©Eric Miller, Jan. 16, 2016
[The following poem, in quasi-modernization, by ELM, Jan., 2016. Above link to on-line text of The Arbor Of Amorous Deuices, 1597]
The following poem, earlier published as, Love, is, I believe a poem by Lord Oxford/Shakespeare/Ignoto—at least ‘tis so to this poet’s ear, eye, and analysis. So as not to mar the beauty of the text, I shall make remarks separate from the text.
From worldly cares and wanton love’s conceit,
Begun in grief and ended in deceit:
I am conjur’d by hope of happy bliss,
Where heavenly faith and highest favor is,
To call my wits and all my thoughts together,
To write of heaven, and of the high-way thither.
The holy spirit of eternal power,
Vouchsafe his grace to guide my soul aright,
That patient heart may find the happy hour,
When I may see the glory of that sight,
That in conceit so fully may content me,
As nought on earth be able to torment me.
I ask no aid of any earthly muse,
Far be my fancy from such fond affect:
But in the heaven where highest Angels use,
To sing the sweet of faithful loves effect,
Among those spirits of especial grace,
I wish my soul might have a sitting place.
Where first the tears of true repentant hart,
With faithful hope may happy favor moue,
And sighing sobs of sorrows bitter smart,
May see the life of undeserved love:
Thence would I crave some excellence divine,
To set my foot in this discourse of mine.
To judge of heaven it is a place of joy,
Where happy souls have their eternal rest,
Where sweet delights doe suffer no annoy,
But all things good and onely on the best.
Where comforts more than man can comprehend,
And such contents as never can have end.
It is the Throne of high Jehovah sweet,
The God of power, of glory and of grace,
Where virtue dwells, and her adherents meet,
In joyful fear to see his heavenly face,
Where holy saints and highest Angels sing
An Alleluia to their heavenly King.
There is the day, and there is never night,
There ever joy, and there is never sorrow,
There never wrong, but there is ever right,
There ever have, and never need to borrow.
There ever love, and there is never hate,
Never but there was ever such a state.
There all the graces doe agree in one,
There liveth brethren in one link of love,
There all the saints do fear one King alone,
Who gives the bliss of highest hearts behoove.
There is the place of perfect paradise,
Where conscience lives and comfort never dies.
There is the Sun, the beauty of the sky,
The Moon and Stars, the candles of the night,
There is the essence of that heavenly eye,
That blinds the proud and gives the humble light,
There is the rainbow bended by his hand,
Who doth both heaven, earth, sea, & hell cōmand
There sitteth God in glory of this throne,
With Virgins, saints and Angels all attended,
Who in his Ire hath Kingdoms overthrown,
And in his love hath little things defended,
Whose glory more than may by man be known,
And glory most is in his mercy shown.
There doth he sit in highest of his power,
Calling the poor unto his rich relief,
Sowing the sweet that killeth every sower,
Giving the salve that healeth every grief:
Making them live that long were dead before,
And living so, that they can die no more.
By him alone the dumb do speak again,
Of him alone the blind receive their seeing,
With him alone is pleasure without pain,
In him alone have blessed hearts their beeing:
To him alone, and onely but unto him,
All glory due that al the world may doe him.
Now have I writ, though far beneath the worth,
Of highest Heaven, what happy heart conceiveth
Now will I try in order to set forth,
Direction such as never hope deceiveth,
How care may climb the hill of happiness
Where is the heaven of highest blessedness.
Grace is the ground of every good that is,
The ground once good, how can the work be ill,
Then that the mind may not be lead amiss,
Beseech the help of his most blessed will:
Whose onely word sets down the passage best
Of humble souls to their desired rest.
Begin to leave, and make an end to love,
Such wanton thoughts as woeful sorrow give,
Be once resolv'd and never doe remove,
To live to die, as thou mayst die to live:
Which hell to hate, and seek for heavenly bliss
Read of the world, and tell me what it is.
The world (in truth) is but a woeful vale,
Where grief for grass, and sins do grow for feed,
Where substance, sense and souls are set to sale,
While hoarders heap that naked people need:
And for the gain but of a simple groat,
One man wil seeke to cut another’s throat.
What is there here that can content the hart?
That knows content or what it doth contain:
What thought so sweet but brings as sower a smart?
What pleasure such but breeds a greater pain?
What thing so good but proves in fine so evil?
As (but for God) would bear men to the devil.
What is the earth? the labor of the life.
What is the sea? a gulf of grisly lakes.
What is the air? a stuff of filthy strife.
What is the fire? the spoil of that it takes.
Since these are all whence everything doth spring
What is the world, but even a woeful thing?
What thing is man? a clod of miry clay,
Slime of the earth, a slave to filthy sin,
Springs like a weed, and so doth wear away,
Goes to the earth where first he did begin:
Think with thy self, when thou thy self art such,
What is in man that man should be so much?
What hath the world to lead thy mind to love?
In true effect, a fardle full of toys,
For why the pith what every man doth prove,
The perfect Gems are most unperfect joys:
Consider all what fancy bringeth forth,
The best conceit will fall out nothing worth.
What worldly things doe follow fancy most?
Wealth beauty love, fine diet, honor, fame
What finds affect? both love and labor lost,
Disdain, disease, dishonor, death and shame.
Where care and sorrow, death and deadly strife,
Doo rule the roost in this accursed life.
What thing is beauty? a color quickly gone.
And what is wealth when riches fall to rust?
What thing is love? a toy to think upon,
Fine diet, dross to feed a filthy lust:
What worldly honor oft unworthy praise?
What ease, the cause whereby the life decays?
What is disdain? the scorn of proud conceit,
And what disease, the death of discontent?
Dishonor next the fruit of fond deceit.
And what is death? the end of ill intent.
Now what is shame? a shameful thing to tell:
What is the world but wicked’s way to hell?
For beasts, for birds, for fishes, flowers and trees,
And all such things created for our use,
What thing is man to take such things as these,
By want of grace to turn unto abuse?
Oh wretched world, when man that should be best
In beastly things proves worse than all the rest.
Thus have I show’d the world and what is,
A wicked place and full of wretched woes,
A sink of sin shut out from heavenly bliss,
Where lack of grace doth wit and reason loose:
So vile a thing as who in kind doth prove it.
Will soon confess he hath no cause to love it.
Now how to leave this loath some life of outs,
The hateful hell the ground of every grief,
Implore the help of those assured powers,
Who never fail the faithful soul relief:
Lay by these thoughts that are to be abhorred,
And set thy heart upon the heavenly Lord.
First know thy God, and what a God he is,
Without beginning and can have no end,
Who in his love created onely his,
And by his hand doth ever his defend,
Whose glorious essence of his excellence,
Makes highest powers to tremble at his presence.
He made the world and what it doth contain,
Onely but man he made unto his love,
And man’s good will was his desired gain,
Till proud attempt did high displeasure move:
He plagu'd his pride, yet when he saw his pain.
He gave the salve that healed the wound again.
He gave the rules to guide the soul aright,
What it should do, and what it should not doe,
He shew'd the sum of his desires delight,
And what the heart should set itself unto:
And in the good of his most gracious will,
He shew'd the good that healed every ill.
He gave the sun, the moon and stars a course,
That they observe according to his will:
He makes the tides to take their due recourse,
And sets the earth where it doth settle still.
He made the substance of each element,
And sets his foot upon the firmament.
He gives us knowledge, and we will not know him
He bids us ask, and we will never move him:
He bids us come, and we are running from him:
He gives us life, and yet we never love him:
He is our King, and we do not respect him:
He is our God, and yet we do neglect him.
And nought but man that can or dare devise,
How to offend that holy will of his,
In onely man that cursed humor lies,
That makes no care to run his course amiss,
But day by day doth more and more offend him.
Whose onely hand doth from all hurt defend him.
Ungrateful man whom God did onely make,
In love to love, and with his love preserveth,
And for his love endured for his sake
Such death of life as dearest love deserueth:
What cursed hart would in displeasure move him
That giving all, asks nothing but to love him.
Oh love, sweet love, oh high and heavenly love,
The onely love that leads to happy life,
Oh love that lives for living hearts behoove,
And makes an end of every hateful strife:
How happy he that kindly can attain it
And how accurst that dare for to disdain it.
Love was the cause that first we were created,
Love is the life that we have given to lead,
Love is the cause we never can be hated,
Love is our life when other life is dead,
Love is the grace that highest good doth give,
Learn but to love, and t'is enough to live.
First love thy God that taught thee how to love,
Then love the love that he in love hath taught thee.
That love so fixed as nothing can remove.
The hope of life that highest love hath wrought thee
Thus if thou love, thy love will be a friend,
To gain the life where love will never end.