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Affliction

From Herbert.

When first Thou didst entice my heart

To Thee, I thought the service brave;

So many joys I for my part

Set down; besides what I might have

Out of my stock of natural delights,

Augmented by Thy gracious benefits.

I view’d Thy furniture so fine,

So gay, so rich; and all for me!

Strongly it spoke the hand Divine,

And lured my ravish’d soul to Thee.

Such stars I counted mine: both Heaven and Earth

Paid me my wages in a world of mirth.

What pleasures could I want who served

A King, where joys my fellows were?

Still my fond hopes no place reserved

For pining grief, or anxious fear:

Thus did my simple soul Thy yoke embrace,

And made her youth and fierceness seek Thy face.

At first Thou gav’st me sweetnesses,

And strew’dst with flowers the narrow way:

Smoothly my soul sunk down to peace,

My every joyous month was May.

But with my years sorrow did twist and grow,

And made a party unawares for woe.

My flesh chastised with torturing pain

My soul, and sickness clave my bones;

Pale agues dwelt in every vein,

And sadly tuned my breath to groans.

Sorrow was all my soul; I scarce perceived,

But by the pains I suffer’d, that I lived.

Health’s slowly-lingering, vain return

A far severer loss attends;

Sudden my ravish’d life I mourn,

I lose it in my dying friends.

Defenceless now, my every comfort fled,

While grief’s whole sea is emptied on my head.

How Thou wilt now Thy servant use,

Not one of all my books can say.

On Thy ignobler works I muse,

And wish like them my God to obey:

Blest, could I emulate the lifeless mass,

Flow like the stream, or flourish like the grass.

Yet must I, though oppress’d, submit

Strongly my misery to sustain;

Or I will now the service quit,

And straight some other master gain.

Ah! my dear Lord, though I am clean forgot,

Let me not love Thee, if I love Thee not!


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