In the Holy Nativity of our Lord

Original Text: 
Richard Crashaw, Carmen Deo Nostro (1652).
2Hath met love's noon in nature's night;
3Come lift we up our loftier song
4And wake the sun that lies too long.
5To all our world of well-stol'n joy
6     He slept, and dreamt of no such thing,
7While we found out heav'n's fairer eye,
8     And kiss'd the cradle of our King.
9Tell him he rises now too late
10To show us aught worth looking at.
11Tell him we now can show him more
12     Than he e'er show'd to mortal sight,
13Than he himself e'er saw before,
14     Which to be seen needs not his light.
15Tell him, Tityrus, where th' hast been;
16Tell him, Thyrsis, what th' hast seen.
TITYRUS
17Gloomy night embrac'd the place
18     Where the Noble Infant lay;
19The Babe look'd up and show'd his face,
20     In spite of darkness, it was day.
21It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
22Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
CHORUS
23It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
24Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
THYRSIS
25Winter chid aloud, and sent
26     The angry North to wage his wars;
27The North forgot his fierce intent,
28     And left perfumes instead of scars.
29By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
30Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
CHORUS
31By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
32Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
BOTH
33We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
34     Young dawn of our eternal day!
35We saw thine eyes break from their east
36     And chase the trembling shades away.
37We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
38We saw thee by thine own sweet light.
TITYRUS
39Poor World, said I, what wilt thou do
40     To entertain this starry stranger?
41Is this the best thou canst bestow,
42     A cold, and not too cleanly, manger?
43Contend, ye powers of heav'n and earth,
44To fit a bed for this huge birth.
CHORUS
45Contend, ye powers of heav'n and earth,
46To fit a bed for this huge birth.
THYRSIS
47Proud World, said I, cease your contest,
48     And let the Mighty Babe alone;
49The phœnix builds the phœnix' nest,
50     Love's architecture is his own;
51The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
52Made his own bed ere he was born.
CHORUS
53The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
54Made his own bed ere he was born.
TITYRUS
55I saw the curl'd drops, soft and slow,
56     Come hovering o'er the place's head,
57Off'ring their whitest sheets of snow
58     To furnish the fair Infant's bed.
59Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
60  Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
CHORUS
61Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
62Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
64     Their rosy fleece of fire bestow;
65For well they now can spare their wings,
66     Since Heav'n itself lies here below.
67Well done, said I, but are you sure
68Your down so warm will pass for pure?
CHORUS
69Well done, said I, but are you sure
70Your down so warm will pass for pure?
TITYRUS
71No no, your King's not yet to seek
72     Where to repose his royal head;
73See see, how soon his new-bloom'd cheek
74     'Twixt's mother's breasts is gone to bed.
75Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
76Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
CHORUS
77Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
78Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
BOTH
79We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
80     Bright dawn of our eternal day!
81We saw thine eyes break from their east,
82     And chase the trembling shades away.
83We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
84We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
CHORUS
85We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
86We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
FULL CHORUS
87Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
88     Eternity shut in a span;
89Summer in winter; day in night;
90     Heaven in earth, and God in man.
91Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
92Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav'n to earth.
93Welcome; though nor to gold nor silk,
94     To more than Cæsar's birthright is;
95Two sister seas of virgin-milk,
96     With many a rarely temper'd kiss,
97That breathes at once both maid and mother,
98Warms in the one, cools in the other.
99Welcome, though not to those gay flies
100     Gilded i' th' beams of earthly kings,
101Slippery souls in smiling eyes;
102     But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
103Whose wealth's their flock, whose wit, to be
104Well read in their simplicity.
105Yet when young April's husband-show'rs
107We'll bring the first-born of her flow'rs
108     To kiss thy feet and crown thy head.
109To thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
110The shepherds more than they the sheep.
111To thee, meek Majesty! soft King
112     Of simple graces and sweet loves,
113Each of us his lamb will bring,
114     Each his pair of silver doves;
115Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes,
116Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

Notes

1] An earlier version of the poem is in Steps to the Temple. Back to Line
63] obsequious: obedient. Back to Line
106] Maia: the goddess Maia, May. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1646
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.342-45.
Rhyme: