Home  »  The Book of Elizabethan Verse  »  Richard Crashaw (c. 1613–1649)

William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa

Richard Crashaw (c. 1613–1649)

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

With strong arms their triumphant crown

Such as could with lusty breath

Speak loud, unto the face of death,

Their great Lord’s glorious name; to none

Of those whose spacious bosoms spread a throne

For love at large to fill. Spare blood and sweat:

We’ll see Him take a private seat,

And make His mansion in the mild

And milky soul of a soft child.

Scarce has she learnt to lisp a name

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.

Nor has 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 has she blood enough to make

A guilty sword blush for her sake;

Yet has a heart dares 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.

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 offers them her dearest breath,

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.

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,

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.

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

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;

And lives and dies, and knows not why

To live, but that he still may die!

How kindly will thy gentle heart

Kiss the sweetly-killing dart!

And close in his embraces keep

Those delicious wounds, that weep

Balsam, to heal themselves with thus,

When these thy deaths, so numerous,

Shall all at once die into one,

And melt thy soul’s sweet mansion;

Like a soft lump of incense, hasted

By too hot a fire, and wasted

Into perfuming clouds, so fast

Shalt thou exhale to heaven at last

In a resolving sigh, and then,—

O what? Ask not the tongues of men.

Angels cannot tell; suffice,

Thyself shalt feel thine own full joys,

And hold them fast for ever there.

So soon as thou shalt first appear,

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,

Immortal welcomes wait for thee.

O what delight, when she shall stand

And teach thy lips heaven, with her hand,

On which thou now may’st to thy wishes

Heap up thy consecrated kisses!

What joy shall seize thy soul, when she,

Bending her blessèd eyes on thee,

Those second smiles of heaven, shall dart

Her mild rays through thy melting heart!

Angels, thy old friends, there shall greet thee,

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

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,

And thy sufferings be divine.

Tears shall take comfort, and turn gems,

And wrongs repent to diadems.

Even thy deaths shall live, and new

Dress the soul which late they slew.

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

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;

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,

Thy virgin-births with which thy 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,

Sparkling with the sacred flames

Of thousand souls, whose happy names

Heaven keeps upon thy score: thy bright

Life brought them first to kiss the light

That kindled them to stars; and so

Thou with the Lamb, thy Lord, shalt go.

And, wheresoe’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.