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THE FLAMING HEART

Upon the Book and Picture of the Seraphical Saint Teresa, as she is usually expressed with

a Seraphim beside her

WELL-MEANING readers! you that come as friends
And catch the precious name this piece pretends,
Make not too much haste t'admire

That fair-cheeked fallacy of fire.
That is a seraphim, they say,
And this the great Teresia.

Readers, be ruled by me, and make
Here a well-placed and wise mistake;
You must transpose the picture quite,
And spell it wrong to read it right;
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 years and size of him

Shows this the mother seraphim.

This is the mistress flame, and duteous he

Her happy fireworks, here, comes down to see:
O, most poor-spirited of men!

Had thy cold pencil kissed her pen,

Thou couldst not so unkindly err

To show us this faint shade for her.

Why, man, this speaks pure mortal frame,

And mocks with female frost love's manly flame;

One would suspect thou meant'st to paint

Some weak, inferior woman Saint.

But, had thy pale-faced purple took

Fire from the burning cheeks of that bright book,

Thou wouldst on her have heaped up all
That could be found seraphical;
Whate'er this youth of fire wears fair,
Rosy fingers, radiant hair,

Glowing cheek, and glist'ring wings,
All those fair and flagrant things;
But, before all, that fiery dart

Had filled the hand of this great heart.

Do, then, as equal right requires,

Since his the blushes be, and hers the fires,
Resume and rectify thy rude design,
Undress thy seraphim into mine;
Redeem this injury of thy art,

Give him the veil, give her the dart.

Give him the veil, that he may cover

The red cheeks of a rivalled lover,
Ashamed that our world now can show
Nests of new Seraphims here below.

Give her the dart, for it is she,

Fair youth, shoots both thy shaft and thee;
Say, all ye wise and well-pierced hearts
That live and die amidst her darts,
What is 't your tasteful spirits do prove
In that rare life of her and love?
Say and bear witness. Sends she not
A seraphim at every shot?

What magazines of immortal arms there shine
Heav'n'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,

If all's prescription, and proud wrong
Hearkens not to an humble song,

For all the gallantry of him,

Give me the suff'ring seraphim.

His be the bravery of those bright things,
The glowing cheeks, 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.
For in Love's field was never found

A nobler weapon than a wound.
Love's passives are his activ'st part,

The wounded is the wounding heart.

O, heart! the equal poise of Love's both parts,
Big alike with wounds 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 die, and kill,
And bleed, and wound, and yield, and conquer still.
Let this immortal Life, where'er it comes,
Walk in the crowd of loves and martyrdoms.
Let mystic deaths wait on 't, and wise souls be
The love-slain witnesses of this life of thee.
O, sweet incendiary! show here thy art
Upon this carcass of a hard, cold heart;
Let all thy scattered shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy large books of day,
Combined against this breast, at once break in
And take away from me myself and sin;
This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be,
And
my
best fortunes such fair spoils of me.
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 thirst of love more large than they;
By all thy brim-filled 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 sealed thee His;

By all the heav'ns 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.

ABRAHAM COWLEY

1618-1667

ON THE DEATH OF MR. CRASHAW

POET and Saint! to thee alone are given

The two most sacred names of earth and heaven;

The hard and rarest union which can be,

Next that of Godhead with humanity.

Long did the muses banished slaves abide,

And built vain pyramids to mortal pride:

Like Moses, thou (though spells and charms withstand) Hast brought them nobly back home to their Holy Land.

Ah, wretched we, poets of earth! but thou Wert living the same poet which thou'rt now. Whilst angels sing to thee their airs divine, And join in an applause so great as thine, Equal society with them to hold,

Thou need'st not make new songs, but say the old.

And they (kind spirits!) shall all rejoice to see
How little less than they exalted man may be.

Still the old heathen gods in numbers dwell,
The heavenliest thing on earth still keeps up hell.
Nor have we yet quite purged the Christian land;
Still idols here, like calves at Bethel, stand.

And though Pan's death long since all oracles broke,
Yet still in rhyme the fiend Apollo spoke :
Nay, with the worst of heathen dotage we
(Vain men!) the monster woman deify;
Find stars, and tie our fates there in a face,
And paradise in them, by whom we lost it, place.
What different faults corrupt our muses thus !
Wanton as girls, as old wives fabulous!

Thy spotless muse, like Mary, did contain
The boundless Godhead; she did well disdain
That her eternal verse employed should be
On a less subject than eternity;

And for a sacred mistress scorned to take

But her whom God Himself scorned not His spouse to

make.

It (in a kind) her miracle did do;

A fruitful mother was and virgin too.

How well, blest swan, did Fate contrive thy death,

And make thee render up thy tuneful breath

In thy great Mistress' arms, thou most divine
And richest offering of Loretto's shrine!
Where, like some holy sacrifice to expire,

A fever burns thee, and love lights the fire.

Angels (they say) brought the famed chapel there, And bore the sacred load in triumph through the air. "Tis surer much they brought thee there, and they And thou, their charge, went singing all the way.

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