"But while confin'd to this dark Cell I lie, / My captive Soul can't reach its native Sky"

— Arwaker, Edmund (c.1655-1730)


Date
1686, 1712
Metaphor
"But while confin'd to this dark Cell I lie, / My captive Soul can't reach its native Sky"
Metaphor in Context
Why from my Native Station am I sent
A Captive to this narrow Tenement?
How oft wou'd I attempt a shameful Flight,
In Fire or Water bid the World good Night?
How oft have I their happy Fate admir'd,
Who by the Sword or Poison have expir'd?
But to gain Heav'n, we must Heav'ns leisure stay,
Such rash Attempters have mistook the way.
As only Heav'n our Beings did bestow,
'Tis Heav'ns sole right to countermand them too:
And when to take what That first gave we strive,
We impiously encroach on God's Prerogative;
And on our Souls by this unlawful Act,
In breaking Pris'n we a new Guilt contract:
While th'impious Course we take to set us free,
Betrays us to a greater Slavery.
Had I some winding Lab'rinth for my Jail,
I then might hope for Freedom to prevail:
But while imbody'd in this Flesh I lie,
Heav'n must be the Deliverer, not I.
Let the mistaken Wretch his Pris'n accuse,
Which for his Flight did no kind Means refuse.
Wou'd some kind Chink one heavenly Ray admit
To bless my Eyes, how wou'd I honour it?
But while confin'd to this dark Cell I lie,
My
captive Soul can't reach its native Sky,
Here, even my Will's a slave to Passions made,
Passions which have its Liberty betray'd.
When piously it is inclin'd to good,
'Tis by repugnant Passions still withstood.
Thus Israel in th'Ægyptian Bondage far'd,
While from the Service of their God debarr'd;
When to his Worship they desir'd to go,
The Tyrant Phar'oh always answer'd, No.
Oh my dear God! visit this humble Cell,
And see within what narrow Walls I dwell.
But if the Locks, and Bars, and Grates afright,
Command them all to open at thy sight.
Command them, Lord, to set thy Servant free;
Nor will this Deed without Example be:
Angels have left their Thrones and Bliss above,
To ransom those whom thou art pleas'd to Love:
Thus Peter did his op'ning Prison view,
Yet scarce believ'd the Miracle was true.
But no such Favour is indulg'd to me,
I want (alas!) such happy Liberty.
Come, my dear Lord! unlock my Prison Gate,
And let my Soul tow'rd Heav'n expatiate:
In triumph tho' thy Slave conducted be,
I'll bless the Chains that bind me close to Thee.
To Thee my Hands are thro' the Gates addrest;
O that I cou'd but follow with the rest!
The captive Bird about its Cage will fly,
And the least way for its Escape espy,
And with its Bill gnaws thro' the Twiggy Grate
A secret Passage to its first free State.
Can'st thou, my God! be deaf to all my Cries,
And more obdurate than my Prison is?
Nor for my Self, but Thee do I complain,
Thy sacred Praise, which I wou'd Sing, in vain;
For here (alas!) I cannot once rejoyce,
Nor touch my Strings, nor raise my tuneful Voice.
For Birds confin'd, to rage convert their Notes,
Or sullen grown, lock up their silent Throats.
Come then, my God, unlock my Prison-gate,
And let my Soul tow'rds Heaven Expatiate!
There my loud Voice in joyful Notes I'll raise,
And sing Eternal Anthems to thy Praise.
But if thou wilt not this Request allow,
At thy own Glory thou must envious grow.
Categories
Provenance
Searching "soul" and "cell" in HDIS (Poetry)
Citation
Edmund Arwaker's translation of Herman Hugo's Pia desideria emblematis (Antwerp, 1624). 42 Latin editions between 1624 and 1757. Arwaker worked from the 1636 edition of Hugo; first published in England in 1686. At least 4 entries in ESTC (1686, 1690, 1702, 1712).

Text from Pia Desideria: or, Divine Addresses, In Three Books. 4th ed., corr. (London: printed for R. and J. Bonwicke, 1712) <Link to UVa E-Text Center><Link to 1702 3rd edition in Google Books>

See also Pia Desideria: or, Divine Addresses, in Three Books. Illustrated with XLVII. Copper-Plates. Written in Latine by Herm. Hugo. Englished by Edm. Arwaker, M.A. (London: Printed for Henry Bonwicke, at the Red-Lion in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1686). <Link to ESTC>
Date of Entry
08/16/2005

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.