“To the Infant Martyrs,” Steps to the Temple (1646)
Go, smiling souls, your new-built cages break,
In heaven you’ll learn to sing, ere here to speak,
Nor let the milky fonts that bathe your thirst
Be your delay;
The place that calls you hence is, at the worst,
Milk all the way.
Richard Crashaw (1613-1649) was an English priest and metaphysical poet. He was a fellow of Peterhouse College, Cambridge and vicar of Little St. Mary’s, which became a center for High Church Anglican devotion during the reign of King Charles I. He fled to the Continent during the English Civil War, and converted to Roman Catholicism, dying in Italy after several years of great suffering and poverty.