How have I bin religious? what strange good
by Richard Lovelace
Has scap't me, that I never understood?
Have I hel-guarded Haeresie o'rthrowne?
Heald wounded states? made kings and kingdoms one?
That FATE should be so merciful to me,
To let me live t' have said I have read thee.
Faire star, ascend! the joy! the life! the light
Of this tempestuous age, this darke worlds sight!
Oh, from thy crowne of glory dart one flame
May strike a sacred reverence, whilest thy name
(Like holy flamens to their god of day)
We bowing, sing; and whilst we praise, we pray.
Bright spirit! whose aeternal motion
Of wit, like Time, stil in it selfe did run,
Binding all others in it, and did give
Commission, how far this or that shal live;
Like DESTINY of poems who, as she
Signes death to all, her selfe cam never dye.
And now thy purple-robed Traegedy,
In her imbroider'd buskins, cals mine eye,
Where the brave Aetius we see betray'd,
T' obey his death, whom thousand lives obey'd;
Whilst that the mighty foole his scepter breakes,
And through his gen'rals wounds his own doome speakes,
Weaving thus richly VALENTINIAN,
The costliest monarch with the cheapest man.
Souldiers may here to their old glories adde,
The LOVER love, and be with reason MAD:
Not, as of old, Alcides furious,
Who wilder then his bull did teare the house
(Hurling his language with the canvas stone):
Twas thought the monster ror'd the sob'rer tone.
But ah! when thou thy sorrow didst inspire
With passions, blacke as is her darke attire,
Virgins as sufferers have wept to see
So white a soule, so red a crueltie;
That thou hast griev'd, and with unthought redresse
Dri'd their wet eyes who now thy mercy blesse;
Yet, loth to lose thy watry jewell, when
Joy wip't it off, laughter straight sprung't agen.
Now ruddy checked Mirth with rosie wings
Fans ev'ry brow with gladnesse, whilst she sings
Delight to all, and the whole theatre
A festivall in heaven doth appeare:
Nothing but pleasure, love; and (like the morne)
Each face a gen'ral smiling doth adorne.
Heare ye, foul speakers, that pronounce the aire
Of stewes and shores, I will informe you where
And how to cloath aright your wanton wit,
Without her nasty bawd attending it:
View here a loose thought sayd with such a grace,
Minerva might have spoke in Venus face;
So well disguis'd, that 'twas conceiv'd by none
But Cupid had Diana's linnen on;
And all his naked parts so vail'd, th' expresse
The shape with clowding the uncomlinesse;
That if this Reformation, which we
Receiv'd, had not been buried with thee,
The stage (as this worke) might have liv'd and lov'd
Her lines, the austere Skarlet had approv'd;
And th' actors wisely been from that offence
As cleare, as they are now from audience.
Thus with thy Genius did the scaene expire,
Wanting thy active and correcting fire,
That now (to spread a darknesse over all)
Nothing remaines but Poesie to fall:
And though from these thy Embers we receive
Some warmth, so much as may be said, we live;
That we dare praise thee blushlesse, in the head
Of the best piece Hermes to Love e're read;
That we rejoyce and glory in thy wit,
And feast each other with remembring it;
That we dare speak thy thought, thy acts recite:
Yet all men henceforth be afraid to write.