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

By Francis Quarles (1592–1644)

The Loadstone

LIKE 1 to the arctic needle, that doth guide
  The wand’ring shade by his magnetic pow’r,
And leaves his silken gnomon to decide
  The question of the controverted hour,
First frantics up and down from side to side,        5
    And restless beats his crystal’d iv’ry case,
    With vain impatience jets from place to place,
And seeks the bosom of his frozen bride;
    At length he slacks his motion, and doth rest
His trembling point at his bright pole’s beloved breast:        10
E’en so my soul, being hurried here and there,
  By ev’ry object that presents delight,
Fain would be settled, but she knows not where;
  She likes at morning what she loathes at night:
She bows to honour; then she lends an ear        15
    To that sweet swan-like voice of dying pleasure;
    Then tumbles in the scatter’d heaps of treasure;
Now flatter’d with false hope; now foil’d with fear;
    Thus finding all the world’s delight to be
But empty toys, good God, she points alone to Thee.        20
But hath the virtued steel a power to move?
  Or can the untouched needle point aright?
Or can my wand’ring thoughts forbear to rove,
  Unguided by the virtue of Thy Sp’rit?
O hath my leaden soul the art t’ improve        25
    Her wasted talent, and unrais’d, aspire
    In this sad moulting time of her desire?
Not first belov’d, have I the power to love?
    I cannot stir, but as Thou please to move me,
Nor can my heart return Thee love, until Thou love me.        30
The still commandress of the silent night
  Borrows her beams from her bright brother’s eye;
His fair aspect fills her sharp horns with light;
  If he withdraw, her flames are quench’d and die:
E’en so the beams of Thy enlight’ning Sp’rit,        35
    Infus’d and shot into my dark desire,
    Inflame my thoughts, and fill my soul with fire,
That I am ravish’d with a new delight;
    But if Thou shroud Thy face, my glory fades,
And I remain a nothing, all composed of shades.        40
Eternal God! O Thou that only art
  The sacred fountain of eternal light,
And blessed loadstone of my better part,
  O Thou, my heart’s desire, my soul’s delight!
Reflect upon my soul, and touch my heart,        45
    And then my heart shall prize no good above Thee
    And then my soul shall know Thee; knowing, love Thee;
And then my trembling thoughts shall never start
    From Thy commands, or swerve the least degree,
Or once presume to move, but as they move in Thee.        50
Note 1. The dial here described is plainly a pocket instrument, furnished with a compass by which to set the gnomon. [back]