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An Hymne of Heavenly Love

Love, lift me vp vpon thy golden wings,
From this base world vnto thy heauens hight,
Where I may see those admirable things,
Which there thou workest by thy soueraine might,
Farre aboue feeble reach of earthly sight,
That I thereof an heauenly Hymne may sing
Vnto the god of Loue, high heauens king.
Many lewd layes (ah woe is me the more)
In praise of that mad fit, which fooles call loue,
I haue in th’ heat of youth made heretofore,
That in light wits did loose affection moue.
But all those follies now I do reproue,
And turned haue the tenor of my string,
The heauenly prayses of true loue to sing.
And ye that wont with greedy vaine desire
To reade my fault, and wondring at my flame,
To warme your selues at my wide sparckling fire,
Sith now that heat is quenched, quench my blame,
And in her ashes shrowd my dying shame:
For who my passed follies now pursewes,
Beginning his owne, and my old fault renewes.

Before this worlds great frame, in which al things
Are now containd, found any being place,
Ere flitting Time could wag his eyas wings
About that mightie bound, which doth embrace
The rolling Spheres, & parts their houres by space,
That high eternall powre, which now doth moue
In all these things, mou’d in it selfe by loue.
It lou’d it selfe, because it self was faire;
(For faire is lou’d 😉 and of it selfe begot
Like to it selfe his eldest sonne and heire,
Eternall, pure, and voide of sinfull blot,
The firstling of his ioy, in whom no iot
Of loues dislike, or pride was to be found,
Whom he therefore with equall honour crownd.
With him he raignd, before all time prescribed,
in endlesse glorie and immortall might,
Together with that third from them deriued,
Most wise, most holy, most almightie Spright,
Whose kingdomes throne no thought of earthly wight
Can cõpreh&etilde;d, much lesse my tr&etilde;bling verse
With equall words can hope it to reherse.
Yet ô most blessed Spirit, pure lampe of light,
Eternall spring of grace and wisedome trew,
Vouchsafe to shed into my barren spright,
Some little drop of thy celestiall dew,
That may my rymes with sweet infuse embrew,
And giue me word equall vnto my thought,
To tell the marueiles by thy mercie wrought.
Yet being pregnant still with powrefull grace,
And full of fruitfull loue, that loues to get
Things like himselfe, and to enlarge his race,
His second brood though not in powre so great,
Yet full of beautie, next he did beget
An infinite increase of Angels bright,
All glistring glorious in their Makers light.
To them the heauens illimitable hight,
Not this round heau&etilde;, which we frõ hence behold,
Adornd with thousand lamps of burning light,
And with ten thousand gems of shyning gold,
He gaue as their inheritance to hold,
That they might serue him in eternall blis,
And be partakers of those ioyes of his.
There they in their trinall triplicities
About him wait, and on his will depend,
Either with nimble wings to cut the skies,
When he them on his messages doth send,
Or on his owne dread presence to attend,
Where they behold the glorie of his light,
And caroll Hymnes of loue both day and night.
Both day and night is vnto them all one,
For he his beames doth still to them extend,
That darknesse there appeareth neuer none,
Ne hath their day, ne hath their blisse an end,
But that their termelesse time in pleasure spend,
Ne euer should their happinesse decay,
Had not they dar’d their Lord to disobay.
But pride impatient of long resting peace,
Did puffe them vp with greedy bold ambition,
That they gan cast their state how to increase,
Aboue the fortune of their first condition,
And sit in Gods owne seat without commission:
The brightest Angell, euen the Child of light
Drew millions more against their God to fight.
Th’ Almighty seeing their so bold assay,
Kindled the flame of his consuming yre,
And with his onely breath them blew away
From heauens hight, to which they did aspyre,
To deepest hell, and lake of damned fyre;
Where they in darknesse and dread horror dwell,
Hating the happie light from which they fell[.]
So that the next off-spring of the Makers loue,
Next to himselfe in glorious degree,
Degendering to hate fell from aboue
Through pride; (for pride and loue may ill agree)
And now of sinne to all ensample bee:
How then can sinfull flesh in selfe assure,
Sith purest Angels fell to be impure?
But that eternall fount of loue and grace,
Still flowing forth his goodnesse vnto all,
Now seeing left a waste and emptie place
In his wyde Pallace, through those Angels fall,
Cast to supply the same, and to enstall
A new vnknowen Colony therein,
Whose root from earths base Groundworke shold begin.
Therefore of clay, base, vile, and next to nought,
Yet form’d by wondrous skill, and by his might:
According to an heauenly patterne wrought,
Which he had fashiond in his wise foresight,
He man did make most beautifull and fayre,
Endewd with wisedomes riches, heauenly, rare.
Such he him made, that he resemble might
Himselfe, as mortall thing immortall could;
Him to be Lord of euery liuing wight,
He made by loue out of his owne like mould,
In whom he might his mightie selfe behould:
For loue doth loue the thing belou’d to see,
That like it selfe in louely shape may bee.
But man forgetfull of his makers grace,
No lesse then Angels, whom he did ensew,
Fell from the hope of promist heauenly place,
Into the mouth of death to sinners dew,
And all his off-spring into thraldome threw:
Where they for euer should in bonds remaine,
Of neuer dead, yet euer dying paine,
Till that great Lord of Loue, which him at first
Made of meere loue, and after liked well
Seeing him lie like creature long accurst,
In that deepe horror of desperyred hell,
Him wretch in doole would let no lenger dwell,
But cast out of that bondage to redeeme,
And pay the price, all were his debt extreeme.
Out of the bosome of eternall blisse,
In which he reigned with his glorious fyre,
He downe descended, like a most demisse
And abject thrall, in fleshes fraile attyre,
That he for him might pay sinnes deadly hyre,
And him restore vnto that happie state,
In which he stood before his haplesse fate.
In flesh at first the guilt committed was,
Therefore in flesh it must be satisfyde:
Nor spirit, nor Angell, though they man surpas,
Could make amends to God for mans misguyde,
But onely man himselfe, who self did slyde.
So taking flesh of sacred virgins wombe,
For mans deare sake he did a man become.
And that most blessed bodie, which was borne
Without all blemish or reproachfull blame,
He freely gaue to be both rent and torne
Of cruell hands, who with despightfull shame
Reuyling him, that them most vile became,
At length him nayled on a gallow tree,
And slew the iust, by most vniust decree.
O huge and most vnspeakable impression
Of loues deepe wound, the pierst the piteous hart
Of that deare Lord with so entyre affection,
And sharply launching euery inner part,
Dolours of death into his soule did dart;
Doing him die, that neuer it deserued,
To free his foes, that from his heast had swerued.
What hart can feele least touch of so sore launch,
Or thought can think the depth of so deare wound?
Whose bleeding sourse their streames yet neuer staunch,
But stil do flow, & freshly stil redound,
To heale the sores of sinfull soules vnsound,
And clense the guilt of that infected cryme,
Which was enrooted in all fleshly slyme.
O blessed well of loue, ô floure of grace,
O glorious Morning starre, ô lampe of light,
Most liuely image of thy fathers face,
Eternall King of glorie, Lord of might,
Meeke lambe of God before all worlds behight,
How can we thee requite for all this good?
Or what can prize that thy most precious blood?
Yet nought thou ask’st in lieu of all this loue,
But loue of vs for guerdon of thy Paine.
Ay me; what can vs lesse then that behoue?
Had he required life of vs againe,
Had it beene wrong to aske his owne with gaine?
He gaue vs life, he it restored lost;
Then life we least, that vs so litle cost.
But he our life hath left vnto vs free,
Free that was thrall, and blessed that was band;
Ne ought demaunds, but that we louing bee,
As he himselfe hath lou’d vs afore hand,
And bound therto with an eternall band,
Him first to loue, that vs so dearely bought,
And next, our brethren to his image wrought.
Him first to loue, great right and reason is,
Who first to vs our life and being gaue;
And after when we fared had amisse,
Vs wretches from the second death did saue;
And last the food of life, which now we haue,
Euen himselfe in his deare sacrament,
To feede our hungry soules vnto vs lent.
Then next to loue our brethren, that were made
Of that selfe mould, and that selfe makers hand,
That we, and to the same againe shall fade,
Where they shall haue like heritage of land,
How euer here on higher steps we stand;
Which also were with selfe same price redeemed
That we, how euer of vs light esteemed.
And were they not, yet since that louing Lord
Commaunded vs to loue them for his sake,
Euen for his sake, and for his sacred word,
Which in his last bequest he to vs spake,
We should them loue, & with their needs partake;
Knowing that whatsoere to them we giue,
We giue to him, by whom we all doe liue.
Such mercy he by his most holy reede
Vnto vs taught, and to approve it trew,
Ensampled it by his most righteous deede,
Shewing vs mercie miserable crew,
That we the like should to the wretches shew,
And love our brethren; thereby to approue,
How much himselfe that loued vs, we loue.
Then rouze thy selfe, ô earth, out of thy soyle,
In which thou wallowest like to filthy swyne,
And doest thy mynd in durty pleasures moyle,
Vnmindfull of that dearest Lord of thyne;
Lift vp to him thy heauie clouded eyne,
That thou his soueraine bountie mayst behold,
And read through loue his mercies manifold.
Beginne from first, where he encradled was
In simple cratch, wrapt in a wad of hay,
Betweene the toylefull Oxe and humble Asse,
And in what rags, and in how base aray,
The glory of our heauenly riches lay,
When him the silly Shepheards came to see,
Whom greatest Princes sought on lowest knee.
From thence reade on the storie of his life,
His humble carriage, his vnfaulty wayes,
His cancred foes, his fights, his toyle, his strife,
His paines, his pouertie, his sharpe assayes,
Through which he past his miserable dayes,
Offending none, and doing good to all,
Yet being malist both of great and small.
And looke at last how of most wretched wights,
He taken was, betrayd, and false accused,
How with most scornefull taunts, & fell despights
He was reuyld, disgrast, and foule abused,
How scourgd, how crownd, how buffeted, how brused;
And lastly how twixt robbers crucifyde,
With bitter wounds through hands, through feet & side.
Then let thy flinty hart that feeles no paine,
Empierced be with pittifull remorse,
And let thy bowels bleede in euery vaine,
At sight of his most sacred heauenly corse,
So torne and mangled with malicious forse,
And let thy soule, whose sins his sorrows wrought,
Melt into teares, and grone in grieued thought.
With sence whereof whilest so thy softened spirit
Is inly toucht, and humbled with meeke zeale,
Through meditation of his endlesse merit,
Lift vp thy mind to th’author of thy weale,
And to his soueraine mercie doe appeale;
Learne him to loue, that loued thee so deare,
And in thy brest his blessed image beare.
With all thy hart, with all thy soule and mind,
Thou must him loue, and his beheasts embrace,
All other loues, with which the world doth blind
Weake fancies, and stirre vp affections base,
Thou must renounce, and vtterly displace,
And giue thy selfe vnto him full and free,
That full and freely gaue himselfe to thee.
Then shalt thou feele thy spirit so possest,
And ravisht with deuouring great desire
Of his deare selfe, that shall thy feeble brest
Inflame with loue, and set thee all on fire
With burning zeale, through euery part entire,
That in no earthly thing thou shalt delight,
But in his sweet and amiable sight.
Thenceforth all worlds desire will in thee dye,
And all earthes glories on which men do gaze,
Seeme durt and drosse in thy pure sighted eye,
Compar’d to that celestiall beauties blaze,
Whose glorious beames all fleshly sense doth daze
With admiration of their passing light,
Blinding the eyes and lumining the spright.
Then shall thy ravisht soule inspired bee
With heau&etilde;ly thoughts, farre aboue humane skil,
And thy bright radiant eyes shall planely see
Th’Idee of his pure glorie present still,
Before thy face, that all thy spirits shall fill
With sweete enragement of celestiall loue,
Kindled through sight of those faire things aboue.

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An Hymne of Heavenly Love - EDMUND SPENSER