Poetry of St. Robert Southwell


I dye alive
Robert Southwell  (?1561–1595)

O LIFE! what letts thee from a quicke decease?
  O death! what drawes thee from a present praye?
My feast is done, my soule would be at ease,
  My grace is saide; O death! come take awaye.
I live, but such a life as ever dyes;       
  I dye, but such a death as never endes;
My death to end my dying life denyes,
  And life my living death no whitt amends.
Thus still I dye, yet still I do revive;
  My living death by dying life is fedd;       
Grace more then nature kepes my hart alive,
  Whose idle hopes and vayne desires are deade.
Not where I breath, but where I love, I live;
  Not where I love, but where I am, I die;
The life I wish, must future glory give,        
  The deaths I feele in present daungers lye.

I do well to remind myself that I live in a privileged era and a privileged place. No matter that the media are unrelentingly hostile toward my belief, no matter that prejudice still is rampant in some places. I nevertheless can live a life of relative comfort and freedom compared to those who came before. The poetry of this great martyr for the faith ever puts me in mind of how very good I have it despite facing some difficulties. I am thankful before God for what He has granted, and despite all that is less than it should be, I rejoice in my relative freedom to work for Him. As He said with His own lips, "To whom much is given, much is expected in return."

Lord Jesus Christ, grant that I may return even a small part of the many blessings and graces that have come to me from God the Father through the hands of your Blessed Mother. Let the Holy Spirit guide me in all that I do, and awaken my deadened senses to better heed His promptings. Let me work for the good of your church, for the salvation of your people, and for my own good ever heedful of your divine mercy and love.


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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 21, 2004 7:05 AM.

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