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Poem by Richard Crashaw


In the Holy Nativity of our Lord


       CHORUS

Come we shepherds whose blest sight
Hath met loves noon in natures night;
Come lift we up our loftier song
And wake the sun that lies too long.

To all our world of well-stoln joy
       He slept, and dreamt of no such thing,
While we found out heavns fairer eye,
       And kissd the cradle of our King.
Tell him he rises now too late
To show us aught worth looking at.

Tell him we now can show him more
       Than he eer showd to mortal sight,
Than he himself eer saw before,
       Which to be seen needs not his light.
Tell him, Tityrus, where th hast been;
Tell him, Thyrsis, what th hast seen.

       TITYRUS

Gloomy night embracd the place
       Where the Noble Infant lay;
The Babe lookd up and showd his face,
       In spite of darkness, it was day.
It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.

       CHORUS

It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.

       THYRSIS

Winter chid aloud, and sent
       The angry North to wage his wars;
The North forgot his fierce intent,
       And left perfumes instead of scars.
By those sweet eyes persuasive powrs,
Where he meant frost, he scatterd flowrs.

       CHORUS

By those sweet eyes persuasive powrs,
Where he meant frost, he scatterd flowrs.

       BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
       Young dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east
       And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we blessd the sight,
We saw thee by thine own sweet light.

       TITYRUS

Poor World, said I, what wilt thou do
       To entertain this starry stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow,
       A cold, and not too cleanly, manger?
Contend, ye powers of heavn and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.

       CHORUS

Contend, ye powers of heavn and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.

       THYRSIS

Proud World, said I, cease your contest,
       And let the Mighty Babe alone;
The phoenix builds the phoenix nest,
       Loves architecture is his own;
The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.

       CHORUS

The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.

       TITYRUS

I saw the curld drops, soft and slow,
       Come hovering oer the places head,
Offring their whitest sheets of snow
       To furnish the fair Infants bed.
Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
   Your fleece is white, but tis too cold.

       CHORUS

Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but tis too cold.

       THYRSIS

I saw the obsequious Seraphims
       Their rosy fleece of fire bestow;
For well they now can spare their wings,
       Since Heavn itself lies here below.
Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?

       CHORUS

Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?

       TITYRUS

No no, your Kings not yet to seek
       Where to repose his royal head;
See see, how soon his new-bloomd cheek
       Twixts mothers breasts is gone to bed.
Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.

       CHORUS

Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.

       BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
       Bright dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east,
       And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we blessd the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.

       CHORUS

We saw thee, and we blessd the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.

       FULL CHORUS

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
       Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
       Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heavn to earth.

Welcome; though nor to gold nor silk,
       To more than Caesars birthright is;
Two sister seas of virgin-milk,
       With many a rarely temperd kiss,
That breathes at once both maid and mother,
Warms in the one, cools in the other.

Welcome, though not to those gay flies
       Gilded i th beams of earthly kings,
Slippery souls in smiling eyes;
       But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
Whose wealths their flock, whose wit, to be
Well read in their simplicity.

Yet when young Aprils husband-showrs
       Shall bless the fruitful Maias bed,
Well bring the first-born of her flowrs
       To kiss thy feet and crown thy head.
To thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
The shepherds more than they the sheep.

To thee, meek Majesty! soft King
       Of simple graces and sweet loves,
Each of us his lamb will bring,
       Each his pair of silver doves;
Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.



Richard Crashaw


Richard Crashaw's other poems:
  1. Charitas Nimia; or, The Dear Bargain
  2. On the Prodigal
  3. On Mr. G. Herbert's Book
  4. On the Miracle of the Multiplied Loaves
  5. The Tear


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