Sir William Alexander

Doomes-Day: The Third Houre

 Next Poem          

The Argument


Whilst Angels him convoy, and Saints attend,
(The heavens as smoake all fled before his face)
Christ through the Clouds with Glory doth descend,
With Majestie, and terrour, Power and grace;
What flye, walke, grow, swimme, all what may end, doe end.
Earth, Aire, and Sea, all purg'd in little space:
Strange preparations that great Court preceede,
Where all must meete whom any age did breede.
Immortall Monarch ruler of the rounds,
Embalme my bosome with a secret grace,
Whil'st lifted up above the vulgar bounds,
A path not pav'd my spirit aspires to trace,
That I with brazen breath may roare forth sounds,
To shake the Heart, fixe palenesse in the face:
Lord, make my swelling voice, (a mighty winde)
Lift up the low, beate downe the loftie minde.

What dreadfull sound doth thunder in myne eares?
What pompous splendor doth transport myne eyes?
I wot not what above my selfe me beares,
He comes, he comes who all hearts secrets tryes.
Shout, shout for joy who long have rayn'de downe teares.
Houle, houle for griefe you who vaine Ioyes most prise:
Now shall be built, and on eternall grounds,
The height of horrour, pleasure passing bounds.
Now (noe more firme) the firmament doth flie,
As leapes the Deere fled from the hunters face;
Loe, like a drunkard reeles the Cristall skie;
As garments old degraded from their grace,
All folded up heavens blew pavilion spie,
Which with a noyse doth vanish from the place;
The Lanterne burnt, Light utters utter worth,
Drawne are the hangings, Majestie comes forth.
Who can abide the Glory of that sight,
Which kills the living, and the dead doth rayse,
With squadrons compass'de, Angels flaming bright,
Whom thousands serve, Ten thousand thousands praise?
My soul entranc'd is ravish'd with that light,
Which in a moment shall the world amaze;
That of our sprite which doth the powers condense,
Of muddy mortalls farre transcends the sense.
A fyre before him no resistance findes,
Fierce sounds of horrour thunder in each eare,
The noyse of Armies, tempests and whirlewindes,
A weight of wrath, more then ten worlds can beare;
Thinke what a terrour stings distracted mindes,
When mountaines melt, and valleys burst for feare;
What? what must this in guilty mortalls breede,
While all this All doth tremble like a Reede?
The God of battels battell doth intend,
To daunt the nations, and to fetter kings;
He with all flesh in judgement to contend,
At mid-night comes, as on the morning wings;
O! Tymes last period expectations end,
Which due rewards for what hath past then brings;
The Lords great day, a day of wrath, and paine,
Whose night of darkenesse never cleares againe.
That element still cleare in spight of nights,
Which (as most subtile,) mounted up above,
To kindle there perchance those glorious lights,
Which dy'd by it, as deck'd by beauty, move;
Or else of curious thoughts too ventrous flights,
(As which may not be touch'd) a bounds to prove,
That they presume not higher things to see,
Then are the elements of which they be.
Marke how th'Eolian bands loos'd from the bounds,
Where them in fetters their commander keeps,
(As if the angry sprite of all the rounds,)
Like tyrants rage, till heaven to quench them weeps,
Whose rumbling fury, whil'st it all confounds,
Doth cleave the clouds, and part the deepest deeps,
By noyse above, and violence below,
Th'earth quakes and thunder both at once to show.

Even so fire which was made (nought to annoy)
To liquid limits clos'd with clouds retire,
Lest what it fosters, it might else destroy,
O! when enlarg'd! and kindled by Gods ire,
It him at mid-night doth as Torch convoy,
All, all will seeme a Piramide of fire:
To God what is this universall frame?
Now but a mote, at last a little flame?
The Axel-trees on which heavens round doth move,
Shrunke from their burden, both fall broken down;
Those which to Pilots point out from above,
Their wayes through waves to riches or renowne,
And so (though fix'd) the strayers helpers prove,
Nights stately lampes borne in an azure crowne:
Those guiding starres, may (as not needfull) fall,
When worldlings wandrings are accomplish'd all.
The vagabonds above, lascivious lights,
Which from fond mindes that did their course admire,
By strange effects observ'd from severall heights,
(As deities) Idols altars did acquire,
Thrown from their spheres, expos'd to mortals sights,
(As abject ashes, excrements of fire.)
They (whil'st thus ruin'd) farre from what before,
Shall damne the nations which did them adore.
With lodgings twelve design'd by severall signes,
Now fals that building more then cristall cleare,
Which dayes bright eye (though circling all) confines,
Still tempring times, and seasoning the yeare;
All temporall light (no more to rise) declines,
That glory may eternally appeare:
All then made infinite, no bounds attend,
Times and halfe times quite past, Time takes an end.
As slimy vapours whil'st like starres they fall,
Shot from their place, do hurle alongst the skie,
Then Pleiades, Arcturus, Orion, all
The glistering troupes (lights languishing) doe dye;
Like other creatures to confusion thrall,
They from the flames (as sparkes from fire) doe flye;
The heavens at last griev'd for their falling spheares,
(All else dry'd up) weep down their stars for teares
As leaves from trees, the stars from heaven doe shake,
Darke clouds of smoake, exhausting those of raine,
The Moone all turnes to bloud, the Sunne growes blacke,
Which (whil'st prodigious formes they doe retaine)
Of vengeance badges, signes of ruine make,
And not ecclips'd by usuall meanes remaine:
Those common lights obscur'd, the just shine bright,
The wicked enter in eternall night.
Whil'st staggering reels this universall frame,
The Lord doth tread on clouds, enstall'd in state,
His Scepter iron, his Throne a fiery flame,
To bruise the mighty, and to fine the great;
Who of his glory can the greatnesse dreame,
That once was valued at a little rate?
He by his word did first make all of nought,
And by his word shall judge all of each thought.

When God his people did together draw,
On Sions Mount to register his will,
He (that they might attend with reverent aw)
Came clad with clouds (sterne Trumpets sounding shrill)
And threatned death (whil'st thundring forth his law)
To all that durst approach the trembling hill:
What compassed with death, he thus did give,
Ah, who can keep, or violate, and live?
Since this confounding forme did mindes to tame,
(That of their yoke all might the burden know)
Those dreadfull statutes terribly proclaime;
All flesh for feare shall fade away below,
How they were kept when God a count doth claime,
A time of terrour more then words can show.
He gave in mercy, shall exact with ire,
The mountaine smoak'd, the world shall burn on fire.
In spight of Natures powers which then expire,
Through liquid limits breaking from above,
Loe, downwards tends the Tempest of this fire;
The airie Region doth a fornace prove,
To boile her guests (as vessell of Gods ire)
Which tortur'd there can no where else remove:
Flames which should still for their confusion rage,
Thus kindled first perchance nought can asswage.
The growing creatures which do mount so high,
And as their earthly bounds they did disdaine,
Would (whil'st their tops encroach upon the skie)
Base men upbraid, who not their strength do straine
With heavenly helps still higher up to flie,
And spurne at th'earth where rooted they remaine;
Those leavie bands while as they fanne the ayre,
As fittest baits for fire first kindle there.
Who can imagine this and yet not mourne?
What battell must succeed this huge alarme?
Of Lebanon the stately Cedars burne,
The Pines of Idus fall without an arme;
The fertile Forrests all to flames do turne,
And waste the world which they were wont to warme.
To plague proud sinners every thing accords,
What comfort once, confusion now affords.
The smoaking mountains melt like wax away,
Else sink for feare (O more then fearfull things!)
They which the fields with rivers did array,
As if to quench their heat, drink up their springs;
Like faded flowers, their drouping tops decay,
Which (crown'd with clouds) stretch'd through the aire their wings,
As did the raine, whil'st fire doth seize all bounds,
What last the first, the last at first confounds.
Then of that birth hils shall delivered be,
Which big by Nature they so long have borne,
Though it fond mortals (slaves by being free)
To make abortives have their bellies torne:
Gold (as when Midas wish, O just decree!)
Shall flow superfluous avarice to scorne.
What of all else did measure once the worth,
Shall then lye loath'd by th'aguous earth spu'd forth.

The godly kings wise sonne from Ophir brought
With Ethnicks joyn'd (all welcome are for gaines)
What Spanyards now in other worlds have sought,
That golden fleece still wonne, and worne with paines:
And yet at last what all this trouble wrought,
From molten mountains shall o're-flow the plains.
Ah, ah curst gold, what mak'st thou men not do,
Since sought over all the earth, and in it too?
Fond curiousnesse made our first parents fall,
And since the same hath still held downe their race;
Whose judgements were to senselesse things made thrall,
Which God most low, and they most high do place;
Nought in themselves, to us by us made all,
The which we first, and then they all things grace;
But (straight dissolv'd) they shall to hell repaire,
To brave a multitude, by them drawne there.
At heaven (when hence) if certaine to arrive,
Then these Barbarians what could much annoy?
Who naked walke, eate hearbes, for nothing strive,
But scorne our toyls, whose treasure is their toy?
As Adam first (when innocent) they live,
And goldlesse thus the golden age enjoy;
We barbarous are in deeds, and they in show,
Too little they, and ah too much we know.
What huge deluge of flames enflames my minde,
Whil'st th'inward ardour that without endeeres?
A light (o're-flowing light) doth make me blinde,
The Sea a lanterne, th'earth a lampe appeares:
That cristall covering burn'd which it confin'de,
The way to ruine fatall lightning cleares.
Dust equals all that unto it return:
All creatures now one funerall fire doth burne.
The stately birds which sacred were to Iove,
Whose portraits did great Emperours powers adorne,
Whil'st generously their race they striv'd to prove,
Which Titans beames with bended eyes had borne,
Shall fall downe headlongs burning from above,
(As Phaeton was fayn'd) ambitions scorne.
“As fit to fall who of themselves presume,
“Those raging wrath doth at the first consume.
The sixth and last of that unmatched kinde,
(If each of them doth live a thousand yeares)
Shall Sabbath have in ashes still confin'd,
Whose birth, death, nest, and tombe all one appeares,
That onely bird which ov'r all others shin'd,
(As o're small lights that which nights darknesse cleares.)
He from renewing of his age by fire,
Shall be prevented ere that it expire.
The Salamander which still Vulcan lov'd,
And those small wormes which in hot waters dwell,
They live by fire, or dye, if thence remov'de,
But those last flames shall both from breath expell;
Those creatures thus by burning heat oft prov'd,
Show tortur'd souls may pine, yet breath in hell:
If those in fire (and with delight) remaine,
May not the wicked live in fire with paine.

That pompous bird which still in triumph beares,
Rould in a circle his ostentive taile,
With starres (as if to brave the starry spheares)
Then seemes at once to walk, to flie, to saile,
His flesh (which to corrupt so long forbeares)
Against destruction shall not now prevaile.
Those painted fowls shall then be baits for fire,
As painted fools be now for endlesse ire.
The Indian Griphon terror of all eyes,
That flying Giant, Nimrod of the ayre,
The scalie Dragon which in ambush lyes
To watch his enemy with a martiall care,
Though breathing flames, touch'd by a flame straight dyes,
And all wing'd monsters made (since hurtfull) rare:
“Types of strong Tyrants which the weake oppresse,
“Those ravenous great ones prey upon the lesse.
Their nimble feathers then shall nought import,
Which with their wings both levell Sea and Land,
The Falcon fierce, and all that active sort,
Which by their burden grace a Princes hand:
And (they for prey, their bearers bent for sport)
Do thrall great Monarchs which even men command:
Ere falne on earth their ashes quenched be,
Whom soar'd of late aloft men scarce could see.
Those birds (but turn'd to dust) againe shall raine,
Which mutinous Israel with a curse receiv'd;
And those for sport so prodigally slaine,
For which (what shame) some belly-monsters crav'd,
Long necks (like Cranes) their tastes to entertaine,
From which the Phœnix hardly can be sav'd.
“In bodies base whose bellies still are full,
“The souls are made (choak'd with grosse vapours) dull.
The feather'd flocks which by a notion strange,
(I know not how inspir'd, or what they see)
Or if their inward following outward change,
As true Astrologues gathering stormes forsee,
In quaking Clouds their murmuring troups which range,
To waile, or warne the world, hiv'd on some tree.
Nought unto them this generall wrack foreshows,
Men, Angels, no, not Christ (as man) fore-knows.
The rage of Time these changlings to appease,
Like fained friends who fortune onely woo:
Which haunt each soile whil'st there they finde their ease,
Though I confesse this shews their greatnesse too,
Who at their will use kingdomes as they please;
Even more then Monarchs with great hosts can do.
But yet where ere they be, they then shall fall,
Gods armie, yea, his arme doth stretch o're all.
Those which themselves in civill warres do match,
Whose sound triumphall Lyons puts to flight,
The mornings ushers, urging sleeps dispatch,
Whose wings applaud their voice saluting light,
The labourers horologe, ordinary watch,
Whose course by Nature rul'd goes alwayes right.
Those Trumpetters dissolving many dreame,
May then not see the day which they proclaime.

So suddenly all shall with ruine meet,
That even the fowl which still doth streames pursue,
As if to wash, or hide, her loath'd black feet,
Then swimmes in state proud of her snowie hue:
Who us'd with tragick notes (though sad, yet sweet)
To make Meanders Nymphs her dying rue.
She then surpris'd, not dreaming of her death,
Shall not have time to tune her plaintive breath.
The winged squadrons which by feeling finde
A body (though invisible) of aire,
Both solid, vaste, clos'd, open, free, confin'de,
Whil'st weight by lightnesse, stayes by moving there;
As swimmers waves, those flyers beat the winde,
Borne by their burdens, miracles if rare.
The feathers fir'd whil'st stretched armes do shrink,
Though thus made lighter, they more heavy sink.
That sort which diving deep, and soaring high,
(Like some too subtle trusting double wayes)
Which swimme with fishes, and with fowls do flie;
Whil'st still their course the present fortune sways.
At last in vaine their liquid fortresse trie,
Of wrath the weapons nought save ruine stayes.
To flie the ayre downe in the deeps they bend,
For want of ayre down in the deeps they end.
Wing'd Alchymists that quintessence the flowers,
As oft-times drown'd before, now burn'd shall be,
Then measuring Artists by their numbrous powers:
Whose works proportions better do agree,
Which do by Colonies uncharge their bowres,
Kill idle ones, sting foes, what needs foresee:
Men talk of vertue, Bees do practise it,
Even justice, temperance, fortitude and wit.
What agony doth thus my soul invest?
I think I see heaven burne, hels gulphs all gape,
My panting heart doth beat upon my breast,
As urging passage that it thence may scape,
Rest from my self, yet no where else, I rest,
Of what I was, reserving but the shape.
My haires are bended up, swolne are mine eyes,
My tongue in silence minds amazement tyes.
Who can but dreame what furies plague thy soule,
Poore sinfull wretch who then art toss'd with breath?
Whil'st desp'rate anguish no way can controule
The raging torrent of consuming wrath,
In every corner where thy eyes can roule,
Their sweetest shows more bitter are then death.
Who can expresse thy feelings, or thy feares,
Which even repentance cannot help with teares?
To look aloft if thou dar'st raise thy sight,
Weigh'd downe (as damn'd by guilty actions gone)
What horrour, terrour, errour, all affright
Thee; trembling thee, who out of time do'st grone?
Oft shalt thou wish that thee falne mountains might
Hide from his face who sits upon the Throne.
But, ah! in vaine a lurking place is sought,
Nought can be covered now, no, not one thought.

The dreadfull noise which that great day proclaimes,
When mix'd with sighs and shouts from mortals here;
O how deform'd a forme confusion frames!
None can well think till that it selfe appeare:
Whil'st clouds of smoke delivered are of flames,
They darken would their birth, it them would cleare,
But whil'st both strive, none victory attaines;
This endlesse darknesse bodes, that endlesse paines.
If seeking help from thy first parent slyme,
Loe Plutoes palace, dungeons of despaire,
(As fir'de by furies) kindled by thy crime,
Bent to encroach upon forbidden ayre,
Do gape to swallow thee before the time,
Whom they fore-see damn'd for a dweller there:
Heaven over thy head, hell burns beneath thy feet,
As both in rage, to fight with flames would meet.
With Owlie eyes which horrid lightnings blinde,
This to admire the reprobate not need;
Match'd with the horrours of a guilty minde,
Nought from without but pleasure can proceed:
Sinke in their bosomes hels and they shall finde
More ugly things a greater feare to breed.
“Of all most loath'd since first the world began,
“No greater Monster then a wicked man.
All sorts of creatures soone consum'd remaine,
Crush'd by their death whose lives on them depend;
(Their treasons partners whom they entertaine)
Mans forfeiture doth too to them extend,
Whom since they can no further serve againe,
(True vassals thus) then with their Lords will end,
Though oft they them like Tyrants did abuse,
Whom as ingrate their dusts that day accuse.
Ere it we can call com'd, that which is past,
Charg'd with corruption slowly I pursue,
Since without hope to reach, though following fast,
That which (like lightning) quickly scapes the view:
I, where I cannot walk, a compasse cast,
And must seek wayes to common knowledge due:
For mortals eares my muse tunes what she sings,
With earthly colours painting heavenly things.
When that great deluge of a generall wrath,
To purge the earth (which sinne had stain'd) did tend,
So to prolong their little puffes of breath,
High mountains tops both Sexes did ascend:
But what strong fort can hold out against death?
Them (where they runne for help) it did attend:
With paine and feare, choak'd, dash'd, (ere dying dead)
Death doubled so was but more grievous made.
So when the flaming waves of wasting fire,
Over all the world do riotously rage,
Some to the deeps for safety shall retyre,
As Thetis kisse could Vulcans wrath asswage;
But that Lieutenant of his makers ire,
Makes all the elements straight beare his badge:
Scorch'd earth made open swallows thousands downe.
Aire thickned choaks with smoke, and waters drowne.

The halting Lemnian highly shall revenge,
The ancient scorne of other equall powers:
Both strong and swift though lame (what wonder strange)
He then (turn'd furious) all the rest devoures,
Whose fiercenesse first his mother toils to change,
But (having him embrac'd) she likewise loures,
And with her sonne doth furiously conspire,
Straight from pure ayre, then all transform'd in fire.
This heat with horrour may congeale all hearts,
Lifes bellows toss'd by breath which still do move;
That fanne which doth refresh the inward parts,
Even it shall make the breast a fornace prove.
That signe of life which oft arrives, and parts,
Boils all within, else burns it selfe above.
At that dread day denouncing endlesse night,
All smoke, not breath, whil'st flames give onely light.
That stormie Tyrant which usurpes the ayre,
Whil'st wooll (rain'd down from heaven) doth him enfold;
A liquid pillar hanging at each haire,
Sneez'd fiercely forth when shaking all for cold:
He clad with flames a fierie leader there,
Makes feeble Vulcan by his aid more bold.
Whose bellows fostred by the others blast,
May soone forge ruine, instruments to waste.
The Lands great creature, nurceling of the East,
Which loves extreamely, and with zeale adores,
In sprite and nature both, above a beast,
Whil'st charg'd with men he through the battell roares:
And his arm'd match (of monsters not the least)
Whose scales defensive, horne invasive goares,
Whil'st foming flames (as other to provoke)
Straight joyn'd in dust, their battell ends in smoke.
The craftie fox which numbers do deceive,
To get, not be, a prey, shall be a prey;
The embrions enemy, womens that conceive,
As who might give him death, their birth to stay:
That ravenous Woolfe which bloud would alwayes have,
All then a thought more quickly shall decay.
No strength then stands, such weaknesse went before,
And subtill tricks can then deceive no more.
The Hart whose hornes (as greatnesse is to all)
Do seeme to grace, are burdens to the head,
With swift (though slender legges) when wounds appall,
Which cures himselfe where Nature doth him leade;
Then with great eyes, weake heart, oft dangers thrall,
The warie Hare (whose feare oft sport) hath made
Doth seek by swiftnesse death in vaine to shunne,
As if a flight of flames could be out-runne,
The painted Panther which not fear'd, doth gore,
Like some whose beauteous face, foule mindes defame;
The Tyger tygrish, past expressing more,
Since cruelty is noted by his name;
The able Ounce, strong Beare, and foming Boare,
(Mans rebels, since God did man his proclaime)
Though fierce are faint, and know not where to turne:
They see the forrests their old refuge, burne.

The mildest beasts importing greatest gaine,
Which others crimes made altars onely touch,
By whom they cloth, and feed, not crying slaine,
The Christians image onely true when such,
Their growing snowes which arts fraile colours staine,
Were wrong'd, when fain'd of gold, since worth more much:
But pretious things the owners harmes oft breed,
The fleeces flames the bodies doe succeed.
The flocks for profit us'd in every part,
Though them to serve they make their Masters bow,
And are the idols of a greedy heart,
Which (like old Egypt) doth adore a Cow,
Like Hannibals, which Fabius mock'd by art,
As walking torches, all runne madding now:
By Phebus tickled they to startle us'd,
But Vulcan ruder makes them rage confus'd.
Their martiall Chieftain Mastives rage to stay,
(Pasiphaes lover, Venus daily slave,)
With brandish'd hornes (as mustering) first doth stray,
Then throwes them down in guard a match to crave;
Straight (like the Colchian Buls, ere Iasons prey)
He flames (not fain'd) doth breath, but not to brave;
Like that of Phalaris, whom one did fill,
He tortur'd, (bellowing) doth lye bullering still.
Of all the beasts by men domesticke made,
The most obsequious, and obedient still,
The fawning dog, which where we list we leade,
And wants but words to doe all that we will,
Which loves his Lord extreamely, even when dead,
And on his tombe, for griefe himselfe doth kill,
He doth with tongue stretch'd forth, to pant begin,
Which straight when fir'd drawn back, burns all within.
The generous horse, the gallants greatest friend,
In peace for ease, and in effect for warre,
Which to his Lord (when weary) legges doth lend,
To flye, or chafe, in sport, or earnest farre,
A Pegasus he through the ayre would bend,
Till that his course (turn'd Centaure) man doth marre;
His waving treasures fir'd, to flye from death,
He first the winde out-runnes, and then his breath.
This squadrons king that doth for fight prepare,
(As threatning all the world) doth raging goe,
His foot doth beat the earth, his tayle the ayre,
Mad to be hurt, and yet not finde a foe,
But soone his shoulders rough the fire makes bare,
And melts his strength which was admired so:
Death doth to rest, arrest his rowling eyes;
Loe, in a little dust the Lyon lyes.
Those poys'nous troupes in Africkes fields which stray,
In death all fertile, as the first began,
By looke, by touch, by wound, and every way,
True Serpents heires in hatred unto man,
Which God (still good) in desarts makes to stay,
To waste the world, though doing what they can:
But whil'st they houle, scritch, barke, bray, hurle, hisse, spout,
Their inward fire soon meets with that without.

The Crocodile with running deepes in love,
By land and water, of tyrannicke pow'r,
With upmost iawes which (and none else) doe move,
Whose cleansing first is sweet, oft after sow'r;
And oft his crime his punishment doth prove,
Whil'st a devouring bait train'd to devoure:
He neither now can fight, nor yet retire,
His scaly armour is no proofe for fire.
The beast (though haunting deeps) not there confin'd,
Whose haires as pretious decke each great mans head,
Before like Eagles, like a Swans behinde,
Whose feet (as oares) to manage streames are made,
To waste the liquid wayes not needing winde,
Whose tayle his course doth as a rudder leade,
A sparke (falne from a tree) may then confound,
Him with his teeth that now strikes trees to ground.
The Otter black where finne-wing'd troups repaire,
Fresh rivers robber, which his prey doth chuse,
And all that kinde, nor fish, nor flesh that are,
But do two elements (Amphibions) use,
Not able to touch th'earth, nor to draw th'aire
In waters they their kindled skinnes infuse.
But yet can refuge finde in neither soile,
They burne on th'earth, and in the deeps do boile.
Flouds seeme to groane which beasts incursion maymes,
All altered then which look't of late like glasse,
And murmur at the stayning of their streames,
By carkasses flot-flotting in a masse,
A moving bridge whil'st every channell frames,
When as there are no passengers to passe.
With beasts all buried waters are press'd downe,
Whil'st both at once their burdens burn, and drowne.
The Crystals quicke which slowly us'd to go,
And others heat by coldnesse did allay,
(As if then griev'd to be polluted so)
Growne red with rage, boil'd up, pop-popling stay,
And tread in triumph on their breathlesse foe,
Whose ashes with their sands they levell lay.
But Vulcan now a victor in each place,
By violence doth all these Nymphs embrace.
The dwellers of the deeps not harm'd in ought,
When first vice all, and next the waters drown'd,
So since by some more sacred still are thought,
As whom sinnes scourge did onely not confound,
The Elements not pure to purge now brought,
Are likewise ruin'd by this generall wound.
The fishes then are boil'd in every flood,
Yet finde no eater that can relish food.
All which corruption onely serves to feed,
When it doth end, doth end, so heaven designes;
Nought save the soule which doth from God proceed,
Over death triumphs, and still is pleas'd, else pynes,
Death not mans essence, but his sinne did breed,
And it with it, the end of time confines.
Then death and life shall never meet againe,
The state then taken always doth remaine.

Salt seas, fresh streames, the fish which loves to change,
(The rivers Prince esteem'd by dainty tastes)
Which through the Ocean though at large he range,
The bounds him bred to see yet yearely hastes;
Ah man oft wants (O monster more then strange)
This kinde affection common even to beasts.
That Salmond fresh for which so many strive,
May then be had, boil'd where it liv'd alive.
The Trout, the Eele, and all that watrie brood,
Which without feet, or wings can make much way,
Then leape aloft forc'd by the raging flood,
Not as they us'd before, for sport, or prey:
That which (once freez'd) their glasse to gaze in stood,
Now (turn'd to flames) makes what it bred decay.
Those which to talke men did all snares allow,
All without baits, or nets, are taken now.
These flouds which first did fields with streames array,
The rivers foure by sacred writ made knowne,
Which (since farre sundry) make their wits to stray,
Who Paradise drawne by their dreames have showne,
As turn'd from it, or it from them away;
In all the earth their strength shall be o're-throwne.
Whom first high pleasures, horrours huge last bound,
(As if for griefe) they vanish from the ground.
The fertile Nilus never rashly mov'd,
Which (ag'd in trauell) many Countrey knows,
Whose inundation by the labourer lov'd,
As barrennesse or plenty it fore-shows,
From divers meanes (but doubtfull all) is prov'd;
“Oft natures work all reasons power o're-throws:
The Ancients wondred not to finde his head,
But it shall all invisible be made.
Heavens indignation seizing on all things,
The greatest waters languish in their way;
The little brooks exhausted in their springs,
For poverty cannot their tribute pay:
Of moisture spoil'd the earth craves help, not brings;
“The mighty thus left to themselves decay;
“Great powers compos'd make but of many one,
“Whose weaknesse shows it selfe when left alone.
That floud whose fame more great then waters strayd,
Whose race (like it) more then their own would owe,
Which from the Appennines oft gathering ayde,
Would those overthrow, who did the world o'rethrow,
Which though unstable, onely stable stay'd,
In that great City where all else fell low:
It which so long familiar was with fame,
Shall be (dry'd up) an unregarded streame.
The Sheep-heards mirrours, all like silver pure,
Which curious eyes delighted were to see,
When flames from heaven their beauties must endure,
No creature then left from confusion free,
Even they shall grow more ugly and obscure,
Then the infernall flouds are fain'd to be:
Of their long course, there shall no signe remaine,
Worse then that lake where brimstone once did raine.
Whil'st Thetis bent to Court, those streames (as vaine)
That on themselves to gaze, strive time to winne,
And liquid Serpents winding through the Plaine,
(As if to sting the earth oft gathered in)
Seeme to attend the remnant of their traine,
Them to out-goe, that nearer wayes would runne:
Even in that pompe surpris'd, dry'd are their deeps,
Whose widow'd bed, scarce their impression keeps.
That floud which doth his name from silver take,
The sea-like Obbe, and others of the Indes;
Over which a bridge, men by no meanes can make,
Whil'st one borne there (amazing strangers mindes)
On Straw or Reeds, with one behinde his backe,
Can crosse them all both scorning waves and windes:
Their empty channels may be troad on dry,
(Though pav'd with pearles) then pretious in no eye.
The great which change before they end their race,
Salt flouds, fresh seas, by mutuall bands as past,
Which th'Ocean charge, and though repuls'd a space,
Yet make a breach, and enter at the last,
Which from the earth (that strives them to embrace)
Now haste with speed, and straight a compasse cast:
They then for helpe to Neptune seeke in vaine,
By Vulcan ravish'd ere his waves they gaine.
The raging rampire which doth alwaies move,
Whose floting waves entrench the solid round,
And (whil'st by Titans kisse drawne up above,)
From heavens Alembicke dropt upon the ground,
Of fruits and plants, the vitall bloud doe prove,
And foster all that on the earth are found:
It likewise yeelds to the eternals ire,
Loe, all the sea not serves to quench this fire.

Yet did the Sea presage this threatned ill,
With ugly roarings ere that it arriv'd,
As if contending all hels fires to kill,
By violence to burst, whil'st through it driv'd,
Which must make monstrous sounds jar-jarring still,
As heate with cold, with moisture drynesse striv'd:
Whil'st Iove-like thundring, Pluto doth grow proud,
Even as when fires force passage through a cloud.
O what strange sight, not to be borne with eyes!
That Tennis-court where oft the windes too bold,
What still rebounded toss'd unto the skies,
And to the ground from thence have head-longs rol'd,
Doth now in raging rounds, not furrowes rise,
Then hostes of heate, as us'd to be of cold:
All government the liquid state neglects,
Whil'st Vulcans hammer, Neptunes trident breks.
When this huge vessell doth to boyle begin,
What can it fill with matter fit to purge?
The earth as else without, if throwne within,
With all her creatures kept but for a scourge,
To wash away the foulnesse of that sinne,
Which on fraile flesh, strong nature oft doth urge:
But ah my thoughts are vaine, this cannot be,
Seas cleanse not sinne, sinne doth defile the sea.
O foule contagion, spreading still to death,
What pest most odious can with thee compare?
Which first by thoughts conceiv'd, then born with breath,
Doth straight infect the sea, the earth the ayre,
Which damn'd in justice, and chastis'd in wrath,
Doth shew that God no creatures spots will spare:
All scourges must be scourg'd, and even the fire,
As but impure, must feele th'effects of ire.
That restlesse element which never sleepes,
But by it selfe, when by nought else, is wrought,
Which joynes all lands, yet them asunder keepes,
It (ruines rocke) for refuge last is sought,
For troupes doe throw themselves amidst the deeps,
As if death reft, then given, lesse griefe were thought:
“Thus is despaire hot sonne of father cold,
“Rash without hope, and without courage bold.
The loving Alcion trusty to her mate,
The which (save this) no other storme could catch,
Whose arke not erres amid'st the going gate,
Though none in it with art the waves doth watch,
To many monsters, as expos'd a bait,
Which moving sits, and in the deepes doth hatch:
She of her nest, against the waves presumes,
But never look't for fire which all consumes.
The greatest Monster of the Oceans brood,
Which lodg'd griev'd Ionas harmelesse in his wombe,
And did disgest (yet to be fed) a food,
A buried quicke man in a living tombe,
Doth (monstrous masse) now tumble through the floud,
As scorning force could make him to succumbe:
But straight his finnes all fir'd, a farre doe shine,
As if some Pharos, but a deathfull signe.
That little wonder decking Thetis bowre,
Whose adamantine touch there strongly bindes
(Though both it saile and swimme) a wooden towre,
For which mans wit no shew of reason findes;
O matchlesse vertue, admirable power,
Which fights and foiles alone, sailes, oares, waves, winds!
Of all which live it that most strength hath shown,
Press'd down by vulgar bands doth dye unknown.
That moving mountaine in a fearefull forme,
Which compassing a ship, it downewards flings,
And even in calmes doth vomit forth a storme,
Whose bloud (all poison) where it touches stings,
That monstrous masse, if Serpent, Eele, or Worme,
To hastie ruine his owne greatnesse brings:
“The greatest sought for harmes are soonest spy'd,
“Where little ones a little thing will hide.
Of all the humid host, the most esteem'd,
The gentle Dolphins (where the deepths doe roare,)
Which (not ingrate) who them redeem'd, redeem'd,
Him help'd alive, and did when dead deplore;
Of which one once with Musicke ravish'd seem'd,
When carrying Arion safely to the shore:
Those which delight so much in pleasant sounds,
The contrary preventing fire confounds.
The fairest Nymph which haunts the floting state,
To whose great beauty, Thetis envy beares,
The Oceans Muse, from whose sweet sounds (soules bate)
The Lord of Ithaca did stop his eares,
Of what she was most proud, that hastes her fate;
The golden haires which she dishevel'd weares:
Then whil'st they burne, her head seemes crown'd with light:
Thus showes maske misery, and mocke the sight.
Those which from slight, by slight their lives oft winne,
The Angler drawing scorned lines to land,
Whil'st some do cast forth hooks, some draw them in,
And some benumme the gazing holders hand;
They can finde helpe in neither force, nor finne,
In scale, in shell, on rocke, in mudde, or sand:
Whil'st Tritons sounds to tragick notes doe turne,
They in the deeps are boil'd, or, on the banks do burne.
The floting lodgings that all soiles doe try,
Which whil'st they walke on waves, and burden'd stray,
Seeme swimming Mountaines, Castles that doe flye,
Which Cannons arme, and ensignes doe array,
At first for smoake they nought about them spy,
Till all their sayles (on fire) doe cleare their way:
Whil'st flouds and flames, doe all their force imploy,
As if they striv'd, which should the ship destroy.
The liquid labyrinth, thou who first did'st prove,
No doubt thy desp'rate heart was arm'd with steele,
Did not the waves and clouds which alwaies move,
(Firme objects wanting) make thy eyes to reele?
Then he who first did steale fire from above,
Thou greater torments do'st deserve to feele:
He onely sought the fire to quicken breath,
And thou the water, as a way to death.
O! hatefull monster, since the world began,
Which with thine owne could never yet be pleas'd,
For lacke of rayment cold, for hunger wan,
With what thou hast, though many might be eas'd,
Thou poison'st first the quiet minde of man,
Whose fury since can never be appeas'd:
But seekes both sea and land with endlesse care,
And wants but wings to violate the aire.
That which encroach'd on every bordering shore,
By oft renu'd assaults usurping myles,
Shall then all ebbe, not flowing as before,
Whil'st travelling Thetis doth bring forth new Iles,
Which birth soone old, to be embrac'd no more,
She loth to leave, oft turnes, and kissing smiles:
Till all the world one withered masse appeares,
Spoild of all moisture, save mans fruitlesse teares.
What hideous object? what a horrid sight?
O terrour strange which even I quake to thinke!
Where all of late was levell at one height,
Their mountaines mount, and fields farre down do sinke,
All pav'd with monsters, which if painting right,
Feare would make paper blacke, and pale my Inke:
The seas with horrour so arrest my hand,
I must amaz'd retire me to the land,
The land where pleasure lodg'd, where rest did rest,
Which did abound in fruits, in fowles and beasts,
Of which (all good) none could discerne the best,
In number more (though many) then mens tastes,
Which should refresh fraile nature when distress'd,
Though them fond man superfluously wastes:
Till that the earth doth to a Chaos turne,
Which since his teares not wash, his sinnes shall burne.

Where are the flowry fields, the fishy streames,
The pasturing mountaines, and the fertile plaines,
With shadowes oft, oft clad with Titans beames,
As of heavens pleasures types, and of hels paines?
(Thus in our brest, some thoughts each moment claimes,
To curbe rash joy with contemplations raines
Where are all those delights in league with sense,
Which make a heaven when here, a hell when hence?
Thou who thy thoughts from no fond course reclaimes,
But do'st thy eyes with pleasant objects cloy,
And let'st thy heart have all at which it aymes,
Bent of the sonnes of men to want no joy;
Those to thy sleeping soule are all but dreames,
Which waking findes this treasure but a toy:
Thinke, thinke, when all confounded thus remaines,
If temporall joy be worth eternall paines.
Those stately townes, whose towres did brave heavens rounds,
Their kingdomes quintessence for wealth and skill,
A states abridgement drawn in little bounds,
Which are (whil'st them guests of all lands doe fill)
Mappes of the world, deduc'd from divers grounds,
Where all lifes parts are act'd, both good and ill,
Which barbarous customes founded to remove,
Most civill first, most subtile last did prove.
Those which great Monarchs strongly striv'd to owe,
(As which oft times a kingdomes keyes doe prove)
By Mynes like earth-quakes shaken from below,
By sulphurous thunder battered from above,
Yet (as o're-thrown) them hopelesse to o're-throw,
With scorned squadrons did disdain'd remove:
Those which at powers of armed Emperours spurn'd,
Are at an instant then, charg'd, sack'd, and burn'd.
Brave Citizens which have resisted long,
Till their dismantled towne all naked stands,
And are by weakenesse left unto the strong,
All taken, kill'd, or sold (like beasts) in bands,
As bound of right to suffer all the wrong,
Of railing tongues, or of outragious hands:
They of this last assault, no type can see,
Even worse then was, or can imagin'd be.
Ah! if one house when onely fir'd by chance,
Doth straight confound a City all with feare,
What minde can think, though thoughts the same entrance,
How those inhabitants themselves shall beare,
Whose townes (like lightning) vanish with a glance,
Whil'st them a moment doth in pieces teare?
This with amazement may benumme the minde,
But will seeme small, a greater then divin'd
Base miser, thou who by all meanes hast us'd,
To bruise the poore, and on their spoiles to feed,
In measure, weight, and quality abus'd,
Whil'st of all evils, dearth is the least they dread,
That wealth by thee even to thy selfe refus'd,
Which might of thousands have releev'd the need:
Shall all in flames upbraid thee with hels fire,
Whose use then at thy hands God will require.
Thou who to riches wast preferr'd from nought,
Though once but poore, contemn'd, of base degree,
For whom at length all realmes by Shippes were sought,
So that no winde could blow but serving thee,
Yet would not comfort those who starv'd in ought,
Not mindefull what thou wast, nor what to be:
As naked borne, thou naked shalt returne,
Else kept to see thy wealth, thy selfe next burne.
Those stately Statues which great townes doe grace,
And monuments (as rare) which mindes amaze,
The worlds seven wonders, wondred at a space,
Whil'st strangers long did on their reliques gaze,
If that ere then time doe them not deface,
A little flash shall even their ruines raze,
Which onely serve to witnesse to each sight,
Their idle builders vanity and might.
Those Palaces amongst rare things enrold,
Which Architectors, numbrous art bewray,
With enterlaced roofes, emboss'd with gold,
On marbled walles which costly workes array,
Though rich without, yet worthy but to hold,
A richer riches, which within doth stay,
Past emulation, admirations marke;
All their great pompe doth perish with a sparke.
Those second Edens, Gardens of delight,
Where times bright patron justly parts the houres,
Where men to gaze, all objects doe invite,
In alwaies lying walkes, and growing bowres,
In smelling beds with pleasure ravish'd quite,
Whil'st wandring in a labyrinth of flowers,
Where Art with nature still for praise contends,
A strife though oft times judg'd, which never ends.

Where Flora's treasures with Pomona's strive,
Low shining groves with shadow'd lights above,
Whil'st Art (by engines rais'd,) doth water drive,
Borne through the ayre an uncouth way to prove,
And by all sounds which creatures can contrive,
To melt in mirth, would melancholy move:
Those pleasant parts shall straight abhorr'd remaine,
As where salt sowne, or showres of brimstone raine.
Those walking worms which (with worms spoiles array'd,)
Would purchase homage from each credulous eye,
And yet (as Asses) worth an Asse not weigh'd,
Whil'st having nought of worth, but what they buy,
They shall see that which so their fancies sway'd,
The Tyrian purple, and th' Assyrian dye:
Of pride the badges, and the baits of lust,
Though kept with toile from dust, all turn'd to dust.
Those glorious roomes of darknesse, robbing night,
Where even the wals rich garments doe invest,
Where ivory beds, with gold all glancing bright,
Are made for shew, as others are for rest,
And objects need to entertaine the sight,
Which lodge (since great) a seldome sleeping guest:
Now at this last alarme to them who live,
They then a cottage no more comfort give.
Those pretious stones which most in worth excell,
For vertue least, for vanity much sought,
Pearles, Rubies, Diamonds, from rocke, from shell,
From depths of flouds, from mountains entrails brought,
Made Gods with men, whose heaven is hatching hell,
Prys'd by opinion, but by substance bought:
The sweet perfumes, and all which is esteem'd,
Wast (by the owners wish) not once redeem'd.
That dreadfull storme as striving to begin,
Mount Ætna's flames, which roare while as supprest,
And that which swallowing natures student in,
Did him digest, who could it not digest,
And all those hils whence streames of sulphur run,
Shall with their fires, then fortifie the rest:
Whose generall floud, whil'st it the world o're-comes,
None knowes where kindled first, nor whence it comes.
The lucrous coal (though black) a pretious stone,
Whose force as Vulcan will, makes Mars to bend,
Of Albions jewels second unto none,
To Art and Nature both a speciall friend,
Then when of it the needfull use is gone;
What it maintain'd, it likewise helps to end.
And thus the earth (though cold) with fire then stor'd,
To burne it selfe materials doth afford.
Those bathing springs which free Physitians prove,
Yet for all Evils one onely cure can show,
The which may seeme whil'st boyling up above,
A part of Phlegeton o're-flow'd below:
But for mans health nought can from thence remove,
Where he doth dwell who would the world o'rethrow.
Then every one of them to hell repaires,
Or else a greater heat doth drink up theirs.
Great Monarchs whom ambitious hopes do drive,
To raise their owne by razing others Thrones,
Who spare no wayes that there they may arrive,
Through Orphans teares, mans bloud, and womans grones,
And all those earthly mindes which for th'earth strive,
By passing bounds, and altering setled stones;
All such that day not Lords of their owne grave,
Shall have no earth, nor them no earth shall have.
The earth as glorying in her changed state,
With face all bright with flames, seemes lightning smiles,
Whil'st free from wounds and toils, indur'd of late,
Oft burn'd, oft freez'd, which every day defiles,
Though forc'd she must conceive (a fertile mate)
Her husbands hopes who often times beguiles.
And as she would revenge all troubles past,
She yeelds up man whom she had hid at last.
That Element which onely needing aid,
May be made more, and doth on others feed,
Whose piercing powers can in no bounds be staid;
Such bodies small that thickned rarenesse breed,
The onely essence which can not be weigh'd,
And void of weight, doth alwayes upward speed.
That soone may seize on all when once set free,
Which infinitly multipli'd may be.
But lest my furie be too farre declin'd,
That with the flames to flie have striv'd in vaine,
I must a space within my selfe confin'd,
Fresh succours seek to charge of new againe;
So great amazement hath o're-whelm'd my minde,
That now I in an agony remaine.
But he who did in fierie tongues descend,
As through the fire, will leade me to the end.

Next Poem 

 Back to
Sir William Alexander