Tuesday, September 08, 2009

But a Counter to My Coin

A Divine Rapture
by Francis Quarles

E’en like two little bank-dividing brooks,
That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,
And having ranged and search’d a thousand nooks,
Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,
Where in a greater current they conjoin:
So I my Best-belovèd’s am; so He is mine.

E’en so we met; and after long pursuit,
E’en so we joined; we both became entire;
No need for either to renew a suit,
For I was flax, and He was flames of fire:
Our firm-united souls did more than twine;
So I my Best-belovèd’s am; so He is mine.

If all those glittering Monarchs, that command
The servile quarters of this earthly ball,
Should tender in exchange their shares of land,
I would not change my fortunes for them all:
Their wealth is but a counter to my coin:
The world ’s but theirs; but my Belovèd’s mine.


You don't see much about Francis Quarles; he was extraordinarily well-known in the first part of the seventeenth century, but, unlike most of the other major metaphysical poets, there has never quite been a significant revival of interest in him. I think that's bound to change someday. His poetic craftsmanship is often excellent, and his conceits are often more striking than even Donne's. If he has a weakness, it is that he can be gushy; but not everybody minds gushy.

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