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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)

A Dialogue between the Resolved Soul and Created Pleasure

    COURAGE, 1 my soul! now learn to wield
    The weight of thine immortal shield;
    Close on thy head thy helmet bright;
    Balance thy sword against the fight;
    See where an army, strong as fair,        5
    With silken banner spreads the air!
    Now, if thou be’st that thing divine,
    In this day’s combat let it shine,
    And show that nature wants an art
    To conquer one resolvèd heart.        10
Pleasure.  Welcome the creation’s guest,
    Lord of earth, and heaven’s heir!
    Lay aside that warlike crest,
    And of Nature’s banquet share;
    Where the souls of fruits and flowers        15
    Stand prepared to heighten yours.
Soul.  I sup above, and cannot stay
    To bait so long upon the way.
Pleasure.  On these downy pillows lie,
    Whose soft plumes will thither fly:        20
    On these roses, strewed so plain
    Lest one leaf thy side should strain.
Soul.  My gentler rest is on a thought,
    Conscious of doing what I ought.
Pleasure.  If thou be’st with perfumes pleased,        25
    Such as oft the gods appeased,
    Thou in fragrant clouds shalt show,
    Like another god below.
Soul.  A soul that knows not to presume,
    Is heaven’s, and its own, perfume.        30
Pleasure.  Everything does seem to vie
    Which should first attract thine eye:
    But since none deserves that grace,
    In this crystal view thy face.
Soul.  When the Creator’s skill is prized,        35
    The rest is all but earth disguised.
Pleasure.  Hark, how music then prepares
    For thy stay these charming airs,
    Which the posting winds recall,
    And suspend the river’s fall.        40
Soul.  Had I but any time to lose,
    On this I would it all dispose.
    Cease, tempter! None can chain a mind,
    Whom this sweet cordage cannot bind.
Chorus.  Earth cannot show so brave a sight,        45
      As when a single soul does fence
      The batteries of alluring sense,
    And heaven views it with delight.
      Then persevere; for still new charges sound,
      And if thou overcom’st thou shalt be crowned.        50
Pleasure.  All that’s costly, fair, and sweet,
      Which scatteringly doth shine,
    Shall within one beauty meet,
      And she be only thine.
Soul.  If things of sight such heavens be,        55
    What heavens are those we cannot see?
Pleasure.  Wheresoe’er thy foot shall go
      The minted gold shall lie,
    Till thou purchase all below,
      And want new worlds to buy.        60
Soul.  Wer’t not for price, who’d value gold?
    And that’s worth naught that can be sold.
Pleasure.  Wilt thou all the glory have
      That war or peace commend?
    Half the world shall be thy slave,        65
      The other half thy friend.
Soul.  What friend, if to myself untrue?
    What slaves, unless I captive you?
Pleasure.  Thou shalt know each hidden cause,
      And see the future time;        70
    Try what depth the centre draws,
      And then to heaven climb.
Soul.  None thither mounts by the degree
    Of knowledge, but humility.
Chorus.  Triumph, triumph, victorious soul!        75
      The world has not one pleasure more:
    The rest does lie beyond the pole,
      And is thine everlasting store.
Note 1. Andrew Marvell is one of the few English poets whose style can be called exquisite. Lamb speaks of his “witty delicacy.” The period of his poetical production, exclusive of the satires, was the two years (1650–52) he spent at Nun Appleton as tutor to the daughter of Lord Fairfax. By him he was introduced to Milton, and became assistant Latin secretary, and subsequently M.P. for Hull. At the Restoration he was able to protect Milton. [back]