Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ASS, by HENRY VAUGHAN



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THE ASS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thou! Who didst place me in this busy street
Last Line: And bones rejoice, which once were broken!
Alternate Author Name(s): Silurist


Thou! who didst place me in this busy street
Of flesh and blood, where two ways meet:
The One of goodness, peace and life,
The other of death, sin and strife;
Where frail visibles rule the mind,
And present things find men most kind:
Where obscure cares the mean defeat,
And splendid vice destroys the great;
As thou didst set no law for me,
But that of perfect liberty,
Which neither tires, nor doth corrode,
But is a pillow, not a load:
So give me grace ever to rest,
And build on it, because the best;
Teach both mine eyes and feet to move
Within those bounds set by thy love;
Grant I may soft and lowly be,
And mind those things I cannot see;
Tie me to faith, though above reason,
Who question power, they speak treason:
Let me thy Ass be only wise
To carry, not search mysteries;
Who carries thee, is by thee led,
Who argues, follows his own head.
To check bad motions, keep me still
Amongst the dead, where thriving ill
Without his brags and conquests lies,
And truth (oppressed here) gets the prize.
At all times, whatsoe'er I do,
Let me not fail to question, who
Shares in the act, and puts me to't?
And if not thou, let not me do't.
Above all, make me love the poor,
Those burthens to the rich man's door,
Let me admire those, and be kind
To low estates, and a low mind.
If the world offers to me ought,
That by thy book must not be sought,
Or though it should be lawful, may
Prove not expedient for thy way;
To shun that peril, let thy grace
Prevail with me to shun the place.
Let me be wise to please thee still,
And let men call me what they will.
When thus thy mild, instructing hand

Finds thy poor foal at thy command,
When he from wild is become wise,
And slights that most, which men most prize;
When all things here to thistles turn
Pricking his lips, till he doth mourn
And hang the head, sighing for those
Pastures of life, where the Lamb goes:
O then, just then! break or untie
These bonds, this sad captivity,
This leaden state, which men miscall
Being and life, but is dead thrall.
And when (O God!) the Ass is free,
In a state known to none but thee;
O let him by his Lord be led,
To living springs, and there be fed
Where light, joy, health and perfect peace
Shut out all pain and each disease;
Where death and frailty are forgotten,
And bones rejoice, which once were broken!





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