Henry More


The Oracle
A Paraphrasticall Interpretation of the Answer of Apollo, when he was consulted by Amelius whither Plotinus soul went when he departed this life.

Tune my strings to sing some sacred verse
Of my dead friend; in an immortal strain
His mighty praise I loudly will rehearse
With hony-dewèd words: some golden vein
The strucken chords right sweetly shall resound.
Come, blessèd Muses, let’s with one joynt noise,
With strong impulse and full harmonious sound,
Speak out his excellent worth. Advance your voice,
As once you did for great Aeacides,
Rapt with an heavenly rage, in decent dance,
Mov’d at the measures of Meonides.
Go to, you holy Quire, let’s all at once
Begin, and to the end hold up the song,
Into one heavenly harmony conspire;
I Phoebus with my lovely locks ymong
The midst of you shall sit, and life inspire.
Divine Plotinus, yet now more divine
Then when thy noble soul so stoutly strove
In that dark prison, where strong chains confine,
Keep down the active mind it cannot move
To what it loveth most. Those fleshly bands
Thou now hast loos’d, broke from Necessitie.
From bodies storms, and frothie working sands
Of this low restless life now setten free,
Thy feet do safely stand upon a shore,
Which foaming waves beat not in swelling rage,
Nor angry seas do treat with fell uprore;
Well hast thou swommen out, and left that stage
Of wicked Actours, that tumultuous rout
Of ignorant men. Now thy pure steps thou stay’st
In that high path, where Gods light shines about,
And perfect Right its beauteous beams displayes.
How oft, when bitter wave of troubled flesh,
And whirl-pool-turnings of the lower spright,
Thou stoutly strov’st with, Heaven did thee refresh,
Held out a mark to guide thy wandring flight!
While thou in tumbling seas didst strongly toyl
To reach the steddie Land, struckst with thy arms
The deafing surges, that with rage do boyl;
Steer’d by that signe thou shunns’t those common harms.
How oft when rasher cast of thy soul’s eye
Had thee misguided into crooked ways,
Wast thou directed by the Deitie?
They held out to thee their bright lamping rayes:
Dispers’d the mistie darknesse, safely set
Thy feeble feet in the right path again.
Nor easie sleep so closely ere beset
The eyelids, nor did dimnesse ere so stain
Thy radient sight,  but thou such things did see
Even in that tumult, that few can arrive
Of all are namèd from Philosophie
To that high pitch, or to such secrets dive.
   But sith this body thy pure soul divine  
Has left, quite risen from her rotten grave,
Thou now among those heavenly wights dost shine,
Whose wonne this glorious lustre does embrave;
There lovely Friendship, mild smiling Cupid’s there,
With lively locks and amorous suavitie,
Full of pure pleasure, and fresh flowring chear;
Ambrosian streams sprung from the Deitie
Do frankly flow, and soft love-kindling winds
Do strike with a delicious sympathie
Those tender spirits, and fill up their minds
With satisfying joy. The purity
Of holy fire their heart doth then invade,
And sweet Perswasion, meek Tranquillitie,
The gentle-breathing Air, the Heavens nought sad,
Do maken up this great felicitie.
Here Radamanthus, and just Aeacus,
Here Minos wonnes, with those that liv’d of yore
I’ th’ golden age, here Plato vigorous
In holy virtue, and fair Pythagore.
These been the godly Off-spring of Great Jove,
And liven here, and whoso fill’d the Quire
And sweet assembly of immortal Love,
Purging their spirits with refining fire;
These with the happy Angels live in blisse,
Full fraught with joy, and lasting pure delight,
In friendly feasts, and life-outfetching kisse.
But ah! dear Plotin what smart did thy sprite
Indure, before thou reach’st this high degree
Of happinesse? what agonies, what pains
Thou underwent’st to set thy soul so free
From baser life? She now in heaven remains
Mongst the pure Angels. O thrice-happy wight!
Thou art now got into the Land of Life,
Fast plac’d in view of that Eternal Light,
And sitt’st secure from the foul bodies strife.
But now, you comely virgins, make an end,
Break off this musick, and deft seemly Round,
Leave off your dance; For Plotin my dear friend
Thus much my golden harp should sound.


The Rev. Alexander B. Grosart, LL.D, F.S.A (1878),  The Complete Poems of Dr. Henry More (1614-1687), (Chertsey Worthies’ Library, printed for private circulation). This edition is further reproduced as: Henry More: The Complete Poems, edited by Alexander B. Grosart (1878).  Anglistica & Americana (A Series of Reprints Selected by Bernhard Fabian, Edgar Mertner, Karl Schneider and Marvin Spevack), Vol. 2., Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, Hildesheim, 1969.