I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time, in hours, days, years,
Driven by the spheres,
Like a vast shadow moved; In which the world
And all her train were hurl'd.
The doting Lover in his quaintest strain
Did there complain;
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his slights147147slights, sleights, tricks,
Wit's sour148148sour, perhaps, unsatisfying delights;
With gloves and knots149149knots. ribbons, the silly snares of pleasure;
Yet his dear treasure
All scatter'd lay, while he his eyes did pour
Upon a flower.
The darksome Statesman150150the Statesman, Pym's career, with O. Cromwell's by poetic
insight, is here (1650) unquestionably photographed hung with weights and woe,
Like a thick midnight-fog, moved there so slow,
He did not stay, nor go;
Condemning thoughts--like sad eclipses--scowl
Upon his soul,
And clouds of crying witnesses without
Pursued him with one shout;
Yet digg'd the mole, and lest his ways be found,
Work'd under ground,
Where he did clutch his prey; but One did see
Churches and altars fed him; perjuries
Were gnats and flies;
It rain'd about him blood and tears, but he
Drank them as free.
The fearful Miser on a heap of rust
Sate pining all his life there; did scarce trust
His own hands with the dust;
Yet would not place one piece above, but lives
In fear of thieves:
Thousands there were as frantic as himself,
And hugg'd each one his pelf.
The down-right Epicure placed heaven in sense,
And scorn'd pretence;
While others, slipt into a wide excess,
Said little less;
The weaker sort, slight, trivial wares enslave,
Who think them brave151151brave, magnificent;
And poor, despiséd Truth sat counting by
Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing,
And sing, and weep, soar'd up into the ring;
But most would use no wing.
O fools--said I--thus to prefer dark night
Before true light!
To live in grots, and caves, and hate the day
Because it shews the way:--
The way, which from this dead and dark abode
Leads up to GOD;
A way where you might tread the Sun, and be
More bright than he!
But as I did their madness so discuss,
One whisper'd thus,--
This ring the Bride-groom did for none provide,
But for His Bride.