England's Antiphon eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about England's Antiphon.

I am jealous of the living force cast into the slough of satire.  No doubt, either indignant or loving rebuke has its end and does its work, but I fear that wit, while rousing the admiration of the spiteful or the like witty, comes in only to destroy its dignity.  At the same time, I am not sure whether there might not be such a judicious combination of the elements as to render my remarks inapplicable.

At all events, poetry favours the positive, and from the Emblems named of Quarles I shall choose one in which it fully predominates.  There is something in it remarkably fine.

  PHOSPHOR, BRING THE DAY.

  Will’t ne’er be morning?  Will that promised light
  Ne’er break, and clear those clouds of night? 
      Sweet Phosphor, bring the day,
          Whose conquering ray
  May chase these fogs:  sweet Phosphor, bring the day.

How long, how long shall these benighted eyes
Languish in shades, like feeble flies
Expecting spring?  How long shall darkness soil
The face of earth, and thus beguile
Our souls of sprightful action?  When, when will day
Begin to dawn, whose new-born ray
May gild the weathercocks of our devotion,
And give our unsouled souls new motion? 
Sweet Phosphor, bring the day: 
The light will fray
These horrid mists:  sweet Phosphor, bring the day.

* * * * *

Let those whose eyes, like owls, abhor the light—­
Let those have night that love the night: 
Sweet Phosphor, bring the day. 
How sad delay
Afflicts dull hopes!  Sweet Phosphor, bring the day.

  Alas! my light-in-vain-expecting eyes
    Can find no objects but what rise
  From this poor mortal blaze, a dying spark
    Of Vulcan’s forge, whose flames are dark,—­
  A dangerous, dull, blue-burning light,
    As melancholy as the night: 
  Here’s all the suns that glister in the sphere
    Of earth:  Ah me! what comfort’s here! 
      Sweet Phosphor, bring the day. 
        Haste, haste away
  Heaven’s loitering lamp:  sweet Phosphor, bring the day.

  Blow, Ignorance.  O thou, whose idle knee
    Rocks earth into a lethargy,
  And with thy sooty fingers hast benight
    The world’s fair cheeks, blow, blow thy spite;
  Since thou hast puffed our greater taper, do
    Puff on, and out the lesser too. 
  If e’er that breath-exiled flame return,
    Thou hast not blown as it will burn. 
      Sweet Phosphor, bring the day: 
        Light will repay
  The wrongs of night:  sweet Phosphor, bring the day.

With honoured, thrice honoured George Herbert waiting at the door, I cannot ask Francis Quarles to remain longer:  I can part with him without regret, worthy man and fair poet as he is.

CHAPTER XIII.

GEORGE HERBERT.

But, with my hand on the lock, I shrink from opening the door.  Here comes a poet indeed! and how am I to show him due honour?  With his book humbly, doubtfully offered, with the ashes of the poems of his youth fluttering in the wind of his priestly garments, he crosses the threshold.  Or rather, for I had forgotten the symbol of my book, let us all go from our chapel to the choir, and humbly ask him to sing that he may make us worthy of his song.

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England's Antiphon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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