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When that one prop or onely stay
Holdes vp some house or wall, If that the prop be tane away,
Needes must the building fall : O Lorde, thou art the prop
To which I cleaue and leane: If thou forsake or cast mee of,
I still shall liue in paine.
Although my hard and stony hart
Be apt to runne astray,
Yet let thy goodnesse mee conuert,
So shall I not decay:
Sweete God, doe rue my plaints,
And sheelde me from annoy:
Then my poore soule, this life once past,
Shall rest with thee in ioy.
Layd in my quiet bed to rest,
When sleepe my senses all had drownd,
Such dreames arose within my breast,
As did with feare my minde confound.
Meethought I wandred in a woode,
Which was as darke as pitte of hell ;
In midst of which such waters stoode,
That where to passe I could not tell,
The lion, tyger, wolfe, and beare,
There thundered forth such hideous cries,
As made huge eccoes in the aire,
And seemed almost to pearce the skies.
Long vext with care I there aboad,
And to get forth I wanted power :
At euery footstepe that I troad,
I feard some beast would mee deuoure.
Abyding thus, perplext with paine,
This case within myselfe I scand,
That humaine helpe was all in vaine,
Unlesse the Lord with vs doe stand.
Then falling flatte vpon my face,
In humble sorte to God I prayde,
That in this darke and dreadfull place
He would vouchsafe to bee mine ayde.
Arising, then a wight with winges,
Of auncient yeeres, meethinkes I see;
A burning torch in hand hee bringes,
And thus beganne to speake to me:
" That God whose ayd thou didst implore,
Hath sent mee hither for thy sake;
Pluck vp thy sprites, lament no more,
With mee thou must thy iourney take.”
Against a huge and loftie hill
With swiftest pace meethinks wee go,
When such a sound mine eare did fill,
As moued my heart to bleede for woe.
Meethought I heard a woefull wight
In dolefull sorte powre forth great plaintes,
Whose cries did so my minde affright,
That euen with feare each member faintes.
“ Fie!” quoth my guyd, “ what meanes this
Passe on apace with courage bolde :
Hereby doth stand a prison strange,
Where wonderous thinges thou maiest beholde.”
Then came we to a forte of brasse,
Where, peering through greate iron gates,
We saw a woman sit, alas!
Which ruthfully bewaylde her fates.
Her face was farre more white then snow,
And on her head a crowne shee ware,
Beset with stones, that glistered so
As hundred torches had bene there.
Her song was—“Woe! and weale away!
What torments here doe I sustayne!"
A new mishap did her dismay,
Which more and more increast her payne.
An oggly creature, all in blacke,
Ran to her seate, and flung her downe:
Who rent her garments from her backe,
And spoyld her of her precious crowne.
This crowne he plaste vpon his hed,
And leauing her in dolefull case,
With swiftest pace away he fled,
And darknesse came in all the place.
Then quoth my guyd: “Note well my talke,
And thou shalt heare this dreame declarde:
The wood, in which thou first didst walke,
Unto the worlde may be comparde.
The roaring beasts plainly expresse
The sundry snares in which we fall :
This gaole is named Deepe Distresse,
In which dame Virtue lies as thrall.
She is the wight, which heere within
So dolefully doth houle and crie:
Her foe is called Deadly Sinne,
That proffered here this villainie.
My name is Time, whom God hath sent
To warne thee of thy soule's decay :
In time therefore thy sinnes lament,
Least Time from thee be tane away.”
As soone as he these wordes had sayd,
With swiftest pace away he flies;
And I thereat was so afrayde,
That drowsie sleepe forsooke mine eyes.
O Lord, who in thy sacred tent
And holy hill shall dwell ?
Euen he that both in heart and minde
Dooth studie to do well.
In life vpright, in dealing iust,
And he that from his heart
The truth doth speak with singlenes,
All falshood set apart.
With tongue besides that hurts no man,
By false and ill report; Nor friends nor neighbours harme will doe
Whereuer he resort.
That hates the bad, and loues the good,
And faith that neuer breakes ;
But keepes alwaies, though to his losse,
The woord that once he speakes.
Nor filthy gaine by loue that seekes,
Nor wealth so to possesse ;
Nor that for bribes the guiltlesse soule
Doth labour to oppresse.
Like as a mount, so shall he stand :
Nothing shall him remoue,
That thus shall do, the Lord hath said ;
Nor man can it disproue.