Thomas Carew



I PRESS not to the choir, nor dare I greet
The holy place with my unhallow'd feet ;
My unwash'd Muse pollutes not things divine
Nor mingles her prophaner notes with thine ;
Here humbly, at the porch she stays,                                   5
And with glad ears sucks in thy sacred lays.
So devout penitents of old were wont,
Some without doore and some beneath the font,
To stand and hear the Church's liturgies,
Yet not assist the solemne exercise.                                   10
Sufficeth her, that she a lay-place gain,
To trim thy vestments, or but bear thy train ;
Though nor in tune, nor wing she reach thy lark,
Her lyric feet may dance before the Ark.
Who knows, but that her wand'ring eyes, that run              15
Now hunting glow-worms, may adore the sun ?
A pure flame may, shot by Almighty power
Into her breast, the earthy flame devour ?
My eyes in penitential dew may steep
That brine, which they for sensual love did weep.                 20
So, though 'gainst Nature's course, fire may be quench'd
With fire, and water be with water drench'd,
Perhaps my restless soul, tired with pursuit
Of mortal beauty, seeking without fruit
Contentment there, which hath not, when enjoy'd              25
Quench'd all her thirst, nor satisfied, though cloy'd,
Weary of her vain search below, above
In the first fair may find th' immortall love.
Prompted by thy example then, no more
In moulds of clay will I my God adore ;                             30
But tear those idols from my heart, and write
What his blest Spirit, not fond love, shall indite.
Then I no more shall court the verdant bay,
But the dry leafless trunk on Golgotha,
And rather strive to gain from thence one thorn,                 35
Then all the flourishing wreaths by Laureates worn.

Vincent, Arthur, ed. The Poems of Thomas Carew.
London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., nd. 19.

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