Saint Peter's Complaint


Launch forth, my soule, into a maine of teares,
Full fraught with griefe, the trafficke of thy mind;
Torn sailes will serue, thoughts rent with guilty feares:
Giue Care the sterne, vse sighs in lieu of wind:
Remorse, thy pilot; thy misdeede thy card;
Torment thy hauen, shipwrack thy best reward.


Shun not the shelfe of most deserued shame;
Sticke in the sands of agonizing dread;
Content thee to be stormes' and billowes' game;
Diuorct from grace, thy soule to pennance wed;
Fly not from forraine euils, fly from thy hart;
Worse then the worst of euils is that thou art.


Giue vent vnto the vapours of thy brest,
That thicken in the brimmes of cloudie eyes;
Where sinne was hatcht, let teares now wash the nest,
Where life was lost, recouer life with cryes.
Thy trespasse foule, let not thy teares be few,
Baptize thy spotted soule in weeping dew.


Fly mournfull plaints, the ecchoes of my ruth
Whose screeches in my frighted conscience ring;
Sob out my sorrowes, fruites of mine vntruth,
Report the smart of sinne's infernall sting;
Tell hearts that languish in the sorriest plight,
There is on Earth a farre more sorry wight.


A sorrie wight, the object of disgrace,
The monument of feare, the map of shame,
The mirrour of mishap, the staine of place,
The scorne of Time, the infamy of Fame,
An excrement of Earth, to heauen hatefull,
Iniurious to man, to God vngratefull.


Ambitious heads, dreame you of Fortune's pride,
Fill volumes with your forged goddesse' prayse;
You Fancie's drudges, plung'd in Follie's tide,
Devote your fabling wits to louers' lays:
Be you, O sharpest griefes that euer wrung,
Text to my thoughts, theame to my playning tung.


Sad subiect of my sinne hath stoard my minde,
With euerlasting matter of complaint;
My threnes an endlesse alphabet doe finde,
Beyond the pangs which Ieremie doth paint.
That eyes with errors may iust measure keepe,
Most teares I wish, that haue most cause to weepe.


All weeping eyes resigne your teares to me,
A sea will scantly rince my ordur'd soule;
Huge horours in high tides must drowned be:
Of euery teare my crime exacteth tole.
These staines are deepe: few drops take out no such;
Euen salue with sore, and most is not too much.


I fear'd with life, to die, by death to liue;
I left my guide, — now left, and leauing God.
To breath in blisse, I fear'd my breath to giue;
I fear'd for heauenly raigne an earthly rod.
These feares I fear'd, feares feeling no mishaps:
O fond! O faint! O false! O faultie lapse!


How can I liue, that thus my life deni'd?
What can I hope, that lost my hope in feare?
What trust to one, that Truth it selfe defi'd?
What good in him, that did his God forsweare?
O sinne of sinnes! of euils the very worst:
O matchlesse wretch! O catiffe most accurst!


Vaine in my vaunts, I vowd, if friends had fail'd,
Alone Christ's hardest fortunes to abide:
Giant in talke, like dwarfe in triall quaild:
Excelling none, but in vntruth and pride.
Such distance is betweene high words and deeds:
In proofe, the greatest vaunter seldome speeds.


Ah, rashnes! hastie rise to murdering leape,
Lauish in vowing, blind in seeing what:
Soone sowing shames that long remorse must reape:
Nursing with teares that ouer-sight begat;
Scout of Repentance, harbinger of blame,
Treason to wisedome, mother of ill name.


The borne-blind begger, for received sight,
Fast in his faith and loue to Christ remain'd;
He stooped to no feare, he fear'd no might,
No change his choice, no threats his truth distain'd:
One wonder wrought him in his dutie sure,
I, after thousands, did my Lord abiure.


Could seruile feare of rendring Nature's due,
Which growth in yeeres was shortly like to claime,
So thrall my loue, that I should thus eschue
A vowed death, and misse so faire an ayme?
Die, die disloyall wretch, thy life detest:
For sauing thine, thou hast forsworne the best.


Ah, life! sweet drop, drownd in a sea of sowres,
A flying good, posting to doubtfull end,
Still loosing months and yeeres to gaine few howres:
Faine, time to haue and spare, yet forc't to spend:
Thy growth, decrease; a moment all thou hast:
That gone, ere knowne; the rest, to come, or past.


Ah, life! the maze of countlesse straying waies, —
Open to erring steps and strew'd with baits, —
To winde weake senses into endlesse strayes,
Aloofe from Vertue's rough, vnbeaten straights;
A flower, a play, a blast, a shade, a dreame,
A liuing death, a never-turning streame.


And could I rate so high a life so base?
Did feare with loue cast so vneven account,
That for this goale I should runne Iudas' race,
And Caiphas' rage in crueltie surmount?
Yet they esteemed thirtie pence His price;
I, worse then both, for nought denyd Him thrice.


The mother-sea, from ouerflowing deepes,
Sends forth her issue by diuided vaines,
Yet back her ofspring to their mother creepes,
To pay their purest streames with added gaines;
But I, that drunke the drops of heauenly flud,
Bemyr'd the Giuer with returning mud.


Is this the haruest of His sowing-toyle?
Did Christ manure thy heart to breede Him briers?
Or doth it neede, this vnaccustom'd soyle,
With hellish dung to fertile heauen's desires?
No, no, the marle that periuries do yeeld,
May spoyle a good, not fat a barraine field.


Was this for best deserts the duest meede?
Are highest worths well wag'd with spitefull hire?
Are stoutest vowes repeal'd in greatest neede?
Should friendship, at the first affront, retire?
Blush, crauen sot, lurke in eternall night;
Crouch in the darkest caves from loathed light.


Ah, wretch! why was I nam'd sonne of a doue,
Whose speeches voyded spight and breathed gall?
No kin I am unto the bird of loue:
My stonie name much better sutes my fall:
My othes were stones, my cruell tongue the sling,
My God the mark at which my spight did fling.


Were all the Iewish tyranies too few
To glut thy hungrie lookes with His disgrace?
That thou more hatefull tyrannies must shew,
And spet thy poyson in thy Maker's face?
Didst thou to spare His foes put vp thy sword,
To brandish now thy tongue against thy Lord?


Ah! tongue, that didst His prayse and Godhead sound,
How wert thou stain'd with such detesting words,
That euerie word was to His heart a wound,
And launct Him deeper then a thousand swords?
What rage of man, yea what infernall spirit,
Could haue disgorg'd more loathsome dregs of spite?


Why did the yeelding sea, like marble way,
Support a wretch more wauering then the waues?
Whom doubt did plunge, why did the waters stay?
Vnkind in kindnesse, murthering while it saues:
Oh that this tongue had then been fishes' food,
And I deuour'd, before this cursing mood!


There surges, depths and seas, vnfirme by kind,
Rough gusts, and distance both from ship and shoare,
Were titles to excuse my staggering mind;
Stout feet might falter on that liquid floare:
But heer no seas, no blasts, no billowes were,
A puffe of woman's wind bred all my feare.


O coward troups, far better arm'd then harted!
Whom angrie words, whom blowes could not prouoke;
Whom thogh I taught how sore my weapon smarted,
Yet none repaide me with a wounding stroke.
Oh no! that stroke could but one moity kill;
I was reseru'd both halfes at once to spill.


Ah! whether was forgotten loue exil'd?
Where did the truth of pledged promise sleepe?
What in my thoughts begat this vgly child,
That could through rented soule thus fiercely creepe?
O viper, feare their death by whom thou liuest;
All good thy ruine's wreck, all euils thou giuest.


Threats threw me not, torments I none assayd:
My fray with shades; conceits did make me yeeld,
Wounding my thoughts with feares; selfely dismayd,
I neither fought nor lost, I gaue the field:
Infamous foyle! a maiden's easie breath
Did blow me downe, and blast my soule to death.


Titles I make vntruths: am I a rocke,
That with so soft a gale was ouerthrowne?
Am I fit pastor for the faithfull flocke,
To guide their soules that murdred thus mine owne?
A rocke of ruine, not a rest to stay,
A pastor, not to feede but to betray.


Fidelitie was flowne, when feare was hatched,
Incompatible brood in Vertue's neast:
Courage can lesse with cowardise be matched,
Prowesse nor loue lodg'd in diuided breast.
O Adam's child, cast by a sillie Eue,
Heire to thy father's foyles, and borne to grieue!


In Thabor's ioyes I eger was to dwell:
An earnest friend while pleasures' light did shine,
But when eclipsed glorie prostrate fell,
These zealous heates to sleepe I did resigne;
And now, my mouth hath thrise His name defil'd,
That cry'd so loude three dwellings there to builde.


When Christ, attending the distressefull hower,
With His surcharged breast did blesse the ground,
Prostrate in pangs, rayning a bleeding shower,
Me, like myselfe, a drowsie friend He found,
Thrice, in His care, sleepe clos'd my carelesse eye;
Presage how Him my tongue should thrise denie.


Parted from Christ, my fainting force declin'd,
With lingring foot I followed Him aloofe;
Base feare out of my hart His love vnshrin'd:
Huge in high words, but impotent in proofe,
My vaunts did seeme hatcht vnder Sampson's locks,
Yet woman's words did giue me murdring knocks.


So farre lukewarm desires in crasie loue,
Farre off, in neede with feeble foote they traine;
In tydes they swim, low ebbes they scorne to proue;
They seeke their friends' delights, but shun their paine:
Hire of a hireling minde is earned shame:
Take now thy due, beare thy begotten blame.


Ah, coole remisnes! Virtue's quartane feuer,
Pyning of loue, consumption of grace;
Old in the cradle, languor dying euer,
Soule's wilfull famine, sinne's soft-stealing pase;
The vndermining euill of zealous thought,
Seeming to bring no harmes, till all be brought.


O portresse of the doore of my disgrace,
Whose tongue vnlockt the truth of vowed minde;
Whose words from coward's hart did courage chase,
And let in deathfull feares my soule to blinde;
O hadst thou been the portresse to my toome,
When thou wert portresse to that cursed roome!


Yet loue was loath to part, feare loath to die;
Stay, danger, life, did counterplead their causes;
I, fauouring stay and life, bad danger flie,
But danger did except against these clauses:
Yet stay and liue I would, and danger shunne,
And lost myselfe while I my verdict wonne.


I stayde, yet did my staying farthest part;
I liv'd, but so, that sauing life, I lost it;
Danger I shunn'd, but to my sorer smart;
I gayned nought, but deeper damage crost it.
What danger, distance, death, is worse then his
That runnes from God and spoyles his soule of blisse?


O Iohn, my guide unto this earthly hell,
Too well acquainted in so ill a Court,
(Where rayling mouthes with blasphemies did swell,
With taynted breath infecting all resort,)
Why didst thou lead me to this hell of euils,
To shew myselfe a fiend among the deuils?


Euill president! the tyde that wafts to vice;
Dumme orator, that wooes with silent deeds,
Writing in works lessons of ill aduise;
The doing-tale that eye in practise reedes;
Taster of ioyes to vnacquainted hunger,
With leauen of the old seasoning the younger.


It seemes no fault to doe that all haue done;
The number of offenders hides the sinne;
Coach drawne with many horse, doth easely runne,
Soone followeth one where multitudes beginne.
O had I in that Court much stronger bin,
Or not so strong as first to enter in.


Sharpe was the weather in that stormie place,
Best suting hearts benumd with hellish frost,
Whose crusted malice could admitte no grace:
Where coales were kindled to the warmers' cost;
Where feare my thoughts canded with ysie cold,
Heate did my tongue to periuries vnfold.


O hateful fire (ah! that I euer saw it)!
Too hard my hart was frozen for thy force;
Farre hotter flames it did require to thaw it,
Thy hell-resembling heate did freeze it worse.
O that I rather had congeal'd to yse,
Then bought thy warmth at such a damning price!


O wakefull bird! proclaimer of the day,
Whose pearcing note doth daunt the lion's rage;
Thy crowing did myselfe to me bewray,
My frights and brutish heates it did asswage:
But O in this alone, vnhappy cocke,
That thou to count my foyles wert made the clocke!


O bird! the iust rebuker of my crime,
The faithfull waker of my sleeping feares,
Be now the daily clocke to strike the time,
When stinted eyes shall pay their taske of teares;
Vpbraide mine eares with thine accusing crowe,
To make me rew that first it made me knowe.


O milde Reuenger of aspiring pride!
Thou canst dismount high thoughts to low effects;
Thou mad'st a cocke me for my fault to chide,
My lofty boasts this lowely bird corrects.
Well might a cocke correct me with a crowe,
Whom hennish cackling first did ouerthrowe.


Weake weapons did Goliah's fumes abate,
Whose storming rage did thunder threats in vaine:
His bodie huge, harnest with massie plate,
Yet Dauid's stone brought death into his braine:
With staff and sling as to a dog he came,
And with contempt did boasting furie tame.


Yet Dauid had with beare and lyon fought,
His skilful might excus'd Goliah's foile:
The death is eas'd that worthy hand hath wrought,
Some honour lives in honourable spoyle;
But I, on whom all infamies must light,
Was hist to death with words of woman's spight.


Small gnats enforst th' Egyptian king to stoupe,
Yet they in swarmes, and arm'd with pearcing stings;
Smart, noyse, annoyance, made his courage droupe;
No small incombrance such small vermine brings:
I quaild at words that neither bit nor stung,
And those deliuered from a woman's tongue.


Ah, Feare! abortiue impe of drouping mind;
Selfe-ouerthrow, false friend, roote of remorse:
Sighted, in seeing euils; in shunning blind:
Foil'd without field, by fancie not by force;
Ague of valour; phrensie of the wise;
True honour's staine; loue's frost, the mint of lies.


Can vertue, wisdome, strength, by women spild
In Dauid's, Salomon's, and Samson's falls,
With semblance of excuse my errour gild,
Or lend a marble glosse to muddy walls?
O no! their fault had shew of some pretence:
No veyle can hide the shame of my offence.


The blaze of beautie's beames allur'd their lookes;
Their lookes, by seeing oft, conceiued loue;
Loue, by affecting, swallowed pleasure's hookes;
Thus beautie, loue, and pleasure them did moue.
These Syrens' sugred tunes rockt them asleepe:
Enough to damne, yet not to damne so deepe.


But gracious features dazled not mine eyes;
Two homely droyles were authors of my death;
Not loue, but feare, my senses did surprize:
Not feare of force, but feare of woman's breath;
And those vnarm'd, ill grac't, despis'd, vnknowne:
So base a blast my truth hath ouerthrowne.


O women! woe to men; traps for their falls;
Still actors in all tragicall mischances;
Earth's necessarie euils, captiuing thralls,
Now murdring with your toungs, now with your glances;
Parents of life, and loue, spoylers of both,
The theeues of harts; false do you loue or loth.


In time, O Lord! Thine eyes with mine did meete,
In them I read the ruines of my fall;
Their chearing rayes, that made misfortune sweet,
Into my guiltie thoughts pourd floods of gall:
Their heauenly looks, that blest where they beheld,
Darts of disdaine and angrie checks did yeeld.


O sacred eyes! the springs of liuing light,
The earthly heauens where angels ioy to dwell,
How could you deigne to view my deathfull plight,
Or let your heauenly beames look on my hell?
But those vnspotted eyes encountred mine,
As spotlesse sunne doth on the dunghil shine.


Sweet volumes, stoard with learning fit for saints,
Where blissfull quires imparadize their minds;
Wherein eternall studie neuer faints,
Still finding all, yet seeking all it finds:
How endlesse is your labyrinth of blisse,
Where to be lost the sweetest finding is!


Ah wretch! how oft haue I sweet lessons read
In those deare eyes, the registers of truth!
How oft haue I my hungrie wishes fed,
And in their happy ioyes redrest my ruth!
Ah! that they now are heralds of disdaine,
That erst were euer pittiers of my paine!


You flames diuine, that sparkle out your heats,
And kindle pleasing fires in mortall harts;
You nectar'd aumbryes of soule-feeding meates;
You gracefull quiuers of loue's dearest darts;
You did vouchsafe to warme, to wound, to feast,
My cold, my stony, my now famisht breast.


The matchlesse eyes, matcht onely each by other,
Were pleas'd on my ill matched eyes to glaunce;
The eye of liquid pearle, the purest mother,
Broach't teares in mine to weepe for my mischance;
The cabinets of grace vnlockt their treasure,
And did to my misdeed their mercies measure.


These blazing comets, light'ning flames of loue,
Made me their warming influence to knowe;
My frozen hart their sacred force did proue,
Which at their looks did yeeld like melting snowe:
They did not ioyes in former plentie carue,
Yet sweet are crums where pined thoughts doe starue.


O liuing mirrours! seeing Whom you shew,
Which equal shadows worths with shadowed things,
Yea, make things nobler then in natiue hew,
By being shap't in those life-giuing springs;
Much more my image in those eyes was grac't,
Then in myselfe, whom sinne and shame defac't.


All-seeing eyes, more worth then all you see,
Of which one is the other's onely price;
I worthlesse am, direct your beames on mee,
With quickning vertue cure my killing vice.
By seeing things, you make things worth the sight,
You seeing, salue, and being seene, delight!


O pooles of Hesebon; the baths of grace,
Where happie spirits diue in sweet desires,
Where saints reioyce to glasse their glorious face,
Whose banks make eccho to the angels' quires;
An eccho sweeter in the sole rebound,
Then angels' musick in the fullest sound!


O eyes! whose glaunces are a silent speach,
In cipherd words high mysteries disclosing;
Which, with a looke, all sciences can teach,
Whose textes to faithfull harts need little glosing;
Witnesse vnworthie I, who in a looke
Learn'd more by rote, then all the Scribes by book.


Though malice still possest their hardned minds,
I, though too hard, learn'd softnes in Thine eye,
Which yron knots of stubborne will vnbinds,
Offring them loue, that loue with loue wil buy.
This did I learne, yet they could not discerne it;
But woe, that I had now such neede to learne it!


O sunnes! all but yourselues in light excelling,
Whose presence, day, whose absence causeth night;
Whose neighbour-course brings Sommer, cold expelling,
Whose distant periods freeze away delight.
Ah! that I lost your bright and fostring beames,
To plung my soule in these congealed streames!


O gratious spheres! where loue the center is,
A natiue place for our selfe-loaden soules;
The compasse, loue, — a cope that none can mis,
The motion, loue, — that round about vs rowles:
O spheres of loue, whose center, cope, and motion,
Is loue of us, loue that inuites deuotion!


O little worlds! the summes of all the best,
Where glorie, heauen; God, sunne; all vertues, stars;
Where fire, — a loue that next to heauen doth rest;
Ayre, — light of life that no distemper marres;
The water, — grace, whose seas, whose springs, whose showers,
Cloth Nature's earth with euerlasting flowers.


What mixtures these sweet elements do yeeld,
Let happie worldlings of these worlds expound;
Best simples are by compounds farre exceld,
Both sute a place where all best things abound;
And if a banisht wretch ghesse not amisse,
All but one compound frame of perfect blisse!


I, out-cast from these worlds, exiled rome;
Poore saint, from heauen, from fire, cold salamander,
Lost fish, from those sweet waters' kindly home,
From land of life stray'd pilgrim still I wander.
I know the cause: these worlds had neuer hell,
In which my faults haue best deseru'd to dwell.


O Bethelem-cesterns! Dauid's most desire,
From which my sinnes like fierce Philistims keep;
To fetch your drops what champion should I hire,
That I therein my withered hart may steepe?
I would not shed them like that holy king:
His were but types, these are the figured thing.


O turtle-twins! all bath'd in virgins milke,
Vpon the margin of full-flowing banks,
Whose gracefull plume surmounts the finest silke,
Whose sight enamoureth heauen's most happy ranks:
Could I forsweare this heauenly payre of doues,
That cag'd in care, for me were groning loues!


Twise Moses' wand did strike the stubborne rock,
Ere stony veynes would yeeld their crystall blood;
Thine eyes' one looke seru'd as an onely knocke,
To make my hart gush out a weeping flood;
Wherein my sinnes, as fishes, spawne their frie,
To shew their inward shames, and then to die.


But O how long demurre I on His eyes!
Whose look did pearce my hart with healing wound,
Launcing imposthumd sore of periur'd lyes,
Which these two issues of mine eyes have found;
Where runne it must, till death the issues stop,
And penall life hath purg'd the finall drop.


Like solest swan, that swims in silent deepe,
And neuer sings but obsequies of death;
Sigh out thy plaints, and sole in secret weepe,
In suing pardon, spend thy periur'd breath;
Attire thy soul in sorrowe's mourning weede,
And at thine eyes let guiltie conscience bleede.


'Still in the limbecke of thy dolefull brest
These bitter fruits that from thy sinnes doe grow;
For fuell, selfe-accusing thoughts be best;
Vse feare as fire, the coals let penance blow;
And seeke none other quintessence but teares,
That eyes may shed what entred at thine eares.


Come sorrowing teares, the ofspring of my griefe,
Scant not your parent of a needfull ayde;
In you I rest the hope of wisht reliefe,
By you my sinnefull debts must be defrayd:
Your power preuailes, your sacrifice is gratefull,
By loue obtaining life to men most hatefull.


Come good effects of ill-deseruing cause,
Ill-gotten impes, yet vertuously brought forth;
Selfe-blaming probates of infringed lawes,
Yet blamed faults redeeming with your worth;
The signes of shame in you each eye may read,
Yet, while you guiltie proue, you pittie plead.


O beames of mercie! beate on sorrowe's clowd,
Poure suppling showres vpon my parched ground;
Bring forth the fruite to your due seruice vowde,
Let good desires with like deserts be crownd:
Water young blooming Vertue's tender flower,
Sinne did all grace of riper growth deuoure.


Weepe balme and myrrhe, you sweet Arabian trees,
With purest gummes perfume and pearle your ryne;
Shed on your honey-drops, you busie bees;
I, barraine plant, must weepe vnpleasant bryne,
Hornets I hyue, salt drops their labour plyes,
Suckt out of sinne, and shed by showring eyes.


If Dauid, night by night, did bathe his bed,
Esteeming longest dayes too short to mone;
Inconsolable teares if Anna shed,
Who in her sonne her solace had forgone;
Then I to dayes and weekes, to monthes and yeeres,
Do owe the hourely rent of stintless teares.


If loue, if losse, if fault, if spotted fame,
If danger, death, if wrath, or wreck of weale,
Entitle eyes true heyres to earned blame,
That due remorse in such euents conceale
Then want of teares might well enroll my name,
As chiefest saint in calender of shame.


Loue, where I lou'd, was due, and best deseru'd;
No loue could ayme at more loue-worthy marke;
No loue more lou'd then mine of Him I seru'd;
Large vse He gaue, a flame for euerie sparke.
This loue I lost, this losse a life must rue;
Yea, life is short to pay the ruth is due.


I lost all that I had, who had the most,
The most that will can wish, or wit deuise:
I least perform'd, that did most vainely boast,
I staynd my fame in most infamous wise.
What danger then, death, wrath, or wreck can moue
More pregnant cause of teares then this I proue?


If Adam sought a veyle to scarfe his sinne,
Taught by his fall to feare a scourging hand;
If men shall wish that hils should wrap them in,
When crimes in finall doome come to be scand;
What mount, what caue, what center can conceale
My monstrous fact, which euen the birds reueale?


Come shame, the liuerie of offending minde,
The vgly shroude that ouershadoweth blame;
The mulct at which foule faults are iustly fin'd;
The dampe of sinne, the common sluce of fame,
By which imposthum'd tongues their humours purge;
Light shame on me, I best deserue the scourge.


Caine's murdering hand imbrude in brother's blood,
More mercy then my impious tongue may craue;
He kild a riuall with pretence of good,
In hope God's doubled loue alone to haue.
But feare so spoyld my vanquisht thoughts of loue,
That periurde oathes my spightfull hate did proue.


Poore Agar from her pheere enforc't to flye,
Wandring in Bersabeian wildes alone,
Doubting her child throgh helples drought would die,
Layd it aloofe, and set her downe to moane:
The heauens with prayers, her lap with teares she fild;
A mother's loue in losse is hardly stild.


But Agar, now bequeath thy teares to me;
Feares, not effects, did set afloate thine eyes.
But, wretch, I feele more then was feard of thee;
Ah! not my sonne, my soule it is that dyes.
It dyes for drought, yet hath a spring in sight:
Worthie to die, that would not liue, and might.


Faire Absalon's foule faults, compar'd with mine,
Are brightest sands to mud of Sodome Lakes;
High aymes, yong spirits, birth of royall line,
Made him play false where kingdoms were the stakes:
He gaz'd on golden hopes, whose lustre winnes,
Sometime the grauest wits to greeuous sinnes.


But I, whose crime cuts off the least excuse,
A kingdome lost, but hop't no mite of gaine;
My highest marke was but the worthlesse vse
Of some few lingring howres of longer paine.
Vngratefull child, his parent he pursude,
I, gyants' warre with God Himselfe renude.


Ioy, infant saints, whom in the tender flower
A happie storm did free from feare of sinne!
Long is their life that die in blisfull hower;
Ioyfull such ends as endlesse ioyes begin:
Too long they liue that liue till they be nought:
Life sau'd by sinne, base purchase dearely bought!


This lot was mine; your fate was not so fearce,
Whom spotlesse death in cradle rockt asleepe;
Sweet roses, mixt with lilies, strow'd your hearce,
Death virgin-white in martyrs' red did steepe;
Your downy heads, both pearles and rubies crownd
My hoarie locks, did female feares confound.


You bleating ewes, — that wayle this woluish spoyle
Of sucking lambs new-bought with bitter throwes, —
T' inbalme your babes your eyes distill their oyle,
Each hart to tombe her child wide rupture showes:
Rue not their death, whom death did but reuiue,
Yeeld ruth to me that liu'd to die aliue.


With easie losse sharpe wrecks did he eschew,
That sindonlesse aside did naked slip:
Once naked grace no outward garment knew;
Riche are his robes whom sinne did neuer strip.
I, that in vaunts, displaid Pride's fayrest flags,
Disrob'd of grace, am wrapp'd in Adam's rags.


When, traytor to the Sonne in mother's eyes
I shall present my humble sute for grace,
What blush can paint the shame that will arise,
Or write my inward feelings on my face?
Might she the sorrow with the sinner see,
Though I despisde, my griefe might pittied bee!


But ah! how can her eares my speech endure,
Or sent my breath, still reeking hellish steeme?
Can Mother like what did the Sonne abiure,
Or hart deflowr'd a virgin's love redeeme?
The mother nothing loues that Sonne doth loath:
Ah, lothsome wretch! detested of them both.


O sister nymphes, the sweet renowned payre,
That blesse Bethania bounds, with your aboade!
Shall I infect that sanctified ayre,
Or staine those steps where Iesus breath'd and trode?
No; let your prayers perfume that sweetned place;
Turne me with tygers to the wildest chase.


Could I reuiued Lazarus behold,
The third of that sweet trinitie of saints,
Would not astonisht dread my senses hold?
Ah yes! my hart euen with his naming, faints:
I seeme to see a messenger from hell,
That my prepared torments comes to tell.


O John! O James! wee made a triple cord
Of three most louing and best loued friends;
My rotten twist was broken with a word,
Fit now to fuell fire among the fiends.
It is not euer true though often spoken,
That triple-twisted cord is hardly broken.


The dispossessed devils, that out I threw
In Jesvs' name, — now impiously forsworne, —
Triumph to see me caged in their mew,
Trampling my ruines with contempt and scorne:
My periuries were musick to their daunce,
And now they heape disdaines on my mischaunce.


Our rocke (say they) is riuen; O welcome howre!
Our eagle's wings are clipt that wrought so hie; raught
Our thundring cloude made noyse, but cast no showre:
He prostrate lyes that would haue scal'd the skie;
In woman's tongue our runner found a rub,
Our cedar now is shrunke into a shrub.


These scornefull words vpbraid my inward thought,
Proofes of their damned prompters' neighbour-voice:
Such vgly guests still wait vpon the nought:
Fiends swarm to soules that swarue from Vertue's choise:
For breach of plighted truth this true I trie;
Ah, that my deed thus gaue my word the lie!


Once, and but once, too deare a once to twice it!
A heauen in earth, saints neere myselfe I saw:
Sweet was the sight, but sweeter loues did spice it,
But sights and loues did my misdeed withdraw.
From heauen and saints, to hell and deuils estrang'd,
Those sights to frights, those loues to hates are chang'd.


Christ, as my God, was templed in my thought,
As man, He lent mine eyes their dearest light;
But sinne His temple hath to ruine brought,
And now He lighteneth terrour from His sight.
Now of my lay vnconsecrate desires,
Profaned wretch! I taste the earnest hires.


Ah, sinne! the nothing that doth all things file, defile
Outcast from heauen, Earth's curse, the cause of hell;
Parent of death, author of our exile,
The wrecke of soules, the wares that fiends doe sell;
That men to monsters, angels turnes to deuils,
Wrong of all rights, self-ruine, roote of euils.


A thing most done, yet more then God can doe;
Daily new done, yet euer done amisse;
Friended of all, yet unto all a foe;
Seeming a heauen, yet banishing from blisse;
Serued with toyl, yet paying nought but paine,
Man's deepest losse, though false-esteemed gaine.


Shot, without noyse; wound, without present smart;
First, seeming light, prouing in fine a lode;
Entring with ease, not easily wonne to part,
Far, in effects from that the showes abode;
Endorct with hope, subscribed with despaire,
Vgly in death, though life did faine it faire.


O, forfeiture of heauen! eternall debt,
A moment's ioy ending in endlesse fires;
Our nature's scum, the world's entangling net,
Night of our thoughts, death of all good desires:
Worse then al this, worse then all tongues can say;
Which man could owe, but onely God defray.


This fawning viper, dum till he had wounded,
With many mouthes doth now vpbraid my harmes;
My sight was vaild till I myselfe confounded,
Then did I see the disinchanted charmes:
Then could I cut th' anatomie of sinne,
And search with linxes' eyes what lay within.


Bewitching euill, that hides death in deceits,
Still borrowing lying shapes to maske thy face,
Now know I the deciphring of thy sleights;
A cunning, dearely bought with losse of grace:
Thy sugred poyson now hath wrought so well,
That thou hast made me to myselfe a hell.


My eye, reades mournfull lessons to my hart,
My hart, doth to my thought the greefes expound;
My thought, the same doth to my tongue impart,
My tongue, the message in the eares doth sound;
My eares, back to my hart their sorrowes send;
Thus circling griefes runne round without an end.


My guiltie eye still seemes to see my sinne,
All things characters are to spell my fall;
What eye doth read without, hart rues within,
What hart doth rue, to pensiue thought is gall,
Which when the thought would by the tongue digest,
The eare conueyes it backe into the brest.


Thus gripes in all my parts doe neuer fayle,
Whose onely league is now in bartring paines;
What I ingrosse they traffique by retayle,
Making each others' miseries their gaines:
All bound for euer prentices to care,
Whilst I in shop of shame trade sorrowe's ware.


Pleasd with displeasing lot, I seek no change;
I wealthiest am when richest in remorse;
To fetch my ware no seas nor lands I range;
For customers to buy I nothing force:
My home-bred goods at home are bought and sold,
And still in me my interest I hold.


My comfort now is comfortlesse to liue
In orphan state, deuoted to mishap:
Rent from the roote that sweetest fruite did giue,
I scorn'd to graffe in stock of meaner sap;
No iuyce can ioy me but of Iesse flower,
Whose heavenly roote hath true reuiuing power.


At Sorrowe's dore I knockt: they crau'd my name:
I aunswered, one unworthy to be knowne:
What one? say they. One worthiest of blame.
But who? A wretch, not God's, nor yet his owne.
A man? O no! a beast; much worse: what creature?
A rocke: how call'd? The rocke of scandale, Peter! there?


From whence? From Caiaphas' house. Ah! dwell you
Sinne's farme I rented there, but now would leaue it.
What rent? My soule. What gaine? Vnrest, and feare.
Deare purchase! Ah, too dear! will you receiue it?
What shall we giue? Fit teares and times to plaine mee:
Come in, say they: Thus Griefes did entertaine me.


With them I rest true prisoner in their Iayle,
Chayn'd in the yron linkes of basest thrall;
Till Grace, vouchsafing captiue soule to bayle,
In wonted See degraded loues enstall.
Dayes pass in plaints, the night without repose;
I wake to weepe, I sleepe in waking-woes.


Sleepe, Death's allye, obliuion of teares,
Silence of passions, balme of angry sore,
Suspence of loues, securitie of feares,
Wrath's lenitue, heart's ease, storme's calmest shore;
Senses' and soules' reprieuall from all cumbers,
Benumning sense of ill, with quiet slumbers!


Not such my sleepe, but whisperer of dreames,
Creating strange chymeras, fayning frights;
Of day-discourses giuing fansie theames,
To make dum-shewes with worlds of anticke sights;
Casting true griefes in fansie's forging mold,
Brokenly telling tales rightly foretold.


This sleepe most fitly suteth Sorrowe's bed,
Sorrow, the smart of euill, Sinne's eldest child;
Best, when vnkind in killing who it bred;
A racke for guiltie thoughts, a bit for wild;
The scourge that whips, the salue that cures offence:
Sorrow, my bed and home, while life hath sense.


Here solitarie Muses nurse my griefes,
In silent lonenesse burying worldly noyse;
Attentiue to rebukes, deafe to reliefes,
Pensiue to foster cares, carelesse of ioyes;
Ruing life's losse, vnder death's dreary roofes
Solemnizing my funerall behoofes.


A selfe-contempt the shroude, my soule the corse,
The beere, an humble hope, the herse-cloth, feare;
The mourners, thoughts, in blacks of deepe remorse,
The herse, grace, pitie, loue and mercie beare:
My teares, my dole, the priest, a zealous will,
Penance, the tombe, and dolefull sighes the knill.


Christ! health of feuer'd soule, heauen of the mind,
Force of the feeble, nurse of infant loues,
Guide to the wandring foote, light to the blind,
Whom weeping winnes, repentant sorrow moues;
Father in care, mother in tender hart,
Reuiue and saue me, slaine with sinnefull dart!


If King Manasses, sunke in depth of sinne,
With plaints and teares recouered grace and crowne:
A worthless worme some mild regard may winne,
And lowly creepe, where flying threw it downe.
A poore desire I haue to mend my ill,
I should, I would, I dare not say, I will.


I dare not say, I will, but wish I may;
My pride is checkt, high words the speaker spilt.
My good, O Lord, Thy gift, Thy strength my stay!
Give what Thou bidst, and then bid what Thou wilt.
Worke with me what Thou of me doos't request,
Then will I dare the most and vow the best.


Prone looke, crost armes, bent knee and contrite hart,
Deepe sighs, thick sobs, dew'd eyes and prostrate prayers,
Most humbly beg release of earned smart,
And sauing shroud in Mercie's sweet repaires.
If iustice should my wrongs with rigor wage,
Feares would despaires, ruth, breed a hopelesse rage.


Lazar at Pitie's gate I vlcer'd lye,
Crauing the reffuse crums of childrens' plate;
My sores I lay in view to Mercie's eye,
My rags beares witnes of my poore estate:
The wormes of conscience that within me swarme,
Proue that my plaints are lesse then is my harme.


With mildnes, Iesu, measure mine offence;
Let true remorse Thy due reuenge abate;
Let teares appease when trespasse doth incense;
Let pittie temper Thy deserued hate;
Let grace forgiue, let loue forget my fall:
With feare I craue, with hope I humblie call.


Redeeme my lapse with raunsome of Thy loue,
Trauerse th' inditement, rigor's doome suspend;
Let frailtie fauour, sorrowes succour moue,
Be Thou Thyselfe, though changeling I offend.
Tender my sute, cleanse this defiled denne,
Cancell my debts, sweet Iesu, say Amen!
The ende of Saint Peter's Complaint
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