Richard Crashaw

(1612 - 1649 / England)

The Weeper


HAIL, sister springs,
Parents of silver-footed rills!
   Ever bubbling things,
Thawing crystal, snowy hills!
   Still spending, never spent; I mean
   Thy fair eyes, sweet Magdalene.

   Heavens thy fair eyes be;
Heavens of ever-falling stars;
   'Tis seed-time still with thee,
And stars thou sow'st whose harvest dares
   Promise the earth to countershine
   Whatever makes Heaven's forehead fine.

   Every morn from hence
A brisk cherub something sips
   Whose soft influence
Adds sweetness to his sweetest lips;
   Then to his music: and his song
   Tastes of this breakfast all day long.

   When some new bright guest
Takes up among the stars a room,
   And Heaven will make a feast,
Angels with their bottles come,
   And draw from these full eyes of thine
   Their Master's water, their own wine.

   The dew no more will weep
The primrose's pale cheek to deck;
   The dew no more will sleep
Nuzzled in the lily's neck:
   Much rather would it tremble here,
   And leave them both to be thy tear.

   When sorrow would be seen
In her brightest majesty,
   --For she is a Queen--
Then is she drest by none but thee:
   Then and only then she wears
   Her richest pearls--I mean thy tears.

   Not in the evening's eyes,
When they red with weeping are
   For the Sun that dies,
Sits Sorrow with a face so fair.
   Nowhere but here did ever meet
   Sweetness so sad, sadness so sweet.

   Does the night arise?
Still thy tears do fall and fall.
   Does night lose her eyes?
Still the fountain weeps for all.
   Let day and night do what they will,
   Thou hast thy task, thou weepest still.

   Not So long she lived
Will thy tomb report of thee;
   But So long she grieved:
Thus must we date thy memory.
   Others by days, by months, by years,
   Measure their ages, thou by tears.

   Say, ye bright brothers,
The fugitive sons of those fair eyes
   Your fruitful mothers,
What make you here? What hopes can 'tice
   You to be born? What cause can borrow
   You from those nests of noble sorrow?

   Whither away so fast
For sure the sordid earth
   Your sweetness cannot taste,
Nor does the dust deserve your birth.
   Sweet, whither haste you then? O say,
   Why you trip so fast away?

   We go not to seek
The darlings of Aurora's bed,
   The rose's modest cheek,
Nor the violet's humble head.
   No such thing: we go to meet
   A worthier object--our Lord's feet.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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