The Poetical Works of George MacDonald in Two Volumes, Volume I
Part 6 out of 9
Death turns him backward to the sun,
And life is yet our fate!
_THE WOMAN WHOM SATAN HAD BOUND_.
For years eighteen she, patient soul,
Her eyes had graveward sent;
Her earthly life was lapt in dole,
She was so bowed and bent.
What words! To her? Who can be near?
What tenderness of hands!
Oh! is it strength, or fancy mere?
New hope, or breaking bands?
The pent life rushes swift along
Channels it used to know;
Up, up, amid the wondering throng,
She rises firm and slow--
To bend again in grateful awe--
For will is power at length--
In homage to the living Law
Who gives her back her strength.
Uplifter of the down-bent head!
Unbinder of the bound!
Who seest all the burdened
Who only see the ground!
Although they see thee not, nor cry,
Thou watchest for the hour
To lift the forward-beaming eye,
To wake the slumbering power!
Thy hand will wipe the stains of time
From off the withered face;
Upraise thy bowed old men, in prime
Of youthful manhood's grace!
Like summer days from winter's tomb,
Shall rise thy women fair;
Gray Death, a shadow, not a doom,
Lo, is not anywhere!
All ills of life shall melt away
As melts a cureless woe,
When, by the dawning of the day
Surprised, the dream must go.
I think thou, Lord, wilt heal me too,
Whate'er the needful cure;
The great best only thou wilt do,
And hoping I endure.
_THE WOMAN WHO CAME BEHIND HIM IN THE CROWD_.
Near him she stole, rank after rank;
She feared approach too loud;
She touched his garment's hem, and shrank
Back in the sheltering crowd.
A shame-faced gladness thrills her frame:
Her twelve years' fainting prayer
Is heard at last! she is the same
As other women there!
She hears his voice. He looks about.
Ah! is it kind or good
To drag her secret sorrow out
Before that multitude?
The eyes of men she dares not meet--
On her they straight must fall!--
Forward she sped, and at his feet
Fell down, and told him all.
To the one refuge she hath flown,
The Godhead's burning flame!
Of all earth's women she alone
Hears there the tenderest name:
"Daughter," he said, "be of good cheer;
Thy faith hath made thee whole:"
With plenteous love, not healing mere,
He comforteth her soul.
_THE WIDOW WITH THE TWO MITES_.
Here _much_ and _little_ shift and change,
With scale of need and time;
There _more_ and _less_ have meanings strange,
Which the world cannot rime.
Sickness may be more hale than health,
And service kingdom high;
Yea, poverty be bounty's wealth,
To give like God thereby.
Bring forth your riches; let them go,
Nor mourn the lost control;
For if ye hoard them, surely so
Their rust will reach your soul.
Cast in your coins, for God delights
When from wide hands they fall;
But here is one who brings two mites,
And thus gives more than all.
I think she did not hear the praise--
Went home content with need;
Walked in her old poor generous ways,
Nor knew her heavenly meed.
_THE WOMEN WHO MINISTERED UNTO HIM_.
Enough he labours for his hire;
Yea, nought can pay his pain;
But powers that wear and waste and tire,
Need help to toil again.
They give him freely all they can,
They give him clothes and food;
In this rejoicing, that the man
Is not ashamed they should.
High love takes form in lowly thing;
He knows the offering such;
To them 'tis little that they bring,
To him 'tis very much.
Why came in dreams the low-born man
Between thee and thy rest?
In vain thy whispered message ran,
Though justice was its quest!
Did some young ignorant angel dare--
Not knowing what must be,
Or blind with agony of care--
To fly for help to thee?
I know not. Rather I believe,
Thou, nobler than thy spouse,
His rumoured grandeur didst receive,
And sit with pondering brows,
Until thy maidens' gathered tale
With possible marvel teems:
Thou sleepest, and the prisoner pale
Returneth in thy dreams.
Well mightst thou suffer things not few
For his sake all the night!
In pale eclipse he suffers, who
Is of the world the light.
Precious it were to know thy dream
Of such a one as he!
Perhaps of him we, waking, deem
As poor a verity.
_THE WOMAN OF SAMARIA_.
In the hot sun, for water cool
She walked in listless mood:
When back she ran, her pitcher full
Forgot behind her stood.
Like one who followed straying sheep,
A weary man she saw,
Who sat upon the well so deep,
And nothing had to draw.
"Give me to drink," he said. Her hand
Was ready with reply;
From out the old well of the land
She drew him plenteously.
He spake as never man before;
She stands with open ears;
He spake of holy days in store,
Laid bare the vanished years.
She cannot still her throbbing heart,
She hurries to the town,
And cries aloud in street and mart,
"The Lord is here: come down."
Her life before was strange and sad,
A very dreary sound:
Ah, let it go--or good or bad:
She has the Master found!
With wandering eyes and aimless zeal,
She hither, thither, goes;
Her speech, her motions, all reveal
A mind without repose.
She climbs the hills, she haunts the sea,
By madness tortured, driven;
One hour's forgetfulness would be
A gift from very heaven!
She slumbers into new distress;
The night is worse than day:
Exulting in her helplessness,
Hell's dogs yet louder bay.
The demons blast her to and fro;
She has no quiet place,
Enough a woman still, to know
A haunting dim disgrace.
A human touch! a pang of death!
And in a low delight
Thou liest, waiting for new breath.
For morning out of night.
Thou risest up: the earth is fair,
The wind is cool; thou art free!
Is it a dream of hell's despair
Dissolves in ecstasy?
That man did touch thee! Eyes divine
Make sunrise in thy soul;
Thou seest love in order shine:--
His health hath made thee whole!
Thou, sharing in the awful doom,
Didst help thy Lord to die;
Then, weeping o'er his empty tomb,
Didst hear him _Mary_ cry.
He stands in haste; he cannot stop;
Home to his God he fares:
"Go tell my brothers I go up
To my Father, mine and theirs."
Run, Mary! lift thy heavenly voice;
Cry, cry, and heed not how;
Make all the new-risen world rejoice--
Its first apostle thou!
What if old tales of thee have lied,
Or truth have told, thou art
All-safe with him, whate'er betide--
Dwell'st with him in God's heart!
_THE WOMAN IN THE TEMPLE_.
A still dark joy! A sudden face!
Cold daylight, footsteps, cries!
The temple's naked, shining space,
Aglare with judging eyes!
All in abandoned guilty hair,
With terror-pallid lips,
To vulgar scorn her honour bare,
To lewd remarks and quips,
Her eyes she fixes on the ground
Her shrinking soul to hide,
Lest, at uncurtained windows found,
Its shame be clear descried.
All idle hang her listless hands,
They tingle with her shame;
She sees not who beside her stands,
She is so bowed with blame.
He stoops, he writes upon the ground,
Regards nor priests nor wife;
An awful silence spreads around,
And wakes an inward strife.
Then comes a voice that speaks for thee,
Pale woman, sore aghast:
"Let him who from this sin is free
At her the first stone cast!"
Ah then her heart grew slowly sad!
Her eyes bewildered rose;
She saw the one true friend she had,
Who loves her though he knows.
He stoops. In every charnel breast
Dead conscience rises slow:
They, dumb before that awful guest,
Turn, one by one, and go.
Up in her deathlike, ashy face
Rises the living red;
No greater wonder sure had place
When Lazarus left the dead!
She is alone with him whose fear
Made silence all around;
False pride, false shame, they come not near,
She has her saviour found!
Jesus hath spoken on her side,
Those cruel men withstood!
From him her shame she will not hide!
For him she _will_ be good!
He rose; he saw the temple bare;
They two are left alone!
He said unto her, "Woman, where
Are thine accusers gone?"
"Hath none condemned thee?" "Master, no,"
She answers, trembling sore.
"Neither do I condemn thee. Go,
And sin not any more."
She turned and went.--To hope and grieve?
Be what she had not been?
We are not told; but I believe
His kindness made her clean.
Our sins to thee us captive hale--
Ambitions, hatreds dire;
Cares, fears, and selfish loves that fail,
And sink us in the mire:
Our captive-cries with pardon meet;
Our passion cleanse with pain;
Lord, thou didst make these miry feet--
Oh, wash them clean again!
With joyful pride her heart is high:
Her humble house doth hold
The man her nation's prophecy
Long ages hath foretold!
Poor, is he? Yes, and lowly born:
Her woman-soul is proud
To know and hail the coming morn
Before the eyeless crowd.
At her poor table will he eat?
He shall be served there
With honour and devotion meet
For any king that were!
'Tis all she can; she does her part,
Profuse in sacrifice;
Nor dreams that in her unknown heart
A better offering lies.
But many crosses she must bear;
Her plans are turned and bent;
Do what she can, things will not wear
The form of her intent.
With idle hands and drooping lid,
See Mary sit at rest!
Shameful it was her sister did
No service for their guest!
Dear Martha, one day Mary's lot
Must rule thy hands and eyes;
Thou, all thy household cares forgot,
Must sit as idly wise!
But once more first she set her word
To bar her master's ways,
Crying, "By this he stinketh, Lord,
He hath been dead four days!"
Her housewife-soul her brother dear
Would fetter where he lies!
Ah, did her buried best then hear,
And with the dead man rise?
She sitteth at the Master's feet
In motionless employ;
Her ears, her heart, her soul complete
Drinks in the tide of joy.
Ah! who but she the glory knows
Of life, pure, high, intense,
In whose eternal silence blows
The wind beyond the sense!
In her still ear, God's perfect grace
Incarnate is in voice;
Her thoughts, the people of the place,
Receive it, and rejoice.
Her eyes, with heavenly reason bright,
Are on the ground cast low;
His words of spirit, life, and light--
_They_ set them shining so.
But see! a face is at the door
Whose eyes are not at rest;
A voice breaks on divinest lore
With petulant request.
"Master," it said, "dost thou not care
She lets me serve alone?
Tell her to come and take her share."
But Mary's eyes shine on.
She lifts them with a questioning glance,
Calmly to him who heard;
The merest sign, she'll rise at once,
Nor wait the uttered word.
His "Martha, Martha!" with it bore
A sense of coming _nay_;
He told her that her trouble sore
Was needless any day.
And he would not have Mary chid
For want of needless care;
The needful thing was what she did,
At his feet sitting there.
Sure, joy awoke in her dear heart
Doing the thing it would,
When he, the holy, took her part,
And called her choice the good!
Oh needful thing, Oh Mary's choice,
Go not from us away!
Oh Jesus, with the living voice,
Talk to us every day!
Not now the living words are poured
Into one listening ear;
For many guests are at the board,
And many speak and hear.
With sacred foot, refrained and slow,
With daring, trembling tread,
She comes, in worship bending low
Behind the godlike head.
The costly chrism, in snowy stone,
A gracious odour sends;
Her little hoard, by sparing grown,
In one full act she spends.
She breaks the box, the honoured thing!
See how its riches pour!
Her priestly hands anoint him king
Whom peasant Mary bore.
* * * * *
Not so does John the tale repeat:
He saw, for he was there,
Mary anoint the Master's feet,
And wipe them with her hair.
Perhaps she did his head anoint,
And then his feet as well;
And John this one forgotten point
Loved best of all to tell.
'Twas Judas called the splendour waste,
'Twas Jesus said--Not so;
Said that her love his burial graced:
"Ye have the poor; I go."
Her hands unwares outsped his fate,
The truth-king's felon-doom;
The other women were too late,
For he had left the tomb.
_THE WOMAN THAT WAS A SINNER_.
His face, his words, her heart awoke;
Awoke her slumbering truth;
She judged him well; her bonds she broke,
And fled to him for ruth.
With tears she washed his weary feet;
She wiped them with her hair;
Her kisses--call them not unmeet,
When they were welcome _there_.
What saint a richer crown could throw
At his love-royal feet!
Her tears, her lips, her hair, down go,
His reign begun to greet.
His holy manhood's perfect worth
Owns her a woman still;
It is impossible henceforth
For her to stoop to ill.
Her to herself his words restore,
The radiance to the day;
A horror to herself no more,
Not yet a cast-away!
Her hands and kisses, ointment, tears,
Her gathered wiping hair,
Her love, her shame, her hopes, her fears,
Mingle in worship rare.
Thou, Mary, too, thy hair didst spread
To wipe the anointed feet;
Nor didst thou only bless his head
With precious spikenard sweet.
But none say thou thy tears didst pour
To wash his parched feet first;
Of tears thou couldst not have such store
As from this woman burst!
If not in love she first be read,
Her queen of sorrow greet;
Mary, do thou anoint his head,
And let her crown his feet.
Simon, her kisses will not soil;
Her tears are pure as rain;
The hair for him she did uncoil
Had been baptized in pain.
Lo, God hath pardoned her so much,
Love all her being stirs!
His love to his poor child is such
That it hath wakened hers!
But oh, rejoice, ye sisters pure,
Who scarce can know her case--
There is no sin but has its cure,
Its all-consuming grace!
He did not leave her soul in hell,
'Mong shards the silver dove;
But raised her pure that she might tell
Her sisters how to love!
She gave him all your best love can!
Despised, rejected, sad--
Sure, never yet had mighty man
Such homage as he had!
Jesus, by whose forgiveness sweet,
Her love grew so intense,
Earth's sinners all come round thy feet:
Lord, make no difference!
A BOOK OF SONNETS.
Thrice-happy he whose heart, each new-born night,
When old-worn day hath vanished o'er earth's brim,
And he hath laid him down in chamber dim,
Straightway begins to tremble and grow bright,
And loose faint flashes toward the vaulted height
Of the great peace that overshadoweth him:
Keen lambent flames of hope awake and swim
Throughout his soul, touching each point with light!
The great earth under him an altar is,
Upon whose top a sacrifice he lies,
Burning in love's response up to the skies
Whose fire descended first and kindled his:
When slow the flickering flames at length expire,
Sleep's ashes only hide a glowing fire.
_THE UNSEEN FACE_.
"I do beseech thee, God, show me thy face."
"Come up to me in Sinai on the morn!
Thou shall behold as much as may be borne."
And on a rock stood Moses, lone in space.
From Sinai's top, the vaporous, thunderous place,
God passed in cloud, an earthy garment worn
To hide, and thus reveal. In love, not scorn,
He put him in a clift of the rock's base,
Covered him with his hand, his eyes to screen--
Passed--lifted it: his back alone appears!
Ah, Moses, had he turned, and hadst thou seen
The pale face crowned with thorns, baptized with tears,
The eyes of the true man, by men belied,
Thou hadst beheld God's face, and straightway died!
If thou hadst been a sculptor, what a race
Of forms divine had thenceforth filled the land!
Methinks I see thee, glorious workman, stand,
Striking a marble window through blind space--
Thy face's reflex on the coming face,
As dawns the stone to statue 'neath thy hand--
Body obedient to its soul's command,
Which is thy thought, informing it with grace!
So had it been. But God, who quickeneth clay,
Nor turneth it to marble--maketh eyes,
Not shadowy hollows, where no sunbeams play--
Would mould his loftiest thought in human guise:
Thou didst appear, walking unknown abroad,
God's living sculpture, all-informed of God.
If one should say, "Lo, there thy statue! take
Possession, sculptor; now inherit it;
Go forth upon the earth in likeness fit;
As with a trumpet-cry at morning, wake
The sleeping nations; with light's terror, shake
The slumber from their hearts, that, where they sit,
They leap straight up, aghast, as at a pit
Gaping beneath;" I hear him answer make:
"Alas for me, I cannot nor would dare
Inform what I revered as I did trace!
Who would be fool that he like fool might fare,
With feeble spirit mocking the enorm
Strength on his forehead!" Thou, God's thought thy form,
Didst live the large significance of thy face.
Men have I seen, and seen with wonderment,
Noble in form, "lift upward and divine,"
In whom I yet must search, as in a mine,
After that soul of theirs, by which they went
Alive upon the earth. And I have bent
Regard on many a woman, who gave sign
God willed her beautiful, when he drew the line
That shaped each float and fold of beauty's tent:
Her soul, alas, chambered in pigmy space,
Left the fair visage pitiful--inane--
Poor signal only of a coming face
When from the penetrale she filled the fane!--
Possessed of thee was every form of thine,
Thy very hair replete with the divine.
If thou hadst built a temple, how my eye
Had hungering fed thereon, from low-browed crypt
Up to the soaring pinnacles that, tipt
With stars, gave signal when the sun drew nigh!
Dark caverns in and under; vivid sky
Its home and aim! Say, from the glory slipt,
And down into the shadows dropt and dipt,
Or reared from darkness up so holy-high?--
Thou build'st the temple of thy holy ghost
From hid foundation to high-hidden fate--
Foot in the grave, head at the heavenly gate,
From grave and sky filled with a fighting host!
Man is thy temple; man thy work elect;
His glooms and glory thine, great architect!
If thou hadst been a painter, what fresh looks,
What outbursts of pent glories, what new grace
Had shone upon us from the great world's face!
How had we read, as in eternal books,
The love of God in loneliest shiest nooks!
A lily, in merest lines thy hand did trace,
Had plainly been God's child of lower race!
And oh how strong the hills, songful the brooks!
To thee all nature's meanings lie light-bare,
Because thy heart is nature's inner side;
Clear as, to us, earth on the dawn's gold tide,
Her notion vast up in thy soul did rise;
Thine is the world, thine all its splendours rare,
Thou Man ideal, with the unsleeping eyes!
But I have seen pictures the work of man,
In which at first appeared but chaos wild:
So high the art transcended, they beguiled
The eye as formless, and without a plan.
Not soon, the spirit, brooding o'er, began
To see a purpose rise, like mountain isled,
When God said, Let the Dry appear! and, piled
Above the waves, it rose in twilight wan.
So might thy pictures then have been too strange
For us to pierce beyond their outmost look;
A vapour and a darkness; a sealed book;
An atmosphere too high for wings to range;
And so we could but, gazing, pale and change,
And tremble as at a void thought cannot brook.
But earth is now thy living picture, where
Thou shadowest truth, the simple and profound
By the same form in vital union bound:
Where one can see but the first step of thy stair,
Another sees it vanish far in air.
When thy king David viewed the starry round,
From heart and fingers broke the psaltery-sound:
Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst mind his prayer!
But when the child beholds the heavens on high,
He babbles childish noises--not less dear
Than what the king sang praying--to the ear
Of him who made the child and king and sky.
Earth is thy picture, painter great, whose eye
Sees with the child, sees with the kingly seer.
If thou hadst built some mighty instrument,
And set thee down to utter ordered sound,
Whose faithful billows, from thy hands unbound,
Breaking in light, against our spirits went,
And caught, and bore above this earthly tent,
The far-strayed back to their prime natal ground,
Where all roots fast in harmony are found,
And God sits thinking out a pure consent;--
Nay, that thou couldst not; that was not for thee!
Our broken music thou must first restore--
A harder task than think thine own out free;
And till thou hast done it, no divinest score,
Though rendered by thine own angelic choir,
Can lift one human spirit from the mire.
If thou hadst been a poet! On my heart
The thought flashed sudden, burning through the weft
Of life, and with too much I sank bereft.
Up to my eyes the tears, with sudden start,
Thronged blinding: then the veil would rend and part!
The husk of vision would in twain be cleft!
Thy hidden soul in naked beauty left,
I should behold thee, Nature, as thou art!
O poet Jesus! at thy holy feet
I should have lien, sainted with listening;
My pulses answering ever, in rhythmic beat,
The stroke of each triumphant melody's wing,
Creating, as it moved, my being sweet;
My soul thy harp, thy word the quivering string.
Thee had we followed through the twilight land
Where thought grows form, and matter is refined
Back into thought of the eternal mind,
Till, seeing them one, Lo, in the morn we stand!--
Then started fresh and followed, hand in hand,
With sense divinely growing, till, combined,
We heard the music of the planets wind
In harmony with billows on the strand!--
Till, one with earth and all God's utterance,
We hardly knew whether the sun outspake,
Or a glad sunshine from our spirits brake--
Whether we think, or winds and blossoms dance!
Alas, O poet leader, for such good
Thou wast God's tragedy, writ in tears and blood!
Hadst thou been one of these, in many eyes,
Too near to be a glory for thy sheen,
Thou hadst been scorned; and to the best hadst been
A setter forth of strange divinities;
But to the few construct of harmonies,
A sudden sun, uplighting the serene
High heaven of love; and, through the cloudy screen
That 'twixt our souls and truth all wretched lies,
Dawning at length, hadst been a love and fear,
Worshipped on high from Magian's mountain-crest,
And all night long symbolled by lamp-flames clear,
Thy sign, a star upon thy people's breast--
Where that strange arbitrary token lies
Which once did scare the sun in noontide skies.
But as thou camest forth to bring the poor,
Whose hearts are nearer faith and verity,
Spiritual childhood, thy philosophy--
So taught'st the A B C of heavenly lore;
Because thou sat'st not lonely evermore,
With mighty truths informing language high,
But, walking in thy poem continually,
Didst utter deeds, of all true forms the core--
Poet and poem one indivisible fact;
Because thou didst thine own ideal act,
And so, for parchment, on the human soul
Didst write thine aspirations--at thy goal
Thou didst arrive with curses for acclaim,
And cry to God up through a cloud of shame.
For three and thirty years, a living seed,
A lonely germ, dropt on our waste world's side,
Thy death and rising thou didst calmly bide;
Sore companied by many a clinging weed
Sprung from the fallow soil of evil and need;
Hither and thither tossed, by friends denied;
Pitied of goodness dull, and scorned of pride;
Until at length was done the awful deed,
And thou didst lie outworn in stony bower
Three days asleep--oh, slumber godlike-brief
For man of sorrows and acquaint with grief!
Life-seed thou diedst, that Death might lose his power,
And thou, with rooted stem and shadowy leaf,
Rise, of humanity the crimson flower.
Where dim the ethereal eye, no art, though clear
As golden star in morning's amber springs,
Can pierce the fogs of low imaginings:
Painting and sculpture are a mockery mere.
Where dull to deafness is the hearing ear,
Vain is the poet. Nought but earthly things
Have credence. When the soaring skylark sings
How shall the stony statue strain to hear?
Open the deaf ear, wake the sleeping eye,
And Lo, musicians, painters, poets--all
Trooping instinctive, come without a call!
As winds that where they list blow evermore;
As waves from silent deserts roll to die
In mighty voices on the peopled shore.
Our ears thou openedst; mad'st our eyes to see.
All they who work in stone or colour fair,
Or build up temples of the quarried air,
Which we call music, scholars are of thee.
Henceforth in might of such, the earth shall be
Truth's temple-theatre, where she shall wear
All forms of revelation, all men bear
Tapers in acolyte humility.
O master-maker, thy exultant art
Goes forth in making makers! Pictures? No,
But painters, who in love and truth shall show
Glad secrets from thy God's rejoicing heart.
Sudden, green grass and waving corn up start
When through dead sands thy living waters go.
From the beginning good and fair are one,
But men the beauty from the truth will part,
And, though the truth is ever beauty's heart,
After the beauty will, short-breathed, run,
And the indwelling truth deny and shun.
Therefore, in cottage, synagogue, and mart,
Thy thoughts came forth in common speech, not art;
With voice and eye, in Jewish Babylon,
Thou taughtest--not with pen or carved stone,
Nor in thy hand the trembling wires didst take:
Thou of the truth not less than all wouldst make;
For Truth's sake even her forms thou didst disown:
Ere, through the love of beauty, truth shall fail,
The light behind shall burn the broidered veil!
Holy of holies, my bare feet draw nigh:
Jesus, thy body is the shining veil
By which I look on God, nor grow death-pale.
I know that in my verses poor may lie
Things low, for see, the thinker is not high!
But were my song as loud as saints' all-hail,
As pure as prophet's cry of warning wail,
As holy as thy mother's ecstasy--
He sings a better, who, for love or ruth,
Into his heart a little child doth take.
Nor thoughts nor feelings, art nor wisdom seal
The man who at thy table bread shall break.
Thy praise was not that thou didst know, or feel,
Or show, or love, but that thou didst the truth.
Despised! Rejected by the priest-led roar
Of the multitude! The imperial purple flung
About the form the hissing scourge had stung,
Witnessing naked to the truth it bore!
True son of father true, I thee adore.
Even the mocking purple truthful hung
On thy true shoulders, bleeding its folds among,
For thou wast king, art king for evermore!
_I know the Father: he knows me the truth_.
Truth-witness, therefore the one essential king,
With thee I die, with thee live worshipping!
O human God, O brother, eldest born,
Never but thee was there a man in sooth,
Never a true crown but thy crown of thorn!
_A MEMORIAL OF AFRICA_.
Upon a rock I sat--a mountain-side,
Far, far forsaken of the old sea's lip;
A rock where ancient waters' rise and dip,
Recoil and plunge, eddy, and oscillant tide,
Had worn and worn, while races lived and died,
Involved channels. Where the sea-weed's drip
Followed the ebb, now crumbling lichens sip
Sparse dews of heaven that down with sunset slide.
I sat long-gazing southward. A dry flow
Of withering wind sucked up my drooping strength,
Itself weak from the desert's burning length.
Behind me piled, away and up did go
Great sweeps of savage mountains--up, away,
Where snow gleams ever, panthers roam, they say.
This infant world has taken long to make,
Nor hast Thou done with it, but mak'st it yet,
And wilt be working on when death has set
A new mound in some churchyard for my sake.
On flow the centuries without a break;
Uprise the mountains, ages without let;
The lichens suck; the hard rock's breast they fret;
Years more than past, the young earth yet will take.
But in the dumbness of the rolling time,
No veil of silence shall encompass me--
Thou wilt not once forget and let me be;
Rather wouldst thou some old chaotic prime
Invade, and, moved by tenderness sublime,
Unfold a world, that I, thy child, might see.
_A. M. D_.
Methinks I see thee, lying straight and low,
Silent and darkling, in thy earthy bed,
The mighty strength in which I trusted, fled,
The long arms lying careless of kiss or blow;
On thy tall form I see the night-robe flow
Down from the pale, composed face--thy head
Crowned with its own dark curls: though thou wast dead,
They dressed thee as for sleep, and left thee so!
My heart, with cares and questionings oppressed,
Not oft since thou didst leave us turns to thee;
But wait, my brother, till I too am dead,
And thou shalt find that heart more true, more free,
More ready in thy love to take its rest,
Than when we lay together in one bed.
_TO GARIBALDI--WITH A BOOK_.
When at Philippi, he who would have freed
Great Rome from tyrants, for the season brief
That lay 'twixt him and battle, sought relief
From painful thoughts, he in a book did read,
That so the death of Portia might not breed
Unmanful thoughts, and cloud his mind with grief:
Brother of Brutus, of high hearts the chief,
When thou at length receiv'st thy heavenly meed,
And I have found my hoping not in vain,
Tell me my book has wiled away one pang
That out of some lone sacred memory sprang,
Or wrought an hour's forgetfulness of pain,
And I shall rise, my heart brimful of gain,
And thank my God amid the golden clang.
_TO S. F. S_.
They say that lonely sorrows do not chance:
More gently, I think, sorrows together go;
A new one joins the funeral gliding slow
With less of jar than when it breaks the dance.
Grief swages grief, and joy doth joy enhance;
Nature is generous to her children so.
And were they quick to spy the flowers that blow,
As quick to feel the sharp-edged stones that lance
The foot that must walk naked in life's way,--
Blest by the roadside lily, free from fear,
Oftener than hurt by dash of flinty spear,
They would walk upright, bold, and earnest-gay;
And when the soft night closed the weary day,
Would sleep like those that far-off music hear.
In that high country whither thou art gone,
Right noble friend, thou walkest with thy peers,
The gathered great of many a hundred years!
Few are left like thee--few, I say, not none,
Else were thy England soon a Babylon,
A land of outcry, mockery, and tears!
Higher than law, a refuge from its fears,
Wast thou, in whom embodied Justice shone.
The smile that gracious broke on thy grand face
Was like the sunrise of a morn serene
Among the mountains, making sweet their awe.
Thou both the gentle and the strong didst draw;
Thee childhood loved, and on thy breast would lean,
As, whence thou cam'st, it knew the lofty place.
_TO ONE THREATENED WITH BLINDNESS_.
Lawrence, what though the world be growing dark,
And twilight cool thy potent day inclose!
The sun, beneath the round earth sunk, still glows
All the night through, sleepless and young and stark.
Oh, be thy spirit faithful as the lark,
More daring: in the midnight of thy woes,
Dart through them, higher than earth's shadow goes,
Into the Light of which thou art a spark!
Be willing to be blind--that, in thy night,
The Lord may bring his Father to thy door,
And enter in, and feast thy soul with light.
Then shall thou dream of darksome ways no more,
Forget the gloom that round thy windows lies,
And shine, God's house, all radiant in our eyes.
Say thou, his will be done who is the good!
His will be borne who knoweth how to bear!
Who also in the night had need of prayer,
Both when awoke divinely longing mood,
And when the power of darkness him withstood.
For what is coming take no jot of care:
Behind, before, around thee as the air,
He o'er thee like thy mother's heart will brood.
And when thou hast wearied thy wings of prayer,
Then fold them, and drop gently to thy nest,
Which is thy faith; and make thy people blest
With what thou bring'st from that ethereal height,
Which whoso looks on thee will straightway share:
He needs no eyes who is a shining light!
_TO AUBREY DE VERE_.
Ray of the Dawn of Truth, Aubrey de Vere,
Forgive my play fantastic with thy name,
Distilling its true essence by the flame
Which Love 'neath Fancy's limbeck lighteth clear.
I know not what thy semblance, what thy cheer;
If, as thy spirit, hale thy bodily frame,
Or furthering by failure each high aim;
If green thy leaf, or, like mine, growing sear;
But this I think, that thou wilt, by and by--
Two journeys stoutly, therefore safely trod--
We laying down the staff, and He the rod--
So look on me I shall not need to cry--
"We must be brothers, Aubrey, thou and I:
We mean the same thing--will the will of God!"
Victorious through failure! faithful Lord,
Who for twelve angel legions wouldst not pray
From thine own country of eternal day,
To shield thee from the lanterned traitor horde,
Making thy one rash servant sheathe his sword!--
Our long retarded legions, on their way,
Toiling through sands, and shouldering Nile's down-sway,
To reach thy soldier, keeping at thy word,
Thou sawest foiled--but glorifiedst him,
Over ten cities giving him thy rule!
We will not mourn a star that grew not dim,
A soldier-child of God gone home from school!
A dregless cup, with life brimmed, he did quaff,
And quaffs it now with Christ's imperial staff!
Another to the witnesses' roll-call
Hath answered, "Here I am!" and so stept out--
With willingness crowned everywhere about,
Not the head only, but the body all,
In one great nimbus of obedient fall,
His heart's blood dashing in the face of doubt--
Love's last victorious stand amid the rout!
--Silence is left, and the untasted gall.
No chariot with ramping steeds of fire
The Father sent to fetch his man-child home;
His brother only called, "My Gordon, come!"
And like a dove to heaven he did aspire,
His one wing Death, his other, Heart's-desire.
--Farewell a while! we climb where thou hast clomb!
Methought I floated sightless, nor did know
That I had ears until I heard the cry
As of a mighty man in agony:
"How long, Lord, shall I lie thus foul and slow?
The arrows of thy lightning through me go,
And sting and torture me--yet here I lie
A shapeless mass that scarce can mould a sigh!"
The darkness thinned; I saw a thing below
Like sheeted corpse, a knot at head and feet.
Slow clomb the sun the mountains of the dead,
And looked upon the world: the silence broke!
A blinding struggle! then the thunderous beat
Of great exulting pinions stroke on stroke!
And from that world a mighty angel fled.
_THE SWEEPER OF THE FLOOR_.
Methought that in a solemn church I stood.
Its marble acres, worn with knees and feet,
Lay spread from door to door, from street to street.
Midway the form hung high upon the rood
Of him who gave his life to be our good;
Beyond, priests flitted, bowed, and murmured meet,
Among the candles shining still and sweet.
Men came and went, and worshipped as they could--
And still their dust a woman with her broom,
Bowed to her work, kept sweeping to the door.
Then saw I, slow through all the pillared gloom,
Across the church a silent figure come:
"Daughter," it said, "thou sweepest well my floor!"
It is the Lord! I cried, and saw no more.
Mourn not, my friends, that we are growing old:
A fresher birth brings every new year in.
Years are Christ's napkins to wipe off the sin.
See now, I'll be to you an angel bold!
My plumes are ruffled, and they shake with cold,
Yet with a trumpet-blast I will begin.
--Ah, no; your listening ears not thus I win!
Yet hear, sweet sisters; brothers, be consoled:--
Behind me comes a shining one indeed;
Christ's friend, who from life's cross did take him down,
And set upon his day night's starry crown!
_Death_, say'st thou? Nay--thine be no caitiff creed!--
A woman-angel! see--in long white gown!
The mother of our youth!--she maketh speed.
_TO A. J. SCOTT_
WITH THE FOLLOWING POEM.
I walked all night: the darkness did not yield.
Around me fell a mist, a weary rain,
Enduring long. At length the dawn revealed
A temple's front, high-lifted from the plain.
Closed were the lofty doors that led within;
But by a wicket one might entrance gain.
'Twas awe and silence when I entered in;
The night, the weariness, the rain were lost
In hopeful spaces. First I heard a thin
Sweet sound of voices low, together tossed,
As if they sought some harmony to find
Which they knew once, but none of all that host
Could wile the far-fled music back to mind.
Loud voices, distance-low, wandered along
The pillared paths, and up the arches twined
With sister arches, rising, throng on throng,
Up to the roof's dim height. At broken times
The voices gathered to a burst of song,
But parted sudden, and were but single rimes
By single bells through Sabbath morning sent,
That have no thought of harmony or chimes.
Hopeful confusion! Who could be content
Looking and hearkening from the distant door?
I entered further. Solemnly it went--
Thy voice, Truth's herald, walking the untuned roar,
Calm and distinct, powerful and sweet and fine:
I loved and listened, listened and loved more.
May not the faint harp, tremulous, combine
Its ghostlike sounds with organ's mighty tone?
Let my poor song be taken in to thine.
Will not thy heart, with tempests of its own,
Yet hear aeolian sighs from thin chords blown?
First-born of the creating Voice!
Minister of God's Spirit, who wast sent
Waiting upon him first, what time he went
Moving about mid the tumultuous noise
Of each unpiloted element
Upon the face of the void formless deep!
Thou who didst come unbodied and alone
Ere yet the sun was set his rule to keep,
Or ever the moon shone,
Or e'er the wandering star-flocks forth were driven!
Thou garment of the Invisible, whose skirt
Sweeps, glory-giving, over earth and heaven!
Thou comforter, be with me as thou wert
When first I longed for words, to be
A radiant garment for my thought, like thee!
We lay us down in sorrow,
Wrapt in the old mantle of our mother Night;
In vexing dreams we strive until the morrow;
Grief lifts our eyelids up--and Lo, the light!
The sunlight on the wall! And visions rise
Of shining leaves that make sweet melodies;
Of wind-borne waves with thee upon their crests;
Of rippled sands on which thou rainest down;
Of quiet lakes that smooth for thee their breasts;
Of clouds that show thy glory as their own;
O joy! O joy! the visions are gone by!
Light, gladness, motion, are reality!
Thou art the god of earth. The skylark springs
Far up to catch thy glory on his wings;
And thou dost bless him first that highest soars.
The bee comes forth to see thee; and the flowers
Worship thee all day long, and through the skies
Follow thy journey with their earnest eyes.
River of life, thou pourest on the woods,
And on thy waves float out the wakening buds;
The trees lean toward thee, and, in loving pain,
Keep turning still to see thee yet again;
South sides of pines, haunted all day by thee,
Bear violins that tremble humanly.
And nothing in thine eyes is mean or low:
Where'er thou art, on every side,
All things are glorified;
And where thou canst not come, there thou dost throw
Beautiful shadows, made out of the dark,
That else were shapeless; now it bears thy mark.
And men have worshipped thee.
The Persian, on his mountain-top,
Waits kneeling till thy sun go up,
God-like in his serenity.
All-giving, and none-gifted, he draws near,
And the wide earth waits till his face appear--
Longs patient. And the herald glory leaps
Along the ridges of the outlying clouds,
Climbing the heights of all their towering steeps.
Sudden, still multitudinous laughter crowds
The universal face: Lo, silently,
Up cometh he, the never-closing eye!
Symbol of Deity, men could not be
Farthest from truth when they were kneeling unto thee!
Thou plaything of the child,
When from the water's surface thou dost spring,
Thyself upon his chamber ceiling fling,
And there, in mazy dance and motion wild,
Disport thyself--etherial, undefiled.
Capricious, like the thinkings of the child!
I am a child again, to think of thee
In thy consummate glee.
How I would play with thee, athirst to climb
On sloping ladders of thy moted beams,
When through the gray dust darting in long streams!
How marvel at the dusky glimmering red,
With which my closed fingers thou hadst made
Like rainy clouds that curtain the sun's bed!
And how I loved thee always in the moon!
But most about the harvest-time,
When corn and moonlight made a mellow tune,
And thou wast grave and tender as a cooing dove!
And then the stars that flashed cold, deathless love!
And the ghost-stars that shimmered in the tide!
And more mysterious earthly stars,
That shone from windows of the hill and glen--
Thee prisoned in with lattice-bars,
Mingling with household love and rest of weary men!
And still I am a child, thank God!--to spy
Thee starry stream from bit of broken glass
Upon the brown earth undescried,
Is a found thing to me, a gladness high,
A spark that lights joy's altar-fire within,
A thought of hope to prophecy akin,
That from my spirit fruitless will not pass.
Thou art the joy of age:
Thy sun is dear when long the shadow falls.
Forth to its friendliness the old man crawls,
And, like the bird hung out in his poor cage
To gather song from radiance, in his chair
Sits by the door; and sitteth there
His soul within him, like a child that lies
Half dreaming, with half-open eyes,
At close of a long afternoon in summer--
High ruins round him, ancient ruins, where
The raven is almost the only comer--
Half dreams, half broods, in wonderment
At thy celestial ascent
Through rifted loop to light upon the gold
That waves its bloom in some high airy rent:
So dreams the old man's soul, that is not old,
But sleepy mid the ruins that infold.
What soul-like changes, evanescent moods,
Upon the face of the still passive earth,
Its hills, and fields, and woods,
Thou with thy seasons and thy hours art ever calling forth!
Even like a lord of music bent
Over his instrument,
Giving to carol, now to tempest birth!
When, clear as holiness, the morning ray
Casts the rock's dewy darkness at its feet,
Mottling with shadows all the mountain gray;
When, at the hour of sovereign noon,
Infinite silent cataracts sheet
Shadowless through the air of thunder-breeding June;
When now a yellower glory slanting passes
'Twixt longer shadows o'er the meadow grasses;
And now the moon lifts up her shining shield,
High on the peak of a cloud-hill revealed;
Now crescent, low, wandering sun-dazed away,
Unconscious of her own star-mingled ray,
Her still face seeming more to think than see,
Makes the pale world lie dreaming dreams of thee!
No mood, eternal or ephemeral,
But wakes obedient at thy silent call!
Of operative single power,
And simple unity the one emblem,
Yet all the colours that our passionate eyes devour,
In rainbow, moonbow, or in opal gem,
Are the melodious descant of divided thee.
Lo thee in yellow sands! Lo thee
In the blue air and sea!
In the green corn, with scarlet poppies lit,
Thy half-souls parted, patient thou dost sit.
Lo thee in dying triumphs of the west!
Lo thee in dew-drop's tiny breast!
Thee on the vast white cloud that floats away,
Bearing upon its skirt a brown moon-ray!
Gold-regent, thou dost spendthrift throw
Thy hoardless wealth of gleam and glow!
The thousand hues and shades upon the flowers
Are all the pastime of thy leisure hours;
The jewelled ores in mines that hidden be,
Are dead till touched by thee.
Thou art lancing through the air!
Every atom from another
Takes thee, gives thee to his brother;
Thou art wetting the wet sea,
Bathing its sluggish woods below,
Making the salt flowers bud and blow;
Workest thou, and ardently,
Waking from the night of nought
Into being and to thought;
Every beam of thine dispenses,
Potent, subtle, reaching far,
Shooting different from each star.
Not an iron rod can lie
In circle of thy beamy eye,
But its look doth change it so
That it cannot choose but show
Thou, the worker, hast been there;
Yea, sometimes, on substance rare,
Thou dost leave thy ghostly mark
Even in what men call the dark.
Ever doing, ever showing,
Thou dost set our hearts a glowing--
Universal something sent
To shadow forth the Excellent!
When the firstborn affections--
Those winged seekers of the world within,
That search about in all directions,
Some bright thing for themselves to win--
Through pathless woods, through home-bred fogs,
Through stony plains, through treacherous bogs,
Long, long, have followed faces fair,
Fair soul-less faces, vanished into air,
And darkness is around them and above,
Desolate of aught to love,
And through the gloom on every side,
Strange dismal forms are dim descried,
And the air is as the breath
From the lips of void-eyed Death,
And the knees are bowed in prayer
To the Stronger than despair--
Then the ever-lifted cry,
_Give us light, or we shall die_,
Cometh to the Father's ears,
And he hearkens, and he hears:--
As some slow sun would glimmer forth
From sunless winter of the north,
We, hardly trusting hopeful eyes,
Discern and doubt the opening skies.
From a misty gray that lies on
Our dim future's far horizon,
It grows a fresh aurora, sent
Up the spirit's firmament,
Telling, through the vapours dun,
Of the coming, coming sun!
Tis Truth awaking in the soul!
His Righteousness to make us whole!
And what shall we, this Truth receiving,
Though with but a faint believing,
Call it but eternal Light?
'Tis the morning, 'twas the night!
All things most excellent
Are likened unto thee, excellent thing!
Yea, he who from the Father forth was sent,
Came like a lamp, to bring,
Across the winds and wastes of night,
The everlasting light.
Hail, Word of God, the telling of his thought!
Hail, Light of God, the making-visible!
Hail, far-transcending glory brought
In human form with man to dwell--
Thy dazzling gone; thy power not less
To show, irradiate, and bless;
The gathering of the primal rays divine
Informing chaos, to a pure sunshine!
Dull horrid pools no motion making!
No bubble on the surface breaking!
The dead air lies, without a sound,
Heavy and moveless on the marshy ground.
Rushing winds and snow-like drift,
Forceful, formless, fierce, and swift!
Hair-like vapours madly riven!
Waters smitten into dust!
Lightning through the turmoil driven,
Aimless, useless, yet it must!
Gentle winds through forests calling!
Bright birds through the thick leaves glancing!
Solemn waves on sea-shores falling!
White sails on blue waters dancing!
Mountain streams glad music giving!
Children in the clear pool laving!
Yellow corn and green grass waving!
Long-haired, bright-eyed maidens living!
Light, O radiant, it is thou!
Light!--we know our Father now!
Forming ever without form;
Showing, but thyself unseen;
Pouring stillness on the storm;
Breathing life where death had been!
If thy light thou didst draw in,
Death and Chaos soon were out,
Weltering o'er the slimy sea,
Riding on the whirlwind's rout,
In wild unmaking energy!
God, be round us and within,
Fighting darkness, slaying sin.
Father of Lights, high-lost, unspeakable,
On whom no changing shadow ever fell!
Thy light we know not, are content to see;
Thee we know not, and are content to be!--
Nay, nay! until we know thee, not content are we!
But, when thy wisdom cannot be expressed,
Shall we imagine darkness in thy breast?
Our hearts awake and witness loud for thee!
The very shadows on our souls that lie,
Good witness to the light supernal bear;
The something 'twixt us and the sky
Could cast no shadow if light were not there!
If children tremble in the night,
It is because their God is light!
The shining of the common day
Is mystery still, howe'er it ebb and flow--
Behind the seeing orb, the secret lies:
Thy living light's eternal play,
Its motions, whence or whither, who shall know?--
Behind the life itself, its fountains rise!
In thee, the Light, the darkness hath no place;
And we _have_ seen thee in the Saviour's face.
Enlighten me, O Light!--why art thou such?
Why art thou awful to our eyes, and sweet?
Cherished as love, and slaying with a touch?
Why in thee do the known and unknown meet?
Why swift and tender, strong and delicate?
Simple as truth, yet manifold in might?
Why does one love thee, and another hate?
Why cleave my words to the portals of my speech
When I a goodly matter would indite?
Why mounts my thought of thee beyond my reach?
--In vain to follow thee, I thee beseech,
For God is light.
_TO A. J. SCOTT_.
When, long ago, the daring of my youth
Drew nigh thy greatness with a little thing,
Thou didst receive me; and thy sky of truth
Has domed me since, a heaven of sheltering,
Made homely by the tenderness and grace
Which round thy absolute friendship ever fling
A radiant atmosphere. Turn not thy face
From that small part of earnest thanks, I pray,
Which, spoken, leaves much more in speechless case.
I see thee far before me on thy way
Up the great peaks, and striding stronger still;
Thy intellect unrivalled in its sway,
Upheld and ordered by a regnant will;
Thy wisdom, seer and priest of holy fate,
Searching all truths its prophecy to fill;
But this my joy: throned in thy heart so great,
High Love is queen, and sits without a mate.
_I WOULD I WERE A CHILD_.
I would I were a child,
That I might look, and laugh, and say, My Father!
And follow thee with running feet, or rather
Be led through dark and wild!
How I would hold thy hand,
My glad eyes often to thy glory lifting!
Should darkness 'twixt thy face and mine come drifting,
My heart would but expand.
If an ill thing came near,
I would but creep within thy mantle's folding,
Shut my eyes close, thy hand yet faster holding,
And soon forget my fear.
O soul, O soul, rejoice!
Thou art God's child indeed, for all thy sinning;
A poor weak child, yet his, and worth the winning
With saviour eyes and voice.
Who spake the words? Didst Thou?
They are too good, even for such a giver:
Such water drinking once, I should feel ever
As I had drunk but now.
Yet sure the Word said so,
Teaching our lips to cry with his, Our Father!
Telling the tale of him who once did gather
His goods to him, and go!
Ah, thou dost lead me, God!
But it is dark and starless, the way dreary;
Almost I sleep, I am so very weary
Upon this rough hill-road.
_Almost_! Nay, I _do_ sleep;
There is no darkness save in this my dreaming;
Thy fatherhood above, around, is beaming;
Thy hand my hand doth keep.
With sighs my soul doth teem;
I have no knowledge but that I am sleeping;
Haunted with lies, my life will fail in weeping;
Wake me from this my dream.
How long shall heavy night
Deny the day? How long shall this dull sorrow
Say in my heart that never any morrow
Will bring the friendly light?
Lord, art thou in the room?
Come near my bed; oh, draw aside the curtain!
A child's heart would say _Father_, were it certain
That it would not presume.
But if this dreary sleep
May not be broken, help thy helpless sleeper
To rest in thee; so shall his sleep grow deeper--
For evil dreams too deep.
_Father_! I dare at length;
My childhood sure will hold me free from blaming:
Sinful yet hoping, I to thee come, claiming
Thy tenderness, my strength.
_A PRAYER FOR THE PAST_.
_All sights and sounds of day and year,
All groups and forms, each leaf and gem,
Are thine, O God, nor will I fear
To talk to thee of them_.
Too great thy heart is to despise,
Whose day girds centuries about;
From things which we name small, thine eyes
See great things looking out.
Therefore the prayerful song I sing
May come to thee in ordered words:
Though lowly born, it needs not cling
In terror to its chords.
I think that nothing made is lost;
That not a moon has ever shone,
That not a cloud my eyes hath crossed
But to my soul is gone.
That all the lost years garnered lie
In this thy casket, my dim soul;
And thou wilt, once, the key apply,
And show the shining whole.
_But were they dead in me, they live
In thee, whose Parable is--Time,
And Worlds, and Forms--all things that give
Me thoughts, and this my rime_.
_And after what men call my death,
When I have crossed the unknown sea,
Some heavenly morn, on hopeful breath,
Shall rise this prayer to thee_.
Oh let me be a child once more,
And dream fine glories in the gloom,
Of sun and moon and stars in store
To ceil my humble room.
Oh call again the moons that crossed
Blue gulfs, behind gray vapours crept;
Show me the solemn skies I lost
Because in thee I slept.
Once more let gathering glory swell,
And lift the world's dim eastern eye;
Once more let lengthening shadows tell
Its time is come to die.
But show me first--oh, blessed sight!
The lowly house where I was young;
There winter sent wild winds at night,
And up the snow-heaps flung;
Or soundless brought a chaos fair,
Full, formless, of fantastic forms,
White ghostly trees in sparkling air--
Chamber for slumbering storms.
There sudden dawned a dewy morn;
A man was turning up the mould;
And in our hearts the spring was born,
Crept thither through the cold.
_And Spring, in after years of youth,
Became the form of every form
For hearts now bursting into truth,
Now sighing in the storm_.
On with the glad year let me go,
With troops of daisies round my feet;
Flying my kite, or, in the glow
Of arching summer heat,
Outstretched in fear upon a bank,
Lest, gazing up on awful space,
I should fall down into the blank,
From off the round world's face.
And let my brothers come with me
To play our old games yet again,
Children on earth, more full of glee
That we in heaven are men.
If then should come the shadowy death,
Take one of us and go,
We left would say, under our breath,
"It is a dream, you know!"
"And in the dream our brother's gone
Upstairs: he heard our father call;
For one by one we go alone,
Till he has gathered all."
_Father, in joy our knees we bow:
This earth is not a place of tombs:
We are but in the nursery now;
They in the upper rooms_.
For are we not at home in thee,
And all this world a visioned show;
That, knowing what Abroad is, we
What Home is too may know?
_And at thy feet I sit, O Lord,
As once of old, in moonlight pale,
I at my father's sat, and heard
Him read a lofty tale_.
On with my history let me go,
And reap again the gliding years,
Gather great noontide's joyous glow,
Eve's love-contented tears;
One afternoon sit pondering
In that old chair, in that old room,
Where passing pigeon's sudden wing
Flashed lightning through the gloom;
There try once more, with effort vain,
To mould in one perplexed things;
There find the solace yet again
Hope in the Father brings;
Or mount and ride in sun and wind,
Through desert moors, hills bleak and high,
Where wandering vapours fall, and find
In me another sky!
_For so thy Visible grew mine,
Though half its power I could not know;
And in me wrought a work divine,
Which thou hadst ordered so_;
Giving me cups that would not spill,
But water carry and yield again;
New bottles with new wine to fill
For comfort of thy men.
But if thou thus restore the past
One hour, for me to wander in,
I now bethink me at the last--
O Lord, leave out the sin.
_And with the thought comes doubt, my God:
Shall I the whole desire to see,
And walk once more, of that hill-road
By which I went to thee_?
A PRAYER FOR THE PAST.
_Now far from my old northern land,
I live where gentle winters pass;
Where green seas lave a wealthy strand,
And unsown is the grass_;
Where gorgeous sunsets claim the scope
Of gazing heaven to spread their show,
Hang scarlet clouds in the topmost cope,
With fringes flaming low;
With one beside me in whose eyes
Once more old Nature finds a home;
There treasures up her changeful skies,
Her phosphorescent foam.
O'er a new joy this day we bend,
Soft power from heaven our souls to lift;
A wondering wonder thou dost lend
With loan outpassing gift--
A little child. She sees the sun--
Once more incarnates thy old law:
One born of two, two born in one,
Shall into one three draw.
But is there no day creeping on
Which I should tremble to renew?
I thank thee, Lord, for what is gone--
Thine is the future too!
_And are we not at home in Thee,
And all this world a visioned show,
That, knowing what Abroad is, we
What Home is too may know_?
My heart is full of inarticulate pain,
And beats laborious. Cold ungenial looks
Invade my sanctuary. Men of gain,
Wise in success, well-read in feeble books,
No nigher come, I pray: your air is drear;
'Tis winter and low skies when ye appear.
Beloved, who love beauty and fair truth,
Come nearer me; too near ye cannot come;
Make me an atmosphere with your sweet youth;
Give me your souls to breathe in, a large room;
Speak not a word, for, see, my spirit lies
Helpless and dumb; shine on me with your eyes.
O all wide places, far from feverous towns;
Great shining seas; pine forests; mountains wild;
Rock-bosomed shores; rough heaths, and sheep-cropt downs;
Vast pallid clouds; blue spaces undefiled--
Room! give me room! give loneliness and air--
Free things and plenteous in your regions fair!
White dove of David, flying overhead,
Golden with sunlight on thy snowy wings,
Outspeeding thee my longing thoughts are fled
To find a home afar from men of things;
Where in his temple, earth o'erarched with sky,
God's heart to mine may speak, my heart reply.
O God of mountains, stars, and boundless spaces,
O God of freedom and of joyous hearts,
When thy face looketh forth from all men's faces,
There will be room enough in crowded marts!
Brood thou around me, and the noise is o'er,
Thy universe my closet with shut door.
Heart, heart, awake! The love that loveth all
Maketh a deeper calm than Horeb's cave.
God in thee, can his children's folly gall?
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