Home  »  Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse  »  A Hymn to S. Teresa

Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Richard Crashaw (1613?–1640)

A Hymn to S. Teresa

LOVE, thou art absolute sole lord
Of life and death. To prove the word,
We’ll now appeal to none of all
Those thy old soldiers, great and tall,
Ripe men of martyrdom, that could reach down        5
With strong arms their triumphant crown:
Such as could with lusty breath
Speak loud into the face of death
Their great Lord’s glorious name; to none
Of those whose spacious bosoms spread a throne        10
For love at large to fill: spare blood and sweat;
We’ll see him take a private seat,
Making his mansion in the mild
And milky soul of a soft child.
Scarce hath she learn’d to lisp the name        15
Of martyr; yet she thinks it shame
Life should so long play with that breath,
Which spent can buy so brave a death.
She never undertook to know
What death with love should have to do;        20
Nor hath she e’er yet understood,
Why to show love, she should shed blood;
Yet though she cannot tell you why,
She can love, and she can die.
Scarce hath she blood enough to make        25
A guilty sword blush for her sake;
Yet hath she a heart dare hope to prove,
How much less strong is death than love.
  Since ’tis not to be had at home,
She’ll travel for a martyrdom.        30
No home for her, confesses she,
But where she may a martyr be.
She’ll to the Moors, and trade with them
For this unvalued diadem;
She’ll offer them her dearest breath,        35
With Christ’s name in’t, in change for death.
She’ll bargain with them, and will give
Them God, and teach them how to live
In Him; or if they this deny,
For Him she’ll teach them how to die.        40
So shall she leave amongst them sown
Her Lord’s blood, or at least her own.
Farewell, then, all the world! adieu,
Teresa is no more for you:
Farewell all pleasures, sports, and joys,        45
(Never till now esteemèd toys):
Farewell whatever dear may be,
Mother’s arms, or father’s knee:
Farewell house, and farewell home,
She’s for the Moors and martyrdom.        50
Sweet, not so fast! lo, thy fair spouse,
Whom thou seek’st with so swift vows,
Calls thee back, and bids thee come,
T’ embrace a milder martyrdom.
O how oft shalt thou complain        55
Of a sweet and subtle pain!
Of intolerable joys!
Of a death in which who dies
Loves his death, and dies again,
And would for ever so be slain!        60
And lives, and dies; and knows not why
To live, but that he thus may never leave to die.
How kindly will thy gentle heart
Kiss the sweetly-killing dart?
And close in thine embraces keep        65
Those delicious wounds that weep
Balsam to heal themselves with. Thus
When these thy deaths so numerous,
Shall all at last die into one,
And melt thy soul’s sweet mansion;        70
Like a soft lump of incense hasted
By too hot a fire, and wasted
Into perfuming clouds, so fast
Shall thou exhale to heav’n at last,
In a resolving sigh, and then,        75
O what?—ask not the tongues of men.
Angels cannot tell. Suffice,
Thyself shall feel thine own full joys,
And hold them fast for ever. There,
So soon as thou shall first appear,        80
The moon of maiden stars, thy white
Mistress attended by such bright
Souls as thy shining self, shall come,
And in her first ranks make thee room,
Where ’mongst her snowy family,        85
Immortal welcomes wait for thee.
O what delight when she shall stand
And teach thy lips heav’n with her hand,
On which thou now may’st to thy wishes,
Heap up thy consecrated kisses!        90
What joys shall seize thy soul, when she,
Bending her blessed eyes on thee
(Those second smiles of heav’n) shall dart
Her mild rays through thy melting heart!
Angels, thy old friends, there shall greet thee,        95
Glad at their own home now to meet thee.
All thy good works which went before,
And waited for thee at the door,
Shall own thee there, and all in one
Weave a constellation        100
Of crowns, with which the King thy spouse,
Shall build up thy triumphant brows;
All thy old woes shall now smile on thee,
And thy pains sit bright upon thee.
All thy sorrows here shall shine,        105
And all thy suff’rings be divine;
Tears shall take comfort and turn gems,
And wrongs repent to diadems.
Ev’n thy deaths shall live, and new
Dress the soul that erst they slew.        110
Thy wounds shall blush to such bright scars,
As keep account of the Lamb’s wars.
Those rare works where thou shalt leave writ
Love’s noble history, with wit
Taught thee by none but Him, while here        115
They feed our souls, shall clothe thine there.
Each heavenly word by whose hid flame
Our hard hearts shall strike fire, the same
Shall flourish on thy brows, and be
Both fire to us, and flame to thee;        120
Whose light shall live bright, in thy face
By glory, in our hearts by grace.
Thou shalt look round about, and see
Thousands of crown’d souls throng to be
Themselves thy crown; sons of thy vows,        125
The virgin-births, with which thy sovereign spouse
Made fruitful thy fair soul. Go now,
And with them all about thee, bow
To Him; put on (He’ll say) put on,
My rosy love, that thy rich zone,        130
Sparkling with the sacred flames
Of thousand souls whose happy names
Heav’n keeps upon thy score (thy bright
Life brought them first to kiss the light,
That kindled then to stars) and so        135
Thou with the Lamb, thy Lord, shalt go,
And whereso’er He sets His white
Steps, walk with Him those ways of light;
Which who in death would live to see,
Must learn in life to die like thee.        140