Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Elizabethan Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.  1845.
 
Stanzas from “Christ’s Crosse”
XXII. John Davies
 
From “Christ’s Crosse, containing Christ Crucified, described in speaking picture.”

(The author, having described the agony of our Lord, thus proceeds to address Nature.)

O NATURE, carefull mother of vs all,
How canst thou liue to see thy God thus die?
To heare his paints, thus, thus for pittie call,
And yet to find no grace in pittie’s eie!
  Thy frame, deere Nature, should be quite dissolu’d,        5
  Or thy whole powers into teares resolu’d.
 
His anguish hauing this in silence said,
See now how he sore labours for the last:
The last deneere of sinne’s debt being defraid,
It now remains that Death the reckning cast:        10
  But heauy Death, because the summe is great,
  Takes yet some longer time to doe the feat.
 
But now, my soule, here let vs make a station,
To view perspicuously this sad aspect:
And through the Jacob’s staffe of Christ his passion        15
Let’s spie with our right eie his paines’ effect:
  That in the lab’rinth of his languishment
  We may, though lost therein, find solagement.
 
The mind, still crost with heart-tormenting crosses,
Here finds a crosse to keepe such crosses out:        20
Here may the loser find more than his losses,
If Faith beleeue what here Faith cannot doubt:
  For all his wounds with voice vociferant
  Crie out they can more than supply each want.
 
This holy crosse is the true Tutament,        25
Protecting all ensheltered by the same;
And though Disaster’s face be truculent,
Yet will this engine set it fair in frame:
  This is the feeble soule’s nere-failing crouch,
  And grieued bodies hard but wholesom’st couch.        30
 
Looke on this crosse, when thou art stung with care;
It cures forthwith like Moises’ metl’d snake:
What can afflict thee when thy passions are
Pattern’d by his, that paines perfections make?
  Wilt be so God-vnlike, to see thy God        35
  Embrace the whip, and thou abhorre the rod?
 
See, see, the more than all soule-slaying paines,
Which more than all for thee and all he prou’d:
What man, except a God he be, sustaines
Such hels of paine for man with mind unmou’d?        40
  What part, as erst was said, of all his parts,
  But tortur’d is with smarts, exceeding smarts?
 
His vaines and nerues, that channelize his blood,
By violent conuulsions all contracted;
His bones and ioynts, from whence they whilome stood,        45
With rackings quite disloked and distracted:
  His head, hands, feet, yea, all from top to toe,
  Make but the imperfect corpse of perfect woe.
 
O that mine head were head of seau’nfold Nyle,
That from the same might flowe great floods of teares,        50
Therein to bathe his bloodlesse body, while
His blood effuz’d, in sight confuz’d appeares!
  Then should my teares egelidate his gore,
  That from his blood founts for me flow’d before.
 
O burning loue! O large and lasting loue!        55
What angel’s tongue thy limits can describe?
That dost extend thyself all loue aboue,
For which all praise loue ought to thee ascribe:
  Sith skarce the tongue of God’s humanitie
  Can well describe this boundlesse charitie.        60
 
Why do I liue? alas, why do I liue?
Why is not my heart loue-sicke to the death?
But shall I liue my louing Lord to grieue?
O no! O rather let me lose my breath:
  Then take me to thee, Loue; O let me die,        65
  Onely but for thy loue, and sinne to flie.
 
Stay me with flagons; with fruit comfort me;
Now I am sicke, heart-sicke of sweetest loue:
Then let me liue, sweet Loue, alone in thee,
For loue desires in that Belou’d to moue:        70
  I liue and moue in thee, but yet, O yet,
  I liue to mone; that is, to make thee fret.
*      *      *      *      *      *
O let the summe of all be all, and some,
Comprised in thy heau’n-surmounting praise:
Thou wast, and art, and shalt be aye to come,        75
The subiect of thy subiects’ thankfull laies;
  Who with aduanced voice doe carroll forth
  The praise of thine inestimable worth.
 
And sith thy soule for me is so conflicted,
My soule to thee in griefes shall be affected:        80
And, for thy flesh through loue is so afflicted,
My flesh for thy high loue shall be deiected:
  Soule, flesh, and spirit, for thy spirit, flesh, and soule,
  Shall longing pine in flesh-repining dole.
 
Mine onely schoole shall be mount Caluerie;        85
The pulpit but the crosse; and teacher none,
But the mere crucifixe to mortifie;
No letters but thy blessed wounds alone:
  No commaes but thy stripes; no periods
  But thy nailes, crowne of thornes, speare, whips, and rods.        90
 
None other booke but thy vnclasped side,
Wherein’s contain’d all skils angelical:
None other lesson but Christ crucified
Will I ere learne; for that is all in all:
  Wherein selfe curiositie may find        95
  Matter to please the most displeased mind.
 
Here, by our Master’s nakednesse, we learne
What weeds to weare; by his thorne-crowned head,
How to adorn vs; and we may discerne
By his most bitter gall, how to be fed:        100
  How to reuenge, by praying for his foes;
  And, lying on his crosse, how to repose.
 
For when we read him ouer, see we shall
His head with thornes, his eares with blasphemies,
His eies with teares, his honnied mouth with gall,        105
With wounds his flesh, his bones with agonies,
  All full: and yet with all to heare him say,
  So man might liue, he would thus languish aye!
 
 
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