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I asked the heavens, sun, moon, and stars, but they
Said, “We obey
The God thou seek'st.”—I asked, what eye or ear
Could see or hear ;
What in the world I might descry or know,
With an unanimous voice all these things said,
“We are not God, but we by Him were made.”
I asked the world's great universal mass,
If that God was ;
Which, with a mighty and strong voice, replied,
“I am not He, O man! for know that I
By Him on high,
Was fashioned first of nothing, thus instated
And swayed by Him, by whom I was created.”
I sought the court ; but smooth-tongued flattery there
Deceived each ear;
In the thronged city there was selling, buying,
Swearing and lying ;
I' the country, craft in simpleness arrayed :
And then I said,
“ Vain is my search, although my pains be great,
Where my God is, there can be no deceit."
A scrutiny within myself I then,
Even thus began :
what art thou ?”—What more could I say Than, Dust and clay ? Frail, mortal, fading, a mere puff, a blast,
That cannot last;
Enthroned to-day, to-morrow in an urn;
Formed from that earth to which I must return.
I asked myself what this great God might be
That fashioned me?
I answered—The all-potent, solely immense,
Unspeakable, inscrutable, eternal
Lord over all.
The only terrible, strong, just, and true,
Who hath no end, and no beginning knew.
He is the well of life, for He doth give
To all that live
Both breath and being ; He is the Creator
Both of the water,
Earth, air, and fire. Of all things that subsist
He hath the list;
Of all the heavenly host, or what earth claims,
He keeps the scroll, and calls them by their names.
And now, my God, by thine illuming grace,
Thy glorious face,
(So far forth as it may discovered be,)
Methinks I see ;
And, though invisible and infinite,
To human sight,
Thou in thy mercy, justice, truth, appearest;
In which to our weak senses Thou comest nearest.
Oh! make us apt to seek, and quick to find,
Thou God most kind !
Give us love, hope, and faith, in Thee to trust,
Thou God most just!
Remit all our offences we entreat,
Most Good, most Great!
Grant that our willing, though unworthy quest,
May through thy grace admit us 'mongst the blest.
Was born in London, but the year of his birth is uncertain. He was educated at the Charter House, and at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and was afterwards, in 1637, fellow of Peter House, but was ejected during the rebellion for denying the covenant, and soon afterwards was converted, or as Pope says, “ outwitted,” to the Roman Catholic faith. He went to Paris in search of preferment; but his distresses and poverty became very great, till the benevolence of Cowley relieved him. He then went to Italy, became secretary to a cardinal, obtained a canonry in the church of Loretto, and died in 1650. He wrote “ Epigramata Sacra ;" “ Steps to the Temple;” “ The Delights of the Muses ;" “ Carmen Deo Nostro," &c. The last edition of his works was published in London in 1785.
The Poems of Crashaw display delicate fancy, great tenderness, and singular beauty of diction. Coleridge considered his verses “On a Prayer-Book,” one of the greatest poems in the language. Pope declares his version of the “ Dies Iræ,” the best of his compositions.
Hear'st thou, my soul, what serious things
Both the Psalm and Sibyl sings,
Of a sure Judge, from whose sharp ray
The world in flames shall pass away?
O that fire! befor: whose face,
Heaven and Earth shall find no place
O those eyes! whose angry light
Must be the day of that dread night.
O that trump! whose blast shall run
An even round with th' circling sun,
And urge the murmuring graves to bring
Pale mankind forth to meet his King.
Horror of nature, hell and death!
When a deep groan from beneath
We come! we come!” and all The caves of night answer one call.
O that book! whose leaves so bright,
Will set the world in severe light:
O that Judge ! whose hand, whose eye,
None can endure—yet none can fly.
Ah! thou poor soul, what wilt thou say ?
And to what patron choose to pray ?
When stars themselves shall stagger, and
The most firm foot no more than stand.
But thou givest leave, dread Lord, that we
Take shelter from Thyself in Thee;
And, with the wings of thine own dove,
Fly to the sceptre of soft love.
Dear Lord, remember in that day
Who was the cause Thou camest this way:
Thy sheep was strayed, and Thou wouldst be
Even lost Thyself in seeking me.
Shall all that labor, all that cost
Of love, and even that loss, be lost ?
And this loved soul, judged worth no less
Than all that way and weariness ?
Just mercy, then, thy reckoning be
With my price, and not with me;
'Twas paid at first with too much pain,
To be paid twice, or once in vain.
Mercy, my Judge, mercy I cry,
With blushing cheek, and bleeding eye:
The conscious colors of my sin,
Are red without, and pale within.
Oh! let thine own soft bowels pay
Thyself, and so discharge that day;
If sin can sigh, love can forgive :-
Oh! say the word, my soul shall live.
Those mercies which thy Mary found,
Or who thy cross confessed and crowned,
Hope tells my heart the same loves be
Still alive, and still for me.
Though both my prayers and tears combine,
Both worthless are; for they are mine :
But Thou thy bounteous self still be,
And show thou art by saving me.
Oh! when thy last frown shall proclaim
The flocks of goats to folds of flame,
And all thy lost sheep found shall be,
Let, “ Come, ye blessed,” then call me.
When the dread “ Ite” shall divide
Those limbs of death from thy left side,
Let those life-speaking lips command
That I inherit thy right hand.
Oh! hear a suppliant heart, all crushed
And crumbled into contrite dust;
My hope! my fear! my Judge! my friend !
Take charge of me, and of my end.
CHORUS OF THE SHEPHERDS OF BETHLEHEM.
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 heaven to earth.