Edward Benlowes Poems >>
Theophila Or Loves Sacrifice. Canto XIII

THE PLEASVRE OF RETIREMENT.

The Reinvitation.

  THEOPHISA's fill'd wth Sweetness, & so Fair:
  Her Eyes so mild, her Breath perfumes the Aire:
  Shee's a refin'd, & rare--composed Creature,
  Compleat in Mind, & as exact in Feature:
  Ingenious Sweet, faire, & proportion well,
  In Her do meet without a Parallell.


THE ARGUMENT.
  Who Chance, Change, Hopes, and Fears can under bring;
  Who can obey, yet rule each Thing,
  And sleight Misfortune with a brave Disdain, He's King.

  When lavish Phoebus pours out melted Gold;
  And Zephyrs breath does Spice unfold;
  And we the blew--ey'd Skie in Tissue--Vest behold.

  Then, view the Mower, who with big--swoln Veins,
  Wieldeth the crooked Sythe, and strains
  To barb the flowrie Tresses of the verdant Plains.

  Then view we Valleyes, by whose fringed Seams
  A Brook of liquid Silver streams,
  Whose Water Chrystal seems, Sand Gold, and Pebbles Gems;

  Where bright--scal'd gliding Fish on trembling Line
  We strike, when they our Hook entwine:
  Thence do we make a Visit to a Grave Divine.

  With harmlesse Shepherds we sometimes do stay,
  Whose Plainnesse does outvie the Gay,
  While nibling Ewes do bleat, & frisking Lambs do stray.

  With Them, we strive to recollect, and finde
  Disperst Flocks of our rambling Minde;
  Internal Vigils are to that due Work design'd.

  No puffing Hopes, no shrinking Fears Them fright;
  No begging Wants on Them do light;
  They wed Content, while Sloth feels Want, & Brav'ry Spite.

  While Swains the burth'ning Fleeces shear away,
  Oat--pipes to past'ral Sonnets Play,
  And all the merry Hamlet Bells chime Holy Day.

  In neighbring Meads, with Ermin Mantles proud,
  Our Eyes and Ears discern a Crowd
  Of wide--horn'd Oxen, trampling Grass with Lowings loud.

  Next Close feeds many a strutting udder'd Cow;
  Hard by, tir'd Cattle draw the Plough,
  Whose galled Necks with Toil and Languishment do bow.

  Neer which, in restlesse Stalks, wav'd Grain promotes
  The skipping Grashoppers hoarse Notes;
  While round the aery Choristers distend their Throats.

  Dry Seas, with golden Surges, ebbe and flow;
  The ripening Ears smile as we go,
  With Boasts to crack the Barn, so numberless they show.

  When Sol to Virgo Progresse takes, and Fields
  With his prolonged Lustre gilds;
  When Sirius chinks the Ground, the Swain his Hope then builds.

  Soon as the Sultrie Month has mellow'd Corn,
  Gnats shake their Spears, and winde their Horn;
  The Hindes do sweat through both their Skins, & Shopsters scorn.

  Their Orchards with ripe Fruit impregned be,
  Fruit that from Taste of Death is free,
  And such as gives Delight with choice Varietie.

  Yet who in's thriving Minde improves his State,
  And Virtue Steward Makes, his Fate
  Transcends; He's rich at an inestimable Rate.

  He shuns Prolixer Law--suits; nor does wait
  At Thoughtful Grandies prouder Gate;
  Nor 'larming Trumpets him, nor drowning Storms amate.

  From costly Bills of greedy Emp'ricks free,
  From Plea of Ambo--dexters Fee,
  From Vicar Any Thing, the worst of all the Three.

  He in Himself, Himself to rule, retires;
  And can, or blow, or quench his Fires:
  All Blessings up are bound in bounding up Desires.

  His little World commands the Great: He there
  Rich Mem'ry has for Treasurer;
  The Tongue is Secretary to his Heart, and Ear.

  While May--Dayes London Gallants take a Pride,
  Coacht through Hide Park, to eye, be ey'd,
  Which Dayes vain Cost might for the Poor a Yeer provide;

  He may to Groves of Myrrhe in Triumph pace,
  Where Roots of Nature, Flow'rs of Grace,
  And Fruits of Glory bud. A Glimps of Heav'n the Place.

  This the Spring--Garden to spiritual Eyes,
  Which fragrant Scent of Gums out--vies;
  Three Kings had thence their triple mystick Sacrifice.

  O, happier Walks, where Christ, and none beside
  Is Journeies End, and Way, and Guide!
  Where from the humble Plains are greatest Heights descry'd.

  Heav'nward his Gaze. Here does a Bower display
  His Bride--room, and Scripturia
  Her self is Bride; Each Morn presents his Marriage--Day.

  What Ecstasie's in this delicious Grove!
  Th' unwitnest Witnes of his Love!
  What Pow'r so strongly can as flam'd Affections move!

  The Larks, wing'd Travellers, that trail the Skie,
  Unsoyl'd with Lusts, aloft do fly,
  Warbling Scripturia, Scripturia on high.

  (T' have been affected by a Virgin Heir,
  Rich, young, and chast, wise, good, and fair,
  Was once his first Delight, but Heav'n restrain'd that Care!

  Thou, Providence, dist both their Wills restrain;
  Thou mad'st their Losses turn to Gain;
  For Thou gav'st Heav'n to her, on him dost Blessings rain!)

  But stop, pleas'd Thoughts; A high'r Love's here design'd;
  Fit in each Breast to be enshrin'd;
  Bright Angels do admit no Sex, nor do's the Minde.

    To all her Lovers thousand Joyes accrew;
    And Comforts, thicker than Mayes Dew,
    Shour down on their rapt Souls, as Infinite as new!

    Her Oracles directing Rules declare,
    Unerring Oracles, Truths Square;
    Her Soul--informing Light does Earth for Heav'n prepare.

    All beatizing Sweets, as in their Hive,
    At her fair Presence do arrive,
    Which are to drooping Spirits best Restorative.

    To whose Sight Eagles, paralell'd, are blinde;
    Had Argus thousand Eyes, he'd finde
    Darknesse, compar'd with her illuminating Minde.

    The Sun does glean his Splendor from her Eyes;
    Thence burn we' in Sweets, as Phoenix lies
    Glowing on Sols Ray--darted Pile of Spiceries.

    From pretious Limbeck sacred Loves distill
    Such Sublimations, as do fill
    Mindes with amazed Raptures of their Chimick Skill.

    That such Soul--Elevations still might stay,
    We'd bear and do, both vow and pay,
    And serve the Lord of Lords by her directive Way!

    Soon as our Ear drinks in His Command,
    Be't acted by our Heart, and Hand;
    Under his Banner we shall Satans Darts withstand.

    May He accept the Musick of our Voice,
    While on his Goodnesse we rejoyce,
    And while each melting Psalm makes on His Grace its Choice.

    On Feast--Dayes from that Bour to Church we haste,
    Where Heav'n dissolves into Repast,
    When we Regalios of the mystick Banquet taste.

    O, Deliccaies, infinitely pure!
    To Souls best Nutriment and Cure!
    Where Knowledge, Faith, and Love Beatitude ensure.

    Poor Solomons Provision, poor to This,
    Manna, Heav'n--dewing Banquet, is:
    Who reigns in Heav'n becomes on Earth our Food and Bliss.

    O, Sacramental Cates, divinely drest!
    God the Feast--maker, Christ the Feast,
    The Holy Ghost Inviter, and the Soul the Guest!

    All Joyes await the blessed Convives, knit
    All Excellencies are in It,
    This overcomes our Spirits, overpowr's our Wit!

    For us, poor Worms, that Glories Soveraign dy'd!
    O, let our fleshly Barks still ride
    At Anchor in calm Streams of His empierced Side!

    This is Heav'ns Antepast! By Union
    He's One to All, and All to One
    In Loves intrinsick Mystery to Souls alone!

    Ecstatick Raptures loose our Hearts on high
    With Joyes Ineffabilitie!
    Exub'rant Sweets orewhelm, as Torrents, Tongue & Eye.

    Such Life--infusing Comforts, from Above,
    Our Souls with inward Motions move,
    That totally for God we quit all Creature Love!

    Should He condemn us, yet would Love compell
    Him down with us, and we would dwell
    Rather than without Him in Heav'n, with Him in Hell.

    Soul of my Soul! when I a Joy receive
    Disjoyn'd from Thee, let my Tongue cleave
    To's Palate! Me of All, not of this Feast bereave!

    Not in the winter Solstice of my Years,
    When shivering Snow surrounds deaf Ears,
    And dreary Languishment Deaths gashly Vizard wears;

    When they shall tremble that the House defend;
    The Columns which support it bend;
    The Grinders fail, the Watch through Casements Objects blend;

    Then shine, dear Lord! when quivering Winters Dress
    Is icicled with hoary Tresse;
    VVhen all Streams frozen are, but Tears, through Loves Excess;

    VVhen periwig'd with Snow's each bald--pate VVood,
    Bound in Ice--Chains each strugling Flood;
    VVhen North--Seas bridled are, pris'ning their scaly Brood.

    Then let those freezing How'rs be thaw'd by Pray'r!
    As VVells in VVinter warmer are
    By Circumsession of refrigerating Air.

    That, nipt with Cold, or parcht with Heat, resign
    We may our Will in each to Thine,
    Be't lesse or more, be't low or high, be't Storm or Shine.

    After Nights Soot smears Heav'n, Day gilds its Face;
    Wet April past, sweet May takes place;
    And Calm Air smiles, when rufling Winds have run their Race.

    Who hope for Mines, scorn Dross; Such only get
    Who lose a Game to win the Set:
    Wordlings, He's rich who's Good; Above's his Cabinet.

    To well--tun'd Tempers Things that disagree
    Have oft some Likenesse; thus, we see
    Winde kindles Fire; Discord makes Concord Harmony.

    Affliction tunes the Breast to rise, or fall,
    Making the whole Man Musicall;
    We may Affliction Christians second Baptism call.

    Who Christ for Spouse, his Cross for Joynture has;
    His Hand supports, where's Rod doth passe:
    The Lord of Angels, He the King of Suff'rings was.

    Loves Life took Death, that Death Loves Life might gain!
    The Soveraign dy'd that Slaves might reign!
    The World can't Books that should be writ of Him contain.

    Those have the greatest Cross, who Cross nere bore;
    They'r rich in Want, who God adore;
    Who do's supply all Emptiness with His full Store.

    Saint Paul, the Gentiles Doctor, rich 'bove Kings,
    And high 'bove Oratories Wings,
    Rapt up to Heav'n, had Nothing, yet possest all Things.

    The Rav'n of Birds proves Caterer, and feasts
    Elijah; so the Lion of Beasts
    Was Samsons Purveyor; Quails to murm'ring Jews were Guests.

    Midst Thorns environ'd, Love sweet Roses findes;
    Steep wayes lie plain t'inamor'd Mindes;
    Love gilds all Chains (surpriz'd not thrall'd) wth Comfort binds.

    Then, threaten, World, a Goal shall bolt me in;
    He's free, as Air, who serves not Sin;
    VVho's gather'd in Himself, His self is his own Inne.

    Then let fierce Goths their strongest Chains prepare;
    Grim Scythians me their Slave declare;
    My Soul being free, those Tyrants in the Face I'l stare.

    Man may confine the Bodie, but the Minde
    (Like Natures Miracles, the VVinde
    And Dreams) do's, though secur'd, a free enjoyment find.

    Rayes drawn in to'a point more vig'rous beam;
    Joyes more to Saints, engoal'd, did stream;
    Linnets their Cage to be a Grove, Bars Boughs esteem.

    Burnisht to Glory from Afflictions Flame,
    From Prison to a Scepter came
    The lov'd and fear'd Eliza--Titles vail t' Her Name.

    She past the Furnace to be more refin'd;
    From Flames drew Purity of Minde,
    Not heat of Passion; hence, being try'd, She brighter shin'd.

    Here wound, here lance me, Lord, thy Austin cries,
    Dissect me here for Paradise!
    The Cross the Altar be, so Love be Sacrifice!

    Imprint thy Love so deep into my Heart,
    That neither Hunger, Thirst, nor Smart,
    Gain, Losse, nor Thraldom, Life nor Death Us ever part!

    Should Foes rip up my Breast with piercing Blade,
    My Soul would but have Passage made,
    Through which to Heav'n she might in Purple Riv'lets wade.

    Forbid the Banes 'twixt Soul and Body joyn'd,
    The Corps but falls to be refin'd,
    And re--espous'd unto the Glorifi'd high Minde.

    Who makes th' Almighty his Delight, He goes
    To Martyrdom, as to Repose;
    The Red Sea leads to Palestine, where all Joy flowes.

    Steel'd 'gainst Afflictions Anvel, let's become
    Proud of the Worlds severest Doom;
    No Majestie on Earth is like to Martyrdome.

    Enter into thy Masters Joy's so great,
    This Thought is with such Flames repleat,
    That from th' High Court of Mercy Souls all Deaths defeat.

    Who saith, Fear not, Him must we fear alone;
    Blest, whom no Fear makes Faith be gone;
    How many must they fear, who fear not only One!

    We are but once to our Graves Port brought in,
    To which from Birth w' have sailing bin,
    It matters not what Way, so we scape Rocks of Sin.

    But, hark, 'tis late; the Whislers knock from Plough;
    The droyling Swineheards Drum beats now;
    Maids have their Cursies made to th' spungy--teated Cow.

    Larks roosted are, the folded Flocks are pent
    In hurdled Grates, the tir'd Ox sent
    In loose Trace home, now Hesper lights his Torch his Tent.

    See glimmering Light, the Pharos of our Cot;
    By Innocence protected, not
    By Guards, we thither tend, where Ev'n--song's not forgot

    O, Pray'r! Thou Anchor through the Worldly Sea!
    Thou sov'raign Rhet'rick, 'bove the Plea
    Of Flesh! that feed'st the fainting Soul, thou art Heav'ns Key.

    Blest Season, when Dayes Eye is clos'd, to win
    Our Heart to clear th' Account, when Sin
    Has past the Audit, Ravishments of Soul begin.

    Who never wake to meditate, or weep,
    Shall sure be sentenc'd for their Sleep;
    Night to forepassed Day should still strict Centrie keep.

    O let them perish midst their flaring Clay,
    Who value Treasures with a Day
    Devoutly spent! Faith's the true Gem, the World a Gay.

    So wastful, Us'rer, as thy self, there's None,
    Who loosest three true Gems for one
    That's counterfeit; Thy Rest, Fame, Soul for ever gone!

    When darkning Mists our Hemisphear invade,
    Of all the Air when one Blot's made,
    Mortals immantled in their silent gloomie shade,

    Then for an Hour, (Elixir of Delight!)
    We, Heav'n beleag'ring, pray and write,
    When every Eye is lockt, but those that watch the Night.

    Saints fight on bended Knees; their Weapons are
    Defensive Patience, Tears, and Pray'r;
    Their Valour most, when without Witness, Hell do's scare.

    May whiter Wishes, wing'd with Zeal, appear
    Lovely unto Thy purest Ear,
    Where nothing is accepted but what's chast, and clear!

    Lifes hectick Fits finde Cordials in Pray'rs Hive,
    Transcendently Restorative,
    Which might our Iron Age to its first Gold retrive.

    See, listning Time runs back to fetch the Age
    Of Gold, when Pray'r does Heav'n engage;
    Devotion is Religions Life--blood; 'tis Gods Page,

    Who brings rich Bliss by Bills of sure Exchange;
    The Blessings that the Poor arrange
    For Alms receiv'd that Day, beatifies our Grange.

    Dance, Nabals, with large Sails on smiling Tides,
    Till the black Storm against you rides,
    Whose pitchie Rains interminable Vengeance guides!

    But, Lord, let Charitie our Table spread;
    Let Unity adorn our Bed;
    And may soft Love be Pillow underneath our Head!

    Enricht, lets darn up Want; what Fortune can
    Or give, or take away from Man,
    We prize not much: Heav'n payes the good Samaritan.

    Thus, Life, still blessing, and still blest, we spend;
    Thus entertain we Death, as Friend,
    To disapparel us for Glories endlesse End.

    Who, thus forgot, in Graces growes, as Years,
    Loves cherisht Pray'r, unwitnest Tears,
    Rescu'd from monstrous Men, no other Monster fears.

    They who their dwelling in Abdera had,
    Did think Democritus was mad;
    He knew twas so of them. The Application's sad.

    Knew but the World what Comforts, tiding on,
    Flow to such Recollection,
    It would run mad with Envie, be with Rage undone.

    O, Sequestration! Rich, to Worldlings Shame;
    A Life's our Object, not a Name:
    Herostratus did sail, like Witch, i'th' Air of Fame.

    Get long--breath'd Chronicles, ye need such Alms,
    Sue from Diurnal Breefs for Palms,
    Injurious Grandeur for its frantick Pride wants Balms.

    In Aery Flatt'ries Rumour, not Fame lies;
    Inconstancie, Times Mistresse, cries
    It up, which soon by arguing Time, Truths Parent, dies.

    Fames Plant takes Root from Vertue, grows thereby;
    Pure Souls, though Fortune--trod, stand high,
    When mundane shallow--searching Breath It self shall die.

    O, frail Applause of Flesh! swoln Bubbles passe.
    Turf--fire more Smoak than Splendor has;
    What Bulwark firm on Sand? What shell for Pearl may passe?

    But Saints with an attentive Hope from High,
    On Heav'ns Paroll do live and die;
    Passing from Lifes short Night to Dayes Eternitie.

    Who blessedly so breathe, and leave their Breath,
    Of dying Life make living Death;
    Each Day, spent like the last, does act a Heav'n beneath.

    Death's one long Sleep, and humane Life no more
    Than one short Watch an Hour before:
    World! after thy mad Tempest 'tis the landing Shore.

    Mid point betwixt the Lives of Losse, and Gain;
    The Path to boundlesse Joy, or Pain;
    Saints Birth--day, Natures Dread: Grace doth this Bandog chain.

    When Moses from high Pisgahs Top descry'd
    Fair Canaan, Type o'th' Heav'nly Bride,
    He breath'd out his Joy--ravisht Soul, so sweetly dy'd.

    To Immortalitie the Grave's a Womb;
    We passe into a Glorious Room
    Thorough the gloomie Entry of a narrow Tomb.

    Lord, as Thou mad'st (most pow'rful One in Three)
    The World of nothing; so, let me
    Make nothing of the World, but make my All in Thee!

    Pardon the By--steps that my Soul has trod,
    Most Great, Good, Glorious, Gratious God!
    Seal Thou the Bill of my Divorse to Earths dull clod!

    Thy boundlesse Sourse of Grace the scarlet Spot
    Scour'd white as Wool, that first did blot
    Th' Original in Man, that was so fairly wrot.

    Check not my Hope, but spurre my Fear to Thee,
    Virtue to court, and Vice to flee!
    Love, lend thou me thy Spurre; Fear, thou my Bridle be.

    From hence, to run in Heav'nly Paths, I'l strive;
    My slender Pen to th' World I give;
    My only study shall be how to live, to live.

    None Blest, but Those, who, when last Trump shall send
    It Summons, finde the Judge their Friend.
    The End doth crown the Work; great God crown thou my

END.

    O, ter felicem, fortunatumque quieto
    Cui natat in Portu nescia Cymba Met?s!    O DEUS! optato sistant mea Carbasa Coelo!
    Omnis ab aethereis Spes sit habenda Plagis.