Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Upon the Book and Picture of the Seraphical Saint Teresa
By Richard Crashaw (c. 1613–1649)
 
LIVE 1 in these conquering leaves: live all the same;
And walk through all tongues one triumphant flame;
Live here, great heart; and love, and die, and kill;
And bleed, and wound, and yield, and conquer still.
Let this immortal life where’er it comes        5
Walk in a crowd of loves and martyrdoms.
Let mystic deaths wait on’t; and wise souls be
The love-slain witnesses of this life of thee.
O sweet incendiary! show here thy art,
Upon this carcase of a hard cold heart;        10
Let all thy scatter’d shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy large books of day,
Combin’d against this breast at once break in,
And take away from me myself and sin;
This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be        15
And my best fortunes such fair spoils of me.
O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dower of lights and fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;
By all thy lives and deaths of love;        20
By thy large draughts of intellectual day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they;
By all thy brim-filled bowls of fierce desire,
By thy last morning’s draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss        25
That seized thy parting soul, and sealed thee His;
By all the Heav’n thou hast in Him
(Fair sister of the seraphim!);
By all of Him we have in thee;
Leave nothing of myself in me.        30
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may die!
 
Note 1. These lines are taken from The Flaming Heart. Of it Prof. Saintsbury says (History of Elizabethan Literature, 1887): “His (Crashaw’s) masterpiece, one of the most astonishing things in English or any literature, comes without warning at the end of The Flaming Heart. For page after page the poet has been partly playing on some trifling conceit suggested by the picture of Saint Theresa and a seraph … and always he treats his subject in a vein of grovelling and grotesque conceit which the boy Dryden in the stage of his Elegy on Lord Hastings would have disdained. And then in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, without warning of any sort, the metre changes, the poet’s inspiration catches fire, and then rushes up into the heaven of poetry the marvellous rocket of song: ‘Live in these conquering leaves,’ etc. The contrast is perhaps unique as regards the colourlessness of the beginning and the splendid colour of the end. But contrasts like it occur all over Crashaw’s work.” I have preferred to begin my selection from this poem at the point indicated by Prof. Saintsbury instead of at the line O thou undaunted daughter of desires, as do most editors. [back]
 
 
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