'Twas scarce the dawn nor yet the distant East


Mary Magdalen at our Saviour's Tomb: A Fragment [written in Heneage's hand over larger title which has been censored]

Primary Text:

MS Wellesley, 104*.
'Twas scarce the dawn nor yet the distant East
Of nights dark shades was dispossest
Scarce to the verge approach'd the rising day
When weeping Mary to the tomb
Where her dear Redeemer lay
Brings her second rich perfume
Does new floods of tears prepare
Once more dedicates her hair
Which his feet had bathed and dried
Now to bind his hands and side
Cruel spear to close that wound
Where they steel a passage found
When they senseless bearer ran
On the seeming vanquisht man
Peircing [sic] by that destin'd stroak
Thro' the true immortal rock
Whence did instantly proceed
Living streams and saving gore
Typified so long before
All the Sacraments we need.

Secondary Eds:

Rpt of 1910 Dowden: 1987 Thompson, 73, lines 1-14; 1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 135-6; McGovern & Hinnant, 83.


Perhaps some Italian poem through the French; perhaps brought to her attention through Jacobite associatesin France? at the court of Mary of Modena? The poem opens as if Finch is about to write another religious dramatic narrative, and the other three in this MS have sources.


First nine lines brilliant narrative of great beauty with female at center remembering self-immolation before Christ now hung from cross in early morning. The next 11 lines describe the wounding of Christ by the spear the night before. The verses end on the distinctly Protestant moral that communion is "All the sacraments we need" as if writer careful lest her text be seen as Roman Catholic. An unfinished fragment.


The prosody recalls Who is this from Edom moves?. The two poems may have been written in close proximity of time and place.
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Page Last Updated 8 January 2003