Robert Gomersall

Printed by M.F. for John Marriot.

[Page 4]

1. To the Deane, from Flower in Northamptonshire 1625. now the worthy Bishop of Norwich.

STill to be silent, or to write in Prose
Were a like sloath, such as I leave to those,
Who either want the grace of wit, or have
Untoward arguments: like him that gave
Life to the flea, or who without a guest
Would prove that famine was the onely feast:
Selfe tyrants, who their braines doubly torment
Both for their matter, and their ornament.


[Page 67]
Now I remember what I dream't last night,
(If it be safe to call a vision, Dreame,)
I saw our Sforza in so pale a shape,
That Envy never was describ'd more wan,
Who frighted me with this relation.
[Page 68]
STart not astonisht mortall: let no feare
Chill thee to my pale image, but fixe here:
Let thy once Prince be thy now spectacle,
Whilst I the direst Tragedy shall tell
That ever challeng'd wonder: briefly then
I was betraid, betraid, and by those men
By whom I conquer'd: tis an happy end
To perish for, but never by a friend,
This our first death: but then - O could curst Time
Dare ever such a Minute, such a Crime?
Then was I pinion'd, then these royall hands
Were forc'd obedient to the base commands
Of an insulting Conqueror, and knit
Unto a hated union; t'were fit
If ever Heav'n shed teares, then to distill
Mournings Elixar, though th' expence should kill
The hopes of after Ages: but Heav'n smil'd
Nor any courteous clouds were wisely pil'd
Over the Suns sharpe beames, but they gaz'd on
With the same visage of compassion
As did my torturers, by whom I'me brought
Unto a place the which some shallower thought
Has faint by term'd a prison, but to tell
The truth of horror, t'was on Earth, an Hell:
Darknesse so dwelt there, that I might be wonne
To wish the cruell comfort of the Sunne,
Which earst I rav'dat: twas a narrow cave,
Form'd to the modell of a lesser grave,
Or straitned Coffin, all was length, for they
Left not the hight that I might kneele to pray,
Was ever such a bed? could ever yet
Cruelty boast of such a subtle wit
To bury so! some that have entred Earth
Alive, like me, yet by the usuall mirth
[Page 69]
Of justice had their buriall with meat,
As if't should be their punishment to eate,
From which Ime barr'd, I had no food, but me,
And yet a guest of famine; Courtesie
At last ceiz'd heav'n, I dy'd, and so though late,
I both appeas'd and triumpht over Fate.
But where am I? what extasie was this?
[Page 23]

3. Canto. II.
The Argument.

The twelve peices of his wife
Cut out by the Levites knife,
To the field to doe him right,
Draw the angry Israelite.
Abrahams Prayer, Heav'ns decree,
Benjamins glad victory
Twice repeated, doe prolong
My story to a second song.


[Page 34]
When Caesar did not sticke, nor blush to doe
What they detested, who advis'd him too,
When that all lawes their ancient force might loose,
He made a Choyce of him that was to Choose.
Now all occasions can perswade to fight,
When Power is misinterpreted for Right.
There is a Lust of killing men so great,
Rivers of blood can scarce asswage the heat
Our lives are cheaper then the lives of beasts,
Then those whose very being is for feasts;
Who have no use but for the throat: hard plight!
Anger not kills them, but our appetite
If we have eaten once, we spare: and then
If we are full are kind: but to kill men
[Page 35]
We have a lasting appetite, shedding blood,
Our famine is increas'd ev'n by our food:
Such Erisichthons are we; they that have
Unlimited desires, Death and the Grave
But shadow this affection, and to it
Compar'd, the Horse-leach wants an Appetite:
It may be weighing mans high faculties
(Which make him claime a kinred with the skies)
Wee seeme to doubt of his mortality
And onely strive to know if he can die.
[Page 56]

5. Canto. III.

The Argument.

The Levites vision, Phineah's Prayer,
The Israelites late caus'd despaire
Now turn'd to courage, when by them
A new invented stratagem
Drawes the enemy from the walls,
Untill within their net he falls,
With the full righting of the wrong
Does both conclude, and crowne my Song.


[Page 59]
Such holy lessons doe misfortunes teach,
Which make our once bad thoughts bravely to reach
At Heav'n and glory: if you marke it well
Whilst yet it was a populous Israel
[Page 60]
It was a proud one too, but when that now
God lookes upon them with an angry brow,
When all their troopes halfe weary and halfe sicke,
Are growne to easier Arithmeticke,
Th'are truly penitent; hence we may see
The pow'r, the good pow'r of Adversitie,
W'are bad if we are happy, if it please
Heav'n to indow us with a little ease,
If riches doe increase, untill our store
Meet our desires, till we can wish no more,
If that our garners swell (untill they feare
Ruine from that with which they furnisht were)
We but abuse these benefits: our Peace
Brings forth but factions, if that strangers cease
To give us the affront; our selves will be
Both the defendant, and the Enemy.
Our riches are our snares, which being giv'n,
To man, to make a purchase of the heav'n,
We buy our ruine with them, the abuse
Is double, in the getting, and the use,
So that our summes unto such heaps are growne
When Avarice succeeds Oppression.
In briefe, our garners so well stuff'd, so eramm'd,
Detaine our Corne, as if that it were damn'd,
To everlasting prison, none appeares,
And thus we give dearth to the fruitfull yeares:
Being to such a proud rebellion growne,
Famine is not heav'ns judgement but our owne.
So wretched are we, so we skilfull grow
In crimes, the which the heathen doe not know.
We wrong God for his blessings, as if thus
We then were thankfull, if injurious.
Why should not mercy winne us? why should we
Be worse by that, whence we should betterd be?
[Page 61]
Blessings were ne're intended for our harme,
Nor should the snake have stung, when he was warme
Him that had warm'd him. O how base is man!
How foolish Irreligion has wanne
Upon his reason too! Doe we not say
That hee's a beast, whom onely stripes can sway.
O what is man then! who ne're heares his Lord,
Till that the famine call him, or the sword.
This is a selection from the original text


appetite, death, earth, killing, mirth, mortality

Source text

Title: Poems

Author: Robert Gomersall

Publisher: M. F.

Publication date: 1633

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 11993 Physical description: [4], 16, [14], 70, [18], 81, [15] p. Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery Reel position: STC / 958:20

Digital edition

Original author(s): Robert Gomersall

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) Title Page
  • 2 ) pp. 4 (To the Deane, "Still to be silent ... their ornament", 67-9 ("Pic. Now I remember ... what extasie was this?), 23 (The Levites Revenge, canto 2: the argument), 34-5 (The Levites Revenge, canto 2: "When Caesar did not stick ... if he can die"), 56 (canto 3, the argument), 59-61 (canto 3, "such holy lessons ... or the sword").


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.