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Short poem

Francis Quarles (1592-1644)

Why dost thou Shade thy Lovely Face?

              1Why dost thou shade thy lovely face? Oh, why
              2Does that eclipsing hand so long deny
              3The sunshine of thy soul-enliv'ning eye?
              4Without that light, what light remains in me?
              5Thou art my life, my way, my light; in thee
              6I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.
              7Thou art mv life; if thou but turn away
              8My life's a thousand deaths: thou art my way;
              9Without thee, Lord, I travel not, but stray.
            10My light thou art; without thy glorious sight
            11Mine eyes are darken'd with perpetual night.
            12My God, thou art my way, my life, my light.
            13Thou art my way; I wander if thou fly:
            14Thou art my light; if hid, how blind am I!
            15Thou art my life; if thou withdraw, I die.
            16Mine eyes are blind and dark, I cannot see;
            17To whom or whither should my darkness flee,
            18But to the light? and who's that light but thee?
            19My path is lost, my wand'ring steps do stray;
            20I cannot safely go, nor safely stay;
            21Whom should I seek but thee, my path, my way?
            22Oh, I am dead: to whom shall I, poor I,
            23Repair? to whom shall my sad ashes fly,
            24But life? and where is life but in thine eye?
            25And yet thou turn'st away thy face, and fly'st me;
            26And yet I sue for grace, and thou deny'st me;
            27Speak, art thou angry, Lord, or only try'st me?
            28Unscreen those heavenly lamps, or tell me why
            29Thou shad'st thy face; perhaps thou think'st no eye
            30Can view those flames, and not drop down and die.
            31If that be all, shine forth, and draw thee nigher;
            32Let me behold and die, for my desire
            33Is phnix-like to perish in that fire.
            34Death-conquer'd Laz'rus was redeem'd by thee;
            35If I am dead, Lord, set death's prisoner free;
            36Am I more spent, or stink I worse than he?
            37If my puff'd life be out, give leave to tine
            38My shameless snuff at that bright lamp of thine;
            39Oh, what's thy light the less for lighting mine?
            40If I have lost my path, great Shepherd, say,
            41Shall I still wander in a doubtful way?
            42Lord, shall a lamb of Israel's sheep-fold stray?
            43Thou art the pilgrim's path, the blind man's eye,
            44The dead man's life; on thee my hopes rely;
            45If thou remove, I err, I grope, I die.
            46Disclose thy sunbeams; close thy wings, and stay;
            47See, see how I am blind, and dead, and stray,
            48O thou, that art my light, my life, my way.


1] Cf. note on Wither's The Marigold. The Biblical text on which this poem is based is Job xiii.24: "Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?" At the end of the poem Quarles adds quotations from St. Augustine and St. Anselm and the following epigram:

If Heav'ns all-quickning eyes vouchsafe to shine
Upon our souls, we slight; If not, we whine:
Our Equinoctiall hearts can never lie
Secure beneath the Tropicks of that eye.

34-36] See John xi.1-46.

37] tine: kindle.

38] snuff: burnt-out candle-wick.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Francis Quarles, Emblemes, Book III (1635); facs. edn., intro. A. D. Cousins (Delmar: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1991). PR 3652 E3 1991 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1635
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.312; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/30

Rhyme: aaa

Other poems by Francis Quarles