Collected Poems by Thomas Carew

He that loves a rosy cheek,
  Or a coral lip admires,
Or from star-like eyes doth seek
  Fuel to maintain his fires:
As old Time makes these decay,
So his flames must waste away.

But a smooth and steadfast mind,
  Gentle thoughts and calm desires,
Hearts with equal love combined,
  Kindle never-dying fires.
Where these are not, I despise
Lovely cheeks or lips or eyes.

In Nature’s pieces still I see
Some error, that might mended be;
Something my wish could still remove,
Alter or add; but my fair love
Was fram’d by hands far more divine
For she hath ev’ry beauteous line;
Yet I had been far happier,
Had Nature, that made me, made her.
Then likeness might, that love creates,
Have made her love what now she hates;
Yet, I confess, I cannot spare
From her just shape the smallest hair;
Nor need I beg from all the store
Pf heaven for her one beauty more.
She hath too much divinity for me;
Ye gods, teach her some more humanity.

Give me more love or more disdain;
      The torrid, or the frozen zone,
Bring equal ease unto my pain;
      The temperate affords me none;
Either extreme, of love, or hate,
Is sweeter than a calm estate.

Give me a storm; if it be love,
      Like Danae in that golden show’r
I swim in pleasure; if it prove
      Disdain, that torrent will devour
My vulture-hopes; and he’s possess’d
Of heaven, that’s but from hell releas’d.

Then crown my joys, or cure my pain;
Give me more love, or more disdain.

I was foretold, your rebell sex,
  Nor love, nor pitty knew;
And with what scorn you use to vex
  Poor hearts that humbly sue;
Yet I believ’d, to crown our pain,
  Could we the fortress win,
The happy Lover sure should gain
  A Paradise within:
I thought Loves plagues, like Dragons sate,
Only to fright us at the gate.

But I did enter, and enjoy
  What happy Lovers prove;
For I could kiss, and sport, and toy,
  And taste those sweets of love;
Which had they but a lasting state,
  Or if in Celia’s brest
The force of love might not abate,
  Jove were too mean a guest.
But now her breach of faith, farre more
Afflicts, than did her scorn before.

Hard fate! to have been once possest,
  As victor, of a heart
Atchiev’d with labour, and unrest,
  And then forc’d to depart.
If the stout Foe will not resigne
  When I besiege a Town,
I lose, but what was never mine;
  But he that is cast down
From enjoy’d beauty, feels a woe,
Only deposed Kings can know.

Ask me why I send you here
The firstling of the infant year;
Ask me why I send to you
This primrose all bepearled with dew:
I straight will whisper in your ears,
The sweets of love are washed with tears.
Ask me why this flower doth show
So yellow, green, and sickly too;
Ask me why the stalk is weak
And bending, yet it doth not break:
I must tell you, these discover
What doubts and fears are in a lover.

Can we not force from widow’d poetry,
Now thou art dead (great Donne) one elegy
To crown thy hearse? Why yet dare we not trust,
Though with unkneaded dough-bak’d prose, thy dust,
Such as th’ unscissor’d churchman from the flower
Of fading rhetoric, short-liv’d as his hour,
Dry as the sand that measures it, should lay
Upon thy ashes, on the funeral day?
Have we no voice, no tune? Didst thou dispense
Through all our language, both the words and sense?
’Tis a sad truth. The pulpit may her plain
And sober Christian precepts still retain,
Doctrines it may, and wholesome uses, frame,
Grave homilies and lectures, but the flame
Of thy brave soul (that shot such heat and light
As burnt our earth and made our darkness bright,
Committed holy rapes upon our will,
Did through the eye the melting heart distil,
And the deep knowledge of dark truths so teach
As sense might judge what fancy could not reach)
Must be desir’d forever. So the fire
That fills with spirit and heat the Delphic quire,
Which, kindled first by thy Promethean breath,
Glow’d here a while, lies quench’d now in thy death.
The Muses’ garden, with pedantic weeds
O’erspread, was purg’d by thee; the lazy seeds
Of servile imitation thrown away,
And fresh invention planted; thou didst pay
The debts of our penurious bankrupt age;
Licentious thefts, that make poetic rage
A mimic fury, when our souls must be
Possess’d, or with Anacreon’s ecstasy,
Or Pindar’s, not their own; the subtle cheat
Of sly exchanges, and the juggling feat
Of two-edg’d words, or whatsoever wrong
By ours was done the Greek or Latin tongue,
Thou hast redeem’d, and open’d us a mine
Of rich and pregnant fancy; drawn a line
Of masculine expression, which had good
Old Orpheus seen, or all the ancient brood
Our superstitious fools admire, and hold
Their lead more precious than thy burnish’d gold,
Thou hadst been their exchequer, and no more
They each in other’s dust had rak’d for ore.
Thou shalt yield no precedence, but of time,
And the blind fate of language, whose tun’d chime
More charms the outward sense; yet thou mayst claim
From so great disadvantage greater fame,
Since to the awe of thy imperious wit
Our stubborn language bends, made only fit
With her tough thick-ribb’d hoops to gird about
Thy giant fancy, which had prov’d too stout
For their soft melting phrases. As in time
They had the start, so did they cull the prime
Buds of invention many a hundred year,
And left the rifled fields, besides the fear
To touch their harvest; yet from those bare lands
Of what is purely thine, thy only hands,
(And that thy smallest work) have gleaned more
  Than all those times and tongues could reap before.

      But thou art gone, and thy strict laws will be
Too hard for libertines in poetry;
They will repeal the goodly exil’d train
Of gods and goddesses, which in thy just reign
Were banish’d nobler poems; now with these,
The silenc’d tales o’ th’ Metamorphoses
Shall stuff their lines, and swell the windy page,
Till verse, refin’d by thee, in this last age
Turn ballad rhyme, or those old idols be
Ador’d again, with new apostasy.

      Oh, pardon me, that break with untun’d verse
The reverend silence that attends thy hearse,
Whose awful solemn murmurs were to thee,
More than these faint lines, a loud elegy,
That did proclaim in a dumb eloquence
The death of all the arts; whose influence,
Grown feeble, in these panting numbers lies,
Gasping short-winded accents, and so dies.
So doth the swiftly turning wheel not stand
In th’ instant we withdraw the moving hand,
But some small time maintain a faint weak course,
By virtue of the first impulsive force;
And so, whilst I cast on thy funeral pile
Thy crown of bays, oh, let it crack awhile,
And spit disdain, till the devouring flashes
Suck all the moisture up, then turn to ashes.

      I will not draw the envy to engross
All thy perfections, or weep all our loss;
Those are too numerous for an elegy,
And this too great to be express’d by me.
Though every pen should share a distinct part,
Yet art thou theme enough to tire all art;
Let others carve the rest, it shall suffice
I on thy tomb this epitaph incise:

      Here lies a king, that rul’d as he thought fit
      The universal monarchy of wit;
      Here lie two flamens, and both those, the best,
      Apollo’s first, at last, the true God’s priest.

And here the precious dust is laid;
Whose purely-temper’d clay was made
So fine that it the guest betray’d.

Else the soul grew so fast within,
It broke the outward shell of sin,
And so was hatch’d a cherubin.

In height, it soar’d to God above;
In depth, it did to knowledge move,
And spread in breadth to general love.

Before, a pious duty shin’d
To parents, courtesy behind;
On either side an equal mind.

Good to the poor, to kindred dear,
To servants kind, to friendship clear,
To nothing but herself severe.

So, though a virgin, yet a bride
To ev’ry grace, she justified
A chaste polygamy, and died.

Learn from hence, reader, what small trust
We owe this world, where virtue must,
Frail as our flesh, crumble to dust.

If the quick spirits in your eye
Now languish, and anon must die;
If every sweet, and every grace
Must fly from that forsaken face;
  Then, Celia, let us reap our joys,
  Ere Time such goodly fruit destroys.

Or if that golden fleece must grow
Forever, free from agèd snow;
If those bright suns must know no shade,
Nor your fresh beauties ever fade;
  Then fear not, Celia, to bestow
  What, still being gathered, still must grow.

Thus, either Time his sickle brings
In vain, or else in vain his wings.

Know, Celia, since thou art so proud,
  ’Twas I that gave thee thy renown.
Thou hadst in the forgotten crowd
  Of common beauties lived unknown
Had not my verse extolled thy name,
And with it imped the wings of Fame.

That killing power is none of thine;
  I gave it to thy voice and eyes.
Thy sweets, thy graces, all are mine;
  Thou art my star, shin’st in my skies:
Then dart not from thy borrowed sphere
Lightning on him that fixed thee there.

Tempt me with such affrights no more,
  Lest what I made I uncreate.
Let fools thy mystic form adore,
  I know thee in thy mortal state.
Wise poets, that wrapped truth in tales,
Knew her themselves through all her veils.

To Saxham

Though frost and snow lock’d from mine eyes
That beauty which without door lies,
Thy gardens, orchards, walks, that so
I might not all thy pleasures know,
Yet,  thou within thy gate
Art of thyself so delicate,
So full of native sweets, that bless
Thy roof with inward happiness,
As neither from nor to thy store
Winter takes aught, or spring adds more.
The cold and frozen air had starv’d
Much poor, if not by thee preserv’d,
Whose prayers have made thy table blest
With plenty, far above the rest.
The season hardly did afford
Coarse cates unto thy neighbors’ board,
Yet thou hadst dainties, as the sky
Had only been thy volary;
Or else the birds, fearing the snow
Might to another Deluge grow,
The pheasant, partridge, and the lark
Flew to thy house, as to the Ark.
The willing ox of himself came
Home to the slaughter, with the lamb,
And every beast did thither bring
Himself, to be an offering.
The scaly herd more pleasure took,
Bath’d in thy dish, than in the brook;
Water, earth, air, did all conspire
To pay their tributes to thy fire,
Whose cherishing flames themselves divide
Through every room, where they deride
The night, and cold aboard; whilst they,
Like suns within, keep endless day.
Those cheerful beams send forth their light
To all that wander in the night,
And seem to beckon from aloof
The weary pilgrim to thy roof,
Where if, refresh’d, he will away,
He’s faily welcome; or if stay,
Far more; which he shall hearty find
Both from the master and the hind.
The stranger’s welcome each man there
Stamp’d on his cheerful brow doth wear,
Nor doth this welcome or his cheer
Grow less ‘cause he stays longer here;
There’s none observes, much less repines,
How often this man sups or dines.
Thou hast no porter at the door
T’examine or keep back the poor;
Nor locks nor bolts: thy gates have been
Made only to let strangers in;
Untaught to shut, they do not fear
To stand wide open all the year,
Careless who enters, for they know
Thou never didst deserve a foe;
And as for thieves, thy bounty’s such,
They cannot steal, thou giv’st so much.

’Tis true, dear Ben, thy just chastising hand
Hath fix’d upon the sotted age a brand
To their swoll’n pride and empty scribbling due;
It can nor judge, nor write, and yet ’tis true
Thy comic muse, from the exalted line
Touch’d by thy Alchemist, doth since decline
From that her zenith, and foretells a red
And blushing evening, when she goes to bed;
Yet such as shall outshine the glimmering light
With which all stars shall gild the following night.
Nor think it much, since all thy eaglets may
Endure the sunny trial, if we say
This hath the stronger wing, or that doth shine
Trick’d up in fairer plumes, since all are thine.
Who hath his flock of cackling geese compar’d
With thy tun’d choir of swans? or else who dar’d
To call thy births deform’d? But if thou bind
By city-custom, or by gavelkind,
In equal shares thy love on all thy race,
We may distinguish of their sex, and place;
Though one hand form them, and though one brain strike
Souls into all, they are not all alike.
Why should the follies then of this dull age
Draw from thy pen such an immodest rage
As seems to blast thy else-immortal bays,
When thine own tongue proclaims thy itch of praise?
Such thirst will argue drouth. No, let be hurl’d
Upon thy works by the detracting world
What malice can suggest; let the rout say,
The running sands, that, ere thou make a play,
Count the slow minutes, might a Goodwin frame
To swallow, when th’ hast done, thy shipwreck’d name;
Let them the dear expense of oil upbraid,
Suck’d by thy watchful lamp, that hath betray’d
To theft the blood of martyr’d authors, spilt
Into thy ink, whilst thou growest pale with guilt.
Repine not at the taper’s thrifty waste,
That sleeks thy terser poems; nor is haste
Praise, but excuse; and if thou overcome
A knotty writer, bring the booty home;
Nor think it theft if the rich spoils so torn
From conquer’d authors be as trophies worn.
Let others glut on the extorted praise
Of vulgar breath, trust thou to after-days;
Thy labour’d works shall live when time devours
Th’ abortive offspring of their hasty hours.
Thou are not of their rank, the quarrel lies
Within thine own verge; then let this suffice,
The wiser world doth greater thee confess
Than all men else, than thyself only less.

When thou, poor excommunicate
  From all the joys of love, shalt see
The full reward and glorious fate
  Which my strong faith shall purchase me,
  Then curse thine own inconstancy.

A fairer hand than thine shall cure
  That heart which thy false oaths did wound;
And to my soul a soul more pure
  Than thine shall by Love’s hand be bound,
  And both with equal glory crowned.

Then shalt thou weep, entreat, complain
  To Love, as I did once to thee;
When all thy tears shall be as vain
  As mine were then, for thou shalt be
  Damned for thy false apostasy.

He that loves a rosy cheek,
      Or a coral lip admires,
Or from star-like eyes doth seek
      Fuel to maintain his fires;
As old Time makes these decay,
So his flames must waste away.

But a smooth and steadfast mind,
      Gentle thoughts and calm desires,
Hearts with equal love combin’d,
      Kindle never-dying fires.
Where these are not, I despise
Lovely cheeks, or lips, or eyes.

No tears, Celia, now shall win
      My resolv’d heart to return;
I have search’d thy soul within,
      And find nought, but pride, and scorn;
I have learn’d thy arts, and now
Can disdain as much as thou.
Some power, in my revenge, convey
That love to her I cast away.

Now you have freely given me leave to love,
                What will you doe?
        Shall I your mirth, or passion move,
                When I begin to wooe;
Will you torment, or scorn, or love me too?

Each petty beauty can disdain, and I,
                Spight of your hate,
        Without your leave can see, and dye,
                Dispence a nobler Fate,
Tis easie to destroy, you may create.

Then give me leave to love, and love me too
                Not with designe
        To rayse, as Loves curst Rebels doe,
                When puling Poets whine,
Fame to their beauty, from their blubbr’d eyn.

Grief is a puddle, and reflects not clear
                Your beauties rayes;
        Joyes are pure streames, your eyes appear
                Sullen in sadder layes,
In cheerfull numbers they shine bright with prayse.

Which shall not mention, to express you fayr,
                Wounds, flames, and darts,
        Storms in your brow, nets in your hair,
                Suborning all your parts,
Or to betray, or torture captive hearts.

I’le make your eyes like morning Suns appear,
                As mild, and fair;
        Your brow as Crystal smooth, and clear,
                And your dishevell’d hayr
Shall flow like a calm Region of the Ayr.

Rich Nature’s store, (which is the Poet’s Treasure)
                I’le spend, to dress
        Your beauties, if your mine of Pleasure
                In equall thankfulness
You but unlock, so we each other bless.

This little vault, this narrow room,
Of Love and Beauty is the tomb;
The dawning beam, that ‘gan to clear
Our clouded sky, lies darken’d here,
For ever set to us: by Death
Sent to enflame the World Beneath.
’Twas but a bud, yet did contain
More sweetness than shall spring again;
A budding Star, that might have grown
Into a Sun when it had blown.
This hopeful Beauty did create
New life in Love’s declining state;
But now his empire ends, and we
From fire and wounding darts are free;
  His brand, his bow, let no man fear:
  The flames, the arrows, all lie here.

The Spring

Now that the winter’s gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful Spring.
The valleys, hills, and woods in rich array
Welcome the coming of the long’d-for May.
Now all things smile, only my love doth lour;
Nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold
Her heart congeal’d, and makes her pity cold.
The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
Into the stall, doth now securely lie
In open fields; and love no more is made
By the fireside, but in the cooler shade
Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep
Under a sycamore, and all things keep
Time with the season; only she doth carry
June in her eyes, in her heart January.

I do not love thee for that fair
Rich fan of thy most curious hair;
Though the wires thereof be drawn
Finer than threads of lawn,
And are softer than the leaves
On which the subtle spider weaves.

I do not love thee for those flowers
Growing on thy cheeks, love’s bowers;
Though such cunning them hath spread,
None can paint them white and red:
Love’s golden arrows thence are shot,
Yet for them I love thee not.

I do not love thee for those soft
Red coral lips I’ve kissed so oft,
Nor teeth of pearl, the double guard
To speech whence music still is heard;
Though from those lips a kiss being taken
Mighty tyrants melt, and death awaken.

I do not love thee, O my fairest,
For that richest, for that rarest
Silver pillar, which stands under
Thy sound head, that globe of wonder;
Though that neck be whiter far
Than towers of polished ivory are.

Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose;
For in your beauty’s orient deep
These flowers, as in their causes, sleep.

Ask me no more whither do stray
The golden atoms of the day;
For in pure love heaven did prepare
Those powders to enrich your hair.

Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale when May is past;
For in your sweet dividing throat
She winters and keeps warm her note.

Ask me no more where those stars ‘light
That downwards fall in dead of night;
For in your eyes they sit, and there
Fixed become as in their sphere.

Ask me no more if east or west
The Phoenix builds her spicy nest;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.

I presse not to the Quire, nor dare I greet
The holy Place with my unhallow’d feet:
My unwasht Muse pollutes not things Divine,
Nor mingles her prophaner notes with thine;
Here, humbly at the Porch, she listning stayes,
And with glad eares sucks in thy Sacred Layes.
So, devout Penitents of old were wont,
Some without doore, and some beneath the Font,
To stand and heare the Churches Liturgies,
Yet not assist the solemne Exercise.
Sufficeth her, that she a Lay-place gaine,
To trim thy Vestments, or but beare thy traine:
Though nor in Tune, nor Wing, She reach thy Larke,
Her Lyricke feet may dance before the Arke.
Who knowes, but that Her wandring eyes, that run
Now hunting Glow-wormes, may adore the Sun.
A pure Flame may, shot by Almighty Power
Into my brest, the earthy flame devoure:
My Eyes, in Penitentiall dew may steepe
That bryne, which they for sensuall love did weepe:
So (though ‘gainst Natures course) fire may be quencht
With fire, and water be with water drencht.
Perhaps, my restlesse Soule, tyr’d with pursuit
Of mortall beautie, seeking without fruit
Contentment there; which hath not, when enjoy’d,
Quencht all her thirst, nor satisfi’d, though cloy’d;
Weary of her vaine search below, above
In the first Faire may find th’ immortall Love.
Prompted by thy Example then, no more
In moulds of Clay will I my God adore;
But teare those Idols from my Heart, and Write
What his blest Sp’rit, not fond Love, shall endite.
Then, I no more shall court the Verdant Bay,
But the dry leavelesse Trunk on Golgotha:
And rather strive to gaine from thence one Thorne,
Then all the flourishing Wreathes by Laureats worne.

The Lady Mary Villiers lies
Under this stone; with weeping eyes
The parents that first gave her birth,
And their sad friends, laid her in earth.
If any of them, Reader, were
Known unto thee, shed a tear;
Or if thyself possess a gem
As dear to thee, as this to them,
Though a stranger to this place,
Bewail in theirs thine own hard case:
  For thou perhaps at thy return
  May’st find thy Darling in an urn.

How ill doth he deserve a lover’s name,
     Whose pale weak flame
     Cannot retain
His heat, in spite of absence or disdain;
But doth at once, like paper set on fire,
     Burn and expire;
True love can never change his seat,
Nor did her ever love, that could retreat.

That noble flame which my breast keeps alive
     Shall still survive
     When my soul’s fled;
Nor shall my love die when my body’s dead,
That shall wait on me to the lower shade,
     And never fade;
My very ashes in their urn
Shall, like a hallow’d lamp, forever burn.

— The End —