Monday, February 13, 2023

Joseph Beaumont

Joseph Beaumont (1616―1699) was a college friend of Richard Crashaw at Cambridge, although as a poet is less known. After having received his M.A., he was among those scholars at Cambridge who lost their positions due to Royalist sympathies.

Taking advantage of the time this gave him, he spent eleven months writing his most ambitious poem ― an allegorical piece called Psyche, written in Spenserian stanzas, and consisting of 30,000 lines. The poem represents the soul journeying through difficulties toward eternal peace. It is thought to be the longest poem written in English.

During this period he became the domestic chaplain to Matthew Wren, Bishop of Ely, and married his step-daughter. They had six children, only one of whom survived to adulthood.

At the Restoration in 1660, he was made Doctor of Divinity and one of the king's chaplains. He became Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, and later of Peterhouse College.

The House of the Mind

As earth’s pageant passes by,
Let reflection turn thine eye
Inward, and observe thy breast;
There alone dwells solid rest.

That’s a close immurèd tower
Which can mock all hostile power:
To thyself a tenant be,
And inhabit safe and free.

Say not that this house is small,
Girt up in a narrow wall;
In a cleanly sober mind
Heaven itself full room doth find.

Th’ infinite Creator can
Dwell in it, and may not man?
Here content make thy abode
With thyself and with thy God.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.