Poems of SR. TERESA, Carmelite of Lisieux

known as
The "Little Flower of Jesus,"



O Mother! thou my heart's desire
Hast granted now; so hear my cry
Of gratitude and love like fire
Thy child uplifts to thee on high.

By love for God and all mankind,
By bonds of prayer and earnest will,
Thou deignest now my soul to bind
To those who Christ's last wish fulfil.

'Tis theirs through pagan lands to go,
And raise the cross of Christ on high;
'Tis mine, within the cloister low,
His slightest will to satisfy.

I long for suffering; and the cross
With strong desire my heart doth crave.
A thousand deaths were gain, not loss,
If but one soul I help to save!

For this to Carmel's hill I've come,
Myself to immolate for men.
Christ brought a fire from Heaven's high dome
I fain would light in hearts again.

Where Afric suns the desert bake,
Where Asian Su-tchen* fronts the east,
My Mother, I can help to make
Thy virginal name revered and blest.

* Countries evangelized by her "brothers," the missionaries.

My prayers shall travel every day,
As fast as mighty river rolls;
My brothers, missioned far away,
Helped here by me, shall conquer souls;

And so the pure baptismal stream
Shall make of many a Pagan child
A temple, where God's grace shall beam,
And God with man be reconciled.

Ah! might I see dear children fill
The heavenly courts where seraphs sing!
Them, by my prayers and God's sweet will,
My brothers shall to Jesus bring.

The palm my spirit longs to gain,
My brother's hand in mine shall place.
A martyr's sister! Any pain
Would seem delight to win that grace.

The fruit of our apostolate
Our longing eyes at last shall see,
When, pressing on through heaven's gate,
Our souls shall meet the saved and Thee.

Be theirs the honor of the fight,
My priestly brothers far away
Be mine, reflection of their light,
At last, in heaven's eternal day!



To A Postulant Named Mary

Could I some childlike spirit see,
Resembling Christ, my little Child,
Then she with Him should cradled be
Upon my bosom undefiled.

Angelic spirits, hovering near,
Would envy such celestial bliss;
Yet Thee I chose, so come then, dear!
My Child awaits thy timid kiss.

Oh, Jesus' sister thou shalt be,
I choose thee for "this better part."
Wilt gladly bear Him company?
Then shalt thou rest upon my heart.

And I will shield thee 'neath my veil,
Near Bethlehem's Babe so fair and bright.
Oh, thou shalt think the stars are pale,
Compared with this divine delight.

But would'st forever stay with me,
And with this Christ-Child, in my care?
Then thou all fitly dressed must be
In childhood's graces heavenly fair.

Upon thy brow mine eyes must trace
Thy light of purity divine;
Simplicity's most tender grace
Through all things in thy life must shine.

God, Three in One, and One in Three,
By angels tremblingly adored,
Asks gently to be called by thee
"Flower of the Fields," that simple word.

As fair white daisies lift their face
With steadfast meekness to the skies,
So thou must look with kindred grace
Within the Christ Child's holy eyes.

To worldly men no charm appears
In this meek King Who wears no crown.
Thou oft shalt see the burning tears
From Jesus' eyes fail swiftly down.

Then thine own pains thou must forget,
To calm and soothe our Blessed One;
Then thou must prize the vows that set
Thy place so close to Him alone.

Our God, Whose mighty power controls
Fury of flood and force of flame,
Now lieth low, to save men's souls,
A Child enclothed in our shame.

The Word, the Father's Word on high,
My little Lamb, thy Brother dear,
Now speaks no word, He breathes no sigh;
Silent and dumb He lieth here.

That silence forms the mystic sign
Of love beyond all utterance deep;
Its meaning thou must well divine
And day by day like silence keep.

And if, at times, His eyelids close,
Rest then near Him in perfect peace;
His Sacred Heart no slumber knows,
His love for thee shall never cease.

Nor think, dear Mary, anxiously,
About the task of every day;
To love thy blessed work shall be,
Its holy crown be thine for aye.

Lo! if some voice reproaches thee
Because no great things thou hast done,
Oh, make this answer steadfastly:
"But I Ioved much!" So heaven is won.

Our Lord Himself thy crown shall weave;
And if thou seek His love alone,
If all for Him thou gladly leave,
Near His for aye shall be thy throne.

When life's long vigil is all past,
Heav'n's dawn shall break in joy for thee;
And face to face, at last, at last,
The Vision of God shall welcome thee!

               Christmas 1894


Last Poem Of Sister Teresa

Fain would I sing, 0 Mother blest! the reasons why I love thee;
Why e'en to name thy name, with joy, O Mary! fills my heart;
And why the glorious thoughts of thee, in greatness far above me,
Inspire no fear within my soul, so dear and sweet thou art.
Yet, if I were to see thee now, in majesty stupendous,
Surpassing all the crowned saints in highest heaven above,
Scarce could I dream I am thy child, (O truth sublime, tremendous!),
For I should think myself to be unworthy of thy love.

The mother, who desires to be her child's best earthly treasure,
Must ever share its grief with it, must understand its pain.
Queen of my heart! how many years, thy sorrows had no measure;
What bitter tears thine eyes have shed, my worth­less heart to gain!
So, musing on thy earthly life, in Scripture's sacred story,
I dare to look upon thy face, and unto thee draw nigh;
For when I see thee suffering,-concealed thy mar­velous glory-
It is not hard, then, to believe thy little child am I.

When Gabriel came from heaven's courts, to ask thee to be mother
Of God Who reigns omnipotent to all eternity,
I see thee, Mary! then prefer to that great grace, an­other,
Through all thy consecrated life a virgin pure to be.
And so I now can comprehend, immaculate white maiden!
Why thou wast dearer unto God than heaven itself could be;
And how thy humble, human frame, with mortal weakness laden,
Could yet contain the Eternal Word, Love's vast unbounded Sea.

I love thee when I hear thee call thyself the handmaid only
Of God, Whom thou didst win to earth by thy humility;
All-powerful it made thee then, above all women, lonely,
And drew, into thy bosom chaste, the Blessed Trinity,
The Holy Spirit, Love Divine, o'ershadowed thee, 0 Mother!
And God the Father's only Son incarnate was in thee.
How many sinful, sorrowing souls shall dare to call Him - Brother!
For He shall be called: Jesus, thy first-born, eternally.

And oh! despite my frailties, dear Mary! well thou knowest
That I at times, like thee, possess the Almighty in my breast.
Shall I not tremble at the gift, O God! that Thou bestowest ?
A mother's treasure is her child's: ‑ I still my fears to rest.
For I, O Mary, am thy child! O Mother dear and tender.
Shall not thy virtues and thy love plead now with God for me?
Then, when the pure white sacred Host, in all its veiled splendor,
Visits my heart, thy spotless Lamb will think He comes to thee.

Oh, thou dost help me to believe that e'en for us, frail mortals,
'Tis not impossible to walk where we thy foot­steps see;
The narrow road before us now, thou lightest to heaven's portals.
Who lowliest virtues here below didst practise per­fectly.
Near thee, O Mother! I would stay, little, unknown and lowly;
Of earthly glory, oh! how plain I see the vanity!
In the house of St. Elizabeth, thy cousin dear and holy,
I learn of thee to practise well most ardent charity.

There, too, I listen on my knees, great Queen of all the Angels!
To that sweet canticle that flows in rapture from thy soul;
So dost thou teach me how to sing like heavenly, glad evangels
And glorify my Jesus, Who alone can make me whole.
Thy burning words of love divine are mystic flowers victorious,
Whose fragrance shall embalm the long, long, ages yet to be.
In thee, indeed, the Almighty King hath done great things and glorious!
I meditate upon them now, and bless my God in thee.

When good St. Joseph did not know the great arch­angel's story,
Which thou wouldst fain conceal from men in thy humility,
O tabernacle of the Lord! thou didst not tell thy glory,
But veiled the Saviour's presence in profoundest secrecy,
Thy silence, how I love it now, so eloquent, so mov­ing!
For me it is a concert sweet, of melody sublime;
I learn thereby the grandeur of a soul that God is proving,
That only looks for help from Him and in His chosen time.

Then later still, O Joseph! and O Mary! I behold you
Repulsed in little Bethlehem by all the dwellers there;
From door to door you vainly went, for all the people told you
They had no place to shelter you, no time to give you care.
Their rooms were for the great alone; and in a stable dreary
The Queen of Heaven gave birth to Him Who made both heaven and earth.
O Mother of mv Saviour! then, thou wast not sad nor weary;
In that poor shed how grand thou wert! how pain­less was that Birth!

And there when, wrapped in swaddling bands, I see the King Eternal,
When of the Word divine, supreme, the feeble cry I hear
O Mary, can I envy e'en the angels' joy supernal?
The Master Whom they worship is My little Brother dear.
What praises must I give to thee, who, in earth's gloomy prison,
Brought forth this lovely heaven-sent Flower, be­fore our eyes to bloom!
Though unto shepherds and wise men a star had grandly risen,
These things were kept within thv heart as in some secret room.

I love thee when I see thee next, like other Hebrew women,
To Israel's temple turn thy steps when dawned the fortieth day;
I love thee yielding humbly up, to aged, favored Simeon,
The Lord Who should redeem us all when years had fled away.
And first my happy smiles awake, to hear his glorious singing,--
That "Nunc Dimittis" that shall ring till Time itself shall die;
But soon those joyous notes are changed, and my hot tears are springing;--
"A sword of grief must be thy lot," thus runs his prophecy.

O Queen of all the martyr-host! till thy life here is ended,
That sharp, sharp sword shall pierce thy heart! At once, it pierces sore.
That thy dear Child from Herod's wrath may surely be defended,
I see thee as an exile fled to Egypt's pagan shore.
Beneath thy veil thy Jesus slept, thy peace no fears were daunting,
When Joseph came to bid thee wake, and straight­way flee from home;
And then at once I see thee rise, as called by angels chanting,
Content, without a questioning word, in foreign lands to roam.

In Egypt and in poverty, I think I see thee, Mary,
All glad at heart, all radiant, with joy beyond com­pare.
What matters exile unto thee? Thy true home can­not vary.
Hast thou not Jesus, with thee still? and with Him Heaven is there.
But, oh! in fair Jerusalem, a sorrow, vast, unbounded,
Indeed o'erwhelmed thy mother-heart with grief beyond compare
For three days Jesus hid Himself; no word to thee was spoken.
Thou truly wast an exile then, and knew what exiles bear.

And when, at last, thine eyes again were thy Son's face beholding,
And love entranced thee, watching Him among the doctors wise,
"My Child!" thou saidst, "now tell me why didst leave my arms enfolding?
Didst Thou not know we sought for Thee with tear-endimmed eyes?
The Child-God answered to thee then, to thy sweet, patient wooing,
O Mother whom He loved so well, whose heart was well-nigh broken!
"How is it that you sought for Me? Wist not I must be doing
My Father's work?" Oh, who shall sound the depths those words betoken?

But next the Gospel tells me that, in His hidden mission,
Subject to Joseph and to thee was Christ, the Holy Boy;
And then my heart reveals to me how true was His submission,
And how beyond all words to tell, thy daily, per­fect joy.
And now the temple's mystery I understand, dear Mother!
The answer, and the tone of voice, of Christ, my King adored.
'Twas meant the pattern thou shouldst be, thereafter to all other
Tried souls who seek, in Faith's dark night the coming of the Lord.

Since Heaven's high King has willed it so His Mother and His dearest
Should know the anguish of that night the torn heart's deepest woe,
Then are not those, who suffer thus, to Mary's heart the nearest?
And is not love in suffering God's highest gift below?
All, all that He has granted me, oh! tell Him He may take it!
Tell Him, dear Mother! He may do whate'er He please with me;
That He may bruise my heart today, and make it sore, and break it,
So only through Eternity my eyes His Face may see!

I know, indeed, at Nazareth, O Virgin rich in graces!
As the lowly live, so thou didst live, and sought no better things;
Of ecstasies and wonders there, our eyes can find no traces,
O thou who daily dwelt beside the incarnate King of Kings!
On earth, we know, is very great the number of the lowly;
With neither fear nor trembling now we dare to look on thee.
By common lot and humble path, our Mother dear and holy,
Thou wast content to walk to heaven, and thus our guide to be.

Through all my weary exile here, I fain would walk beside thee.
O my pure and precious Mother! be near to me each day!
Thy beauty thrills my heart with joy. Deign now to guard and guide me!
What depths of love are in thy heart for me thy child, alway!
Before thy kind maternal glance, my many fears are banished;
Thou teachest me to gently weep, and then to sing for joy;
Thou dost not scorn our happy days, nor hast thou wholly vanished;
Thou smilest on us tenderly, as once upon thy Boy!

When bride and groom at Cana's feast knew well the wine was failing,
And knew not whence to bring supply, their need thine eyes perceived,
To Christ, the Master, thou didst speak, who knew His power availing,
The Maker of created things, in Whom thy soul believed.
But first He seemed thy mother‑heart's kind prayer to be denying.
"What matters this, O woman! unto Me and thee?" said He.
But "Mother," in His soul's deep depths, His filial heart was crying;
And that first miracle He wrought, Mother, lie wrought for thee.

One day, while sinners crowded round to hear what He was saying,
In His desire to save their souls and them to heaven beguile,
Lo! thou wast there amid the throng, and thou wast meekly praying
That they would let thee nearer come, and speak with Him awhile.
And then thy Son spoke out this word mysterious like that other.
To show us thus His marvelous love for all the souls of men;
He said: "Who is My brother, and My sister, and My Mother?
'Tis he who does My Father's will!" The Father's will, again!

O Virgin, pure, immaculate! O Mother, tenderest, dearest!
Hearing these words that Jesus spake, this time thou wast not grieved.
No! thy great heart it leaped for joy, O thou His friend the nearest!
Because our longing souls likewise to kinship He received.
Oh, how thy heart is glad to know His love to us is given,
The treasure, that cannot be weighed, of His Divinity!
Who shall not love thee well today, and bless thee in high heaven,
Seeing thy tender care for us, thy generosity!

For truly thou dost love us all as thy Child Jesus loves us;
And for our sake thou didst consent to stay when He had risen.
Since, if we love, then all to give, e'en self, both tries and proves us,
So thou, to prove thy love, didst stay in earth's dark, dreary prison.
Thy love for souls our Saviour knew, that love His heart had sounded;
He left thee to us when He went to God's right hand on high.
Refuge of sinners! on thy prayers how many hopes are grounded!
Christ gave thee to us from His cross; for us He hears thy cry.

For thou -His Mother- there didst stand, that awful day, on Calvary;
As a priest before God's altar, at the cross so thou didst stand.
And to appease the Father's wrath, didst offer up, O Mary!
Thy Jesus, our Emmanuel, at God's supreme command.
A prophet had foretold this thing, O Mother broken­hearted!
"Is any sorrow like to thine?" Thy grief no words can say!
Blest Queen of martyrs! left on earth when Jesus had departed!
'Twas thy heart's blood for us was given on that unequalled day.

Henceforth thy shelter in thy woe was St. John's humble dwelling;
The son of Zebedee replaced the Son Whom heaven adored.
Naught else the Gospels tell us of thy life, in grace excelling;
It is the last they say of thee, sweet Mother of my Lord!
But that deep silence, oh! I think it means that, up in glory,
When time is past, and into heaven thy children safe are come,
The Eternal Word, my Mother dear, Himself will tell thy story,
To charm our souls, thy children's souls, in our eternal home.
Soon I shall hear that harmony, that blissful, won­drous singing;
Soon, soon, to heaven that waits for us, my soul shall swiftly fly.

O Thou who cam'st to smile on me at dawn of life's beginning!
Come once again to smile on me.... Mother! the night is nigh.
I fear no more thy majesty, so far, so far above me,
For, I have suffered sore with thee; now hear my heart's deep cry!
Oh! let me tell thee face to face, dear Virgin! how I love thee;
And say to thee forevermore: thy little child am I.

               May 1897



O glorious guardian of my frame!
In heaven's high courts thou shinest bright,
As some most pure and holy flame,
Before the Lord of endless light.
Yet for my sake thou com'st to earth,
To be my brother, Angel dear:
My friend and keeper from my birth,
By day and night to me most near.

Knowing how weak a child am I,
By thy strong hand thou guidest me;
The stones that in my pathway lie,
I see thee move them carefully.
Ever thy heavenly tones invite
My soul to look to God alone;
And ever grows thy face more bright,
When I more meek and kind have grown.

O thou who speedest through all space
More swiftly than the lightnings fly!
Go very often, in my place,
To those I love most tenderly.
With thy soft touch, oh! dry their tears;
Tell them the cross is sweet to bear;
Speak my name softly in their ears,
And Jesu's name, supremely fair.

Through all my life, though brief it be,
I fain would succor souls from sin.
Dear Angel, sent from heaven to me,
Kindle thy zeal my heart within!
Naught but my holy poverty,
And daily cross to give have I;
0 join them to thine ecstasy,
And offer them to God on high.

Thine are heaven's glory and delight,
The riches of the King of kings;
The Host in our ciboriums bright
Is mine, and all the wealth pain brings.
So with the Cross, and with the Host,
And with thine aid, dear Angel Friend,
I wait in peace, on time's dark coast,
Heaven's happiness that knows no end.

               February, 1897


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