The question is, of course, from Solomon’s Great Canticle, a portion of which I published a few days ago in preparation. The Song of Songs tells of the passionate love of Christ for his Church, or, for every soul, for each human person, and how each soul may, ought to, respond to him in chaste eros: the longing desire of one’s soul for Jesus, her lover. Of course, the Christian soul who most perfectly loved and desired her Lord and Saviour was also his Lady Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. September 8th marks, from ancient times, in a feast which comes to the West from the Orient in the first centuries of the Church’s history, her Nativity at which Holy Anne brought forth the most perfect creature made fit by grace from before time to bear in her womb the Saviour of the World. As S. Julian of Norwich says, ‘No one is above her, save only the Blessed manhood of Christ’. For this feast of Mary, I offer a poem of the sainted martyr Robert Southwell, who, for the truth of the Catholic faith, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in 1595 during the reign of Elizabeth, she who would ‘not make windows into men’s souls’.
Our Lady’s Nativity
Joye in the risinge of our orient starr,
That shall bringe forth the Sunne that lent her light;
Joy in the peace that shall conclude our warr,
And soone rebate the edge of Satan’s spight;
Load-starr of all engolfd in worldly waves,
The card and compasse that from shipwracke saves.
The patriark and prophettes were the floures
Which Tyme by course of ages did distill,
And culld into this little cloude the shoures
Whose gracious droppes the world with joy shall fill;
Whose moysture suppleth every soule with grace,
And bringeth life to Adam’s dyinge race.
For God, on Earth, she is the royall throne,
The chosen cloth to make His mortall weede;
The quarry to cutt out our Corner-stone,
Soyle full of fruite, yet free from mortall seede;
For heavenly floure she is the Jesse rodd
The childe of man, the parent of God.