Richard Crashaw

1612 - 1649 / England

Saint Mar Magdelene; Or, The Weeper

Hail, 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 heav'n's other spangles do.
It is not for our earth and us
To shine in things so precious.

Upwards thou dost weep;
Heavn's bosom drinks the gentle stream;
Where the milky rivers creep,
Thine floats above, and is the cream.
Waters above th' heav'n's, what they be
We're 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 red 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 dressed by none but thee;
Then, and only then, she wears
Her proudest 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 be thy tear,
And leave them both to tremble here.

There's no need at all
That the balsam-sweating bough
So coyly should let fall
His med'cinable tears, for now
Nature hath learn't extract a dew
More sovereign and sweet from you.

You let the poor drops weep,
Weeping is the ease of woe;
Softly let them creep,
Sad that they are vanquished so;
They, though to others no relief,
Balsam may be for their own grief.

Such the maiden gem
By the purpling vine put on,
Peeps from her parent stem
And blushes at the bridegroom sun;
This wat'ry blossom of thy eyne,
Ripe, will make the richer wine.

When some new bright guest
Takes up among the stars a room,
And Heav'n 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 cheeks confess
The April in thine eyes;
Mutual sweetness they express;
No April e'er lent kinder showers,
Nor May returned more faithful flowers.

O cheeks! beds of chaste loves
By your own showers seasonably dashed;
Eyes! nests of milky doves
In your own wells decently washed;
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 disputing!
O fair and friendly foes,
Each other kissing and confuting!
While rain and sunshine, cheeks and eyes,
Close in kind contrarieties.

But can these fair floods be
Friends with the bosom fires that fill thee?
Can so great flames agree
Eternal tears should thus distill thee?
O floods, O fires, O suns, O showers!
Mixed and made friends by Love's sweet powers.

'Twas his well-pointed dart
That digged these wells and dressed this vine;
And taught the 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 followed 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 rare expenses,
Even when He showed 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 called thine,
That thus can boast to be
Waited on by a wand'ring mine,
A voluntary mint, that strows
Warm silver showers 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 tears' sweet opportunity.

Does the day-star rise?
Still thy tears do fall 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-breathed prayer
Up in clouds in 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 lays him up, he's precious.

Not, 'So long she lived,'
Shall thy tomb report of thee;
But, 'So long she grieved,'
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, oppressed
With proud unpitying fire;
Such tears the suff'ring rose that's vexed
With ungentle flames does shed,
Sweating in a too warm bed.

Say, ye bright brothers,
The fugitive sons of those fair eyes,
Your faithful 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 your birth.
Sweet, whiter 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,
Preferred to some proud face,
Or perched upon feared diadems:
Crowned heads are toys. We go to meet
A worthy object, our Lord's feet.'
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