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Richard Crashaw

(1612 - 1649 / England)

Prayer


LO here a little volume, but great Book
A nest of new-born sweets;
Whose native fires disdaining
To ly thus folded, and complaining
Of these ignoble sheets,
Affect more comly bands
(Fair one) from the kind hands
And confidently look
To find the rest
Of a rich binding in your Brest.
It is, in one choise handfull, heavenn; and all
Heavn’s Royall host; incamp’t thus small
To prove that true schooles use to tell,
Ten thousand Angels in one point can dwell.
It is love’s great artillery
Which here contracts itself, and comes to ly
Close couch’t in their white bosom: and from thence
As from a snowy fortresse of defence,
Against their ghostly foes to take their part,
And fortify the hold of their chast heart.
It is an armory of light
Let constant use but keep it bright,
You’l find it yeilds
To holy hands and humble hearts
More swords and sheilds
Then sin hath snares, or Hell hath darts.
Only be sure
The hands be pure
That hold these weapons; and the eyes
Those of turtles, chast and true;
Wakefull and wise;
Here is a freind shall fight for you,
Hold but this book before their heart;
Let prayer alone to play his part,
But ô the heart
That studyes this high Art
Must be a sure house-keeper
And yet no sleeper.
Dear soul, be strong.
Mercy will come e’re long
And bring his bosom fraught with blessings,
Flowers of never fading graces
To make immortall dressings
For worthy soules, whose wise embraces
Store up themselves for Him, who is alone
The Spouse of Virgins and the Virgin’s son.
But if the noble Bridegroom, when he come
Shall find the loytering Heart from home;
Leaving her chast aboad
To gadde abroad
Among the gay mates of the god of flyes;
To take her pleasure and to play
And keep the devill’s holyday;
To dance th’sunshine of some smiling
But beguiling
Spheares of sweet and sugred Lyes,
Some slippery Pair
Of false, perhaps as fair,
Flattering but forswearing eyes;
Doubtlesse some other heart
Will gett the start
Mean while, and stepping in before
Will take possession of that sacred store
Of hidden sweets and holy ioyes.
Words which are not heard with Eares
(Those tumultuous shops of noise)
Effectuall wispers, whose still voice
The soul it selfe more feeles then heares;
Amorous languishments; luminous trances;
Sights which are not seen with eyes;
Spirituall and soul-peircing glances
Whose pure and subtil lightning flyes
Home to the heart, and setts the house on fire
And melts it down in sweet desire
Yet does not stay
To ask the windows leave to passe that way;
Delicious Deaths; soft exalations
Of soul; dear and divine annihilations;
A thousand unknown rites
Of ioyes and rarefy’d delights;
A hundred thousand goods, glories, and graces,
And many a mystick thing
Which the divine embraces
Of the deare spouse of spirits with them will bring
For which it is no shame
That dull mortality must not know a name.
Of all this store
Of blessings and ten thousand more
(If when he come
He find the Heart from home)
Doubtlesse he will unload
Himself some other where,
And poure abroad
His pretious sweets
On the fair soul whom first he meets.
O fair, ô fortunate! O riche, ô dear!
O happy and thrice happy she
Selected dove
Who ere she be,
Whose early love
With winged vowes
Makes hast to meet her morning spouse
And close with his immortall kisses.
Happy indeed, who never misses
To improve that pretious hour,
And every day
Seize her sweet prey
All fresh and fragrant as he rises
Dropping with a baulmy Showr
A delicious dew of spices;
O let the blissfull heart hold fast
Her heavnly arm-full, she shall tast
At once ten thousand paradises;
She shall have power
To rifle and deflour
The rich and roseall spring of those rare sweets
Which with a swelling bosome there she meets
Boundles and infinite
Bottomles treasures
Of pure inebriating pleasures
Happy proof! she shal discover
What ioy, what blisse,
How many Heav’ns at once it is
To have her God become her Lover.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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