Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DOOMSDAY: TREASURES IN HEAVEN, by WILLIAM ALEXANDER (1567-1640)



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DOOMSDAY: TREASURES IN HEAVEN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: That happy squadron is not question'd now
Last Line: We see how hardly rich men go to heaven.
Alternate Author Name(s): Stirling, 1st Earl Of
Subject(s): Heaven; Paradise


That happy squadron is not question'd now,
What ill they did, what good they did neglect,
No circumstance is urg'd, when, where, nor how,
They oft had fail'd, in what God did direct;
He trusts, not tries, not counts, but doth allow;
The Lord in Israel will no fault detect,
But absolutely doth absolve them all,
And from their bondage to a kingdom call.

"You whom my Father blessed, no more dismayed,
Come, and enjoy that boundless kingdom now,
Which, ere the world's foundations first were laid,
By heaven's decree hath been prepar'd for you;
With rays more bright than are the sun's array'd,
Before the throne you shall with reverence bow:
The height of pleasure which you should possess,
No tongue of man is able to express.

"When pressed by famine you me friendly fed,
And did with drink my scorching thirst allay;
You with your garments me, when naked, clad,
Whose kindly visits sickness could not stay;
No, even in prison, they me comfort bred,
Thus charity extended every way:
Your treasures, kept in heaven, for int'rest gain
That you enrich'd eternally remain."

With spiritual joy each one transported sings,
And, lifted up, to heaven in haste would fly,
But yet this speech so great amazement brings,
That modestly they, as with doubt, reply:
"Unbounded Lord, when didst thou lack such things,
That there was cause our willingness to try?
Who nothing had but what Thou gav'st to us;
How couldst Thou need, or we afford it thus?"

"That which was given, as now I do reveal,
Unto the least of those whom I held dear,"
Saith Christ, "deep grav'd with an eternal seal
As due by me, I do acknowledge here;
Those were the objects prompted for your zeal,
By which your goodness only could appear:
Best magazines for wealth the poor did prove,
Where, when laid up, no thief could it remove."

Thus helpful alms, the offering most esteemed,
Doth men on th' earth, the Lord in heaven content,
How many are, if time might be redeemed,
Who wish they thus their revenues had spent?
If this on th' earth so profitable seemed,
What usurer would for others' gains be bent?
But would the poor with plenty oft supply,
Though they themselves for want were like to die.

Those who, affecting vain ambition's end,
To gain opinion muster all in show;
And, prodigal, superfluously spend
All what they have, or able are to owe,
For pleasures frail, whilst straying fancies tend,
As Paradise could yet be found below:
Still pamp'ring flesh with all that th' earth can give,
No happiness more seek but here to live;

Those if not gorgeous who do garments scorn,
And not in warmness but for cost exceed,
Though as of worms they have the entrails worn,
Worms shall at last upon their entrails feed;
Those dainty tastes who, as for eating born,
That they may feast strive appetite to breed,
And, curious gluttons, even of vileness vaunt,
Whilst surfeiting when thousands starve for want.

The world's chief idol, nurse of fretting cares,
Dumb trafficker, yet understood o'er all,
State's chain, life's maintenance, load-star of affairs,
Which makes all nations voluntar'ly thrall,
A subtle sorcerer, always laying snares;
How many, Money, hast thou made to fall!
The general jewel, of all things the price,
To virtue sparing, lavish unto vice.

The fool that is unfortunately rich,
His goods perchance doth from the poor extort,
Yet leaves his brother dying in a ditch,
Whom one excess, if spar'd, would well support;
And, whilst the love of gold doth him bewitch,
This miser's misery gives others sport;
The prodigal God's creatures doth abuse,
And them, the wretch, not necessar'ly use.

Those roving thoughts which did at random soar,
And, though they had conveniently to live,
Would never look behind, but far before,
And, scorning goodness, to be great did strive;
For, still projecting how to purchase more,
Thus, bent to get, they could not dream to give:
Such minds whom envy hath fill'd up with grudge,
Have left no room, where charity may lodge.

Ah! who of those can well express the grief,
Whom once this earth did for most happy hold?
Of all their neighbours still esteem'd the chief,
Whilst stray'd opinion balanc'd worth by gold:
That which to thousands might have given relief,
Wrong spent or spar'd, is for their ruin told:
Thus pleasures past, what anguish now doth even?
We see how hardly rich men go to heaven.





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