Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Richard Crashaw. 1613?–1649
  
338. A Hymn to the Name and Honour
of the Admirable Saint Teresa
  
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         5
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  10
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  15
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.  20
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  25
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.  30
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,  35
With Christ's name in 't, in charge 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.  40
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,  45
Never till now esteemèd 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.  50
 
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  55
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;  60
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  65
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;  70
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,—  75
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,  80
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,  85
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!  90
What joy shall seize thy soul, when she, 
Bending her blessèd 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,  95
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 100
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, 105
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. 110
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 115
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; 120
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, 125
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, 130
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 135
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. 140
 
 
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