Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 288. Love, the Tempter
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
288. Love, the Tempter
By Laurence Housman  (b. 1865)
  
(Season of Lent)


OH, tempt me not! I love too well this snare
  Of silken cords.
Nay, Love, the flesh is fair;
  So tempt me not! This earth affords
    Too much delight;        5
    Withdraw Thee from my sight,
    Lest my weak soul break free
    And throw me back to Thee!
 
Thy Face is all too marred. Nay, Love, not I—
I did not that! Doubtless Thou hadst to die:       10
  Others did faint for Thee; but I faint not.
  Only a little while hath sorrow got
The better of me now; for Thou art grieved,
    Thinking I need Thee. Oh, Christ, lest I fall
    Weeping between Thy Feet, and give Thee all:       15
Oh, Christ, lest love condemn me unreprieved
Into Thy bondage, be it not believed
    That Thou hast need of me!
 
    Dost Thou not know
  I never turned aside to mock Thy Woe?       20
I had respect to Thy great love for men:
Why wilt Thou, then,
  Question of each new lust—
  ‘Are these not ashes, and is this not dust?’
Ah, Love, Thou hast not eyes       25
  To see how sweet it is!
Each for himself be wise:
  Mock not my bliss!
Ere Thou cam’st troubling, was I not content?
  Because I pity Thee, and would be glad       30
  To go mine own way, and not leave Thee sad,
Is all my comfort spent?
 
Go Thine own ways, nor dream Thou needest me!
Yet if, again, Thou on the bitter Tree
Wert hanging now, with none to succour Thee       35
  Or run to quench Thy sudden cry of thirst,
  Would not I be the first—
Ah, Love, the prize!—
To lift one cloud of suffering from Thine Eyes?
 
    Oh, Christ, let be!       40
Stretch not Thine ever-pleading Hands thus wide,
Nor with imperious gesture touch Thy Side!
Past is Thy Calvary. By the Life that died,
    Oh, tempt not me!
 
Nay, if Thou weepest, then must I weep too,       45
Sweet Tempter, Christ! Yet what can I undo,
  I, the undone, the undone,
  To comfort Thee, God’s Son?
Oh, draw me near, and, for some lowest use,
  That I may be       50
  Lost and undone in Thee,
Me from mine own self loose!

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