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POETIC A L WORKS

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POETICAL WORKS.

ODE TO DR. WILLIAM SANCROFT,

ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.

Written in May, 1689, at the desire of the lord bishop of Ely.

Sancroft, primate of England, at the Revolution joined with his brethren in ro.

sisting the encroachments of James upon liberty and religion.

Truth is eternal, and the son of heaven,

Bright effluence of th' immortal ray,
Chief cherub and chief lamp of that high sacred seven,
Which guard the throne by night, and are its light by day ;

First of God's darling attributes,

Thou daily seest him face to face,
Nor does thy essence fix'd depend on giddy circumstance

Of time or place,
Two foolish guides in ev'ry sublunary dance;

How shall we find thee then in dark disputes ?
How shall we search thee in a battle gain'd,

Or a weak argument by force maintain'd ?
In dagger contests, and th' artillery of words,

[swords), (For swords are madmen's tongues, and tongues are madmen's

Contrived to tire all patience out,
And not to satisfy the doubt ?

II.
But where is even thy image on our earth ?

For of the person much I
Since heaven will claim its residence as well as birth,
And God himself has said, he shall not find it here.
For this inferior world is but heaven's dusky shade,
By dark reverted rays from its reflection made ;
Whence the weak shapes wild and imperfect pass,
Like sunbeams shot at too far distance from a glass,

Which all the mimic forms express,
Though in strango uncouth postures, and uncomely dress;

So when Cartesian artists try
To solve appearances of sight

In its reception to the eye,
And catch the living landscape through a scanty light,

The figures all inverted show,

And colors of a faded hue;
Here a pale shape with upward footstep treads,
And men seem walking on their heads;

There whole herds suspended lie,
Ready to tumble down into the sky;
Such are the ways ill-guided mortals go
To judge of things above by things below.
Disjointing shapes as in the fairy land of dreams,

Or images that sink in streams;
No wonder then, we talk amiss
Of truth, and what or where it is :

Say, Muse, for thou, if any, know'st,
Since the bright essence fled, where haunts the reverend ghost ?

III.
If all that our weak knowledge titles virtue be
(Iligh Truth!) the best resemblance of exalted thee,

If a mind fix'd to combat fate
With those two powerful swords, Submission and Humility,

Sounds truly good or truly great;
Ill may I live, if the good Sancroft, in his holy rest,

In the divin'ty of retreat,
Be not the brightest pattern earth can show

Of heav'n-born Truth below;
But foolish man still judges what is best

In his own balance, false and light,
Foll’wing opinion, dark and blind,

That vagrant leader of the mind,
Till honesty and conscience are clear out of sight.

IV.
And some, to be large ciphers in a state,
Pleased with an empty swelling to be counted great,
Make their minds travel o'er infinity of space,

Rapt through the wide expanse of thought,

And oft in contradiction's vortex caught,
To keep that worthless clod, the body, in one place ;
Errors like this did old astronomers misguide,
Led blindly on by gross philosophy and pride,

Who, like hard masters, taught the sun

Through many a heedless sphere to run, Many an eccentric and unthrifty motion make, And thousand incoherent journeys take,

Whilst all th' advantage by it got,

Was but to light earth's inconsiderable spot. The experiment of the dark chamber, to demonstrate light to be by reception

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