Barnabe Barnes (c.1569-1609)
From Parthenophil and Parthenophe
From Divine Century of Spiritual Sonnets
"Mistress, behold, in this true-speaking glass"
Mistress, behold, in this true-speaking glass
Thy beauty's graces, of all women rarest,
Where thou mayst find how largely they surpass
And stain in glorious loveliness the fairest.
But read, sweet mistress, and behold it nearer,
Pond'ring my sorrow's outrage with some pity;
Then shalt thou find no worldly creature dearer
Than thou to me, thyself in each love ditty.
But in this mirror equally compare
Thy matchless beauty with mine endless grief;
There like thyself none can be found so fair,
Of chiefest pains there, are my pains the chief.
Betwixt these both, this one doubt shalt thou find:
Whether are here extremest in their kind.
"Ah, sweet Content, where is thy mild abode?"
Ah, sweet Content, where is thy mild abode?
Is it with shepherds and light-hearted swains?
Which sing upon the downs and pipe abroad,
Tending their flocks and cattle on the plains?
Ah, sweet Content, where dost thou safely rest?
In heaven, with angels which the praises sing
Of him that made and rules at his behest
The minds and hearts of every living thing?
Ah, sweet Content, where doth thine harbour hold?
Is it in churches, with religious men
Which please the gods with prayers manifold,
And in their studies meditate it then?-
Whether thou dost in heaven or earth appear,
Be where thou wilt, thou wilt not harbour here.
"Burn on, sweet fire, for I live by that fuel"
Burn on, sweet fire, for I live by that fuel
Whose smoke is as an incense to my soul.
Each sigh prolongs my smart. Be fierce and cruel,
My fair Parthenophe. Frown and control,
Vex, torture, scald, disgrace me. Do thy will!
Stop up thine ears; with flint immure thine heart,
And kill me with thy looks, if they would kill.
Thine eyes, those crystal phials which impart
The perfect balm to my dead-wounded breast,
Thine eyes, the quivers whence those darts were drawn
Which me to thy love's bondage have addressed;
Thy smile and frown, night-star and daylight's dawn,
Burn on, frown on, vex, stop thine ears, torment me!
More, for thy beauty borne, would not repent me.
"This careful head, with divers thoughts distressed"
This careful head, with divers thoughts distressed,
My fancy's chronicler, my sorrow's muse;
These watchful eyes, whose heedless aim I curse,
Love's sentinels, and fountains of unrest;
This tongue still trembling, herald fit addressed
To my love's grief (than any torment worse);
This heart, true fortress of my spotless love,
And rageous furnace of my long desire:
Of these, by nature, am I not possessed,
Though nature their first means in me did move.
But thou, dear sweet, with thy love's holy fire,
My head grief's anvil made, with cares oppressed;
Mine eyes, a spring; my tongue, a leaf, wind-shaken;
My heart, a wasteful wilderness forsaken.
"No more lewd lays of lighter loves I sing"
No more lewd lays of lighter loves I sing,
Nor teach my lustful muse abused to fly
With sparrows' plumes, and for compassion cry
To mortal beauties which no succor bring.
But my muse, feathered with an angel's wing,
Divinely mounts aloft unto the sky,
Where her love's subjects, with my hopes, do lie.
For Cupid's darts prefigurate hell's sting;
His quenchless torch foreshows hell's quenchless fire,
Kindling men's wits with lustful lays of sin
Thy wounds my cure, dear Savior! I desire,
To pierce my thoughts, thy fiery cherubin,
By kindling my desires true zeal t'infuse,
Thy love my theme, and Holy Ghost my muse!
"Fortress of hope, anchor of faithful zeal"
Fortress of hope, anchor of faithful zeal,
Rock of affiance, bulwark of sure trust,
In whom all nations for salvation must
Put certain confidence of their souls' weal:
Those sacred mysteries, dear Lord, reveal
Of that large volume, righteous and just.
From me, though blinded with this earthly dust
Do not those gracious mysteries conceal;
That I by them, as from some beamsome lamp,
May find the bright and right direction
To my soul, blinded, marching to that camp
Of sacred soldiers whose protection
He that victorious on a white horse rideth
Taketh, and evermore triumphant guideth.
"A blast of wind, a momentary breath"
A blast of wind, a momentary breath,
A wat'ry bubble symbolized with air,
A sun-blown rose, but for a season fair,
A ghostly glance, a skeleton of death;
A morning dew, pearling the grass beneath,
Whose moisture sun's appearance doth impair;
A lightning glimpse, a muse of thought and care,
A planet's shot, a shade which followeth,
A voice which vanisheth so soon as heard,
The thriftless heir of time, a rolling wave,
A show, no more in action than regard,
A mass of dust, world's momentary slave,
Is man, in state of our old Adam made,
Soon born to die, soon flourishing to fade.