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Poems of SR. TERESA, Carmelite of Lisieux

known as
The "Little Flower of Jesus,"



TO MY LITTLE BROTHERS IN HEAVEN
THE HOLY INNOCENTS

"The Lord shall gather together the lambs with His arm, and shall take them up in His bosom." Is. 40:11. Happy those whom God regards as justi­fied without works! for to him that work­eth, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt." It is, then, gratuitouslv that those who do no works are justified by grace, in virtue of the Redemption of which Jesus Christ is the Author. Romans 4: 4, 5 ,6.

O happy little ones! with what sweet tenderness
The King of Heaven
Blessed you, when here below! How often His caress
To you was given!
You were the type of all the Innocents to come.
In dreams I know
The boundless joy the King gives you in heaven's high home,
He loves you so!

Before earth's bitter griefs, dear lilies of the Lord,
Had dimmed your eyes,
You had beheld the gifts,- how very beauteous! -- stored
In Paradise.
O fragrant buds, soon plucked at day's sweet dawning bright,
By God's own hand;
His Sacred Heart is now the Sun by Whose soft light
Those buds expand!

What perfect care and oh! what ceaseless watchful­ness,
What love alway,
Lavishes on you here our Mother Church, to bless
Souls of a day!
In her maternal arms, you were in holy rite
To Jesus given;
And through eternity, you will be the delight
Of His fair Heaven.

Dear little ones! you join the virginal court, in state
Following the Lamb;
And you the sweet new song shall sing (O privilege great!)
Unto His Name.
You to the conqueror's palm, without the deadly fight,
Have safely come.
O charming victors: Christ from you has taken all blight, And brought you home.

It needs no precious stones, all luminous and gay,
To deck your hair;
The lustre of your curls, sweet Innocents, today,
Makes Heaven more fair.
To you grand martyrs lend their palms; they give their crowns,
Your brows to grace;
Upon their knees you find, dear children, now your thrones,
In their embrace.

In splendid courts on high, with tiny cherub throngs
Gayly you play:
Beloved baby band! your childish sports and songs
Charm heaven alway.
God tells you how He makes the birds, the flowers, the snow,
The sunlight clear;
No genius here below knows half the things you know,
O children, dear!

From Heaven's azure vault you tear the veils that make
Such mystery:
The glowing myriad stars in your wee hands you take,
Your toys to be.
Running Heaven's highways, there, your tiny foot­steps leave
A silverv trace;
In the bright Milky Way, I think I see, at eve,
Each shining face.

To Mary's welcoming arms, when your gay games are done,
How swift you hie!
Hiding beneath her veil your heads like Christ Her Son
In sleep you lie.
Heaven's darling little pets! audacity like this
Delights our Lord;
And you can even dare caress and gently kiss
His Face adored.

That Blessed Lord has deigned you for my pattern here
To give to me;
O Holy Innocents, like you so pure and dear
I strive to be.
Pray, pray, that I may gain all childhood's graces best,-
Your candor true,
Your sweet abandonment, your innocence so blest,
That charm my view!

Thou, of my exiled soul, O Lord! full well dost know
The ardent prayer.
Fair Lily of the Vale, on Thee I would bestow Earth's lilies fair;
These buds of spring I love, and long to find for Thee,
Thou King adored!
Grant the baptismal grace to each one tenderly;
Then cull them, Lord!

My pains and my joys I offer with delight,-
For children's souls:
Thus to augment Thy ranks of Innocents most white,
The while time rolls;
And, 'mongst these Innocents, I ask Thee that it place
To me be given.
Grant to me, as to them, Thy kiss, O wondrous grace
Jesus! in Heaven.

               February,1897




THE MELODY OF ST. CECILIA.

"During the sound of the instruments, Cecilia was singing in her heart."

-- Office of the Church.


Thou glorious Saint of God! in ecstasy I see
The path of shining light thy footsteps left below;
And still I think I hear thy heavenly melody;
Of thy celestial chant e'en here the sounds we know.
Now, of my exiled soul, accept the fervent prayer;
Upon thy virginal heart let my young heart find rest!
Almost unequalled here wast thou, O lily fair,
Immaculately pure, and how divinely blest!

Most chaste white dove of Rome! through all thy life on earth
No other spouse than Christ thy heart desired to find.
He chose thy favored soul, e'en from thy hour of birth,
And made it rich in grace and virtues all combined.
And yet a mortal came, on fire with youth and pride;
He saw how sweet thou wert, thou white celestial flower!
And then, to gain thy love - to win thee for his bride-
He strove with all his strength, from that momen­tous hour.
Soon bridal feasts he spread, his palace decked with glory,
Bade minstrels play their best, and songs ring loudly there,
While still thy virginal heart sang soft thy Saviour's story,
Whose echo rose to heaven like incense sweet and rare.

How couldst thou sing, so far from Heaven, thy fatherland,
When seeing near thy side, that mortal bold and frail ?
Did not thy heart crave, then, in heaven's high courts to stand,
And dwell, forever safe, with Christ beyond the veil?
But no! thy harp I hear vibrate like seraph's singing,
Harp of thy love, whose sound so softly smote the car;
These words, to Christ thy Lord, in thy sweet chant were ringing:
"Now keep my young heart pure, O Jesus, Spouse most dear."
Abandonment how true! O wondrous melody!
By that celestial chant thy love now stands re­vealed
The love that knows no fear, but sleeps in ecstasy
Upon the Saviour's Heart, from every ill con­cealed.
In wide blue skies appeared the radiant white star
That came, to lighten up, with meek and timid glow,
The luminous night that shows, unveiled to us afar,
That virginal love, in heaven, which virgin spouses know.

But here, Valerian dreamed of earthly joy and bliss.
Cecilia! thou alone wast his young heart's desire.
Ah, when thy hand he gained, he gained far more than this!
That hand showed him a path to better things, and higher.
"O friend! " to him thou saidst "near me doth watch alway
An angel of the Lord, who keeps me pure as snow,
Who leaves me not alone, neither by night nor day;
E'en in my sleep, his wings protect from harm and woe.
At night, his holy face, with clear and silvery light
A glory lovelier far than morning sun,- doth shine.
That face to me appears like some blest image bright,
Transparent, marvelous, of God's own face divine."
Then cried Valerian: " Show me this angel blest,
That I may give my faith to thy firm word, fair maid;
Or else believe that hate for thee will fill my breast,
And thou, before my wrath, shalt shudder sore afraid."

O dove, within the rock of God's strong heart con­cealed,
No fear hadst thou, that night, of subtlest fowler's snare:
The Face of Jesus, then, Its light to thee revealed;
His sacred gospels lay upon thy bosom fair.
"Valerian!" that word was said with gentlest smile,
"My heavenly guide, who hears, will answer thy request.
Soon thou his face shalt see; his voice shall thee beguile,
For martyrdom to seek, and thus to find thy rest.
But, ere his face thou see, baptismal grace must make
Thy soul as white as snow, that God therein may dwell.
The one true God Himself thy heart His home shall make,
The Spirit give thee life, that thou mayst serve Him well;
The Word, the Father's Son, and Son of Mary chaste,
Must immolate Himself, in His vast love for thee,
Upon His altar throne; and there thou must be placed,
Beside that throne, to feed on Him Who died for thee.

Then shall the seraph bright, thee for his brother, claim,
And, seeing in thy heart the home of God his King,
Thee shall he lift from earth's dark dens of sin and shame;
Thee, to his own abode, that angel then shall bring."
"Ah! in my heart I feel a new fire burn tonight!"
Transformed by God's own grace, the young patrician cried.
Oh! come, within my soul to dwell, Thou Lord of light!
Worthy my love shall be of thee, Cecile, my bride!"

In his baptismal robe, the type of innocence,
Valerian, at last, the angel's face beheld;
In awe he gazed upon that grave magnificence;
That radiant, crown decked brow his old ambitions quelled.
Fresh roses in his hands did that grand spirit bear,
Pure lilies, dazzling white, to his strong heart he pressed.
In gardens of high heaven had bloomed those blos­soms rare,
Beneath the rays of love from their Creator blest.

"O Spouses dear to Heaven! the martyrs' royal rose
Shall crown vour brows," exclaimed that angel from on high
"No voice on earth can sing, no mortal tongue disclose,
Its value beyond price, that lasts eternally.
I lose myself in God, His attributes proclaim;
But I cannot, for Him, bear pain, though fain would I!
I cannot shed or tears or blood for His dear name;
To prove my love for Him, I cannot gladly die.
Oh! purity is ours, the angels' special grace,-
Our vast, unbounded joy, that ne'er shall fade away;
But o'er our lofty lot yours hath a loftier place,
For you -you can be pure, and you can die, today'

"Of chaste virginity, you see the emblem here,
In these white lilies sweet,- fair gift from Christ the Lamb;
The pure white crown He gives, in glory you shall wear;
And you for aye shall chant the new song to His name.
Your union, spotless, chaste, shall win great souls to God
Souls that no other spouse, than Christ, shall seek on earth;
And near His heavenly throne, when life's hard path is trod,
There you shall see them shine, in saintly joy and mirth."

Cecilia, lend to me thy melody most sweet:
How many souls would I convert to Jesus now.
I fain would die, like thee, to win them to His feet;
For him give all my tears, my blood. Oh, help me thou!
Pray for me that I gain, on this our pilgrim way
Perfect abandonment - that sweetest fruit of love.
Saint of my heart! oh, soon, bring me to endless day;
Obtain that I may fly, with thee, to heaven above!

               April 28, 1893





CANTICLE OF ST. AGNES

"My only Love is Christ."

From the Acts of her Martyrdom


Christ is my Love alone, all life is He for me;
He is my one Betrothed, Who charms my dazzled eyes;
E'en now I hear vibrate the solemn harmony
Of His melodious sighs.

With precious stones and gold He decks my flowing hair,
Already on my hand shines bright His nuptial ring;
And many lustrous stars, magnificently fair,
Are love gifts from my King.

With pearls, all price beyond, has He adorned my hands;
About my neck He placed a necklace wondrous bright;
Celestial rubies red, from far off unknown lands,
Bedeck my ears tonight.

Betrothed am I to Him on Whom the angels wait,
Trembling before His throne throughout eternity;
The sun and moon His praise with rapture will relate,
Till time shall cease to be.

Divine His Person is; heaven is His realm of bliss;
He for His Mother chose a Virgin here on earth;
Who no beginning hath, nor end, His Father is,--
­Eternal is that birth.

Ah! when this Jesus Christ at times to touch I dare,
More pure becomes my heart; more chaste, dear Lord, am I!
The kisses of His mouth give me the treasure fair
Of blest virginity.

His signet He hath set already on my face,
That so no earthly love may dare draw nigh to me;
Kept thus for Christ alone, by His abiding grace,
His perfect purity.

Cleansed by the precious Blood He shed on Calvary's cross,
Already here I taste of heaven's matchless bliss;
The honey and the milk -with joys that know not loss-
Come to me with His kiss.

No thought of fear have I, of either flame or sword:
For naught can now disturb this perfect heavenly peace
A fire of love divine pervades my soul, O Lord:
And never shall it cease.


               January 21, 1896.




TO THE VENERABLE THEOPHANE VENARD, MARTYRED



0 Theophane,* angelic martyr blest!
All the elect to sing thy praise aspire;
And thee to hail, behold! there stand confest
The Seraphim, with love divine on fire.
I, a poor exile still on this dull earth,
Can not with them my joyful song combine;
Yet will I take my harp, and sing thy worth,
And claim thee as a kindred soul to mine.

Thy brief bright sojourn here was like a psalm
Of heavenly melody, all hearts upraising;
Thy poet nature sang sweet songs like balm,
Through all thy life thy dearest Saviour praising.
Writing thy farewell thy last earthly night,
That farewell was a song of Spring and love,
"I, little butterfly, the first take flight,
Of all our loved ones, to our home above."

Thou, happy martyr! in the hour of death
Didst taste the deep delight of suffering:
Thou didst declare, e'en with thy dying breath,
That it is sweet to suffer for the King.

* Sister Teresa died in 1897, since then the Life of Theophane, beheaded for the
faith at Tonquin in 1861, has be­come almost as well known as her own. These
kindred souls in Heaven, have been inciting thousands of souls upon earth to
spiritual heroism. He crying out for the Foreign Missions, she opening the road
for Christ's little ones to run in the hidden ways of prayer and penance.


When the stern headsman made thee offer fair
Thy torture to abridge, how swift thy word:
"Oh, blest am I my Master's cup to share!
Long let my suffering last with Christ my Lord!"

O virginal lily! life had but begun,
When Jesus heard thy loving heart's desire.
I see in thee a flower whose race is run,
Yet his hand plucked it but to lift it higher.
And now, no longer, exile dost thou know;
Thy ecstasy the Blest exult to see.
Thou Rose of love! the Virgin white as snow
Rejoices in thy heavenly purity.

Soldier of Christ, thy armor lend to me!
For sinners' souls I long to give my life;
For them to give my tears, my blood, like thee:
Protect me then, and arm me for the strife!
For them I fain would fight, till life is done;- ‑
God's kingdom take by force, their souls to save.
"Not peace to earth I bring," (so spake God's Son),
"But fire and sword I bring." Oh, saving glaive!

How dear is now to me that pagan horde,
The object of thy burning love below
If Jesus would to me such grace accord,
Ah, thither with what ardor would I go.
Before Him space and distance fade away.
This earth is but a plaything on the breeze;
My actions, my small sufferings today,
Can make my Jesus loved beyond the seas.

Oh, were I but a fading springtime flower,
That soon the Lord would gather to His breast!
Come down, O Theophane, at my last hour;
Come down for me, thou youthful martyr blest!

Come, with the virginal flames of purest love,
Come, burn from out my soul all earthly clay,
That I may fly to heaven's courts above,
And join thy cohort in unending day.

               February 2, 1897.






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