The Tear

By Richard Crashaw 1612–1649 Richard Crashaw
What bright soft thing is this?
    Sweet Mary, the fair eyes’ expense?
    A moist spark it is,
    A wat’ry diamond; from whence
The very term, I think, was found
The water of a diamond.

    O ’tis not a tear,
’Tis a star about to drop
From thine eye its sphere;
   The sun will stoop and take it up.
Proud will his sister be to wear
This thine eyes’ jewel in her ear.

    O ’tis a tear
Too true a tear; for no sad eyne,
    How sad so e’re,
Rain so true a teare as thine;
Each drop leaving a place so dear,
Weeps for itself, is its own tear.

    Such a pearl as this is,
   (Slipped from Aurora’s dewy breast)
The rose bud’s sweet lip kisses;
   And such the rose itself, when vexed
With ungentle flames, does shed,
Sweating in too warm a bed.

    Such the maiden gem,
   By the wanton spring put on,
Peeps from her parent stem,
   And blushes on the manly sun:
This wat’ry blossom of thy eyne,
Ripe, will make the richer wine.

    Faire drop, why quak’st thou so?
’Cause thou straight must lay thy head
    In the dust? o no;
   The dust shall never be thy bed:
A pillow for thee will I bring,
Stuffed with down of angels’ wing.

    Thus carried up on high,
(For to Heaven thou must go)
    Sweetly shalt thou lie
And in soft slumbers bathe thy woe;
Till the singing orbs awake thee,
And one of their bright chorus make thee.

    There thy self shalt be
An eye, but not a weeping one,
    Yet I doubt of thee,
Whether th’hadst rather there have shone
An eye of Heaven; or still shine here,
In th’Heaven of Mary’s eye, a tear.

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Poet Richard Crashaw 1612–1649


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Nature, The Body, Religion, God & the Divine, Christianity


The intense and intimate depiction of Richard Crashaw that prefaces his English volumes of poetry (Steps to the Temple, 1646, enlarged 1648) is also a candlelit window that opens on his soul. To look through this window is to discover Crashaw in the state of unruffled devotion which is presented as the hub of his poetic genius.

Reader, we stile his Sacred Poems, Stepps to the Temple, and aptly, for in the Temple of God, under . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Nature, The Body, Religion, God & the Divine, Christianity


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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