In honor of Guy Fawkes Night, we present this work by one of 17th century England’s most contemplative poets.
Tell me thou safest End of all our Woe, Why wreched Mortals do avoid thee so: Thou gentle drier o’th’ afflicteds Tears, Thou noble ender of the Cowards Fears; Thou sweet Repose to Lovers sad dispaire, Thou Calm t’Ambitions rough Tempestuous Care. If in regard of Bliss thou wert a Curse, And then the Joys of Paradise art worse; Yet after Man from his first Station fell, And God from Eden Adam did expel, Thou wert no more an Evil, but Relief; The Balm and Cure to ev’ry Humane Grief: Through thee (what Man had forfeited before) He now enjoys, and ne’r can loose it more.
No subtile Serpents in the Grave betray, Worms on the Body there, not Soul do prey; No Vice there Tempts, no Terrors there afright, No Coz’ning Sin affords a false delight: No vain Contentions do that Peace annoy, No feirce Alarms break the lasting Joy.
Ah since from thee so many Blessings flow, Such real Good as Life can never know; Come when thou wilt, in thy afrighting’st Dress, Thy Shape shall never make thy Welcome less. Thou mayst to Joy, but ne’er to Fear give Birth, Thou Best, as well as Certain’st thing on Earth. Fly thee? May Travellers then fly their Rest, And hungry Infants fly the profer’d Brest. No, those that faint and tremble at thy Name, Fly from their Good on a mistaken Fame. Thus Childish fear did Israel of old From Plenty and the Promis’d Land with-hold; They fancy’d Giants, and refus’d to go, When Canaan did with Milk and Honey flow.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 430th birthday.
A sweet disorder in the dress Kindles in clothes a wantonness; A lawn about the shoulders thrown Into a fine distraction; An erring lace, which here and there Enthrals the crimson stomacher; A cuff neglectful, and thereby Ribands to flow confusedly; A winning wave, deserving note, In the tempestuous petticoat; A careless shoe-string, in whose tie I see a wild civility: Do more bewitch me, than when art Is too precise in every part.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 390th birthday.
Happy the man, and happy he alone, He who can call today his own: He who, secure within, can say, Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today. Be fair or foul or rain or shine The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine. Not Heaven itself upon the past has power, But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
Star among green leaves you were born radiant and beautiful, wandering in your own star because it causes you anguish. From the breaths that you throw for that snowy candor, to show off I have come that stole your subtle hand if the whiteness to ivory, the fragrance to the whole meadow.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 400th birthday.
Two lawyers to their cause so well adhered, A country justice quite confused appeared, By them the facts were rendered so obscure With which the truth remained he was not sure. At length, completely tired, two straws he sought Of diff’rent lengths, and to the parties brought. These in his hand he held:—the plaintiff drew (So fate decreed) the shortest of the two. On this the other homeward took his way, To boast how nicely he had gained the day.
The bench complained: the magistrate replied Don’t blame I pray—’tis nothing new I’ve tried; Courts often judge at hazard in the law, Without deciding by the longest straw.
Man resorts to the urban mode of living to enjoy commerce and industry, and all the other techniques his system of living can accommodate, and also to gain mutual aid, and in view of religious or secular advantages. In general, all of this can only be achieved by the gathering of many people likely to furnish the markets, each trade, art, technique, or activity lending one or more specialists. Now, these conditions are not present inside a single family, or even inside a single tribe. They result from the variety of the mix and the size of the mass. This is so for two reasons. First, because such is the opinion of the collectivity that takes on those needs. And then, because natural law does not want a small group to keep the exclusivity of knowledge, or have sole use and possession of religious or secular advantages, or free itself from other creaturely characteristics so as to constitute an order proper and useful to itself, by excluding any consideration of the others. To the contrary, in His solicitude and wisdom, God has widely distributed qualifications and advantages among the humans. Thus it is that one finds a savant among such and such a group, a poet among another, in yet another an artisan or a merchant, in such manner that mutual aid can be complete and that everyone can participate in God’s beneficence by taking on a specific task.