Sunday, November 09, 2008

Poems about Saint Teresa of Ávila / Santa Teresa de Jesús

Gregorio Fernández (1576-1636)
Saint Teresa of Ávila / Santa Teresa de Jesús 1576
Sculpture in polychromed wood
Museum Nacional de Escultura, in Valladolid (Spain)

Richard Crashaw (c. 1613 - 25 August 1649), was one of the Seventeenth-century English Metaphysical School of poets.

He was the son of a strongly anti-Catholic divine, Dr William Crashaw

He served as the Anglican priest for the Church of St Mary the Less, Cambridge from 1638 to 1643.

In the confusion of the English Civil Wars he escaped to France, and he converted to the Catholic faith about 1645.

He became attendant to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Maria Pallotta at Rome and stayed at the famous Venerable English College. He took Holy Orders..

In 1649 he was made a canon of the Holy House of Loreto. On his death he was buried in the Lady chapel at Loreto

Crashaw had a particular attachment to St Teresa of Ávila. It is thought that it might be that under the influence of her writings, he finally converted to the Roman Catholic Church. He was an excellent Latinist and Hellenist, and had an intimate knowledge of Italian and Spanish.

Cardinal Newman was someone who was particularly fond of Richard Crashaw`s poetry.

Crashaw wrote a number of poems about St Teresa of Ávila. Here are three.

A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa

Fovndresse of the Reformation of the discalced Carmelites, both men and women ; a Woman for angelicall heigth of speculation, for masculine courage of performance more then a woman : who yet a child, out-ran maturity, and durst plott a Martyrdome ;

Misericordias Domini in AEternvm cantabo.
Le Vray portraict de Ste Terese, Fondatrice des Religieuses et
Religieux reformez de 1'ordre de N. Dame du mont Carmel:
Decedee le 4e Octo. 1582. Canonisee le 12e Mars. 1622

LOVE, thou are absolute, sole Lord
Of life and death. To prove the word,
We'll now appeal to none of all
Those thy old soldiers, great and tall,
Ripe men of martyrdom, that could reach down
With strong arms their triumphant crown:
Such as could with lusty breath
Speak loud, unto the face of death,
Their great Lord's glorious name; to none
Of those whose spacious bosoms spread a throne
For love at large to fill. Spare blood and sweat:
We'll see Him take a private seat,
And make His mansion in the mild
And milky soul of a soft child.
Scarce has she learnt to lisp a name
Of martyr, yet she thinks it shame
Life should so long play with that breath
Which spent can buy so brave a death.
She never undertook to know
What death with love should have to do.
Nor has she e'er yet understood
Why, to show love, she should shed blood;
Yet, though she cannot tell you why,
She can love, and she can die.
Scarce has she blood enough to make
A guilty sword blush for her sake;
Yet has a heart dares hope to prove
How much less strong is death than love....

Since 'tis not to be had at home,
She'll travel for a martyrdom.
No home for her, confesses she,
But where she may a martyr be.
She'll to the Moors, and trade with them
For this unvalued diadem;
She offers them her dearest breath,
With Christ's name in 't, in charge for death:
She'll bargain with them, and will give
Them God, and teach them how to live
In Him; or, if they this deny,
For Him she'll teach them how to die.
So shall she leave amongst them sown
Her Lord's blood, or at least her own.

Farewell then, all the world, adieu!
Teresa is no more for you.
Farewell all pleasures, sports, and joys,
Never till now esteemed toys!

Farewell whatever dear may be--
Mother's arms, or father's knee!
Farewell house, and farewell home!
She 's for the Moors and Martyrdom.

Sweet, not so fast; lo! thy fair spouse,
Whom thou seek'st with so swift vows,
Calls thee back, and bids thee come
T' embrace a milder martyrdom....

O how oft shalt thou complain
Of a sweet and subtle pain!
Of intolerable joys!
Of a death, in which who dies
Loves his death, and dies again,
And would for ever so be slain;
And lives and dies, and knows not why
To live, but that he still may die!
How kindly will thy gentle heart
Kiss the sweetly-killing dart!
And close in his embraces keep
Those delicious wounds, that weep
Balsam, to heal themselves with thus,
When these thy deaths, so numerous,
Shall all at once die into one,
And melt thy soul's sweet mansion;
Like a soft lump of incense, hasted
By too hot a fire, and wasted
Into perfuming clouds, so fast
Shalt thou exhale to heaven at last
In a resolving sigh, and then,--
O what? Ask not the tongues of men.

Angels cannot tell; suffice,
Thyself shalt feel thine own full joys,
And hold them fast for ever there.
So soon as thou shalt first appear,
The moon of maiden stars, thy white
Mistress, attended by such bright
Souls as thy shining self, shall come,
And in her first ranks make thee room;
Where, 'mongst her snowy family,
Immortal welcomes wait for thee.
O what delight, when she shall stand
And teach thy lips heaven, with her hand,
On which thou now may'st to thy wishes
Heap up thy consecrated kisses!
What joy shall seize thy soul, when she,
Bending her blessed eyes on thee,
Those second smiles of heaven, shall dart
Her mild rays through thy melting heart!

Angels, thy old friends, there shall greet thee,
Glad at their own home now to meet thee.
All thy good works which went before,
And waited for thee at the door,
Shall own thee there; and all in one
Weave a constellation
Of crowns, with which the King, thy spouse,
Shall build up thy triumphant brows.
All thy old woes shall now smile on thee,
And thy pains sit bright upon thee:
All thy sorrows here shall shine,
And thy sufferings be divine.
Tears shall take comfort, and turn gems,
And wrongs repent to diadems.
Even thy deaths shall live, and new
Dress the soul which late they slew.
Thy wounds shall blush to such bright scars
As keep account of the Lamb's wars.

Those rare works, where thou shalt leave writ
Love's noble history, with wit
Taught thee by none but Him, while here
They feed our souls, shall clothe thine there.
Each heavenly word by whose hid flame
Our hard hearts shall strike fire, the same
Shall flourish on thy brows, and be
Both fire to us and flame to thee;
Whose light shall live bright in thy face
By glory, in our hearts by grace.
Thou shalt look round about, and see
Thousands of crown'd souls throng to be
Themselves thy crown, sons of thy vows,
The virgin-births with which thy spouse
Made fruitful thy fair soul; go now,
And with them all about thee bow
To Him; put on, He'll say, put on,
My rosy Love, that thy rich zone,
Sparkling with the sacred flames
Of thousand souls, whose happy names
Heaven keeps upon thy score: thy bright
Life brought them first to kiss the light
That kindled them to stars; and so
Thou with the Lamb, thy Lord, shalt go.
And, wheresoe'er He sets His white
Steps, walk with Him those ways of light,
Which who in death would live to see,
Must learn in life to die like thee.

Richard Crashaw (1612 - 1649) from Steps to the Temple (1646)

Upon the Book and Picture of the Seraphical Saint Teresa

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;
By thy large draughts of intellectual day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they;
By all thy brim-fill'd bowls of fierce desire,
By thy last morning's draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seized thy parting soul, and seal'd 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.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may die!

Richard Crashaw (1612 - 1649) from Carmen Deo Nostro (1652)

Vpon the book and Picture of the seraphicall saint Teresa, (as she is vsvally expressed with a Seraphim biside her)

WELL meaning readers! you that come as freinds
And catch the pretious name this peice pretends;
Make not too much hast to’ admire
That fair-cheek’t fallacy of fire.
That is a Seraphim, they say 5
And this the great Teresia.
Readers, be rul’d by me; and make
Here a well-plac’t and wise mistake.
You must transpose the picture quite,
And spell it wrong to read it right; 10
Read Him for her, and her for him;
And call the Saint the Seraphim.

Painter, what didst thou understand
To put her dart into his hand!
See, even the yeares and size of him 15
Showes this the mother Seraphim.
This is the mistresse flame; and duteous he
Her happy fire-works, here, comes down to see.
O most poor-spirited of men!
Had thy cold Pencil kist her Pen 20
Thou couldst not so unkindly err
To show us This faint shade for Her.
Why man, this speakes pure mortall frame;
And mockes with female Frost love’s manly flame.
One would suspect thou meant’st to print 25
Some weak, inferiour, woman saint.
But had thy pale-fac’t purple took
Fire from the burning cheeks of that bright Booke
Thou wouldst on her have heap’t up all
That could be found Seraphicall; 30
What e’re this youth of fire weares fair,
Rosy fingers, radiant hair,
Glowing cheek, and glistering wings,
All those fair and flagrant things,
But before all, that fiery Dart 35
Had fill’d the Hand of this great Heart.

Doe then as equall right requires,
Since His the blushes be, and her’s the fires,
Resume and rectify thy rude design;
Undresse thy Seraphim into Mine. 40
Redeem this injury of thy art;
Give Him the vail, give her the dart.

Give Him the vail; that he may cover
The Red cheeks of a rivall’d lover.
Asham’d that our world, now, can show 45
Nests of new Seraphims here below.

Give her the Dart for it is she
(Fair youth) shootes both thy shaft and Thee
Say, all ye wise and well-peirc’t hearts
That live and dy amidst her darts, 50
What is’t your tastfull spirits doe prove
In that rare life of Her, and love?
Say and bear wittnes. Sends she not
A Seraphim at every shott?
What magazins of immortall Armes there shine! 55
Heavn’s great artillery in each love-spun line.
Give then the dart to her who gives the flame;
Give him the veil, who gives the shame.

But if it be the frequent fate
Of worst faults to be fortunate; 60
If all’s præscription; and proud wrong
Hearkens not to an humble song;
For all the gallantry of him,
Give me the suffring Seraphim.
His be the bravery of all those Bright things. 65
The glowing cheekes, the glistering wings;
The Rosy hand, the radiant Dart;
Leave Her alone The Flaming Heart.

Leave her that; and thou shalt leave her
Not one loose shaft but love’s whole quiver. 70
For in love’s feild was never found
A nobler weapon then a Wound.
Love’s passives are his activ’st part.
The wounded is the wounding heart.
O Heart! the æquall poise of love’s both parts 75
Bigge alike with wound and darts.
Live in these conquering leaves; live all the same;
And walk through all tongues one triumphant Flame.
Live here, great Heart; and love and dy and kill;
And bleed and wound; and yeild and conquer still. 80
Let this immortall life wherere it comes
Walk in a crowd of loves and Martyrdomes
Let mystick Deaths wait on’t; and wise soules be
The love-slain wittnesses of this life of thee.
O sweet incendiary! shew here thy art, 85
Upon this carcasse of a hard, cold, hart,
Let all thy scatter’d shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy larg Books of day,
Combin’d against this Brest at once break in
And take away from me my self and sin, 90
This gratious Robbery shall thy bounty be;
And my best fortunes such fair spoiles of me.
O thou undanted daughter of desires!
By all thy dowr of Lights and Fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove; 95
By all thy lives and deaths of love;
By thy larg draughts of intellectuall day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large then they;
By all thy brim-fill’d Bowles of feirce desire
By thy last Morning’s draught of liquid fire; 100
By the full kingdome of that finall kisse
That seiz’d thy parting Soul, and seal’d thee his;
By all the heav’ns thou hast in him
(Fair sister of the Seraphim!)
By all of Him we have in Thee; 105
Leave nothing of my Self in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Unto all life of mine may dy.

Richard Crashaw (1612 - 1649) from Steps to the Temple (1646)