The Complete Works of Richard Crashaw - Volume I by Richard Crashaw

(As she is usually expressed with a Seraphim beside her.)


Well meaning readers! you that come as friends
And catch the precious name this piece pretends;
Make not too much haste to admire
That fair-cheeked fallacy of fire.
That is a Seraphim, they say
And this the great Teresia.
Readers, be rul’d by me; and make
Here a well-plac’d and wise mistake
You must transpose the picture quite,
And spell it wrong to read it right;
Read him for her, and her for him;
And call the saint the Seraphim.

Painter, what did’st thou understand
To put her dart into his hand!
See, even the years and size of him
Shows this the mother Seraphim.
This is the mistress flame; and duteous he
Her happy fireworks, here comes down to see.
O most poor-spirited of men!
Had thy cold pencil kist her pen
Thou couldst not so unkindly err
To show us this faint shade for her.
Why man, this speaks pure mortal frame;
And mocks with female frost love’s manly flame.
One would suspect, thou meant’st to paint
Some weak, inferior, woman saint.
But had thy pale-fac’d purple took
Fire from the burning cheeks of that bright book
Thou wouldst on her have leapt up all
That could be found seraphical;
Whate’er this youth of fire wears fair,
Rosy fingers, radiant hair,
Glowing cheek, and glistering wings,
All those fair and flagrant things,
But before all, that fiery dart
Had fill’d the hand of this great heart.

Do then as equal right requires,
Since his the blushes be, and hers the fires,
Resume and rectify thy rude design;
Undress thy Seraphim into mine.
Redeem this injury of thy art;
Give him the veil, give her the dart.

Give him the veil; that he may cover
The red cheeks of a rivall’d lover.
Asham’d that our world, now, can show
Nests of new Seraphims here below.

Give her the dart for it is she
(Fair youth) shoots both thy shaft and thee.
Say, all ye wise and well-pierc’d hearts
That live and die amidst her darts,
What is’t your tasteful spirits do prove
In that rare life of her, and love?
Say and bear witness. Sends she not
A Seraphim at every shot?
What magazines of immortal arms there shine!
Heav’n’s great artillery in each love-spun line.
Give then the dart to her who gives the flame;
Give him the veil, who kindly takes the shame.

But if it be the frequent fate
Of worst faults to be fortunate;
If all’s prescription; and proud wrong
Hearkens not to an humble song;
For all the gallantry of him,
Give me the suff’ring Seraphim.
His be the bravery of all those bright things,
The glowing cheeks, the glistering wings;
The rosy hand, the radiant dart;
Leave her alone, the Flaming Heart.

Leave her that; and thou shalt leave her
Not one loose shaft but love’s whole quiver.
For in love’s field was never found
A nobler weapon than a wound.
Love’s passives are his activ’st part.
The wounded is the wounding heart.
O heart! the equal poise of love’s both parts
Big alike with wound and darts.
Live in these conquering leaves; live all the same;
And walk through all tongues one triumphant flame.
Live here, great heart; and love and die and kill;
And bleed and wound; and yield and conquer still.
Let this immortal life where’er it comes
Walk in a crowd of loves and martyrdoms.
Let mystic deaths wait on’t; and wise souls be
The love-slain witnesses of this life of thee.
O sweet incendiary! show here thy art,
Upon this carcass of a hard, cold heart,
Let all thy scatter’d shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy large books of day,
Combined against this breast at once break in
And take away from me my self and sin,
This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be;
And my best fortunes such fair spoils of me.
O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dow’r 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 the last morning’s draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seiz’d thy parting soul, and seal’d thee his;
By all the heav’ns thou hast in him
(Fair sister of the Seraphim!)
By all of him we have in thee;
Leave nothing of my self in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may die.

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.

Two went to pray? O rather say
One went to brag, th’ other to pray:

One stands up close and treads on high,
Where th’ other dares not send his eye.

One nearer to God’s altar trod,
The other to the altar’s God.

Love, thou are 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 into 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,
And see him take a private seat,
Making his mansion in the mild
And milky soul of a soft child.

    Scarce has she learn’d to lisp the 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 she’a heart dares hope to prove
How much less strong is death than love.

    Be love but there, let poor six years
Be pos’d with the maturest fears
Man trembles at, you straight shall find
Love knows no nonage, nor the mind.
’Tis love, not years or limbs that can
Make the martyr, or the man.

    Love touch’d her heart, and lo it beats
High, and burns with such brave heats,
Such thirsts to die, as dares drink up
A thousand cold deaths in one cup.
Good reason, for she breathes all fire;
Her weak breast heaves with strong desire
Of what she may with fruitless wishes
Seek for amongst her mother’s kisses.

    Since ’tis not to be had at home,
She’ll travel to a martyrdom.
No home for hers confesses she
But where she may a martyr be.

    She’ll to the Moors, and trade with them
For this unvalued diadem.
She’ll offer them her dearest breath,
With Christ’s name in ‘t, in change for death.
She’ll bargain with them, and will give
Them God; 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 esteemed 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.

    Blest powers forbid thy tender life
Should bleed upon a barbarous knife;
Or some base hand have power to rase
Thy breast’s chaste cabinet, and uncase
A soul kept there so sweet; oh no,
Wise Heav’n will never have it so;
Thou art Love’s victim, and must die
A death more mystical and high;
Into Love’s arms thou shalt let fall
A still-surviving funeral.
He is the dart must make the death
Whose stroke shall taste thy hallow’d breath;
A dart thrice dipp’d in that rich flame
Which writes thy spouse’s radiant name
Upon the roof of heav’n, where aye
It shines, and with a sovereign ray
Beats bright upon the burning faces
Of souls, which in that name’s sweet graces
Find everlasting smiles. So rare,
So spiritual, pure, and fair
Must be th’ immortal instrument
Upon whose choice point shall be sent
A life so lov’d; and that there be
Fit executioners for thee,
The fair’st and first-born sons of fire,
Blest Seraphim, shall leave their quire
And turn Love’s soldiers, upon thee
To exercise their archery.

    Oh, 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 forever so be slain,
And lives and dies, and knows not why
To live, but that he thus may never leave to 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 last 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 Heav’n at last
In a resolving sigh; and then,
O what? Ask not the tongues of men;
Angels cannot tell; suffice,
Thyself shall feel thine own full joys
And hold them fast forever. 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 reveal’d Life shall stand
And teach thy lips heav’n with his hand,
On which thou now mayst to thy wishes
Heap up thy consecrated kisses.
What joys shall seize thy soul when she,
Bending her blessed eyes on thee,
(Those second smiles of heav’n) 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,
All thy suff’rings be divine;
Tears shall take comfort and turn gems,
And wrongs repent to diadems.
Ev’n thy deaths shall live, and new
Dress the soul that erst 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 heav’nly 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 sovereign 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
Heav’n 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.

I would be married, but I’d have no wife,
I would be married to a single life.

Come and let us live my Dear,
Let us love and never fear,
What the sourest Fathers say:
Brightest Sol that dies today
Lives again as blithe tomorrow,
But if we dark sons of sorrow
Set; o then, how long a Night
Shuts the Eyes of our short light!
Then let amorous kisses dwell
On our lips, begin to tell
A Thousand, and a Hundred, score
An Hundred, and a Thousand more,
Till another Thousand smother
That, and that wipe off another.
Thus at last when we have numb’red
Many a Thousand, many a Hundred;
We’ll confound the reckoning quite,
And lose ourselves in wild delight:
While our joys so multiply,
As shall mock the envious eye.

Chorus.

Come we shepherds who have seen
Day’s king deposed by Night’s queen.
Come lift we up our lofty song,
To wake the Sun that sleeps too long.

He in this our general joy,
  Slept, and dreamt of no such thing
While we found out the fair-ey’d boy,
  And kissed the cradle of our king;
Tell him he rises now too late,
To show us aught worth looking at.

Tell him we now can show him more
  Than he e’er show’d to mortal sight,
Than he himself e’er saw before,
  Which to be seen needs not his light:
Tell him Tityrus where th’ hast been,
Tell him Thyrsis what th’ hast seen.

Tityrus.

Gloomy night embrac’d the place
  Where the noble infant lay:
The babe looked up, and show’d his face,
  In spite of darkness it was day.
It was thy day, Sweet, and did rise,
Not from the east, but from thy eyes.

Thyrsis.

Winter chid the world, and sent
  The angry North to wage his wars:
The North forgot his fierce intent,
  And left perfumes, instead of scars:
By those sweet eyes’ persuasive powers,
Where he meant frosts, he scattered flowers.

Both.

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
  Bright 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.


Tityrus.

I saw the curl’d drops, soft and slow
  Come hovering o’er the place’s head,
Offring their whitest sheets of snow,
  To furnish the fair infant’s bed.
Forbear (said I) be not too bold,
Your fleect is white, but ’tis too cold.

Thyrsis.

I saw th’officious angels bring,
  The down that their soft breasts did strow,
For well they now can spare their wings,
  When Heaven itself lies here below.
Fair youth (said I) be not too rough,
Thy down though soft’s not soft enough.

Tityrus.

The babe no sooner ‘gan to seek
  Where to lay his lovely head,
But straight his eyes advis’d his cheek,
  ‘Twixt mother’s breasts to go to bed.
Sweet choice (said I) no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.

Chorus.

Welcome to our wond’ring sight
  Eternity shut in a span!
Summer in winter! Day in night!
  Heaven in Earth! and God in Man!
Great little one, whose glorious birth,
Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops heaven to earth.

Welcome, though not to gold, nor silk,
  To more than Cæsar’s birthright is,
Two sister-seas of virgin’s milk,
  WIth many a rarely-temper’d kiss,
That breathes at once both maid and mother,
Warms in the one, cools in the other.

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, (though not to those gay flies
  Guilded i’th’ beams of earthly kings
Slippery souls in smiling eyes)
  But to poor Shepherds, simple things,
That use no varnish, no oil’d arts,
But lift clean hands full of clear hearts.

Yet when young April’s husband showers
  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 seek 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,
We’ll burn, our own best sacrifice.

Whoe’er she be,
That not impossible she
That shall command my heart and me;

Where’er she lie,
Locked 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 called 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;

More than the spoil
Of shop, or silkworm’s toil,
Or a bought blush, or a set smile.

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 lovers kiss may play,
Yet carry nothing thence away.

Looks that oppress
Their richest tires, but dress
And clothe their simplest nakedness.

Eyes, that displaces
The neighbour diamond, and outfaces
That sunshine by their own sweet graces.

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.

Joyes, that confess
Virtue their mistress,
And have no other head to dress.

Fears, fond and flight
As the coy bride’s when night
First does the longing lover right.

Tears, quickly fled
And vain as those are shed
For a dying maidenhead.

Days, that need borrow
No part of their good morrow
From a forspent 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 its 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 lours.

Whate’er delight
Can make day’s forehead bright,
Or give down to the wings of night.

In her whole frame
Have nature all the name,
Art and ornament the shame.

Her flattery
Picture and poesy,
Her counsel her own virtue be.

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.

The world’s light shines, shine as it will,
The world will love its darkness still.
I doubt though when the world’s in hell,
It will not love its darkness half so well.

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 phoenix builds the phoenix’ 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, you 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!

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!

1.4k
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.

Know you fair, on what you look;
Divinest love lies in this book,
Expecting fire from your eyes,
To kindle this his sacrifice.
When your hands untie these strings,
Think you’have an angel by th’ wings.
One that gladly will be nigh,
To wait upon each morning sigh.
To flutter in the balmy air
Of your well-perfumed prayer.
These white plumes of his he’ll lend you,
Which every day to heaven will send you,
To take acquaintance of the sphere,
And all the smooth-fac’d kindred there.
      And though Herbert’s name do owe
      These devotions, fairest, know
      That while I lay them on the shrine
      Of your white hand, they are mine.

Come we shepherds, whose blest sight
Hath met love’s noon in nature’s night;
   Come lift up our loftier song
And wake the sun that lies too long.

To all the world of well-stol’n joy
   He slept; and dreamt of no such thing.
While we found out Heaven’s fairer eye
   And kissed the cradle of our King.
Tell him he rises now, too late
To show us aught worth looking at.

Tell him we now can show him more
   Than he e’er showed to mortal sight;
Than he himself e’er saw before;
   Which to be seen needs not his light.
Tell him, Tityrus, where thou hast been,
Tell him, Tityrus, what thou hast seen.

Gloomy night embraced the place
   Where the noble Infant lay.
The Babe looked up and showed His face;
   In spite of darkness, it was day.
It was Thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the East, but from Thine eyes.

It was Thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the East, but from Thine eyes.

Winter chid aloud; and sent
   The angry North to wage his wars.
The North forgot his fierce intent,
   And left perfumes instead of scars.
By those sweet eyes’ persuasive powers,
Where he meant frost, he scattered flowers.

By those sweet eyes’ persuasive powers,
Where he meant frost, he scattered flowers.

We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
   Young Dawn of our eternal day!
We saw Thine eyes break from Their East
   And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw Thee; and we blessed 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, ye powers of heaven and earth
To fit a bed for this huge birth.

Contend, ye 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 phoenix builds the phoenix’ nest,
   Love’s architecture is his own.
The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made His own bed ere He was born.

The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made His own bed ere He was born.

I saw the curled drops, soft and slow,
   Come hovering o’er the place’s head;
Offering 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.

Forbear, said we; be not too bold:
Your fleece is white, but ’tis too cold.

I saw the obsequious seraphims
   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?

Well done, said we: 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 bloomed cheek
   Twixt ’s mother’s breasts is gone to bed.
Sweet choice, said I! no way but so:
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.

Sweet choice, said we! no way but so:
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.

We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
   Young Dawn of our eternal day!
We saw Thine eyes break from Their East
   And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw Thee; and we blessed the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

We saw Thee; and we blessed the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

Welcome, all Wonders in one sight!
   Eternity shut in a span.
Summer to winter, day in night,
   Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little One! Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.

Welcome, though nor to gold nor silk,
   To more than Caesar’s birthright is;
Twin sister-seas of virgin-milk,
   With many rarely-tempered kiss
That breathes at once both maid and mother,
Warms in the one, cools in the other.

Welcome, though not to those gay flies,
   Gilded in the beams of earthly kings,
Slippery souls in smiling eyes;
   But to poor shepherds, home-spun things,
Whose wealth’s their flock, whose wit, to be
Well read in their simplicity.

Yet when April’s husband showers
   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, more than they 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;
Till burnt at last in fire of Thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

— The End —