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The Labyrinth

Henry King 1592 (Worminghall, Buckinghamshire) – 1669 (Chichester)



Life is a crooked Labyrinth, and we
Are daily lost in that Obliquity.
'Tis a perplexed circle, in whose round
Nothing but sorrows and new sins abound.
How is the faint impression of each good
Drown'd in the vicious Channel of our blood?
Whose Ebbes and tides by their vicissitude
Both our great Maker and our selves delude.
O wherefore is the most discerning eye
Unapt to make its own discovery?
Why is the clearest and best judging mind
In her own ills prevention dark and blind?
Dull to advise, to act precipitate,
We scarce think what to do but when too late.
Or if we think, that fluid thought, like seed
Rots there to propagate some fouler deed.
Still we repent and sin, sin and repent;
We thaw and freeze, we harden and relent.
Those fires which cool'd to day the morrows heat
Rekindles. Thus frail nature does repeat
What she unlearnt, and still by learning on
Perfects her lesson of confusion.
Sick soul! what cure shall I for thee devise,
Whose leprous state corrupts all remedies?
What medicine or what cordial can be got
For thee, who poyson'st thy best antidot?
Repentance is thy bane, since thou by it
Onely reviv'st the fault thou didst commit.
Nor griev'st thou for the past, but art in pain
For fear thou mayst not act it o're again.
So that thy tears, like water spilt on lime,
Serve not to quench, but to advance the crime.
My blessed Saviour! unto thee I flie
For help against this homebred tyrannie.
Thou canst true sorrows in my soul imprint,
And draw contrition from a breast of flint.
Thou canst reverse this labyrinth of sin
My wild affects and actions wander in.
O guide my faith! and by thy graces clew
Teach me to hunt that kingdom at the view
Where true joyes reign, which like their day shall last;
Those never clouded, nor that overcast.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Henry King

Henry King was an English poet who served as Bishop of Chichester. more…

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