1597
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnets.

Ecclesiastes, otherwise called the Preacher. Containing Salomons Sermons or Commentaries (as it may probably be collected) upon the 49. Psalme of David his Father. Compendiously abridged, and also paraphrastically dilated in English Poesie, according to the Analogie of Scripture, and consent of the most approved Writer thereof. Composed by H. L. Gentleman. Whereunto are annexed sundrie Sonets of Christian Passions heretofore printed, and now corrected and augmented, with other affectionate Sonets of a feeling Conscience of the same Authors.

Henry Lok


Reprinted from Henry Lok's Christian Passions (1593), a book that no longer survives. Most of the sonnets in the first "century" are in the Spenserian form: see Grosart's edition (1872-76) 2:54-55; 2:90ff, 2:187-90, 2:197-98. In addition, Henry Lok appended to the work in the same measure three score "Sonnets of the Author to divers [members of court], collected by the Printer."

A. B. Grosart: "Of the Sonnets as well those of the 'Christian Passions' as of the extremely-rare additions brought together by the Printer, from (apparently) various scattered sources — we have formed a very much higher yet we believe equally accurate, estimate. In the former there seem to us pulsations and thrills of a true and deep experience of the truest and deepest things, while ever and anon there are bird-like snatches of real singing, and hidden away in unlooked for places, epithetic bits of colour, now gleaming as jewels, now coming and going as a dove's or peacock's neck, as were not usual at the period. I do not claim for HENRY LOK the supreme 'aflatus,' the grandeur of thoughts 'that voluntary move, harmonious numbers.' Nevertheless I assert for him a place — whence he has been too long excluded — among the Christian Singers of England — all the more that there are in the Sonnets of the 'Christian Passions' real passion, sprung of compassion, tremblings, penitence, sobs, shouts of joy, weeping autobiographic confidences of unquestionable realness, and so of unquestionable worth psychologically. His extra-Sonnets have the further interest of preserving many historic names of whom too little is known. There are in them, beneath their most exaggerate flatteries, traits that tell of personal knowledge" Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies' Library (1871) 2:31-32.

Sidney Lee: "In 1597 a humbler writer [than Barnes and Constable], Henry Lok, sent forth a swollen collection of three hundred and twenty-eight sonnets on religious topics, which he entitled, Sundrie sonets of Christian Passions with other affectionate sonets of a feeling conscience. Lok paraphrases many passages from the Scriptures, and was well read in the book of Ecclesiastes. His piety is unquestionable. But there is little poetic quality in his ample effort" Cambridge History of English Literature (1909) 3:309.



It is not Lord the sound of many words,
The bowed knee or abstinence of man,
The filed phrase that eloquence affords,
Or Poets pen, that heavens do pearce, or can:
By heavie cheere, of colour pale and wan,
By pined bodie of the Pharisay,
A morall eye repentance oft doth scan,
When judgement doth on outward shadows stay,
But Thou (O God) doest hearts intent bewray,
For from thy sight Lord nothing is conceald,
Thou formdst the frame from out the verie clay,
To thee the thoughts of hearts are all reveald,
To thee therefore with hart and minde prostrate,
With teares I thus deplore my sinfull state.

["Preface" sig. K]