Satan

Richard Crashaw 1612 (London) – 1649 (Loreto, Marche)

Below the bottom of the great Abyss,
There where one centre reconciles all things,
The world's profound heart pants; there placed is
Mischief's old Master! close about him clings
A curled knot of embracing snakes, that kiss
His correspondent cheeks: these loathsome strings
Hold the perverse prince in eternal ties,
Fast bound since first he forfeited the skies.

Heaven's golden-winged herald late he saw
To a poor Galilean virgin sent;
How long the bright youth bowed, and with what awe
Immortal flowers to her fair hand present:
He saw the old Hebrew's womb neglect the law
Of age and barrenness; and her Babe prevent
His birth by his devotion, who began
Betimes to be a saint before a man!

Yet, on the other side, fain would he start
Above his fears, and think it cannot be:
He studies Scripture, strives to sound the heart
And feel the pulse of every prophecy,
He knows, but knows not how, or by what art
The heaven-expecting ages hope to see
A mighty Babe, whose pure, unspotted birth
From a chaste virgin womb should bless the earth!

But these vast mysteries his senses smother,
And reason, - for what's faith to him! - devour,
How she that is a maid should prove a mother,
Yet keep inviolate her virgin flower:
How God's eternal Son should be man's brother,
Poseth his proudest intellectual power;
How a pure spirit should incarnate be,
And life itself wear death's frail livery.

That the great angel-blinding light should shrink
His blaze, to shine in a poor shepherd's eye;
That the unmeasured God so low should sink
As prisoner in a few poor rags to lie; milk should drink,
Who feeds with nectar Heaven's fair family;
That a vile manger his low bed should prove
Who in a throne of stars thunders above.

That He whom the sun serves, should faintly peep
Through clouds of infant flesh: that He the old
Eternal Word would be a child, and weep;
That He who made the fire should feel the cold;
That Heaven's high Majesty his court should keep
In a clay-cottage, by each blast controlled:
That Glory's self should serve our griefs and fears:
And free Eternity submit to years.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Richard Crashaw

Richard Crashaw, was an English poet, styled "the divine," and known as one of the central figures associated with the Metaphysical poets in 17th Century English literature. The son of a prominent Puritan minister, Crashaw was educated at Charterhouse School and Pembroke College, Cambridge. After taking a degree, Crashaw began to publish religious poetry and to teach at Cambridge. During the English Civil War he was ejected from his college position and went into exile in Italy. While in exile he converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. Crashaw's poetry is firmly within the Metaphysical tradition. Though his oeuvre is considered of uneven quality and among the weakest examples of the genre, his work is said to be marked by a focus toward "love with the smaller graces of life and the profounder truths of religion, while he seems forever preoccupied with the secret architecture of things." more…

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"Satan" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/30064/satan>.

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