Content, to My Dearest Lucasia

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).

1

   Content, the false World's best disguise,
   The search and faction of the Wise,
   Is so abstruse and hid in night,
   That, like that Fairy Red-cross Knight,
Who treacherous Falshood for clear Truth had got, [5]
Men think they have it when they have it not.

2

   For Courts Content would gladly own,
   But she ne'er dwelt about a Throne:
   And to be flatter'd, rich, and great,
   Are things which do Mens senses cheat. [10]
But grave Experience long since this did see,
Ambition and Content would ne'er agree.

3

   Some vainer would Content expect
   From what their bright Out-sides reflect:
   But sure Content is more Divine [15]
   Than to be digg'd from Rock or Mine:
And they that know her beauties will confess,
She needs no lustre from a glittering dress.

4

   In Mirth some place her, but she scorns
   Th' assistance of such crackling thorns, [20]
   Nor owes her self to such thin sport,
   That is so sharp and yet so short:
And Painters tell us they the same strokes place,
To make a laughing and a weeping face.

5

   Others there are that place Content [25]
   In Liberty from Government:
   But whomsoe're Passions deprave,
   Though free from shackles, he's a slave.
Content and Bondage differ only then,
When we are chain'd by Vices, not by Men. [30]

6

   Some think the Camp Content does know,
   And that she sits o'th'Victor's brow:
   But in his Laurel there is seen
   Often a Cypress-bow between.
Nor will Content her self in that place give, [35]
Where Noise and Tumult and Destruction live.

7

   But yet the most Discreet believe,
   The Schools this Jewel do receive,
   And thus far's true without dispute,
   Knowledge is still the sweetest fruit. [40]
But whilst men seek for Truth they lose their Peace;
And who heaps Knowledge, Sorrow doth increase.

8

   But now some sullen Hermite smiles,
   And thinks he all the World beguiles,
   And that his Cell and Dish contain [45]
   What all mankind wish for in vain.
But yet his pleasure's follow'd with a Groan,
For man was never born to be alone.

9

   Content her self best comprehends
   Betwixt two souls, and they two friends, [50]
   Whose either joyes in both are fix'd,
   And multiply'd by being mix'd:
Whose minds and interests are so the same;
Their Griefs, when once imparted, lose that name.

10

   These far remov'd from all bold noise, [55]
   And (what is worse) all hollow joyes,
   Who never had a mean design,
   Whose flame is serious and divine,
And calm, and even, must contented be,
For they've both Union and Society. [50]

11

   Then, my Lucasia, we who have
   Whatever Love can give or crave;
   Who can with pitying scorn survey
   The Trifles which the most betray;
With innocence and perfect friendship fir'd [65]
By Vertue joyn'd, and by our Choice retir'd.

12

   Whose Mirrours are the crystal Brooks,
   Or else each others Hearts and Looks;
   Who cannot wish for other things
   Then Privacy and Friendship brings: [70]
Whose thoughts and persons chang'd and mixt are one,
Enjoy Content, or else the World hath none.