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Laurence Housman: "Love, the Tempter"

Monday in Holy Week

Love, the Tempter
(Season of Lent)

Oh, tempt me not! I love too well this snare
   Of silken cords.
Nay, Love, the flesh is fair;
   So tempt me not! This earth affords
      Too much delight;
      Withdraw Thee from my sight,
      Lest my weak soul break free
      And throw me back to Thee!

Thy Face is all too marred. Nay, Love, not I—
I did not that! Doubtless Thou hadst to die:
   Others did faint for Thee; but I faint not.
   Only a little while hath sorrow got
The better of me now; for Thou art grieved,
      Thinking I need Thee. Oh, Christ, lest I fall
      Weeping between Thy Feet, and give Thee all:
Oh, Christ, lest love condemn me unreprieved
Into Thy bondage, be it not believed
      That Thou hast need of me!

   Dost Thou not know
   I never turned aside to mock Thy Woe?
I had respect to Thy great love for men:
Why wilt Thou, then,
   Question of each new lust—
   "Are these not ashes, and is this not dust?"
Ah, Love, Thou hast not eyes
   To see how sweet it is!
Each for himself be wise:
   Mock not my bliss!
Ere Thou cam'st troubling, was I not content?
   Because I pity Thee, and would be glad
   To go mine own way, and not leave Thee sad,
Is all my comfort spent?

Go Thine own ways, nor dream Thou needest me!
Yet if, again, Thou on the bitter Tree
Wert hanging now, with none to succour Thee
   Or run to quench Thy sudden cry of thirst,
   Would not I be the first—
Ah, Love, the prize!—
To lift one cloud of suffering from Thine Eyes?

   Oh, Christ, let be!
Stretch not Thine ever-pleading Hands thus wide,
Nor with imperious gesture touch Thy Side!
Past is Thy Calvary. By the Life that died,
      Oh, tempt not me!

Nay, if Thou weepest, then must I weep too,
Sweet Tempter, Christ! Yet what can I undo,
   I, the undone, the undone,
   To comfort Thee, God's Son?
Oh, draw me near, and, for some lowest use,
   That I may be
   Lost and undone in Thee,
Me from mine own self loose!

Laurence Housman (b. 1864)

The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917), ed. D. H. S. Nicholson and A. H. E. Lee, pp. 491f.

See also John Donne: Holy Sonnets VII.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Mon. 04/05/04 08:18:27 AM
Categorized as Literary & Religious.

   
         
         

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