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Third Stanza

Pardon and poison them, Lord, with thy blood

Cast their cursed carcasses out of my heart.

My heart fill with thy love, let grace it dub.                                                                  15

Make this my silver studs with thy rich art.

My soul shall then be thy sweet paradise

Thou’st be its rose, and it thy bed of spice.


If the Lord should cleanse his heart, his would be a fit place for the Lord.

He again uses the initial accent to drive home the point. This use of the accent makes the plea more intensive. He furthers that intensity with alliteration on the accented syllables:

PARdon and POIison them, Lord, with thy blood

CAST their CURSED CARcasses out of my heart.

The paired “pardon and poison” is an interesting phrase because both words are appropriate to the prayer: He is asking the Lord to (1) forgive him for harboring sin, and (2) destroy the sin in his heart. Thus, pardon and poison are both appropriate. But, this is the only time I have ever seen these two words paired. A check of google n-gram reports no usage of this phrase.

The blood of Christ was shed for the forgiveness of sins. The ninth chapter of Hebrews discusses this doctrine at length. But how does the blood poison sin?  There is a line, I believe it is in Barth’s commentary on Romans, 6th chapter, that grace pulls up sin by the roots.  Pardon for sin is not merely a forgiveness, but a transformation. (Incidentally, this leads us to one of the great controversial issues in Christian theology: What is the precise relationship between forgiveness and transformation, positional and progressive sanctification?)

The act of being reconciled is inconsistent with sin, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Rom. 6:2

The sin having been poisoned would thus be dead and the soldiers now carcasses:

CAST their CURSED CARcasses out of my heart.

I take cursed carcasses to be an allusion to Hebrews 3, which recounts in part the death of the rebellious Israelites following the exodus from Egypt. Those who rebelled were cursed, they were not permitted to enter the promised land and their bodies, carcasses in the Authorize Version used by Taylor, were left outside of the promised land:

14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:14–19 (KJV)

He prays that his heart being cleansed of sin may then be properly adorned. It is a space being cleaned and then filled with something better:

My heart fill with thy love, let grace it dub.                                                                  15

Make this my silver studs with thy rich art.

His prayer is that his heart be filled with love and grace (grace being the sanctifying influence of the Spirit).  There is a second movement in the prayer: not merely filled but made into a work of art.  This is one of those self-referential moments in Taylor’s poems where the prayer of the poem is in part manifested by the poem. The poem itself is art: although he reference here is more directly visual art.

This two-step: clean then fill probably is an allusion to this statement from Jesus:

Luke 11:24–26 (KJV)

24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

A heart which is cleansed but not filled with something better is in danger. He is praying not merely for forgiveness but for transformation.

His heart being cleansed and made into art will then be a paradise, a garden (paradise means garden):

My soul shall then be thy sweet paradise

Thou’st be its rose, and it thy bed of spice.

Paradise has an interesting reference to heaven:

Luke 23:43 (KJV)

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

But even more to the point of this poem, is the use of the word “paradise” in the passage which is the motto for this poem:

Revelation 2:7–10 (KJV)

7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

The imagery here comes from the Song of Solomon, which is an intimate love poem often read allegorically:

Song of Solomon 2:1–2 (KJV)

1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. 2 As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

Song of Solomon 6:2 (KJV)

2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.

He prays that the Lord be the chief glory of the heart and the heart a fitting place for such a rose.