“Crucifixion” – A Poem By John Kay
“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh,”
Long time I strove to build my rest,
‘Mid this world’s painted, pleasing scenes:
But find, round all that here was best,
No certain happiness one gleans.
One pleasure, hope, or pleasing scheme,
After another drops away!
Like leaves our thoughts with hope did teem,
Like leaves they drop, they’ve seen their day!
Thus autumn yellows all these schemes,
Stern winter grasps them to decay;
Forms playful shone in distant beams,
And now all lost ‘mid “evening grey.”
So may one see soap-bubbles burst,
So phantoms chas’d run off the mind;
Lord! be this wish e’er’now my first,
That I Thy will may do and find!
Unwelcome wish! ’twill never please
Our simp’ring nature this to clasp;
“God’s will!” says nature, “give me ease,
And soft’ning pleasure I would grasp!”
Stern thought (but true) no pleasure here.
‘Tis carnal sweets corrode the soul;
Like canker there, repentance’ tear
Shall drop for rust where idols roll!
A sinking thought! no idol fair
Our dear embraces long must hold.
‘What! is the world no part to share?
Wrapt snug no carnal joys more fold?
My dearest friends, the saints of God,
There’s’nought here that’s worth living for;
There’s nought adorns this mortal sod,
That here true happiness ‘can stir.
What! can’t the painted charms of sense,
The sweet delights that once we lov’d?
What! cannot these build up a fence,
(To keep out yawning care) approved?
What! can no silv’ry mirth that’s drawn
From carnal fountains rapture move?
What! no bright streaks of gilding dawn,
To fringe and dress forth still self-love?
Our carnal palate thus will taste,
And sip sweets off each natural flow’r;
Till leaves fall off, and tastes will waste,
Till sweets are tinctur’d due with sour.
And pray what is there here below
That tastes not sourish, more or less?
What is there here does genial glow,
Which with’ring care won’t too caress?
I’ve tried to find some sturdy place,
Where all earth’s sweets might not be gone;
Some relic sweet of carnal ways,
Whence pleasure’s threads might still be spun.
But, no! the flesh can’t spin one thread,
That satisfaction gives unmixd ;
‘Tis here that wisdom saints does wed,
To seek in loftier heaven joys fix’d,
For ’tis a truth that till we find
This world all marr’d we love not heav’n;
Round time while idol thoughts we wind,
Our thoughts from God are harshly riv’n.
Riven! But what, won’t idols stand?
No idol square with God’s pure love?
Then, good bye! to the sweet command
With which earth’s charms did once me move!
Our nature sighs for heavens below,
We try our best here bliss to frame;
How toys with hope and promise glow,
How sweet are lust, and ease, or fame!
See how we madly run this race,
To carve out idol-creature joys!
See how we pant, how flush’d our face,
“In breathless haste” to creature toys!
What! are we, then, this heav’n below,
To coin from earthly sensual charms?
Does satisfaction blossom now?
Shall peace entwine from earthly arms?
No reddening bliss from chace of wealth,
Nor soft idolatry, assuage?
Can’t hope now settle from good health,
Nor beauty ward the thoughts of age?
No! ‘Tis sickness, disappointment,
Care, sin conjoined, and earthly ills;
These rough materials breed content,
Union with God’s will saints thus fills.
For let it e’er be borne in mind,
That crucifixion to the flesh,
Is te sole ground, where fruit we find,
Fruit luscious, satisfying, fresh!
O how my soul was cheated long,
With expectation earthly took!
But one wheel or another wrong,
Made the machinery grating look!
Like summer-fruits our joys are gone,
As leaves drop off from tend’rest plants;
This or that project never won,
Mid sleekest wealth we feel yet wants
Thus I defy a saint of God,
To manufacture rest below;
In this life they’re to feel the rod;
Sad food our sluggish flesh finds now.
“But spare thyself, nor say the lot
Of crucifixion’s doom’d to saints;”
Thus backward nature yielding not,
Gags forth rebellion s complaints,
A saint not crucified, to heaven,
Like school-boys, seems to truant play;
Butter-fly-catching, ’tis him given
To run the fields, by stealth, his day!
But evening-reckonings and the rod
Spoil all the flavour of the sweet:
Better to trudge each miry road,
Than, pois’ning, taste a lawless treat.
My soul! do thou then clasp the cross,
Delight blooms supernatural there!
And of this world, too, count thy loss
As gain and lucre, real and rare.
Thou knowest that all that get to heav’n
Must this world lose, if God be true;
The Bible says this world’s sour leaven,
As magic, blinds the Christian’s view.
Sour, magic dangerous, and traps,
My soul, to build thy castles here!
Amazement here, as thunder-claps,
Stuns loud oft with tempestuous fear.
Leave then the world its pretty snares
The flesh, and all its softest wiles, ‘
To catch God’s foes; there swell the tares:
(Safety climbs self-denial’s stiles!)
I’ve run, of creature-likes, tbe race,
And striven t’ extract the honey there;
Such honey glues the wings of grace,
And, disappointed, wild we stare.
Is there nought here worth living for?
“Try for yourself,” Experience says.
Thus “thorns as loveliest roses wore,”
Each lawful sweet its bitters pays.
Conrageous look beyond the grave,
There alone shines unclouded sky:
No longer trust Time’s gaping wave.
A shadow’s all that earth can buy!
By John Kay