Francis Quarles's Meditation on Union


My beloved is mine, and I am his; He feedeth among the lilies
Francis Quarles (1592Ė1644)

EVíN like two little bank-dividing brooks,
That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,
And having rangíd and searchíd a thousand nooks,
Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,
Where in a greater current they conjoin:
So I my best-belovedís am; so he is mine.

Evín so we met; and after long pursuit,
Evín so we joyníd; we both became entire;
No need for either to renew a suit,
For I was flax and he was flames of fire:
Our firm-united souls did more than twine;
So I my best-belovedís am; so he is mine.

If all those glittíring Monarchs that command
The servile quarters of this earthly ball,
Should tender, in exchange, their shares of land,
I would not change my fortunes for them all:
Their wealth is but a counter to my coin:
The worldís but theirs; but my belovedís mine.

Nay, more; If the fair Thespian Ladies all
Should heap together their diviner treasure:
That treasure should be deemíd a price too small
To buy a minuteís lease of half my pleasure;
íTis not the sacred wealth of all the nine
Can buy my heart from him, or his, from being mine.

Nor Time, nor Place, nor Chance, nor Death can bow
My least desires unto the least remove;
Heís firmly mine by oath; I his by vow;
Heís mine by faith; and I am his by love;
Heís mine by water; I am his by wine,
Thus I my best-belovedís am; thus he is mine.

He is my Altar; I, his Holy Place;
I am his guest; and he, my living food;
Iím his by penitence; he mine by grace;
Iím his by purchase; he is mine, by blood;
Heís my supporting elm; and I his vine;
Thus I my best belovedís am; thus he is mine.

He gives me wealth; I give him all my vows:
I give him songs; he gives me length of dayes;
With wreaths of grace he crowns my conquíring brows,
And I his temples with a crown of Praise,
Which he accepts as an everlasting signe,
That I my best-belovedís am; that he is mine.

It is not by accident that nearly every great mystic has at one time or another made a commentary on the Song of Songs which is the Song of Solomon. It is not only an earthy and "slightly torrid" love poem, but it is the passionate Song of God for His People Israel and for all of those called to love Him in the special intimacy of Union. The sexual congress of marriage is an insufficient metaphor for the intimacy of those who come to know God in Union, but it is close enough and familiar enough to many for it to provide some understanding of what Union is about. As in the liturgy of Marriage, "The two become one."

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 23, 2004 5:25 PM.

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