The Distracted Puritane

April 3, 2010

Richard Corbett, later Bishop of Oxford and then Norwich, wrote this poem sometime before 1621. It obviously attacks Puritan non-conformity but there is a none-too-subtle dig at the practical divinity advocated by the likes of William Perkins and Richard Greenham for good measure. The poem was first published in the posthumous Poëtica Stromata (1648), 71-75. There is also a modern edition: The Poems of Richard Corbett, ed. by J. A. W. Bennett and H. R. Trevor-Roper (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955), 56-59.

Silly but fun.


Am I madd, o noble Festus,

When zeale and godly knowledge

Haue put mee in hope

To deale with the Pope,

As well as the best in the Colledge?

Boldly I preach, hate a Crosse, hate a Surplice,

Miters, Copes, and Rotchets:

Come heare mee pray nine times a day,

And fill your heads with Crotchets.


In the howse of pure Emanuel

I had my Education;

Where my friends surmise

I dazeld mine Eyes,

With the Light of Revelation.

Boldly I preach, &c.


They bound mee like a Bedlam,

They lash’t my foure poore quarters;

Whilst this I endure

Faith makes mee sure

To be One of Foxes Martyrs.

Boldly I preach, &c.


These iniuryes I suffer

Through Anti-Christs perswasions:

Take of this Chaine,

Neither Rome nor Spaine

Can resist my strong invasions.

Boldly I preach, &c.


Of the Beasts ten hornes (God blesse us)

I haue knock’t of three allready:

If they let mee alone,

I’le leaue him none;

But they say I am too heady.

Boldly I preach, &c.


When I sack’d the Seaven-hilld Citty

I mett the great redd Dragon:

I kept him aloofe

With the armour of proofe,

Though here I haue never a rag on.

Boldly I preach, &c.


With a fiery Sword and Targett

There fought I with this monster:

But the sonnes of pride

My zeale deride,

And all my deedes misconster.

Boldly I preach, &c.


I unhorst the whore of Babel

With a Launce of Inspirations:

I made her stinke,

And spill her drinck

In the Cupp of Abominations.

Boldly I preach, &c.


I haue seene two in a Vision,

With a Flying Booke betweene them:

I haue bin in dispaire

Fiue times a yeare,

And cur’d by reading Greenham.

Boldly I preach, &c.


I observ’d in Perkins Tables

The black Lines of Damnation:

Those crooked veines

Soe struck in my braines,

That I fear’d my Reprobation

Boldly I preach, &c.


In the holy tongue of Chanaan

I plac’d my chiefest pleasure:

Till I prickt my foote

With an Hebrew roote,

That I bledd beyond all measure.

Boldly I preach, &c.


I appear’d before the Arch-Bishopp,

And all the high Commission:

I gaue him noe Grace,

But told him to his face

That he favour’d Superstition.

Boldly I preach, hate a Crosse, hate a Surplice,

Miters, Copes, and Rotchets:

Come heare mee pray nine times a day,

And fill your heads with Crotchets.




April 1, 2010

From Francis Quarles, onetime secretary to James Ussher:

Those hands, which Heav’n like to a curten spred,
Are spred upon the Crosse: those hands which did
Consolidate the metals in the ground,
One of those metals gave those hands the wound:
See his hands spred, as if he meant to grace
His Executioners with his last embrace,
Nay, all the world: for if his fist can hold
The winds, his armes can all the world enfold.
See there Longinus with his ruder speare
Peirce his Diviner side, from whence appeare
Water and blood, whose white and red present
Th’ admitting and confirming Sacrament.
See here his feet nail’d to the Crosse, which done
Those feet with streames of purple did so runne,
That in one sense it might be understood
Our Saviours feet were swift to shed blood:
His hands and feet thus forced to obey
The cruell nailes command; may we not say
The Starre that out of Iacob shin’d so farre
Was then, or never made a fixed Starre?

(From Divine Poems on the Passion of the Christ, 1647)