Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE COMBAT, BETWEENE CONSCIENCE AND COVETOUSNESSE, by RICHARD BARNFIELD



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THE COMBAT, BETWEENE CONSCIENCE AND COVETOUSNESSE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Now had the cole-blacke steedes, of pitchie night
Last Line: At sight hereof, foorthwith I did awake.
Alternate Author Name(s): Barnefield, Richard
Subject(s): Conscience; Covetousness


Now had the cole-blacke steedes, of pitchie Night,
(Breathing out Darknesse) banisht cheerfull Light,
And sleepe (the shaddowe of eternall rest)
My severall senses, wholy had possest.
When loe, there was presented to my view,
A vision strange, yet not so strange, as true.
Conscience (me thought) appeared unto mee,
Cloth'd with good Deedes, with Trueth and Honestie,
Her countinance demure, and sober sad,
Nor any other Ornament shee had.
Then Covetousnesse did incounter her,
Clad in a Cassock, lyke a Usurer,
The Cassock, it was made of poore-mens skinnes,
Lac'd here and there, with many severall sinnes:
Nor was it furd, with any common furre;
Or if it were, himselfe hee was the fur.
A Bag of money, in his hande he helde,
The which with hungry eie, he still behelde.
The place wherein this vision first began,
(A spacious plaine) was cald The Minde of Man.
The Carle no sooner, Conscience had espyde,
But swelling lyke a Toade, (puft up with pryde)
He straight began against her to invey:
These were the wordes, which Covetise did sey.
Conscience (quoth hee) how dar'st thou bee so bold,
To claime the place, that I by right doe hold?
Neither by right, nor might, thou canst obtain it:
By might (thou knowst full well) thou canst not gaine it.
The greatest Princes are my followars,
The King in Peace, the Captaine in the Warres:
The Courtier, and the simple Countrey-man:
The Iudge, the Merchant, and the Gentleman:
The learned Lawyer, and the Politician:
The skilfull Surgeon, and the fine Physician:
In briefe, all sortes of men mee entertaine,
And hold mee, as their Soules sole Soveraigne,
And in my quarrell, they will fight and die,
Rather then I should suffer iniurie.
And as for title, interest, and right,
Ile prove its mine by that, as well as might,
Though Covetousnesse, were used long before,
Yet Iudas Treason, made my Fame the more;
When Christ he caused, crucifyde to bee,
For thirtie pence, man solde his minde to mee:
And now adaies, what tenure is more free,
Than that which purchas'd is, with gold and fee?

Conscience.
With patience, have I heard thy large Complaint,
Wherein the Divell, would be thought a Saint:
But wot ye what, the Saying is of olde?
One tale is good, untill anothers tolde.
Truth is the right, that I must stand upon,
(For other title, hath poore Conscience none)
First I will prove it, by Antiquitie,
That thou are but an up-start, unto mee;
Before that thou wast ever thought upon,
The minde of Man, belonged to mee alone.
For after that the Lord, hath Man created,
And him in blisse-full Paradice had seated;
(Knowing his Nature was to vice inclynde)
God gave me unto man, to rule his mynde,
And as it were, his Governour to bee,
To guide his minde, in Trueth, and Honestie.
And where thou sayst, that man did sell his soule;
That Argument, I quicklie can controule:
It is a fayned fable, thou doost tell,
That, which is not his owne, he cannot sell;
No man can sell his soule, altho he thought it:
Mans soule is Christs, for hee hath dearely bought it.
Therefore usurping Covetise, be gone.
For why, the minde belongs to mee alone.

Covetousnesse.
Alas poor Conscience, how thou art deceav'd?
As though of sense, thou wert quite bereavd.
What wilt thou say (that thinkst thou canst not erre)
If I can prove my selfe the ancienter?
Though into Adams minde, God did infuse thee,
Before his fall, yet man did never use thee.
What was it else, but Avrice in Eve,
(Thinking thereby, in greater Blisse to live)
That made her taste, of the forbidden fruite?
Of her Desier, was not I the roote?
Did she not covet? (tempted by the Devill)
The Apple of the Tree, of good and evill?
Before man used Conscience, she did covet:
Therefore by her Transgression, here I prove it,
That Covetousnesse possest the minde of man,
Before that any Conscience began.

Conscience.
Even as a counterfeited precious stone,
Seemes to bee far more rich, to looke upon,
Then doeth the right: But when a man comes neere,
His baseness then, doeth evident appeere:
So Covetise, the Reasons thou dooest tell,
Seeme to be strong, but being weighed well,
They are indeed, but onely meere Illusions,
And doe inforce but very weake Conclusions.
When as the Lord (fore-knowing his offence)
Had given man a Charge, of Abstinence,
And to refraine, the fruite of good and ill:
Man had a Conscience, to obey his will,
And never would be tempted thereunto,
Untill the Woeman, shee, did worke man woe.
And make him breake, the Lords Commaundement,
Which all Mankinde, did afterward repent:
So that thou seest, thy Argument is vaine,
And I am prov'd, the elder of the twaine.

Covetousnesse.
Fond Wretch, it was not Conscience, but feare,
That made the first man (Adam) to forbeare
To tast the fruite, of the forbidden Tree,
Lest, if offending hee were found to bee,
(According as Iehovah saide on hye,
For his so great Transgression, hee should dye.)
Feare curbd his minde, it was not Conscience then,
(For Conscience freely, rules the harts of men)
And is a godly motion of the mynde,
To everie vertuous action inclynde,
And not enforc'd, through feare of Punishment,
But is to vertue, voluntary bent:
Then (simple Trul) be packing pressentlie,
For in this place, there is no roome for thee.

Conscience.
Aye mee, (distressed Wight) what shall I doe?
Where shall I rest? Or whither shall I goe?
Unto the rich? (woes mee) They, doe abhor me:
Unto the poore? (alas) they, care not for me:
Unto the Olde-man? hee, hath mee forgot:
Unto the Young-man? yet hee, knowes me not:
Unto the Prince? hee, can dispence with me:
Unto the Magristrate? that, may not bee:
Unto the Court? for it, I am too base:
Unto the Countrey? there, I have no place:
Unto the Citty? thence, I am exilde:
Unto the Village? there, I am revilde:
Unto the Barre? the Lawyer there, is bribed:
Unto the Warre? there, Conscience is derided:
Unto the Temple? there, I am disguised:
Unto the Market? there, I am despised:
Thus both the young and olde, the rich and poore,
Against mee (silly Creature) shut their doore.
Then, sith each one seekes my rebuke and shame,
Ile goe againe to Heaven (from whence I came.)
This saide (me thought) making exceeding mone,
She went her way, and left the Carle alone,
Who vaunting of his late-got victorie,
Advanc'd himselfe in pompe and Maiestie:
Much like a Cocke, who having kild his foe,
Brisks up himselfe, and then begins to crow.
So Covetise, when Conscience was departed,
Gan to be proud in minde, and hauty harted:
And in a stately Chayre of state he set him,
(For Conscience banisht) there was none to let him.
And being but one entrie, to this Plaine,
(Whereof as king and Lord, he did remaine)
Repentance cald, he causd that to be kept,
Lest Conscience should returne, whilst as he slept:
Wherefore he causd it, to be watcht and warded
Both night and Day, and to be strongly guarded:
To keepe it safe, these three he did intreat,
Hardnesse of hart, with Falshood and Deceat:
And if at any time, she chaunc'd to venter.
Hardnesse of hart, denide her still to enter.
When Conscience was exilde the minde of Man,
Then Covetise, his government began.
This once being seene, what I had seene before,
(Being onely seene in sleepe) was seene no more;
For with the sorrowe, which my Soule did take
At sight hereof, foorthwith I did awake.





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