"Love Bade Me Welcome"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In "Love" the speaker says that when he appears at a gathering he is welcomed by Love, but his soul draws back from entering because his soul is begrimed by sin. Love, seeing that he is abashed, asks him if there is anything he wants. He replies that he wants to be a worthy guest, and Love assures him that he will be. The speaker says that he has been so unkind and ungrateful that he is not worthy even to look upon Love; when, however, Love says that he made the eyes, the speaker confesses to having marred them by looking upon the wrong things. In his misery he says that he should go where he belongs, but Love says that someone else took upon himself all the blame for the speaker's wrongdoing and invites him to sit down at the table, where he is fed. The poem means that Christ's love, which assumes man's sins, welcomes the soul, even though sinful, to the spiritual feast in Heaven. The poem begins thus:

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin;
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked anything.