Giles Fletcher Jr Poems >>
Christ's Triumph after Death : Canto IV. Christ's Victory and Triumph

I.
But now the second Morning, from her bow'r,
Began to glister in her beams, and now
The roses of the day began to flow'r
In th' eastern garden; for Heav'ns smiling brow
Half insolent for joy begun to show:
The early Sun came lively dancing out,
And the brag lambs ran wantoning about,
That heav'n, and earth might seem in triumph both to shout.

II.
Th' engladded Spring, forgetfull now to weep,
Began t' eblazon from her leafy bed,
The waking swallow broke her half-year's sleep,
And every bush lay deeply purpured
With violets, the wood's late-wintry head
Wide flaming primroses set all on fire,
And his bald trees put on their green attire,
Among whose infant leaves the joyous birds conspire.

III.
And now the taller Sons (whom Titan warms)
Of unshorn mountains, blown with easy winds,
Dandled the morning's childhood in their arms,
And, if they chanc'd to slip the prouder pines,
The under Corylets did catch the shines,
To gild their leaves; saw never happy year
Such joyfull triumph, and triumphant cheer,
As though the aged world anew created were.

IV.
Say, Earth, why hast thou got thee new attire,
And stick'st thy habit full of daisies red?
Seems that thou dost to some high thought aspire,
And some new-found-out bridegroom mean'st to wed:
Tell me ye Trees, so fresh apparelled,
So never let the spitefull canker waste you,
So never let the heav'ns with lightening blast you,
Why go you now so trimly drest, or whither haste you?

V.
Answer me Jordan, why thy crooked tide
So often wanders from his nearest way,
As though some other way thy stream would slide,
And fain salute the place where something lay?
And you sweet birds, that shaded from the ray,
Sit carolling, and piping grief away,
The while the lambs to hear you dance, and play,
Tell me sweet birds, what is it you so fain would say?

VI.
And, thou fair Spouse of Earth, that every year,
Gett'st such a numerous issue of thy bride,
How chance thou hotter shin'st, and draw'st more near?
Sure thou somewhere some worthy sight hast spied,
That in one place for joy thou canst not bide:
And you dead swallows, that so lively now
Through the flit air your winged passage row,
How could new life into your frozen ashes flow?

VII.
Ye primroses, and purple violets,
Tell me, why blaze ye from your leafy bed,
And woo men's hands to rent you from your sets,
As though you would somewhere be carried,
With fresh perfumes, and velvets garnished?
But ah, I need not ask, 'tis surely so,
You all would to your Saviour's triumphs go,
There would ye all await, and humble homage do.

VIII.
There should the Earth herself with garlands new
And lovely flow'rs embellished adore,
Such roses never in her garland grew,
Such lilies never in her breast she wore,
Like beauty never yet did shine before:
There should the Sun another Sun behold,
From whence himself borrows his locks of gold,
That kindle heav'n, and earth with beauties manifold.

IX.
There might the violet, and primrose sweet
Beams of more lively, and more lovely grace,
Arising from their beds of incense meet;
There should the swallow see new life embrace
Dead ashes, and the grave unheal his face,
To let the living from his bowels creep,
Unable longer his own dead to keep:
There heav'n and earth should see their Lord awake from sleep.

X.
Their Lord, before by other judg'd to die,
Now Judge of all himself; before forsaken
Of all the world, that from his aid did fly,
Now by the Saints into their armies taken;
Before for an unworthy man mistaken,
Now worthy to be God confess'd; before
With blasphemies by all the basest tore,
Now worshipped by Angels, that him low adore.

XI.
Whose garment was before indipt in blood,
But now, imbrighten'd into heav'nly flame,
The Sun itself outglitters, though he should
Climb to the top of the celestial frame,
And force the stars go hide themselves for shame:
Before that under earth was buried,
But now about the heavens is carried,
And there for ever by the Angels heried.

XII.
So fairest Phosphor the bright morning star,
But newly wash'd in the green element,
Before the drowsy Night is half aware,
Shooting his flaming locks with dew besprent,
Springs lively up into the orient,
And the bright drove, fleec'd all in gold, he chases
To drink, that on the Olympic mountain grazes,
The while the minor Planets forfeit all their faces.

XIII.
So long he wander'd in our lower sphere,
That heav'n began his cloudy stars despise,
Half envious, to see on earth appear
A greater light, than flam'd in his own skies:
At length it burst for spite, and out there flies
A globe of winged angels, swift as thought,
That on their spotted feathers lively caught
The sparkling earth, and to their azure fields it brought.

XIV.
The rest, that yet amazed stood below,
With eyes cast up, as greedy to be fed,
And hands upheld, themselves to ground did throw,
So when the Trojan boy was ravished,
As through th' Idalian woods they say he fled,
His aged guardians stood all dismay'd,
Some lest he should have fallen back afraid,
And some their hasty vows, and timely prayers said.

XV.
Toss up your heads ye everlasting gates,
And let the Prince of Glory enter in:
At whose brave volley of siderial states,
The sun to blush, and stars grow pale were seen,
When, leaping first from earth, he did begin
To climb his angels' wings; then open hang
Your chrystal doors, so all the chorus sang
Of heav'nly birds, as to the stars they nimbly sprang.

XVI.
Hark how the floods clap their applauding hands,
The pleasant valleys singing for delight,
And wanton mountains dance about the lands,
The while the fields, struck with the heav'nly light,
Set all their flow'rs a smiling at the sight,
The trees laugh with their blossoms, and the sound
Of the triumphant shout of praise, that crown'd
The flaming Lamb, breaking through heav'n, hath passage found.

XVII.
Out leap the antique Patriarchs, all in haste,
To see the pow'rs of Hell in triumph led,
And with small stars a garland interchas'd
Of olive leaves they bore, to crown his head,
That was before with thorns degloried,
After them flew the Prophets, brightly stol'd
In shining lawn, and wimpled manifold,
Striking their ivory harps, strung all in chords of gold.

XVIII.
To which the Saints victorious carols sung,
Ten thousand Saints at once, that with the sound,
The hollow vaults of heav'n for triumph rung:
The Cherubins their clamours did confound
With all the rest, and clapp'd their wings around:
Down from their thrones the Dominations flow,
And at his feet their crowns, and sceptres throw,
And all the princely Souls fell on their faces low.

XIX.
Nor can the Martyrs wounds' them stay behind,
But out they rush among the heav'nly crowd,
Seeking their heav'n out of their heav'n to find,
Sounding their silver trumpets out so loud,
That the shrill noise broke through the starry cloud,
And all the virgin Souls, in pure array,
Came dancing forth, and making joyous play;
So him they lead along into the courts of day.

XX.
So him they lead into the courts of day,
Where never war, nor wounds abide him more,
But in that house, eternal peace doth play,
Acquieting the souls, that new before
Their way to heav'n through their own blood did score,
But now, estranged from all misery,
As far as heav'n and earth discoasted lie,
Swelter in quiet waves of immortality.

XXI.
And if great things by smaller may be guessed,
So in the midst of Neptune's angry tide
Our Britain Island, like the weedy nest
Of true halcyon, on the waves doth ride,
And softly sailing, scorns the water's pride;
While all the rest, drowned on the Continent
And tost in bloody waves, their wounds lament,
And stand to see our peace, as struck with wonderment.

XXII.
The ship of France religious waves do toss,
And Greece itself is now grown barbarous;
Spain's children hardly dare the ocean cross,
And Belge's field lies waste and ruinous,
That unto those the heavens are envious,
And unto them, themselves are strangers grown,
And unto these, the seas are faithless known,
And unto her, alas! her own is not her own.

XXIII.
Here only shut we Janus' iron gates,
And call the welcome Muses to our springs,
And are but pilgrims from our heavenly states,
The while the trusty earth sure plenty brings,
And ships through Neptune safely spread their wings.
Go, blessed Island, wander where thou please,
Unto thy God, or men, heaven, lands, or seas;
Thou canst not lose thy way; thy king with all hath peace.

XXIV.
Dear Prince, thy subject's joy, hope of their heirs,
Picture of peace, or breathing image rather,
The certain argument of all our prayers,
Thy Harry's and thy country's lovely father,
Let peace in endless joys forever bathe her
Within thy sacred breast, that at thy birth
Brought'st her with thee from heaven to dwell on earth,
Making our earth a heaven, and paradise of mirth.

XXV.
Let not my liege misdeem these humble lays,
As licked with soft and supple blandishment,
Or spoken to disparagon his praise;
For though pale Cynthia near her brother's tent
Soon disappears in the white firmament
And gives him back the beams before were his,
Yet when he verges, or is hardly riz,
She the vive image of her absent brother is.

XXVI.
Nor let the Prince of Peace his beadsman blame,
That with his Stewart dares his Lord compare,
And heavenly peace with earthly quiet shame;
So pines to lowly plants compared are,
And lightning Phoebus to a little star.
And well I wot, my rhyme, albe unsmooth,
Ne says but what it means, ne means but sooth,
Ne harms the good, ne good to harmful person doth.

XXVII.
Gaze but upon the house where man embowers:
With flowers and rushes paved in his way,
Where all the creatures are his servitors;
The winds do sweep his chambers every day,
And clouds do wash his rooms; the ceiling gay,
Starred aloft, the gilded knobs embrave.
If such a house God to another gave,
How shine those glittering courts He for Himself will have?

XXVIII.
And if a sullen cloud as sad as night,
In which the sun may seem embodied,
Depured of all his dross, we see so white,
Burning in melted gold his wat'ry head,
Or round with ivory edges silvered,
What luster super-excellent will he
Lighten on those that all his sunshine see,
In that all-glorious court in which all glories be?

XXIX.
If but one sun, with his diffusive fires,
Can paint the stars the whole world with light,
And joy and life in each heart inspires,
And every saint shall shine in heaven as bright
As doth the sun in his transcendent might,
(As faith may well believe what truth once says)
What shall so many suns united rays
But dazzle all the eyes, that now in heaven we praise?

XXX.
Here let my Lord hang up His conquering lance
And bloody armor with late slaughter warm,
And looking down on His weak militants,
Behold His saints, midst of their hot alarm,
Hang all their golden hopes upon His arm;
And in this lower field dispacing wide,
Through windy thoughts that would their nails misguide,
Anchor their fleshly ships fast in His wounded side.

XXXI.
Here may the band that now in triumph shines,
And that, before they were invested thus,
In earthly bodies carried heavenly minds,
Pitched round about in order glorious,
Their sunny tents and houses luminous;
All the eternal day in songs employing,
Joying their end, without end of their joying,
While their Almighty Prince destruction is destroying.

XXXII.
Full, yet without satiety, of that
Which whets and quiets greedy appetite,
Where never sun did rise, nor ever set;
But one eternal day and endless light
Gives time to those who time is infinite;
Speaking with thought, obtaining without fee,
Beholding Him whom never eye could see,
And magnifying Him that cannot greater be.

XXXIII.
How can such joy as this want words to speak?
And yet what words can speak such joy as this?
Far from the world, that might their quiet break,
Here the glad souls the face of beauty kiss,
Poured out in pleasure on their beds of bliss;
And drunk with nectar torrents, ever hold
Their eyes on Him, whose graces manifold,
The more they do behold, the more they would behold.

XXXIV.
Their sight drinks lovely fires in at their eyes;
Their brain sweet incense with fine breath accloys,
That on God's sweating altar burning lies;
Their hungry ears feed on their heavenly noise
That angels sing, to tell their untold joys;
Their understanding naked truth, their wills
The all, and self-sufficient Goodness fills,
That nothing here is wanting, but the want of ills.

XXXV.
No sorrow now hangs clouding on their brow,
No bloodless malady empales their face,
No age drops on their hairs his silver snow,
No nakedness their bodies doth embase,
No poverty themselves and theirs disgrace,
No fear of death the joy of life devours,
No unchaste sleep their precious time deflowers,
No loss, no grief, no change wait on their winged hours.

XXXVI.
But now their naked bodies scorn the cold,
And from their eyes joy looks, and laughs at pain;
The infant wonders how he came so old,
And old man how he came so young again;
Still resting, though from sleep they still refrain,
Where all are rich, and yet no gold they owe,
And all are kings, and yet no subjects know.
All full, and yet no time on food they do bestow.

XXXVII.
For things that pass are past, and in this field
The indeficient spring no winter fears;
The trees together fruit and blossom yield;
The unfading lily leaves of silver bears,
And crimson rose a scarlet garment wears.
And all of these on the saints' bodies grow,
Not, as they wont, on baser earth below;
Three rivers here of milk and wine and honey flow.

XXXVIII.
About the holy city rolls a flood
Of molten crystal, like a sea of glass,
On which weak stream a strong foundation stood;
Of living diamond the building was,
That all things else besides itself did pass;
Her streets, instead of stones, the stars did pave,
And little pearls for dust, it seemed to have,
On which soft-streaming manna, like pure snow, did wave.

XXXIX.
In midst of this city celestial,
Where the eternal temple should have rose,
Lightened the Idea Beatifical:
End and beginning of each thing that grows,
Whose self no end, nor yet beginning knows;
That hath no eyes to see, nor ears to hear,
Yet sees and hears and is all eye, all ear;
That nowhere is contained and yet is everywhere.

XL.
Changer of all things, yet immutable;
Before and after all, the first and last,
That moving all, is yet immovable;
Great without quantity, in whose forecast
Things past are present, things to come are past;
Swift without motion, to whose open eye
The hearts of wicked men unbreasted lie,
At once absent and present to them, far and nigh.

XLI.
It is no flaming luster made of light,
No sweet consent, or well-timed harmony,
Ambrosia for to feast the appetite,
Or flowery odor mixed with spicery,
No soft embrace or pleasure bodily;
And yet it is a kind of inward feast,
A harmony that sounds within the breast,
An odor, light, embrace, in which the soul doth rest.

XLII.
A heavenly feast, no hunger can consume,
A light unseen, yet shines in every place,
A sound no time can steal, a sweet perfume
No winds can scatter, an entire embrace
That no satiety can e'er unlace;
Ingraced into so high a favor, there
The saints with their beau-peers whole words outwear,
And things unseen do see, and things unheard do hear.

XLIII.
Ye blessed souls, grown richer by your spoil,
Whose loss, though great, is cause of greater gains.
Here may your endless evening that remains,
Among those white flocks and celestial trains
That feed upon their Shepherd's eyes, and frame
That heavenly music of so wondrous frame,
Psalming aloud the holy honors of His name.

XLIV.
Had I a voice of steel to tune my song,
Were every verse as smoothly filed as glass,
And every member turned to a tongue,
And every tongue were made of sounding brass,
Yet all that skill and all this strength, alas!
Should it presume to gild, were misadvised
The place where David hath new songs devised,
As in his burning throne he sits emparadised.

XLV.
Most happy prince, whose eyes those stars behold,
Treading ours under feet, now mayest thou pour
That overflowing skill wherewith of old
Thou wont'st to comb rough speech; now mayest thou shower
Fresh streams of praise upon that holy bower,
Which well we heaven call, not that it rolls,
But that it is the haven of our souls:
Most happy prince, whose sight so heavenly sight beholds!

XLVI.
Ah, foolish shepherds, that were wont esteem
Your God all rough and shaggy-haired to be;
And yet far wiser shepherds than ye deem,
For who so poor (thought who so rich) as He,
When, with us hermiting in low degree,
He washed His flocks in Jordan's spotless tide;
And, that His dear remembrance ay might hide,
Did to us come and with us lived and for us died?

XLVII.
But now so lively colors did embeam
His sparkling forehead, and so shiny rays
Kindled His flaming locks that down did stream
In curls along His neck, where sweetly plays
(Singing His wounds of love in sacred lays)
His dearest spouse, spouse of the dearest Lover,
Knitting a thousand knots over and over,
And dying still for love, but they her still recover.

XLVIII.
Fair Egliset, that at His eyes doth dress
Her glorious face, those eyes from whence are shed
Infinite bel-amours, where to express
His love, high God all heaven as captive leads,
And all the banners of His grace dispreads,
And in those windows doth His arms englaze,
And on those eyes the angels all do gaze,
And from those eyes the lights of heaven do glean their blaze.

XLIX.
But let the Kentish lad that lately taught
His oaten reed the trumpet's silver sound,
Young Thyrsilis, and for his music brought
The willing spheres from heaven to lead a round
Of dancing nymphs and herds, that sung and crowned
Eclecta's hymen with ten thousand flowers
Of choicest praise, and hung her heavenly bowers
With saffron garlands, dressed for nuptial paramours.

L.
Let his shrill trumpet with her silver blast,
Of fair Eclecta and her spousal bed,
Be the sweet pipe and smooth encomiast;
But my green Muse, hiding her younger head
Under old Camus' flaggy banks, that spread
Their willow locks abroad, and all the day
With their own wat'ry shadows wanton play,
Dares not those high amours and love-sick songs assay.

LI.
Impotent words, weak lines, that strive in vain,
In vain, alas, to tell so heavenly sight!
So heavenly sight as none can greater feign,
Feign what he can that seems of greatest might,
Might any yet compare with Infinite?
Infinite sure those joys, my words but light;
Light is the palace where she dwells — O blessed wight!