No solid happiness

The few women poets contemporary with Shakespeare and Donne were more or less completely overshadowed. (Germaine Greer and others have helped a few of them into the light.) Later in the seventeenth century, women poets were better known, particularly the introspective, devotional kind. George Herbert did a lot to make poetry part of being devout, and Ann (or sometimes An) Collins was one of the more gifted of his many admirers. The themes and images here are conventional, but she brings a simplicity and felicity of phrase that are very pleasing, and a gentle conviction that she knows of what she speaks. I like the last line especially. This is “The Soul's Home,” published around 1650.

Such is the force of each created thing
That it no solid happiness can bring,
Which to our minds can give contentment sound;
For, like as Noah’s dove no succour found,
Till she returned to him that sent her out,
Just so, the soul in vain may seek about
For rest or satisfaction any where,
Save in his presence who hath sent her here;
Yea though all earthly glories should unite
Their pomp and splendour to give such delight,
Yet could they no more sound contentment bring
Than star-light can make grass or flowers spring.