Katherine Philips

Edited by Jack Lynch

The text comes from Philips’s Poems by the Most Deservedly Admired Mrs. Katherine Philips, the Matchless Orinda (1667).

Nature courts Happiness, although it be
Unknown as the Athenian Deity.
It dwells not in Man’s Sense, yet he supplies
That want by growing fond of its disguise.
The false appearances of Joy deceive, [5]
And seeking her unto her like we cleave.
For sinking Man hath scarce sense left to know
Whether the Plank he grasps will hold or no.
While all the business of the World is this,
To seek that Good which by mistake they miss. [10]
And all the several Passions men express
Are but for Pleasure in a diff’rent dress.
They hope for Happiness in being Great,
Or Rich, or Lov’d, then hug their own conceit.
But the Good man can find this treasure out, [15]
For which in vain others do dig and doubt;
And hath such secret full Content within,
Though all abroad be storms, yet he can sing.
His peace is made, all’s quiet in that place,
Where Nature’s cur’d and exercis’d by Grace. [20]
This inward Calm prevents his Enemies,
For he can neither envy nor despise:
But in the beauty of his ordered Mind
Doth still a new rich satisfaction find.
Innocent Epicure! whose single breast [25]
Can furnish him with a continual feast.
A Prince at home, and Scepters can refuse;
Valuing only what he cannot lose.
He studies to do good; (a man may be
Harmless for want of Opportunity:) [30]
But he’s industrious kindness to dispence,
And therein onely covets eminence.
Others do court applause and fame, but he
Thinks all that giddy noise but Vanity.
He takes no pains to be observ’d or seen, [35]
While all his acts are echoed from within.
He’s still himself, when Company are gone,
Too well employ’d ever to be alone.
For studying God in all his volumes, he
Begins the business of Eternity. [40]
And unconcern’d without, retains a power
To suck (like Bees) a sweet from ev’ry flower.
And as the Manna of the Israelites
Had several tastes to please all Appetites:
So his Contentment is that catholick food, [45]
That makes all states seem fit as well as good.
He dares not wish, nor his own fate propound;
But, if God sends, reads Love in every wound:
And would not lose for all the joys of Sense
The glorious pleasures of Obedience. [50]
His better part can neither change nor lose,
And all God’s will can bear, can do, can chuse.