Dialogue on the Threshold

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Thursday, 15 April 2010

A Dish of Dainties for the Devil

A godly father sitting on a draught,
To do as need and nature hath us taught,
Mumbled (as was his manner) certain prayers,
And unto him the Devil straight repairs,
And boldly to revile him he begins,
Alleging that such prayers are deadly sins;
And that it showed he was devoid of grace,
To speak to God from so unmeet a place.
The reverent man, though at first dismayed,
Yet strong in faith, to Satan thus he said:
"Thou damned spirit, wicked, false and lying,
Despairing thine own good, and ours envying:
Each take his due, and me thou canst not hurt,
To God my prayer I meant, to thee the dirt.
Pure prayer ascends to him that high doth sit,
Down falls the filth, for fiends of hell more fit."

Sir John Harington, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax (London, 1596), Ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (London, 1974), p. 94 [spelling and punctuation modernised]

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