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Redeem a worthy wrath ; rouse thee, and shake
Thyself into a shape that may become thee :
Be Herod, and thou shalt not miss from me
Immortal stings to thy great thoughts and thee.
So said, her richest snake, which to her wrist
For a beseeming bracelet she had tied-
A special worm it was as ever kiss'd
The foamy lips of Cerberus—she applied
To the king's heart; the snake no sooner hissid,
But virtue heard it, and away she hied ;
Dire flames diffuse themselves through every
vein : This done, home to her hell she hied amain.
He wakes, and with him, ne'er to sleep, new fears :
His sweat-bedewed bed bad now betray'd him
To a vast field of thorns; ten thousand spears,
All pointed in his heart, seem'd to invade him:
So mighty were th' amazing characters
With which his feeling dream had thus dismay'd him,
He his own fancy-framèd foes defies :
In rage, My arms! Give me my arms! he cries.
As when a pile of food-preparing fire
The breath of artificial lungs embraves,
The cauldron-prison'd waters straight conspire,
And beat the hot brass with rebellious waves ;
He murmurs and rebukes their bold desire ;
Th' impatient liquor frets, and foams, and raves ;
Till his o'erflowing pride suppress the flame,
Whence his high spirits and hot courage came.
So boils the firèd Herod's blood-swoll'n breast,
Not to be slaked but by a sea of blood :
His faithless crown he feels loose on his crest,
Which on false tyrant's head ne'er firmly stood :
The worm of jealous envy and unrest,
To which his gnaw'd heart is the growing food,
Makes him impatient of the ling'ring light,
Hate the sweet peace of all-composing night.
A thousand prophecies that talk strange things
Had sown of old these doubts in his deep breast;
And now of late came tributary kings,
Bringing him nothing but new fears from th’ East ;
More deep suspicions, and more deadly stings,
With which his fev'rous cares their cold increased :
And now his dream, hell's firebrand, still more bright,
Show'd him his fears, and kill'd him with the sight.
No sooner, therefore, shall the morning see
Night hangs yet heavy on the lids of day-
But all his councillors must summon'd be,
To meet their troubled lord: without delay
Heralds and messengers immediately
Are sent about, who, posting every way
To th’ heads and officers of every band,
Declare who sends, and what is his command.
Why art thou troubled, Herod ? What vain fear
Thy blood-revolving breast to rage doth move?
Heav'n's King, who doffs Himself weak flesh to wear,
Comes not to rule in wrath, but serve in love:
Nor would He this thy fear'd crown from thee tear,
But give Thee a better with Himself above.
Poor jealousy! Why should He wish to prey
Upon thy crown, who gives His own away?
Make to thy reason, man, and mock thy doubts ;
Look how below thy fears their causes are.
Thou art a soldier, Herod! Send thy scouts,
See how He's furnish'd for so fear'd a war.
What armour does He wear? a few thin clouts.
His trumpets ? tender cries. His men to dare
So much ? rude shepherds. What his steeds ? alas,
Poor beasts ! a slow ox, and a simple ass.
ON A PRAYER-BOOK SENT TO MRS. M. R.
O, here a little volume, but great book !
A nest of new-born sweets,
Whose native pages disdaining
To be thus folded, and complaining
Of these ignoble sheets,
Affect more comely bands,
Fair one, from thy kind hands,
And confidently look
To find the rest
Of a rich binding in your
* So in the Paris edition of 1652. In all the others-
Fear it not, sweet,
It is no hypocrite,
Much larger in itself, than in its look!
It is in one choice handful, heaven ; and all
Heaven's royal hosts encamp'd, thus small
that true schools use to tell,
A thousand angels in one point can dwell.
It is love's great artillery,
Which here contracts itself, and comes to lie
Close couch'd in their white bosom ; and from thence,
As from a snowy fortress of defence,
Against their ghostly foe to take their part,
And fortify the hold of your chaste heart.
It is an armoury of light;
Let constant use but keep it bright,
You'll find it yields
To holy hands and humble hearts,
More swords and shields
Than sin hath snares, or hell hath darts.
Only be sure
The hands be pure
That hold these weapons, and the eyes
Those of turtles, chaste, and true,
Wakeful, and wise.
Here's a friend shall fight for you ;
Hold but this book before your heart,
alone to play his part.
But, O! the heart
That studies this high art
Must be a sure housekeeper,
And yet no sleeper.
Dear soul, be strong,
Mercy will come ere long,
And bring her bosom full of blessings,
Flowers of never-fading graces ;
To make immortal dressings
For worthy souls, whose wise embraces
Store themselves for Him who is alone
The spouse of virgins, and the Virgin's Son.
But if the noble bridegroom when He comes
Shall find the wand'ring heart from home,
Leaving her chaste abode
To gad abroad :
Amongst the gay mates of the god of flies
To take her pleasure, and to play
And keep the Devil's holy day;
To dance in the sunshine of some smiling,
Spheres of sweet and sugar'd lies,
Some slippery pair
Of false, perhaps, as fair
Flattering, but foreswearing eyes.
Doubtless some other heart
Will get the start
Meanwhile, and, stepping in before,
Will take possession of that sacred store
Of hidden sweets, and holy joys,
Words which are not heard with ears—