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Henry Constable to God the Father

Pioneer of the sonnet

  • Great God, within whose simple essence we
  • Nothing but that which is thyself can find,
  • When on thy self thou didst reflect thy mind,
  • Thy thought was God which took the form of thee;
  • And when this God, thus born, thou lov’st, and he
  • Lov’d thee again, with passion of like kind,
  • (As lovers’ sighs, which meet become one wind),
  • Both breath’d one spright of equal Deity.
  • Eternal Father, whence of these two do come,
  • And wil’st the title of my Father have,
  • An heavenly knowledge in my mind engrave,
  • That that thy Son’s true Image may become:
  • And sent my heart with sighs of holy Love,
  • That that the temple of the Spright may prove.

Henry Constable (1592–1613) was an English poet and pioneer in the sonnet form, having composed one of the first English sonnet sequences in literature. Converting to Catholicism in 1591, an action punishable at the time by death, Constable lived in exile in continental Europe until the accession of King James. Soon after his return, in his attempts to influence the king regarding greater tolerance for Catholics, Constable was imprisoned for six years before once again returning to exile, where he died in Liege, Belgium.

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