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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Divine Narcissus
By Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651–1695)
 
        
A Sacramental Play
  
  [NOTE.—The action begins with a Loa or prologue in which the Western World and America appear as persons habited in the dress of Indians. They are about to offer sacrifice to the god of seed-time, when Zeal, a Spanish soldier, interrupts them, and with his armed companions endeavors to compel them to desist. He is prevented and rebuked by Religion in the person of a virgin, who invites the attention of all to the story of the passion of the Divine Narcissus.
  The persons of the play then take the place of those of the Loa. The Hebrew and the Gentile as Synagogue and Gentility, in the guise of nymphs accompanied by an unseen chorus, alternate in songs of praise,—the first to the Divine Narcissus, the Son of God, the second to the spirit of fountains and flowers. Human Nature, another nymph, asks them to reconcile their songs, and declares the divinity of Narcissus and her love for him. Grace, Echo as Angelic Nature, Pride, Self-Love, and other nymphs, together with a band of shepherds and the chorus, take part with Human Nature and her loving Narcissus in acting a beautiful allegory in which the heathen myth is wedded to Christ’s passion. Echo, as Angelic Nature, sues in vain for the love of Narcissus, and Human Nature comes to the grove to seek him. On her coming she gives voice to the lament in the following.]

Enter Human Nature
HUMAN NATURE—  Ah, weary me! my perilous quest
    I follow still with faith untired.
  My wandering steps may have no rest
    Until I find my well-desired,
  My loved Narcissus, whom in vain        5
I seek through shady grove and sunny plain.
 
  Hope leads me to this pleasant glade,
    With promise of my lost one’s sight.
  If I may trust her gentle aid,
    His presence caused the sweet delight        10
  Which beams in every fragrant flower,
And sets a-tremble all this leafy bower.
 
  How many days, alas! have I
    The woodland, flower by flower, searched
  With many a heart-consuming sigh,        15
    By thorns empierced, by slime besmirched;
  Each woe to new hope giving birth!
Ages my days, my pilgrimage the earth!
 
  My past declares our sacred troth;
    The paths I’ve trod with ceaseless pain,        20
  My sighs and groans commingling both
    With tears that wet my cheeks like rain!
  Nay, slavery and prison oft
My unforgetting fealty madly scoffed!
 
  Once was I from his city driven,        25
    E’en by the servants of his power,—
  My mantle torn, my sceptre riven.
    The watchers of his warden tower
  My shoulders scourged with whips of flame,
And thrust me forth with Sin and Evil Fame.        30
 
  O nymphs, who grace this fair retreat!
    Your sympathy I pray impart:
  Should you my soul’s Beloved meet,
    Tell him the longings of my heart;
  The patience of my passion tell,        35
My tortured spirit and my anguish fell.
 
  If sign you need my Loved to know,
    His brow is fair as rosy morn,
  His bosom whiter than the snow,
    With light like that by jasper borne.        40
  His eyes are limpid as the dove’s,
And all their deep, unfathomed gleams are Love’s.
 
  His breath is like the fragrance thrown
    From rarest incense; and his hand
  Is jeweled with the jacynth stone,        45
    The badge of Glory’s knightly band,
  The jewel of the sigh and tear,—
The crest of all who triumph over fear.
 
  He stands as stately as the shaft
    That lifts the temple dome on high;        50
  His graceful gestures gently waft
    A spell o’er every gazer’s eye.
  O maids! perfections all combine
To mark the person of my Love divine!—
 
  Among the myriads you will know him        55
    O’er all the better or the worse;
  His god-like form will ever show him
    The flower of the universe.
  No other shepherd is there, here
Or elsewhere, equal to this Shepherd dear!        60
 
  Then tell me where my soul’s adored
    His swift and busy footsteps turns!
  What shady bower he fleeth toward
    When high the midday sunlight burns!
  For sad and weary is my heart        65
With wandering through the forest’s every part.

  [The action passes naturally to a culmination in the following scene of the resurrection of Narcissus after his supposed death in the fountain.]
 
Enter about the Fountain, Human Nature with all the nymphs and shepherds.  They bewail the death of Narcissus.  Grace enters, and addressing Human Nature, says:
  Grace—Why weep you thus so grievously, fair nymph?
What seek you, and what is your cause of woe?
  Human Nature—The Master of my love in vain I seek.
I know not where the jealous Fates have hid        70
Him from my eager sight.
  Grace—                        Lament not! weep not!
Nor seek among the dead the Eternal One.
Narcissus, thy Beloved, lives.
Narcissus, brilliantly dressed and crowned as from the Resurrection, enters, accompanied by a troop of rejoicing shepherds.  Human Nature turns and sees him.
  Narcissus—                        Fair maid,
Thy pearly tears are precious to my sight,
And melt my heart to pity! Why does grief        75
Thus flood thy gentle eyes?
  Human Nature—                        I weep, my lord,
For my Narcissus. Oh, could you but tell
Me where to seek for my lost love!
  Narcissus—                            Dear spouse,
Has heaven’s glory shining on my brow
So masked me that you know me not?        80
  Human Nature—O spouse adorable! My joy! My heart
Bows to the earth with its great happiness!
I kiss thy feet.
  Narcissus—            No, dear one, thou must not!
A little longer must thou wait, for I
Go now to join my Father on his throne.        85
  Human Nature—Thou wilt leave me here alone? Dear Lord, I faint
To think without thine arm to shelter me
My enemy the serpent may destroy me.
Enter Echo, Pride, and Self-Love
  Echo—True that! for he has laid in wait for her
With wary cunning for these many years.        90
[Narcissus rebukes the envious nymphs, and calls on Grace to declare the will of God.]
  Narcissus—Then to thy greater pain, since thou canst wish
Such evil to another, know my plan
Of safeguard for my chosen spouse. Speak, Grace,
The meaning of this parable which we
So far have acted. Tell my message.
  Grace—                            List
        95
Ye all! The master I obey.
  Echo—                        Alas!
My woe grows heavier at thy words of dole.
  Grace—So shall the beauty of Narcissus bloom
In sovereign state while he enjoys the bliss
Eternally prepared for him, the king        100
Of happiness, dispenser of all joys,
Perfection’s treasurer and crownèd cause
Of wonder-making miracles. The orbs
Whose crystal radiance lights the firmament
Shall be his lofty glory’s witnesses;        105
Their circled courses, as with pens of fire,
Shall write his deeds upon the vast of space;
The splendor of the morning stars, the flame
Of purifying fires, the storm-tossed plumes
Of ocean, the uplifted crags of earth,        110
And the unceasing music of the winds,
Shall praise him, and from him the myriad suns
And brilliant stars shall proudly borrow light.
The sapphire of the deep and placid lakes,
The pearly radiance of the flying mists,        115
Shall be the mirrors of his smile; the fields
Shall clothe themselves with flowers, and the peaks
With snow, to imitate his glory.
The wild things of the forest and the air
From den and eyrie shall adore his name.        120
The silent caverns of the deep shall teem
With servants of his word. The sea itself
Shall pile its jeweled waves aloft to make
The thunderous altars of the choir of storms.
All growing things—the lofty pine, the moss        125
That clings about the desert rock—shall teach
His worship; him the boundless main declares,
Receiving all the waters of the earth
To give them back in helpful rain as he
Receives in adoration and gives back        130
In bliss.
        And this has ever been since time
And movement of created things began.
For all things hold their being from his care.
Should he not care, chaos would mar the world.
This is the happy year that sways the flowers,        135
The fear that tells the lily to grow pale
And brings a blush upon the rose.
                            He came
To see in man, creation’s prince, the best
Reflection of himself. God-Man, he saw,
And loved the Godlike image of himself.        140
Godlike to God the only worth can be.
 
 
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