The Eternal Canticle
photograph of Saint Therese of Lisieux sung in banishment

Exiled afar from heaven, I still, dear Lord, can sing, -
I, Thy betrothed, can sing the eternal hymn of love;
For, spite of exile comes to me, on dove-like wing,
Thy Holy Spirit's fire of rapture from above.

Beauty supreme! my Love Thou art;
Thyself Thou givest all to me.
Oh, take my heart, my yearning heart, -
Make of my life one act of love to Thee!

Canst Thou my worthlessness efface?
In heart like mine canst make Thy home?
Yes, love wins love, -O wondrous grace!
I love Thee, love Thee! Jesu, come I

Love that enkindleth me,
Pierce and inflame me;
Come, for I cry to Thee!
Come and be mine!

Thy love it urgeth me;
Fain would I ever be
Sunken and lost in Thee,
Furnace divine!

All pain borne for Thee
Changes to joy for me,
When my love flies to Thee,
Winged like the dove.

Heavenly Completeness,
Infinite Sweetness,
My soul possesseth Thee
Here, as above.

Heavenly Completeness,
Infinite sweetness,
Naught else art Thou but Love!

-Saint Teresa of Lisieux
19 March 1896
translated by S L Emery

Note: The swiftly varying metres of this rapturous "Canticle" evidently are meant to indicate the ever increasing ecstasy of the singer; unless, indeed, Sister Theresa had no explicit intention, but was simply carried on by the force of a quasi-inspiration.


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