display | more...
Emblem IV.iii
Psalm 17:5 Stay my steps in thy paths, that my feet do not slide

When e'er the old exchange of profit rings
  Her silver saint's-bell of uncertain gains,
My merchant soul can stretch both legs and wings;
  How I can run, and take unwearied pains!
    The charms of profit are so strong that I,
    Who wanted legs to go, find wings to fly.

If time-beguiling pleasure but advance
  Her lustful trump, and blow her bold alarms,
Oh how my sportful soul can frisk and dance,
  And hug that siren in her twinèd arms!
    The sprightly voice of sinew-strengthening pleasure
    Can lend my bedrid soul both legs and leisure.

If blazing honour chance to fill my veins
  With flattering warmth and flash of courtly fire,
My soul can take a pleasure in her pains;
  My lofty strutting steps disdain to tire;
    My antic knees can turn upon the hinges
    Of compliment, and screw a thousand cringes.

But when I come to thee, my God, that art
  The royal mine of everlasting treasure,
The real honour of my better part,
  And living fountain of eternal pleasure,
    How nerveless are my limbs! How faint and slow!
    I have nor wings to fly, nor legs to go.

So when the streams of swift-foot Rhine convey
  her upland riches to the Belgic shore,
The idle vessel slides the watery lay,
  Without the blast or tug of wind or oar;
    Her slippery keel divides the silver foam
    With ease: so facily is the way from home!

But when the home-bound vessel turns her sails
  Against the breast of the resisting stream,
Oh then she slugs; nor sail nor oar prevails!
  The stream is sturdy, and her tide's extreme:
    Each stroke is loss, and every tug is vain;
    A baot-length's purchase is a league of pain.

Great all in all, that art my rest, my home;
  My way is tedious, and my steps are slow
Reach forth they helpful hand, or bid me come;
  I am thy child, oh teach thy child to go;
    Conjoin thy sweet commands to my desire,
    And I will venture, though I fall or tire.

Epigram
Fear not, my soul, to lose for want of cunning;
Weep not; heaven is not always got by running:
Thy thoughts are swift, although thy legs be slow;
True love will creep, not having strength to go.

-- Francis Quarles (1635)