New Heaven, New War

By Robert Southwell, SJ 1561–1595 Robert Southwell, SJ
Come to your heaven, you heavenly choirs,
Earth hath the heaven of your desires.
Remove your dwelling to your God;
A stall is now his best abode.
Sith men their homage do deny,
Come, angels, all their fault supply.

His chilling cold doth heat require;
Come, seraphins, in lieu of fire.
This little ark no cover hath;
Let cherubs’ wings his body swathe.
Come, Raphael, this babe must eat;
Provide our little Toby meat.

Let Gabriel be now his groom,
That first took up his earthly room.
Let Michael stand in his defense,
Whom love hath linked to feeble sense.
Let graces rock when he doth cry,
And angels sing his lullaby.

The same you saw in heavenly seat
Is he that now sucks Mary’s teat;
Agnize your king a mortal wight,
His borrowed weed lets not your sight.
Come, kiss the manger where he lies,
That is your bliss above the skies.

This little babe, so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake.
Though he himself for cold do shake,
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field;
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.

His camp is pitchèd in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib his trench, hay stalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus, as sure his foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.

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Poet Robert Southwell, SJ 1561–1595

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Religion, Faith & Doubt, God & the Divine, Christianity

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Biography

Robert Southwell, a poet and prose writer of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson's generation, spent his adolescence and early manhood in Italy. His brief literary career flourished during the years when he was an underground Jesuit priest in Protestant England. It is agreed that Southwell brought with him from Italy the themes and the aesthetics of militant Counter-Reformation piety, although there is disagreement over the terms . . .

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Poems by Robert Southwell, SJ

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Faith & Doubt, God & the Divine, Christianity

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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