Lyra Ecclesiastica/First Series/Dominic the Carthusian's Exhortation to Penance

Lyra Ecclesiastica, First Series  (1842) 
Dominic the Carthusian's Exhortation to Penance
by Dominic the Carthusian, translated by Athanasius Diedrich Wackerbarth


Man, of God erewhile created,
And to die by nature fated.
Why so little agitated
For eternal glory's prize?

Hadst thou of its worth the notion,
Thou wouldst seek no other potion,
Nor pursue with such devotion
Earth's poor passing vanities.

Couldst thou realize the presence
Of Hell's deep and dark horrescence,
All thy fleshly concupiscence
Thou to master wouldst not fail:

And thy sins past calculation,
Word, and deed, and cogitation,
With a soul in consternation
Thou wouldst worthily bewail.

With such joys are saints surrounded,
Sinners with such wrath confounded,
That their vastness all unbounded
Human sense can never span,

Till the clay the spirit leaveth,
And the palm of joy receiveth,
Or for ever wildly cleaveth
To the sinner's cursed clan.

When to earth the body goeth,
Of the soul man nothing knoweth,
Little saith and little showeth
Of its joy or misery.

Grief indeed is simulated,
But the wealth is dissipated,
And contention generated
'Mongst the consanguinity.

Death on good and bad attending,
But to lots far different sending,
Yet alike in never ending,
Be it bliss or be it bale:

Be the death-mass celebrated,
Or the friends in banquet sated,
Nought is on the dead collated
Save he be in mercy's pale.

There no time is for repenting,
There no season for relenting,
There, no place escape presenting
For the sinner will remain.

Up thou strainest, down they chace thee,
From the dark abyss they raise thee.
And before the Judge they place thee,
All will be, alas! in vain,

From Christ's love if thou hast swervéd
Nor His Holy Mother servéd.
Nor thy patron's aid deservéd
Thee to shield in trouble's hour,

Who shall pray for thy transgression?
Who for thee make intercession?
In the last and dreadful session
Who shall be thy refuge tower?

Peaceful angels round thee soaring,
As 'tis written; tho' deploring,
Yet acknowledge all adoring
That the Judge's doom is just.

And what harder yet appeareth,
God's creation all upreareth
And with wrath redoubled teareth
Wretched sinner's conscience curst.

Conscience bearing attestation
To her own prevarication,
Can in heaven's condemnation
Nought but even justice find.

Then such forms of wrath address her,
And with pains so sore distress her,
That the soul, such griefs oppress her,
Maddens into fury blind.

By the blessed reprobated,
And to hopeless sorrow fated,
Ruin'd, blighted, desolated,
Down she sinks for ever lost,

Where wild chaos' dungeon burneth,
Whence no captive e'er returneth,
For as Abraham decerneth,
Never may the gulf be crosst.

Who can give a full narration,
Picture in imagination,
Who can make enumeration
Of the wrath and torments dire?

Spirits of the damn'd assailing,
And to divers tortures hailing,
As each sin and mortal failing
May in justice strict require?

Fire and frosty tempest roaring,
Dark and sulphury vapour soaring,
Damned souls their fate deploring,—
Such their poison'd cup of woe.—

Dragons, death without conclusion,
Famine, demons, toads, delusion,
Bitter suff'ring and confusion
Ever fresh upon them throw.

There so many gloomy places,
There such torments and disgraces,
That the world's remotest spaces,
And whate'er is visible,

Are but little to be feared,
Nor may be with them compared;—
These to wit may be declared,
Those are indescribable.

But the joy by saints possessed
And the bliss of angels blessed,
And the praise to God addressed,
Ne'er can earthly lips declare;

There thou'lt see the heav'nly vision,
And embrace in love's fruition,
Full of sweetness, might, cognition,
Swift and shining, free and fair.

Where God's face in glory splendid
Ever is toward thee bended,
Blest to whom it is extended
Such a vision to enjoy:

Never dreading separation,
In unbounded exultation,
Without fear or trepidation,
Without suffering or alloy.

Angels their soft chorus swelling,
Beauteous, and in good excelling,
In existence endless dwelling,—
Death is unremembered there.

Merst in everlasting blessing,—
With the Holy coälescing,—
Ev'ry good in full possessing,—
In eternal glory fair.

Ear hath never known the story.
Eye the scene consolatory,—
Heaven's denizens of glory
By experience know alone.

How, from sorrow liberated
Saints in glory elevated
Are with bliss and honours sated
In the presence of the Son.

But these few things being stated,
Partly touch'd on and narrated,
Which to sinners destinated
And to saints we plainly read,

Take we rede of wisdom's giving.
Choose we holiness of living,
And, while yet on earth, with grieving
Wail our ev'ry evil deed.

Live we not like brute creation,
Lest, when dead, to desolation
We should come, and lamentation,—
God's intolerable ire;

Let us pardon now entreating,
Jesus slain our spirit greeting,
Fit ourselves above for meeting
Joys that holy souls desire.

Lo! the world is passing quickly,
Fall its beauty's blossoms thickly,
Viler daily and more sickly
Its fallacious glories grow,

Which demerge to lakes infernal;
Let the glory then supernal,
And the bliss of life eternal
Ever thro' our mem'ry flow,

That from Death's dominion gliding,
With the saints in bliss abiding,
We may joy in God residing
The supreme delight on high:

Unto whom, all praise possessing,
Love and warmest heart's caressing,
Glory, honour, might, and blessing,
Throughout all eternity.