease not, wet eyes,
   His mercy to entreat;
To cry for vengeance
   Sin doth never cease.
In your deep floods
   Drown all my faults and fears;
Nor let His eye
   See sin, but through my tears.

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The Dying Husband's Farewell

I LEAVE them, now the trumpet calls away;
In vain thine eyes beg for some times reprieving;
Yet in my children here immortall stay:
In one I die, in many ones am living:
In them, and for them stay thy too much grieving:
Look but on them, in them thou still wilt see
Marry'd with thee again thy twice-two Antonie.

And when with little hands they stroke thy face,
As in thy lap they sit (ah carelesse) playing,
And stammering ask a kisse, give them a brace;
The last from me : and then a little staying,
And in their face some part of me survaying,
In them give me a third, and with a teare
Show thy deare love to him, who lov'd thee ever deare.

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The Divine Lover

I

Me Lord? can’st thou mispend
One word, misplace one look on me?
Call’st me thy Love, thy Friend?
Can this poor soul the object be
Of these love-glances, those life-kindling eyes?
What? I the Centre of thy arms embraces?
Of all thy labour I the prize?
Love never mocks, Truth never lies.
Oh how I quake: Hope fear, fear hope displaces:
I would, but cannot hope: such wondrous love amazes.

II

See, I am black as night,
See I am darkness: dark as hell.
Lord thou more fair than light;
Heav’ns Sun thy Shadow; can Sunns dwell
With Shades? ’twixt light, and darkness what commerce?

[...] Read more

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Instability of Human Greatness

Fond man, that looks on earth for happiness,
And here long seeks what here is never found!
For all our good we hold from Heaven by lease,
With many forfeits and conditions bound;
Nor can we pay the fine and rentage due;
Though now but writ, and sealed, and given anew,
Yet daily we it break, then daily must renew.

Why shouldst thou here look for perpetual good,
At every loss 'gainst Heaven's face repining?
Do but behold where glorious cities stood,
With gilded tops and silver turrets shining;
There now the heart, fearless of greyhound, feeds,
And loving pelican in safety breeds:
There screeching satyrs fill the people's empty stedes.

Where is the Assyrian lion's golden hide,
That all the East once grasp'd in lordly paw?
Where that great Persian bear, whose swelling pride
The lion's self tore out with rav'nous jaw?

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The Happy Shepherd

Thrice, oh, thrice happy, shepherd's life and state!
When courts are happiness' unhappy pawns!
His cottage low and safely humble gate
Shuts out proud Fortune with her scorns and fawns
No feared treason breaks his quiet sleep,
Singing all day, his flocks he learns to keep;
Himself as innocent as are his simple sheep.

No Syrian worms he knows, that with their thread
Draw out their silken lives: nor silken pride:
His lambs' warm fleece well fits his little need,
Not in that proud Sidonian tincture dyed:
No empty hopes, no courtly fears him fright;
For begging wants his middle fortune bite:
But sweet content exiles both misery and spite.

Instead of music, and base flattering tongues,
Which wait to first salute my lord's uprise;
The cheerful lark wakes him with early songs,
And birds' sweet whistling notes unlock his eyes

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The Apollyonists - Canto 1

I
Of men, nay beasts; worse, monsters; worst of all,
Incarnate fiends, English Italianate;
Of priests, O no! mass-priests, priests-cannibal,
Who make their Maker, chew, grind, feed, grow fat
With flesh divine; of that great city's fall,
Which born, nursed, grown with blood, the earth's empress sat,
Cleansed, spoused to Christ, yet back to whoredom fell,
None can enough, something I fain would tell.
How black are quenched lights! Fallen heaven's a double hell.

II.
Great Lord, who graspest all creatures in Thy hand,
Who in Thy lap layest down proud Thetis' head,
And bindest her white curled locks in cauls of sand,
Who gatherest in Thy fist and layest in bed
The sturdy winds, who groundest the floating land
On fleeting seas, and over all hast spread
Heaven's brooding wings to foster all below,
Who makest the sun without all fire to glow,

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