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- BEAT on, proud billows; Boreas, blow
- Swelled curlëd waves high as Jove's roof;
- Your incivility shall know
- That innocence is tempest-proof.
- Though surly Nereus frown, my thoughts are calm;
- Then strike, afflictions, for your 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 is my liberty.
- Locks, bars, walls, loneness, though together met,
- Make me no prisoner, but an anchoret.
- I, whilst I wished to be retired,
- Into this private room was turned,
- As if their wisdoms had conspired
- A salamander should be burned;
- And like those sophies who would drown a fish,
- I am condemned to suffer what I wish.
- The Cynic hugs his poverty,
- The pelican her wilderness,
- And 'tis the Indian's pride to lie
- Naked on frozen Caucasus.
- And like to these, Stoics severe we see
- Make torments easy by their apathy.
- These manacles upon my arm
- I as my sweetheart's favors wear,
- And then 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 h' had made his purpose sure,
- By a malicious friendly knife
- Did only wound him to a cure.
- Malice I see wants wit, for what is meant
- Mischief, oftimes proves favor by th' event.
- I'm in this cabinet locked up,
- Like some high prizëd margarite;
- Or like some great Mogul or Pope,
- Am cloistered up from public sight;
- Retiredness is part of majesty,
- And thus, proud Sultan, I'm as great as thee.
- Here sin for want of food doth starve,
- Where tempting objects are not seen,
- And these walls do only serve
- To keep vice out, not keep me in.
- Malice of late's grown charitable sure,
- I'm not committed, but am kept secure.
- When once my prince affliction hath,
- Prosperity doth treason seem,
- And then to smooth so rough a path
- I can learn patience too from him.
- Now not to suffer shows no loyal heart,
- When kings want ease, subjects must love to smart.
- My soul's free as th' ambient air,
- Although my baser parts immured,
- Whilst loyal thoughts do still repair
- T' accompany my solitude.
- And though rebellion do my body bind,
- My king can only captivate my mind.
- Have you not seen the nightingale
- When turned a pilgrim to a cage,
- How she doth sing her wonted tale
- In that her narrow hermitage?
- Ever there her chanting melody doth prove
- That all her bars are trees, her cage a grove.
- I am that bird, which they combine
- Thus to deprive of liberty,
- Who though they do my corpse confine,
- Yet maugre hate, my soul is free;
- And though immured, yet can I chirp and sing
- Disgrace to rebels, glory to my king.
- Sir Roger L'Estrange
Poets' Corner .
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