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POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS BY
ON EXOD. III. 14.-I AM THAT I AM.
WRITTEN IN 1688, AS AN EXERCISE AT ST JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
MAN! foolish man! Scarce know'st thou how thyself began; Scarce hast thou thought enough to prove thou art; Yet steeled with studied boldness, thou darest try To send thy doubting reason's dazzled eye Through the mysterious gulf of vast immensity. Much thou canst there discern, much thence impart. Vain wretch! suppress thy knowing pride;
Mortify thy learned lust! Vain are thy thoughts, while thou thyself art dust.
2 Let Wit her sails, her oars let Wisdom lend;
The helm let politic Experience guide:
What, though still it farther tend?
Still 'tis farther from its end; And, in the bosom of that boundless sea, Still finds its error lengthen with its way. With daring pride and insolent delight Your doubts resolved you boast, your labours crowned; And "ETPHKA! your god, forsooth is found Incomprehensible and infinite.
But is he therefore found? vain searcher! no:
Say, why should the collected main
Itself within itself contain?
And with delighted silence sleep
Why should its numerous waters stay
Then prompt and ready to obey,
Why do the rising surges spread Their opening ranks o'er earth's submissive head, Marching through different paths to different lands?
Why does the constant sun
Why does each animated star Love the just limits of its proper sphere?
Why does each consenting sign
With prudent harmony combine In turns to move, and subsequent appear, To gird the globe, and regulate the year?
5 Man does with dangerous curiosity
These unfathomed wonders try:
anti-aber Yet still inquiring, still mistaking man,
With fancied rules and arbitrary laws
Then with imagined sovereignty
And he too, mighty thoughtful, mighty wise,
Just as much, perhaps, as shows,
That all his predecessor's rules
That he on the other's ruin rears his throne;
firms his own.
Mountainous heaps of wonders rise;
Whose towering strength will ne'er submit
And levelling at God his wandering guess,
Whose pregnant word did either ocean fill:
move and live.
That pregnant word sent forth again,
Let cunning Earth her fruitful wonders hide;
To trembling Calvary's astonished top;
Explaining how Perfection suffered pain,
Low, reverently low,
Deject thyself, that thou may’st rise;
8 Then Faith, for Reason's glimmering light, shall give
Her immortal perspective;
So politic an instrument,
Where Moses places his mysterious God,
TO THE COUNTESS OF EXETER,*
PLAYING ON THE LUTE.
What charms you have, from what high race you
The Persians thus, first gazing on the sun,
raised; And soon they worshipped, what at first they praised.
Eliza's glory lives in Spenser's song;
Strange force of harmony, that thus controls Our thoughts, and turns and sanctifies our souls; While with its utmost art your sex could move Our wonder only, or at best our love: You far above both these your God did place, That your high power might worldly thoughts destroy;
1 Anne, daughter of William Earl of Devonshire, and sister to the first Duke of Devonshire, widow also to Charles Lord Rich, was married to John Cecil Lord Burleigh, afterwards Earl of Exeter.