Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,
Weav’d in my low devout melancholy,
Thou which of good hast, yea, art treasury,
All changing unchag’d Ancient of days.
But do not, with a vile crown of frail bays
Reward my muse’s white sincerity,
But what thy thorny crown gain’d, that give me,
A crown of Glory which doth flower always;
The ends crown our works, but thou crown’st our ends,
For, at our end begins our endless rest,
The first last end, now zealously possest,
With a strong sober thirst, my soul attends.
‘Tis time that the heart and voice be lifted high,
Salvation to all that will is nigh.
Salvation to all that will is nigh,
That All, which always is All every where,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though he there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the sphere’s time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceiv’st, conceiv’d; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother,
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb
Now leaves his wellbelov’d imprisonment.
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come.
But, oh, for thee, for him, hath th’ Inn no room?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient
Stars and wisemen will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how he
Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss him, and with him into Egypt go,
With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
With his kind mother who partakes thy woe,
Joseph, turn back; see where your child doth sit,
Blowing, yea blowing out those sparks of wit
Which himself on the Doctors did bestow.
The Word but lately could not speak, and, lo,
It suddenly speaks wonders. Whence comes it
That all which was, and all which should be writ,
A shallow-seeming child should deeply know?
His Godhead was not soul to his manhood,
Nor had time mellowed him to this ripeness,
But as for one which hath a long task, ’tis good
With the Sun to begin his business.
He in his age’s morning thus began
By miracles exceeding power of man.
By miracles exceeding power of man,
He faith in some, envy in some begat,
For, what meek spirits admire, ambitious hate;
In both affections many to him ran.
But Oh! the worst are most; they will and can,
Alas, and do unto the immaculate,
Whose creature Fate is, now do prescribe a Fate,
Measuring self-life’s infinity to a span,
Nay, to an inch. Lo, where condemned he
Bears his own cross with pain, yet by and by,
When it bears him, he must bear more and die.
Now thou art lifted up, draw me near to thee,
And at thy death giving such liberal dole,
Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soul.
Moist, with one drop of thy blood; my dry soul
Shall (though she now in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly) be
Freed by that drop, from being starv’d, hard, or foul.
And life, by this death abled, shall control
Death, whom thy death slew; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death bring misery,
If in thy little book my name thou enroll.
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which and for which ’twas,
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sins sleep, and deaths soon from me pass,
That wak’t from both, I again risen may
Salute the last and everlasting day.
Salute the last and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun and Son,
Ye whose just tears or tribulation
Have purely washt or burnt your drossie clay;
Behold the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds which he treads upon,
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first he, and he first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hath batter’d heaven for me;
Mild Lamb, which with thy blood hast mark’d the path;
Bright torch, which shinest that I the way may see;
O, with thine own blood quench thine own just wrath,
And if thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.
Goethe said that everyone should read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day, to prevent worldly cares from overcoming our sense of the beautiful. Get your daily dose of beauty at Wrestle with the Angel.