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RAPT with the rage of mine own ravisht thought,
Through contemplation of those goodly sights,
And glorious images in Heaven wrought,
Whose wondrous beauty, breathing sweet delights,
Do kindle love in high conceipted sprights;
I faine to tell the things that I behold,
But feele my wits to faile, and tongue to fold.
Vouchsafe then, O thou most Almightie Spright!
From whom all guifts of wit and knowledge flow,
To shed into my breast some sparkling light
Of thine eternall truth, that I may show
Some little beames to mortall eyes below
Of that immortall Beautie, there with thee,
Which in my weake distraughted mynd I see ;
That with the glorie of so goodly sight
The hearts of men, which fondly here admyre
Faire seeming shewes, and feede on vaine delight,
Transported with celestiall desyre
Of those faire formes, may lift themselves up hyer,
And learne to love, with zealous humble dewty,
Th’ Eternall Fountaine of that heavenly beauty.
Beginning then below, with th' easie vew
of this base world, subject to fleshly eye,
From thence to mount aloft, by order dew,
To contemplation of th’immortall sky;
of the soare faulcon so I learne to flye,
That flags a while her fluttering wings beneath, Till she her selfe for stronger flight can breath.
Then looke, who list thy gazefull eyes to feed
With sight of that is faire, looke on the frame
Of this wide universe, and therein reed
The endlesse kinds of creatures which by name
Thou canst not count, much less their natures aime;
All which are made with wondrous wise respect,
And all with admirable beautie, deckt.
First, th’ Earth, on adamantine pillers founded
Amid the sea, engirt with brazen bands;
Then th' aire still fitting, but yet firmely bounded
On everie side, with pyles of flaming brands,
Never consum’d, nor quencht with mortall hands;
And, last, that mightie shining cristall wall,
Wherewith he hath encompassed this all.
By view whereof it plainly may appeare,
That still as every thing doth upward tend,
And further is from Earth, so still more cleare
And faire it growes, till to his perfect end
Of purest beautie it at last ascend;
Ayre more then water, fire much more then ayre,
And Heaven then fire, appeares more pure and
Looke thou no further, but affixe thine eye
On that bright shynie round still moving masse,
The house of blessed God, which men call skye,
All sowd with glistring stars more thicke then grasse,
Whereof each other doth in brightnesse passe,
But those two most, which, ruling night and day,
As king and queene, the Heavens empire sway ;
And tell me then, what hast thou ever seene
That to their beautie may compared bee,
Or can the sight that is most sharpe and keene
Endure their captains flaming head to see?
How much lesse those, much higher in degree,
And so much fairer, and much more then these,
As these are fairer then the land and seas?
For farre above these Heavens, which here we see,
Be others farre exceeding these in light,
Not bounded, not corrupt, as these same bee,
But infinite in largenesse and in hight,
Unmoving, uncorrupt, and spotlesse bright,
That need no sunne t'illuminate their spheres,
But their own native light farre passing theirs.
And as these Heavens still by degrees arize,
Until they come to their first movers bound,
That in his mightie compasse doth comprize,
And carrie all the rest with him around;
So those likewise doe by degrees redound,
And rise more faire, till they at last arrive,
To the most faire, whereto they all do strive.
Faire is the Heaven where happy soules have place
In full enioyment of felicitie,
Whence they doe still behold the glorious face
Of the Divine Eternall Maiestie ;
More faire is that, where those idees on hie
Enraunged be, which Plato so admyred,
And pure intelligences from God inspyred.
Yet fairer is that Heaven, in which do raine
The soveraigne powres and mightie potentates,
Which in their high protections doe containe
All mortall princes and imperiall states;
And fayrer yet, whereas the royall seates
And heavenly dominations are set,
From whom all earthly governance is fet.
Yet farre more faire be those bright cherubins,
Which all with golden wings are overdight,
And those eternall burning seraphins,
Which from their faces dart out fierie light;
Yet fairer then they both, and much more bright,
Be th' angels and archangels, which attend
On Gods owne person, without rest or end.
These thus in faire each other farre excelling,
As to the highest they approach more near,
Yet is that highest farre beyond all telling,
Fairer then all the rest which there appeare,
Though all their beauties ioyn’d together were;
How then can mortall tongue hope to expresse
The image of such endlesse perfectnesse ?
Cease then, my tongue! and lend unto my mynd
Leave to bethinke how great that beautie is,
Whose utmost parts so beautifull I find;
How much more those essential parts of his,
His truth, his love, his wisedome, and his blis,
His grace, his doome, his mercy, and his might,
By which he lends us of himselfe a sight!
Those unto all he daily doth display,
And shew himselfe in th’ image of his grace,
As in a looking-glasse, through which he may
Be seene of all his creatures vile and base,
That are unable else to see his face,
His glorious face! which glistereth else so bright,
That th' angels selves can not endure his sight.
But we, fraile wights! whose sight cannot sustaine
The Suns bright beames when he on us doth shyne,
But that their points rebutted backe againe
Are duld, how can we see with feeble eyne
The glorie of that Maiestie divine,
In sight of whom both Sun and Moone are darke,
Compared to his least resplendent sparke;
The meanes, therefore, which unto us is lent
Him to behold, is on his workes to looke,
Which he hath made in beauty excellent,
And in the same, as in a brazen booke,
To read enregistred in every nooke
His goodnesse, which his beautie doth declare ;
For all thats good is beautifull and faire.
Thence gathering plumes of perfect speculation,
To impe the wings of thy high flying mynd,
Mount up aloft through heavenly contemplation,
From this darke world, whose damps the soule do
And, lyke the native brood of eagles kynd,
On that bright Sunne of Glorie fixe thine eyes,
Cleard from grosse mists of fraile infirmities.
Humbled with feare and awfull reverence,
Before the footestoole of his Maiestie
Throw thy selfe downe, with trembling innocence,