Robert Southwell

Man's Civil War

Robert Southwell, also Saint Robert Southwell, was an English Roman Catholic priest of the Jesuit Order. He was also a poet and clandestine missionary in post-Reformation England. After being arrested and tortured by Sir Richard Topcliffe, Southwell was tried and convicted of high treason for his l…






MY hovering thoughts would fly to heaven
  And quiet nestle in the sky,
Fain would my ship in Virtue's shore
  Without remove at anchor lie.

But mounting thoughts are haled down
  With heavy poise of mortal load,
And blustring storms deny my ship
  In Virtue's haven secure abode.

When inward eye to heavenly sights
  Doth draw my longing heart's desire,
The world with jesses of delights
  Would to her perch my thoughts retire,

Fon Fancy trains to Pleasure's lure,
  Though Reason stiffly do repine;
Though Wisdom woo me to the saint,
  Yet Sense would win me to the shrine.

Where Reason loathes, there Fancy loves,
  And overrules the captive will;
Foes senses are to Virtue's lore,
  They draw the wit their wish to fill.

Need craves consent of soul to sense,
  Yet divers bents breed civil fray ;
Hard hap where halves must disagree,
  Or truce halves the whole betray !

O cruel fight ! where fighting friend
  With love doth kill a favoring foe,
Where peace with sense is war with God,
  And self-delight the seed of woe !

Dame Pleasure's drugs are steeped in sin,
  Their sugared taste doth breed annoy ;
O fickle sense ! beware her gin,
  Sell not thy soul to brittle joy !

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