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(1588 - 1623 / Alderton, Suffolk)

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The Heavenly Jerusalem

Here may the band, that now in triumph shines,
And that (before they were invested thus)
In earthly bodies carried heavenly minds,
Pitched round about in order glorious,
Their sunny tents, and houses luminous,
All their eternal day in songs employing,
Joying their end, without end of their joying,
While their almighty prince destruction is destroying.

How can such joy as this want words to speak?
And yet what words can speak such joy as this?
Far from the world, that might their quiet break,
Here the glad souls the face of beauty kiss,
Pour'd out in pleasure, on their beds of bliss.
And drunk with nectar torrents, ever hold
Their eyes on him, whose graces manifold,
The more they do behold, the more they would behold.

No sorrow now hangs clouding on their brow,
No bloodless malady empales their face,
No age drops on their hairs his silver snow,
No nakedness their bodies doth embase,
No poverty themselves, and theirs, disgrace,
No fear of death the joy of life devours,
No unchaste sleep their precious time deflowers,
No loss, no grief, no change wait on their winged hours.

But now their naked bodies scorn the cold,
And from their eyes joy looks, and laughs at pain,
The infant wonders how he came so old,
And old man how he came so young again;
Still resting, though from sleep they still refrain,
Where all are rich, and yet no gold they owe,
And all are kings, and yet no subjects know,
All full, and yet no time on food they do bestow.

For things that pass are past, and in this field,
The indeficient spring no winter fears,
The trees together fruit, and blossom yield,
Th'unfading lily leaves of silver bears,
And crimson rose a scarlet garment wears:
And all of these on the saints' bodies grow,
Not, as they wont, on baser earth below;
Three rivers here of milk, and wine, and honey flows.

About the holy City rolls a flood
Of molten crystals, like a sea of glass,
On which weak stream a strong foundation stood,
Of living diamonds the building was,
That all things else, besides it self, did pass.
Her streets, instead of stones, the stars did pave,
And little pearls, for dust, it seem'd to have,
On which soft-streaming manna, like pure snow, did wave.

In mid'st of this City celestial,
Where the eternal temple should have rose,
Lighten'd th'idea beatifical:
End, and beginning of each thing that grows,
Whose self no end, nor yet beginning knows,
That hath no eyes to see, nor ears to hear,
Yet sees, and hears, and is all eye, all ear,
That no where is contain'd, and yet is everywhere.

Changer of all things, yet immutable,
Before, and after all, the first, and last,
That moving all, is yet immovable,
Great without quantity, in whose forecast,
Things past are present, things to come are past
Swift without motion, to whose open eye
The hearts of wicked men unbreasted lie,
At once absent, and present to them, far and nigh.

It is no flaming lustre, made of light,
No sweet consent, or well-tim'd harmony,
Ambrosia, for to feast the Appetite,
Or flowery odour, mixed with spicery.
No soft embrace, or pleasure bodily,
And yet it is a kind of inward feast,
A harmony, that sounds within the breast,
An odour, light, embrace, in which the soul doth rest.

A heavn'ly feast, no hunger can consume,
A light unseen, yet shines in every place,
A sound, no time can steal, a sweet perfume,
No winds can scatter, an entire embrace,
That no satiety can ere unlace,
Ingraced into so high a favour, there
The saints, with their beau-peers whole worlds outwear,
And things unseen do see, and things unheard do hear.

Ye blessed souls, grown richer by your spoil,
Whose loss, though great, is cause of greater gains,
Here may your weary spirits rest from toil,
Spending your endless ev'ning, that remains,
Among those white flocks, and celestial trains,
That feed upon their shepherds' eyes, and frame
That heavn'ly music of so wondrous fame,
Psalming aloud the holy honours of his name.

Had I a voice of steel to tune my song,
Were every verse as smoothly filed as glass,
And every member turnéd to a tongue,
And every tongue were made of sounding brass,
Yet all that skill, and all this strength, alas,
Should it presume to gild, were misadvis'd,
The place, where David hath new songs devis'd,
As in his burning throne he sits emparadis'd.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004


Read poems about / on: loss, joy, city, silver, snow, poverty, rose, sleep, light, food, grief, strength, winter, sorrow, change, music, kiss, spring, together, song

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