by Bill Stanton
Bill Stanton’s translation of Pearl has the original verse and his modern translation set out on opposite pages. I have tried to achieve the same affect on this web site, but there are limitations to the size of font on this format.
In order to deal with this I have presented two complete versions, one of the original text and one of Bill’s translation. The reader can move between the original text and the translation by just clicking on the appropriate verse.
Flawlessly set in gold so fair
In all the East, I dare to say,
I have not found one to compare.
So round, so radiant in array,
So small, so smooth her contours were,
Wherever I judged jewels gay
I set her worth as truly rare.
I lost her in a garden where
Through grass she fell to earthen plot;
Wounded by love beyond repair
I mourn that pearl without a spot. Since from that spot it fled that day
I waited oft, in hope to see
What once could drive my gloom away
And charge my very soul with glee;
But heavy on my heart it lay
And filled my breast with misery.
Yet no song ever seemed so gay
As that quiet hour let steal to me
Though in my heart one thought ran free,
Her fresh face wrapped in earthly clot;
Earth, you have marred her purity,
My secret pearl without a spot.
That spot of spices needs must spread|
Where such rich bounty doth decay,
With yellow flowers and blue and red
That shine so bright in sun's clear ray.
Flower and fruit can ne'er be dead
Where that pearl slipped into the clay,
For grass will grow from seed once shed
Or grain could not be stored away,
And good will always good repay.
This comely seed shall perish not,
And spices will their fruit display
From that dear pearl without a spot. From that spot I in speech expound
I entered in that garden green,
As August's season came around
When corn is cut with sickles keen,
There that pearl rolled into the ground,
Shadowed with plants both bright and clean,
Wallflower, ginger, gromwell abound
Bright peonies scattered in between;
Though they were seemly to be seen
No less in their scent my sense caught;
And there that jewel long has been,
My precious pearl without a spot.
Before that spot I clasped my hand,|
In chilling care my heart was caught;
A bitter grief my soul unmanned
Though reason wiser comfort sought.
I mourned my pearl from freedom banned
With arguments that fiercely fought;
Though Christ's grace bade me understand
My wretched will fresh sorrow brought.
On flowery sward I fell, distraught;
Such fragrance to my senses shot
In deepest sleep I dreamt, methought,
On that dear pearl without a spot.
That spot my spirit fled apace
In splendour shone those downland sides|
Clear did those cliffs their nature show,
And, bright about them, woodland rides
With tree-trunks blue as indigo;
Like silver, each leave open slides
And gently flickers to and fro;
When broken cloud above them glides
With shimmering sheen I see them glow.
The gravel on the ground below
Was precious pearls of Orient light;
The sunlight's beams could scarcely show
Against that glorious splendour bright. The splendour of those bright hills there
My spirit freed from my side fate;
Refreshing was the fragrance clear
Of fruits, as though of food I ate;
Birds flew in all the woodland near
Of myriad hue, both small and great,
Cytole and cithern none could hear
To match a sound so delicate;
The notes their wing-beats did create
Made sounds of such sweet delight
Such charm no man could fabricate,
As here in all their splendour bright.
The splendour bright of that display,|
The wood where fortune smiled on me,
The glory thereof to portray
No man could render worthily.
I wandered joyful on my way;
No height could do me injury.
As through the woods my footsteps stray
Field, shrub, and spice, and each pear-tree,
Hedgerow and stream and banks I see
Like gold thread shines each wooded height;
I came to a streamlet running free;
Lord, glorious was that splendour bright ! The splendour of the water deep
Was lovely banks of beryl clear
And sweetly did that water sweep,
Flowing with murmuring sound anear.
Its depths each standing stone did steep,
And, as through glass, bright gleams appear
As streaming stars, when mortals sleep,
Sine in the heavens when winter's here;
Each pebble in that sparkling mere,
Emerald and sapphire, all unite;
Its glowing radiance without peer,
So dear to me that splendour bright.
The splendour of those downs and dales,
More and more and yet more still|
I longed to see that other side;
If this bank could such joy instill
Still lovelier sights that shore supplied.
I stood and stared against my will;
At once to find a ford I tried,
But felt something threatened ill
The more I walked that brook beside.
'Gainst further progress reason cried
Though such delights might lie in store;
A newer thing I then espied
That moved my senses more and more. More marvels to my sense repair
I looked and saw yet more anon,
A crystal cliff resplendent there
With royal rays of splendour shone;
And at its foot a child so fair
More courtly maiden there was none.
A gleaming mantle she did wear;
I knew her well from times long gone,
Like gold that craftsmen work upon
So shone that maid upon that shore,
And long my eyes did linger on
That maid, and knew her more and more.
The more I scanned that lovely face,|
That lovely form so long unseen,
Such gladness did my soul embrace
As in my life had never been.
My need to call her grew apace;
I wondered what this thing might mean;
To see her in so strange a place
Might deal my heart a blow too keen.
She raised her head; her face was clean
As polished ivory, I swore;
Shaken by things so unforeseen,
I longed to see her more and more
I stood stock still and dared not call.
With mouth set fast, but eye still not clear
I stood as still as a hawk in hall.
I thought her purpose spiritual cheer
And yet I feared what might befall,
That she might stop ere I drew near
And might escape me after all;
That gracious girl, so smooth, so small,
So free of stain, so seeming slight,
Royally clad, rose up withal,
A precious maid in pearls bedight.
With pearls bedight most royally|
There by God's grace might now be seen,
When she, as fresh as fleur-de-lys,
Came straightaway down to the bank between,
Her linen gleaming white I see,
Open at sides, bright with a sheen
Of lovelier pearls, it seemed to me
Than in my sight had ever been;
With hanging sleeves so wide and clean
And double rows of pearls so bright
Her kirtle matched that lovely scene,
With precious pearls richly bedight. Bedight with pearls her crown arrayed;
With pearls and with no other stone,
High-pinnacled in pearls displayed
With figured flowers thereupon,
And on her head no covering laid.
Her face enclosèd round; as one
Like duke or earl her look was staid;
Her features white as whalebone shone;
Like burnished gold her tresses on
Her shoulders, all unbound, lay light;
Their hue defied comparison
With wimple's edge in pearls bedight.
Bedight with pearls at every hem|
Of wrists, hands, sides and throat I saw;
With whitest pearl, no other gem,
And gleaming white the dress she wore;
Richer than any diadem
A pearl upon her breast she bore;
No man might praise it or condemn,
Its worth would surely overawe.
I judge no tongue e'er found before
Words to describe that glorious sight,
So clean it was, so clear, so pure.
That precious pearl there so bedight. Bedight in pearls, that precious piece
From that far bank came to the shore.
No happier man from here to Greece
To see her stand the brink before.
She was more close than aunt or niece;
And therefore was my joy the more.
The fairest words she did release,
Bowed low as e'er she did of yore,
Removed her crown of richest store
And hailed me with a sweet delight,
Well for the man my mother bore
To greet that maid in pearls bedight !
'O Pearl,' I said, 'in pearls bedight,|
Are you my pearl for whom I cried,
For whom I grieved alone at night ?
Much longing I for you have sighed
Since into grass you left my sight.
Sorrow and grief with me reside
While you remain in true delight
In Paradise, in peace to abide.
What fate did now my pearl betide
And left me here in grief and care ?
Since you were severed from my side
I am a joyless jeweller.' That jewel then in gems arrayed
Lifted to me those eyes of grey,
And donned her crown, of jewels made,
And gravely then I heard her say:
'Sir, your conclusion is mislaid
To say your pearl has fled away,
That is in such a casket laid
As in this gracious garden gay,
To dwell in joy in endless day;
Never can loss or grief come near.
No pearl in such a casket lay,
'Twould seem, for any jeweller.'
'But, jeweller kind, if you must lose|
Your joy in a gem to you so dear,
I think you do yourself confuse,
Your thought short-lived, your view unclear.
She was a rose which could not choose
But bloom and fade by laws austere.
The casket naturally endues
The pearl it holds with worth most clear.
And yet you call your fate severe
When much from naught was offered there;
The cure you curse lay always near,
You most unnatural jeweller.' A jewel was this maid to me
And jewels were her noble speech.
'Indeed,' I said, 'most happily
In my distress you make a breach;
May my great fault forgiven be !
I thought my pearl far out of reach
Now I have found it, great my glee;
I'Il dwell in woods of oak and beech,
And love the laws my Lord doth teach
That have provided joys sincere.
And if yon bank I now could reaeh,
I'd be a joyful jeweller.'
Jeweller,' said this gern sublime,|
'You jest ! You lack all sanity !
Three words you utter at one time;
Ill-judged, in truth, were they all three.
Your thought no reason has nor rhyme;
Your words before your thoughts run free.
You say that you believe that I'm
Lodged in this vale, for that you see;
And then you say, in this country
That you can dwell with me right here;
Third, you may cross the stream to me-
That may no joyful jeweller.'
Who trusts the witness of his eye,
And much to blame, and lacking grace,
Who thinks our Lord would make a lie,
Who faithfully swore your soul to raise,
Though fate decreed your flesh should die.
You set his words in crooked ways
Accepting naught your eyes deny.
That is a proof of pride too high,
With which no good man could agree,
Accepting naught he cannot try
Unless his judgement so decree.'
'Judge for yourself if, as a man,|
Such words to God you e'er should say.
You think to dwell here, if you can,
First you must needs ask if you may.
And you will learn there is a ban;
To cross this stream without delay
Offends against the heavenly plan.
First, you must sink into the clay;
In Eden, man dared disobey
Because he lacked humility;
Now man through death must make his way
For God so judged. 'Tis his decree. Am I then judged,' I said, 'my sweet,
To grieve again? Then I must pine;
To find, then lose, is loss complete.
Must I accept, my life consign
To loss and death? It is not meet
That you, my pearl, make me repine;
Gain that brings tears is mere deceit.
If I must now myself resign,
I care not how low I decline
Nor how far hence I now must flee;
My pearl is lost that once was mine,
Such judgement sorrow must decree.
'You judge this nothing but distress,'|
Then said that maid, 'Why do you so ?
He who concerns himself with less
Must thoughts of greater loss forgo.
Remember Him who lives to bless,
And still love God, come weal or woe.
Do not complain when, comfortless,
You wax impatient, for, although
You leap as high as any doe
And writhe and moan in agony,
When you can then no further go
Abide His judgement, His decree. If you judge Him, and Him accuse,
He will not turn one step aside;
His recompense you then will lose;
Your sorrow then you must abide.
Cease all your wrangling and abuse
And in His mercy still confide.
Compassion he will not refuse,
His power thus is magnified.
For, though you grieve, and seek to hide
The depth of all your misery,
His grace is ever by your side,
And He will judge. 'Tis His decree.'
I said, 'I will His judgement bear,
I would not quarrel with my Lord.
Rashly I stumbled, in despair,
My heart its load of grief outpoured.
As from a well of water fair
His mercy will be my reward.
Rebuke me not, my dear, forbear !
Though my offence must be abhorred;
But let your comfort be restored,
For pity never comes amiss:
I learned from you of grief s discord
Who once was root of all my bliss. My bliss, my sorrow you have been,
But much the greater was my grief;
Since you were freed from harms unseen
My loss has never known relief,
But now is eased by what I've seen.
That we were one was my belief;
Now God forbid that wrath demean
This meeting rare and all too brief.
Pardon with grace my disbelief;
I am but dust and too remiss.
Christ, Mary, John, they are the chief
And surest ground of all my bliss.
In bliss your heavenly lot I see |
Yet I a man disconsolate;
You pay but little heed to me
Although my suffering is great.
Since with you here I now can be,
I beg you then without debate,
To tell me now, agreeably,
What life you have led here of late,
For I am happy that your state
Has come to honour such as this,
Of all my joy the highway gate
It is, and root of all my bliss. May bliss, good sir, now you betide,'
Then said that maid without a peer;
'Welcome are you to walk and bide
For now your words to me are dear.
Arrogant mood and lofty pride
I hate, as they are hated here;
My Lord is not disposed to chide,
Since but the meek to Him draw near;
When in his house you shall appear
All mortal pride you must dismiss:
My Lord the Lamb loves humbler cheer;
That is the ground of all my bliss.'
A blissful life you say I lead |
And seek to know in what degree;
Your pearl was lost, you know indeed,
When she was tender, young and free.
My Lord the Lamb, who knew my need,
Took me in marriage graciously,
Crowned me, that now my joys exceed
The sum of days that e'er shall be;
Gave all his heritage to me,
His dearest one, and wholly his,
Precious, and of his family.
That is the root of all my bliss.
Forgive if aught amiss I say;
Are you the queen of heaven blue
To whom this world must honour pay ?
We know in grace that Mary grew
And, virgin, bore a child one day;
What maid could now her crown outdo
Unless her worth matched such assay,
Or sweetness such as hers display ?
The Phoenix she, of Araby's race,
From her Creator flew, they say,
Like to that Queen of heavenly grace.'
'Gracious Queen,' that maiden prayed, |
With face upturned, and kneeling low
Matchless Mother and fairest Maid,
Source of all grace, above, below r'
Then she arose, and a moment stayed,
And there and then, with face aglow,
Said, 'All who strive here are repaid,
But from here all usurpers go;
Her empire doth all Heaven know,
And Earth and Hell to her give place;
No heir to Heaven will she o'erthrow,
For she is Queen of heavenly grace.' The court of the kingdom of God alive
By nature holds one special thing,
That all who may therein arrive
Of all that realm is queen or king.
And none shall others e'er deprive,
Others' good fortune valuing,
And wish their crowns increased by five,
Could fortune e'er such increase bring.
That Maid from whom the Christ did spring
All spiritual power doth embrace,
Which none here finds discomfiting
For she is Queen of heavenly grace.'
'By heavenly grace, so says Saint Paul, |
In Jesus Christ we all are one
As hand, arm, leg and navel, all
Parts of the body, cling thereon;
So every Christian soul withal
Lives as one part of God's own Son.,
Reflect if any hate or gall
Your limbs have ever undergone;
The hand your ring is worn upon
On your own head brings no disgrace.
So do we here in joy live on
As queen and king by heavenly grace.'
'In grace, I said, 'I do believe,
If all that you have said is true;
You lived not two years in our land,
How to please God you never know,
Nor Creed nor prayers could understand;
Made queen upon the first day too!
I cannot credit this command;
It is not something God would do;
A countess, not a maid like you,
Might well some station here display,
Or lady lacking retinue,
But queen ? And in a single day !'
'No day God's goodness e'er restrains,'
Then said that worthy maid to me,
'For all is true that He ordains,
Nothing but right will he decree,
As Matthew in the Mass explains.
In God's great gospel men can see
A parable which there contains
The likeness of His kingdom free.
"My reign," He said, 'may likened be
To a certain lord of vineyards, say;
The season was in harmony,
For harvest 'twas the fittest day.
'The hands knew that the day was near; |
That lord full early up arose
To hire men, and commandeer
Their labour; and he hires those
And makes agreement for a mere
Penny a day, and each man goes
To work and toil at tasks severe,
To prune or bind as each man chose.
At the third hour the master rose,
Saw idle men upon his way.
"Idle ?" he says. "Do you suppose
That this is not the start of day ?"'
"'We came before the day began,"
They all as one man made reply,
"We stood since sunrise, and no man
Desired our services to buy."
"Go to my vines ! Do what you can !"
So said the lord. "I will comply.
With what was settled in my plan
In deed and thought I will supply."
And now their efforts multiply;
The lord, content, then went away
And found new men, his spirits high,
Till it was past the close of day.
'At close of day, at evensong, |
One hour before the sun had set,
He saw there idle men and strong
And said, in tones of grave regret,
"Why stand you idle all day long ?"'
They said no man had hired them yet.
"Go to my vines, you yeomen young;
Do what you can, with toil and sweat !"
Soon the sky's light was overset,
The sun was low, the heavens gray.
The lord then went to pay his debt;
'Twas past the ending of the day.'
'The lord knew day was done, and so
Called to his reeve, "Thus I ordain,
Give them the payment that I owe,
And, so that none may me disdain,
Set all of' them upon a row
And let them each their penny gain;
Start at the last one, standing low,
Till to the first you shall attain !"
And then the first men did complain,
And said that they had laboured sore.
'"These worked but one hour; that is plain.
We think we should be given more ! ""
"'We deserve more, and that you owe; |
We suffered in the dust and heat;
These men worked but an hour or so,
You use them now poor men to cheat !"
Then said the lord, "Friends, well you know
That I have practised no deceit;
Take what is rightly yours and go;
A penny is the payment meet.
What reason have you now to bleat?
Was not the wage agreed before?
Is not the covenant now complete?
What right have you to ask for more?'"
"'And more, does not the law imply
That I may do what pleases me?
Does evil then corrupt your eye
Because I act so scrupulously?"
"And thus," said Jesus Christ, '"do I
Ordain the last the first shall be,
And first the last, though swift he tüy.
And each poor man I will supply
Though he comes late, and small his store;
His work may little justify;
God's mercy is still much the more.'"
'More joy and bliss I now possess |
Of queenly rank and high degree,
Than all the world could e'er profess
If justice were their only plea.
Though I came late, yet, nonetheless,
My Lord that evening welcomed me
And did my coming richly bless,
Rewarding me most generously.
Yet there were others, I could see,
Who laboured long and hardship bore,
But they could not rewarded be
Perhaps not for a whole year more.'
Then I spoke up, and more I said,
"Your tale flouts reason every way,
God's grace is quick, His power widespread,
Or Holy Writ is mere hearsay.
In Psalter may this verse be read;
It makes a point none can gainsay:
"For his deserts each man you fed,
High King, who o'er the world holds sway !"
If one man worked throughout the day
And you came and were paid before,
The less the work, the more the pay,
For so much less, that much the more.'
'Of more and less in God's domain,'
That lady said, 'there is no doubt,
For every man is paid the same
'Though less or more is handed out.
Our Chieftain kind will none disclaim
Whether good or ill should come about;
His gifts are poured as though they came
As streams from out a chasm spout
His gifts no hindrance e'er can flout
In rescuing man from sin's embrace.
Such bliss no man need be without
For great indeed is God's good grace.
But now my cause you denigrate
To say my payment was unfair;
You say that I came much too late
And merit no such generous share.
Where were there ever men so great
And ever fervent in their prayer,
Who have not sometimes marred their fate
And forfeited Heaven's bounty fair ?
And often the older such men were
They left the good and wrong would chase.
Mercy and grace must guide them there,
But great enough is God's good grace.
Sufficient grace have the innocent |
When they are born in God"s good time;
In baptism's stream they make descent
Then they are brought into the vine.
Soon darkness hides a day far spent
And to death"s night they now decline,
Who did no evil ere they went
So he full payment will assign
For they fulfilled his great design.
Why should he not their cause embrace
Indeed, and pay them first in line ?
For great enough is God's good grace.
Enough is known, how all mankind
Was made to live in Heaven's delight,
Till Adam all man's hope maligned
Through an apple that he chose to bite.
And for his sin we were consigned
To die in grief, in joy's despite,
Into Hell's fires our way to wind
Therein to dwell without respite.
But then to save men from this plight
From roughest cross did rich blood race
And precious water set all right
For great enough is God's good grace.
Sufficient grace flows from that well, |
Water and blood from gaping wound;
That blood frees us from pains of Hell,
No second death can us astound.
The water is baptism, truth to tell,
That followed the spear so cruelly ground;
It washes away offences fell
That us in death had Adam drowned.
Now there is naught in the whole world round
'Twixt us and joy e'er out of place;
They are restored, and healing found,
For great enough is God's good grace.
Grace enough has every man
Who sins anew, if he repents
And in true grief does all he can
To pay the price for his offence.
Reason can do no other than
Save evermore the innocents;
It is no part of God's great plan
That they should suffer punishments.
The guilty may, through penitence,
In mercy win to grace outright.
He who 'gainst evil mounts defence,
Being innocent, is safe and right.
Right well I know that, in like case, |
Two men are saved by God's good will.
The righteous man shall see his face
The innocent his place shall fill.
The Psalter says in certain place:
"Lord who shall climb Thy heavenly hill?
Or rest within Thy holy place?"
His answer will this truth distil:
"He that with hands has done no ill,
Who is of heart both clean and light,
Here shall his foot be planted still."
The innocent is safe by right.
Certain it is the righteous can
The approach unto that castle share,
Whose life pursues no foolish plan,
Who causes not his neighbour care.
Solomon says the righteous man
Honour acquires through Wisdom, where
She taught him so in ways that can
Truly reveal God's kingdom fair.
As who says, "Lo, beyond compare
That land, if thou win through with might."
'Tis certain naught can him ensnare,
Innocence is ever safe by right.
Further, concerning righteous men, |
David's Psalm says, as you may see,
"Lord, do not judge Thy servant, when
None is e'er justified to Thee."
So in that court of justice, when
Our cases will examined be;
Claim to be saved by right again
And these same words will censure thee.
But He who bled upon that tree
Pierced through his hands with cruel might,
When you are tried may set you free
By innocence, and not by right.
'He who can righteously read
Should read the Book, and heed this thought:
How Jesus walked with men indeed,
And they to Him their children brought
For health and joy to meet their need;
And that He touch them they besought,
But his disciples paid no heed
And hindered them with stern retort.
Then Jesus them most sweetly taught:
"Let them all come within my sight-,
My Kingdom is where they consort."
The innocent are safe by right.
Jesus called his followers mild,
And said no man His realm could win
Unless he eame there as a child;
Else, he could never enter in.
The innocent, true, and undefiled,
Without a spot or stain of sin,
These, when they knock, are not reviled;
Quickly do men the gate unpin.
Joys will not cease that there begin,
So precious pearls the jeweller sought,
Sold all his goods, and cloths akin
To buy a pearl without a spot.
This spotless pearl, whose price was dear,
For which that man gave all he could,
Is like the realm of Heaven clear,
So says the Lord of field and flood,
For it is spotless, pure and fair,
Endlessly round, serene of mood,
And owned by those who righteous were.
Lo, centred on my breast it stood;
My Lord, the Lamb, who shed His blood,
There set it, and my peace begot.
Forsake this mad world, as you should,
And buy this pearl without a spot.
'O matchless pearl, which pearls embrace' |
Who wears, I said, the earl I see,
Who formed for you that lovely face
And made that robe? Most wise was He.
Never by nature came such grace,
Pygmalion could not have painted thee,
Nor Aristotle's learning trace
Right words for such a property.
Your colour surpasses the fleur-de-lys;
Your angel-form such grace has got;
Tell me, what office could it be
Merits a pearl so free of spot?'
My peerless Lamb, amending all,'
Said she, 'designed what I should be.
Chose me as bride, although withal
Unfitting such a destiny.
And when I left a world in thrall
He called me to felicity;
"Come here to Me, my loved one small,
No spot or stain I find in thee."
He gave me power and beauty free,
Cleansed with his blood each earthly spot,
And crowned me with virginity,
Adorned me with pearls without a spot.
Maid without spot, who shines so bright, |
With dignities so richly rife
What being is this who in some rite
Takes you unto him for his wife,
Over all to reach such splendid height,
And lead with Him a lady's life ?
For many a comely lady light
For Christ bore woes like sharpest knife,
Yet He, o'er them, makes you his wife
Usurping thus their rightful lot,
Making you sure against all strife,
A matchless maid without a spot.
'Matchless ?' said that beauteous maid.
'Unblemished am I, and do no wrong,
But "matchless maid" I never said,
Nor could such honour to me belong.
Wives of the Lamb in joy we're made
One hundred and forty-four thousand strong,
As in the Apocalypse conveyed:
Saint John it was who saw that throng
The Mount oi' Zion all among;
In spiritual vision he witnessed them
Arrayed l'or the wedding those slopes along,
In that city new, Jerusalem.
Of Jerusalem I now must tell |
To bring this being within your ken,
My Lord, my Lamb, my dear jewel,
My joy, my bliss, most pure of men.
Isaiah did his fate foretell,
Compassionately described him then,
That glorious guiltless One who fell
With no wrong proved against Him, when
As lambs led to the slaughterer's den
Where men with shears lay hold on them,
No answer made he when again
Jews judged him in Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem was my loved One slain,
Rent on the Cross by ruffians bold,
Took on Himself with grievous pain,
Willingly, our indifference cold.
Their blows upon his face did rain,
That face so gracious to behold;
He gave himself for sin; no stain
Of sin upon Himself laid hold;
Racked and rent on that Cross of old,
Stretched out upon that beam by them,
Meek as a lamb in silent fold,
For us He died in Jerusalem.
'In Jerusalem, Jordan and Galilee |
Men were baptized by good Saint John;
His words do with Isaiah agree.
When Jesus unto him had gone,
John spoke of him this prophesy:
"Lo, see God's Lamb, the Chosen One
Who drives away the sins that we
As men upon ourselves brought on,
Yet He Himself committed none
And on Himself took all of them.
This generation rests upon
His death for us in Jerusalem."
To Jerusalem, my beloved sweet
Twice as a lamb was taken, where
Both prophets do this truth repeat
That He was meek, of countenance fair.
The third time was the occasion meet,
As the Apocalypse makes us aware;
Upon the throne, saints took their seat;
The apostle John did witness bear,
Opening the book with pages square,
Edged with seven seals on every hem
And at the sight men cowered there
In Hell, in Earth, and Jerusalem.'
This Jerusalem Lamb had not a grain
Of colour, save a dazzling white;
No spot on it could spread again
For it was thick and fleecy quite.
And every soul without a stain
Is to that Lamb a wife by right.
He brings each day more to the train
But no strife can our union blight;
If each were five, 'twould bring delight.
The more the merner, if God bless.
In harmony love thrives aright,
In honour more and never less.
To us, our joy comes all unsought,
Who bear this pearl upon the breast.
To quarrelling we give no thought
Who bear of spotless pearls the best.
And though each one to clay was brought
And you in grief cry out for rest,
We know full well that we have bought
Our hope with one sharp death's arrest,
The Lamb from us all care can wrest,
Each mass brings joy none can express.
In heavenly joy are we each dressed
Yet no one's honour is the less.
'Lest less in truth my word persuades |
In the Apocalypse we find this said:
"I saw," says John,"in Zion's glades
The Lamb most noble at the head
Of full one hundred thousand maids
With four and forty thousand spread.
His and His Father's names ne'er fades
From each and every maid's forehead.
A shout from Heaven then outspread
Like floods which ever onward press
Or thunder which blue hills invades;
That sound, I believe, was never less.
And sharply did those voices ring
As voices loud the echoes chase,
A note quite new I heard them sing,
Most tunefully, it filled that place,
As harpists play upon the string
Full clearly, and with gentle pace
Resüunding, a most lovely thing;
The melody was full of grace.
Right there, before God's holy dais,
And the four beasts that Him confess
And elders all most grave ofü face,
The song they sang was never less.
Never did one, though skilful quite |
And master of the crafts he knew
Who could that music sing aright
Save those who that fair Lamb pursue;
They are redeemed, brought to the light
As first fruits who to Him are due,
In the gentle Lamb they all unite,
Like to Himself in form and hue,
Never do lies or tales untrue
Corrupt their tongues, whate'er the stress,
None separates that spotless crew
From that peerless Master, none the less."'
'Let my thanks be never thought the less,'
I said, 'though questions may intrude.
I should not doubt the nobleness
Of one who in Christ's chamber stood;
I am of dirt and dust a mess
And you a rose, so rich and good,
Dwell on this hill in joyfulness,
Where nothing can such bliss preclude,
Now, maid with simpleness imbued,
Plainly, may I on you prevail
Though I, like any churl, seem rude,
To let my prayer no less avail?
Now none the less on you I call.
If this to do, you see your way;
Glorious, and with no spot at all,
Reject not what I sadly say.
Do you not dwell in castle wall ?
Is there no mansion where you stay ?
You say Jerusalem withal
Where royal David once held sway;
But in these woods it never lay
For in Judaea 'twas stablished plain,
Since you are spotless as the day,
Your city should be free of stain.
You claim a spotless retinue
Of thousands thronged as in a rout,
So some great city, to speak true,
You then must need, without a doubt;
And such a spotless host as you
Would surely never dwell without,
Yet on these slopes which now I view
I see no dwelling hereabout.
I think that here you wander out
To view this stream of glory plain;
If you have other fine redoubt
Show me this city without stain.
'The city you mean is in Judaea,' |
That precious maid to me then spake,
The city to which the Lamb came; here
To suffer in sorrow for all men's sake-,
The old Jerusalem, to make all clear,
For there did man old sins forsake.
Through God's light did new life appear,
The Anocalypse this theme does take.
The Lamb who can no evil make
There has his own fair flock in train;
And, since his folk all sins forsake,
So is his city without stain.
'These two of which I spoke before
Jerusalem is the name of these-
Their titles both mean nothing more
Than "city of God" or "vision of peace".
In one our peace was founded, for
The Lamb there suffered without cease;
The other gives peace for evermore
For all to glean with no decrease;
When we haste to our own decease
And our flesh in the ground to rot is lain
Our joy and bliss shall still increase
To the company that has no stain.
'Spotless maid so meek and bright,' |
I said then to that lovely flower,
'Show me that place of such delight
And let me see your blissful bower'
She said, 'God grants you no such sight,
You may not enter in that tower.
But now the Lamb gives me the right
To let your gaze the sight devour
Of this which is my holy dower,
But entrance there you cannot gain,
To walk there you have not the power
Unless you are without a stain.
'I would not wish this place to hide;
Go up towards this water's head,
And I, upon the other side,
Will follow to the hill,' she said.
I could no longer there abide
With leafy boughs above me spread
Till on a hill I then espied
That city fair that lay ahead,
Beyond the brook, as on I tread,
Radiant with light that city shone.
In the Apocalypse is the matter said,
Described by the apostle John.
As John the apostle saw that sight
I viewed that city so renowned;
Jerusalem, new, royally bedight
As though with light from Heaven crowned.
Of purest gold that city bright
Like gleaming glass all burnished round,
With noble jewels set aright
On a base of full twelve tiers around-
Foundations twelve with tenons sound-
Each fundament a precious stone,
As was described this very town
In Apocalypse by the apostle John.
I knew the names John did recount
From Holy Writ I heard before.
Jasper the first that I did count,
The first of all the settings bore.
It glistened green in the lowest mount.
The second place the sapphire wore;
Chalcedony third, the very fount
Of palest purity with no flaw;
The emerald was number four;
Sardonyx then was the fifth stone;
Sixth was the ruby, as men saw
In Apocalypse from the apostle John.
Then added John the chrysolite, |
The seventh in the fundament;
The eighth the beryl clear and white;
The twin-hued topaz prominent;
The chrysoprase the tenth bedight;
The jacinth eleventh by precedent;
The twelfth, a talisman in each plight,
Amethyst purple, with indigo blent.
The wall above the tiers' ascent
Were jasper, like radiant glass it shone,
I knew it by the testament
In the Apocalypse of the apostle John.
As John described, I saw them there:
Steep were those twelve degrees of stair;
The city stood above, full square,
In length, and breadth, and height full fair;
Like glass, the streets of gold gleamed; their
Bright jasper walls adorned most rare;
The inner rooms resplendent were
With every kind of stone, I swear,
That could be brought together, where
From end to end, twelve furlongs on
With height, and breadth, and length to spare
In the Apocalypse saw the apostle John.
I saw, as John relates to me,
The city's walls each had three gates;
So twelve I reckoned there must be,
Their portals graced with splendid plates.
Each held a pearl of high degree.
A pearl from which light radiates,
And on each pearl inscribed I see
That Israel's bairns it tabulates
Recorded by their natal dates
The oldest first, as should be done;
Each street so gleams and coruscates
It needs no light from moon or sun.
Of sun and moon they had no need;
For God Himself was all their light,
The Lamb their lantern was indeed;
Through Him the city burned all bright.
Through walls and homes my eyes could read,
All was transparent to my sight.
To that high throne I now paid heed
With all its ornament bedight,
As John the apostle did indite;
And God Himself sat on that throne.
From it a river ran outright
Far brighter than the sun or moon.
Sun or moon ne'er shone so sweet |
As that free flood which swift unwound;
Swiftly it rushed through every street
No filth or slime in it is found.
No church it needs to be complete,
Chapels or temples ne'er abound:
The Almighty only holds that seat;
The Lamb's oblation makes all sound.
No gate is ever tightly bound,
Each road is open night and noon;
None enters there into that ground
With any stain beneath the moon.
The moon from there can steal no light;
Too stained she is, too slatternly,
That city never dwelt in night,
Why should she make her circuit free
To vie with all that splendour bright
That shines on streams so splendidly ?
Planets are in too poor a plight,
The sun itself outshone would be.
About that stream is many a tree
Twelve fruits of life they bear full soon
Twelve times each year the fruit we see,
Renewed again with every moon.
Beneath the moon, such marvels, all |
That mortal heart might not endure
As when I gazed upon that wall
So wondrous was its form, so pure.
Like startled quail I stood withal,
At sight of it; fra.il, insecure.
Nor rest nor toll could I recall;
Naught could such radiance obscure.
For I dare say with conscience sure
Had any man received such boon
No doctors could his life secure;
His life would end beneath the moon.
Even as the moon begins to rise
Before the light of day goes down,
I was aware, to my surprise,
In this great place of such renown
Of something wondrous to my eyes;
A great procession from that town
Of virgins in the self same guise
As my beloved in her gown
Crowned were they all with that same crown
And clothed in pearls and garments white
And on them, light as thistledown,
The beauteous pearl of great delight.
In great delight they glided there |
On golden streets that gleamed like glass,
One hundred thousand souls there were
In matching dress none could surpass;
Their happiness defied compare.
The Lamb before did proudly pass,
With seven gold trumpets wondrous fair
His pearly dress would all outclass.
Around the throne they all amass;
The throng so great, the press so slight.
Gentle as maidens seem at Mass
So went they forth in great delight.
The delight His coming did import
Is far too great for man to tell,
When that the elders of his court
Prostrate before his feet ail fell.
Legions of gathering angels brought
Incense to strew of sweetest smell.
Glory and joy in sweet consort
Sang praises such as could compel
That sound to strike through earth to Hell,
Which Virtue's angels did recite.
To love the Lamb exceeding well
Seemed then to me a great delight.
With great delight I gazed upon |
The Lamb, and marvelled in my mind;
The best and gentlest paragon
For words, however well designed.
So wondrous white his raiment shone,
His look so clear, himself so kind;
But sorely wounded was he on
His breast, so that all eyes could find
On his white breast blood ran entwined.
Alas, thought I, what man in spite
Within his breast shouid be inclined
To take in such cause some delight?
The Lamb's delight none could gainsay
Though he was hurt, and wounded sore;
His joyful look was such as they
Had never seen on earth before.
I looked and saw in that array
That everlasting joy they wore.
Then saw I there my daughter gay,
Who once stood near me long before.
Lord, how she revelled more and more
Among that flock who were so white !
To cross that water then I swore
For love of her in my delight.
Delight assailed my eye and ear
Sheer frenzy stole my mind away
Seeing her, I would fain draw near,
Though o'er that water she must stay
I thought that i had naught to fear
No blow, I thought, could bar my way
That none could keep me from my dear
Though with my life I needs must pay.
But something caused me to delay;
Against his will my soul conspires
A summons came I must obey;
This was not as my Frince desires.
It pleased him not that I should throw
My body headlong in that way
Though in my haste I meant to go
Yet some strange summons bade me stay;
My own presumption made me know
My dream was ended with that day.
Here in that garden down below
My pearl slipped to the earth away,
And I was filled with wild dismay.
I stretch, and all my hope expires;
And sighing, to myself I say,
'Let it be as my Prince desires.'
It stole my senses clean away |
To be thrust from that heavenly place
From all those sights so bright and gay.
A swoon my senses did efface
And then in sorrow and dismay,
'O pearl,' I cried, 'of Heaven's race,
I hold all dear that you did say
Within that vision full of grace;
If all be truth that you embrace
You dwell in raiment he requires
Happy am I in dungeon's space,
That you are as the Prince desires.'
Had I done all my Prince desired
And longed for no more than he gave
And curbed myself as he required,
As said my pearl, so fair and brave,
Attained to what I had aspired
Entered that presence all men crave
And all those mysteries acquixed;
But man will ever be the slave
Of all the evils that deprave;
Exiled from all those heavenly shires;
Lord, they are mad that so behave,
Rejecting what the Prince desires.
To please the Prince and him requite |
Is easy for the Christian man
For I have found him day and night
A God, a Lord, who ever can
Upon this hill me guide aright
In pity for that pearl which ran
To God, who gives his gifts of right
And to Christ's blessing which began
With bread and wine his mighty plan
The priest each day our souls inspires
To make us each God's artisan,
Those precious pearls my Prince desires.