Calinat/iStock/Getty Images Plus
"This grave’s the second marriage-bed."
An Epitaph Upon Husband and Wife
- To these whom death again did wed
- This grave’s the second marriage-bed.
- For though the hand of Fate could force
- ‘Twixt soul and body a divorce,
- It could not sever man and wife,
- Because they both lived but one life.
- Peace, good reader, do not weep;
- Peace, the lovers are asleep.
- They, sweet turtles, folded lie
- In the last knot that love could tie.
- Let them sleep, let them sleep on,
- Till the stormy night be gone,
- And the eternal morrow dawn;
- Then the curtains will be drawn,
- And they wake into a light
- Whose day shall never die in night.
- Lord, when the sense of thy sweet grace
- Sends up my soul to seek thy face.
- Thy blessed eyes breed such desire,
- I dy in love’s delicious Fire.
- O love, I am thy Sacrifice.
- Be still triumphant, blessed eyes.
- Still shine on me, fair suns! that I
- Still may behold, though still I dy.
- Though still I dy, I live again;
- Still longing so to be still slain,
- So gainfull is such losse of breath.
- I dy even in desire of death.
- Still live in me this loving strife
- Of living Death and dying Life.
- For while thou sweetly slayest me
- Dead to my selfe, I live in Thee.
- Thy restless feet now cannot go
- For us and our eternal good,
- As they were ever wont. What though
- They swim, alas! in their own flood?
- Thy hands to give Thou canst not lift,
- Yet will Thy hand still giving be;
- It gives, but O, itself’s the gift!
- It gives tho’ bound, tho’ bound ‘tis free
Richard Crashaw (1613-1649) was an English poet and, like John Donne and George Herbert, he is considered one of the major metaphysical poets. Like these two poets, too, Crashaw was an Anglican priest, but he converted to Roman Catholicism despite (or perhaps because) his father (also an Anglican clergyman) was a fierce and famous Puritan polemicist against the Roman Catholic Church. Crashaw’s poetry before and after his conversion addressed mostly religious and mystical themes with a particular interest in the theme of divine love as espoused by the Catholic mystic St. Teresa of Avila, whose writings also contributed to his conversion. After his conversion, he fled in exile to France. He eventually settled in Italy and served as a Catholic priest at the Shrine of the Holy House and Shrine of Our Lady in Loreto, where he died and was buried.