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OUR DUTY TO JESUS.

49

There is poetry too in the line, if I interpret it rightly as intending the gospel

The sonde that God sent al abowte.

I shall now make a few extracts from poems of the same century whose authors are unknown. A good many such are extant. With regard to the similarity of those I choose, I would remark, that not only will the poems of the same period necessarily resemble each other, but, where the preservation of any has depended upon the choice and transcription of one person, these will in all probability resemble each other yet more. Here are a few verses from a hymn headed The Sweetness of Jesus :

If I for kindness should love my kin, for natural reasons.
Then me thinketh in my thought

[Kind is nature. By kindly skill I should begin

by natural judgment.
At him that hath me made of nought;
His likeness he set my soul within,

And all this world for me hath wrought ;
As father he fondid my love to win, set about.

For to heaven he hath me brought.

reason.

were.

Our brother and sister he is by skill,

For he so said, and lerid us that lore, taught.
That whoso wrought his Father's will,

Brethren and sisters to him they wore.
My kind also he took ther-lille ;

my nature also he took Full truly trust I him therefore

[ for that purpose. That he will never let me spill,

perish. But with his mercy salve my sore.

1 Recently published by the Early English Text Society. S.L. IV.

E

fulfil.
natural.

With lovely lore his works to fill,

Well ought I, wretch, if I were kind-
Night and day to work his will,

And ever have that Lord in mind.
But ghostly foes grieve me ill,

And my frail flesh maketh me blind;
Therefore his mercy I take me till,

For better bote can I none find.

spiritual.

betake me to.
aid.

In my choice of stanzas I have to keep in view some measure of completeness in the result. These poems, however, are mostly very loose in structure. This, while it renders choice easy, renders closeness of unity impossible.

From a poem headed-again from the last line of each stanza-Be my comfort, Christ Jesus, I choose the following four, each possessing some remarkable flavour, tone, or single touch. Note the alliteration in the lovely line, beginning "Bairn y-born.” The whole of the stanza in which we find it, sounds so strangely fresh in the midst of its antiquated tones, that we can hardly help asking whether it can be only the quaintness of the expression that makes the feeling appear more real, or whether in very truth men were not in those days nearer in heart, as well as in time, to the marvel of the Nativity.

In the next stanza, how oddly the writer forgets that Jesus himself was a Jew, when, embodying the detestation of Christian centuries in one line, he says,

And tormented with many a Jew ! In the third stanza, I consider the middle quatrain, that is, the four lines beginning “Out of this world," perfectly grand.

BE MY COMFORT, CHRIST JESUS.

51

The oddness of the last line but one of the fourth stanza is redeemed by the wonderful reality it gives to the faith of the speaker: "See my sorrow, and say Ho!” stopping it as one would call after a man and stop him.

Jesus, thou art wisdom of wit,

understanding Of thy Father full of might ! Man's soul—to save it,

In poor apparel thou wert pight. pitched, placed, dressed. Jesus, thou wert in cradle knit,

In weed wrapped both day and night; originally, dress of any kind. In Bethlehem born, as the gospel writ,

With angels' song, and heaven-light. Bairn y-born of a beerde bright, 1

Full courteous was thy comely cus : kiss. Through virtue of that sweet light,

So be my comfort, Christ Jesus.

Jesus, that wert of yearis young,

Fair and fresh of hide and hue,
When thou wert thraldom throng, driven.

And tormented with many a Jew,
When blood and water were out-wrung,

For beating was thy body blue;
As a clot of clay thou wert for-clong, shrunk.

So dead in trough then men thee threw. coffin.
But grace from thy grave grew :

Thou rose up quick comfort to us. living For her love that this counsel knew,

So be my comfort, Christ Jesus.

Jesus, soothfast God and man,

Two kinds knit in one person, The wonder-work that thou began

Thou hast fulfilled in flesh and bone.

1 “ Child born of a bright lady.Bird, berd, brid, burd, means lady originally : thence comes our bride.

thou didst win, or make thy

[way, powerfully.

1

Out of this world wightly thou wan,

Lifting up thyself alone ;
For mightily thou rose and ran

Straight unto thy Father on throne.
Now dare man make no more moan-

For man it is thou wroughtest thus, And God with man is made at one;

So be my comfort, Christ Jesus. Jesu, my sovereign Saviour,

Almighty God, there ben no mo: Christ, thou be my governor ;

Thy faith let me not fallen fro.
Jesu, my joy and my succour,

In my body and soul also,
God, thou be my strongest food,

And wisse thou me when me is woe.
Lord, thou makest friend of foe,

Let me not live in languor thus,
But see my sorrow, and say now “Ho,”

And be my comfort, Christ Jesus.

there are no more--thou art

(all in all.(?) from

the rhyme fails here.
think on me.

Of fourteen stanzas called Richard de Castre's Prayer to Jesus, I choose five from the latter half, where the prayer passes from his own spiritual necessities, very tenderly embodied, to those of others. It does our hearts good to see the clouded sun of prayer for oneself break forth in the gladness of blessed entreaty for all men, for them that make Him angry, for saints in trouble, for the country torn by war, for the whole body of Christ and its unity. After the stanza

Jesus, for the deadly tears

That thou sheddest for my guilt,
Hear and speed my prayers

And spare me that I be not spilt;

the best that is in the suppliant shines out thus:

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We now approach the second revival of literature, preceded in England by the arrival of the art of printing ; after which we find ourselves walking in a morning twilight, knowing something of the authors as well as of their work.

I have little more to offer from this century. There are a few religious poems by John Skelton, who was tutor to Henry VIII. But such poetry, though he was a clergyman, was not much in Skelton's manner of mind. We have far better of a similar sort already.

A new sort of dramatic representation had by this time greatly encroached upon the old Miracle Plays. The fresh growth was called Morals or Moral

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