Cleft as the top of the inspired hill,
by Richard Lovelace
Struggles the soul of my divided quill,
Whilst this foot doth the watry mount aspire,
That Sinai's living and enlivening fire,
Behold my powers storm'd by a twisted light
O' th' Sun and his, first kindled his sight,
And my lost thoughts invoke the prince of day,
My right to th' spring of it and him do pray.
Say, happy youth, crown'd with a heav'nly ray
Of the first flame, and interwreathed bay,
Inform my soul in labour to begin,
Ios or Anthems, Poeans or a Hymne.
Shall I a hecatombe on thy tripod slay,
Or my devotions at thy altar pay?
While which t' adore th' amaz'd world cannot tell,
The sublime Urim or deep oracle.
Heark! how the moving chords temper our brain,
As when Apollo serenades the main,
Old Ocean smooths his sullen furrow'd front,
And Nereids do glide soft measures on't;
Whilst th' air puts on its sleekest, smoothest face,
And each doth turn the others looking-glasse;
So by the sinewy lyre now strook we see
Into soft calms all storm of poesie,
And former thundering and lightning lines,
And verse now in its native lustre shines.
How wert thou hid within thyself! how shut!
Thy pretious Iliads lock'd up in a nut!
Not hearing of thee thou dost break out strong,
Invading forty thousand men in song;
And we, secure in our thin empty heat,
Now find ourselves at once surprised and beat,
Whilst the most valiant of our wits now sue,
Fling down their arms, ask quarter too of you.
So cabin'd up in its disguis'd coarse rust,
And scurf'd all ore with its unseemly crust,
The diamond, from 'midst the humbler stones,
Sparkling shoots forth the price of nations.
Ye safe unriddlers of the stars, pray tell,
By what name shall I stamp my miracle?
Thou strange inverted Aeson, that leap'st ore
From thy first infancy into fourscore,
That to thine own self hast the midwife play'd,
And from thy brain spring'st forth the heav'nly maid!
Thou staffe of him bore him, that bore our sins,
Which, but set down, to bloom and bear begins!
Thou rod of Aaron, with one motion hurl'd,
Bud'st a perfume of flowers through the world!
You strange calcined seeds within a glass,
Each species Idaea spring'st as 'twas!
Bright vestal flame that, kindled but ev'n now,
For ever dost thy sacred fires throw!
Thus the repeated acts of Nestor's age,
That now had three times ore out-liv'd the stage,
And all those beams contracted into one,
Alcides in his cradle hath outdone.
But all these flour'shing hiews, with which I die
Thy virgin paper, now are vain as I:
For 'bove the poets Heav'n th' art taught to shine
And move, as in thy proper crystalline;
Whence that mole-hill Parnassus thou dost view,
And us small ants there dabbling in its dew;
Whence thy seraphic soul such hymns doth play,
As those to which first danced the first day,
Where with a thorn from the world-ransoming wreath
Thou stung, dost antiphons and anthems breathe;
Where with an Angels quil dip'd i' th' Lambs blood,
Thou sing'st our Pelicans all-saving flood,
And bath'st thy thoughts in ever-living streams,
Rench'd from earth's tainted, fat and heavy steams.
There move translated youth inroll'd i' th' quire,
That only doth with wholy lays inspire;
To whom his burning coach Eliah sent,
And th' royal prophet-priest his harp hath lent;
Which thou dost tune in consort unto those
Clap wings for ever at each hallow'd close:
Whilst we, now weak and fainting in our praise,
Sick echo ore thy Halleluiahs.