On the Flightness of Thought

Shame upon my thoughts, O shame!
How they fly in order broken.
Much therefore I’ll feel the blame
When the Trump of Doom has spoken.

At my psalms, they oft are set

On the path the Fiend must pave them ;
Evermore, with fash and fret,
In God’s sight they misbehave them.

Through contending crowds they fleet,
Companies of wanton women,
Silent wood or strident street,
Swifter than the breezes skimming.

Now through paths of loveliness,
Now through ranks of shameful riot,
Onward ever more they press,
Fledged with folly and disquiet

O’er the Ocean’s sounding deep
Now they flash like fiery levin ;
Now at one vast bound they leap
Up from earth into the heaven.

Thus afar and near they roam
On their race of idle folly;
Till at last to reason’s home
They return right melancholy.
Would you bind them wrist to wrist-
Foot to foot the truants shackle,
From your toils away they twist
Into air with giddy cackle.
Crack of whip or edge of steel
Cannot hold them in your keeping;
With the wriggle of an eel
From your grasp they still go leaping.

Never yet was fetter found,
Never lock contrived, to hold them;
Never dungeon underground,
Moor or mountain keep controlled them

Thou Whose glance alone makes pure,
Searcher of all hearts and Saviour,
With Thy Sevenfold Spirit cure
My stray thoughts’ unblessed behaviour.

God of earth, air, fire and flood,
Rule me, rule me in such measure,
That, to my eternal good,
I may live to love Thy pleasure.

Christ’s own flock thus may I reach,
At the flash of Death’s sharp sickle,
Just in deed, of steadfast speech,
Not, as now, infirm and fickle.

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