Famine and Dearth

Scriptural Poems

Scriptural Poems
Being several Portions of
SCRIPTURE
Digested into
ENGLISH VERSE

JOHN BUNYAN
London. J.Blare 1700
[Page 56]

1. CHAP. XLI.

AND now when two years time was fully past,
And Joseph from Confinement not releast,
It came to pass that Pharaoh dreamed, and
He seemed by a River's side to stand,
Whence, he seven fat wellfavour'd Kine beheld,
Came up and grazed in the neighbouring Field.
And after them there came up seven more
Lean and illfavour'd,and did soon devour
The seven fat Kine which came up just before.
So Pharaoh 'woke, and mus'd awhile, and then
Soon as his Sleep his Dream return'd agen.
Wherein he saw upon one stalk there stood
Seven ears of Corn, exceeding Rank and Good,
And seven others, with the East wind blasted,
And withered, sprang up, and quickly wasted
The seven good Ears, and quite devour'd them:
And Pharaoh 'woke, and, Lo! it was a Dream.
[Page 57]
And in the Morning he was discontent,
And for the wise Men, and Magicians sent,
To ease his Mind but there was none of them
That could interpret to the King his Dream.
Then the chief Butler making his address.
Unto King Pharaoh, said, I now confess
My former Faults, for when the King was wroth
With his chief Butler, and chief Baker both,
It pleased him, to put us both in Ward,
In the House of the Captain of the Guard:
And in one Night we dream'd a Dream, each one
According to's Interpretation;
And there was then an Hebrew there in Ward,
A Youth, that serv'd the Captain of the Guard:
To whom we told whereof we had been dreaming,
And he interpreted to us the meaning,
And what he said fell out accordingly,
Me he restored to my Dignity,
But told the Baker he should surely die.
Then Pharaoh sent a Messenger in haste,
And Joseph from the Dungeon was releast:
And having shav'd himself, and chang'd his Cloaths,
Into the Presence of the King he goes.
To whom King Pharaoh said, I have been told
Thou canst the meaning of a Dream unfold:
Now I have dream'd a Dream, and there is none
Can give me the Interpretation.
And Joseph said, I cannot do this thing
My self, but God shall answer thee, Oh, King.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, In my Dream,
As I stood by a River's side, there came
[Page 58]
Up from the River seven wellfavour'd Kine,
And fed upon the Banks, all fat and fine,
And after them there came up seven more,
Lean and illfavour'd,and exceeding poor:
Such as the Land of Egypt never bred,
And on the seven wellfavour'd Kine they fed,
And eat them up, but 'twas not to be seen
That they had eat them, they look'd still so thin.
So I awoke, and mus'd a while, and then
Soon as my Sleep, my Dream return'd agen,
Wherein I saw upon one stalk there stood
Seven Ears of Corn, exceeding rank, and good:
Then seven others, with the East wind blasted,
And withered, came up, and quickly wasted
The seven good Ears, and quite devoured them.
And being unsatisfied about my Dream,
I sought unto the wise Men of the Nation,
But they could give me no Interpretation.
And Joseph said, Thy Dream, oh King! is one,
God shews to Pharaoh what he will have done.
The seven fat Kine, and seven good Ears agree
To shew, seven years of Plenty there shall be:
The seven lean Kine, and seven blasted Ears,
Denote there shall be Famine seven years.
This I declare to Pharaoh, God doth shew
To thee, Oh King! what he's about to do.
Behold seven years of Plenty are at hand,
Which shall be very great throughout the Land:
And after them seven years of Famine shall
Arise, and shall consume the Land, and all
The former Plenty shall not be perceiv'd,
So much the Land with Famine shall be griev'd.
[Page 59]
And since the Dream was doubl'd to the King,
It is because God hath decreed the thing,
And on this Land the same will shortly bring:
Now therefore if I may the King advise,
Let him look out a Man discreet and wise,
And make him Overseer of the Land;
And substitute Men under his Command
To gather a fifth part for Publick Use,
Of what the seven plenteous Years produce,
And in the Cities lay it up for Store,
Against the Famine in the Land grows sore;
And let it be repos'd in Pharaoh's hand,
That so the Famine may not wast the Land.
And when King Pharaoh and his Servants heard
The Propositions Joseph had preferr'd,
They were acceptable in Pharaoh's Eyes,
And in the Eyes of all his Court likewise:
So that he said, can such an one be found?
A Man in whom God's Spirit doth abound.
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, forasmuch
As God's great kindness unto thee is such,
As to reveal this thing to thee, I know
No Man so wise or so discreet as thou:
Be thou therefore the Ruler of the Land,
And let my People be at thy Command;
Thou shalt in all things be as great as I,
Save only in the Royal Dignity.
Behold this day I have advanced thee
Said he, to be a Man of high Degree
Throughout the Land. And therewithal the King
Bestow'd on Joseph his own Royal Ring;
[Page 60]
And him with Robes of State did richly deck,
And put a Chain of Gold about his Neck,
And in his second Chariot made him ride,
And as he past, bow down the Knee they cry'd,
With so great Honour was he dignify'd.
And Pharaoh said moreover, I am King,
No Man shall dare to purpose any thing,
Or move his Hand or Foot in all this Nation,
Unless it shall be by thy approbation.
He also gave to Joseph a new Name,
And for a Wife gave him a Princely Dame,
Who was the Daughter of a Priest of Fame.
(Now Joseph had attain'd his Thirtieth Year,
When he before King Pharaoh did appear.)
And he went out from Pharaoh's Presence, and
Began his Progress over all the Land.
Now in the seven plenteous Years, the Field
Did its Increase in great abundance yield.
And Joseph gather'd all that plenteous Crop,
And in th' adjacent Cities laid it up:
Which like unto the Sand upon the shore,
Did so abound that he could count no more,
Such was the Plenty that the Earth then bore.
And unto Joseph there was born a Son,
Even by the Daughter of the Priest of On,
Before the Years of Famine were begun,
The which he call'd Manasseh, for, said he,
God makes me to forget my Misery,
And all my Father's House: And after him
Was born another he call'd Ephraim;
For God, saith he, hath made me to possess
Abundance in the Land of my Distress.
[Page 61]
And when the seven plenteous Years were gone,
The seven Years of Famine next came on,
As Joseph said, and there was a great Dearth
In every Nation throughout all the Earth;
But in the Land of Egypt there was Bread.
And when the People, almost famished,
Complained to the King, he bad them go
To Joseph, and whate'er he said to do.
And now the Famine daily waxing sore,
Joseph began to bring forth of his Store,
Which he had laid up for the Publick Good;
To whom th' Egyptians came and bought their Food.
And People from all Countries far and near
To Egypt came to buy Provision there;
For in all Lands the Famine was severe.
[Page 65]

2. CHAP. XLIII.

AND now the Famine still continuing sore,
And having spent all their late purchas'd store,
Their Father bids them to go down for more
To whom when Judah had himself addrest,
He said, The Man did solemnly protest,
[Page 66]
If we without our Brother came again,
To seek his Face would be for us in vain:
If therefore thou wilt send him, well and good,
Then will we willingly go down for Food;
But if thou wilt not, we must let thee know,
We are resolved that we will not go:
For, as I said before, the Ruler swore,
Without him we should see his Face no more.
Then Isr'el said, why were you so unkind
To say you had a Brother left behind?
The Man, said they, was so inquisitive,
He asked if our Father were alive;
Or if we had a Brother, whereunto
Accordingly we answer'd, could we know
If he would bid us bring the Lad or no?
Moreover Judah to his Father said,
If thou wilt but intrust me with the Lad,
We will be gone, that so both thou and we
May be preserved with our Family:
I will be Surety for him, if I fail
To bring him back, on me the blame entail;
For if we had not lingred, we had been
By this time here the second time again.
Well then, said Isr'el, if it must be so,
My Sons, take my Advice before you go;
Provide some of the best Fruits of the Land,
To give the Man a present from your hand;
Balm, Myrrh and Spices, and a little Honey,
Some Nuts and Almonds, and take double Money.
For peradventure it was a mistake,
In that your Money was returned back;
[Page 67]
And take your Brother Benjamin and go,
And God Almighty grant the Man may show
You Mercy, that you may bring back again
Your other Brother, and my Benjamin,
And if I am bereav'd, so have I been.
Then did the Men prepare the Present, and
They took their Money double in their hand,
With Benjamin, and down to Egypt went,
Who unto Joseph did themselves present.
Who, when he saw that Benjamin was come,
Order'd his Steward to conduct them home,
And to provide a Dinner, for said he,
I do intend these Men shall Dine with me.
Then did the Steward as his Master said,
And brought them home, whereat they were afraid,
And said, the Man hath caus'd us to come in,
Because our Money was return'd again;
To take occasion now to fall upon us,
And make us Slaves and take our Asses from us.
Unto the Steward they drew nigh therefore,
And thus communed with him at the Door:
O Sir, say they, we came at first indeed
To buy Provision to supply our need;
And in our Inn as we our Sacks unloos'd,
We found our Money therein all enclos'd
In its full weight, whereat surpris'd with fear,
Not knowing who had put our Money there,
We now have brought it in full weight again,
And other Money too, to buy more Grain.
Peace, Peace, said he, let not fear seize upon ye,
For I had the disposing of your Money:
[Page 68]
God unto whom you and your Father bow,
Hath giv'n you Treasure in your Sacks I trow.
And then releasing Simeon, who had been
Confin'd in Joseph's House, he brought them in
And set them Water, and they wash'd their Feet,
And gave their Asses Provender to eat.
Then they made ready against Joseph came
Their Gifts, in order to present the same
At Noon, for they were told he did design
To have their Company with him to Dine.
And now when Joseph was returned home,
Into his Presence they with rev'rence come,
And brought their Presents in and laid before him,
And fell down at his Feet for to adore him.
Then he enquired if they all were well,
And said, When you were here I heard you tell
Of an old Man your Father, how does he?
Is he in Health, or doth he cease to be?
Whereto in humble sort they thus reply'd,
Thy Servant, ev'n our Father, doth abide
In perfect Health, which having said,
They bow'd their Heads and great obeysance made.
And Joseph viewing Benjamin his Brother
(They being both the Children of one Mother)
He asked if he were the Lad of whom
They spake, then said, God give thee Grace my Son,
Then making hast to find a secret place
To weep, because his Bowels yern'd apace
Upon his Brother, to his Chamber went,
Where having giv'n his troubled Spirits vent,
He wash'd his Face and did himself refrain,
And to his Brethren then came sorth again.
[Page 69]
And bad his Servants they should set on Bread:
At his command the Tables all were spread;
One for himself, and for his Friends another,
And for th' Egyptians one apart from either,
That so they might not eat Bread altogether;
For it is held a great abomination
For them to eat among the Hebrew Nation.
And they were placed as their age required,
The Eldest first, whereat the Men admired:
And from his Table Joseph sent them Messes,
But in a larger manner he expresses
To Benjamin his kindness, which was such,
That he appointed him five times as much
As to the rest: and they drank plenteously,
Till they were merry in his Company.
[Page 73]

3. CHAP. XLV.

THen Joseph, who by no means now could hide
His Brotherly affection longer, cry'd,
Put all Men forth; and he was left alone
When to his Brethren he himself made known.
Then Joseph weeping lifted up his Voice
So loud, that Pharaoh's Servants heard the noise.
And to his Brethren did himself discover,
And said, Lo! I am Joseph your own Brother;
And doth my Father live? Whereat amaz'd,
They could not speak but at each other gaz'd.
Then Joseph said, Come near I pray, behold,
I am your Brother Joseph whom ye sold
To Egypt, be not grieved now therefore,
Nor vex your selves, for God sent me before
To save Life; for for these two Years there hath been
A Famine, and five more to come, wherein
Seed-time nor Harvest shall at all be seen.
The Lord I say hath sent me to provide
A Place, and strangely save your Lives beside.
So now ye sent me not, but it was rather
The Lord, and he hath made me as a Father
Unto the King, Lord of his Houshold, and
A Ruler over all this spacious Land.
Unto my Father therefore go your way,
And tell him, Thus doth thy Son Joseph say:
[Page 74]
The Lord hath rais'd me to an high degree
In Egypt, tarry not but come to me,
And thou shalt dwell in Goshen and be nigh me,
And with Provision there will I supply thee,
Both thou and thine, Flocks, Herds, and all thou hast,
(For yet these five Years will the Famine last)
Lest otherwise Provision being scant,
Thou and thy Family may come to want.
Behold, both you and Benjamin my Brother
Do see that it is I and not another:
Go tell my Father this amazing Story,
And bring him hither to behold my Glory.
Then falling on his youngest Brother's Neck,
And he on his, they o'er each other wept:
And to the rest he did likewise, wherefore
They now were more familiar than before.
And now whilst they discoursed, the Report
Of their arrival came to Pharaoh's Court,
And he was pleas'd thereat, wherefore he said
To Joseph, Let thy Brethren straitway lade
Their Beasts with Corn, and thus unto them say,
Unto your Native Country hast away,
And fetch your Father and your Housholds, and
I'll feed you with the good things of the Land.
And since you are commanded by the King,
Take Waggons with you hence wherein to bring
Your Wives, your Little ones, and come down hither,
Your Father, you and yours altogether;
And never heed to bring your Houshold-stuff,
For here in Egypt you shall have enough.
Then did the Isr'elites accordingly:
And Joseph ord'ring them a large supply
[Page 75]
Of Necessaries for their Journey, sent
Waggons according to the King's intent.
And to each Man he gave a Suit of Cloaths,
But on his Brother Benjamin bestows
Five Suits, and as a Token of his Love,
A Sum of Money over and above.
And thus he sent ev'n for his Father's use,
Of the best things that Egypt did produce,
Ten Asses load, and ten she-Asses load
Of Bread and Meat, to spend upon the Road.
Then sending them away, he said, I pray
See that you do not fall out by the way.
And leaving Egypt with their num'rous Train,
Unto their Father they return'd again:
To whom, as soon as e'er they did arrive,
They said, Our Brother Joseph's yet alive,
And Lord of all the Land, which sore dismay'd
Him, for he scarce believed what they said:
Then they of all that past gave him relation,
And shew'd the Waggons for a confirmation,
Which being manifest before his Eyes,
He rais'd himself and said, it doth suffice;
Joseph my Son is yet alive, and I
Will go to see him once before I die.
[Page 77]

4. CHAP. XLVII.

THen to King Pharaoh Joseph went, and said,
My Father and his Sons, with all they had
In their own Countrey, are come down to me,
And in the Land of Goshen now they be.
Five of his Brethren also with him went,
Whom he unto King Pharaoh did present.
And Pharaoh asked them about their Trade,
And they unto the King reply'd and said,
We and our Fathers while we were at home
Were Shepherds all, and now behold, we come
[Page 78]
With all our Flocks, to get some Pasture here,
For in our Land the Famine is severe:
We therefore pray thee to appoint a Portion
Unto thy Servants in the Land of Goshen.
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, I impow'r thee
To use thy pleasure, Goshen is before thee;
Settle thy Father and thy Brethren there,
And if among them active Men there are,
Commit my Cattle to their special care.
And Joseph brought his aged Father in
Before the King, and Jacob blessed him.
And Pharaoh asking him about his Age,
He said, The Years of my Life's Pilgrimage
Are but an Hundred Thirty, very few
And evil, nor have I attain'd unto
The Years of my Fore-Fathers longer age,
Which they past thro' in this their Pilgrimage.
And Jacob blest the King again, and then
Out of his Presence he return'd again.
And Joseph plac'd his Father and Relations
In Egypt, and appointed them Possessions
In the best of the Land, ev'n in the Land
Of Ramases, according to the King's Command:
And there he nourisht them with fit supplies
Of Bread, according to their Families.
And now the People having spent their store,
And Famine still increasing more and more,
Egypt and Canaan too, for want of Bread,
Were sore distrest and almost famished.
And Joseph took the Money they did bring
To buy their Corn, and kept it for the King.
[Page 79]
Wherefore the People came to represent
Their case to him, both Corn and Coin be'ng spent.
And Joseph said, If Money be grown scant,
Bring me your Cattle and ye shall not want.
And they brought Horses, Asses and their Flocks
And Herds of Cattel, ev'n all their Stocks,
And gave to Joseph in exchange for Bread,
For which the People he for that Year fed;
And when that Year was past, the second Year
They came again, and said, we can't forbear
To let thee know our want, my Lord doth know
Thou hast our Money and our Cattle too,
And there is nothing left (so hard's our fate)
But only each Man's Person and Estate,
If thou wilt give us Bread, into thy hands
Will we resign our Persons and our Lands:
And be the Servants of the King for ever,
From Death therefore our hungry Souls deliver,
And take some pity on our wretched state,
Lest we dye, and the Land be desolate.
And the Egyptians sold each Man his Field,
Because the Famine over them prevail'd;
And all their Lands became the King's Possession,
And Joseph plac'd them at his own discretion.
But the Land of the Priests he purchas'd not,
For Pharaoh had assign'd to them their Lot;
And they receiv'd their Food from Pharaoh's hands,
Wherefore they had no need to sell their Lands.
And Joseph said unto them, now behold,
You and your Lands are unto Pharaoh sold:
Lo, here is Seed to sow in each Man's Field,
And when the Land its ripe increase shall yield,
[Page 80]
A fifth part shall belong unto the Crown,
And th' other four parts shall be your own,
For Seed to sow your Lands, and for supplies
Of Food convenient for your Families.
And they said; Thou hast sav'd our Lives, my Lord,
Thy gracious favour unto us afford,
And we will do according to thy word.
And Joseph made it a Decree, to stand
Ev'n to this day throughout th' Egyptian Land,
That Pharaoh should have a fifth part, except
The Priests Lands, which unto themselves they kept.
And in the Land of Egypt, ev'n in Goshen
Did Isr'el dwell, and therein had possession,
And grew and multiply'd exceeding fast.
And Jacob liv'd till seventeen Years were past:
So that the sum of Jacob's age appears
To be an hundred forty seven Years.
And when the time approach'd that he must die,
He called Joseph, unto whom he said, If I
Have now found favour in thy sight, I pray,
Swear thou unto me that thou wilt not lay
My Bones in Egypt, for I fain would lie
Among my Ancestors when e'er I die,
And not be bury'd here; therefore fulfil
This my Desire: and he reply'd, I will;
And he said, swear unto me, which he did:
This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

cattle, corn, famine, food, plenty, store, waste

Source text

Title: Scriptural Poems

Subtitle: Being Several Portions of Scripture Digested into English Verse

Author: John Bunyan

Publisher: J.Blare

Publication date: 1700

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: London

Digital edition

Original author(s): John Bunyan

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 56 to 61
  • 2 ) pages 65 to 69
  • 3 ) pages 73 to 75
  • 3 ) pages 77 to 80

Responsibility:

Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > poetry

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.

Acknowledgements