Thomas Carew (1595-1640)

A Rapture

I will enjoy thee now, my Celia, come
And fly with me to love’s Elizium:
The giant Honour, that keeps cowards out
Is but a masquer, and the servile rout
Of baser subjects only bend in vain
To the vast idol, whilst the nobler train
Of valiant soldiers daily sail between
The huge Colossus’ legs, and pass unseen
Unto the blissful shore; be bold and wise,
And we shall enter; the grim Swiss denies
Only to tame fools a passage, that not know
He is but form, and only frights in show
The duller eyes that look from far; draw near,
And thou shalt scorn what we were wont to fear.
We shall see how the stalking pageant goes
With borrowed legs, a heavy load to those
That made and bear him; not, as we once thought,
The seed of gods, but a weak model wrought
By greedy men that seek t’ enclose the common,
And within private arms empale free woman.
Come then, and mounted on the wings of love
We’ll cut the flitting air, and soar above
The monster’s head, and in the noblest seats
Of those blest shades quench and renew our heats.
There shall the queens of Love, and Innocence,
Beauty, and Nature banish all offence
From our close ivy twines; there I’ll behold
Thy barèd snow, and thy unbraided gold.
There my enfranchised hand on every side
Shall o’er thy naked polished iv’ry slide.
No curtain there, though of transparent lawn,
Shall be before thy virgin-treasure drawn;
But the rich mine, to the enquiring eye
Exposed, shall ready still for mintage lie,
And we will coin young Cupids. There, a bed
Of roses and fresh myrtles shall be spread
Under the cooler shade of cypress groves;
Our pillows of the down of Venus’ doves,
Whereon our panting limbs we’ll gently lay
In the faint respites of our active play;
That so our slumbers may in dreams have leisure
To tell the nimble fancy our past pleasure;
And so our souls, that cannot be embraced,
Shall the embraces of our bodies taste.
Meanwhile the bubbling stream shall court the shore,
Th’ enamoured chirping wood-choir shall adore
In varied tunes the deity of love;
The gentle blasts of western winds shall move
The trembling leaves, and through their close boughs breathe
Still music, whilst we rest ourselves beneath
Their dancing shade; till a soft murmur, sent
From souls entranced in am’rous languishment
Rouse us, and shoot into our veins fresh fire,
Till we, in their sweet ecstasy, expire.

Then, as the empty bee, that lately bore
Into the common treasure all her store,
Flies ’bout the painted field with nimble wing,
Deflow’ring the fresh virgins of the spring,
So will I rifle all the sweets that dwell
In my delicious paradise, and swell
My bag with honey, drawn forth by the power
Of fervent kisses, from each spicy flower.
I’ll seize the rose-buds in their perfumed bed,
The violet knots, like curious mazes spread
O’er all the garden, taste the ripened cherry,
The warm, firm apple, tipped with coral berry;
Then will I visit, with a wand’ring kiss,
The vale of lilies and the bower of bliss,
And where the beauteous region doth divide
Into two milky ways, my lips shall slide
Down those smooth alleys, wearing as I go
A tract for lovers on the printed snow;
Thence climbing o’er the swelling Apennine,
Retire into thy grove of eglantine,
Where I will all those ravished sweets distil
Through love’s alembic, and with chemic skill
From the mixed mass, one sovereign balm derive,
Then bring that great elixir to thy hive.

Now in more subtle wreathes I will entwine
My sin’wy thighs, my legs and arms with thine;
Thou like a sea of milk shalt lie displayed,
Whilst I the smooth, calm oceän invade
With such a tempest as when Jove of old
Fell down on Danae in a storm of gold:
Yet my tall pine shall in the Cyprian strait
Ride safe at anchor, and unlade her freight:
My rudder, with thy bold hand, like a tried
And skilful pilot, thou shalt steer and guide
My bark into love’s channel, where it shall
Dance, as the bounding waves do rise or fall:
Then shall thy circling arms embrace and clip
My willing body, and thy balmy lip
Bathe me in juice of kisses, whose perfume
Like a religious incense shall consume
And send up holy vapours to those pow’rs
That bless our loves, and crown our sportful hours,
That with such halcyon calmness fix our souls
In steadfast peace, as no affright controls.
There no rude sounds shake us with sudden starts,
No jealous ears, when we unrip our hearts,
Suck our discourse in, no observing spies
This blush, that glance traduce; no envious eyes
Watch our close meetings, nor are we betrayed
To rivals by the bribèd chamber-maid.
No wedlock bonds unwreathe our twisted loves;
We seek no midnight arbour, no dark groves
To hide our kisses; there the hated name
Of husband, wife, lust, modest, chaste, or shame
Are vain and empty words, whose very sound
Was never heard in the Elysian ground.
All things are lawful there, that may delight
Nature, or unrestrainèd appetite;
Like and enjoy, to will and act, is one;
We only sin when love’s rites are not done.

The Roman Lucrece there reads the divine
Lectures of love’s great master, Aretine,
And knows as well as Lais how to move
Her pliant body in the act of love.
To quench the burning ravisher, she hurls
Her limbs into a thousand winding curls,
And studies artful postures, such as be
Carved on the bark of every neighbouring tree
By learnèd hands, that so adorned the rind
Of those fair plants, which as they lay entwined,
Have fanned their glowing fires. The Grecian dame
That in her endless web toiled for a name
As fruitless as her work, doth there display
Herself before the youth of Ithaca,
And th’ amorous sport of gamesome nights prefer
Before dull dreams of the lost traveller.
Daphne hath broke her bark, and that swift foot
Which th’ angry gods had fastened with a root
To the fixed earth, doth now unfettered run
To meet th’ embraces of the youthful sun:
She hangs upon him like his Delphic lyre,
Her kisses blow the old, and breathe new fire:
Full of her god, she sings inspirèd lays,
Sweet odes of love, such as deserve the bays,
Which she herself was. Next her Laura lies
In Petrarch’s learnèd arms, drying those eyes
That did in such sweet smooth-paced numbers flow,
As made the world enamoured of his woe.
These, and ten thousand beauties more, that died
Slave to the tyrant, now enlarged, deride
His cancelled laws, and for their time mis-spent
Pay into love’s exchequer double rent.

Come then, my Celia, we’ll no more forbear
To taste our joys, struck with a panic fear,
But will depose from his imperious sway
This proud usurper and walk free as they,
With necks unyoked; nor is it just that he
Should fetter your soft sex with chastity,
Which nature made unapt for abstinence;
When yet this false impostor can dispense
With human justice, and with sacred right,
And maugre both their laws command me fight
With rivals, or with emulous loves, that dare
Equal with thine, their mistress’ eyes, or hair:
If thou complain of wrong, and call my sword
To carve out thy revenge, upon that word
He bids me fight and kill, or else he brands
With marks of infamy my coward hands,
And yet religion bids from blood-shed fly,
And damns me for that act. Then tell me why
This goblin Honour which the world adores
Should make men atheists, and not women whores.

To My Mistress in Absence

Though I must live here, and by force
Of your command suffer divorce;
Though I am parted, yet my mind
(That’s more myself) still stays behind;
I breathe in you, you keep my heart:
’Twas but a carcass that did part.
Then though our bodies are dis-joined,
As things that are to place confined,
Yet let our boundless spirits meet,
And in love’s sphere each other greet;
There let us work a mystic wreath,
Unknown unto the world beneath;
There let our clasped loves sweetly twin;
There let our secret thoughts unseen
Like nets be weaved and intertwined,
Wherewith we’ll catch each other’s mind:
There whilst our souls do sit and kiss,
Tasting a sweet and subtle bliss
(Such as gross lovers cannot know
Whose hands and lips meet here below),
Let us look down, and mark what pain
Our absent bodies here sustain,
And smile to see how far away
The one doth from the other stray;
Yet burn, and languish with desire
To join, and quench their mutual fire.
There let us joy to see from far
Our em’lous flames at loving war,
Whilst both with equal lustre shine,
Mine bright as yours, yours bright as mine.
There seated in those heav’nly bow’rs
We’ll cheat the lag and ling’ring hours,
Making our bitter absence sweet,
’Till souls, and bodies both, may meet.

A Song

Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose:
For in your beauty’s orient deep
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.

Ask me no more whither doth stray
The golden atoms of the day,
For in pure love heav’n did prepare
Those powders to enrich your hair.

Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale when May is past,
For in your sweet dividing throat
She winters and keeps warm her note.

Ask me no more where those stars light
That downwards fall in dead of night,
For in your eyes they sit and there
Fixèd become as in their sphere.

Ask me no more if east or west
The phoenix builds her spicy nest,
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.

An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of Saint Paul’s, Doctor John Donne

Can we not force from widowed poetry,
Now thou art dead, great Donne, one elegy
To crown thy hearse? Why yet dare we not trust,
Though with unkneaded dough-baked prose, thy dust,
Such as th’ unscissored churchman from the flow’r
Of fading rhetoric, short-lived as his hour,
Dry as the sand that measures it, should lay
Upon thy ashes, on the funeral day?
Have we no voice, no tune? Didst thou dispense
Through all our language both the words and sense?
’Tis a sad truth; the pulpit may her plain
And sober Christian precepts still retain,
Doctrines it may, and wholesome uses, frame,
Grave homilies, and lectures, but the flame
Of thy brave soul (that shot such heat and light
As burnt our earth, and made our darkness bright,
Committed holy rapes upon our will,
Did through the eye the melting heart distil,
And the deep knowledge of dark truths so teach
As sense might judge what fancy could not reach)
Must be desired for ever. So the fire
That fills with spirit and heat the Delphic choir,
Which, kindled first by thy Promethean breath,
Glowed here a while, lies quenched now in thy death.
The muses’ garden, with pedantic weeds
O’erspread, was purged by thee; the lazy seeds
Of servile imitation thrown away,
And fresh invention planted. Thou didst pay
The debts of our penurious bankrupt age,
Licentious thefts, that make poetic rage
A mimic fury, when our souls must be
Possessed, or with Anacreon’s ecstasy
Or Pindar’s, not their own. The subtle cheat
Of sly exchanges, and the juggling feat
Of two-edged words, or whatsoever wrong
By ours was done the Greek or Latin tongue,
Thou hast redeemed, and opened us a mine
Of rich and pregnant fancy, drawn a line
Of masculine expression, which had good
Old Orpheus seen, or all the ancient brood
Our superstitious fools admire, and hold
Their lead more precious than thy burnished gold,
Thou hadst been their exchequer, and no more
They each in others’ dust had raked for ore.
Thou shalt yield no precedence, but of time
And the blind fate of language, whose tuned chime
More charms the outward sense; yet thou mayst claim
From so great disadvantage greater fame,
Since to the awe of thy imperious wit
Our stubborn language bends, made only fit
With her tough thick-ribbed hoops to gird about
Thy giant fancy, which had proved too stout
For their soft, melting phrases. As in time
They had the start, so did they cull the prime
Buds of invention many a hundred year,
And left the rifled fields, besides the fear
To touch their harvest; yet from those bare lands
Of what is purely thine, thy only hands
(And that thy smallest work) have gleaned more
Than all those times and tongues could reap before.

But thou art gone, and thy strict laws will be
Too hard for libertines in poetry.
They will repeal the goodly exiled train
Of gods and goddesses, which in thy just reign
Were banished nobler poems; now, with these
The silenced tales o’th’ Metamorphoses
Shall stuff their lines, and swell the windy page,
Till verse, refined by thee, in this last age
Turn ballad rhyme, or those old idols be
Adored again, with new apostasy.

Oh, pardon me, that break with untuned verse
The reverend silence that attends thy hearse,
Whose awful solemn murmurs were to thee,
More than these faint lines, a loud elegy,
That did proclaim in a dumb eloquence
The death of all the arts, whose influence
Grown feeble, in these panting numbers lies
Gasping short-winded accents, and so dies:
So doth the swiftly-turning wheel not stand
In th’ instant we withdraw the moving hand,
But some small time maintain a faint, weak course
By virtue of the first impulsive force:
And so, whilst I cast on thy funeral pile
Thy crown of bays, oh, let it crack a while,
And spit disdain, till the devouring flashes
Suck all the moisture up, then turn to ashes.

I will not draw thee envy to engross
All thy perfections, or weep all our loss;
Those are too numerous for an elegy,
And this too great to be expressed by me.
Though every pen should share a distinct part,
Yet art thou theme enough to tire all art;
Let others carve the rest; it shall suffice
I on thy tomb this epitaph incise:

   Here lies a king, that ruled as he thought fit
   The universal monarchy of wit;
   Here lie two flamens, and both those the best:
   Apollo’s first, at last the true God’s priest.

A Cruel Mistress

We read of kings and gods that kindly took
A pitcher fill’d with water from the brook ;
But I have daily tender’d without thanks
Rivers of tears that overflow their banks.

A slaughter’d bull will appease angry Jove,
A horse the Sun, a lamb the god of love,
But she disdains the spotless sacrifice
Of a pure heart, that at her altar lies.

Vesta is not displeased, if her chaste urn
Do with repaired fuel ever burn ;
But my saint frowns, though to her honour’d name
I consecrate a never-dying flame.

Th’ Assyrian king did none i’ th’ furnace throw
But those that to his image did not bow ;
With bended knees I daily worship her,
Yet she consumes her own idolater.

Of such a goddess no times leave record,
That burnt the temple where she was adored.