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In 1610 Fletcher published at Cambridge his great poem entitled, “Christ's Victory and Triumph,” which, although never enjoying popular appreciation commensurate with its deserts, affords instances of bold and graphic personification, and abounds in passages of majesty and sublimity. It consists of four cantos, the subjects of which are respectively, (1) Christ's Victory in Heaven, (2) Christ's Triumph on Earth, (3) Christ's Triumph over Death, and (4) Christ's Triumph after Death. The second of the quotations which follow is the final passage of the fourth canto; and it will be seen how, in accordance with the quaint spirit of the age, this poem

closes its sustained splendour in the haze of a pun, or a play upon a verbal ambiguity.

THE NATIVITY. Who can forget-never to be forgot

The time that all the world in slumber lies, When like the stars, the singing angels shot

To earth, and heaven awakéd all his eyes,

To see another sun at midnight rise
On earth? was ever sight of pareil fame;
For God before man like Himself did frame,
But God himself now like a mortal man became.
A child He was, and had not learnt to speak,

That with his word the world before did make;
His mother's arms Him bore, He was so weak,

That with one hand the vaults of heaven could shakc. See how small room my infant Lord doth take, Whom all the world is not enough to hold ! Who of his years, or of his age hath told? Never such age so young, never a child so old. And yet but newly was He infanted,

And yet already He was sought to die; Yet scarcely born, already banished;

Nor able yet to go, and forced to fly:

But scarcely fled away, when, by and by
The tyrant's sword with blood is all defiled,
And Rachel, for her sons, with fury wild,
Cries, 0 thou cruel king, and, O my sweetest child !

Egypt his nurse became, where Nilus springs,

Who straight to entertain the rising sun, The hasty harvest in his bosom brings;

And now for drouth the fields were all undone,

And now with waters all is overrun!
So fast the Cynthian mountains poured their snow,
Where once they felt the sun so near them glow
That Nilus Egypt lost, and to a sea did grow.
The angels caroled loud their song of peace;

The cursed oracles were stricken dumb,
To see their Shepherd the poor shepherds press;
To see their King the kingly sophies come;

And then to guide unto his Master's home
A star came dancing up the Orient,
That springs for joy over the strawy tent,
Where gold, to make their Prince a crown, they all

present. Young John, glad child! before he could be born,

Leapt in the womb his joy to prophecy; Old Anna, though with age

all spent and worn, Proclaims her Saviour to posterity,

And Simeon fast his dying notes doth ply.
Oh! how the blessed souls about him trace!
It is the Sire of heaven thou dost embrace :
Sing, Simeon, sing--sing, Simeon, sing apace!
With that the mighty thunder dropt away

From God's unwary arm, now milder grown,
And melted into tears; as if to pray

For pardon and for pity, it had known,

That should have been for sacred vengeance thrown: There too the armies angelique devowed Their former rage, and all to mercy bowed: Their broken weapons at her feet they gladly strowed. ' Bring, bring, ye graces, all your silver flaskets,

Painted with every choicest flower that grows, That I may soon unflower your fragrant baskets,

To strow the fields with odours where He goes;

Let whatsoe'er He treads on be a rose.” So down she let her eyelids fall, to shine Upon the rivers of bright Palestine, Whose woods drop honey, and her rivers skip with wino.



Here let my Lord hang up his conquering lance,

And bloody arr nur with late slaughter warm, And looking down on his weak militants,

Behold his saints, ʼmidst of their hot alarm,

Hang all their golden hopes upon his arm. And in this lower field displacing wide, Through windy thoughts that would their sails misguide, Anchor their fieshly ships fast in his wounded side. 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 their eternal day in songs employing, Joying their end, without end of their joying, While their Almighty Prince Destruction is destroying. Full, yet without satiety, of that

Which whets and quiets greedy appetite, Where never sun did rise, nor ever sat;

But one eternal day and endless light

Gives time to those whose time is infinite-
Speaking with thought, obtaining without fee,
Beholding Him whom never eye could see,
And magnifying Him that cannot greater be.
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. 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 the unknown joys.
L'heir understanding naked truth, their wills
The all and self-sufficient goodness fills,
That nothing here is wanting but the want of ills.

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 tisgrace,
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 wingéd hours.
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.
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 garland wears ;
And all of these on the saints' bodies grow,
Not, as the wont, on baser earth below:
Three rivers here, of milk, and wine, and honcy flow.
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 diamonds 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


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.

Changer of all things, yet immutable;

Before and after all, the first and last;
That, moving all, is yet immoveable;
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.

It is no flaming lustre made of light;

No sweet consent, or well-timed harmony; Ambrosia for to feast the appetite,

Or flowery odour, 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 odour, light, embrace, in which the soul doth rest.

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 favour; there The saints with their beauperes whole worlds outwear, And things unseen do see, and things unheard do hear. Ye blessed souls grown richer by your spoil,

Whose loss tho' great, is cause of greater gains, Here may your weary spirits rest from toil,

Spending your endless ev'ning that remains,

Among those white flocks and celestial trains, That feed upon their Shepherd's eyes and frame That heavenly music of so wondrous fame, Psalming aloud the holy honours of his name.

Had I a voice of steel to tune my song,

Were every verse as smoothly filed as glass, And every member turnéd to a tongue,

And every tongue were made of sounding brass;

Yet all that skill and all this strength, alas ! Should it presume

gild, were misadvised The place where David hath new songs devised, As in his burning throne he sits emparadised.


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