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? Love may be hurt, but shall not love be brave?— Thy holy silence sinks in dews of balm; Thou art my solitude, my mountain-calm!
I KNOW WHAT BEAUTY IS.
I know what beauty is, for thou Hast set the world within my heart; Of me thou madest it a part; I never loved it more than now.
I know the Sabbath afternoons; The light asleep upon the graves: Against the sky the poplar waves; The river murmurs organ tunes.
I know the spring with bud and bell; The hush in summer woods at night; Autumn, when trees let in more light; Fantastic winter's lovely spell.
I know the rapture music gives, Its mystery of ordered tones: Dream-muffled soul, it loves and moans, And, half-alive, comes in and lives.
And verse I know, whose concord high Of thought and music lifts the soul Where many a glimmering starry shoal Glides through the Godhead's living sky.
Yea, Beauty's regnant All I know— The imperial head, the thoughtful eyes; The God-imprisoned harmonies That out in gracious motions go.
But I leave all, O Son of man, Put off my shoes, and come to thee! Most lovely thou of all I see, Most potent thou of all that can!
As child forsakes his favourite toy, His sisters' sport, his new-found nest, And, climbing to his mother's breast, Enjoys yet more his late-left joy—
I lose to find. On fair-browed bride Fair pearls their fairest light afford; So, gathered round thy glory, Lord, All glory else is glorified.
Grief held me silent in my seat; I neither moved nor smiled: Joy held her silent at my feet, My shining lily-child.
She raised her face and looked in mine; She deemed herself denied; The door was shut, there was no shine; Poor she was left outside!
Once, twice, three times, with infant grace Her lips my name did mould; Her face was pulling at my face— She was but ten months old.
I saw; the sight rebuked my sighs; It made me think—Does God Need help from his poor children's eyes To ease him of his load?
Ah, if he did, how seldom then The Father would be glad! If comfort lay in the eyes of men, He little comfort had!
We cry to him in evil case, When comfort sore we lack; And when we troubled seek his face, Consoled he sends us back;
Nor waits for prayer to rise and climb— He wakes the sleeping prayer; He is our father all the time, And servant everywhere.
I looked not up; foreboding hid Kept down my heart the while; 'Twas he looked up; my Father did Smile in my infant's smile.
My Lily snatches not my gift; Glad is she to be fed, But to her mouth she will not lift The piece of broken bread, Till on my lips, unerring, swift, The morsel she has laid.
This is her grace before her food, This her libation poured; Even thus his offering, Aaron good Heaved up to thank the Lord, When for the people all he stood, And with a cake adored.
So, Father, every gift of thine I offer at thy knee; Else take I not the love divine With which it comes to me; Not else the offered grace is mine Of sharing life with thee.
Yea, all my being I would bring, Yielding it utterly, Not yet a full-possessed thing Till heaved again to thee: Away, my self! away, and cling To him that makes thee be!
We doubt the word that tells us: Ask, And ye shall have your prayer; We turn our thoughts as to a task, With will constrained and rare.
And yet we have; these scanty prayers Yield gold without alloy: O God, but he that trusts and dares Must have a boundless joy!
When round the earth the Father's hands Have gently drawn the dark; Sent off the sun to fresher lands, And curtained in the lark; 'Tis sweet, all tired with glowing day, To fade with fading light, And lie once more, the old weary way, Upfolded in the night.
If mothers o'er our slumbers bend, And unripe kisses reap, In soothing dreams with sleep they blend, Till even in dreams we sleep. And if we wake while night is dumb, 'Tis sweet to turn and say, It is an hour ere dawning come, And I will sleep till day.
There is a dearer, warmer bed, Where one all day may lie, Earth's bosom pillowing the head, And let the world go by. There come no watching mother's eyes, The stars instead look down; Upon it breaks, and silent dies, The murmur of the town.
The great world, shouting, forward fares: This chamber, hid from none, Hides safe from all, for no one cares For him whose work is done. Cheer thee, my friend; bethink thee how A certain unknown place, Or here or there, is waiting now, To rest thee from thy race.
Nay, nay, not there the rest from harms, The still composed breath! Not there the folding of the arms, The cool, the blessed death! That needs no curtained bed to hide The world with all its wars, No grassy cover to divide From sun and moon and stars.
It is a rest that deeper grows In midst of pain and strife; A mighty, conscious, willed repose, The death of deepest life. To have and hold the precious prize No need of jealous bars; But windows open to the skies, And skill to read the stars!
Who dwelleth in that secret place, Where tumult enters not, Is never cold with terror base, Never with anger hot. For if an evil host should dare His very heart invest, God is his deeper heart, and there He enters in to rest.
When mighty sea-winds madly blow, And tear the scattered waves, Peaceful as summer woods, below Lie darkling ocean caves: The wind of words may toss my heart, But what is that to me! Tis but a surface storm—thou art My deep, still, resting sea.
O DO NOT LEAVE ME.
O do not leave me, mother, lest I weep; Till I forget, be near me in that chair. The mother's presence leads her down to sleep— Leaves her contented there.
O do not leave me, lover, brother, friends, Till I am dead, and resting in my place. Love-compassed thus, the girl in peace ascends, And leaves a raptured face.
Leave me not, God, until—nay, until when? Not till I have with thee one heart, one mind; Not till the Life is Light in me, and then Leaving is left behind.
BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.
A quiet heart, submissive, meek, Father, do thou bestow, Which more than granted, will not seek To have, or give, or know.
Each little hill then holds its gift Forth to my joying eyes; Each mighty mountain then doth lift My spirit to the skies.
Lo, then the running water sounds With gladsome, secret things! The silent water more abounds, And more the hidden springs.
Live murmurs then the trees will blend With all the feathered song; The waving grass low tribute lend Earth's music to prolong.
The sun will cast great crowns of light On waves that anthems roar; The dusky billows break at night In flashes on the shore.
Each harebell, each white lily's cup, The hum of hidden bee, Yea, every odour floating up, The insect revelry—
Each hue, each harmony divine The holy world about, Its soul will send forth into mine, My soul to widen out.
And thus the great earth I shall hold, A perfect gift of thine; Richer by these, a thousandfold, Than if broad lands were mine.
HYMN FOR A SICK GIRL.
Father, in the dark I lay, Thirsting for the light, Helpless, but for hope alway In thy father-might.
Out of darkness came the morn, Out of death came life, I, and faith, and hope, new-born, Out of moaning strife!
So, one morning yet more fair, I shall, joyous-brave, Sudden breathing loftier air, Triumph o'er the grave.
Though this feeble body lie Underneath the ground, Wide awake, not sleeping, I Shall in him be found.
But a morn yet fairer must Quell this inner gloom— Resurrection from the dust Of a deeper tomb!
Father, wake thy little child; Give me bread and wine Till my spirit undefiled Rise and live in thine.
WRITTEN FOR ONE IN SORE PAIN.
Shepherd, on before thy sheep, Hear thy lamb that bleats behind! Scarce the track I stumbling keep! Through my thin fleece blows the wind!
Turn and see me, Son of Man! Turn and lift thy Father's child; Scarce I walk where once I ran: Carry me—the wind is wild!
Thou art strong—thy strength wilt share; My poor weight thou wilt not feel; Weakness made thee strong to bear, Suffering made thee strong to heal!
I were still a wandering sheep But for thee, O Shepherd-man! Following now, I faint, I weep, Yet I follow as I can!
Shepherd, if I fall and lie Moaning in the frosty wind, Yet, I know, I shall not die— Thou wilt miss me—and wilt find!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL FOR 1862,
THE YEAR OF THE TROUBLE IN LANCASHIRE.
The skies are pale, the trees are stiff, The earth is dull and old; The frost is glittering as if The very sun were cold. And hunger fell is joined with frost, To make men thin and wan: Come, babe, from heaven, or we are lost; Be born, O child of man.
The children cry, the women shake, The strong men stare about; They sleep when they should be awake, They wake ere night is out. For they have lost their heritage— No sweat is on their brow: Come, babe, and bring them work and wage; Be born, and save us now.
Across the sea, beyond our sight, Roars on the fierce debate; The men go down in bloody fight, The women weep and hate; And in the right be which that may, Surely the strife is long! Come, son of man, thy righteous way, And right will have no wrong.
Good men speak lies against thine own— Tongue quick, and hearing slow; They will not let thee walk alone, And think to serve thee so: If they the children's freedom saw In thee, the children's king, They would be still with holy awe, Or only speak to sing.
Some neither lie nor starve nor fight, Nor yet the poor deny; But in their hearts all is not right,— They often sit and sigh. We need thee every day and hour, In sunshine and in snow: Child-king, we pray with all our power— Be born, and save us so.
We are but men and women, Lord; Thou art a gracious child! O fill our hearts, and heap our board, Pray thee—the winter's wild! The sky is sad, the trees are bare, Hunger and hate about: Come, child, and ill deeds and ill fare Will soon be driven out.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Babe Jesus lay in Mary's lap, The sun shone in his hair; And this was how she saw, mayhap, The crown already there.
For she sang: "Sleep on, my little king; Bad Herod dares not come; Before thee sleeping, holy thing, The wild winds would be dumb."
"I kiss thy hands, I kiss thy feet, My child, so long desired; Thy hands will never be soiled, my sweet; Thy feet will never be tired."
"For thou art the king of men, my son; Thy crown I see it plain! And men shall worship thee, every one, And cry, Glory! Amen!"
Babe Jesus he opened his eyes wide— At Mary looked her lord. Mother Mary stinted her song and sighed; Babe Jesus said never a word.
THE SLEEPLESS JESUS.
'Tis time to sleep, my little boy: Why gaze thy bright eyes so? At night our children, for new joy Home to thy father go, But thou art wakeful! Sleep, my child; The moon and stars are gone; The wind is up and raving wild, But thou art smiling on!
My child, thou hast immortal eyes That see by their own light; They see the children's blood—it lies Red-glowing through the night! Thou hast an ever-open ear For sob or cry or moan: Thou seemest not to see or hear, Thou only smilest on!
When first thou camest to the earth, All sounds of strife were still; A silence lay about thy birth, And thou didst sleep thy fill: Thou wakest now—why weep'st thou not? Thy earth is woe-begone; Both babes and mothers wail their lot, But still thou smilest on!
I read thy face like holy book; No hurt is pictured there; Deep in thine eyes I see the look Of one who answers prayer. Beyond pale grief and wild uproars, Thou seest God's will well done; Low prayers, through chambers' closed doors, Thou hear'st—and smilest on.
Men say: "I will arise and go;" God says: "I will go meet:" Thou seest them gather, weeping low, About the Father's feet; And each for each begin to bear, And standing lonely none: Answered, O eyes, ye see all prayer! Smile, Son of God, smile on.
Christmas-Days are still in store:— Will they change—steal faded hither? Or come fresh as heretofore, Summering all our winter weather?
Surely they will keep their bloom All the countless pacing ages: In the country whence they come Children only are the sages!
Hither, every hour and year, Children come to cure our oldness— Oft, alas, to gather sear Unbelief, and earthy boldness!
Men they grow and women cold, Selfish, passionate, and plaining! Ever faster they grow old:— On the world, ah, eld is gaining!
Child, whose childhood ne'er departs! Jesus, with the perfect father! Drive the age from parents' hearts; To thy heart the children gather.
Send thy birth into our souls, With its grand and tender story. Hark! the gracious thunder rolls!— News to men! to God old glory!
Though in my heart no Christmas glee, Though my song-bird be dumb, Jesus, it is enough for me That thou art come.
What though the loved be scattered far, Few at the board appear, In thee, O Lord, they gathered are, And thou art here.
And if our hearts be low with lack, They are not therefore numb; Not always will thy day come back— Thyself will come!
AN OLD STORY.
In the ancient house of ages, See, they cannot rest! With a hope, which awe assuages, Tremble all the blest. For the son and heir eternal, To be son yet more, Leaves his stately chair supernal For the earth's low floor;
Leaves the room so high and old, Leaves the all-world hearth, Seeks the out-air, frosty-cold, Of the twilight earth— To be throned in newer glory In a mother's lap, Gather up our broken story, And right every hap.
There Earth's foster-baby lies, Sleep-dimmed all his graces, 'Neath four stars of parents' eyes, And two heavens of faces! See! the cow and ass, dumb-staring, Feel the skirts of good Fold them in dull-blessed sharing Of infinitude.
Make a little room betwixt you, Pray you, Ass and Cow! Sure we shall, if I kneel next you, Know each other now! To the pit-fallen comes salvation— Love is never loath! Here we are, thy whole creation, Waiting, Lord, thy growth!
On the slopes of Bethlehem, Round their resting sheep, Shepherds sat, and went and came, Guarding holy sleep; But the silent, high dome-spaces, Airy galleries, Thronged they were with watching faces, Thronged with open eyes.
Far across the desert floor, Come, slow-drawing nigher, Sages deep in starry lore, Priests of burning Fire. In the sky they read his story, And, through starlight cool, They come riding to the Glory, To the Wonderful.
Babe and mother, coming Mage, Shepherd, ass, and cow! Angels watching the new age, Time's intensest Now! Heaven down-brooding, Earth upstraining, Far ends closing in! Sure the eternal tide is gaining On the strand of sin!
See! but see! Heaven's chapel-master Signs with lifted hand; Winds divine blow fast and faster, Swelling bosoms grand. Hark the torrent-joy let slip! Hark the great throats ring! Glory! Peace! Good-fellowship! And a Child for king!
A SONG FOR CHRISTMAS.
Hark, in the steeple the dull bell swinging Over the furrows ill ploughed by Death! Hark the bird-babble, the loud lark singing! Hark, from the sky, what the prophet saith!
Hark, in the pines, the free Wind, complaining— Moaning, and murmuring, "Life is bare!" Hark, in the organ, the caught Wind, outstraining, Jubilant rise in a soaring prayer!
Toll for the burying, sexton tolling! Sing for the second birth, angel Lark! Moan, ye poor Pines, with the Past condoling! Burst out, brave Organ, and kill the Dark!
Sit on the ground, and immure thy sorrow; I will give freedom to mine in song! Haunt thou the tomb, and deny the morrow; I will go watch in the dawning long!
For I shall see them, and know their faces— Tenderer, sweeter, and shining more; Clasp the old self in the new embraces; Gaze through their eyes' wide open door.
Loved ones, I come to you: see my sadness; I am ashamed—but you pardon wrong! Smile the old smile, and my soul's new gladness Straight will arise in sorrow and song!
TO MY AGING FRIENDS.
It is no winter night comes down Upon our hearts, dear friends of old; But a May evening, softly brown, Whose wind is rather cold.
We are not, like yon sad-eyed West, Phantoms that brood o'er Time's dust-hoard, We are like yon Moon—in mourning drest, But gazing on her lord.
Come nearer to the hearth, sweet friends, Draw nigher, closer, hand and chair; Ours is a love that never ends, For God is dearest there!
We will not talk about the past, We will not ponder ancient pain; Those are but deep foundations cast For peaks of soaring gain!
We, waiting Dead, will warm our bones At our poor smouldering earthly fire; And talk of wide-eyed living ones Who have what we desire.
O Living, ye know what is death— We, by and by, shall know it too! Humble, with bated, hoping breath, We are coming fast to you!
CHRISTMAS SONG OF THE OLD CHILDREN.
Well for youth to seek the strong, Beautiful, and brave! We, the old, who walk along Gently to the grave, Only pay our court to thee, Child of all Eternity!
We are old who once were young, And we grow more old; Songs we are that have been sung, Tales that have been told; Yellow leaves, wind-blown to thee, Childhood of Eternity!
If we come too sudden near, Lo, Earth's infant cries, For our faces wan and drear Have such withered eyes! Thou, Heaven's child, turn'st not away From the wrinkled ones who pray!
Smile upon us with thy mouth And thine eyes of grace; On our cold north breathe thy south. Thaw the frozen face: Childhood all from thee doth flow— Melt to song our age's snow.
Gray-haired children come in crowds, Thee, their Hope, to greet: Is it swaddling clothes or shrouds Hampering so our feet? Eldest child, the shadows gloom: Take the aged children home.
We have had enough of play, And the wood grows drear; Many who at break of day Companied us here— They have vanished out of sight, Gone and met the coming light!
Fair is this out-world of thine, But its nights are cold; And the sun that makes it fine Makes us soon so old! Long its shadows grow and dim— Father, take us back with him!
He who by a mother's love Made the wandering world his own, Every year comes from above, Comes the parted to atone, Binding Earth to the Father's throne.
Nay, thou comest every day! No, thou never didst depart! Never hour hast been away! Always with us, Lord, thou art, Binding, binding heart to heart!
THE OLD CASTLE.
The brother knew well the castle old, Every closet, each outlook fair, Every turret and bartizan bold, Every chamber, garnished or bare. The brother was out in the heavenly air; Little ones lost the starry way, Wandered down the dungeon stair. The brother missed them, and on the clay Of the dungeon-floor he found them all. Up they jumped when they heard him call! He led the little ones into the day— Out and up to the sunshine gay, Up to the father's own door-sill— In at the father's own room door, There to be merry and work and play, There to come and go at their will, Good boys and girls to be lost no more!
Cold my heart, and poor, and low, Like thy stable in the rock; Do not let it orphan go, It is of thy parent stock! Come thou in, and it will grow High and wide, a fane divine; Like the ruby it will glow, Like the diamond shine!
SONG OF THE INNOCENTS.
Merry, merry we well may be, For Jesus Christ is come down to see: Long before, at the top of the stair, He set our angels a waiting there, Waiting hither and thither to fly, Tending the children of the sky, Lest they dash little feet against big stones, And tumble down and break little bones; For the path is rough, and we must not roam; We have learned to walk, and must follow him home!
CHRISTMAS DAY AND EVERY DAY.
Star high, Baby low: 'Twixt the two Wise men go; Find the baby, Grasp the star— Heirs of all things Near and far!
THE CHILDREN'S HEAVEN.
The infant lies in blessed ease Upon his mother's breast; No storm, no dark, the baby sees Invade his heaven of rest. He nothing knows of change or death— Her face his holy skies; The air he breathes, his mother's breath; His stars, his mother's eyes!
Yet half the soft winds wandering there Are sighs that come of fears; The dew slow falling through that air— It is the dew of tears; And ah, my child, thy heavenly home Hath storms as well as dew; Black clouds fill sometimes all its dome, And quench the starry blue!
"My smile would win no smile again, If baby saw the things That ache across his mother's brain The while to him she sings! Thy faith in me is faith in vain— I am not what I seem: O dreary day, O cruel pain, That wakes thee from thy dream!"
Nay, pity not his dreams so fair, Fear thou no waking grief; Oh, safer he than though thou were Good as his vague belief! There is a heaven that heaven above Whereon he gazes now; A truer love than in thy kiss; A better friend than thou!
The Father's arms fold like a nest Both thee and him about; His face looks down, a heaven of rest, Where comes no dark, no doubt. Its mists are clouds of stars that move On, on, with progress rife; Its winds, the goings of his love; Its dew, the dew of life.
We for our children seek thy heart, For them we lift our eyes: Lord, should their faith in us depart, Let faith in thee arise. When childhood's visions them forsake, To women grown and men, Back to thy heart their hearts oh take, And bid them dream again.
"Rejoice," said the Sun; "I will make thee gay With glory and gladness and holiday; I am dumb, O man, and I need thy voice!" But man would not rejoice.
"Rejoice in thyself," said he, "O Sun, For thy daily course is a lordly one; In thy lofty place rejoice if thou can: For me, I am only a man."
"Rejoice," said the Wind; "I am free and strong, And will wake in thy heart an ancient song; Hear the roaring woods, my organ noise!" But man would not rejoice.
"Rejoice, O Wind, in thy strength," said he, "For thou fulfillest thy destiny; Shake the forest, the faint flowers fan; For me, I am only a man."
"Rejoice," said the Night, "with moon and star, For the Sun and the Wind are gone afar; I am here with rest and dreaming choice!" But man would not rejoice;
For he said—"What is rest to me, I pray, Whose labour leads to no gladsome day? He only can dream who has hope behind: Alas for me and my kind!"
Then a voice that came not from moon or star, From the sun, or the wind that roved afar, Said, "Man, I am with thee—hear my voice!" And man said, "I rejoice."
THE GRACE OF GRACE.
Had I the grace to win the grace Of some old man in lore complete, My face would worship at his face, And I sit lowly at his feet.
Had I the grace to win the grace Of childhood, loving shy, apart, The child should find a nearer place, And teach me resting on my heart.
Had I the grace to win the grace Of maiden living all above, My soul would trample down the base, That she might have a man to love.
A grace I had no grace to win Knocks now at my half open door: Ah, Lord of glory, come thou in!— Thy grace divine is all, and more.
Daylight fades away. Is the Lord at hand In the shadows gray Stealing on the land?
Gently from the east Come the shadows gray; But our lowly priest Nearer is than they.
It is darkness quite. Is the Lord at hand, In the cloak of night Stolen upon the land?
But I see no night, For my Lord is here With him dark is light, With him far is near.
List! the cock's awake. Is the Lord at hand? Cometh he to make Light in all the land?
Long ago he made Morning in my heart; Long ago he bade Shadowy things depart.
Lo, the dawning hill! Is the Lord at hand, Come to scatter ill, Ruling in the land?
He hath scattered ill, Ruling in my mind; Growing to his will, Freedom comes, I find.
We will watch all day, Lest the Lord should come; All night waking stay In the darkness dumb.
I will work all day, For the Lord hath come; Down my head will lay All night, glad and dumb.
For we know not when Christ may be at hand; But we know that then Joy is in the land.
For I know that where Christ hath come again, Quietness without care Dwelleth in his men.
If I might guess, then guess I would That, mid the gathered folk, This gentle Dorcas one day stood, And heard when Jesus spoke.
She saw the woven seamless coat— Half envious, for his sake: "Oh, happy hands," she said, "that wrought The honoured thing to make!"
Her eyes with longing tears grow dim: She never can come nigh To work one service poor for him For whom she glad would die!
But, hark, he speaks! Oh, precious word! And she has heard indeed! "When did we see thee naked, Lord, And clothed thee in thy need?"
"The King shall answer, Inasmuch As to my brethren ye Did it—even to the least of such— Ye did it unto me."
Home, home she went, and plied the loom, And Jesus' poor arrayed. She died—they wept about the room, And showed the coats she made.
"They have no more wine!" she said. But they had enough of bread; And the vessels by the door Held for thirst a plenteous store: Yes, enough; but Love divine Turned the water into wine!
When should wine like water flow, But when home two glad hearts go! When, in sacred bondage bound, Soul in soul hath freedom found! Such the time when, holy sign, Jesus turned the water wine.
Good is all the feasting then; Good the merry words of men; Good the laughter and the smiles; Good the wine that grief beguiles;— Crowning good, the Word divine Turning water into wine!
Friends, the Master with you dwell! Daily work this miracle! When fair things too common grow, Bring again their heavenly show! Ever at your table dine, Turning water into wine!
So at last you shall descry All the patterns of the sky: Earth a heaven of short abode; Houses temples unto God; Water-pots, to vision fine, Brimming full of heavenly wine.
As Jesus went into Jericho town, Twas darkness all, from toe to crown, About blind Bartimeus. He said, "My eyes are more than dim, They are no use for seeing him: No matter—he can see us!"
"Cry out, cry out, blind brother—cry; Let not salvation dear go by.— Have mercy, Son of David." Though they were blind, they both could hear— They heard, and cried, and he drew near; And so the blind were saved.
O Jesus Christ, I am very blind; Nothing comes through into my mind; 'Tis well I am not dumb: Although I see thee not, nor hear, I cry because thou may'st be near: O son of Mary, come!
I hear it through the all things blind: Is it thy voice, so gentle and kind— "Poor eyes, no more be dim"? A hand is laid upon mine eyes; I hear, and hearken, see, and rise;— 'Tis He! I follow him!
COME UNTO ME.
Come unto me, the Master says:— But how? I am not good; No thankful song my heart will raise, Nor even wish it could.
I am not sorry for the past, Nor able not to sin; The weary strife would ever last If once I should begin!
Hast thou no burden then to bear? No action to repent? Is all around so very fair? Is thy heart quite content?
Hast thou no sickness in thy soul? No labour to endure? Then go in peace, for thou art whole; Thou needest not his cure.
Ah, mock me not! I often sigh; I have a nameless grief, A faint sad pain—but such that I Can look for no relief.
Come, come to him who made thy heart; Come weary and oppressed; To come to Jesus is thy part, His part to give thee rest.
New grief, new hope he will bestow, Thy grief and pain to quell; Into thy heart himself will go, And that will make thee well.
O Lord of life, thy quickening voice Awakes my morning song! In gladsome words I would rejoice That I to thee belong.
I see thy light, I feel thy wind; The world, it is thy word; Whatever wakes my heart and mind, Thy presence is, my Lord.
The living soul which I call me Doth love, and long to know; It is a thought of living thee, Nor forth of thee can go.
Therefore I choose my highest part, And turn my face to thee; Therefore I stir my inmost heart To worship fervently.
Lord, let me live and will this day— Keep rising from the dead; Lord, make my spirit good and gay— Give me my daily bread.
Within my heart, speak, Lord, speak on, My heart alive to keep, Till comes the night, and, labour done, In thee I fall asleep.
I love thy skies, thy sunny mists, Thy fields, thy mountains hoar, Thy wind that bloweth where it lists— Thy will, I love it more.
I love thy hidden truth to seek All round, in sea, on shore; The arts whereby like gods we speak— Thy will to me is more.
I love thy men and women, Lord, The children round thy door; Calm thoughts that inward strength afford— Thy will than these is more.
But when thy will my life doth hold Thine to the very core, The world, which that same will doth mould, I love, then, ten times more!
O God, whose daylight leadeth down Into the sunless way, Who with restoring sleep dost crown The labour of the day!
What I have done, Lord, make it clean With thy forgiveness dear; That so to-day what might have been, To-morrow may appear.
And when my thought is all astray, Yet think thou on in me; That with the new-born innocent day My soul rise fresh and free.
Nor let me wander all in vain Through dreams that mock and flee; But even in visions of the brain, Go wandering toward thee.
THE HOLY MIDNIGHT.
Ah, holy midnight of the soul, When stars alone are high; When winds are resting at their goal, And sea-waves only sigh!
Ambition faints from out the will; Asleep sad longing lies; All hope of good, all fear of ill, All need of action dies;
Because God is, and claims the life He kindled in thy brain; And thou in him, rapt far from strife, Diest and liv'st again.
I follow, tottering, in the funeral train That bears my body to the welcoming grave. As those I mourn not, that entomb the brave, But smile as those that lay aside the vain;
To me it is a thing of poor disdain, A clod I would not give a sigh to save! I follow, careless, in the funeral train, My outworn raiment to the cleansing grave.
I follow to the grave with growing pain— Then sudden cry: Let Earth take what she gave! And turn in gladness from the yawning cave— Glad even for those whose tears yet flow amain: They also follow, in their funeral train, Outworn necessities to the welcoming grave!
When I look back upon my life nigh spent, Nigh spent, although the stream as yet flows on, I more of follies than of sins repent, Less for offence than Love's shortcomings moan. With self, O Father, leave me not alone— Leave not with the beguiler the beguiled; Besmirched and ragged, Lord, take back thine own: A fool I bring thee to be made a child.
HOME FROM THE WARS.
A tattered soldier, gone the glow and gloss, With wounds half healed, and sorely trembling knee, Homeward I come, to claim no victory-cross: I only faced the foe, and did not flee.
GOD; NOT GIFT.
Gray clouds my heaven have covered o'er; My sea ebbs fast, no more to flow; Ghastly and dry, my desert shore Parched, bare, unsightly things doth show.
'Tis thou, Lord, cloudest up my sky; Stillest the heart-throb of my sea; Tellest the sad wind not to sigh, Yea, life itself to wait for thee!
Lord, here I am, empty enough! My music but a soundless moan! Blind hope, of all my household stuff, Leaves me, blind hope, not quite alone!
Shall hope too go, that I may trust Purely in thee, and spite of all? Then turn my very heart to dust— On thee, on thee, I yet will call.
List! list! his wind among the pines Hark! hark! that rushing is his sea's! O Father, these are but thy signs!— For thee I hunger, not for these!
Not joy itself, though pure and high— No gift will do instead of thee! Let but my spirit know thee nigh, And all the world may sleep for me!
TO ANY FRIEND.
If I did seem to you no more Than to myself I seem, Not thus you would fling wide the door, And on the beggar beam!
You would not don your radiant best, Or dole me more than half! Poor palmer I, no angel guest; A shaking reed my staff!
At home, no rich fruit, hanging low, Have I for Love to pull; Only unripe things that must grow Till Autumn's maund be full!
But I forsake my niggard leas, My orchard, too late hoar, And wander over lands and seas To find the Father's door.
When I have reached the ancestral farm, Have clomb the steepy hill, And round me rests the Father's arm, Then think me what you will.
Summer is come again. The sun is bright, And the soft wind is breathing. Airy joy Is sparkling in thine eyes, and in their light My soul is shining. Come; our day's employ Shall be to revel in unlikely things, In gayest hopes, fondest imaginings, And make-believes of bliss. Come, we will talk Of waning moons, low winds, and a dim sea; Till this fair summer, deepening as we walk, Has grown a paradise for you and me.
But ah, those leaves!—it was not summer's mouth Breathed such a gold upon them. And look there— That beech how red! See, through its boughs, half-bare, How low the sun lies in the mid-day south!— The sweetness is but one pined memory flown Back from our summer, wandering alone! See, see the dead leaves falling! Hear thy heart, Which, with the year's pulse beating swift or slow, Takes in the changing world its changing part, Return a sigh, an echo sad and low, To the faint, scarcely audible sound With which the leaf goes whispering to the ground! O love, sad winter lieth at the door— Behind sad winter, age—we know no more.
Come round me, dear hearts. All of us will hold Each of us compassed: we are growing old; And if we be not as a ring enchanted, Hearts around heart, with love to keep it gay, The young, who claim the joy that haunted Our visions once, will push us far away Into the desolate regions, dim and gray, Where the sea moans, and hath no other cry, The clouds hang low, and have no tears, Old dreams lie mouldering in a pit of years, And hopes and songs all careless pass us by. But if all each do keep, The rising tide of youth will sweep Around us with its laughter-joyous waves, As ocean fair some palmy island laves, To loneliness heaved slow from out the deep; And our youth hover round us like the breath Of one that sleeps, and sleepeth not to death.
Thus ringed eternally, to parted graves, The sundered doors into one palace home, Stumbling through age's thickets, we will go, Faltering but faithful—willing to lie low, Willing to part, not willing to deny The lovely past, where all the futures lie.
Oh! if thou be, who of the live art lord, Not of the dead—Lo, by that self-same word, Thou art not lord of age, but lord of youth— Because there is no age, in sooth, Beyond its passing shows! A mist o'er life's dimmed lantern grows; Thou break'st the glass, out streams the light That knows not youth nor age, That fears no darkness nor the rage Of windy tempests—burning still more bright Than when glad youth was all about, And summer winds were out!
When in the bosom of the eldest night This body lies, cold as a sculptured rest; When through its shaded windows comes no light, And its pale hands are folded on its breast—
How shall I fare, who had to wander out, And of the unknown land the frontier cross, Peering vague-eyed, uncertain, all about, Unclothed, mayhap unwelcomed, bathed in loss?
Shall I depart slow-floating like a mist, Over the city murmuring beneath; Over the trees and fields, where'er I list, Seeking the mountain and the lonely heath?
Or will a darkness, o'er material shows Descending, hide them from the spirit's sight; As from the sun a blotting radiance flows Athwart the stars all glorious through the night;
And the still spirit hang entranced, alone, Like one in an exalted opium-dream— Soft-flowing time, insisting space, o'erblown, With form and colour, tone and touch and gleam,
Thought only waking—thought that may not own The lapse of ages, or the change of spot; Its doubt all cast on what it counted known, Its faith all fixed on what appeareth not?
Or, worn with weariness, shall we sleep until, Our life restored by long and dreamless rest, Of God's oblivion we have drunk our fill, And wake his little ones, peaceful and blest?
I nothing know, and nothing need to know. God is; I shall be ever in his sight! Give thou me strength to labour well, and so Do my day's work ere fall my coming night.
I am weary, and very lonely, And can but think—think. If there were some water only That a spirit might drink—drink, And arise, With light in the eyes And a crown of hope on the brow, To walk abroad in the strength of gladness, Not sit in the house, benumbed with sadness— As now!
But, Lord, thy child will be sad— As sad as it pleases thee; Will sit, not seeking to be glad, Till thou bid sadness flee, And, drawing near, With thy good cheer Awake thy life in me.
IF I WERE A MONK, AND THOU WERT A NUN.
If I were a monk, and thou wert a nun, Pacing it wearily, wearily, Twixt chapel and cell till day were done— Wearily, wearily— How would it fare with these hearts of ours That need the sunshine, and smiles, and flowers?
To prayer, to prayer, at the matins' call, Morning foul or fair!— Such prayer as from weary lips might fall— Words, but hardly prayer— The chapel's roof, like the law in stone, Caging the lark that up had flown!
Thou, in the glory of cloudless noon, The God-revealing, Turning thy face from the boundless boon— Painfully kneeling; Or, in brown-shadowy solitude, Bending thy head o'er the legend rude!
I, in a bare and lonely nook, Gloomily, gloomily, Poring over some musty book, Thoughtfully, thoughtfully; Or painting pictures of things of old On parchment-margin in purple and gold!
Perchance in slow procession to meet, Wearily, wearily, In antique, narrow, high-gabled street, Wearily, wearily; Thine eyes dark-lifted to mine, and then Heavily sinking to earth again!
Sunshine and air! bird-music and spring! Merrily, merrily!— Back to its cell each weary thing, Wearily, wearily! Our poor hearts, withered and dry and old, Most at home in the cloister cold!
Thou slow rising at vespers' call, Wearily, wearily; I looking up on the darkening wall, Wearily, wearily; The chime so sweet to the boat at sea, Listless and dead to thee and me!
At length for sleep a weary assay, On the lone couch wearily! Rising at midnight again to pray, Wearily, wearily! And if through the dark dear eyes looked in, Sending them far as a thought of sin!
And at last, thy tired soul passing away, Dreamily, dreamily— Its worn tent fluttering in slow decay, Sleepily, sleepily— Over thee held the crucified Best, But no warm cheek to thy cold cheek pressed!
And then my passing from cell to clay, Dreamily, dreamily! My gray head lying on ashes gray, Sleepily, sleepily! But no woman-angel hovering above, Ready to clasp me in deathless love!
Now, now, ah, now! thy hand in mine, Peacefully, peacefully; My arm round thee, and my lips on thine, Lovingly, lovingly— Oh! is not a better thing to us given Than wearily going alone to heaven?
Night, with her power to silence day, Filled up my lonely room, Quenching all sounds but one that lay Beyond her passing doom, Where in his shed a workman gay Went on despite the gloom.
I listened, and I knew the sound, And the trade that he was plying; For backwards, forwards, bound on bound, A shuttle was flying, flying— Weaving ever—till, all unwound, The weft go out a sighing.
As hidden in thy chamber lowest As in the sky the lark, Thou, mystic thing, on working goest Without the poorest spark, And yet light's garment round me throwest, Who else, as thou, were dark.
With body ever clothing me, Thou mak'st me child of light; I look, and, Lo, the earth and sea, The sky's rejoicing height, A woven glory, globed by thee, Unknowing of thy might!
And when thy darkling labours fail, And thy shuttle moveless lies, My world will drop, like untied veil From before a lady's eyes; Or, all night read, a finished tale That in the morning dies.
Yet not in vain dost thou unroll The stars, the world, the seas— A mighty, wonder-painted scroll Of Patmos mysteries, Thou mediator 'twixt my soul And higher things than these!
Thy holy ephod bound on me, I pass into a seer; For still in things thou mak'st me see, The unseen grows more clear; Still their indwelling Deity Speaks plainer in mine ear.
Divinely taught the craftsman is Who waketh wonderings; Whose web, the nursing chrysalis Round Psyche's folded wings, To them transfers the loveliness Of its inwoven things.
Yet joy when thou shalt cease to beat!— For a greater heart beats on, Whose better texture follows fleet On thy last thread outrun, With a seamless-woven garment, meet To clothe a death-born son.
Of old, with goodwill from the skies— God's message to them given— The angels came, a glad surprise, And went again to heaven.
But now the angels are grown rare, Needed no more as then; Far lowlier messengers can bear God's goodwill unto men.
Each year, the snowdrops' pallid dawn Breaks from the earth below; Light spreads, till, from the dark updrawn, The noontide roses glow.
The snowdrops first—the dawning gray; Then out the roses burn! They speak their word, grow dim—away To holy dust return.
Of oracles were little dearth, Should heaven continue dumb; From lowliest corners of the earth God's messages will come.
In thy face his we see, O Lord, And are no longer blind; Need not so much his rarer word, In flowers even read his mind.
TO MY SISTER,
ON HER TWENTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY.
Old fables are not all a lie That tell of wondrous birth, Of Titan children, father Sky, And mighty mother Earth.
Yea, now are walking on the ground Sons of the mingled brood; Yea, now upon the earth are found Such daughters of the Good.
Earth-born, my sister, thou art still A daughter of the sky; Oh, climb for ever up the hill Of thy divinity!
To thee thy mother Earth is sweet, Her face to thee is fair; But thou, a goddess incomplete, Must climb the starry stair.
Wouldst thou the holy hill ascend, Wouldst see the Father's face? To all his other children bend, And take the lowest place.
Be like a cottage on a moor, A covert from the wind, With burning fire and open door, And welcome free and kind.
Thus humbly doing on the earth The things the earthly scorn, Thou shalt declare the lofty birth Of all the lowly born.
Be then thy sacred womanhood A sign upon thee set, A second baptism—understood— For what thou must be yet.
For, cause and end of all thy strife, And unrest as thou art, Still stings thee to a higher life The Father at thy heart.
OH THOU OF LITTLE FAITH!
Sad-hearted, be at peace: the snowdrop lies Buried in sepulchre of ghastly snow; But spring is floating up the southern skies, And darkling the pale snowdrop waits below.
Let me persuade: in dull December's day We scarce believe there is a month of June; But up the stairs of April and of May The hot sun climbeth to the summer's noon.
Yet hear me: I love God, and half I rest. O better! God loves thee, so all rest thou. He is our summer, our dim-visioned Best;— And in his heart thy prayer is resting now.
Content Primroses, With hearts at rest in your thick leaves' soft care, Peeping as from his mother's lap the child Who courts shy shelter from his own open air!— Hanging Harebell, Whose blue heaven to no wanderer ever closes, Though thou still lookest earthward from thy domed cell!— Fluttering-wild Anemone, so well Named of the Wind, to whom thou, fettered-free, Yieldest thee, helpless—wilfully, With Take me or leave me, Sweet Wind, I am thine own Anemone!— Thirsty Arum, ever dreaming Of lakes in wildernesses gleaming!— Fire-winged Pimpernel, Communing with some hidden well, And secrets with the sun-god holding, At fixed hour folding and unfolding!— How is it with you, children all, When human children on you fall, Gather you in eager haste, Spoil your plenty with their waste— Fill and fill their dropping hands? Feel you hurtfully disgraced By their injurious demands? Do you know them from afar, Shuddering at their merry hum, Growing faint as near they come? Blind and deaf they think you are— Is it only ye are dumb? You alive at least, I think, Trembling almost on the brink Of our lonely consciousness: If it be so, Take this comfort for your woe, For the breaking of your rest, For the tearing in your breast, For the blotting of the sun, For the death too soon begun, For all else beyond redress— Or what seemeth so to be— That the children's wonder-springs Bubble high at sight of you, Lovely, lowly, common things: In you more than you they see! Take this too—that, walking out, Looking fearlessly about, Ye rebuke our manhood's doubt, And our childhood's faith renew; So that we, with old age nigh, Seeing you alive and well Out of winter's crucible, Hearing you, from graveyard crept, Tell us that ye only slept— Think we die not, though we die.
Thus ye die not, though ye die— Only yield your being up, Like a nectar-holding cup: Deaf, ye give to them that hear, With a greatness lovely-dear; Blind, ye give to them that see— Poor, but bounteous royally. Lowly servants to the higher, Burning upwards in the fire Of Nature's endless sacrifice, In great Life's ascent ye rise, Leave the lowly earth behind, Pass into the human mind, Pass with it up into God, Whence ye came though through the clod— Pass, and find yourselves at home Where but life can go and come; Where all life is in its nest, At loving one with holy Best;— Who knows?—with shadowy, dawning sense Of a past, age-long somnolence!
Days of old, Ye are not dead, though gone from me; Ye are not cold, But like the summer-birds fled o'er some sea.
The sun brings back the swallows fast O'er the sea; When he cometh at the last, The days of old come back to me.
"Murmuring, 'twixt a murmur and moan, Many a tune in a single tone, For every ear with a secret true— The sea-shell wants to whisper to you."
"Yes—I hear it—far and faint, Like thin-drawn prayer of drowsy saint; Like the muffled sounds of a summer rain; Like the wash of dreams in a weary brain."
"By smiling lip and fixed eye, You are hearing a song within the sigh: The murmurer has many a lovely phrase— Tell me, darling, the words it says."
"I hear a wind on a boatless main Sigh like the last of a vanishing pain; On the dreaming waters dreams the moon— But I hear no words in the doubtful tune."
"If it tell thee not that I love thee well, 'Tis a senseless, wrinkled, ill-curved shell: If it be not of love, why sigh or sing? 'Tis a common, mechanical, stupid thing!"
"It murmurs, it whispers, with prophet voice Of a peace that comes, of a sealed choice; It says not a word of your love to me, But it tells me I love you eternally."
Autumn clouds are flying, flying O'er the waste of blue; Summer flowers are dying, dying, Late so lovely new. Labouring wains are slowly rolling Home with winter grain; Holy bells are slowly tolling Over buried men.
Goldener light sets noon a sleeping Like an afternoon; Colder airs come stealing, creeping From the misty moon; And the leaves, of old age dying, Earthy hues put on; Out on every lone wind sighing That their day is gone.
Autumn's sun is sinking, sinking Down to winter low; And our hearts are thinking, thinking Of the sleet and snow; For our sun is slowly sliding Down the hill of might; And no moon is softly gliding Up the slope of night.
See the bare fields' pillaged prizes Heaped in golden glooms! See, the earth's outworn sunrises Dream in cloudy tombs! Darkling flowers but wait the blowing Of a quickening wind; And the man, through Death's door going, Leaves old Death behind.
Mourn not, then, clear tones that alter; Let the gold turn gray; Feet, though feeble, still may falter Toward the better day! Brother, let not weak faith linger O'er a withered thing; Mark how Autumn's prophet finger Burns to hues of Spring.
They were parted then at last? Was it duty, or force, or fate? Or did a worldly blast Blow-to the meeting-gate?
An old, short story is this! A glance, a trembling, a sigh, A gaze in the eyes, a kiss— Why will it not go by!
A pale green sky is gleaming; The steely stars are few; The moorland pond is steaming A mist of gray and blue.
Along the pathway lonely My horse is walking slow; Three living creatures only, He, I, and a home-bound crow!
The moon is hardly shaping Her circle in the fog; A dumb stream is escaping Its prison in the bog.
But in my heart are ringing Tones of a lofty song; A voice that I know, is singing, And my heart all night must long.
Over a shining land— Once such a land I knew— Over its sea, by a soft wind fanned, The sky is all white and blue.
The waves are kissing the shores, Murmuring love and for ever; A boat gleams green, and its timeful oars Flash out of the level river.
Oh to be there with thee And the sun, on wet sands, my love! With the shining river, the sparkling sea, And the radiant sky above!
The autumn winds are sighing Over land and sea; The autumn woods are dying Over hill and lea; And my heart is sighing, dying, Maiden, for thee.
The autumn clouds are flying Homeless over me; The nestless birds are crying In the naked tree; And my heart is flying, crying, Maiden, to thee.
The autumn sea is crawling Up the chilly shore; The thin-voiced firs are calling Ghostily evermore: Maiden, maiden! I am falling Dead at thy door.
The waters are rising and flowing Over the weedy stone— Over it, over it going: It is never gone.
Waves upon waves of weeping Went over the ancient pain; Glad waves go over it leaping— Still it rises again!
A DREAM SONG.
I dreamed of a song—I heard it sung; In the ear of my soul its strange notes rung. What were its words I could not tell, Only the voice I heard right well, For its tones unearthly my spirit bound In a calm delirium of mystic sound— Held me floating, alone and high, Placeless and silent, drinking my fill Of dews that from cloudless skies distil On desert places that thirst and sigh. 'Twas a woman's voice, deep calling to deep, Rousing old echoes that all day sleep In cavern and solitude, each apart, Here and there in the waiting heart;— A voice with a wild melodious cry Reaching and longing afar and high. Sorrowful triumph, and hopeful strife, Gainful death, and new-born life, Thrilled in each note of the prophet-song. In my heart it said: O Lord, how long Shall we groan and travail and faint and pray, Ere thy lovely kingdom bring the day!
AT MY WINDOW AFTER SUNSET.
Heaven and the sea attend the dying day, And in their sadness overflow and blend— Faint gold, and windy blue, and green and gray: Far out amid them my pale soul I send.
For, as they mingle, so mix life and death; An hour draws near when my day too will die; Already I forecast unheaving breath, Eviction on the moorland of yon sky.
Coldly and sadly lone, unhoused, alone, Twixt wind-broke wave and heaven's uncaring space! At board and hearth from this time forth unknown! Refuge no more in wife or daughter's face!
Cold, cold and sad, lone as that desert sea! Sad, lonely, as that hopeless, patient sky! Forward I cannot go, nor backward flee! I am not dead; I live, and cannot die!
Where are ye, loved ones, hither come before? Did you fare thus when first ye came this way? Somewhere there must be yet another door!— A door in somewhere from this dreary gray!
Come walking over watery hill and glen, Or stoop your faces through yon cloud perplext; Come, any one of dearest, sacred ten, And bring me patient hoping for the next.
Maker of heaven and earth, father of me, My words are but a weak, fantastic moan! Were I a land-leaf drifting on the sea, Thou still wert with me; I were not alone!
I am in thee, O father, lord of sky, And lord of waves, and lord of human souls! In thee all precious ones to me more nigh Than if they rushing came in radiant shoals!
I shall not be alone although I die, And loved ones should delay their coming long; Though I saw round me nought but sea and sky, Bare sea and sky would wake a holy song.
They are thy garments; thou art near within, Father of fathers, friend-creating friend! Thou art for ever, therefore I begin; Thou lov'st, therefore my love shall never end!
Let loose thy giving, father, on thy child; I pray thee, father, give me everything; Give me the joy that makes the children wild; Give throat and heart an old new song to sing.
Ye are my joy, great father, perfect Christ, And humble men of heart, oh, everywhere! With all the true I keep a hoping tryst; Eternal love is my eternal prayer.
A FATHER TO A MOTHER.
When God's own child came down to earth, High heaven was very glad; The angels sang for holy mirth; Not God himself was sad!
Shall we, when ours goes homeward, fret? Come, Hope, and wait on Sorrow! The little one will not forget; It's only till to-morrow!
THE TEMPLE OF GOD.
In the desert by the bush, Moses to his heart said Hush.
David on his bed did pray; God all night went not away.
From his heap of ashes foul Job to God did lift his soul,
God came down to see him there, And to answer all his prayer.
On a dark hill, in the wind, Jesus did his father find,
But while he on earth did fare, Every spot was place of prayer;
And where man is any day, God can not be far away.
But the place he loveth best, Place where he himself can rest,
Where alone he prayer doth seek, Is the spirit of the meek.
To the humble God doth come; In his heart he makes his home.
GOING TO SLEEP.
Little one, you must not fret That I take your clothes away; Better sleep you so will get, And at morning wake more gay— Saith the children's mother.
You I must unclothe again, For you need a better dress; Too much worn are body and brain; You need everlastingness— Saith the heavenly father.
I went down death's lonely stair; Laid my garments in the tomb; Dressed again one morning fair; Hastened up, and hied me home— Saith the elder brother.
Then I will not be afraid Any ill can come to me; When 'tis time to go to bed, I will rise and go with thee— Saith the little brother.
My TO-MORROW is but a flitting Fancy of the brain; God's TO-MORROW an angel sitting, Ready for joy or pain.
My TO-MORROW has no soul, Dead as yesterdays; God's—a brimming silver bowl Of life that gleams and plays.
My TO-MORROW, I mock you away! Shadowless nothing, thou! God's TO-MORROW, come, dear day, For God is in thee now.
Waking in the night to pray, Sleeping when the answer comes, Foolish are we even at play— Tearfully we beat our drums! Cast the good dry bread away, Weep, and gather up the crumbs!
"Evermore," while shines the day, "Lord," we cry, "thy will be done!" Soon as evening groweth gray, Thy fair will we fain would shun! "Take, oh, take thy hand away! See the horrid dark begun!"
"Thou hast conquered Death," we say, "Christ, whom Hades could not keep!" Then, "Ah, see the pallid clay! Death it is," we cry, "not sleep! Grave, take all. Shut out the Day. Sit we on the ground and weep!"
Gathering potsherds all the day, Truant children, Lord, we roam; Fret, and longer want to play, When at cool thy voice doth come!— Elder Brother, lead the way; Make us good as we go home.
LOVE IS HOME.
Love is the part, and love is the whole; Love is the robe, and love is the pall; Ruler of heart and brain and soul, Love is the lord and the slave of all! I thank thee, Love, that thou lov'st me; I thank thee more that I love thee.
Love is the rain, and love is the air, Love is the earth that holdeth fast; Love is the root that is buried there, Love is the open flower at last! I thank thee, Love all round about, That the eyes of my love are looking out.
Love is the sun, and love is the sea; Love is the tide that comes and goes; Flowing and flowing it comes to me; Ebbing and ebbing to thee it flows! Oh my sun, and my wind, and tide! My sea, and my shore, and all beside!
Light, oh light that art by showing; Wind, oh wind that liv'st by motion; Thought, oh thought that art by knowing; Will, that art born in self-devotion! Love is you, though not all of you know it; Ye are not love, yet ye always show it!
Faithful creator, heart-longed-for father, Home of our heart-infolded brother, Home to thee all thy glories gather— All are thy love, and there is no other! O Love-at-rest, we loves that roam— Home unto thee, we are coming home!
"Earth, if aught should check thy race, Rushing through unfended space, Headlong, stayless, thou wilt fall Into yonder glowing ball!"
"Beggar of the universe, Faithless as an empty purse! Sent abroad to cool and tame, Think'st I fear my native flame?"
"If thou never on thy track Turn thee round and hie thee back, Thou wilt wander evermore, Outcast, cold—a comet hoar!"
"While I sweep my ring along In an air of joyous song, Thou art drifting, heart awry, From the sun of liberty!"
I waited for the Master In the darkness dumb; Light came fast and faster— My light did not come!
I waited all the daylight, All through noon's hot flame: In the evening's gray light, Lo, the Master came!
Had I a great ship coming home, With big plunge o'er the sea, What bright things, hid from star and foam, Lay in her heart for thee!
The stormy billows heave and dip, The wild winds veer and play; But, regnant all, God's stately ship Is steering home this way!
MY HEART THY LARK.
Why dost thou want to sing When thou hast no song, my heart? If there be in thee a hidden spring, Wherefore will no word start?
On its way thou hearest no song, Yet flutters thy unborn joy! The years of thy life are growing long— Art still the heart of a boy?—
Father, I am thy child! My heart is in thy hand! Let it hear some echo, with gladness wild, Of a song in thy high land.
It will answer—but how, my God, Thou knowest; I cannot say: It will spring, I know, thy lark, from thy sod— Thy lark to meet thy day!
TWO IN ONE.
Were thou and I the white pinions On some eager, heaven-born dove, Swift would we mount to the old dominions, To our rest of old, my love!
Were thou and I trembling strands In music's enchanted line, We would wait and wait for magic hands To untwist the magic twine.
Were we two sky-tints, thou and I, Thou the golden, I the red; We would quiver and glow and darken and die, And love until we were dead!
Nearer than wings of one dove, Than tones or colours in chord, We are one—and safe, and for ever, my love, Two thoughts in the heart of one Lord.
"Come, children, put away your toys; Roll up that kite's long line; The day is done for girls and boys— Look, it is almost nine! Come, weary foot, and sleepy head, Get up, and come along to bed."
The children, loath, must yet obey; Up the long stair they creep; Lie down, and something sing or say Until they fall asleep, To steal through caverns of the night Into the morning's golden light.
We, elder ones, sit up more late, And tasks unfinished ply, But, gently busy, watch and wait— Dear sister, you and I, To hear the Father, with soft tread, Coming to carry us to bed.
Thou who mad'st the mighty clock Of the great world go; Mad'st its pendulum swing and rock, Ceaseless to and fro; Thou whose will doth push and draw Every orb in heaven, Help me move by higher law In my spirit graven.
Like a planet let me swing— With intention strong; In my orbit rushing sing Jubilant along; Help me answer in my course To my seasons due; Lord of every stayless force, Make my Willing true.
A SONG PRAYER.
Lord Jesus, Oh, ease us Of Self that oppresses, Annoys and distresses Body and brain With dull pain! Thou never, Since ever, Save one moment only, Wast left, or wast lonely: We are alone, And make moan.
Far parted, Dull-hearted, We wander, sleep-walking, Mere shadows, dim-stalking: Orphans we roam, Far from home.
Oh new man, Sole human, God's son, and our brother, Give each to the other— No one left out In cold doubt!
High Father, Oh gather Thy sons and thy daughters, Through fires and through waters, Home to the nest Of thy breast!
There under The wonder Of great wings of healing, Of love and revealing, Teach us anew To sing true.
SONGS OF THE DAYS AND NIGHTS.
SONGS OF THE SUMMER DAYS.
A glory on the chamber wall! A glory in the brain! Triumphant floods of glory fall On heath, and wold, and plain.
Earth lieth still in hopeless bliss; She has, and seeks no more; Forgets that days come after this, Forgets the days before.
Each ripple waves a flickering fire Of gladness, as it runs; They laugh and flash, and leap and spire, And toss ten thousand suns.
But hark! low, in the world within, One sad aeolian tone: "Ah! shall we ever, ever win A summer of our own?"
A morn of winds and swaying trees— Earth's jubilance rushing out! The birds are fighting with the breeze; The waters heave about.
White clouds are swept across the sky, Their shadows o'er the graves; Purpling the green, they float and fly Athwart the sunny waves.
The long grass—an earth-rooted sea— Mimics the watery strife. To boat or horse? Wild motion we Shall find harmonious life.
But whither? Roll and sweep and bend Suffice for Nature's part; But motion to an endless end Is needful for our heart.
The morn awakes like brooding dove, With outspread wings of gray; Her feathery clouds close in above, And roof a sober day.
No motion in the deeps of air! No trembling in the leaves! A still contentment everywhere, That neither laughs nor grieves!
A film of sheeted silver gray Shuts in the ocean's hue; White-winged feluccas cleave their way In paths of gorgeous blue.
Dream on, dream on, O dreamy day, Thy very clouds are dreams! Yon child is dreaming far away— He is not where he seems.
The lark is up, his faith is strong, He mounts the morning air; Lone voice of all the creature throng, He sings the morning prayer.
Slow clouds from north and south appear, Black-based, with shining slope; In sullen forms their might they rear, And climb the vaulted cope.
A lightning flash, a thunder boom!— Nor sun nor clouds are there; A single, all-pervading gloom Hangs in the heavy air.
A weeping, wasting afternoon Weighs down the aspiring corn; Amber and red, the sunset soon Leads back to golden morn.
SONGS OF THE SUMMER NIGHTS.
The dreary wind of night is out, Homeless and wandering slow; O'er pale seas moaning like a doubt, It breathes, but will not blow.
It sighs from out the helpless past, Where doleful things abide; Gray ghosts of dead thought sail aghast Across its ebbing tide.
O'er marshy pools it faints and flows, All deaf and dumb and blind; O'er moor and mountain aimless goes— The listless woesome wind!
Nay, nay!—breathe on, sweet wind of night! The sigh is all in me; Flow, fan, and blow, with gentle might, Until I wake and see.
The west is broken into bars Of orange, gold, and gray; Gone is the sun, fast come the stars, And night infolds the day.
My boat glides with the gliding stream, Following adown its breast One flowing mirrored amber gleam, The death-smile of the west.
The river moves; the sky is still, No ceaseless quest it knows: Thy bosom swells, thy fair eyes fill At sight of its repose.
The ripples run; all patient sit The stars above the night. In shade and gleam the waters flit: The heavens are changeless bright!
Alone I lie, buried amid The long luxurious grass; The bats flit round me, born and hid In twilight's wavering mass.
The fir-top floats, an airy isle, High o'er the mossy ground; Harmonious silence breathes the while In scent instead of sound.
The flaming rose glooms swarthy red; The borage gleams more blue; Dim-starred with white, a flowery bed Glimmers the rich dusk through.
Hid in the summer grass I lie, Lost in the great blue cave; My body gazes at the sky, And measures out its grave.
What art thou, gathering dusky cool, In slow gradation fine? Death's lovely shadow, flickering full Of eyes about to shine.
When weary Day goes down below, Thou leanest o'er his grave, Revolving all the vanished show The gracious splendour gave.
Or art thou not she rather—say— Dark-browed, with luminous eyes, Of whom is born the mighty Day, That fights and saves and dies?
For action sleeps with sleeping light; Calm thought awakes with thee: The soul is then a summer night, With stars that shine and see.
SONGS OF THE AUTUMN DAYS.
We bore him through the golden land, One early harvest morn; The corn stood ripe on either hand— He knew all about the corn.
How shall the harvest gathered be Without him standing by? Without him walking on the lea, The sky is scarce a sky.
The year's glad work is almost done; The land is rich in fruit; Yellow it floats in air and sun— Earth holds it by the root.
Why should earth hold it for a day When harvest-time is come? Death is triumphant o'er decay, And leads the ripened home.
And though the sun be not so warm, His shining is not lost; Both corn and hope, of heart and farm, Lie hid from coming frost.
The sombre woods are richly sad, Their leaves are red and gold: Are thoughts in solemn splendour clad Signs that we men grow old?
Strange odours haunt the doubtful brain From fields and days gone by; And mournful memories again Are born, are loved, and die.
The mornings clear, the evenings cool Foretell no wintry wars; The day of dying leaves is full, The night of glowing stars.
'Tis late before the sun will rise, And early he will go; Gray fringes hang from the gray skies, And wet the ground below.
Red fruit has followed golden corn; The leaves are few and sere; My thoughts are old as soon as born, And chill with coming fear.
The winds lie sick; no softest breath Floats through the branches bare; A silence as of coming death Is growing in the air.
But what must fade can bear to fade— Was born to meet the ill: Creep on, old Winter, deathly shade! We sorrow, and are still.
There is no longer any heaven To glorify our clouds; The rising vapours downward driven Come home in palls and shrouds.
The sun himself is ill bested A heavenly sign to show; His radiance, dimmed to glowing red, Can hardly further go.
An earthy damp, a churchyard gloom, Pervade the moveless air; The year is sinking to its tomb, And death is everywhere.
But while sad thoughts together creep, Like bees too cold to sting, God's children, in their beds asleep, Are dreaming of the spring.
SONGS OF THE AUTUMN NIGHTS.
O night, send up the harvest moon To walk about the fields, And make of midnight magic noon On lonely tarns and wealds.
In golden ranks, with golden crowns, All in the yellow land, Old solemn kings in rustling gowns, The shocks moon-charmed stand.
Sky-mirror she, afloat in space, Beholds our coming morn: Her heavenly joy hath such a grace, It ripens earthly corn;
Like some lone saint with upward eyes, Lost in the deeps of prayer: The people still their prayers and sighs, And gazing ripen there.
So, like the corn moon-ripened last, Would I, weary and gray, On golden memories ripen fast, And ripening pass away.
In an old night so let me die; A slow wind out of doors; A waning moon low in the sky; A vapour on the moors;
A fire just dying in the gloom; Earth haunted all with dreams; A sound of waters in the room; A mirror's moony gleams;
And near me, in the sinking night, More thoughts than move in me— Forgiving wrong, and loving right, And waiting till I see.
Across the stubble glooms the wind; High sails the lated crow; The west with pallid green is lined; Fog tracks the river's flow.
My heart is cold and sad; I moan, Yet care not for my grief; The summer fervours all are gone; The roses are but leaf.
Old age is coming, frosty, hoar; The snows of time will fall; My jubilance, dream-like, no more Returns for any call!
O lapsing heart! thy feeble strain Sends up the blood so spare, That my poor withering autumn brain Sees autumn everywhere!
Lord of my life! if I am blind, I reck not—thou canst see; I well may wait my summer mind, When I am sure of thee!
I made no brave bright suns arise, Veiled up no sweet gray eves; I hung no rose-lamps, lit no eyes, Sent out no windy leaves!
I said not "I will cast a charm These gracious forms around;" My heart with unwilled love grew warm; I took but what I found!
When cold winds range my winter-night, Be thou my summer-door; Keep for me all my young delight, Till I am old no more.
SONGS OF THE WINTER DAYS.
The sky has turned its heart away, The earth its sorrow found; The daisies turn from childhood's play, And creep into the ground.
The earth is black and cold and hard; Thin films of dry white ice, Across the rugged wheel-tracks barred, The children's feet entice.
Dark flows the stream, as if it mourned The winter in the land; With idle icicles adorned, That mill-wheel soon will stand.
But, friends, to say 'tis cold, and part, Is to let in the cold; We'll make a summer of the heart, And laugh at winter old.
With vague dead gleam the morning white Comes through the window-panes; The clouds have fallen all the night, Without the noise of rains.
As of departing, unseen ghost, Footprints go from the door; The man himself must long be lost Who left those footprints hoar!
Yet follow thou; tread down the snow; Leave all the road behind; Heed not the winds that steely blow, Heed not the sky unkind;
For though the glittering air grow dark, The snow will shine till morn; And long ere then one dear home-spark Will winter laugh to scorn.
Oh wildly wild the roaring blast Torments the fallen snow! The wintry storms are up at last, And care not how they go!
In foam-like wreaths the water hoar, Rapt whistling in the air, Gleams through the dismal twilight frore; A region in despair,
A spectral ocean lies outside, Torn by a tempest dark; Its ghostly billows, dim descried, Leap on my stranded bark.
Death-sheeted figures, long and white, Rave driving through the spray; Or, bosomed in the ghastly night, Shriek doom-cries far away.
A morning clear, with frosty light From sunbeams late and low; They shine upon the snow so white, And shine back from the snow.
Down tusks of ice one drop will go, Nor fall: at sunny noon 'Twill hang a diamond—fade, and grow An opal for the moon.
And when the bright sad sun is low Behind the mountain-dome, A twilight wind will come and blow Around the children's home,
And puff and waft the powdery snow, As feet unseen did pass; While, waiting in its bed below, Green lies the summer grass.
SONGS OF THE WINTER NIGHTS.
Back shining from the pane, the fire Seems outside in the snow: So love set free from love's desire Lights grief of long ago.
The dark is thinned with snow-sheen fine, The earth bedecked with moon; Out on the worlds we surely shine More radiant than in June!
In the white garden lies a heap As brown as deep-dug mould: A hundred partridges that keep Each other from the cold.
My father gives them sheaves of corn, For shelter both and food: High hope in me was early born, My father was so good.
The frost weaves ferns and sultry palms Across my clouded pane; Weaves melodies of ancient psalms All through my passive brain.
Quiet ecstasy fills heart and head: My father is in the room; The very curtains of my bed Are from Love's sheltering loom!
The lovely vision melts away; I am a child no more; Work rises from the floor of play; Duty is at the door.
But if I face with courage stout The labour and the din, Thou, Lord, wilt let my mind go out My heart with thee stay in.
Up to my ear my soul doth run— Her other door is dark; There she can see without the sun, And there she sits to mark.
I hear the dull unheeding wind Mumble o'er heath and wold; My fancy leaves my brain behind, And floats into the cold.
Like a forgotten face that lies One of the speechless crowd, The earth lies spent, with frozen eyes, White-folded in her shroud.
O'er leafless woods and cornless farms, Dead rivers, fireless thorps, I brood, the heart still throbbing warm In Nature's wintered corpse.
To all the world mine eyes are blind: Their drop serene is—night, With stores of snow piled up the wind An awful airy height.
And yet 'tis but a mote in the eye: The simple faithful stars Beyond are shining, careless high, Nor heed our storms and jars.
And when o'er storm and jar I climb— Beyond life's atmosphere, I shall behold the lord of time And space—of world and year.
Oh vain, far quest!—not thus my heart Shall ever find its goal! I turn me home—and there thou art, My Father, in my soul!
SONGS OF THE SPRING DAYS.
A gentle wind, of western birth On some far summer sea, Wakes daisies in the wintry earth, Wakes hopes in wintry me.
The sun is low; the paths are wet, And dance with frolic hail; The trees—their spring-time is not yet— Swing sighing in the gale.
Young gleams of sunshine peep and play; Clouds shoulder in between; I scarce believe one coming day The earth will all be green.
The north wind blows, and blasts, and raves, And flaps his snowy wing: Back! toss thy bergs on arctic waves; Thou canst not bar our spring.
Up comes the primrose, wondering; The snowdrop droopeth by; The holy spirit of the spring Is working silently.
Soft-breathing breezes woo and wile The later children out; O'er woods and farms a sunny smile Is flickering about.
The earth was cold, hard-hearted, dull; To death almost she slept: Over her, heaven grew beautiful, And forth her beauty crept.
Showers yet must fall, and waters grow Dark-wan with furrowing blast; But suns will shine, and soft winds blow, Till the year flowers at last.
The sky is smiling over me, Hath smiled away the frost; White daisies star the sky-like lea, With buds the wood's embossed.
Troops of wild flowers gaze at the sky Up through the latticed boughs; Till comes the green cloud by and by, It is not time to house.
Yours is the day, sweet bird—sing on; The winter is forgot; Like an ill dream 'tis over and gone: Pain that is past, is not.
Joy that was past is yet the same: If care the summer brings, 'Twill only be another name For love that broods, not sings.
Blow on me, wind, from west and south; Sweet summer-spirit, blow! Come like a kiss from dear child's mouth, Who knows not what I know.
The earth's perfection dawneth soon; Ours lingereth alway; We have a morning, not a noon; Spring, but no summer gay.
Rose-blotted eve, gold-branded morn Crown soon the swift year's life: In us a higher hope is born, And claims a longer strife.
Will heaven be an eternal spring With summer at the door? Or shall we one day tell its king That we desire no more?
SONGS OF THE SPRING NIGHTS.
The flush of green that dyed the day Hath vanished in the moon; Flower-scents float stronger out, and play An unborn, coming tune.
One southern eve like this, the dew Had cooled and left the ground; The moon hung half-way from the blue, No disc, but conglobed round;
Light-leaved acacias, by the door, Bathed in the balmy air, Clusters of blossomed moonlight bore, And breathed a perfume rare;
Great gold-flakes from the starry sky Fell flashing on the deep: One scent of moist earth floating by, Almost it made me weep.
Those gorgeous stars were not my own, They made me alien go! The mother o'er her head had thrown A veil I did not know!
The moon-blanched fields that seaward went, The palm-flung, dusky shades, Bore flowering grasses, knotted, bent, No slender, spear-like blades.
I longed to see the starry host Afar in fainter blue; But plenteous grass I missed the most, With daisies glimmering through.
The common things were not the same! I longed across the foam: From dew-damp earth that odour came— I knew the world my home.
The stars are glad in gulfy space— Friendly the dark to them! From day's deep mine, their hiding-place, Night wooeth every gem.
A thing for faith 'mid labour's jar, When up the day is furled, Shines in the sky a light afar, Mayhap a home-filled world.
Sometimes upon the inner sky We catch a doubtful shine: A mote or star? A flash in the eye Or jewel of God's mine?
A star to us, all glimmer and glance, May teem with seraphim: A fancy to our ignorance May be a truth to Him.
The night is damp and warm and still, And soft with summer dreams; The buds are bursting at their will, And shy the half moon gleams.
My soul is cool, as bathed within By dews that silent weep— Like child that has confessed his sin, And now will go to sleep.
My body ages, form and hue; But when the spring winds blow, My spirit stirs and buds anew, Younger than long ago.
Lord, make me more a child, and more, Till Time his own end bring, And out of every winter sore I pass into thy spring.
A BOOK OF DREAMS.
I lay and dreamed. The Master came, In seamless garment drest; I stood in bonds 'twixt love and shame, Not ready to be blest.
He stretched his arms, and gently sought To clasp me to his heart; I shrank, for I, unthinking, thought He knew me but in part.
I did not love him as I would! Embraces were not meet! I dared not ev'n stand where he stood— I fell and kissed his feet.
Years, years have passed away since then; Oft hast thou come to me; The question scarce will rise again Whether I care for thee.
In thee lies hid my unknown heart, In thee my perfect mind; In all my joys, my Lord, thou art The deeper joy behind.
But when fresh light and visions bold My heart and hope expand, Up comes the vanity of old That now I understand:
Away, away from thee I drift, Forgetting, not forgot; Till sudden yawns a downward rift— I start—and see thee not.
Ah, then come sad, unhopeful hours! All in the dark I stray, Until my spirit fainting cowers On the threshold of the day.
Hence not even yet I child-like dare Nestle unto thy breast, Though well I know that only there Lies hid the secret rest.
But now I shrink not from thy will, Nor, guilty, judge my guilt; Thy good shall meet and slay my ill— Do with me as thou wilt.
If I should dream that dream once more, Me in my dreaming meet; Embrace me, Master, I implore, And let me kiss thy feet.
I stood before my childhood's home, Outside its belt of trees; All round my glances flit and roam O'er well-known hills and leas;
When sudden rushed across the plain A host of hurrying waves, Loosed by some witchery of the brain From far, dream-hidden caves.
And up the hill they clomb and came, A wild, fast-flowing sea: Careless I looked as on a game; No terror woke in me.
For, just the belting trees within, I saw my father wait; And should the waves the summit win, There was the open gate!
With him beside, all doubt was dumb; There let the waters foam! No mightiest flood would dare to come And drown his holy home!
Two days passed by. With restless toss, The red flood brake its doors; Prostrate I lay, and looked across To the eternal shores.
The world was fair, and hope was high; My friends had all been true; Life burned in me, and Death and I Would have a hard ado.
Sudden came back the dream so good, My trouble to abate: At his own door my Father stood— I just without the gate!
"Thou know'st what is, and what appears," I said; "mine eyes to thine Are windows; thou hear'st with thine ears, But also hear'st with mine:"
"Thou knowest my weak soul's dismay, How trembles my life's node; Thou art the potter, I am the clay— 'Tis thine to bear the load."
A piece of gold had left my purse, Which I had guarded ill; I feared a lack, but feared yet worse Regret returning still.
I lifted up my feeble prayer To him who maketh strong, That thence no haunting thoughts of care Might do my spirit wrong.
And even before my body slept, Such visions fair I had, That seldom soul with chamber swept Was more serenely glad.
No white-robed angel floated by On slow, reposing wings; I only saw, with inward eye, Some very common things.
First rose the scarlet pimpernel With burning purple heart; I saw within it, and could spell The lesson of its art.
Then came the primrose, child-like flower, And looked me in the face; It bore a message full of power, And confidence, and grace.
And breezes rose on pastures trim And bathed me all about; Wool-muffled sheep-bells babbled dim, Or only half spoke out.
Sudden it closed, some door of heaven, But what came out remained: The poorest man my loss had given For that which I had gained!
Thou gav'st me, Lord, a brimming cup Where I bemoaned a sip; How easily thou didst make up For that my fault let slip!
What said the flowers? what message new Embalmed my soul with rest? I scarce can tell—only they grew Right out of God's own breast.
They said, to every flower he made God's thought was root and stem— Perhaps said what the lilies said When Jesus looked at them.
Sometimes, in daylight hours, awake, Our souls with visions teem Which to the slumbering brain would take The form of wondrous dream.
Once, with my thought-sight, I descried A plain with hills around; A lordly company on each side Leaves bare the middle ground.
Great terrace-steps at one end rise To something like a throne, And thither all the radiant eyes, As to a centre, shone.
A snow-white glory, dim-defined, Those seeking eyes beseech— Him who was not in fire or wind, But in the gentle speech.
They see his eyes far-fixed wait: Adown the widening vale They, turning, look; their breath they bate, With dread-filled wonder pale.
In raiment worn and blood-bedewed, With faltering step and numb, Toward the shining multitude A weary man did come.
His face was white, and still-composed, As of a man nigh dead; The eyes, through eyelids half unclosed, A faint, wan splendour shed.
Drops on his hair disordered hung Like rubies dull of hue; His hands were pitifully wrung, And stricken through and through.
Silent they stood with tender awe: Between their ranks he came; Their tearful eyes looked down, and saw What made his feet so lame.
He reached the steps below the throne, There sank upon his knees; Clasped his torn hands with stifled groan, And spake in words like these:—
"Father, I am come back. Thy will Is sometimes hard to do." From all that multitude so still A sound of weeping grew.
Then mournful-glad came down the One; He kneeled and clasped his child; Lay on his breast the outworn man, And wept until he smiled.
The people, who, in bitter woe And love, had sobbed and cried, Raised aweful eyes at length—and, Lo, The two sat side by side!
Dreaming I slept. Three crosses stood High in the gloomy air; One bore a thief, and one the Good; The other waited bare.
A soldier came up to the place, And took me for the third; My eyes they sought the Master's face, My will the Master's word.
He bent his head; I took the sign, And gave the error way; Gesture nor look nor word of mine The secret should betray.
The soldier from the cross's foot Turned. I stood waiting there: That grim, expectant tree, for fruit My dying form must bear.
Up rose the steaming mists of doubt And chilled both heart and brain; They shut the world of vision out, And fear saw only pain.
"Ah me, my hands! the hammer's blow! The nails that rend and pierce! The shock may stun, but, slow and slow, The torture will grow fierce."
"Alas, the awful fight with death! The hours to hang and die! The thirsting gasp for common breath! The weakness that would cry!"
My soul returned: "A faintness soon Will shroud thee in its fold; The hours will bring the fearful noon; 'Twill pass—and thou art cold."
"'Tis his to care that thou endure, To curb or loose the pain; With bleeding hands hang on thy cure— It shall not be in vain."
But, ah, the will, which thus could quail, Might yield—oh, horror drear! Then, more than love, the fear to fail Kept down the other fear.