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RICHARD CRASHAW

1613?-1649

345                             Wishes to His Supposed Mistress

WHOE’ER she be—
That not impossible She
That shall command my heart and me:
Where’er she lie,
Lock’d up from mortal eye
In shady leaves of destiny:
Till that ripe birth
Of studied Fate stand forth,
And teach her fair steps to our earth:
Till that divine
Idea take a shrine
Of crystal flesh, through which to shine:
Meet you her, my Wishes,
Bespeak her to my blisses,
And be ye call’d my absent kisses.
I wish her Beauty,
That owes not all its duty
To gaudy tire, or glist’ring shoe-tie:
Something more than
Taffata or tissue can,
Or rampant feather, or rich fan.
A Face, that’s best
By its own beauty drest,
And can alone commend the rest.
A Face, made up
Out of no other shop
Than what Nature’s white hand sets ope.
A Cheek, where youth
And blood, with pen of truth,
Write what the reader sweetly ru’th.
A Cheek, where grows
More than a morning rose,
Which to no box his being owes.
Lips, where all day
A lover’s kiss may play,
Yet carry nothing thence away.
Looks, that oppress
Their richest tires, but dress
And clothe their simplest nakedness.
Eyes, that displace
The neighbour diamond, and outface
That sunshine by their own sweet grace.
Tresses, that wear
Jewels but to declare
How much themselves more precious are:
Whose native ray
Can tame the wanton day
Of gems that in their bright shades play.
Each ruby there,
Or pearl that dare appear,
Be its own blush, be its own tear.
A well-tamed Heart,
For whose more noble smart
Love may be long choosing a dart.
Eyes, that bestow
Full quivers on love’s bow,
Yet pay less arrows than they owe.
Smiles, that can warm
The blood, yet teach a charm,
That chastity shall take no harm.
Blushes, that bin
The burnish of no sin,
Nor flames of aught too hot within.
Joys, that confess
Virtue their mistress,
And have no other head to dress.
Fears, fond and slight
As the coy bride’s, when night
First does the longing lover right.
Days, that need borrow
No part of their good-morrow
From a fore-spent night of sorrow.
Days, that in spite
Of darkness, by the light
Of a clear mind, are day all night.
Nights, sweet as they,
Made short by lovers’ play,
Yet long by th’ absence of the day.
Life, that dares send
A challenge to his end,
And when it comes, say, ‘Welcome, friend!’
Sydneian showers
Of sweet discourse, whose powers
Can crown old Winter’s head with flowers
Soft silken hours,
Open suns, shady bowers;
’Bove all, nothing within that lowers.
Whate’er delight
Can make Day’s forehead bright,
Or give down to the wings of Night.
I wish her store
Of worth may leave her poor
Of wishes; and I wish—no more.
Now, if Time knows
That Her, whose radiant brows
Weave them a garland of my vows.
Her, whose just bays
My future hopes can raise,
A trophy to her present praise;
Her, that dares be
What these lines wish to see;
I seek no further, it is She.
’Tis She, and here,
Lo! I unclothe and clear
My Wishes’ cloudy character.
May she enjoy it
Whose merit dare apply it,
But modesty dares still deny it!
Such worth as this is
Shall fix my flying Wishes,
And determine them to kisses.
Let her full glory,
My fancies, fly before ye;
Be ye my fictions—but her story.

346                                               The Weeper

   HAIL, sister springs,
Parents of silver-footed rills!
   Ever bubbling things,
Thawing crystal, snowy hills!
     Still spending, never spent; I mean
     Thy fair eyes, sweet Magdalene.
   Heavens thy fair eyes be;
Heavens of ever-falling stars;
   ’Tis seed-time still with thee,
And stars thou sow’st whose harvest dares
     Promise the earth to countershine
     Whatever makes Heaven’s forehead fine.
   Every morn from hence
A brisk cherub something sips
   Whose soft influence
Adds sweetness to his sweetest lips;
     Then to his music: and his song
     Tastes of this breakfast all day long.
   When some new bright guest
Takes up among the stars a room,
   And Heaven will make a feast,
Angels with their bottles come,
     And draw from these full eyes of thine
     Their Master’s water, their own wine.
   The dew no more will weep
The primrose’s pale cheek to deck;
   The dew no more will sleep
Nuzzled in the lily’s neck:
     Much rather would it tremble here,
     And leave them both to be thy tear.
   When sorrow would be seen
In her brightest majesty,
   —For she is a Queen—
Then is she drest by none but thee:
     Then and only then she wears
     Her richest pearls—I mean thy tears.
   Not in the evening’s eyes,
When they red with weeping are
   For the Sun that dies,
Sits Sorrow with a face so fair.
     Nowhere but here did ever meet
     Sweetness so sad, sadness so sweet.
   Does the night arise?
Still thy tears do fall and fall.
   Does night lose her eyes?
Still the fountain weeps for all.
     Let day and night do what they will,
     Thou hast thy task, thou weepest still.
   Not So long she lived
Will thy tomb report of thee;
   But So long she grieved:
Thus must we date thy memory.
     Others by days, by months, by years,
     Measure their ages, thou by tears.
   Say, ye bright brothers,
The fugitive sons of those fair eyes
   Your fruitful mothers,
What make you here? What hopes can ’tice
     You to be born? What cause can borrow
     You from those nests of noble sorrow?
   Whither away so fast
For sure the sordid earth
   Your sweetness cannot taste,
Nor does the dust deserve your birth.
     Sweet, whither haste you then? O say,
     Why you trip so fast away?
   We go not to seek
The darlings of Aurora’s bed,
   The rose’s modest cheek,
Nor the violet’s humble head.
     No such thing: we go to meet
     A worthier object—our Lord’s feet.

347                            A Hymn to the Name and Honour
                                      of the Admirable Saint Teresa

LOVE, thou art absolute, sole Lord
Of life and death. To prove the word,
We’ll now appeal to none of all
Those thy old soldiers, great and tall,
Ripe men of martyrdom, that could reach down
With strong arms their triumphant crown:
Such as could with lusty breath
Speak loud, unto the face of death,
Their great Lord’s glorious name; to none
Of those whose spacious bosoms spread a throne
For love at large to fill. Spare blood and sweat:
We’ll see Him take a private seat,
And make His mansion in the mild
And milky soul of a soft child.
Scarce has she learnt to lisp a name
Of martyr, yet she thinks it shame
Life should so long play with that breath
Which spent can buy so brave a death.
She never undertook to know
What death with love should have to do.
Nor has she e’er yet understood
Why, to show love, she should shed blood;
Yet, though she cannot tell you why,
She can love, and she can die.
Scarce has she blood enough to make
A guilty sword blush for her sake;
Yet has a heart dares hope to prove
How much less strong is death than love....
Since ’tis not to be had at home,
She’ll travel for a martyrdom.
No home for her, confesses she,
But where she may a martyr be.
She’ll to the Moors, and trade with them
For this unvalued diadem;
She offers them her dearest breath,
With Christ’s name in ’t, in change for death:
She’ll bargain with them, and will give
Them God, and teach them how to live
In Him; or, if they this deny,
For Him she’ll teach them how to die.
So shall she leave amongst them sown
Her Lord’s blood, or at least her own.
Farewell then, all the world, adieu!
Teresa is no more for you.
Farewell all pleasures, sports, and joys,
Never till now esteemàed toys!
Farewell whatever dear may be—
Mother’s arms, or father’s knee!
Farewell house, and farewell home!
She’s for the Moors and Martyrdom.
Sweet, not so fast; lo! thy fair spouse,
Whom thou seek’st with so swift vows,
Calls thee back, and bids thee come
T’ embrace a milder martyrdom...
O how oft shalt thou complain
Of a sweet and subtle pain!
Of intolerable joys!
Of a death, in which who dies
Loves his death, and dies again,
And would for ever so be slain;
And lives and dies, and knows not why
To live, but that he still may die!
How kindly will thy gentle heart
Kiss the sweetly-killing dart!
And close in his embraces keep
Those delicious wounds, that weep
Balsam, to heal themselves with thus,
When these thy deaths, so numerous,
Shall all at once die into one,
And melt thy soul’s sweet mansion;
Like a soft lump of incense, hasted
By too hot a fire, and wasted
Into perfuming clouds, so fast
Shalt thou exhale to heaven at last
In a resolving sigh, and then,—
O what? Ask not the tongues of men.
Angels cannot tell; suffice,
Thyself shalt feel thine own full joys,
And hold them fast for ever there.
So soon as thou shalt first appear,
The moon of maiden stars, thy white
Mistress, attended by such bright
Souls as thy shining self, shall come,
And in her first ranks make thee room;
Where, ’mongst her snowy family,
Immortal welcomes wait for thee.
O what delight, when she shall stand
And teach thy lips heaven, with her hand,
On which thou now may’st to thy wishes
Heap up thy consecrated kisses!
What joy shall seize thy soul, when she,
Bending her blessàed eyes on thee,
Those second smiles of heaven, shall dart
Her mild rays through thy melting heart!
Angels, thy old friends, there shall greet thee,
Glad at their own home now to meet thee.
All thy good works which went before,
And waited for thee at the door,
Shall own thee there; and all in one
Weave a constellation
Of crowns, with which the King, thy spouse,
Shall build up thy triumphant brows.
All thy old woes shall now smile on thee,
And thy pains sit bright upon thee:
All thy sorrows here shall shine,
And thy sufferings be divine,
Tears shall take comfort, and turn gems,
And wrongs repent to diadems.
Even thy deaths shall live, and new
Dress the soul which late they slew.
Thy wounds shall blush to such bright scars
As keep account of the Lamb’s wars.
Those rare works, where thou shalt leave writ
Love’s noble history, with wit
Taught thee by none but Him, while here
They feed our souls, shall clothe thine there.
Each heavenly word by whose hid flame
Our hard hearts shall strike fire, the same
Shall flourish on thy brows, and be
Both fire to us and flame to thee;
Whose light shall live bright in thy face
By glory, in our hearts by grace.
Thou shalt look round about, and see
Thousands of crown’d souls throng to be
Themselves thy crown, sons of thy vows.
The virgin-births with which thy spouse
Made fruitful thy fair soul; go now,
And with them all about thee bow
To Him; put on, He’ll say, put on,
My rosy Love, that thy rich zone,
Sparkling with the sacred flames
Of thousand souls, whose happy names
Heaven keeps upon thy score: thy bright
Life brought them first to kiss the light
That kindled them to stars; and so
Thou with the Lamb, thy Lord, shalt go.
And, wheresoe’er He sets His white
Steps, walk with Him those ways of light,
Which who in death would live to see,
Must learn in life to die like thee.

348                              Upon the Book and Picture of the
                                            Seraphical Saint Teresa

O THOU undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dower of lights and fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;
By all thy lives and deaths of love;
By thy large draughts of intellectual day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they
By all thy brim-fill’d bowls of fierce desire,
By thy last morning’s draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seized thy parting soul, and seal’d thee His;
By all the Heav’n thou hast in Him
(Fair sister of the seraphim!);
By all of Him we have in thee;
Leave nothing of myself in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may die!

349                                    Verses from the Shepherd’s Hymn

WE saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
   Young dawn of our eternal day;
We saw Thine eyes break from the East,
   And chase the trembling shades away:
We saw Thee, and we blest the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.
Poor world, said I, what wilt thou do
   To entertain this starry stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow—
   A cold and not too cleanly manger?
Contend, the powers of heaven and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
Proud world, said I, cease your contest,
   And let the mighty Babe alone;
The phnix builds the phnix’ nest,
   Love’s architecture is His own.
The Babe, whose birth embraves this morn,
Made His own bed ere He was born.
I saw the curl’d drops, soft and slow,
   Come hovering o’er the place’s head,
Off’ring their whitest sheets of snow,
   To furnish the fair infant’s bed.
Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but ’tis too cold.
I saw th’ obsequious seraphim
   Their rosy fleece of fire bestow,
For well they now can spare their wings,
   Since Heaven itself lies here below.
Well done, said I; but are you sure
Your down, so warm, will pass for pure?
No, no, your King’s not yet to seek
   Where to repose His royal head;
See, see how soon His new-bloom’d cheek
   ’Twixt mother’s breasts is gone to bed!
Sweet choice, said we; no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow!
She sings Thy tears asleep, and dips
   Her kisses in Thy weeping eye,
She spreads the red leaves of Thy lips,
   That in their buds yet blushing lie.
She ’gainst those mother diamonds tries
The points of her young eagle’s eyes.
Welcome—tho’ not to those gay flies,
   Gilded i’ th’ beams of earthly kings,
Slippery souls in smiling eyes—
   But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
Whose wealth’s their flocks, whose wit’s to be
Well read in their simplicity.
Yet, when young April’s husband show’rs
   Shall bless the fruitful Maia’s bed.
We’ll bring the first-born of her flowers,
   To kiss Thy feet and crown Thy head.
To Thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
The shepherds while they feed their sheep.
To Thee, meek Majesty, soft King
   Of simple graces and sweet loves!
Each of us his lamb will bring,
   Each his pair of silver doves!
At last, in fire of Thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice!

350                                         Christ Crucified

THY restless feet now cannot go
   For us and our eternal good,
As they were ever wont. What though
   They swim, alas! in their own flood?
Thy hands to give Thou canst not lift,
   Yet will Thy hand still giving be;
It gives, but O, itself’s the gift!
   It gives tho’ bound, tho’ bound ’tis free!

351                            An Epitaph upon Husband and Wife

Who died and were buried together

TO these whom death again did wed
This grave’s the second marriage-bed.
For though the hand of Fate could force
’Twixt soul and body a divorce,
It could not sever man and wife,
Because they both lived but one life.
Peace, good reader, do not weep;
Peace, the lovers are asleep.
They, sweet turtles, folded lie
In the last knot that love could tie.
Let them sleep, let them sleep on,
Till the stormy night be gone,
And the eternal morrow dawn;
Then the curtains will be drawn,
And they wake into a light
Whose day shall never die in night.

 

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