A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa
Richard Crashaw, Carmen Deo Nostro (1652).
2Of life and death. To prove the word,
3We'll now appeal to none of all
4Those thy old soldiers, great and tall,
5Ripe men of martyrdom, that could reach down
6With strong arms their triumphant crown;
7Such as could with lusty breath
8Speak loud into the face of death
9Their great Lord's glorious name; to none
10Of those whose spacious bosoms spread a throne
11For love at large to fill; spare blood and sweat,
12And see him take a private seat,
13Making his mansion in the mild
14And milky soul of a soft child.
15 Scarce has she learn'd to lisp the name
16Of martyr, yet she thinks it shame
17Life should so long play with that breath
18Which spent can buy so brave a death.
19She never undertook to know
20What death with love should have to do;
21Nor has she e'er yet understood
22Why to show love she should shed blood;
23Yet though she cannot tell you why,
24She can love, and she can die.
25 Scarce has she blood enough to make
26A guilty sword blush for her sake;
27Yet has she'a heart dares hope to prove
28How much less strong is death than love.
29 Be love but there, let poor six years
30Be pos'd with the maturest fears
31Man trembles at, you straight shall find
32Love knows no nonage, nor the mind.
33'Tis love, not years or limbs that can
34Make the martyr, or the man.
36High, and burns with such brave heats,
37Such thirsts to die, as dares drink up
38A thousand cold deaths in one cup.
39Good reason, for she breathes all fire;
40Her weak breast heaves with strong desire
41Of what she may with fruitless wishes
42Seek for amongst her mother's kisses.
43 Since 'tis not to be had at home,
44She'll travel to a martyrdom.
45No home for hers confesses she
46But where she may a martyr be.
47 She'll to the Moors, and trade with them
48For this unvalued diadem.
49She'll offer them her dearest breath,
50With Christ's name in 't, in change for death.
51She'll bargain with them, and will give
52Them God; teach them how to live
53In him; or, if they this deny,
54For him she'll teach them how to die.
55So shall she leave amongst them sown
56Her Lord's blood, or at least her own.
57 Farewell then, all the world, adieu!
58Teresa is no more for you.
59Farewell, all pleasures, sports, and joys,
60(Never till now esteemed toys)
61Farewell, whatever dear may be,
62Mother's arms or father's knee,
63Farewell house and farewell home,
64She's for the Moors, and martyrdom!
65 Sweet, not so fast! lo, thy fair spouse,
66Whom thou seek'st with so swift vows,
67Calls thee back, and bids thee come
68T' embrace a milder martyrdom.
69 Blest powers forbid thy tender life
70Should bleed upon a barbarous knife;
72Thy breast's chaste cabinet, and uncase
73A soul kept there so sweet; oh no,
74Wise Heav'n will never have it so;
75Thou art Love's victim, and must die
76A death more mystical and high;
77Into Love's arms thou shalt let fall
78A still-surviving funeral.
80Whose stroke shall taste thy hallow'd breath;
81A dart thrice dipp'd in that rich flame
82Which writes thy spouse's radiant name
83Upon the roof of heav'n, where aye
84It shines, and with a sovereign ray
85Beats bright upon the burning faces
86Of souls, which in that name's sweet graces
87Find everlasting smiles. So rare,
88So spiritual, pure, and fair
89Must be th' immortal instrument
90Upon whose choice point shall be sent
91A life so lov'd; and that there be
92Fit executioners for thee,
93The fair'st and first-born sons of fire,
94Blest Seraphim, shall leave their quire
95And turn Love's soldiers, upon thee
96To exercise their archery.
97 Oh, how oft shalt thou complain
98Of a sweet and subtle pain,
99Of intolerable joys,
100Of a death in which who dies
102And would forever so be slain,
103And lives and dies, and knows not why
104To live, but that he thus may never leave to die.
105 How kindly will thy gentle heart
106Kiss the sweetly-killing dart!
107And close in his embraces keep
108Those delicious wounds, that weep
109Balsam to heal themselves with. Thus
110When these thy deaths, so numerous,
111Shall all at last die into one,
112And melt thy soul's sweet mansion
113Like a soft lump of incense, hasted
114By too hot a fire, and wasted
115Into perfuming clouds, so fast
116Shalt thou exhale to Heav'n at last
117In a resolving sigh; and then,
118O what? Ask not the tongues of men;
119Angels cannot tell; suffice,
120Thyself shall feel thine own full joys
121And hold them fast forever. There
122So soon as thou shalt first appear,
124Mistress, attended by such bright
125Souls as thy shining self, shall come
126And in her first ranks make thee room;
127Where 'mongst her snowy family
128Immortal welcomes wait for thee.
129 O what delight, when reveal'd Life shall stand
130And teach thy lips heav'n with his hand,
131On which thou now mayst to thy wishes
132Heap up thy consecrated kisses.
133What joys shall seize thy soul when she,
134Bending her blessed eyes on thee,
135(Those second smiles of heav'n) shall dart
136Her mild rays through thy melting heart!
137 Angels, thy old friends, there shall greet thee,
138Glad at their own home now to meet thee.
139 All thy good works which went before
140And waited for thee, at the door,
141Shall own thee there, and all in one
142Weave a constellation
143Of crowns, with which the King, thy spouse,
144Shall build up thy triumphant brows.
145 All thy old woes shall now smile on thee,
146And thy pains sit bright upon thee;
147All thy sorrows here shall shine,
148All thy suff'rings be divine;
149Tears shall take comfort and turn gems,
150And wrongs repent to diadems.
151Ev'n thy deaths shall live, and new
152Dress the soul that erst they slew;
153Thy wounds shall blush to such bright scars
154As keep account of the Lamb's wars.
155 Those rare works where thou shalt leave writ
156Love's noble history, with wit
157Taught thee by none but him, while here
158They feed our souls, shall clothe thine there.
159Each heav'nly word by whose hid flame
160Our hard hearts shall strike fire, the same
161Shall flourish on thy brows, and be
162Both fire to us and flame to thee,
163Whose light shall live bright in thy face
164By glory, in our hearts by grace.
165 Thou shalt look round about and see
166Thousands of crown'd souls throng to be
167Themselves thy crown; sons of thy vows,
168The virgin-births with which thy sovereign spouse
169Made fruitful thy fair soul, go now
170And with them all about thee, bow
171To him. "Put on," he'll say, "put on,
173Sparkling with the sacred flames
174Of thousand souls whose happy names
175Heav'n keeps upon thy score. Thy bright
176Life brought them first to kiss the light
177That kindled them to stars." And so
178Thou with the Lamb, thy Lord, shalt go,
179And wheresoe'er he sets his white
180Steps, walk with him those ways of light
181Which who in death would live to see
182Must learn in life to die like thee.
1] First published in Steps to the Temple, 1646, but revised in Carmen Deo Nostro, from which this text is taken. An English translation of the autobiography of Saint Teresa (1518-82), founder of the Order of the Discalced (barefooted) Carmelites, had been published in 1642 under the title of The Flaming Heart .... Back to Line
35] Saint Teresa's attempt as a child to court martyrdom by preaching to the Moors is recounted in the autobiography. Back to Line
71] rase: cut. Back to Line
79] The vision of a fiery seraph several times thrusting a golden dart through her heart, "which remained wholly enflamed with a great love of Almighty God'', is also recounted in the autobiography. Back to Line
101] "For the soul ... would always be very glad, if she might be ever dying of this disease" (The Flaming Heart). Back to Line
123] The moon of maiden stars: the virgin Mary. Back to Line
172] zone: girdle. Back to Line
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RPO poem Editors:
N. J. Endicott