I suppose I should have posted this for the Christmas season, but hey, the Incarnation is relevant all year round! This is an old favourite, Southwell was a Jesuit priest in Elizabethan England, who ended up being caught, imprisoned, tortured and put to death for his catholicism. But this poem proclaims, in the "clever", wordplaying language which was the fashion of the time, truths about Jesus which belong to all Christians.God's highest gift to us truly is Himself, there is nothing more that could be better ..
THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST.
By Robert Southwell
Behold the father is his daughter's son,
The bird that built the nest is hatch'd therein,
The old of years an hour hath not outrun,
Eternal life to live doth now begin,
The word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep,
Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep.
O dying souls! behold your living spring!
O dazzled eyes! behold your sun of grace!
Dull ears attend what word this word doth bring!
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace!
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this word, this joy repairs.
Gift better than Himself God doth not know,
Gift better than his God no man can see;
This gift doth here the giver given bestow,
Gift to this gift let each receiver be:
God is my gift, Himself He freely gave me,
God's gift am I, and none but God shall have me.
Man alter'd was by sin from man to beast;
Beast's food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh;
Now God is flesh, and lies in manger press'd,
As hay the brutest sinner to refresh:
Oh happy field wherein this fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew!