Tis better to be vile, than vile esteemed, When not to be, receives reproach of being, And the just pleasure lost which is so deemed Not by our feeling, but by others’ seeing: For why should others’ false adulterate eyes Give salutation to my sportive blood? Or on my frailties why are frailer spies, Which in their wills count bad what I think good? No; — I am that I am, and they that level At my abuses reckon up their own: I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel; By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown; Unless this general evil they maintain, All men are bad, and in their badness reign.
My Soul, there is a country Afar beyond the stars, Where stands a winged sentry All skillful in the wars; There, above noise and danger Sweet Peace sits, crown’d with smiles, And One born in a manger Commands the beauteous files. He is thy gracious friend And (O my Soul awake!) Did in pure love descend, To die here for thy sake. If thou canst get but thither, There grows the flow’r of peace, The rose that cannot wither, Thy fortress, and thy ease. Leave then thy foolish ranges, For none can thee secure, But One, who never changes, Thy God, thy life, thy cure.
Stars, you are unfortunate, I pity you, Beautiful as you are, shining in your glory, Who guide seafaring men through stress and peril And have no recompense from gods or mortals, Love you do not, nor do you know what love is. Hours that are aeons urgently conducting Your figures in a dance through the vast heaven, What journey have you ended in this moment, Since lingering in the arms of my beloved I lost all memory of you and midnight.
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free, The holy time is quiet as a Nun Breathless with adoration; the broad sun Is sinking down in its tranquility; The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the Sea; Listen! the mighty Being is awake, And doth with his eternal motion make A sound like thunder—everlastingly. Dear child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here, If thou appear untouched by solemn thought, Thy nature is not therefore less divine: Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year; And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine, God being with thee when we know it not.
Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d, Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight, And Time that gave doth now his gift confound. Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow, Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth, And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow: And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand, Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The Child is father of the Man; And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety.
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring – When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing; The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy, Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning, Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy, Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
Fair daffodils, we weep to see You haste away so soon; As yet the early-rising sun Has not attain’d his noon. Stay, stay, Until the hasting day Has run But to the even-song; And, having pray’d together, we Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay, as you, We have as short a spring; As quick a growth to meet decay, As you, or anything. We die As your hours do, and dry Away, Like to the summer’s rain; Or as the pearls of morning’s dew, Ne’er to be found again.
O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem, By that sweet ornament which truth doth give! The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem For that sweet odour which doth in it live. The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye As the perfumed tincture of the roses, Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses: But, for their virtue only is their show, They live unwoo’d and unrespected fade, Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so; Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made: And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth, When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.