337. The Weeper

Richard Crashaw. 1613?-1649

  HAIL, sister springs,
Parents of silver-footed rills!
  Ever bubbling things,
Thawing crystal, snowy hills!
    Still spending, never spent; I mean
    Thy fair eyes, sweet Magdalene.

  Heavens thy fair eyes be;
Heavens of ever-falling stars;
  'Tis seed-time still with thee,
And stars thou sow'st whose harvest dares
    Promise the earth to countershine
    Whatever makes Heaven's forehead fine.

  Every morn from hence
A brisk cherub something sips
  Whose soft influence
Adds sweetness to his sweetest lips;
    Then to his music: and his song
    Tastes of this breakfast all day long.

  When some new bright guest
Takes up among the stars a room,
  And Heaven will make a feast,
Angels with their bottles come,
    And draw from these full eyes of thine
    Their Master's water, their own wine.

  The dew no more will weep
The primrose's pale cheek to deck;
  The dew no more will sleep
Nuzzled in the lily's neck:
    Much rather would it tremble here,
    And leave them both to be thy tear.

  When sorrow would be seen
In her brightest majesty,
  --For she is a Queen--
Then is she drest by none but thee:
    Then and only then she wears
    Her richest pearls--I mean thy tears.

  Not in the evening's eyes,
When they red with weeping are
  For the Sun that dies,
Sits Sorrow with a face so fair.
    Nowhere but here did ever meet
    Sweetness so sad, sadness so sweet.

  Does the night arise?
Still thy tears do fall and fall.
  Does night lose her eyes?
Still the fountain weeps for all.
    Let day and night do what they will,
    Thou hast thy task, thou weepest still.

  Not So long she lived
Will thy tomb report of thee;
  But So long she grieved:
Thus must we date thy memory.
    Others by days, by months, by years,
    Measure their ages, thou by tears.

  Say, ye bright brothers,
The fugitive sons of those fair eyes
  Your fruitful mothers,
What make you here? What hopes can 'tice
    You to be born? What cause can borrow
    You from those nests of noble sorrow?

  Whither away so fast
For sure the sordid earth
  Your sweetness cannot taste,
Nor does the dust deserve your birth.
    Sweet, whither haste you then? O say,
    Why you trip so fast away?

  We go not to seek
The darlings of Aurora's bed,
  The rose's modest cheek,
Nor the violet's humble head.
    No such thing: we go to meet
    A worthier object--our Lord's feet.

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition