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An Hymne Of Heavenly Beavtie

Rapt with the rage of mine own rauisht thought,
Through cõtemplation of those goodly sights,
And glorious images in heauen wrought,
Whose wõdrous beauty breathing sweet delights,
Do kindle loue in high conceipted sprights:
I faine to tell the things that I behold,
But feele my wits to faile, and tongue to fold.
Vouchsafe then, ô thou most almightie Spright,
From whom all guifts of wit and knowledge flow,
To shed into my breast some sparckling light
Of thine eternall Truth, that I may show
Some litle beames to mortall eyes below,
Of that immortall beautie, there with thee,
Which in my weake distraughted mynd I see.
That with the glorie of so goodly sight,
The hearts of men, which fondly here admyre
Faire seeming shewes, and feed on vaine delight,
Transported with celestiall desyre
Of those faire formes, may lift themselues vp hyer,
And learne to loue with zealous humble dewty
Th’eternall fountaine of that heauenly beauty.
Beginning then below, with th’easie vew
Of this base world, subiect to fleshly eye,
From thence to mount aloft by order dew,
To contemplation of th’immortall sky,
Of the soare faulcon so I learne to fly,
That flags awhile her fluttering wings beneath,
Till she her selfe for stronger flight can breath.
Then looke who list, thy gazefull eyes to feed
With sight of that is faire, looke on the frame
Of this wyde vniuerse, and therein reed
The endlesse kinds of creatures, which by name
Thou canst not coũt, much lesse their natures aime:
All which are made with wondrous wide respect,
And all with admirable beautie deckt.
First th’Earth, on adamantine pillars founded,
Amid the Sea engirt with brasen bands;
The th’Aire still flitting, but yet firmely bounded
On euerie side, with pyles of flaming brands,
Neuer consum’d nor quencht with mortall hands;
And last, that mightie shining christall wall,
Wherewith he had encompassed this All.
By view whereof, it plainely may appeare,
That still as euery thing doth vpward tend,
And further is from earth, so still more cleare
And faire it growes, till to his perfect end
Of purest beautie, it at last ascend:
Ayre more then water, fire much more then ayre,
And heauen then fire appeares more pure & fayre.
Looke thou no further, but affixe thine eye,
On that bright shynie round still mouing Masse,
The house of blessed Gods, which men call Skye,
All sowd with glistring stars more thicke th&etilde; grasse,
Whereof each other doth in brightnesse passe;
But those two most, which ruling night and day,
As King and Queene, the heauens Empire sway.
And tell me then, what hast thou euer seene,
That to their beautie may compared bee,
Or can the sight that is most sharpe and keene,
Endure their Captains flaming head to see?
How much lesse those, much higher in degree,
And so much fairer, and much more then these,
As these are fairer then the land and seas?
For farre aboue these heauens which here we see,
Be others farre exceeding these in light,
Not bounded, not corrupt, as these same bee,
But infinite in largenesse, and in hight,
Vnmouing, vncorrupt, and spotlesse bright,
That need no Sunne t’illuminate their spheres,
But their owne natiue light farre passing theirs.
And as these heauens still by degrees arize,
Vntill they come to their first Mouers bound,
That in his mightie compasse doth comprize,
And carrie all the rest with him around,
So those likewise doe by degrees redound,
And rise more faire, till they at last ariue
To the most faire, whereto they all do striue.
Faire is the heauen, where happie soules haue place,
In full enioyment of felicitie,
Whence they doe still behold, the glorious face
Of the diuine eternall Maiestie ;
More faire is that, where those Idees on hie
Enraunged be, which Plato so admyred,
And pure Intelligences from God inspyred.
Yet fairer is that heauen, in which doe raine
The soueraine Powres and mightie Potentates,
Which in their high protections doe containe
All mortall Princes, and imperiall States;
And fayrer yet, whereas the royall Seates
And heauenly Dominations are set,
From whom all earthly gouernance is fet.
Yet farre more faire be those bright Cherubins,
Which all with golden wings are ouerdight,
And those eternall burning Seraphins,
Which from their faces dart out fierie light;
Yet fairer then they both, and much more bright
Be th’Angels and Archangels, which attend
On Gods owne person, without rest or end.
These thus in faire each other farre excelling,
As to the Highest they approach more neare,
Yet is that Highest farre beyond all telling,
Fairer then all the rest which there appeare,
Though all their beauties ioynd together were:
How then can mortall tongue hope to expresse,
The image of such endlesse perfectnesse?
Cease then my tongue, and lend vnto my mynd
Leaue to bethinke how great that beautie is,
Whose vtmost parts so beautifull I fynd,
How much more those essentiall parts of his,
His truth, his loue, his wisedome, and his blis,
His grace, his doome, his mercy and his might,
By which he lends vs of himselfe a sight.
Those vnto all he daily doth display
And shew himselfe in th’image of his grace,
As in a looking glasse, through which he may
Be seene, of all his creatures vile and base,
That are vnable else to see his face,
His glorious face which glistereth else so bright,
That th’Angels selues can not endure his sight.
But we fraile wights, whose sight cannot sustaine
The Suns bright beames, wh&etilde; he on vs doth shyne,
But that their points rebutted backe againe
Are duld, how can we see with feeble eyne,
The glory of that Maiestie diuine,
In sight of whom both Sun and Moone are darke,
Compared to his least resplendent spark?
The meanes therefore which vnto vs is lent,
Him to behold, is on his workes to looke,
Which he hath made in beauty excellent,
And in same, as in a brasen booke,
To reade enregistred in euery nooke
His goodnesse, which his beautie doth declare,
For all thats good, is beautifull and faire.
Thence gathering plumes of perfect speculation,
To impe the wings of thy high flying mynd,
Mount vp aloft through heauenly contemplation,
From this darke world, whose damps the soule do blynd,
And like the natiue brood of Eagles kynd,
On that bright Sunne of glorie fixe thine eyes,
Clear’d from grosse mists of fraile infirmities,
Humbled with feare and awfull reuerence,
Before the footestoole of his Maiestie,
Throw thy selfe downe with trembling innocence,
Ne dare looke vp with corruptible eye,
On the dred face of that great Deity,
For feare, lest if he chaunce to looke on thee,
Thou turne to nought, and quite confounded be.
But lowly fall before his mercie seat,
Close couered with the Lambes integrity,
From the iust wrath of his auengefull threate,
That sits vpon the righteous throne on hy:
His throne is built vpon Eternity,
More firme and durable then steele or brasse,
Or the hard diamond, which them both doth passe.
His scepter is the rod of Righteousnesse,
With which he bruseth all his foes to dust,
And the great Dragon strongly doth represse,
Vnder the rigour of his iudgement iust;
His seate is Truth, to which the faithfull trust;
Frõ whence proceed her beames so pure & bright,
That all about him sheddeth glorious light.
Light farre exceeding that bright blazing sparke,
Which darted is from Titans flaming head,
That with his beames enlumineth the darke
And dampish aire, wherby al things are red:
Whose nature yet so much is maruelled
Of mortall wits, that it doth much amaze
The greatest wisards, which thereon do gaze.
But that immortall light which there doth shine,
Is many [thousand] times more bright, more cleare,
More excellent, more glorious, more diuine,
Through which to God all mortall actions here,
And euen the thoughts of men do plaine appeare:
For from th’eternall Truth it doth proceed,
Through heauenly virtue, which her beames doe breed.
With the great glorie of that wondrous light,
His throne is all encompassed around,
And hid in his owne brightnesse from the sight
Of all that looke thereon with eyes vnsound:
And vnderneath his feet are to be found,
Thunder, and lightning, and tempestuous fyre,
The instruments of his auenging yre.
There in his bosome Sapience doth sit,
The soueraine dearling of the Deity,
Clad like a Queene in royall robes, most fit
For so great powre and perelesse maiestie.
And all with gemmes and iewels gorgeously
Adornd, that brighter then the starres appeare,
And make her natiue brightnes seem more cleare.
And on her head a crowne of purest gold
is set, in signe of highest soueraignty,
And in her hand a scepter she doth hold,
With which she rules the house of God on hy,
And menageth the euer-mouing sky,
And in the same these lower creatures all,
Subiected to her powre imperiall.
Both heauen and earth obey vnto her will,
And all the creatures which they both containe:
For of her fulnesse which the world doth fill,
They all partake, and do in state remaine,
As their great Maker did at first ordaine,
Through obseruation of her high beheast,
By which they first were made, and still increast.
The fairenesse of her face no tongue can tell,
For she the daughters of all wemens race,
And Angels eke, in beautie doth excell,
Sparkled on her from Gods owne glorious face,
And more increast by her owne goodly grace,
That it doth farre exceed all humane thought,
Ne can on earth compared be to ought.
Ne could that Painter (had he liued yet)
Which pictured Venus with so curious quill,
That all posteritie admyred it,
Haue purtrayd this, for all his maistring skill;
Ne she her selfe, had she remained still,
And were as faire, as fabling wits do fayne,
Could once come neare this beauty souerayne.
But had those wits the wonders of their dayes,
Or that sweete Teian Poet which did spend
His plenteous vaine in setting forth her prayse,
Seene but a glims of this, which I pretend,
How wondrously would he her face commend,
Aboue that Idole of his fayning thought,
That all the world should with his rimes be fraught?
How then dare I, the nouice of his Art,
Presume to picture so diuine a wight,
Or hope t’expresse her least perfections part,
Whose beautie filles the heauens with her light,
And darkes the earth with shadow of her sight?
Ah gentle Muse thou art too weake and faint,
The pourtraict of so heauenly hew to paint.
Let Angels which her goodly face behold
And see at will, her soueraigne praises sing,
And those most sacred mysteries vnfold,
Of that faire loue of mightie heauens king.
Enough is me t’admyre so heauenly thing.
And being thus with her huge loue possest,
In th’only wonder of her selfe to rest.
But who so may, thrise happie man him hold,
Of all on earth, whom God so much doth grace,
And lets his owne Beloued to behold:
For in the view of her celestiall face,
All ioy, all blisse, all happinesse haue place,
Ne ought on earth can want vnto the wight,
Who of her selfe can win the wishfull sight.
For she out of her secret threasury,
Plentie of riches forth on him will powre,
Euen heauenly riches, which there hidden ly
With in the closet of her chastest bowre,
Th’eternall portion of her precious dowre,
Which mighty God hath giuen to her free,
Ant to all those which thereof worthy bee.
None thereof worthy be, but those whom shee
Vouchsafeth to her presence to receaue,
And letteth them her louely face to see,
Whereof such wondrous pleasures they conceaue,
And sweete contentment, that it doth bereaue
Their soule of sense, through infinite delight,
And them transport from flesh into the spright.
In which they see such admirable things,
As carries them into an extasy,
And heare such heauenly notes, and carolings
Of Gods high praise, that filles the brasen sky,
And feele such ioy and pleasure inwardly,
That maketh them all worldly cares forget,
And onely thinke on that before them set.
Ne from thenceforth doth any fleshly sense,
Or idle thought of earthly things remaine,
But all that earst seemd sweet, seemes now offense,
And all that pleased earst, now seemes to paine,
Their ioy, their comfort, their desire, their gaine,
Is fixed all on that which now they see,
All other sights but fayned shadowes bee.
And that faire lampe, which vseth to enflame
The hearts of men with selfe consuming fyre,
Thenceforth seemes fowle, & full of sinfull blame;
And all that pompe, to which proud minds aspyre
By name of honor, and so much desyre,
Seemes to them basenesse, and all riches drosse,
And all mirth sadnesse, and all lucre losse.
So full their eyes are of that glorious sight,
And senses fraught with such satietie,
That in nought else on earth can they delight,
But in th’aspect of that felicitie,
Which they haue written in their inward ey;
On which they feed, and in their fastened mynd
All happie ioy and full contentment fynd.
Ah then my hungry soule, which long hast fed
On idle fancies of thy foolish thought,
And with false beauties flattring bait misled,
Hast after vaine deceiptfull shadowes sought,
Which all are fled, and now haue left thee nought,
But late repentance through thy follies prief;
Ah cease to gaze on matter of thy grief.
And looke at last vp to that soueraine light,
From whose pure beams al perfect beauty springs,
That kindleth loue in euery godly spright,
Euen the loue of God, which loathing brings
Of this vile world, and these gay seeming things;
With whose sweete pleasures being so possest,
Thy straying thoughts henceforth for euer rest.

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An Hymne Of Heavenly Beavtie - EDMUND SPENSER