By Richard Crashaw
AIL 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.
But we're deceived all :
Stars indeed they are too true,
For they but seem to fall
As Heaven's other spangles do :
It is not for our earth and us,
To shine in things so precious.
Upwards thou dost weep ;
Heaven's bosom drinks the gentle stream.
Where the milky rivers creep,
Thine floats above and is the cream.
Waters above the heavens, what they be,
We are taught best by thy tears and thee.
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.
Not in the evening's eyes,
When they read 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.
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.
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.
There is no need at all,
That the balsam-sweating bough
So coyly should let fall
His med'cinable tears ; for now
Nature hath learnt t'extract a dew
More sovereign and sweet from you.
Yet let the poor drops weep,
Weeping is the case of woe ;
Softly let them creep,
Sad that they are vanquish'd so ;
They, though to others no relief,
May balsam be for their own grief.
Such the maiden gem
By the wanton spring put on,
Peeps from her parent stem,
And blushes on the watery sun :
This watery blossom of thy eyne
Ripe, will make the richer wine.
When some new bright guest
Takes up among the stars a room,
And Heaven will make a feast,
Angels with crystal vials come ;
And draw from these full eyes of thine
Their Master's water, their own wine.
Golden though he be,
Golden Tagus murmurs ; though
Were his way by thee,
Content and quiet he would go ;
So much more rich would he esteem
Thy silver, than his golden stream.
Well does the May that lies
Smiling in thy cheecks, confess
The April in thine eyes ;
Mutual sweetness they express.
No April e'er lent kinder showers,
Nor May return'd more faithful flowers.
O cheeks ! Beds of chaste loves,
By your own showers seasonably dash'd.
Eyes ! nests of milky doves,
In your own wells decently wash'd.
O wit of love ! that thus could place
Fountain and garden in one face.
O sweet contest ; of woes
With loves, of tears with smiles disporting !
O fair and friendly foes,
Each other kissing and comforting !
While rain and sunshine, cheeks and eyes,
Close in kind contrarieties.
But can these fair floods be
Friends with the bosom fires that fill ye !
Can so great flames agree
Eternal tears should thus distil thee !
O floods, O fires, O suns, O showers !
Mix'd and made friends by love's sweet pow'rs.
'Twas his well-pointed dar
That digg'd these wells, and dress'd this vine ;
And taught that wounded heart
The way into these weeping eyne.
Vain loves avaunt ! bold hands forbear !
The lamb hath dipped his white foot here.
And now where'er he strays
Among the Galilean mountains,
Or more unwelcome ways,
He's follow'd by two faithful fountains ;
Two walking baths, two weeping motions,
Portable and compendious oceans.
O thou, thy Lord's fair store,
In thy so rich and large expenses,
Even when he show'd most poor,
He might provoke the wealth of princes.
What prince's wanton'st pride e'er could
Wash with silver, wipe with gold ?
Who is that King, but he
Who call'st his crown to be call'd thine,
Thus can boast to be
Waited on by a wand;ring mine,
A voluntary mint, that strews
Warm silver show'rs where'er he goes ?
O precious prodigal !
Fair spendthrift of thyself ! thy measure,
Merciless love ! is all
Even to the last pearl in thy treasure.
All places, times, and objects be
Thy tear's sweet opportunity.
Does the day-star rise ?
Still thy stars do fal, and fall ;
Does day close his eyes ?
Still the fountain weeps for all.
Let night or day do what they will,
Thou hast thy task, thou weepest still.
Does thy song lull the air ?
Thy falling tears keep faithful time.
Does thy sweet-breath'd pray'r
Up in clouds of incense climb ?
Still at each sigh, that is, each stop,
A bead, that is, a tear, does drop.
At these thy weeping gates,
Watching their wat'ry motion,
Each winged moment waits,
Takes his tear, and gets him gone.
By thine eye's tinct ennobled thus,
Time lay's him up : he's precious.
Not, so long she lived,
Shall thy tomb report of thee ;
But, so long she breathed,
Thus must we date thy memory.
Others by moments, months, and years,
Measure their ages ; thou, by tears.
So do perfumes expire ;
So sigh tormented sweets, oppress'd
With proud unpitying fires ;
Such tears the suff'ring rose that's vex'd
With ungentle flames does shed,
Sweating in a too warm bed.
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 their 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.
Though the field's eyes, too, weepers be,
Because they want such tears as we.
Much less mean we to trace
The fortune of inferior gems,
Preferr'd to some proud face,
Or perch'd upon fear'd diadems.
Crowned heads are toys. We go to meet
A worthy object, our Lord's feet.
Turnbull, William B., Ed. The Complete Works of Richard Crashaw.
London: John Russell Smith, 1858. 1-8.
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