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

By John Norris (1657–1711)

The Aspiration

    HOW 1 long, great God, how long must I
    Immured in this dark prison lie;
Where at the grates and avenues of sense,
My soul must watch to have intelligence;
Where but faint gleams of Thee salute my sight,        5
Like doubtful moonshine in a cloudy night;
    When shall I leave this magic sphere,
    And be all mind, all eye, all ear?
    How cold this clime! And yet my sense
    Perceives e’en here Thy influence.        10
E’en here Thy strong magnetic charms I feel,
And pant and tremble like the amorous steel.
To lower good, and beauties less divine,
Sometimes my erroneous needle does incline;
    But yet, so strong the sympathy,        15
    It turns and points again to Thee.
    I long to see this excellence
    Which at such distance strikes my sense.
My impatient soul struggles to disengage
Her wings from the confinement of her cage.        20
Would’st Thou, great Love, this prisoner once set free,
How would she hasten to be link’d to Thee!
    She’d for no angel’s conduct stay,
    But fly, and love on all the way.
Note 1. The Rev. John Norris was rector of Bemerton, Herbert’s parish, for twenty years (1691–1711); it was, however, before going there that he published his “Poems” (1684), which are far removed from Herbert’s inspiration, though they occasionally suggest his manner. The thought is usually virile, but the attitudinising expression often rises no higher than Christopher Harvey’s lucubrations in “The Synagogue,” which are bound up with too many copies of “The Temple.” There is great dignity in one piece on “The Passion of the Virgin Mother,” which opens—
    “Nigh to the fatal and yet sovereign wood.”