To Saxham

Thomas Carew

Though frost and snow lock'd from mine eyes
That beauty which without door lies,
Thy gardens, orchards, walks, that so
I might not all thy pleasures know,
Yet, thou within thy gate
Art of thyself so delicate,
So full of native sweets, that bless
Thy roof with inward happiness,
As neither from nor to thy store
Winter takes aught, or spring adds more.
The cold and frozen air had starv'd
Much poor, if not by thee preserv'd,
Whose prayers have made thy table blest
With plenty, far above the rest.
The season hardly did afford
Coarse cates unto thy neighbors' board,
Yet thou hadst dainties, as the sky
Had only been thy volary;
Or else the birds, fearing the snow
Might to another Deluge grow,
The pheasant, partridge, and the lark
Flew to thy house, as to the Ark.
The willing ox of himself came
Home to the slaughter, with the lamb,
And every beast did thither bring
Himself, to be an offering.
The scaly herd more pleasure took,
Bath'd in thy dish, than in the brook;
Water, earth, air, did all conspire
To pay their tributes to thy fire,
Whose cherishing flames themselves divide
Through every room, where they deride
The night, and cold aboard; whilst they,
Like suns within, keep endless day.
Those cheerful beams send forth their light
To all that wander in the night,
And seem to beckon from aloof
The weary pilgrim to thy roof,
Where if, refresh'd, he will away,
He's faily welcome; or if stay,
Far more; which he shall hearty find
Both from the master and the hind.      
The stranger's welcome each man there
Stamp'd on his cheerful brow doth wear,
Nor doth this welcome or his cheer
Grow less 'cause he stays longer here;
There's none observes, much less repines,
How often this man sups or dines.
Thou hast no porter at the door
T'examine or keep back the poor;
Nor locks nor bolts: thy gates have been
Made only to let strangers in;
Untaught to shut, they do not fear
To stand wide open all the year,
Careless who enters, for they know
Thou never didst deserve a foe;
And as for thieves, thy bounty's such,
They cannot steal, thou giv'st so much.

Little Saxham Hall fell into disuse in the 18th century. Apart from a portion of the moat, hardly a trace now remains of the great house. The house was the estate of the Crofts family, and in Carew's time, home of his friend Sir John Crofts.

The poem is patterned after Ben Jonson's archetypal topographical poem To Penshurst