Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IN PRISON [AT LINN] (WRITTEN WHEN A PRISONER DURING CROMWELL'S REVOLT), by ROGER L'ESTRANGE



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IN PRISON [AT LINN] (WRITTEN WHEN A PRISONER DURING CROMWELL'S REVOLT), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Beat on, proud billows; boreas blow
Last Line: Disgrace to rebels, glory to my king.
Variant Title(s): Loyalty Confined;mr. Le Strange His Verses
Subject(s): Charles I, King Of England (1600-1649); Cromwell, Oliver (1599-1658); L'estrange, Sir Roger (1616-1704); Prisons & Prisoners; Tower Of London; Convicts


Beat on, proud billows; Boreas, blow;
Swell, curled waves, high as Jove's roof;
Your incivility doth show
That innocence is tempest proof;
Though surly Nereus frown, my thoughts are calm;
Then strike, Affliction, for thy wounds are balm.

That which the world miscalls a jail
A private closet is to me;
Whilst a good conscience is my bail,
And innocence my liberty:
Locks, bars, and solitude together met,
Make me no prisoner, but an anchoret.

Here sin, for want of food, must starve
Where tempting objects are not seen;
And these strong walls do only serve
To keep rogues out, not keep me in.
Malice is now grown charitable, sure:
I'm not committed, but I'm kept secure.

And, whilst I wisht to be retired,
Into this private room was turned;
As if their wisdoms had conspired
The salamander should be burned;
Or like those sophists, that would drown a fish,
I am condemned to suffer what I wish.

The cynic loves his poverty;
The pelican her wilderness;
And 't is the Indian's pride to be
Naked on frozen Caucasus:
Contentment cannot smart; stoics we see
Make torments easier to their apathy.

I'm in the cabinet lock'd up,
Like some high-prized margarite;
Or like the great Mogul or Pope,
I'm cloister'd up from public sight.
Retiredness is a part of majesty,
And thus, proud Sultan! I am great as thee.

These manacles upon my arm
I as my mistress' favors wear;
And for to keep my ankles warm
I have some iron shackles there:
These walls are but my garrison; this cell,
Which men call jail, doth prove my citadel.

So he that struck at Jason's life,
Thinking to make his purpose sure,
By a malicious friendly knife
Did only wound him to his cure:
Malice, we see, wants wit; for what is meant
Mischief, oft times proves favour by th' event.

Altho' I cannot see my king --
Neither in person -- nor in coin! --
Yet contemplation is a thing
That renders that I have not, mine.
My king from me no adamant can part,
Whom I do wear engraven in my heart.

Have you not heard the nightingale,
A prisoner close kept in cage,
How she doth chaunt her wonted tale,
In that narrow hermitage?
Even then her melody doth plainly prove
Her bars are trees, her cage a pleasant grove.

My soul is free as ambient air,
Which doth my outward parts include;
Whilst loyal thoughts still repair
T' accompany my solitude.
What though they do with chains my body bind,
My king alone can captivate my mind.

I am that bird whom they combine
Thus to deprive of liberty;
And tho' they may my corpse confine,
Yet, maugre that, my soul is free:
Though I'm mew'd up, yet I can chirp and sing,
Disgrace to rebels, glory to my king.




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