When Psyche is despondent after hearing the story of the Fall, Phylax carries her on a winged journey to Bethlehem, where he relates the story of the birth of Christ.
The Angel convoys Psyche to the Scene
Of Mercy's grand Exploits, to shew her what
Dear care it cost her Lord to wash her clean
From every sinful Soul-deflouring Blot.
Betimes he 'gins, and from the morning Glory
Of Love's bright Birth lights in the blessed Story.
Illustrious Spirits of Fire, whoe'r you be
This Lesson will with no discredit cool
Your towring Flames; nor must heroic Ye
To Psyche's Legend scorn to go to School.
Such Sparks as you for all your glittering, be
In your original as dim as she.
All mounting Fires at length to Ashes bow;
So must brave ye: yet they were lighted from
Some generously-flaming Fount, but you
And your Extraction from dead Ashes come.
Whither forward you or backward turn your eye,
Your Bounds are Vileness, Shame, and Misery.
No aromatic Baths which wantonize
In costly dalliance with the pamper'd skin:
No proudly-sumptuous Robe which fortifies
Your flesh with gold and pearls and gems; can win
Upon your Principles to make them bend
Life's race to any but an odious End.
Examin Alexander's Monument,
And cast on Helen's Tomb your searching eye:
Or if your nostrils dread the baneful scent
Of their in vain embalmed Majesty;
Trust that strong Proof, which bids you sadly think
That you, though great and fair, must end in stink.
But trust not Pride, whose tumid treachery
Could all the World to Rottenness betray.
No Poison's fury ever swell'd so high
Or to such certain Death prepar'd the way.
Steep headlong Danger on the mountains reigns:
Who would with Safety walk, must trace the plains.
Plain are the Paths of mild Humility
And hatch no Precipice, but planted are
With sweet Content and pious Privacy,
With cheerful Hope, and with securing Fear.
Ruine's prevented and disarm'd by those
Who in the lowest orb their motion choose.
The Tempest's aim fights with those lofty things
Which rise against it, and its strength defy;
This to the high-look'd Pines destruction brings,
Suffring the modest shrubs in peace to lie.
Thus come proud Rocks to rue the angry Wind,
Which to the humble Vales is always kind.
Right provident's this Virtue, and acquaints
Aforehand with her Dust and Ashes, she
Dissembleth not by any flattering Paints
The wrinkled Warnings of Mortality.
She dies betimes, how long soe'r she lives
And Death but as a long known friend receives.
Her hearse she hugs and dares imbrace her tomb,
And pant and long her final Ev'n to see
When in that cool and undisturbed Home
Her weary head to rest may setled be:
Assured of a Friend whose care hath found
For her to heav'n a passage under ground.
She strongly woos the Worms to craul apace;
She prays, not slow Corruption, to make haste:
Toward Death for life she runs, and thinks her race
Was ev'n in youth an age: On, on as fast
She speeds, as sighs of love can blow her, or
Fire of unquenchable desire can spur.
O meek Ambition, which canst Pride convert
Into a Virtue, and make Venom grow Plain
Antidote! by thee th' imbraved Heart
Aspires and reaches still to be more few;
And prides itself in nothing but to be
From Pride's dominion intirely free.
So free, that when all contumelious Scorn
Marches against her in complete array,
She meets her Shame, and joys to be forlorn,
And by despised yielding wins the day:
She wins, and like the Ball, the more profound
Is her depression, doth the higher bound.
The seeds of this fair Grace deep planted were
In Psyche's tender breast by Charis's art,
Which, as they sprouted up, with heav'nly care
To weed and dress them Phylax play'd his part.
And now to make them flourish higher, she
Will with her liberal tears their Waterer be.
Her Guardian his discourse no sooner ends,
But she begins, first with her showring eyes;
Then with her tongue, which with those torrents blends
Its lamentations: Wo is me, she crys,
What now shall Psyche do, who needs would be
Proud of her shame and pois'nous misery!
Your scorn, so deeply earn'd by wilful Sin,
My wronged friends, as due to me I claim.
My guilty Soul's calcin'd, O Charis, in
Those heav'nly beams which in thine aspect flame.
How can such Nightbirds as vile I indure
The holy lightning of a Look so pure?
Strange me! who must for your neglect petition,
And sue to want the influence of Bliss:
Whose sickness makes me dread my best Physition:
Whose hopes of ease, are only more Distress:
How sadly cross is my Calamity,
That now your Anger must your Pity be!
And you dear Phylax loose your pains no more
On an incorrigibly-hideous Thing.
Why should proud Psyche dwell as heretofore
Under the shelter of thy slighted wing?
O let it free itself, and take its flight:
Let not black I defile an House so white.
The odious net with more decorum will
Flutter about what is as dark as she:
Her sooty wings will make a seemlyer vail
For correspondent ugliness in me.
The ominous Raven more sutably will spread
Her swarthy plumes o'r my polluted head.
Let me enjoy the just inheritance
Of my deep-stained birth: was I not born
Apparent heir to an entail'd Offence:
And in my wretched Being's lowry morn
Dawn'd not eternal Night? what alas,
In my life's spring but death infused was?
And to those shameful Principles have I
Not been too truly true? have I not trod
The ways of darkness ever since mine eye
Beheld the light; and kicking at my God
Approv'd myself Her genuine brat, who chose
Her Eden rather than her Lust to loose?
Why must my breath deflower the virgin Air?
Why must I load the harmless Earth with guilt?
Why must I blot the world, which would be fair
Were I away? my tomb is ready built
In any place where filth and dunghill lie:
Let justice have her course, and let me die.
There's my due home, where Arrogance and bold
Rebellion dwell, O let me thither go!
May worthy Eyes behold the Sun's fair gold,
And view their way to heav'n: I have to do
With nought but Pitch and Blackness, which may hide
The equal horror of my stubborn Pride.
My injur'd Spouse, (O why do I blaspheme!)
That Spouse who long desired to be mine;
Methinks from heav'n doth with a searching beam
Full on my face and faithless bosom shine,
And by that light read all the treason I
Have wrought against his loving Majesty.
O, it will scorch me up! my sinnews crack,
My bones are burnt, and all my marrow fries;
My bosom melts, the flame devours my back,
My heart flows down, and wretched Psyche dies.
I die, yet breathe; my Death surviving is:
O what what slaughter ever slew like this!
Surely the flames which burn all Hell so black,
Are cool and gentle if compar'd with these;
Why go I not to hug my kinder Rack,
And from th' infernal Torments borrow Ease?
Forbear fond fruitless Tears; your flood's too weak
The greater Torrent of this fire to slake.
Here Phylax here; lo I myself ungird!
This Token can no treacherous heart befit.
Return it back, that my abused Lord
Some loyal constant Soul may grace with it.
What, will it not unbuckle? must I be
Still pris'ner to this wronged Courtesy?
And must this Girdle now besiege me round
With an indissoluble Check of my
Ingrateful madness? must I thus be bound
Up in myself, and not have room to fly
From what I more abhor than Death and Hell
The sinful Blots which this vile bosom swell?
So strait about my griped soul the chains
Of deep Damnation can no torments ty,
As this sweet Cincture binds me to the pains
Of selfconfusion: O me! — Here her cry
And wounded Spirits fainting, down she fell
Grief's total pray, and Pity's spectacle.
At hand was Pity, Charis being by,
Whose yearning soul all Psyche's sighs did move;
But rous'd more by her fall, she instantly
Awoke the nimble violence of Love:
Love fir'd her heart, her hand her heart obey'd
And quick relief reach'd to the swoning maid.
Whom up she snatch'd, and with a sweet embrace
Instilled gentle warmth into her breast;
Whose entheous energy knew how to chase
Grief's vast Plethora from its deepest nest;
And by delicious degrees restore
Her shipwrack'd thoughts to their composed shore.
Thus a new stock of spirits have I seen
Health's Factor to his fainting Patient give;
Who though his heart were sunk and gone, doth in
The precious Potion it again receive;
Whilst from the cheerly Salutiferous cup
A draught of liquid Life he drinketh up.
Awakened Psyche with amazed eyes
Beheld her Friends; but wonder'd more to see
Her stout Disease so tame a Sacrifice
To that celestial Cordial which she
Felt in her glowing breast so strangely seize
Her heart, both with Astonishment and Ease.
For up and down ambiguous fancies tost her,
Uncertain whither some dream's flattery
Into a vain Elysium had cast her;
Or by some courteous Gale's compassion she
Were truly snatch'd from Sorrow's raging billows,
And on the bank lay'd safe on Peace's pillows.
Which Charis marking; you may trust, said she,
Your sudden Happiness, which wears no Cheat.
But see that you misplace no thanks on Me,
Which all are due to none but to your great
And constant Spouse, who though by you forgot,
Could not so soon his Love's remembrance blot.
Those life-renewing sweets I brought you down,
Were none of mine; He sent both them and me:
Your wants He knew, and counted them his own,
Who long has long'd you One with him would be.
Then by these Comforts which have cur'd its smart,
Learn who it is that most deserves your heart.
And O take heed you dally not too long,
Nor fancy that to you Necessity
Has chain'd his love: for though full many a wrong
He can digest, yet there's a time when He
Mock'd and neglected, justly will disdain
To wooe his peevish worms, and love in vain.
O'rpow'rd with most unwieldy thanks and praise
At this vast tide of her obtruding Bliss,
Here Psyche strove her labouring breast to ease:
She strove, yet could nor thanks nor praise express;
For what she had conceived, was so great
She neither could contain nor utter it.
But Phylax pitying her sweet agony Cry'd,
'Tis enough; Heav'n hears ev'n mute desires.
Come Psyche, you shall travel now with me,
To find full fuel for your amorous Fires.
It will be worth your voyage, when you see
What balm there grows to heal your misery.
The God of Goodness by his powerful eye
Reaching those Things which yet were short of Being
Read in the volumes of Eternity
The fortunes of the future World; where seeing
What mischief would be done by foolish Pride,
A potent Remedy He did provide.
Indeed had no Redemption's Need invited
Thy Spouse's Blood to wash the stains of sin;
To Man's poor Nature he had still united
His own; that all this All might thus have been
Ty'd to its loving Maker, and by this
Dear Knot become near sharer in His Bliss.
(Else must the world acknowledge Adam's Crime
To be its Patron, and confest that all
Its exaltation unto this sublime
Felicity ariseth from the Fall:
Else must his bold Rebellion by that God
Have been ordain'd, who strictly it forbod.
Ordain'd it must, it must, have been, unless
The glorious Theanthropck Mystery,
Which all Immensities' Exploits profess
The greatest, noblest of their rank to be,
Hung on vile Chance's wheel, and so became
No certain Project, but an After-game.)
But seeing by hereditary stains
The stream of Human blood runs foul and black;
Meet work it found the Virtue of His Veins
The poison of the tainted Flood to check:
Which how He nobly manag'd, thou shalt see,
When I have led thee through his History.
As now She cheer'd her heart and count'nance up,
A radiant Chariot caught her wondering eye:
The fervent Steeds foam'd at that little stop,
And though their wings were down their thoughts did fly
Speed was the Chariot's metal, and each wheel
Fram'd of the heart of nevertiring Zeal.
Come Psyche come, the Coach for haste doth call,
Cry'd Phylax; fear not, 'tis no Cheat, nor will
This, like thy other, whirle thee to thy Fall.
In, in, the Reins in my sure hand shall dwell.
If you, sweet Sir, will have it so, content
Said she, and meekly blushing in she went.
For now she durst no more distrust his Care:
Which though she understood not, yet she loved:
Three times she op'd her lips, but reverent
Fear Her Curiosity as oft reproved:
His Company so precious was, that rather
Than ask, she yields to go she knows not whether.
Up flew Devotion and Chastity,
The gallant Steeds, and snatch'd the wheels away.
Her native Albion strait forsook her eye,
Lost in a Sea of Air: and now the gay
Wealth of the Fields of Gallia back as fast
Behind her fled as she did forward post.
Then climbing higher in her yielding Road
Eternal banks of obstinate Frost and Snow,
By which stern Winter th' Alpes' proud back would load,
Spight of the nearer Sun, she leaves below;
And malgre all the sullen justling Clouds,
Down through th' Italian Heav'n directly crowds.
Into that Region thence she launch'd, which by
The Adriatick storms is wont to frown;
And far beneath her saw that Ocean lie
Whose mid-land Arms about the Isles are thrown:
So well did Phylax stere, that to a Port
So distant, ne'r was made a Cut so short.
For having reach'd blest Palestine, and flown
O'r several groveling towns of Galilee,
Her steeds in gentle circles flutter'd down,
And made their stand at Nazareth: where she
Viewing the simple Village, wonder'd why
Her Convoy thither took such pains to fly.
But Phylax leading her into the most
Unlikely house; Consider well, said He,
This precious Monument, whose want of cost
Upbraids their arrogance who needs will be
Immur'd in Cedar, and roof'd o'r with Gold:
O that poor Dust should be so proudly bold!
This silly Mansion, though it scarce could win
Ev'n Poverty herself to be its guest,
Was once the House and Home in which the Queen
Of Glories kept her court: in this mean Nest
Dwelt She, in whose illustrious Family
Heav'n long'd and joy'd a sojourner to be.
She, th' Excellence and Crown of Females; She
Great Jacob's Ladder; Aaron's budding Rod;
The crystal Princess of Virginity;
David's fair Tower; the Mother of her God,
Mary herself: O may that lovely Name
Be Blessings but, and Fame's eternal Theme?
Her plain cates there she eat; or rather kept
Her healthful rules of sober Abstinence:
Her prayers there she ply'd; and there she slept
When midnight zeal had tir'd her mortal sense.
No Corner in this house but heavenly she
Knew how to dedicate to Piety.
How many Temples in this narrow Cell
Were by her brave Devotion reared up;
Who gave each Virtue licence here to dwell;
But at Sin's knock the Door refus'd to ope,
Since she appointed had Humility
For Porter, and made holy Fear the Key.
Here on her pious knees she wept, one day,
In wondering meditation of that She
Whom God would choose to make the noble way
Unto his own foretold Humanity;
That She, who to all Females would restore
Much more than Eve had forfeited before.
And musing what strange-temper'd soul it was
Which could be capable of such divine
Prerogatives and holy Glories, as
Would make the goodliest Seraph fairer shine:
Unto that sweetest heavenliest Riddle's praise
Her delicate Astonishment she pays.
Not for a thousand worlds would she have thought
Her self the longdesigned She: but rather
Would at a thousand thousand's price have bought
A Handmaid's place, to wait on that great Mother
To wash her blessed feet, or bear her train,
In whom all Excellence rejoyc'd to reign.
But whilst her meek admiring fancy towred
Through this high Contemplation, and her eyes
Their joyous and applauding crystal poured;
A bright and gallant Stranger hither flies:
One who from heav'n her sweet Reflection brings
And was her Copy, bating but his wings.
Youth bloomed in his face, the blessed throne
Where purest Beauties in fair triumph sate:
A brisk and sparkling Combination
Of ravishing Joys in either Eye was met:
His Looks commanded Love, but ugly Lust
By potent Purity they still repress.
His head was crown'd with its own golden hair
Which down his back its dainty riches shed:
The Alabaster of his neck was bare;
Sweetly betraying what below was hid
In his green ambush of that robe of silk,
Which gently hover'd o'r his fleshy milk.
This robe was yarded with the orient lace
Which trims Aurora's virgin coat: Neglect
Seem'd to have put it on, yet comely Grace
Its incompos'dness curiously decks.
And thick in every careless fold and plait
To catch spectators' wonder lay in wait.
A silver Girdle with the ready mode
Of nimble Travellers his loins imbraced:
Like Love's bright Bow his left arm bended stood
On his fair side; his right hand bore, and graced
A Lily, which by proofs soft, white, and sweet
Near kindred claimed with its dainty seat.
The Candor of his Wings was no such kind
Of glaring thing as stares in Alpine snow,
Or in the Cignet's bosom is inshrin'd,
Or in Milk's supple streames delights to flow:
But of a starry tincture, pure and bright,
Made not by scorching but by whitening light.
An heav'nly Citizen was He, and one
Whose place is in a higher form than mine:
In near attendance on his Maker's throne
His archangelick beams have leave to shine:
And thence, when Heav'n has greatest bus'ness here
He is dispatch'd the choice Ambassader.
But though his eyes their education had
Amongst those Claritudes which gild the skies,
He found that he at home had never read
So much of heav'n at large, as here he spies
Epitomized in the lovely Glass
Of Mary's modestly-illustrious face.
And Hail said he, thou dearest Favorite
Of Glorie's King, in whose selected breast
His Majesty with singular delight
Designs his private and mysterious Rest.
Hail Thou the Crown of Females, on whose head
Their best exuberance all Blessings shed.
The meek Maid started at his stately look,
And Salutation's strange sublimity:
The complemental Youth she could not brook
Who us'd all charming company to fly:
Until his wings admonish'd her, that He
One of her wonted heav'nly Guests might be.
Yet still her lowly Soul could not digest
The tumor of his odd Hyperbole
Which long she boulted in her thoughtful breast
Deeply suspicious least some flattery
Had borrow'd an Angelick shape, by which
A Woman it more eas'ly might bewitch.
O strange, O meekly-noble Jealousy
Which only in such holy bosoms rests:
The all-securing Bar which warily
Th' approach of heart-disturbing foes resists:
Sin's usher Pride, finds no access to thee,
So low ly'st thou, so high struts burly He.
When Gabriel observ'd her doubtful Look,
Where Paledness and Blushes mutually
Their timorous and graceful stations took;
Mary, thy anxious Lowliness, said he,
May spare these pains: no Danger dares draw near
Her whom the Prince of Power holds so dear.
The Sovereign Lord of Love hath seal'd on thee
His amorous heart: his most selected Graces;
The Flower of all his sweets; th' Immensity
Of his best favors, signally he places
On thee alone, whom he exalts as high
As thou art sunk in thy Humility.
Witness this Message I have now to tell,
Too glorious I grant, for me to bring;
The only Message which could parallel
The boundless Love of heav'n's inamor'd King:
A Message which the World hath long expected,
But fit to Thee alone to be directed.
Behold thy privileg'd womb shall fertile be,
And breed all Ages Hopes, that blessed Child
Who at the season of Maturity,
Shall this dim World with Grace's lustre gild:
Nor need'st thou study to contrive the frame
Of his due Title; JESUS is the Name.
A Name more fit for thy all-conquering Son
Than e'r it was for Nun's triumphant Heir:
More noble shall be that Salvation
By which his Israel He will repair,
Than that which from Beersheba unto Dan
Gave them no more but earthly Canaan.
Great shall He be; as great as Might and Worth
Can swell an Hero's; or as stoutest Fame
Can at her widest Trumpet's mouth bring forth,
Which shall be stretch'd with his magnific Name:
A Name of Wonders; for his Stile must run
Of him who is most High the equal Son.
The Sovereign Lord of Crowns and only King
Of Scepters, shall establish him upon
His Seat from whose high Linage he shall spring,
His most renowned Father David's throne:
Where he a Prince of nobler Peace shall sit
Than Solomon with all his Wealth and Wit.
All Jacob's Seed to him shall homage do,
And wear the yoke of his more Gentle Law:
Yea Time itself shall be his Subject too,
And make his Sithe before his Scepter bow;
For Earth shall sink, and Heav'n shall melt, but He
Shall reach his Kingdom to Eternity.
And here the Angel paus'd: But trembling She
Vail'd in the scarlet of her modest cheek,
Reply'd, Bright Sir, it seems you know not Me,
A worthless Maid, who for your high mistake
Wear no presence: nor may so great a King
From such a wretched worm's vile bowels spring.
It is enough, and how much more than I
Could e'r deserve from his unwearied love,
That all this while he hath sustained my
Rebellious life, and mercifully strove
With my Demerits! O bid me not aspire
To what transcends my reach and my desire.
Yet though my vileness be sufficient to
Excuse me from such glorious Exaltation;
Be pleas'd to know I am that Mary who
Stand yet unmoved in my Virgin station;
Nor ever yet has this my body's bed
Been fill'd, or sown by any human seed.
Perhaps my Looks, in thy unspotted eyes
So little breathe of true Virginity,
As to encourage thee to this surmise:
But whatsoever my deportment be,
Forgive my outside unintended sin,
For I am still untouch'd and pure within.
'Tis true to Joseph I betrothed am,
Since, he disdained not unworthy me:
Yet Joseph weareth but a Spouse's name,
In preface to what may hereafter be:
And be assur'd, this is my present case,
I know my Husband yet but by his face.
How then, O how shall thy great Promise, which
Seems too resolv'd to wait upon Delay,
Break thus through Nature's sturdy Laws, and hatch
Its Project's Introduction to day!
I know no Man, and therefore know not how
I can both Virgin be, and pregnant grow.
Miraculous Meekness! how would meanest Hearts
Have leap'd to catch this matchless Dignity
From which this most deserving Virgin starts!
O how would'st Thou have triumph'd at so high
An Offer had Agenor's cunning thought
Of such a Message as this Angel brought!
Her answer higher forc'd his Admiration
And op'd the door to this sublime Reply:
Fairest of sweets, there needs no disputation
About the question; for the Mystery
Determin'd is above, by Him who can
Without all human help produce a Man.
Nor must thy mighty Meekness hope to shrowd
Thee from the reach of Glory: for thy worth
By being veiled in that modest cloud,
More ameable lustre streameth forth
And 'cause thou fliest Honor, therefore she
From Heav'n to Earth is come to hunt out Thee.
Nor is there any scaping by thy flight
Into thy virgin Incapacity: For that's the only
Scene which suits aright
With what thy God now means to act in thee.
He acts; and therefore now his Creature can
No longer plead, She knoweth not a Man.
Through mounts of Miracles he breaks a way
To keep thee still as pure as thy Desire;
When all things in their first Confusion lay
And grovell'd in a shapeless Mass of Mire,
Who would have thought the womb of that Abyss
Could have produc'd so fait a World as this?
But then th Almighty Spirit spred his wing
Upon those hopeless tumults of the Deep:
Whose generativeWarmth knew how to bring
Those seeds to light which in that Night did sleep.
Thus came this populous Universe to be
Bred in the bowels of Virginity.
This Holy Spirit over thee shall hover,
And with prolific virtue thee endow:
His Shade's substantial vigor thee shall cover;
A vigor which disdaineth to allow
Weak Nature leave, or possibility
To contradict a Virgin-pregnancy.
And for this noble Cause (though not alone
For this) He who shall thy great Off-spring be
Must wear the Sovereign Title of the Son
Of God; for genuine Divinity
Shall be engag'd, but in a mistick fashion
In all the bus'ness of his Generation.
Doubt not his Power, whose granted limits Spred
Wide as his boundless Will: all Israel knows
How Sarah's dead womb liveth now in Seed
Which past the shores of Numeration flows:
How Aaron's Rod its sudden Almonds ought
Neither to Soil, nor Seed, nor Sap, nor Root.
And for more near assurance, know that She
With snowy head confest her Spring was past,
Thy Cousen both in blood and piety,
Cold dry Elisabeth, hath now at last
Conceiv'd a Son; an argument to thee
How Nature can by Heav'n corrected be.
The World had stamp'd the name of Barren on
Her sealed Womb, whose way was dam'd to Hope
Of any Seed; yet five full months are gone
And now the sixt succeeds, since Heav'n brake ope
That frozen seal: good cause have I to know
The time, who was employed then, as now.
I bare the wonderous News to Zachary
And when his trembling jealous Soul would not
Credit my supernatural Embassy,
I on his tongue a lock of silence put
That he might know God could as easily ope
His Spouse's womb, as I his mouth could stop.
His silence bids thee trust these Words of mine:
And since both Heav'n and Earth's best Hopes attend
With panting expectation for thine
Assenting word; for their sakes condescend
To be advanc'd, and for thy Maker's who
By me his best-beloved Spouse doth wooe.
He waited e'r since Time's first birth for thee
And has endur'd a world of sin below,
Stretching his strongly-patient Constancy
Through every Age of Wickedness till now,
That Time at length might bring forth blessed Thee
The sweet Reward of all his Lenity.
And now thy mighty Hour is come; O why
Mak'st thou the gentlest Virtue prove so hard?
Why by thy rigorous Humility
Must entring Joy and Happiness be barr'd
Back from the longing World! O why wilt thou
Not let the Golden Age have leave to grow!
Why must the gloomy Shadows which have now
Weighed their heavy Wings, in hopes to fly,
Return their Night upon Religion's brow,
Which 'gan to clear up at the dawn of thy
Fate-ripning Birth: and wouldst thou now give way
Would strait break open into Grace's Day.
Speak, most Incomparable, speak; and let
The gravid Universe deliver'd be
From pangs, by hearing Thee accept thy great
Prerogative of Virgin-pregnancy.
This said the Angel clos'd his lips; but by
His pleading Looks still press'd his Embassy.
As when the Moisture, which was well content
To dwell below and nestle in the earth,
Is wooed by the Sun's strong blandishment
To take an higher home; it issues forth
With gentle resignation, and complies
In mere submission to possess the skies:
So now the lowly Virgin conquer'd by
The potent pleasures of her heav'nly Spouse,
Exceeds her old by new Humility,
And with herself her former meekness throws
Before his feet, thenceforth to be whate'r
His most victorious Love would make of her.
Behold, said she, the Handmaid of the Lord
(For he hath giv'n me leave to use that stile;)
Since Heav'n will have it so, may thy great Word
My worthless bowels with Performance fill.
To my deer Maker I myself resign;
'Tis fit his Pleasure, and not mine, be mine.
This noble word no sooner breathed she,
But to the top of joyful heav'n it flew;
Where in the winged Quire's high melody
It found its echo, and was made a new
And precious Anthem; for the spheres that day
Measur'd their dances by this only lay.
All Nature heard the sound, which in her ear
Spake life and joy and restauration.
O blessed Musick, which so cheered her
That into Smiles her aged wrinkles ran:
Fresh fire she glowing felt in every vein,
And briskly thought of growing young again.
For now that Spirit which first quickned her
Return'd, and took his seat in Mary's breast.
O what Excess of sweets and pleasures bare
Him company into his virgin nest!
O what pure streams of light, what glorious showers
Of most prolific and enlivening Powers?
With these flew down Eternity's great Son
To be a Son of Time: and parting from
His Father's bosom, Glory's sweetest throne,
Chose Ashes for his house, Dust for his home:
Teaching Sublimity's own Crest to bow,
And making of Most High himself Most Low.
In vain should I, or all heav'n's Cherubs reach
To compass that impossible Eloquence
Which might a parallel description stretch
For that immense mysterious Confluence
Of purest joys with which in this embrace
The most enobled Virgin ravish'd was.
Only her spacious Soul, the blessed Sea
Where all those floods of precious Secrets met,
Knew what it comprehended: Glorious She
Relish'd the life of every sacred Sweet,
And did in one miraculous instant try
The various Dainties of Divinity.
For though his Generation's work had been
The deepest project of Eternity,
Yet were its wonders all transacted in
Duration's most concise Epitomy:
One single Moment's head was crown'd with this
Exploit of most unbounded Power and Bliss.
O mighty Moment! at whose feet all Days
All Months all years, all Ages homage tender:
To whom all-conquering Time yields up his bays,
And vast Eternity would fain surrender
His widest Glories, conscious that he
Is deep in debt to most renowned thee.
To thee, who this huge universe do'st ty
Close to his greater Maker: Thee who join'st
These mortal things to immortality,
And in one knot both Heav'n and Earth combin'st:
Who giv'st fertility a new found Home,
And bid'st it flourish in a Virgin's-womb.
For Mary now the mansion-house became
Of her conceived God, who deign'd to take
His pattern from her reverent body's frame,
And borrow part of holy Her to make
A Garment for himself, that he might be
As true and genuine Flesh and Blood as She.
O Paradise how poor a soil art thou,
To this rare Richness of the Virgin's-bed!
Life Tree, which in thy heart so stately grew
Itself but as the shade of this was spred
Here is the Garden where the noble Tree
Of everlasting Life would planted be.
Blush all ye Heav'ns above; the Virgin's womb
Hath left no looks but those of shame, for you:
All Glories here have chose their dearer Home
And fairer shine because they make no show:
Here dwells a Sun, whose count'nance is the book
In which your dazel'd Phebus dares not look.
The most resplendent equal Character,
The flaming Brightness of the Father's face,
Hath condescended to exchange his sphere
And to this lesser Heav'n transplant his Rays:
Which yet he hath so sweetned and allay'd
That he consumeth not the tender Maid.
Thus when to Moses he came down of old
Arrayed all in fire and took his seat
Upon a simple Bush; his flaming Gold
In mercy to the shrub, rain'd in it's heat,
And all the leaves with harmless brightness fill'd
Which he was pleased not to Burn but Gild.
When this blest Sight had feasted Gabriel's eye;
In prostrate loyalty he first ador'd
The secretly inshrined Majesty
Of his eternal-new-conceived Lord:
Whose leave could he obtain, in that mean Cell
He would preferment count it still to dwell.
Then in the guise of courteous reverence
(Where plain confession glimmered, how he
Was loth to part, yea though to Heav'n from hence,)
He farewel bids the Queen of Modesty:
Yet bears her still in's breast, though not in's eyes,
And so to his etherial Home he flies.
Whether as he mounts, his News in every sphere
He to th' inquisitive Spirits poureth forth,
And delicately feasts their hungry ear
With those rare wonders he had seen on earth:
Till with applause from every Angel's tongue
The precious Name of humble Mary rung.
Thus Phylax spake: when Psyche swell'd with joy
And admiration, cry'd, why may not I
My wandering vessel fix in this dear Bay?
Where can I safelier live, or sweetlier die?
Humilitie's own Palace best will fit
Me who through Pride stand most in need of it.
Nay then thou by my conduct strait shall see,
Phylax reply'd, a fairer House than this;
Fairer in more transcendent Poverty
And nobler far in higher Lowlyness.
With that into the Chariot again
He takes her up, and gently moves the rein.
The ready steeds no more monition needed,
For through the air they snatch'd their greedy way,
And o'r the Galilean regions speeded;
No hills were high enough to bid them stay;
No winds so fleet as to outrun their place
Until the Coach to Bethlehem whirled was.
There lighting down; Behold this Town my dear
The Guardian cry'd, where fame once lov'd to grow:
Jesse's illustrious Son was nurtur'd here;
Here reverend Samuel prepar'd his brow
For royal Honor, when upon his head
The Crown's rich earnest, holy Oile, he shed.
This chosen Root in Kings was fertile, whose
Successive hands through many ages bore
The Jewish scepter; till, with other foes
Sin, stronger than the rest, combining tore
The Diademe at first to Babel from
Its guilty owner's head, and next to Rome.
Rome wears it still, and makes this wretched land
Pay that sad debt its wickedness contracted:
How oft has an imperious Command
Heavy blood-squeesing imposts here exacted!
And drowned these inslaved fields, which all
With Milk and Honey flow'd before, in Gall!
(Such miserable gains fond wilful Men
Condemned are to reap, who needs will be
Driving the self-destroying Trade of Sin:
To such heart-galling bonds of tyranny
All frantic Nations made desperate haste
When from their necks Heav'n's gentle yoke they cast.)
This golden Trick Augustus learned, and
Summon'd the People to a general Tax:
The Warrants strait awakening all the Land,
Each one to pay in his assessment packs
Amain to his paternal City, where
Of Tribes and Kindreds lay the Register.
Obedience therefore hither Joseph drew:
And pious She who by Prophetick Writ
Full well the world's Redeemer's birth place knew,
Hugg'd this occasion to arrive at it;
Rejoycing that great Cesar's act should be
Inservient to Heav'n's greater Mystery.
Yet prov'd it both to Husband and to Spouse
A tedious journy; for the way was long,
But short the days: in Winter's inmost House
(Cold churlish Capricorn) the Sun had clung
The Morning and the Ev'n so close together
That there was left no room for cheerly Weather.
The holy Travellers through Cold and Frost
And northern Blasts, took their unworthy way;
(What pious Heart would not have been at cost
Of sighs' kind Warmth that sharp breath to allay!)
And slow they went; for Mary's time was come,
And God lay heavy in her tender womb.
Alas, she to her Travel travelled,
And brought at length her weariness to town:
In which the court'sy of an hired bed
To lay her weather-beaten body down
She hop'd to find; but barbarous Winter's blast
Had Men, as well as Earth, seal'd up in Frost.
The Men were Ice; so were their doors; for both
Hard frozen stood against poor-looking Guests:
Where'r they knock'd the surly Host was wroth,
Crying, My house is full. Indeed those nests
Were only courteous Traps, which barred out
All Birds but such as store of feathers brought.
All Inns by Silken and by Purple Things
Were taken up: each Gallant, room must have
For his swell'd self, and room for those he brings
To swell him higher; room for all his brave
And burly nothing, his fond state and port
Which in a chamber must alone keep court.
Thus was the Universe's King shut out
Of his own World as He was entring in:
Long had the Pilgrim's noble Patience sought
And yet could at no door admission win:
And now night crowded on apace, and drew
Their curtains who as yet no Lodging knew.
Amongst less beastly Beasts, this made them call
For pity, seeing none was left with Men:
Observe that Rock, which all along the wall
Lifts up its head to meet the rising Sun;
See'st thou the craggy mouth it opens? that
Was then the hospitable Stable's gate.
Come near and mark it well, this Cavern was
The homely lodging of an honest Ox,
Whose chamberfellow was a simple Asse:
Nor house nor dwellers needed any locks
Or bar, or Host, against th' approach of poor
Unlikely Wights to fortify the door.
For whom did Fortune's hate e'r plunge so low
As not to be above desiring free
Quarter with beasts? but since these Saints are now
Much lower sunk than lowest Poverty;
In noble love of this strange state, with meek
Content a correspondent Inn they seek.
Calamity besiegeth those in vain
With straits and wants, who always ready are
With conquering submission, to sustain
The brunt of heaviest Misfortune's war.
Necessity, is no such thing to those
Who what they cannot help know how to choose.
The blessed Travellers soon saw that this
Hard Rock less stony was than all the Town;
And that plain Brutes were ready to express
Far more humanity than they whose own
Nature ingag'd them to be Men, and kind
To those at least in whom themselves they find.
In therefore here with freedom entring, from
The Beasts, whose hearts no avarice had fear'd,
They borrow'd both a portion of their room,
And of their Straw; and there their bed prepar'd:
Where to a Temple having turn'd the Cave,
Themselves to rest they after vespers gave.
But though sleep sealed up the Virgin's eye,
Yet watchful was her heart, and travel'd still;
It travel'd through a Vision's Mystery,
A way where she no lassitude could feel.
Her Womb seem'd all on fire, whence streamed out
A Flash of Lightning, and whirld round about.
Round Earth's vast Ball it whirld, and in its way
Devour'd all things compos'd of useless Dross,
Of idle Stubble, or of fainting Hay:
The silver Creatures bare some little loss;
But those of genuine gold grew only more
Illustrious and youthful than before.
The World refined by this searching Flame,
In every part right radiant grew and brave;
No Blemish, or capacity of Blame
Peep'd out from east to west: all Creatures gave
A fair account of their own selves, and by
Their perfect beauty satisfy'd Heav'n's eye.
Whilst on this splendid Reformation She
Her wonder pours; dame Nature's vigilant Clock
Discovering Midnight, rous'd her Piety
To its accustom'd Task: the earliest Cock
Had rarely crow'd e'r she began to pray;
But here you know She faint and tired lay.
Yet rose she to bring forth her Vows: but now
A greater Birth was ripe, the wide-spread now
And Powers of Darkness freely ranged through
The sleeping World, and laugh'd at buried Light;
Little suspecting that an Highnoon-Day
From Midnight's bosom could erect its ray.
When lo the Virgin bare her wonderous Son
Who by the glories of his own sweet face,
Commands the dusky Shaddows to be gone
And to his conquering Splendor yield their place.
Her friends about her, sovereign Pleasures were
And Joy the Midwife which assisted her.
No faintings chill'd her heart, no Pangs durst tear
Her privileg'd bowels, nor no Cry her throat:
Those sad Revenues all entailed were
Upon polluted Beds: She whom no Blot
Of sinful Pleasure could pretend to stain
Advanced was beyond the shot of Pain.
No Circumstance of shame or filth could blur
The noble Birth: the shame was theirs alone
Whose shameless thoughts deflour'd most spotless Her
Th' accomplish'd Queen of Purity and none
But theirs the filth, whose slovenish forging brains
Rais'd here a Fount to wash the Infant's stains.
Her dear Virginity persever'd the same
Unbroken Jewel that it was before.
As God into her reverend bowels came
Yet ask'd no lock's leave, nor op'd any door;
So he returned thence, resolv'd that she
Should still a Virgin, though a Mother, be.
The pregnant Soul thus travelling with Thought,
No pangs, or strains, or ruptures feels, but by
Ease's own hand deliver'd is; and out
Her Off-spring comes all clad in Purity.
Her glorious Flame the Fire thus bringing forth
As clear continues as before that birth.
Thus when heav'n's Beams through spotless windows pass,
The Colours painted there, they borrow; yet
They neither rob, nor break, nor blur the Glass,
But with more precious Luster garnish it.
Their Mother Flowers thus are Virgins still,
Though they the air with broods of Odours fill.
Thus though great Phebus every morning springs
From fair Aurora's lap, yet she as true
A Maid remaineth, as those smiling Things,
Those rosal Blushes which her portal strew:
Heav'n being pleased to contrive this way
To make her Virgin-mother of the Day.
But O Aurora's Day is Night to this
Which in the Night from Mary took its rise,
To this, the Day of Life, of Love, of Bliss;
The Day of Jewels and of Rarities;
The conquering Day whose mighty Glories ne'r
Shall any Ev'n's obscuring powers fear.
The Day which made Immensity become
A Little one: which printed goodly May
On pale December's face; which drew the Sum
Of Paradise into a Bud; the Day
Which shrunk Eternity into a Span
Of Time, Heav'n into Earth, God into Man.
Heaven's twinckling Lights shut up their dazel'd eyes
And paid their blind devotion to the Dawn
Of Jacob's Star: the Moon in sacrifice
Her loyal Silver to the Golden Crown
Of Lusters offer'd, which about their new
Though ancient Prince, their royal Circle drew.
His softest feathers Winter thither sent
To be a pillow for the Infant's head
For sure no harm the honest Season ment
When in the Cave his fluttering Snow he spread:
But at his presence into tears it fell
Check'd by a whiter chaster Spectacle.
Tam'd Boreas, who saucy was before
With gentle manners learned to relent
And whispering demurely at the door
Profest himself not only penitent,
But studiously ambitious now to make
His Breath the praise of his young Master speak.
And fain would all th' illustrious Host of Heav'n
Whose wings were up, whose thoughts already flew,
Have hither march'd, and to their Sovereign giv'n
A volley of applause and thanks: but due
To his dear Mother's brave Devotion
This Privilege was, first to salute her Son.
She therefore (having with exuberant Joy
Beheld the Wonder which her self had bred,
And opening through exultant tears the way
To her inflamed Spirit, tendered
Her self a prostrate Holocaust before
His feet; and taught the World what to adore;)
Cry'd, O my precious Son, and more than mine,
How shall thy worthless Mother and thy Maid,
With due attendance wait on thy divine
Cradle, without thine own almighty aid!
How shall my Clod of earth Great Thee embrace
For whom the widest heav'n too narrow was!
What shall I do, who most distressed am,
And straitned by the vastness of my Bliss!
Thou who wert not ashamed of my Shame,
Who thy most abject vassal hast to this
Sublimity advanc'd: O teach her heart
And hands to act their ravishing Duties part.
These words wak'd pious Joseph: who when he
The newborn Wonder spy'd, stay'd not to ask
Whose was that brightly-blooming Majesty,
But bows down to his necessary task.
Those Beams of such convincing sweetness were
As left no question but his Lord was there.
With reverent adoration on the floor,
The pious pattern of his heav'nly Spouse
He hastes to copy, and his soul to pour
Forth in ecstatick thanks, and praise, and vows:
Since at the radiant casement of those eyes
God looking out, call'd for that sacrifice.
Those Eyes, the Easts of gentle living Light;
The diamond quivers of divinest Love;
The wells of ever-springing Joys; the bright
Mirrors of purer Claritudes than move
About the silver heav'ns, when Night is fine,
Or when in Cancer's height Day's glories shine.
And as Dove's eyes thrice wash'd in milk, upon
The neighbouring Rivers answering crystal play;
So on the Mother this immaculate Son
Divinely dally'd with his Aspect's ray:
Thus deigning by his Turtle Eye to prove
Himself conceiv'd by heav'n's eternal Dove.
His Skin, the throne of softest White and Red,
Joy'd that delicious union to shew
By which his Mother's Blush was married!
To that most lovely Dove's all-snowy hue.
Ten thousand Ladies' pencils ne'r could teach
A cheek so rich perfection to reach.
His goodly Head was of refined gold,
Being it self to its fair self a Crown.
O that the fond bewitched Worldlings would,
Changing their avarice, prudently fall down
And worship this diviner Metal which
With surer wealth their coffers would inrich.
The Scene his Cheeks round gentle hillocks were,
Where ranks of Spices plaid their precious part,
And such perfumed floridness as ne'r
Had marshall'd been by Nature or by Art.
His Lips like Lilies, whensoe'r they op'd,
Of odoriferous Myrrh thick blessings drop'd.
As Beryls fairly rang'd in golden rings,
So in his richer hands were Graces set.
As Ivory, which prides the thrones of Kings,
When streaks of Saphir's luster garnish it,
Such was his lovely Belly; only this
Thrill'd through its beauty warmth and tenderness.
As slender Pillars of white Marble which
On Sockets of fine gold erected are;
So his pure Legs were builded on his rich
And graceful feet: His Aspect mounted far
Above the Excellence of Cedars, when
They look from their majestick Lebanon.
His Mouth the Gate of sweetness was; and He
Arrayed round with nothing else but Love.
In this miraculous Epitomy
All choise Extremities of Glory strove
Which should be most extreme, and in that fair
Contention every one grew conquerer.
For never yet was Beauty known to hold
So full an empire as she here possest;
Not when in Absalom's accomplish'd mould
Her self and her ambition she drest;
Not when she reign'd with Fate-inamoring grace
In infant Moses his commanding face.
As Joseph with these wonders feasts his eye;
The reverent Mother of her Son's dear feet
Tender'd a consecrated kiss; and by
That blessed taste encourag'd to a sweet
Audacity, adventur'd on to sip
The roseal dainties of his heav'nly Lip.
O noble Kiss! which might a Seraph hire
His highest orb to leave, his mouth to wipe,
In hopes to drink in more delicious Fire
From this young Altar, than from all the ripe
Flames of the Empyreum; fire which by
No fuel's fed but supple Bliss and Joy.
O Kiss, which fetch'd the Mother's springing heart
Into her lip, and seal'd it on her Son!
Who was his own as ready to impart
In answer to her sweet Impression,
O Kiss, the sacred Compliment between
Heav'n's highest King and Earth's most lowly Queen!
This done; her zealous and yet timorous hands
Began their duty to the noble Child:
Whom having gently lapp'd in swaddling bands,
She to her Breast apply'd: whose bottles fill'd
With milk, but more with genial Delight,
To his first breakfast did their God invite.
Which lovely Invitation gracious He
Accepting, borrow'd what himself did give.
Mean while deliciously-transported She
Seemd in that breast he suck'd alone to live:
For thither leap'd her soul, and scarce could stop
It self from sturting out with every drop.
Then in the Cratch (since with no hefter bed
This sorry house could gratify its guest,)
Where careless Hay was for the coverings spread,
She lay'd him down to take his hardy rest.
Thus came the Ox to know his Owner, and
The Asse his Master's crib to understand.
For both due distance kept, adoring Him
Whose generous Goodness saves both Man and Beast;
Him who till now alone had nourish'd them
And spread in every field their copious Feast.
Their Manger and their Hay they well can spare
For his dear service whose own Gifts they were.
As there He lay, the holy Mother's breast
Grew big again with noble Contemplation:
Which as her tongue brought forth and sweetly drest
In vocal graces, with neat imitation
The Cave returns the accents of her voice,
And in soft Echos duplicates the noise.
Almighty Babe, on whom till now, said she,
Heav'n's Wardrobe waited with its purest flames,
Whose Mantle was all-dazeling Majesty,
Whose Crown was wov'n of Glory's boundless beams;
What condescent of mighty Love is this
Which of that matchless Pomp can thee undress!
Could Clouts and Rags have ever hop'd to be
Exalted to this strange Prerogative
That wretched they should thus to naked Thee
The piteous alms of their poor shelter give!
Surely all simple Weeds shall precious seem
Henceforth to me which are of kin to them.
Let Silks and Gold go puff up Princes' pride
Whose stains require the aid of beauteous vails:
A homespun rayment will a body hide
When friezing cold, or melting heat assails.
Since Thou art thus content, O let not me
E'r covet finer than my God to be.
Thou art my God; this vesture's dusky cloud
No such eclipse can on thy Glory throw,
But through its gloominess my faith can crow'd
And see to whom I adoration owe.
Lo I adore thee, who art still Most High
Though in this bottom of Humility.
Fair was thy Throne when thou did'st mounted sit
At his right hand whom Celsitude calls Father;
When all the heav'ns were bow'd to be thy great
Chair of majestick State; when Earth did gather
It self up close, and fix'd up stood to be
A faithful footstool to thy Sire and Thee.
When all the volumes of Immensity
Their utmost vastness gladly stretched out
To spread a correspondent canopy
Over thy glorious head: When round about
Omnipotence attended on thy port,
And fill'd the circuit of thy mighty Court.
But now the Scene is chang'd; this sorry Cell,
This Mannorhouse of shame and scorn, must be
Thy native palace; now thy throne must swell
No wider than this Cratch; now poverty
Lays for thy pillow Hay, poor faded Hay,
Which speaks what Weakness Thou assum'st to-day.
Now all those flaming Hierarchies, whose tongue
With Hallelujahs fill'd thy royal ear,
Are far withdrawn; and thou art left among
None but these dull and silent Waiters here,
This 0x and Ass, the only servant thou
The world's great King could'st ready find below.
(Go great Retinues, gaudy Palaces;
Go Beds of down, of gold, of ivory;
Go wait upon your dainty Prince's Ease,
And help to countenance poor Majesty:
Yet there lament your Pride's dishonor, since
You are not own'd by Glory's only Prince.
But though, O nobly-privileg'd Poverty
Enriched by this Morn's bright Miracle,
Shalt my Delight, my Pomp, my Kingdom be:
Thy Rags shall all Embroideries excel,
Thy Cottages all marble Towers outshine,
Thy Hardship pleasant be, thy shame divine.
Thy proper Region's this; and may'st thou be
My sole estate and dowry here below:
O 'tis sufficient if hereafter We
By heav'n's fair store, above may wealthy grow.
That, that's the only Realm of Wealth, and there
Alone would I be rich where riches are.)
And yet, dread Infant, give my Wonder leave
To gaze upon a greater Change than this:
From thy Almighty Sire didst thou receive
Thy equal Self, and sweetly rest in His
Bright bosom where unbounded Pleasures swim,
Injoying his Eternity with Him.
But now art Thou a Son of Time become,
And of poor Me, a shorter thing than Time:
That Bosom thou exchang'dst for my vile womb,
Light's largest heav'n for this dark narrow clime;
Of loose Mortality to catch fast hold,
And up in Dust thy gallant Godhead mould.
All my astonish'd thoughts are swallow'd quite
In this Abyss of thy Humility.
O vast Abyss! as deep as ever Height
It self was high: I yield, I yield to be
In this miraculous Sea of Goodness crown'd,
Which only Thou the God of it, canst sound.
But O how far thine Handmaid is beneath
That noble Accusation Gabriel laid
Deep to my charge I thy Condescension hath
Monopoliz'd Meekness, and the world array'd
In Pride's now helpless shame; since though it seek
More low than Dust to stoop, yet 'tis not meek.
Though ev'n the Thought of Pride's my soul's chief hate,
I am not humble; no, nor can be so.
This very sight of thy unworthy state
Confutes and checks my very Essence, who
By being but my self am too too high,
Now Thou my Sovereign Lord thus low dost lie.
Whilst her most pious soul dissolved ran
Out at her lips by this ecstatick Heat;
A flock of Shepherds with an heavenly Tone
Fresh on their echoing tongues in triumph at
The Cave arriv'd, which to their wonder yields
A fairer Sight then their late glorious fields.
In Joseph they beheld the best of Men;
The flower of Females they in Mary saw;
The sweetness of all Infants in her Son,
And how much more than so! their sacred Vow
This spectacle determined, and they
Before the Cratch their duty haste to pay.
For with a prostrate soul and bended knee
Each one upon that simple Altar lades
His tender Lamb: which Offrings smil'd to see
So fair a proof of their own gentle praise,
Beholding in the royal Babe how nigh
They were of kin to his meek Majesty.
And then, O mighty Little One, said they,
Deign thy acceptance of these rural things,
The cream of our poor Flocks: which whilst they stray
About the plains, may thy Protection's wings
Shield them and us; who for our Deity
No other Pan will own but gracious Thee.
Whene'r the hasty Wolf, the hideous Bear
Or raging Lion challengeth his prey,
Let thy Defence's sheltring might appear
Th' injustice of their Challenge to gainsay.
Alas our Crooks are feeble things, and We
As weak as they, build all our trust on Thee.
When Heat or Cold, when Wet or Drought, transgress
Their proper seasons, O do thou correct
Their dangerous encroachments; and repress
Those envious Stars which would on us inflict
Malignant influence: so shall heav'n and earth
See thy bright Power, for all thy clouded Birth.
The deep-observing Mother joy'd to hear
Their humble Orison: And what, said she,
My honest Friends, has call'd you from your Care
Thus to attend on this new Piety?
To Night and Dangers what has made you leave
Your other Lambs; and these what bids you give?
Fair Queen of Grace and Bliss, the Men reply'd,
Thrice bowing down before her reverend feet,
No Fears nor Dangers can our Flocks betide
Whilst we are come our newborn King to greet.
Heav'n sent us hither; and we need not fear
But Heav'n is able to supply our Care.
Whilst we our watch amidst the champain kep'd,
Befriended by the Moon and Stars, that no
Peril might awake our tender Flock, which slep'd
In helpless careless innocency: lo
There rush'd from heav'n a sudden mighty Light
Which from the wide Field chas'd abased Night.
The frighted Moon and Stars fled all away;
With unexpected Gold the sky was drest:
We never yet beheld the entring Day
With such commanding beams break from the East.
'Twas Glory's Morning this; and in our eyes
No Sun, but Majesty now seem'd to rise.
With that, and with Amazement blinded, we
Fell down, supposing Heav'n had done so too;
And that the Beauties of Sublimity
Came post on some grand business hear below.
And now we see what drew them down: thy Son
May well allure Heav'n after him to run.
But as dark Bats, and wretched Birds of night,
Surprised by a stoutly-flashing Flame,
Are damp'd with horror at the glorious sight
Which seals their eyes and open throws their shame,
So we by this strange Apparition lay
Besieged both with Luster and dismay.
We thus the prize of Dread: a radiant friend
Who gently hover'd in the neighbour air
Upon our fainting hearts fresh comfort fan'd
With his kind wings; and cry'd, No night of fear
Is this, look up and view this Scene of Joy,
Adorn'd in Heav'n's most festival array.
We op'd our eyes, and wondringly beheld
How Smiles and Pleasures had bedecks the place;
Which seem'd no more a country common field
But Paradise's own delicious face:
And such we should have thought it still, had we
Not hither come, and seen thy Son, and Thee.
But yet a Beauty next to yours we read,
Well near as heav'nly and as mildly grave:
That Angers who bestowed on our Dread
That courteous Item: his attire was brave;
His Looks, Delight's pure glass; most sweet his tongue,
From which these blessed words of solace rung:
Behold I bring you news of greater Joy
Than kindest Heav'n to earth did ever send;
Joy which through every heart shall melt its way,
And with the Sun its equal course extend:
Joy which must know no limits, but through all
The world display its gallant Festival.
For to unwitting blessed you, this morn
In royal David's City, Christ, the Lord
Of him, and you, and all this world is born:
A mighty King, and able to afford
The often-promis'd long-desir'd Salvation
To his decrepit languishing Creation.
Stagger not at the News; but let this sign
Stablish your Faith and banish needless doubts:
You shall at Bethlehem find this most divine
Infant inwrap'd in simple swadling clouts;
And in a plain and answerable bed
The Asse's Manger, laid, to rest his head.
As we for joy at these strange Tidings started
Behold, a sudden Globe of pliant Light
Into a stranger Apparition parted,
And with new Merveils entertain'd our sight:
For at a diamond Table fair and wide
A numerous Quire of Angels we descry'd.
Soul-charming Melody amidst them sat;
At her left hand Applause; Bliss at her right:
Before her face triumphant Honor; at
Her foot luxuriant but pure Delight.
The Spectacle alone was ravishing;
But O what Raptures when they 'gan to sing!
Glory to God in all sublimity,
Peace upon Earth, and to Mankind good will:
This was their Ditty; but their lofty Key
Not only pass'd our mortal reaches' skill,
But surely poss'd the Spheres, tho' these (they say)
In sovereign Musick spend both Night and Day.
How gladly fell our charmed Lambs to dance!
What troops of merry Wolves came tripping thither!
Lions and Bears seiz'd with a gentle trance
Met in a friendly galliard together.
All salvageness was quickly charm'd asleep,
And every Beast became a gentle Sheep.
The jolly Birds flock'd in; and though they saw
A fairer-wing'd and sweeter-throated Quire,
Yet felt they in their breasts such pleasure glow
That they could not suppress their cheerly fire;
But muster'd up their sweetest powers, to pay
Their best applause to that Angelick lay.
The Stones look'd up and seem'd to wish for feet;
The Trees were angry that they stuck so fast;
All things desir'd the Harmony to meet,
And their sweet Passion prettily express:
Our silly oaten pipes this made us break,
And our exultant parts with Nature take.
And though our feet more nimbly never flew
Than in their answer to this Music's Pleasure,
Doing their best endeavour to trip true
To every turn, and point, and air, and measure;
Yet leaping in our joious bosoms we
Felt our brisk hearts with more Activity.
The Anthem finish'd thus; that glorious Fire
About the Company its volumes spread,
And homeward convoy'd th' illustrious Quire.
We saw how wide a gate heav'n opened
To let them in we saw it shut, and yield
Back to the Stars their free etherial field.
Thence came we hither, and the Promise found
As true and noble as our expectation:
Which from this Cave must by our tongues rebound
To every ear we meet; that this Narration
May ease our hearts, least by the mighty wonder
Of this heav'n-crowned Morn they split in sunder.
But when the Year's fresh youth returns to deck
The bed of April in her vernal hue;
Its earliest sweets and beauties we will pick,
And wreath a chaplet for the fairer brow
Of this our blooming Lord: till when we place
Our hopes of safety in his only Grace.
Which said, three adorations to her Son
They made, and then of blessed Mary took
Their humble leave: who having printed in
Her mindful bosom's ready trusty book
The News, the Quire, the Song, the glorious Light,
She duly read the lesson morn and night.
And deep she div'd into the reason why
That glistering Host kept distance from the Cave,
And to these Creatures of Humility,
These simple honest Swains, the honor gave
Of Visiting meek Him the first, who came
To be at once a Shepherd and a Lamb.
But when the Sun seven times himself had shown
To all the World, and bid it idolize
His face no more; but fall before its own
Almighty rising Phebus, at whose eyes
His flames were kindled; Janus op'd the door,
And in her arms Aurora New-year bore.
And Circumcision's sacred Day was this;
Nor would the royal Infant spared be,
But took this hard and bloody yoke on his
Most tender neck; that exemplary He
Who was through all Obedience to run,
His Race of Patience might betimes begin.
There lay He on his yearning Mother's knee
On that sweet Altar his first Blood to offer:
And tell me Psyche, whither He or She
By this Incision more pain did suffer;
For that strange wound was deeply graved in
Her soul, which only raz'd his body's skin.
Yet wise and pious as she was, she knew
The wound would deeper prove should she forbear
In love's mild disobedience to imbrue
Her hand in what her heart esteem'd so dear
Her Son's pure blood: since no way could be found
To keep his Law whole, but himself to wound.
Down fell the purple precious Dew, and gave
The World sure earnest of what stay'd behind:
For 'twas resolv'd the World at length should have
The utmost drop his deepest vein could find.
Mean while these few suffic'd to write the bonds
By which He for the rest ingaged stands.
O liquid jewels I happily have you
Besprinkled all the forehead of the year
The year, which now on his bedecked brow
Hath leave more beauties than heav'n's face to wear:
The year, which sealed is by you, to be
From mischief's heavy Impositions free.
Thus when the paschal Lamb's less worthy Blood
Th' Egyptian doors of Israel's Son bedew'd,
Peace and Security for Porters stood
That no Distruction thither might intrude.
Had but this blush on Pharoh's gates been seen,
Safety and health, and grace had dwelt within.
Now January's Calends washed be
By these dear Drops from all that guilty gore
Which Heath'nish most unholy Sanctity
Us'd on their face in lavish floods to pour.
Fair shines the Day, thus rescu'd and releast
From Pagan Stains to Piety's pure feast.
And now was printed on the Child that Name
Which tip'd and glorify'd bright Gabriel's tongue:
That Name whence Blisse's clearest torrents stream
That Name which sweetens every Cherub's song
That Name of bowels, of almighty Love,
Of all the joys which make heav'n be above.
JESUS! O what vast Treasures couched he
Within the bosom of this little Word!
A Word which spreads its potent Majesty
Through heav'n and earth and hell; all which are stirr'd
With reverent awe whene'r it sounds, and on
Their bended knees adore the Virgin's Son.
JESUS! O Name which shall for ever be
The cordial of humble fainting hearts
The triumph of exultant Piety
Religion's richest Sum; Nor shall the arts
Of rude and peevish Heresy suppress
That Worship which the due Revenue is.
JESUS! O Name of glorious Dainties, how
Loth are my ravish'd lips with thee to part!
Yet shall thy musick never cease to flow
In precious Echos all about my heart.
JESUS! O sweeter Name of Life! O Name
Which makest famous ev'n eternal fame.
These wonders Psyche were atchieved here
This poor plain Cave with royal worth to crown:
And yet not these alone; has not thine ear
Been fill'd with Balaam's infamous renown
Whose simple Ass, his fury to confute,
Held with her sillier Lord a wise Dispute.
This Son of Avarice, and Heir of Hell,
By frighted Balak hired to enchant
And heap his curses upon Israel,
Was by thy Spouse inforced to recant
His dire intent, and like his Ass to make
His changed tongue against his nature speak.
Thy spouse's power wrung that bright
Prophesy From his black mouth, of Jacob's rising Star:
Which he bequeathed as a Legacy
To all his Heirs; and charg'd them to beware
That no forgetfulness did Blind their eyes
From watching when that promis'd Light should rise.
Amongst their mystic Notes these words they laid
From age to age, and often read them o'r
With dread devotion; being still afraid
The Star might at some unexpected door
Peep out from heav'n, and spy their souls asleep,
Whom Balaam had forewarn'd their watch to keep.
No broad-ey'd Comet on the world could look
But strait into their studies them it sent
Where, after counsel had with many a book
Through all its flaming lineaments they went;
Examining the length of every hair
By its own light, which head or beard did wear.
But when Eternity's sweet Day began
To dawn from this, O how unlikely Cave!
A gallant Star into Arabia ran
And notice of the glorious business gave
To every eye, which was instructed how
To read the characters of heav'n's bright bow.
Three venerable Men were dwelling there
As well within all hoary, as without;
Kings of the neighboring fields and boroughs, where
They reign'd by secret Wisdom's high repute.
No Star, but well they knew; for from the East
They long had been acquainted to the West.
These looking out that night their friends to view
Espy'd a stranger drest in bright attire
To which their greedy Contemplations flew
And busy were about the radiant fire.
The more they look'd, the fairer room they found
Whereon high expectations to ground.
Fond Eyes, which gaz'd long since the Star was set
Dream'd that a flaming Child in it they saw,
Whose golden shoulders wore a cross; the wit
Of Superstition thus deviseth how
To fool it self, and credit whatsoe'r
Deceits in its blind fancies' book appear.
A Book which cunning Hell improves so high
That it has often cost poor Truth full dear:
For Lyes embroider'd upon Verity,
The Poison of the wholsome groundwork are.
Thus foolish Tares once mix'd with solid Wheat,
The credit of the hopeful crop defeat.
These sage Observers no such thing descry'd
In this unusual Star, but only read
A beauteous Miracle, whose beams outvy'd
All glories that bright Venus's face could plead:
And when the Day drew on, displayed far
More cause why this should be the Morning Star.
For when from roseal Aurora's door
Fair Titan shak'd his locks and marched out;
Nor any of the other Spangles, nor
Brisk Venus could approve her self so stout
To stand the dint of his approaching Light,
But slip'd aside and waited for the night.
But this brave Star stay'd still, and to his face
Boldly told Phebus, he had more to do
In heav'n, than he; and that he kindled was,
A fairer nobler Day than his to show;
A Day which sprung not from his vulgar East,
But chose its own Morn where it pleased best.
The Star's so daring Resolution much
Amaz'd the Magi; who in all their old
Records of Wonders, could not meet with such
A venturous Apparation inroll'd:
Nor laid their eyes not urge them to confess)
Would grant there could be such a one as thus.
But since it plainly thus outfac'd the Plea
Of any Doubt: their thoughts' Result defined
That some incomparable Mystery
In its prognosticating count'nance shined:
And why, said they at length, may not this be
The Star great Balaam's quick-ey'd soul did see?
Then throwing all their useless books aside,
To Him they su'd who kindled that divine
Foresight in Balaam, to be satisfy'd
About the meaning of that Flaming sign;
God kindly answer'd them and taught them why
He check'd the Sun by that fair Prodigy.
Heav'n's mighty Love thus universal is,
Whilst through the School of Magick Darkness it
Disdaineth not with gracious beams to press;
That in their black Profession it may meet
The Sons of Night with radiant Mercy, and
Them to the Day of Bliss and glory send.
Their sumptures now they hastily provide,
Though yet uncertain which way they should tend:
When lo the Star vouchsaf'd to be their guide,
And with a moderate pace its journy bend
To Palestine; that it might not outrun
Their Dromedaries' mortal motion.
Sweet was their March: O courteous Star, said they,
Who would not follow thy direction! what
Sly Error now can cheat us of our way
Who under heav'n's bright conduct travel! that
Fair fiery Pillar which led Israel, we
Now envy not, who convoy'd are by thee.
Advancing thus, till Salem's towry head
Had met their eyes, they thither turn'd their way
Presuming there to find the princely bed
Whereon the newborn King of Salem lay.
But now the Star grew wroth and hid his face
To chide their dotage on that gaudy place.
That chode in earnest; but mistaken
They Conceiv'd its office was expired here,
Now to their journy's period his ray
Had brought them safe: though old and wise they were,
They had not learned that the Sovereign
Of Lowliness doth worldly Pomp disdain.
In joyous haste they through the City's gate
Their passage snatch, and bless the happy place
Which crown'd and privileged was by fate
Heav'n's glory to outvy: for there alas
With fond hopes swollen they expect to see
Thy mighty Spouse's infant-Majesty.
With their great question every street they fill,
Demanding where his native Palace stood
Who now was born the King of Israel;
Whose Star has brought us from our own abode,
The East, said they, to represent our meet
And bounder homage at this royal feet.
Much was the boldness of the Men admir'd
Who now within the reach of Herod's spight,
So stoutly for another King enquir'd,
Plainly confuting his usurped Right.
But Piety is valiant, and can
In fearing God, defy the fear of Man.
This News with jealous terror having rung
Through thousand ears, at length to Herod's came.
The guilty Tyrant startled was and stung,
Hearing that strangely-broach'd and dangerous fame:
His heart throbb'd high, his sceptre seem'd to quake,
His Throne to totter, and his Crown to crack.
Yet to elude all threatning Omens, He
Muster'd his cruel wit, and vow'd to lay
Some holy-looking Plot, whose subtilty
Both his young Rival and his fears might slay.
His rage he clok'd, and in a Synod sought
How to resolve the noble Stranger's Doubt.
The Priests and Scribes from reverent Records there
Produc'd inspired Micha's Prophesy
Before the King the mighty Point to clear.
But to the Pilgrims in his Closet He
Wisely imparts the News; and sifts from them
Each circumstance of their conducting flame.
Which having heard at large: Go then, said He
And may Success your brave Devotion crown;
Yet grant your friend this easy courtesy,
Not to ingross Religion as your own
But when y' have found the Infant, let me know,
That I may Him adore as well as you.
No solemn Entertainment now shall stay
Your pious zeal, although my Honor be
Ingag'd this ceremonie's debt to pay:
But when your greater Work's dispatched, we
Shall take such royal course, that you shall find
Our court to strangers cannot be unkind.
So spake the wiley King. But honest they,
Who had no Star to shew them Herod's heart,
Believ'd his tongue, and with well-meaning joy
Return'd their thanks; then greedy to depart,
Their leave they took; and by devotion driv'n
Thought Bethlehem road the only way to heav'n.
And now behold, their reconciled Star,
Which justly had disdain'd its beams to shew
To cursed Herod, represented their
Illustrious Convoy to their eyes; which new
And joyful hopes strait kindled in their breast
To see themselves from desolate Night releast.
For Day to them had worn no other face
But that of black uncomfortable Night:
And Phebus posting to another place
Did with his useless beams but mock their sight:
Till this most faithful Star again appear'd
Which to their wishes Port them safely steer'd.
But then it stop'd, (for all its work was done,)
And pointing with a perpendicular ray
Down to the Cave, bid them behold that San
Of which it self was but the shaddow: They,
To whom a moment's stay now seemed long
In glad obedience from their sadles sprung.
Their several Grooms the foaming Coursers took;
The Pages their Oblations prepar'd
When musing at the Stable's simple Look
Which much below their lofty hopes appear'd
The Princes turn'd their jealous eyes to know
Of their bright Guide, if they were right, or no.
But when they mark'd what firm assurance shed
Itself down from the peremptory Star,
They march'd in cheerly; and no sooner had
Observ'd the humble Majesty which there
Kept open court, but their Devotion grew
To such brave height, that them it prostrate threw.
The Mother's eyes in theirs rais'd admiration;
The radiant Infant's, sacred ecstasy
For in her bosom's balmy habitation
His sweeter Head they saw inshrined lie;
As in the precious and glistering breast
Of Mother-pearl the Jewel makes its nest.
Though in the glorious volumes of the skies
They off had many a flaming Lecture read;
They here perceiv'd these brighter Rarities
Strongly confute those twinckling books, and bid
Them seek no more for Stars above; nor be
So vain as to look upwards Heaven to see.
Thrice therefore having kiss'd the ground; Behold,
Cry'd they, great King of all the World, poor We
Whom by Thy Star thou sendedst for, are bold
To creep thus near thy gracious Majesty.
The Name of King has flattered us a while
But we resign to Thee that fitter Stile.
The foolish World surnames us Wise; but We
No more will that ambitious Title own
Which truly due, and suting none but Thee,
Before thy footstool here we throw it down:
Accounting this our highest Wisdom, that
We by thy Grace this Lowliness have got:
That King art Thou; the hopes of whose dear Birth
Have many fainting Generations cheer'd:
That Jacob's Star whose Rising here on earth
The shades and types of Prophesies hath clear'd
Displaying to this groveling World, which lay
Till now in Darkness, a meridian Day.
That sovereign Wisdom, which contriv'dst at first
The fabrick of this universal Ball;
By thy direction it from Nothing burst;
And in thy Counsel's boundless Circle all
Motions of heaven and earth still acted be:
Both Change and Chance are Certainties to Thee.
Here drawing near, and having his Oblation
Laid fairly in his Crown; the First, before
His infant Lord with triple adoration
Thus tender'd his devotion; of the store
To me thy bounty has been pleas'd to give.
Vouchsafe this humble tribute to receive.
It is the purest Gold my care could get,
Yet begs now to be gilded by thine Eye:
Unless true Richness thou wilt glance on it,
Thy hand's acceptance 'tis too poor to buy,
If thus this suppliant Gold may be beholden
To thy beam's charity, it will be golden.
Then came the Second with like reverence, and
His Offring in his Royal Censer brought;
Accept, sweet Babe, from my unworthy hand,
Said he, this Incense, since 't has now found out
The next way to its God, and needs not rise
In labouring clouds to reach the lofty skies.
The noblest 'tis my diligence could meet
Amongst the spicy beds of Araby,
Which in her first-fruits hither comes, to let
Thee know the rest at home is due to Thee,
And craves thy leave to kiss thy lovely feet:
No way but so, to make her odours sweet.
These two fair Copies were transcribed by
The Third, whose Present was delicious Myrrh;
And, this to wait on thy Humanity
O my incarnate God, I here prefer:
That Nature which till now, said he, was poor
Ashes and Dust, in Thee we must adore.
The Babe look'd up, and with a gentle eye
Approv'd their orthodoxal sacrifice;
But as the Mother's gracious courtesy
Held forth his willing hand to meet their kiss;
O no, our lips are too too foul, they cry'd;
By his Clout's kiss may they be purify'd.
They kiss'd it, and arose: But on the floor
Ambitiously still left their Crowns, that they
Might gain the honor to be foot-stools for
Glory's own Prince whose court most justly may
Be strew'd and pav'd with Diadems, since He
Reigns King of kings and Lord of Majesty.
And now as much of Night as dar'd draw nigh
The native palace of fair Grace's Day
Was hither crept; the Pilgrims' modesty
Beg'd leave to lodge before the door: for they
In loyal reverence durst not think the same
Roof fit to cover both their Lord and them.
Thus having pitch'd their tents without, and said
Their prayers to the God they left within,
With sweet content themselves to rest they laid:
Where when soft Sleep his gentle stealth began
Upon their brows; a Dream came close behind,
Which op'd a Vision to their waking mind.
God in a mystick Voice, which well they knew
By its dear rellish in their hearts, descended,
Timely discovering to their wondering view
What Herod's bloody Jealousy intended;
What ambushes of desperate traps, if they
Return'd by Salem, had beset their way.
This Warning they, when Morning out had sent
The flaming Giant to his daily race,
With hasty joy obey'd: yet forward went
Their feet amain, but with as swift a pace
Their hearts recoil'd, so did their eyes, and in
The glorious Stable would again have been.
Thus strugling homeward by a private way,
Unreach'd by harm they to Arabia came:
Where, through th' astonish'd Towns, a full Display
They brandish'd of the noble Infant's Fame;
Returning richer Gold, and purer store
Of Sweets, than they from thence to Bethlehem bore.
The precious Name of JESUS, would alone
Discharge that debt, and purchase all the rest:
The Gold, Myrrh, Incense, which that Region
In all its richest hills and vales possest;
And authorize each Part of Araby
To take its surname from Felicity.
Say Psyche now was not this simple Place
Most gloriously worth thy journy hither?
But Time's at hand which will erect Disgrace
On this Foundation of Honor, whither
One King shall send as studied Scorn, as three
Brought reverent and costly Piety.
This Temple of Virginity will He
Deform to blackest Last's unworthy Sty;
Rear'd in the blessed Manger's place must be
The cursed Altar of Impurity;
And Venus and Adonis' titles swell,
JESU's and Mary's mention to expell.
O then cry'd Psyche (for the Angel now
Clos'd up his lips,) may I that time prevent.
At Purity's unravish'd shrine my Vow
Burns to be paid. Alas, what though I want
Gold, Incense, Myrrh? I have a Heart which fain
Upon this Manger's Altar would be slain.
It would be slain, thereby a Life to find
Which will not give its noble Name the lye:
For whilst I linger groveling in this blind
Valley of Sin, by Living I but Die.
A mortal Life is but an handsom fiction
Nothing well-drest, a flattering Contradiction.
Here kneeling down, she dews with liberal tears
The holy Relique, and with pious sighs
Quite blows th unworthy Dust away; nor cares
She though the empty Manger mock her eyes,
Since her sharp-sighted Faith could Him descry
Who in that Cradle once vouchsaf'd to lie.
A thousand hearts she wish'd she had been worth,
And full as many times that Wish renew'd;
That generously she might have poured forth
Her single Self to Him in multitude.
Over and over she would fain be His,
And tries Love's sweet Impossibilities.
O what Contentions of Grief and Joyes,
And pious Languishments now throng'd her breast!
How many amorously-violent ways
Her venturous Soul try'd to be dispossess
Of Fleshe's tedious clogs, that she might to
Her Spouse's pure imbraces naked go!
But tir'd by this mysterious agony,
Her spirits to the powers of sleep submitted:
Oft had they quickned up themselves, and by
Stout zeal repuls'd th' inchroaching mists that flitted
About her eyes; which yet prevail'd at last,
And on the Manger laid her head to rest.
Her eyes were clos'd, but wide awake her heart,
Which clearly run by Recollection through
The noble Story: reading every part
And circumstance, she knew not where nor how:
Whilst Phylax for her canopy had spread
His tender guardian Wing above her head.
[1702; Grosart (1880) 1:120-40]