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Full Online Book HomePoemsFrom "primitive Holiness, Set Forth In The Life Of Blessed Paulinus"
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From 'primitive Holiness, Set Forth In The Life Of Blessed Paulinus' Post by :lukilady Category :Poems Author :Henry Vaughan Date :October 2011 Read :3111

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From "primitive Holiness, Set Forth In The Life Of Blessed Paulinus"

1654.


1. (AUSONIUS. EPIST. XXIV. 115-16.)

Let me not weep to see thy ravish'd house
All sad and silent, without lord or spouse,
And all those vast dominions once thine own
Torn 'twixt a hundred slaves to me unknown.

 

2. (AUSONIUS. EPIST. XXIII. 30-1; XXV. 5-9, 14, 17.)

How could that paper sent,
That luckless paper, merit thy contempt?
Ev'n foe to foe--though furiously--replies,
And the defied his enemy defies.
Amidst the swords and wounds, there's a salute,
Rocks answer man, and though hard are not mute.
Nature made nothing dumb, nothing unkind:
The trees and leaves speak trembling to the wind.
If thou dost fear discoveries, and the blot
Of my love, Tanaquil shall know it not.

 

3. (PAULINUS. CARM. XI. 1-5; X. 189-92.)

Obdurate still and tongue-tied, you accuse
--Though yours is ever vocal--my dull muse;
You blame my lazy, lurking life, and add
I scorn your love, a calumny most sad;
Then tell me, that I fear my wife, and dart
Harsh, cutting words against my dearest heart.
Leave, learned father, leave this bitter course,
My studies are not turn'd unto the worse;
I am not mad, nor idle, nor deny
Your great deserts, and my debt, nor have I
A wife like Tanaquil, as wildly you
Object, but a Lucretia, chaste and true.

 

4. (PAULINUS. CARM. XXXI. 581-2, 585-90, 601-2, 607-12.)

This pledge of your joint love, to heaven now fled,
With honey-combs and milk of life is fed.
Or with the Bethlem babes--whom Herod's rage
Kill'd in their tender, happy, holy age--
Doth walk the groves of Paradise, and make
Garlands, which those young martyrs from him take.
With these his eyes on the mild Lamb are fix'd,
A virgin-child with virgin-infants mix'd.
Such is my Celsus too, who soon as given,
Was taken back--on the eighth day--to heaven
To whom at Alcala I sadly gave
Amongst the martyrs' tombs a little grave.
He now with yours--gone both the blessed way--
Amongst the trees of life doth smile and play;
And this one drop of our mix'd blood may be
A light for my Therasia, and for me.

 

5. (AUSONIUS. EPIST. XXV. 50, 56-7, 60-2.)

Sweet Paulinus, and is thy nature turn'd?
Have I so long in vain thy absence mourn'd?
Wilt thou, my glory, and great Rome's delight,
The Senate's prop, their oracle, and light,
In Bilbilis and Calagurris dwell,
Changing thy ivory-chair for a dark cell?
Wilt bury there thy purple, and contemn
All the great honours of thy noble stem?

 

6. (PAULINUS. CARM. X. 110-331.)

Shall I believe you can make me return,
Who pour your fruitless prayers when you mourn,
Not to your Maker? Who can hear you cry,
But to the fabled nymphs of Castaly?
You never shall by such false gods bring me
Either to Rome, or to your company.
As for those former things you once did know,
And which you still call mine, I freely now
Confess, I am not he, whom you knew then;
I have died since, and have been born again.
Nor dare I think my sage instructor can
Believe it error, for redeemed man
To serve his great Redeemer. I grieve not
But glory so to err. Let the wise knot
Of worldlings call me fool; I slight their noise,
And hear my God approving of my choice.
Man is but glass, a building of no trust,
A moving shade, and, without Christ, mere dust.
His choice in life concerns the chooser much:
For when he dies, his good or ill--just such
As here it was--goes with him hence, and stays
Still by him, his strict judge in the last days.
These serious thoughts take up my soul, and I,
While yet 'tis daylight, fix my busy eye
Upon His sacred rules, life's precious sum
Who in the twilight of the world shall come
To judge the lofty looks, and show mankind
The diff'rence 'twixt the ill and well inclin'd.
This second coming of the world's great King
Makes my heart tremble, and doth timely bring
A saving care into my watchful soul,
Lest in that day all vitiated and foul
I should be found--that day, Time's utmost line,
When all shall perish but what is divine;
When the great trumpet's mighty blast shall shake
The earth's foundations, till the hard rocks quake
And melt like piles of snow; when lightnings move
Like hail, and the white thrones are set above:
That day, when sent in glory by the Father,
The Prince of Life His blest elect shall gather;
Millions of angels round about Him flying,
While all the kindreds of the Earth are crying;
And He enthron'd upon the clouds shall give
His last just sentence, who must die, who live.
This is the fear, this is the saving care
That makes me leave false honours, and that share
Which fell to me of this frail world, lest by
A frequent use of present pleasures I
Should quite forget the future, and let in
Foul atheism, or some presumptuous sin.
Now by their loss I have secur'd my life,
And bought my peace ev'n with the cause of strife.
I live to Him Who gave me life and breath,
And without fear expect the hour of death.
If you like this, bid joy to my rich state,
If not, leave me to Christ at any rate.

 

7. (PAULINUS.)

And is the bargain thought too dear,
To give for heaven our frail subsistence here?
To change our mortal with immortal homes,
And purchase the bright stars with darksome stones?
Behold! my God--a rate great as His breath!--
On the sad cross bought me with bitter death,
Did put on flesh, and suffer'd for our good,
For ours--vile slaves!--the loss of His dear blood.

 

8. (EPITAPH ON MARCELLINA.)

Life, Marcellina, leaving thy fair frame,
Thou didst contemn those tombs of costly fame,
Built by thy Roman ancestors, and liest
At Milan, where great Ambrose sleeps in Christ.
Hope, the dead's life, and faith, which never faints,
Made thee rest here, that thou mayst rise with saints.

 

9. (PAULINUS. VERSUS APUD EPIST. XXXII. 3.)

You that to wash your flesh and souls draw near,
Ponder these two examples set you here:
Great Martin shows the holy life, and white,
Paulinus to repentance doth invite;
Martin's pure, harmless life, took heaven by force,
Paulinus took it by tears and remorse;
Martin leads through victorious palms and flow'rs,
Paulinus leads you through the pools and show'rs;
You that are sinners, on Paulinus look,
You that are saints, great Martin is your book;
The first example bright and holy is,
The last, though sad and weeping, leads to bliss

 

10. (PAULINUS. VERSUS APUD EPIST. XXXII. 5.)

Here the great well-spring of wash'd souls with beams
Of living light quickens the lively streams;
The Dove descends, and stirs them with her wings,
So weds these waters to the upper springs.
They straight conceive; a new birth doth proceed
From the bright streams by an immortal seed.
O the rare love of God! sinners wash'd here
Come forth pure saints, all justified and clear.
So blest in death and life, man dies to sins,
And lives to God: sin dies, and life begins
To be reviv'd: old Adam falls away
And the new lives, born for eternal sway.

 

11. (PAULINUS. VERSUS APUD EPIST. XXXII. 12.)

Through pleasant green fields enter you the way
To bliss; and well through shades and blossoms may
The walks lead here, from whence directly lies
The good man's path to sacred Paradise.

 

12. (PAULINUS. VERSUS APUD EPIST. XXXII. 14.)

The painful cross with flowers and palms is crown'd,
Which prove, it springs; though all in blood 'tis drown'd;
The doves above it show with one consent,
Heaven opens only to the innocent.

 

13. (PAULINUS. CARM. XXVII. 387-92.)

You see what splendour through the spacious aisle,
As if the Church were glorified, doth smile.
The ivory-wrought beams seem to the sight
Engraven, while the carv'd roof looks curl'd and bright.
On brass hoops to the upmost vaults we tie
The hovering lamps, which nod and tremble by
The yielding cords; fresh oil doth still repair
The waving flames, vex'd with the fleeting air.

 

14. (PAULINUS. VERSUS APUD EPIST. XXXII. 17.)

The pains of Saints and Saints' rewards are twins,
The sad cross, and the crown which the cross wins.
Here Christ, the Prince both of the cross and crown,
Amongst fresh groves and lilies fully blown
Stands, a white Lamb bearing the purple cross:
White shows His pureness, red His blood's dear loss.
To ease His sorrows the chaste turtle sings,
And fans Him, sweating blood, with her bright wings;
While from a shining cloud the Father eyes
His Son's sad conflict with His enemies,
And on His blessed head lets gently down
Eternal glory made into a crown.
About Him stand two flocks of diff'ring notes,
One of white sheep, and one of speckled goats;
The first possess His right hand, and the last
Stand on His left; the spotted goats are cast
All into thick, deep shades, while from His right
The white sheep pass into a whiter light.

 

15. (PAULINUS.)

Those sacred days by tedious Time delay'd,
While the slow years' bright line about is laid,
I patiently expect, though much distrest
By busy longing and a love-sick breast.
I wish they may outshine all other days;
Or, when they come, so recompense delays
As to outlast the summer hours' bright length;
Or that fam'd day, when stopp'd by divine strength
The sun did tire the world with his long light,
Doubling men's labours, and adjourning night.
As the bright sky with stars, the field with flow'rs,
The years with diff'ring seasons, months and hours,
God hath distinguished and mark'd, so He
With sacred feasts did ease and beautify
The working days: because that mixture may
Make men--loth to be holy ev'ry day--
After long labours, with a freer will,
Adore their Maker, and keep mindful still
Of holiness, by keeping holy days:
For otherwise they would dislike the ways
Of piety as too severe. To cast
Old customs quite off, and from sin to fast
Is a great work. To run which way we will,
On plains is easy, not so up a hill.
Hence 'tis our good God--Who would all men bring
Under the covert of His saving wing--
Appointed at set times His solemn feasts,
That by mean services men might at least
Take hold of Christ as by the hem, and steal
Help from His lowest skirts, their souls to heal.
For the first step to heaven is to live well
All our life long, and each day to excel
In holiness; but since that tares are found
In the best corn, and thistles will confound
And prick my heart with vain cares, I will strive
To weed them out on feast-days, and so thrive
By handfuls, 'till I may full life obtain,
And not be swallow'd of eternal pain.

 

16. (PAULINUS (?). CARM. APP. I.)

Come, my true consort in my joys and care!
Let this uncertain and still wasting share
Of our frail life be giv'n to God. You see
How the swift days drive hence incessantly,
And the frail, drooping world--though still thought gay(1)--
In secret, slow consumption wears away.
All that we have pass from us, and once past
Return no more; like clouds, they seem to last,
And so delude loose, greedy minds. But where
Are now those trim deceits? to what dark sphere
Are all those false fires sunk, which once so shin'd,
They captivated souls, and rul'd mankind?
He that with fifty ploughs his lands did sow,
Will scarce be trusted for two oxen now;
His rich, loud coach, known to each crowded street,
Is sold, and he quite tir'd walks on his feet.
Merchants that--like the sun--their voyage made
From East to West, and by wholesale did trade,
Are now turn'd sculler-men, or sadly sweat
In a poor fisher's boat, with line and net.
Kingdoms and cities to a period tend;
Earth nothing hath, but what must have an end;
Mankind by plagues, distempers, dearth and war,
Tortures and prisons, die both near and far;
Fury and hate rage in each living breast,
Princes with princes, States with States contest;
An universal discord mads each land,
Peace is quite lost, the last times are at hand.
But were these days from the Last Day secure,
So that the world might for more years endure,
Yet we--like hirelings--should our term expect,
And on our day of death each day reflect.
For what--Therasia--doth it us avail
That spacious streams shall flow and never fail,
That aged forests hie to tire the winds,
And flow'rs each Spring return and keep their kinds!
Those still remain: but all our fathers died,
And we ourselves but for few days abide.
This short time then was not giv'n us in vain,
To whom Time dies, in which we dying gain,
But that in time eternal life should be
Our care, and endless rest our industry.
And yet this task, which the rebellious deem
Too harsh, who God's mild laws for chains esteem,
Suits with the meek and harmless heart so right
That 'tis all ease, all comfort and delight.
"To love our God with all our strength and will;
To covet nothing; to devise no ill
Against our neighbours; to procure or do
Nothing to others, which we would not to
Our very selves; not to revenge our wrong;
To be content with little, not to long
For wealth and greatness; to despise or jeer
No man, and if we be despised, to bear;
To feed the hungry; to hold fast our crown;
To take from others naught; to give our own,"
--These are His precepts: and--alas!--in these
What is so hard, but faith can do with ease?
He that the holy prophets doth believe,
And on God's words relies, words that still live
And cannot die; that in his heart hath writ
His Saviour's death and triumph, and doth yet
With constant care, admitting no neglect,
His second, dreadful coming still expect:
To such a liver earthy things are dead,
With Heav'n alone, and hopes of Heav'n, he's fed,
He is no vassal unto worldly trash,
Nor that black knowledge which pretends to wash,
But doth defile: a knowledge, by which men
With studied care lose Paradise again.
Commands and titles, the vain world's device,
With gold--the forward seed of sin and vice--
He never minds: his aim is far more high,
And stoops to nothing lower than the sky.
Nor grief, nor pleasures breed him any pain,
He nothing fears to lose, would nothing gain,
Whatever hath not God, he doth detest,
He lives to Christ, is dead to all the rest.
This Holy One sent hither from above
A virgin brought forth, shadow'd by the Dove;
His skin with stripes, with wicked hands His face
And with foul spittle soil'd and beaten was;
A crown of thorns His blessed head did wound.
Nails pierc'd His hands and feet, and He fast bound
Stuck to the painful Cross, where hang'd till dead,
With a cold spear His heart's dear blood was shed.
All this for man, for bad, ungrateful man,
The true God suffer'd! not that suff'rings can
Add to His glory aught, Who can receive
Access from nothing, Whom none can bereave
Of His all-fulness: but the blest design
Of His sad death was to save me from mine:
He dying bore my sins, and the third day
His early rising rais'd me from the clay.
To such great mercies what shall I prefer,
Or who from loving God shall me deter?
Burn me alive, with curious, skilful pain,
Cut up and search each warm and breathing vein;
When all is done, death brings a quick release,
And the poor mangled body sleeps in peace.
Hale me to prisons, shut me up in brass,
My still free soul from thence to God shall pass.
Banish or bind me, I can be nowhere
A stranger, nor alone; my God is there.
I fear not famine; how can he be said
To starve who feeds upon the Living Bread?
And yet this courage springs not from my store,
Christ gave it me, Who can give much, much more
I of myself can nothing dare or do,
He bids me fight, and makes me conquer too.
If--like great Abr'ham--I should have command
To leave my father's house and native land,
I would with joy to unknown regions run,
Bearing the banner of His blessed Son.
On worldly goods I will have no design,
But use my own, as if mine were not mine;
Wealth I'll not wonder at, nor greatness seek,
But choose--though laugh'd at--to be poor and meek.
In woe and wealth I'll keep the same staid mind,
Grief shall not break me, nor joys make me blind:
My dearest Jesus I'll still praise, and He
Shall with songs of deliv'rance compass me.
Then come, my faithful consort! join with me
In this good fight, and my true helper be;
Cheer me when sad, advise me when I stray,
Let us be each the other's guide and stay;
Be your lord's guardian: give joint aid and due,
Help him when fall'n, rise, when he helpeth you,
That so we may not only one flesh be,
But in one spirit and one will agree.


FOOTNOTE:

(1) The original has gry.


(The end)
Henry Vaughan's poem: From "Primitive Holiness, Set Forth In The Life Of Blessed Paulinus"

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