Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 29. The Flaming Heart
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
29. The Flaming Heart
By Richard Crashaw  (?1613–1649)
  
Vpon the book and Picture of the seraphicall saint Teresa, (as she is vsvally expressed with a Seraphim biside her)


WELL meaning readers! you that come as freinds
And catch the pretious name this peice pretends;
Make not too much hast to’ admire
That fair-cheek’t fallacy of fire.
That is a Seraphim, they say        5
And this the great Teresia.
Readers, be rul’d by me; and make
Here a well-plac’t and wise mistake.
You must transpose the picture quite,
And spell it wrong to read it right;       10
Read Him for her, and her for him;
And call the Saint the Seraphim.
  Painter, what didst thou understand
To put her dart into his hand!
See, even the yeares and size of him       15
Showes this the mother Seraphim.
This is the mistresse flame; and duteous he
Her happy fire-works, here, comes down to see.
O most poor-spirited of men!
Had thy cold Pencil kist her Pen       20
Thou couldst not so unkindly err
To show us This faint shade for Her.
Why man, this speakes pure mortall frame;
And mockes with female Frost love’s manly flame.
One would suspect thou meant’st to print       25
Some weak, inferiour, woman saint.
But had thy pale-fac’t purple took
Fire from the burning cheeks of that bright Booke
Thou wouldst on her have heap’t up all
That could be found Seraphicall;       30
What e’re this youth of fire weares fair,
Rosy fingers, radiant hair,
Glowing cheek, and glistering wings,
All those fair and flagrant things,
But before all, that fiery Dart       35
Had fill’d the Hand of this great Heart.
  Doe then as equall right requires,
Since His the blushes be, and her’s the fires,
Resume and rectify thy rude design;
Undresse thy Seraphim into Mine.       40
Redeem this injury of thy art;
Give Him the vail, give her the dart.
  Give Him the vail; that he may cover
The Red cheeks of a rivall’d lover.
Asham’d that our world, now, can show       45
Nests of new Seraphims here below.
  Give her the Dart for it is she
(Fair youth) shootes both thy shaft and Thee
Say, all ye wise and well-peirc’t hearts
That live and dy amidst her darts,       50
What is’t your tastfull spirits doe prove
In that rare life of Her, and love?
Say and bear wittnes. Sends she not
A Seraphim at every shott?
What magazins of immortall Armes there shine!       55
Heavn’s great artillery in each love-spun line.
Give then the dart to her who gives the flame;
Give him the veil, who gives the shame.
  But if it be the frequent fate
Of worst faults to be fortunate;       60
If all’s præscription; and proud wrong
Hearkens not to an humble song;
For all the gallantry of him,
Give me the suffring Seraphim.
His be the bravery of all those Bright things.       65
The glowing cheekes, 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.       70
For in love’s feild was never found
A nobler weapon then a Wound.
Love’s passives are his activ’st part.
The wounded is the wounding heart.
O Heart! the æquall poise of love’s both parts       75
Bigge 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 dy and kill;
And bleed and wound; and yeild and conquer still.       80
Let this immortall life wherere it comes
Walk in a crowd of loves and Martyrdomes
Let mystick Deaths wait on’t; and wise soules be
The love-slain wittnesses of this life of thee.
O sweet incendiary! shew here thy art,       85
Upon this carcasse of a hard, cold, hart,
Let all thy scatter’d shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy larg Books of day,
Combin’d against this Brest at once break in
And take away from me my self and sin,       90
This gratious Robbery shall thy bounty be;
And my best fortunes such fair spoiles of me.
O thou undanted daughter of desires!
By all thy dowr of Lights and Fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;       95
By all thy lives and deaths of love;
By thy larg draughts of intellectuall day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large then they;
By all thy brim-fill’d Bowles of feirce desire
By thy last Morning’s draught of liquid fire;      100
By the full kingdome of that finall kisse
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;      105
Leave nothing of my Self in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may dy.

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