As I one evening sat before my cell,
Methought a star did shoot into my lap.
I rose and shook my clothes, as knowing well
That from small fires comes oft no small mishap;
When suddenly I heard one say,
“Do as thou usest, disobey,
Expel good motions from thy breast,
Which have the face of fire, but end in rest.”

I, who had heard of music in the spheres,
But not of speech in stars, began to muse;
But turning to my God, whose ministers
The stars and all things are: “If I refuse,
Dread Lord,” said I, “so oft my good,
Then I refuse not ev’n with blood
To wash away my stubborn thought;
For I will do or suffer what I ought.

“But I have also stars and shooters too,
Born where thy servants both artilleries use.
My tears and prayers night and day do woo
And work up to thee; yet thou dost refuse.
Not but I am (I must say still)
Much more obliged to do thy will
Than thou to grant mine; but because
Thy promise now hath ev’n set thee thy laws.

“Then we are shooters both, and thou dost deign
To enter combat with us, and contest
With thine own clay. But I would parley fain:
Shun not my arrows, and behold my breast.
Yet if thou shunnest, I am thine:
I must be so, if I am mine.
There is no articling with thee:
I am but finite, yet thine infinitely.”

The text is taken from Poetry Foundation.

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The featured image is “Praying Man” by Vittore Carpaccio (1465–1526) and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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