Poetry

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Hymn to the Sacred Heart

 

O Heart of Jesus, treasured tenderness,

Thou art my joy supreme, my hope, my all!

Thou who didst charm my youth and sweetly bless, 

Stay with me now till twilight shadows fall.

Master, to Thee alone my life I give,

To Thee the longings of my heart are known. 

Lost in Thy goodness infinite, I live,

O Heart of Jesus, lost in Thee alone!

 

Thy Heart is all my need and it will be 

My strength abiding, my unfailing stay, 

I need a love that takes my frailty

And holds me in its keeping night and day. 

No creature heart I find whose love is mine 

Ever and always with undying power.

Jesus, Thy love must make my nature Thine. 

Be Thou my Brother in each suff'ring hour.

 

If I to see Thy glory would aspire

Then I must know Thy crucible of flame, 

But here I choose my purgatory's fire:

Thy burning love, Heart of my God, I claim. T

hen when my soul wings upward like a dove 

Called from the earth to heaven's home of light, 

May it go forth in one pure act of love,

Plunge to Thy Heart in one unswerving flight.

 

St Thérèse of the Child Jesus

tr. Augustine of the Mother of God OCD 
(Carmel of Santa Clara)

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

 

Not as a prima donna in a pose

Before the swaying curtain when the play

Is clamorously ended, her bouquet

Loosed on the throng—not even as a rose

Can I conceive of you. Let others, those

Whose lyric season is incessant May,

Cull smiles to strew your 'little way'

With hothouse verse and honeysuckle prose.

You are too real, too actual, Thérèse,

To live in metaphor. The girl behind

the legend, could the legend fade, would be

The girl you were, sobbing upon your knees

In lowliness and love and anguish, blind

With the beauty of a start Gethsemane.

Alfred Barrett, SJ

Saint Teresa of Avila

Love's Colloquy

 

If, Lord, Thy love for me is strong 

As this which binds me unto Thee,

What holds me from Thee, Lord, so long,


What holds Thee, Lord, so long from me?

 

O soul, what then desirest thou?

—Lord, I would see Thee, who thus choose Thee. 

What fears can yet assail thee now?

—All that I fear is but to lose Thee.

 

Love's whole possession I entreat, 

Lord, make my soul Thine own abode, 

And I will build a nest so sweet

It may not be too poor for God.

 

A soul in God hidden from sin, 

What more desires for thee remain,

Save but to love, and love again,

And, all of flame with love within,

Love on, and turn to love again

 

St Teresa of Avila

tr. Arthur Symons (1865–1945)

Self-Surrender

How blessed is the heart with love fast bound 

On God, the centre of its every thought! 

Renouncing all created things as naught,

In Him its glory and its joy are found. 

Even from self its cares are now set free; 

To God alone its aims, its actions tend—

Joyful and swift it journeys to its end

O'er the wild waves of life's tempestuous sea!

 

St Teresa of Avila

tr. Dame Beatrice Brown OSB
(Stanbrook Abbey)

Saint John of The Cross

O Flame of Living Love

 

O flame of living love, 
That dost eternally
Pierce through my soul with so consuming heat, 
Since there's no help above, 
Make thou an end of me, 
And break the bond of this encounter sweet.  

 

O burn that burns to heal!
O more than pleasant wound!
And O soft hand, O touch most delicate, 
That dost new life reveal, 
That dost in grace abound, 
And, slaying, dost from death to life translate!  

 

O lamps of fire that shined
With so intense a light, 
That those deep caverns where the senses live, 
Which were obscure and blind, 
Now with strange glories bright, 
Both heat and light to his beloved give!  

 

With how benign intent
Rememberest thou my breast, 
Where thou alone abidest secretly; 
And in thy sweet ascent, 
With glory and good possessed, 
How delicately thou teachest love to me!

St John of the Cross

tr Arthur Symons (1865–1945)

St John of the Cross

 

You scorned to walk the beaten path,

Where wisdom blossoms by the way,

Preferring one, perfection-built,

Where saints makes song and poets pray.

Comrade of Christ, the night was dark,

That shed its aura round your tears;

The searing wounds of heart and brain

Throb in the lyrics of your years.

Doubtless in Ubeda the bells

Of your rapt soul were heard by Him

You clothed in wealth of abstinence, 

There as the lamp of time grew dim.

And He, with fellow-travellers joy,

Lifting your stumbling body up,

Encompassed you with loving eye,

Pressed to your lips the Living Cup.

J Corson Miller