Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ST. MARY MAGDALEN, by HENRY VAUGHAN



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ST. MARY MAGDALEN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dear, beauteous saint! More white than day
Last Line: Who saint themselves, they are no saints.
Alternate Author Name(s): Silurist
Subject(s): Mary Magdalen; Saints; Women - Bible; Mary Magdalene


Dear, beauteous Saint! more white than day,
When in his naked, pure array,
Fresher than morning-flowers which shew
As thou in tears dost, best in dew.
How art thou changed! how lively-fair,
Pleasing and innocent an air,
Not tutored by thy glass, but free,
Native and pure shines now in thee!
But since thy beauty doth still keep

Bloomy and fresh, why dost thou weep?
This dusky state of sighs and tears
Durst not look on those smiling years,
When Magdal-castle was thy seat,
Where all was sumptuous, rare and neat.
Why lies this hair despised now
Which once thy care and art did show?
Who then did dress the much loved toy,
In spires, globes, angry curls and coy,
Which with skilled negligence seemed shed
About thy curious, wild, young head?
Why is this rich, this pistic nard
Spilt, and the box quite broke and marred?
What pretty sullenness did haste
Thy easy hands to do this waste?
Why art thou humbled thus, and low
As earth, thy lovely head dost bow?
Dear soul! thou knew'st, flowers here on earth
At their Lord's foot-stool have their birth;
Therefore thy withered self in haste
Beneath his blest feet thou didst cast,
That at the root of this green tree
Thy great decays restored might be.
Thy curious vanities and rare;
Odorous ointments kept with care,
And dearly bought (when thou didst see
They could not cure, nor comfort thee)
Like a wise, early Penitent
Thou sadly didst to him present,
Whose interceding, meek and calm
Blood, is the world's all-healing Balm.
This, this Divine Restorative
Called forth thy tears, which ran in live
And hasty drops, as if they had
(Their Lord so near) sense to be glad.
Learn, Ladies, here the faithful cure
Makes beauty lasting, fresh and pure;
Learn Mary's art of tears, and then
Say, You have got the day from men.
Cheap, mighty Art! her Art of love,
Who loved much and much more could move;

Her Art! whose memory must last
Till truth through all the world be past,
Till his abused, despised flame
Return to Heaven, from whence it came,
And send a fire down, that shall bring
Destruction on his ruddy wing.

Her Art! whose pensive, weeping eyes,
Were once sin's loose and tempting spies,
But now are fixed stars, whose light
Helps such dark stragglers to their sight.

Self-boasting Pharisee! how blind
A judge wert thou, and how unkind!
It was impossible, that thou
Who wert all false, should'st true grief know;
Is't just to judge her faithful tears
By that foul rheum thy false eye wears?

This woman (say'st thou) is a sinner:
And sate there none such at thy dinner?
Go leper, go; wash till thy flesh
Comes like a child's, spotless and fresh;
He is still leprous, that still paints:
Who saint themselves, they are no saints.





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