How far the sweets of Solitude excel



Primary Text:

No MS; 1696 Tate, 98-102.*
How far the sweets of Solitude excel
The World's loud Mirth and clam'rous Sports
Of Theaters, and crowded Courts,
Only the vertuous Heavenly Soul can tell.

Which when retir'd and loos'd by Faith & Love
From the gross Body, upward flies,
Climbs o'er th'impurer lower Skies,
To gain sweet Converse with blest Minds above.

Ravish'd with This, she seeks a clearer sight,
And chides the interposing Clay,
And bars of Flesh that take away
Her heavenly Prospect, and retard her flight.

She do's her scorn of tis low World express
Derides the Pompous Trifles here,
Honours and Wealth to Sinners dear,
And wonders why men call it Happiness.

Safe in those happy Realms of Light and Love
From Clouds and stormy Wind that flow
O'er this tempestuous World below,
She mourns she cannot always keep above.

In those bright Fields no fears her Joy controul
Securely seated from on high
She sees the ruddy Lightning fly,
And hears below the distant Thunder roll.

She's there safe guarded from fal'n Angels pow'r,
That stray in this low void of Air.
And (watching with unwearied Care,)
First tempt to sin, then vanquish'd Souls devour.

Those Minds become more excellent and pure,
That Heav'ns calm Regions most frequent,
Free from Earth's Damps and noisom Scent;
As wholesom Climates Mens rich Bodies cure.

And when such Minds descend to Earth agen,
Their heav'nly Language cheerful Face,
Fresh Beauty and Celestial Grace
Declare the Happy SEats where they have been.

This world is still so turbulent and loud,
That Heav'ns soft Voice cannot be heard,
Angels have oft to Men appear'd
When all alone, but never in a crowd.

In silent Groves the Men of old grew wise,
There prostrate Votaries ador'd,
And invocated the true Lord,
There Heathens worship'd too their Deities.

Sage Druids there Heav'ns Councils understood:
The Soul does there her Thoughts compose,
Calmly devout and silent grows,
Aw'd by the shade and stillness of the Wood.

There th'Essens Sect their Innocence were taught
Of the next Silver Stream they drank
Got a cheap meal from some green Bank,
And far from worldly Cares they Liv'd and Thought.

In Fields and Woods, may I safe Pleasures find,
Nature's Almighty Cause adore,
Admire the Works, but th'Author more,
Where Objects both delight and reach my Mind.

May Vallies teach me to be fruitful too,
May Hills excite me to aspire,
Like them to Heav'n with rais'd Desire,
And may my Thoughts flow pure, as Fountains do.

From Birds and Beasts shall my distrust condemn,
That trust Heav'n's Goodness rove about
Free from all Care and anxious Doubts,
And teach me to depend on Heav'n, like them

Motives I ne'er shall want of Love and Praise
For Heav'n and Earth will still supply
My Thoughts with such variety
As will new wonder fresh Devotion raise.

Oh may I something learn from all I see
And by the Creatures still ascend,
To the first Cause whilst I attend
To Nature's Volumes of Divinity.

Let me sweet Solitude's Delights enjoy,
And Those repair to Sensual Sport,
To Win and Theaters resort,
Who know not how their Leisure to employ.

A Closet, or a Secret Field with thee,
Shall Lord, to me be far more dear,
Than all the sensual Pelasures here,
Than all the poyson'd sweets of Ease & Luxury.


Attributed to Finch both as one of a series of 13 anonymous poems, the first seven by Anne (found in MS's F-H 283 and Folger), and the following 8 but one ascribed "to the same hand" as the first seven; persuasively hers internally from prosody, phrases, attitudes, one of her early personal self-communing poems in and to natural world (e.g., "In Fields and Woods, may I safe Pleasures find ..."), which also looks forward to her late religious poetry (e.g., In those bright Fields no fears her Joy controul ...).
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