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Read The Complete Works of Richard Crashaw Volume II Part 10

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Si nimium hic promitti tibi videtur, Lector bone, pro eo cui satisfaciendo libellus iste futurus fuerit; scias me in istis non ad haec modo spectare quae hic habes, sed ea etiam quae olim, haec interim fovendo, habere poteris. Nolui enim, si hactenus deesse amicis meis non potui, flagitantibus a me, etiam c.u.m dispendii sui periculo, paterer eos experiri te in tantum favorem tuum, nolui, inquam, fastidio tuo indulgere. Satis hic habes quod vel releges ad ferulam suam, neque enim maturiores sibi annos ex his aliqua vendicant, vel ut pignus plurium adultiorumque in sinu tuo reponas. Elige tibi ex his utrumvis. Me interim quod attinet, finis meus non fefellit. Maximum meae ambitionis scopum jamdudum attigi: tunc nimirum c.u.m quale-cunque hoc meum pene infantis Musae murmur ad aures istas non ingratum sonuit, quibus neque doctiores mihi de publico timere habeo, nec sperare clementiores; adeo ut de tuo jam plausu, dicam ingenue et breviter, neque securus sim ultra neque solicitus. Prius tui, quisquis es, Lector, apud me reverentia prohibet; de cujus judicio omnia possum magna sperare: posterius illorum reverentia non sinit, de quorum perspicacitate maxima omnia non possum mihi non persuadere. Quanquam o quam velim tanti me esse in quo patria mea morem istum suum deponere velit, genio suo tam non dignum; istum scilicet quo, suis omnibus fastiditis, ea exosculatur unice, quibus trajecisse Alpes et de transmarino esse, in pretium cessit! Sed relictis hisce, nimis improbae spei votis, convertam me ad magistros acygnianos; quos scio de novissimis meis verbis, quanquam neminem nominarim, iratos me reliquisse: bilem vero componant; et mihi se hoc debere, ambitioso juveni verb.u.m tam magnum ignoscant–debere, inquam, fateantur: quod nimirum in tam n.o.bili argumento, in quo neque ad foetida de suis sanctis figmenta, neque ad putidas de nostris calumnias opus habeant confugere, de tenui hoc meo dederim illorum magnitudini unde emineat. Emineat vero; serius dico, sciantque me semper se habituros esse sub ea, quam mihi eorum lux major affuderit, umbra, placidissime acquiescentem.

[TRANSLATION. Verse and Prose, G.]


‘Greeting,’ Reader; and now ‘farewell’!

Wherefore shouldst thou on my page dwell, Where neither jest nor sport inviteth, That the jocund youth delighteth?

Therefore, Reader, pa.s.s thee by To thine own idle jollity: The notes that trill from my poor lute Such as thee shall never suit; Nor here are Acidalian dews That Venus’ roses sweet suffuse; Nor breath sets Cupid’s torch a-blaze That lovers on my lines may gaze.

Vainly shall mother and shall son Look here for lewd emotion.

Cupid, seek thy mother’s kirtle, Or hide thee ‘neath her fragrant myrtle.

And, Venus, thy Idalian hills Will better yield thee sport that thrills: Thither, therefore, G.o.ddess, turn; O’er thy lost Adonis burn; Or devise, if grief thee frets, Other shrines for thy violets: There, with Flora and the Spring The green earth enamelling, Thou mayst fill thy bosom’s whiteness, He his wings in all their brightness, With all flow’rs that wait on thee When thou holdest revelry.

Me my own poor flow’r will crown; Poor ’tis true, yet all my own– Poor but pure. So let it be, Those unto others, this to me.

No Circe-cup foams in my verse, To make fierce l.u.s.tings still more fierce; No draft of Lethe here doth flow, Flow’ry above, deathly below; No false cheeks, with falser bloom– A rose up-bursting from a tomb; No barb hid ‘neath treach’rous plume; No poison spread as honey’d bait; No line where danger lies in wait: Here’s nor spleen nor melancholy, That for me were unmeet wholly; Rarely do I raise a smile, Ne’er merge my wit in wanton wile; Never quicken Pa.s.sion’s pulse, Nor show nude Beauty to convulse, Until beneath the hoof o’ th’ flesh The strong man bound is in l.u.s.t’s mesh.

If jest I pa.s.s, do not repine To learn it reeks not of the wine; For my Apollo is celestial, And from Bacchus shrinks as b.e.s.t.i.a.l.

Nothing that’s foul my page contains; Nothing the modest eye arraigns; Nothing to cause averted face– Lucretia every line might trace With calm, serene, unfearing eye, Nor blush stain cheek of Modesty.

For not more pure the maiden’s vow[42]

Whisper’d in tremulous words and low, As, girt in snowy robe, her breast Heaves like a wave in sweet unrest, And the white veil shows whiter brow In pureness of unfallen snow, With flame-gleam from meek-dropped hair Dishevell’d by the am’rous air: Soft strains with her soft voice blending, The marriage-rites to heaven ascending: Yea, not the altar’s self exhaleth More chastely, as its G.o.d it haileth, That keeps far off unholy hands While there the priest with bow’d head stands.

My verse is not the Queen of Love’s, Nor knows the cooing of her doves: Her beauty me not overpowers, Though bright as skies when no cloud low’rs; Vainly at me her tricksy boy His arrows shoots. The sweet annoy I never felt; though oft and oft He hover’d o’er me, and with soft, Sly, ‘luring glances his torch wav’d, And look’d to find me swift enslav’d; Offer’d a quill from his own wing, E’en from his mother’s swan–to sing; Ay, often Venus’ love-wreaths weaving, On my brow the symbol leaving: He would laugh, and Poet style me, And with flatteries beguile me: ‘Begone, begone, O wanton boy!

Thy mother too, though Queen of Joy.’

Thus did I speak. Naught of my song Shall thy tyranny prolong: Get thee, with thy torch and arrow, Unto the Veronian sparrow; _Catullus_ Or the Bilbilician win _Martial_ To embalm thy pleasant sin: Be thy a.s.saults however vile, He on thee will smile, and smile: He, thy love-locks curious twining, Shall ne’er come short of thy inclining: He thine own poet is, and will Give thee full license to instill By jest and quip and jollity Whate’er it listeth thee to try.

Alas, that genius so august Should pander to adult’rous l.u.s.t!

Alas, that he, poet so true, Should poet be, Cupid, to you!

O, what harvest of rich thought Judean seed from him had brought, If, up-climbing holy mountains, He had drunk from hallow’d fountains!

Mother and son, I see them now, As round her neck his arms he’d throw, Nestling with his azure eyes, Her bosom’s splendour for his skies; Kissing, and kiss’d in sweet reply, As soft winds o’er violets die: While she all her love discloses, Murm’ring on his lips’ twin roses: His lips like hers, and hers like his, Glued i’ the rapture of their bliss.

Visions like these would Martial give With dainty touch and fugitive.

The heav’nly Weeper there would bow Before her Lord, and pay her vow: Now is uttered gentle sigh, And now great tears gleam in her eye: That, offspring of the stainless Light; This, of the Pyx’s mystic rite: In his verse, tears, sighs should fall Delicate and musical: In fine, whate’er in mine were mean Should radiant grow as sunlight’s sheen.

Go, then, go, insatiate boy, Nor me longer seek t’ annoy: I’ve said it, nor shall e’er unsay: Go to thy mother, and there play.

Why wilt thou whisper flattery, And praise my Muse’s witchery– Verses that reck not of thy smarts– And smite me with thy fire-tipp’d darts?

Go, get thee gone! Thy haunt must be Where there’s wanton revelry, And the young minx with toss o’ curls Opes her lips to show her pearls; Opes her lips, with some gross jest A foolish lover to arrest.

Thither go, where falsely-fair Beauty is bought and sold; and where, Flaunting with painted cheek, and eye A-flame to ev’ry devilry, Base women seek base men, and tingle Their hot veins as they commingle, Baring their charms, ‘neath alien roses Ministering such sweets as h.e.l.l composes.

Hence, therefore, Cupid! Venus, hence!

I yield not to your violence: I’ve said it, nor shall you allure My heart to own your sway impure.

Another Cypris holds me now, Another Love receives my vow: For Love is here and Mother kind, But she a Virgin; He not blind.

O Child! O Lord! great Mother blest!

O wonder of thy holy breast!

O Love, whose quiver’s sacred pow’rs Ne’er send forth arrow that devours, Unless a shaft pierce the pure heart, That Thou mayst heal the blessed smart.

Me whom Thou piercest, holy Child, Pierce, pierce me sure with arrows mild.

Let Thy quiver grow more light As Thou dost me yearning smite: What my soul pants for, and still drinks And drinks, and thirsts, and never thinks To get enough, O give, still give.

Thus would I die; thus would I live.

Transfix this heart, Child: howsoe’er Thou comest,–crown’d with thorns and bare, Or great with the awful heraldry Of nail and spear for Faith to see; Or greater still, on the holy rood Wet with the terror of Thy Blood; Or great’st of all, Thyself alone In meek might of Thy Pa.s.sion,– Still pierce this heart; O pierce it, Child: _Thus_ would I drink in rapture wild.

O that Thy bow might wound me still!

O that of wounds I had my fill!

Or, if some swifter wing there be, That it would fly to me–to me!

Behold, my Saviour, this poor breast, And take it as Thine arrows’ nest: I seek not to be spar’d one blow: Thus would I have Thee still my foe; Still yearn that wounded I may be; For wounds like these are ecstasy.

These are my wishes: and my Books, May they be his who on them looks!

Seek’st, Reader, to be mine? Then, last, I ask thy eyes that they be chaste; Chaste, but not tearless; my dear Love To meet and know, as from above He comes, and still the Crucified, Proclaiming how for man He died By thorn, and nail, and spear, and cry, And bitterest words of agony: Say, should He meet thee thus in blood, Couldst thou e’en grudge of tears a flood?

Ah, hard thy heart as e’er was stone, That all unmov’d can hear Him groan, Nor by a throb of feeling show Thou hast a sense of His great woe; While here He treasured human tears Hushing sad Mary in her fears, As to His feet in shame she crept, And with white drops them all bewept: More than a.s.syrian gold to thee Such tears, if thou their worth couldst see.

His love with thine again will glow, His tears afresh with thine will flow.

Here, Reader, glancing through my Book, Thou shalt upon His cradle look: To His sweet obsequies now turn, And mark how still my love shall burn.

Here, with His Mother and with me, My ceaseless sacred joys shalt see: Whether Earth’s Princes speechless stand As sudden darkness wraps the land; Or He lies hidden in the Cave, A temple now, and not a grave; But the third morning shall restore Him: Ah, much too slow those days pa.s.s o’er Him!

Be true, ye shadows of the tomb; Enfold Him in a kindly gloom: Thus wilt thou pray; while my dear Light (O strange!) demands the help of Night.

In fine, whate’er my Book shall say To my dear Love–however pray, However fear, however weep, And with sweet tears its pages steep– My words thy willing words will move.

‘O, not enough these things I love; But they are sweet all things above; And certainly the love of Him Deserves all other loves to dim.’

If it seem to you, good Reader, that I have promised overmuch on behalf of him to whom this tractate shall be pleasing, know that I do not look merely on those things which you possess here, but also on those which, by cherishing such as you now have, you may hereafter obtain; for I have been unwilling, if hitherto I have not been a-wanting to my friends earnestly entreating me that I should allow them, even at the risk of their own peril, to encroach on your good-will, however great–I have been unwilling, I say, to give myself up to your fastidious criticism.

You have enough here either to hand over to the rod which it deserves (for none of these things ask or claim for themselves maturer years), or to lay it up in your bosom as a pledge of more and of advanced attempts. Choose for yourself an alternative. As for myself, my aim has not deceived me. I have already attained the utmost pinnacle of my ambition, at the time when this somewhat indifferent murmur of my almost-infantine Muse sounded not unmusically in those ears, than which from the world at large I have none more learned to fear, none more indulgent to hope for; so that, as regards your applause, I will speak candidly and at once: I am neither over-confident nor over-solicitous of it. Firstly, my respect for you, Reader, whoever you are, and of whose decision I can hope everything, restrains; and next, my respect for those of whose penetration I am unable not to persuade myself to hope the greatest things. Yet still, how I do wish that I were of service whenever my Country desires to cast aside its own particular custom, so unworthy its own worth–that custom particularly by which, all her own things being despised, she only prizes those things to which having crossed the Alps and lived over the sea has given a value! But these wishes of too rash hope being put aside, let me turn to the acygnian gentlemen, whom I know–although I shall name none personally–to have angrily abandoned me on account of some of my recent sayings. Still, let them compose their temper, and let them confess–may they pardon such a great saying from a forward young man!–I say, let them confess that they owe me this: that, in truth, in so grand an argument, in which they have not recourse to the stale untruths concerning their own services, nor to the nauseous calumnies concerning ours. With regard to this slight statement of mine, I have yielded to the importance of those from whence it springs. And let it spring, forsooth! I speak seriously–and let them know that they will always find me most tranquilly reposing under that shadow which their greater light has cast around me!



_Pharisaeus et Publica.n.u.s._ Luc. xviii. 14-19.

En duo templum adeunt, diversis mentibus ambo.

Ille procul trepido lumine signat humum: It gravis hic, et in alta ferox penetralia tendit.

Plus habet hic templi; plus habet ille Dei.

??d?e?, ?d??, ?t????s? ?????, d?? ???? ?s?????.

?????e? ????de? ?e???? ? f???a?????

???’ ? ?? ?? s?a??? ???? ???? ????? ????e??

??e??? ? ?? ????, p?e??? ? d’ e??e Te??.

_Two went up into the Temple to pray._

Two went to pray! O, rather say, One went to brag, th’ other to pray.

One stands up close, and treads on high, Where th’ other dares not send his eye.

One neerer to G.o.d’s altar trod; The other to the altar’s G.o.d. CR.


Two men unto the Temple went to pray.

That, with a downcast look, stood far away; This, near the altar, himself highly bore: This of the Temple, that of G.o.d hath more. B.


_In asinum Christi vectorem._ Matt. xxi. 7.

Ille[43] suum didicit quondam objurgare magistrum: Et quid ni discas tu celebrare tuum?

Mirum non minus est, te jam potuisse tacere, Illum quam fuerat tum potuisse loqui.

_Upon the that bore our Saviour._


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