Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"The Flaming Heart"

O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dow'r 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 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,
Leave nothing of my self in me:
Let me so read thy life that I
Unto all life of mine may die.

~from Richard Crashaw's "The Flaming Heart" in honor of St. Teresa of Jesus


Enbrethiliel said...


The first four lines were so arresting that I read the rest of the poem slowly, trying to guess who the poet was. I was delighted to finally see Richard Crashaw's name. I should have guessed it was he!

I discovered him at uni while doing research on Christian poetry. When I saw how powerful his poems were, I was at first surprised, and then very angry, that he is not better known today. I can understand why other writers (G.K. Chesterton, for instance) have fallen out of favour with the literary elites, but I can't accept that a poet of Crashaw's calibre isn't praised to the skies in the lectures theatre of every English Faculty in the world. =(

elena maria vidal said...

Enbrethiliel, your comment makes me feel very blessed that I got to formally study him at all, and at a feminist, very liberal women's college, too. Crashaw was part of the 16th-17th century literature class. We also read the King James Bible. But I guess in the early 80's things were a bit different.