Friday, August 08, 2014


Comfort in the Midst of Sorrow

George Wither (1588-1667), The Shepheards Hunting: Being, Certaine Eglogues written during the time of the Authors Imprisonment in the Marshalsey (London: Printed by W. White for George Norton, 1615), unpaginated, "The fourth Eglogue," lines 359-396 ("She" is his Muse):
She doth tell me where to borrow
Comfort in the midst of sorrow;        360
Makes the desolatest place
To her presence be a grace;
And the blackest discontents
To be pleasing ornaments.
In my former dayes of blisse,        365
Her diuine skill taught me this,
That from euery thing I saw,
I could some inuention draw;
And raise pleasure to her height,
Through the meanest objects sight,        370
By the murmure of a spring,
Or the least boughs rusteling.
By a Dazie whose leaves spred,
Shut when Tytan goes to bed;
Or a shady bush or tree,        375
Shee could more infuse in mee,
Then all Natures beauties can,
In some other wiser man.
By her helpe I also now,
Make this churlish place allow        380
Somthings that may sweeten gladnes
In the very gall of sadnes,
The dull loaneness, the blacke shade,
That these hanging vaults haue made;
The strange Musicke of the waues,        385
Beating on these hollow Caues,
This blacke Den which Rocks embosse
Ouer-growne with eldest Mosse.
The rude Portals that giue light,
More to Terrour then Delight.        390
This my Chamber of Neglect,
Wal'd about with Disrespect,
From all these, and this dull ayre,
A fit object for Despaire;
Shee hath taught me, by her might,        395
To draw comfort and delight.
I changed His in line 366 to Her.

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