Rapt with the rage of mine own ravisht thought,
Through contemplation of those goodly sights
And glorious images in heaven wrought,
Whose wondrous beauty, breathing sweet delights,
Do kindle love in high conceipted sprights,
I faine* to tell the things that I behold,
But feele my wits to faile and tongue to fold.
[* Faine, long.]
Vouchsafe then, O Thou most Almightie Spright!
From whom all guifts of wit and knowledge flow,
To shed into my breast some sparkling light
Of thine eternall truth, that I may show
Some little 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 themselves up hyer,
And learne to love, with zealous humble dewty,
Th’Eternall Fountaine of that heavenly 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 flye.
That flags a while her fluttering wings beneath,
Till she her selfe for stronger flight can breath.
[* Soare faulcon, a young falcon; a hawk that has not shed its first feathers, which are sorrel.]
Then looke, who list thy gazefull eyes to feed
With sight of that is faire, looke on the frame
Of this wyde universe, and therein reed
The endlesse kinds of creatures which by name
Thou canst not count, much less their natures aime;
All which are made with wondrous wise respect,
And all with admirable beautie deckt.
First, th’Earth, on adamantine pillers founded
Amid the Sea, engirt with brasen bands;
Then th’Aire, still flitting, but yet firmely bounded
On everie side with pyles of flaming brands,
Never consum’d, nor quencht with mortall hands;
And last, that mightie shining cristall wall,
Wherewith he hath encompassed this all.
By view whereof it plainly may appeare,
That still as every thing doth upward 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 heaven then fire, appeares more pure and fayre.
Looke thou no further, but affixe thine eye
On that bright shynie round still moving masse,
The house of blessed God, which men call Skye,
All sowd with glistring stars more thicke then grasse,
Whereof each other doth in brightnesse passe,
But those two most, which, ruling night and day,
As king and queene the heavens empire sway;
And tell me then, what hast thou ever 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 above these heavens 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,
Unmoving, uncorrupt, and spotlesse bright,
That need no sunne t’illuminate their spheres,
But their owne native light farre passing theirs.
And as these heavens still by degrees arize,
Until they come to their first movers* bound,
That in his mightie compasse doth comprize
And came all the rest with him around,
So those likewise doe by degrees redound**,
And rise more faire, till they at last arive
To the most faire, whereto they all do strive.
[* I.e. the primum mobile.]
[** I.e. exceed the one the other.]