Death As Birth

The first life, in the mother’s womb is spent,
Where she her nursing power doth only use;
Where, when she finds defect of nourishment,
She expels her body, and this world she views.

This we call Birth; but if the child could speak,
He Death would call it; and of Nature plain,
That she would thrust him out naked and weak,
And in his passage pinch him with such pain.

Yet, out he comes, and in this world is placed
Where all his Senses in perfection bee:
Where he finds flowers to smell, and fruits to taste;
And sounds to hear, and sundry forms to see.

When he hath past some time upon this stage,
His Reason then a little seems to wake;
Which, though the spring, when sense doth fade with age,
Yet can she here no perfect practise make.

Then doth th’aspiring Soul the body leave,
Which we call Death; but were it known to all,
What life our souls do by this death receive,
Men would it birth or gaol delivery call.

In this third life, Reason will be so bright,
As that her spark will like the sun-beams shine,
And shall of God enioy the real sight.
Being still increased by influence divine.


O ignorant poor man! what dost thou bear
Locked up within the casket of thy breast?
What jewels, and what riches hast thou there!
What heavenly treasure in so weak a chest!

Look in thy soul, and thou shalt beauties find,
Like those which drowned Narcissus in the flood:
Honour and Pleasure both are in thy mind,
And all that in the world is counted Good.

And when thou think’st of her eternity,
Think not that Death against her nature is;
Think it a birth: and when thou goest to die,
Sing like a swan, as if thou went’st to bliss.

Death As Birth by John Davies

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The Light Which Makes The Light Which Makes The Day

That Power which gave me eyes the World to view,
To see my self infused an inward light,
Whereby my soul, as by a mirror true,
Of her own form may take a perfect sight,

But as the sharpest eye discerneth nought,
Except the sun-beams in the air doe shine:
So the best soul with her reflecting thought,
Sees not her self without some light divine.

To judge her self she must her self transcend,
As greater circles comprehend the less;
But she wants power, her own powers to extend,
As fettered men can not their strength express.

O Light which mak’st the light, which makes the day!
Which set’st the eye without, and mind within;
‘Lighten my spirit with one clear heavenly ray,
Which now to view it self doth first begin.

But Thou which didst man’s soul of nothing make,
And when to nothing it was fallen again,
To make it new the form of man didst take,
And God with God, becam’st a Man with men.

Thou, that hast fashioned twice this soul of ours,
So that she is by double title Thine,
Thou only knowest her nature and her pow’rs,
Her subtle form Thou only canst define…

But Thou bright Morning Star, Thou rising Sun,
Which in these later times hast brought to light
Those mysteries, that since the world begun,
Lay hid in darkness and eternal night;

Thou (like the sun) dost with indifferent ray,
Into the palace and the cottage shine,
And shew’st the soul both to the clerk and lay,
By the clear lamp of Thy Oracle divine.

The Light Which Makes The Light Which Makes The Day by John Davies

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What It Is To Be Human

She within lists my ranging mind hath brought,
That now beyond my self I list not go;
My self am centre of my circling thought,
Only my self I study, learn, and know.

I know my body’s of so frail a kind,
As force without, fevers within can kill:
I know the heavenly nature of my mind,
But ‘tis corrupted both in wit and will:

I know my soul hath power to know all things,
Yet is she blind and ignorant in all;
I know I am one of nature’s little kings,
Yet to the least and vilest things am thrall.

I know my life’s a pain and but a span,
I know my Sense is mockt with every thing:
And to conclude, I know my self a man,
Which is a proud, and yet a wretched thing.

What It Is To Be Human by John Davies

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