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´╗┐Title: Religious Poems, Part 1.
 - Part 5 From Volume II of The Works of John Greenleaf Whittier
Author: Whittier, John Greenleaf
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Religious Poems, Part 1.
 - Part 5 From Volume II of The Works of John Greenleaf Whittier" ***

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                            POEMS OF NATURE

                    POEMS SUBJECTIVE AND REMINISCENT

                            RELIGIOUS POEMS

                                   BY
                        JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER



CONTENTS:

RELIGIOUS POEMS:
     THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
     THE CITIES OF THE PLAIN
     THE CALL OF THE CHRISTIAN
     THE CRUCIFIXION
     PALESTINE
     HYMNS FROM THE FRENCH OF LAMARTINE
          I. ENCORE UN HYMNE
          II. LE CRI DE L'AME
     THE FAMILIST'S HYMN
     EZEKIEL
     WHAT THE VOICE SAID
     THE ANGEL OF PATIENCE
     THE WIFE OF MANOAH TO HER HUSBAND
     MY SOUL AND I
     WORSHIP
     THE HOLY LAND
     THE REWARD
     THE WISH OF TO-DAY
     ALL'S WELL
     INVOCATION
     QUESTIONS OF LIFE
     FIRST-DAY THOUGHTS
     TRUST
     TRINITAS
     THE SISTERS
     "THE ROCK" IN EL GHOR
     THE OVER-HEART
     THE SHADOW AND THE LIGHT
     THE CRY OF A LOST SOUL
     ANDREW RYKMAN'S PRAYER



                             RELIGIOUS POEMS


THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM

Where Time the measure of his hours
By changeful bud and blossom keeps,
And, like a young bride crowned with flowers,
Fair Shiraz in her garden sleeps;

Where, to her poet's turban stone,
The Spring her gift of flowers imparts,
Less sweet than those his thoughts have sown
In the warm soil of Persian hearts:

There sat the stranger, where the shade
Of scattered date-trees thinly lay,
While in the hot clear heaven delayed
The long and still and weary day.

Strange trees and fruits above him hung,
Strange odors filled the sultry air,
Strange birds upon the branches swung,
Strange insect voices murmured there.

And strange bright blossoms shone around,
Turned sunward from the shadowy bowers,
As if the Gheber's soul had found
A fitting home in Iran's flowers.

Whate'er he saw, whate'er he heard,
Awakened feelings new and sad,--
No Christian garb, nor Christian word,
Nor church with Sabbath-bell chimes glad,

But Moslem graves, with turban stones,
And mosque-spires gleaming white, in view,
And graybeard Mollahs in low tones
Chanting their Koran service through.

The flowers which smiled on either hand,
Like tempting fiends, were such as they
Which once, o'er all that Eastern land,
As gifts on demon altars lay.

As if the burning eye of Baal
The servant of his Conqueror knew,
From skies which knew no cloudy veil,
The Sun's hot glances smote him through.

"Ah me!" the lonely stranger said,
"The hope which led my footsteps on,
And light from heaven around them shed,
O'er weary wave and waste, is gone!

"Where are the harvest fields all white,
For Truth to thrust her sickle in?
Where flock the souls, like doves in flight,
From the dark hiding-place of sin?

"A silent-horror broods o'er all,--
The burden of a hateful spell,--
The very flowers around recall
The hoary magi's rites of hell!

"And what am I, o'er such a land
The banner of the Cross to bear?
Dear Lord, uphold me with Thy hand,
Thy strength with human weakness share!"

He ceased; for at his very feet
In mild rebuke a floweret smiled;
How thrilled his sinking heart to greet
The Star-flower of the Virgin's child!

Sown by some wandering Frank, it drew
Its life from alien air and earth,
And told to Paynim sun and dew
The story of the Saviour's birth.

From scorching beams, in kindly mood,
The Persian plants its beauty screened,
And on its pagan sisterhood,
In love, the Christian floweret leaned.

With tears of joy the wanderer felt
The darkness of his long despair
Before that hallowed symbol melt,
Which God's dear love had nurtured there.

From Nature's face, that simple flower
The lines of sin and sadness swept;
And Magian pile and Paynim bower
In peace like that of Eden slept.

Each Moslem tomb, and cypress old,
Looked holy through the sunset air;
And, angel-like, the Muezzin told
From tower and mosque the hour of prayer.

With cheerful steps, the morrow's dawn
From Shiraz saw the stranger part;
The Star-flower of the Virgin-Born
Still blooming in his hopeful heart!
1830.



THE CITIES OF THE PLAIN

"Get ye up from the wrath of God's terrible day!
Ungirded, unsandalled, arise and away!
'T is the vintage of blood, 't is the fulness of time,
And vengeance shall gather the harvest of crime!"

The warning was spoken--the righteous had gone,
And the proud ones of Sodom were feasting alone;
All gay was the banquet--the revel was long,
With the pouring of wine and the breathing of song.

'T was an evening of beauty; the air was perfume,
The earth was all greenness, the trees were all bloom;
And softly the delicate viol was heard,
Like the murmur of love or the notes of a bird.

And beautiful maidens moved down in the dance,
With the magic of motion and sunshine of glance
And white arms wreathed lightly, and tresses fell free
As the plumage of birds in some tropical tree.

Where the shrines of foul idols were lighted on high,
And wantonness tempted the lust of the eye;
Midst rites of obsceneness, strange, loathsome, abhorred,
The blasphemer scoffed at the name of the Lord.

Hark! the growl of the thunder,--the quaking of earth!
Woe, woe to the worship, and woe to the mirth!
The black sky has opened; there's flame in the air;
The red arm of vengeance is lifted and bare!

Then the shriek of the dying rose wild where the song
And the low tone of love had been whispered along;
For the fierce flames went lightly o'er palace and bower,
Like the red tongues of demons, to blast and devour!

Down, down on the fallen the red ruin rained,
And the reveller sank with his wine-cup undrained;
The foot of the dancer, the music's loved thrill,
And the shout and the laughter grew suddenly still.

The last throb of anguish was fearfully given;
The last eye glared forth in its madness on Heaven!
The last groan of horror rose wildly and vain,
And death brooded over the pride of the Plain!
1831.



THE CALL OF THE CHRISTIAN

Not always as the whirlwind's rush
On Horeb's mount of fear,
Not always as the burning bush
To Midian's shepherd seer,
Nor as the awful voice which came
To Israel's prophet bards,
Nor as the tongues of cloven flame,
Nor gift of fearful words,--

Not always thus, with outward sign
Of fire or voice from Heaven,
The message of a truth divine,
The call of God is given!
Awaking in the human heart
Love for the true and right,--
Zeal for the Christian's better part,
Strength for the Christian's fight.

Nor unto manhood's heart alone
The holy influence steals
Warm with a rapture not its own,
The heart of woman feels!
As she who by Samaria's wall
The Saviour's errand sought,--
As those who with the fervent Paul
And meek Aquila wrought:

Or those meek ones whose martyrdom
Rome's gathered grandeur saw
Or those who in their Alpine home
Braved the Crusader's war,
When the green Vaudois, trembling, heard,
Through all its vales of death,
The martyr's song of triumph poured
From woman's failing breath.

And gently, by a thousand things
Which o'er our spirits pass,
Like breezes o'er the harp's fine strings,
Or vapors o'er a glass,
Leaving their token strange and new
Of music or of shade,
The summons to the right and true
And merciful is made.

Oh, then, if gleams of truth and light
Flash o'er thy waiting mind,
Unfolding to thy mental sight
The wants of human-kind;
If, brooding over human grief,
The earnest wish is known
To soothe and gladden with relief
An anguish not thine own;

Though heralded with naught of fear,
Or outward sign or show;
Though only to the inward ear
It whispers soft and low;
Though dropping, as the manna fell,
Unseen, yet from above,
Noiseless as dew-fall, heed it well,---
Thy Father's call of love!



THE CRUCIFIXION.

Sunlight upon Judha's hills!
And on the waves of Galilee;
On Jordan's stream, and on the rills
That feed the dead and sleeping sea!
Most freshly from the green wood springs
The light breeze on its scented wings;
And gayly quiver in the sun
The cedar tops of Lebanon!

A few more hours,--a change hath come!
The sky is dark without a cloud!
The shouts of wrath and joy are dumb,
And proud knees unto earth are bowed.
A change is on the hill of Death,
The helmed watchers pant for breath,
And turn with wild and maniac eyes
From the dark scene of sacrifice!

That Sacrifice!--the death of Him,--
The Christ of God, the holy One!
Well may the conscious Heaven grow dim,
And blacken the beholding, Sun.
The wonted light hath fled away,
Night settles on the middle day,
And earthquake from his caverned bed
Is waking with a thrill of dread!

The dead are waking underneath!
Their prison door is rent away!
And, ghastly with the seal of death,
They wander in the eye of day!
The temple of the Cherubim,
The House of God is cold and dim;
A curse is on its trembling walls,
Its mighty veil asunder falls!

Well may the cavern-depths of Earth
Be shaken, and her mountains nod;
Well may the sheeted dead come forth
To see the suffering son of God!
Well may the temple-shrine grow dim,
And shadows veil the Cherubim,
When He, the chosen one of Heaven,
A sacrifice for guilt is given!

And shall the sinful heart, alone,
Behold unmoved the fearful hour,
When Nature trembled on her throne,
And Death resigned his iron power?
Oh, shall the heart--whose sinfulness
Gave keenness to His sore distress,
And added to His tears of blood--
Refuse its trembling gratitude!
1834.



PALESTINE

Blest land of Judaea! thrice hallowed of song,
Where the holiest of memories pilgrim-like throng;
In the shade of thy palms, by the shores of thy sea,
On the hills of thy beauty, my heart is with thee.

With the eye of a spirit I look on that shore
Where pilgrim and prophet have lingered before;
With the glide of a spirit I traverse the sod
Made bright by the steps of the angels of God.

Blue sea of the hills! in my spirit I hear
Thy waters, Gennesaret, chime on my ear;
Where the Lowly and Just with the people sat down,
And thy spray on the dust of His sandals was thrown.

Beyond are Bethulia's mountains of green,
And the desolate hills of the wild Gadarene;
And I pause on the goat-crags of Tabor to see
The gleam of thy waters, O dark Galilee!

Hark, a sound in the valley! where, swollen and strong,
Thy river, O Kishon, is sweeping along;
Where the Canaanite strove with Jehovah in vain,
And thy torrent grew dark with the blood of the slain.

There down from his mountains stern Zebulon came,
And Naphthali's stag, with his eyeballs of flame,
And the chariots of Jabin rolled harmlessly on,
For the arm of the Lord was Abinoam's son!

There sleep the still rocks and the caverns which rang
To the song which the beautiful prophetess sang,
When the princes of Issachar stood by her side,
And the shout of a host in its triumph replied.

Lo, Bethlehem's hill-site before me is seen,
With the mountains around, and the valleys between;
There rested the shepherds of Judah, and there
The song of the angels rose sweet on the air.

And Bethany's palm-trees in beauty still throw
Their shadows at noon on the ruins below;
But where are the sisters who hastened to greet
The lowly Redeemer, and sit at His feet?

I tread where the twelve in their wayfaring trod;
I stand where they stood with the chosen of God--
Where His blessing was heard and His lessons were taught,
Where the blind were restored and the healing was wrought.

Oh, here with His flock the sad Wanderer came;
These hills He toiled over in grief are the same;
The founts where He drank by the wayside still flow,
And the same airs are blowing which breathed on His brow!

And throned on her hills sits Jerusalem yet,
But with dust on her forehead, and chains on her feet;
For the crown of her pride to the mocker hath gone,
And the holy Shechinah is dark where it shone.

But wherefore this dream of the earthly abode
Of Humanity clothed in the brightness of God?
Were my spirit but turned from the outward and dim,
It could gaze, even now, on the presence of Him!

Not in clouds and in terrors, but gentle as when,
In love and in meekness, He moved among men;
And the voice which breathed peace to the waves of the sea
In the hush of my spirit would whisper to me!

And what if my feet may not tread where He stood,
Nor my ears hear the dashing of Galilee's flood,
Nor my eyes see the cross which he bowed Him to bear,
Nor my knees press Gethsemane's garden of prayer.

Yet, Loved of the Father, Thy Spirit is near
To the meek, and the lowly, and penitent here;
And the voice of Thy love is the same even now
As at Bethany's tomb or on Olivet's brow.

Oh, the outward hath gone! but in glory and power.
The spirit surviveth the things of an hour;
Unchanged, undecaying, its Pentecost flame
On the heart's secret altar is burning the same
1837.



HYMNS.

FROM THE FRENCH OF LAMARTINE

     I.
     "Encore un hymne, O ma lyre
     Un hymn pour le Seigneur,
     Un hymne dans mon delire,
     Un hymne dans mon bonheur."


     One hymn more, O my lyre!
     Praise to the God above,
     Of joy and life and love,
     Sweeping its strings of fire!

Oh, who the speed of bird and wind
And sunbeam's glance will lend to me,
That, soaring upward, I may find
My resting-place and home in Thee?
Thou, whom my soul, midst doubt and gloom,
Adoreth with a fervent flame,--
Mysterious spirit! unto whom
Pertain nor sign nor name!

Swiftly my lyre's soft murmurs go,
Up from the cold and joyless earth,
Back to the God who bade them flow,
Whose moving spirit sent them forth.
But as for me, O God! for me,
The lowly creature of Thy will,
Lingering and sad, I sigh to Thee,
An earth-bound pilgrim still!

Was not my spirit born to shine
Where yonder stars and suns are glowing?
To breathe with them the light divine
From God's own holy altar flowing?
To be, indeed, whate'er the soul
In dreams hath thirsted for so long,--
A portion of heaven's glorious whole
Of loveliness and song?

Oh, watchers of the stars at night,
Who breathe their fire, as we the air,--
Suns, thunders, stars, and rays of light,
Oh, say, is He, the Eternal, there?
Bend there around His awful throne
The seraph's glance, the angel's knee?
Or are thy inmost depths His own,
O wild and mighty sea?

Thoughts of my soul, how swift ye go!
Swift as the eagle's glance of fire,
Or arrows from the archer's bow,
To the far aim of your desire!
Thought after thought, ye thronging rise,
Like spring-doves from the startled wood,
Bearing like them your sacrifice
Of music unto God!

And shall these thoughts of joy and love
Come back again no more to me?
Returning like the patriarch's dove
Wing-weary from the eternal sea,
To bear within my longing arms
The promise-bough of kindlier skies,
Plucked from the green, immortal palms
Which shadow Paradise?

All-moving spirit! freely forth
At Thy command the strong wind goes
Its errand to the passive earth,
Nor art can stay, nor strength oppose,
Until it folds its weary wing
Once more within the hand divine;
So, weary from its wandering,
My spirit turns to Thine!

Child of the sea, the mountain stream,
From its dark caverns, hurries on,
Ceaseless, by night and morning's beam,
By evening's star and noontide's sun,
Until at last it sinks to rest,
O'erwearied, in the waiting sea,
And moans upon its mother's breast,--
So turns my soul to Thee!

O Thou who bidst the torrent flow,
Who lendest wings unto the wind,--
Mover of all things! where art Thou?
Oh, whither shall I go to find
The secret of Thy resting-place?
Is there no holy wing for me,
That, soaring, I may search the space
Of highest heaven for Thee?

Oh, would I were as free to rise
As leaves on autumn's whirlwind borne,--
The arrowy light of sunset skies,
Or sound, or ray, or star of morn,
Which melts in heaven at twilight's close,
Or aught which soars unchecked and free
Through earth and heaven; that I might lose
Myself in finding Thee!


     II.
     LE CRI DE L'AME.

     "Quand le souffle divin qui flotte sur le monde."

When the breath divine is flowing,
Zephyr-like o'er all things going,
And, as the touch of viewless fingers,
Softly on my soul it lingers,
Open to a breath the lightest,
Conscious of a touch the slightest,--
As some calm, still lake, whereon
Sinks the snowy-bosomed swan,
And the glistening water-rings
Circle round her moving wings
When my upward gaze is turning
Where the stars of heaven are burning
Through the deep and dark abyss,
Flowers of midnight's wilderness,
Blowing with the evening's breath
Sweetly in their Maker's path
When the breaking day is flushing
All the east, and light is gushing
Upward through the horizon's haze,
Sheaf-like, with its thousand rays,
Spreading, until all above
Overflows with joy and love,
And below, on earth's green bosom,
All is changed to light and blossom:

When my waking fancies over
Forms of brightness flit and hover
Holy as the seraphs are,
Who by Zion's fountains wear
On their foreheads, white and broad,
"Holiness unto the Lord!"
When, inspired with rapture high,
It would seem a single sigh
Could a world of love create;
That my life could know no date,
And my eager thoughts could fill
Heaven and Earth, o'erflowing still!

Then, O Father! Thou alone,
From the shadow of Thy throne,
To the sighing of my breast
And its rapture answerest.
All my thoughts, which, upward winging,
Bathe where Thy own light is springing,--
All my yearnings to be free
Are at echoes answering Thee!

Seldom upon lips of mine,
Father! rests that name of Thine;
Deep within my inmost breast,
In the secret place of mind,
Like an awful presence shrined,
Doth the dread idea rest
Hushed and holy dwells it there,
Prompter of the silent prayer,
Lifting up my spirit's eye
And its faint, but earnest cry,
From its dark and cold abode,
Unto Thee, my Guide and God!
1837



THE FAMILIST'S HYMN.

     The Puritans of New England, even in their wilderness home, were
     not exempted from the sectarian contentions which agitated the
     mother country after the downfall of Charles the First, and of the
     established Episcopacy. The Quakers, Baptists, and Catholics were
     banished, on pain of death, from the Massachusetts Colony. One
     Samuel Gorton, a bold and eloquent declaimer, after preaching for a
     time in Boston against the doctrines of the Puritans, and declaring
     that their churches were mere human devices, and their sacrament
     and baptism an abomination, was driven out of the jurisdiction of
     the colony, and compelled to seek a residence among the savages. He
     gathered round him a considerable number of converts, who, like the
     primitive Christians, shared all things in common. His opinions,
     however, were so troublesome to the leading clergy of the colony,
     that they instigated an attack upon his "Family" by an armed force,
     which seized upon the principal men in it, and brought them into
     Massachusetts, where they were sentenced to be kept at hard labor
     in several towns (one only in each town), during the pleasure of
     the General Court, they being forbidden, under severe penalties, to
     utter any of their religious sentiments, except to such ministers
     as might labor for their conversion. They were unquestionably
     sincere in their opinions, and, whatever may have been their
     errors, deserve to be ranked among those who have in all ages
     suffered for the freedom of conscience.

Father! to Thy suffering poor
Strength and grace and faith impart,
And with Thy own love restore
Comfort to the broken heart!
Oh, the failing ones confirm
With a holier strength of zeal!
Give Thou not the feeble worm
Helpless to the spoiler's heel!

Father! for Thy holy sake
We are spoiled and hunted thus;
Joyful, for Thy truth we take
Bonds and burthens unto us
Poor, and weak, and robbed of all,
Weary with our daily task,
That Thy truth may never fall
Through our weakness, Lord, we ask.

Round our fired and wasted homes
Flits the forest-bird unscared,
And at noon the wild beast comes
Where our frugal meal was shared;
For the song of praises there
Shrieks the crow the livelong day;
For the sound of evening prayer
Howls the evil beast of prey!

Sweet the songs we loved to sing
Underneath Thy holy sky;
Words and tones that used to bring
Tears of joy in every eye;
Dear the wrestling hours of prayer,
When we gathered knee to knee,
Blameless youth and hoary hair,
Bowed, O God, alone to Thee.

As Thine early children, Lord,
Shared their wealth and daily bread,
Even so, with one accord,
We, in love, each other fed.
Not with us the miser's hoard,
Not with us his grasping hand;
Equal round a common board,
Drew our meek and brother band!

Safe our quiet Eden lay
When the war-whoop stirred the land
And the Indian turned away
From our home his bloody hand.
Well that forest-ranger saw,
That the burthen and the curse
Of the white man's cruel law
Rested also upon us.

Torn apart, and driven forth
To our toiling hard and long,
Father! from the dust of earth
Lift we still our grateful song!
Grateful, that in bonds we share
In Thy love which maketh free;
Joyful, that the wrongs we bear,
Draw us nearer, Lord, to Thee!

Grateful! that where'er we toil,--
By Wachuset's wooded side,
On Nantucket's sea-worn isle,
Or by wild Neponset's tide,--
Still, in spirit, we are near,
And our evening hymns, which rise
Separate and discordant here,
Meet and mingle in the skies!

Let the scoffer scorn and mock,
Let the proud and evil priest
Rob the needy of his flock,
For his wine-cup and his feast,--
Redden not Thy bolts in store
Through the blackness of Thy skies?
For the sighing of the poor
Wilt Thou not, at length, arise?

Worn and wasted, oh! how long
Shall thy trodden poor complain?
In Thy name they bear the wrong,
In Thy cause the bonds of pain!
Melt oppression's heart of steel,
Let the haughty priesthood see,
And their blinded followers feel,
That in us they mock at Thee!

In Thy time, O Lord of hosts,
Stretch abroad that hand to save
Which of old, on Egypt's coasts,
Smote apart the Red Sea's wave
Lead us from this evil land,
From the spoiler set us free,
And once more our gathered band,
Heart to heart, shall worship Thee!
1838.



EZEKIEL

     Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking
     against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak
     one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you,
     and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. And they
     come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my
     people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for
     with their mouth they skew much love, but their heart goeth after
     their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely
     song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an
     instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when
     this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that
     a prophet hath been among them.--EZEKIEL, xxxiii. 30-33.

They hear Thee not, O God! nor see;
Beneath Thy rod they mock at Thee;
The princes of our ancient line
Lie drunken with Assyrian wine;
The priests around Thy altar speak
The false words which their hearers seek;
And hymns which Chaldea's wanton maids
Have sung in Dura's idol-shades
Are with the Levites' chant ascending,
With Zion's holiest anthems blending!

On Israel's bleeding bosom set,
The heathen heel is crushing yet;
The towers upon our holy hill
Echo Chaldean footsteps still.
Our wasted shrines,--who weeps for them?
Who mourneth for Jerusalem?
Who turneth from his gains away?
Whose knee with mine is bowed to pray?
Who, leaving feast and purpling cup,
Takes Zion's lamentation up?

A sad and thoughtful youth, I went
With Israel's early banishment;
And where the sullen Chebar crept,
The ritual of my fathers kept.
The water for the trench I drew,
The firstling of the flock I slew,
And, standing at the altar's side,
I shared the Levites' lingering pride,
That still, amidst her mocking foes,
The smoke of Zion's offering rose.

In sudden whirlwind, cloud and flame,
The Spirit of the Highest came!
Before mine eyes a vision passed,
A glory terrible and vast;
With dreadful eyes of living things,
And sounding sweep of angel wings,
With circling light and sapphire throne,
And flame-like form of One thereon,
And voice of that dread Likeness sent
Down from the crystal firmament!

The burden of a prophet's power
Fell on me in that fearful hour;
From off unutterable woes
The curtain of the future rose;
I saw far down the coming time
The fiery chastisement of crime;
With noise of mingling hosts, and jar
Of falling towers and shouts of war,
I saw the nations rise and fall,
Like fire-gleams on my tent's white wall.

In dream and trance, I--saw the slain
Of Egypt heaped like harvest grain.
I saw the walls of sea-born Tyre
Swept over by the spoiler's fire;
And heard the low, expiring moan
Of Edom on his rocky throne;
And, woe is me! the wild lament
From Zion's desolation sent;
And felt within my heart each blow
Which laid her holy places low.

In bonds and sorrow, day by day,
Before the pictured tile I lay;
And there, as in a mirror, saw
The coming of Assyria's war;
Her swarthy lines of spearmen pass
Like locusts through Bethhoron's grass;
I saw them draw their stormy hem
Of battle round Jerusalem;
And, listening, heard the Hebrew wail!

Blend with the victor-trump of Baal!
Who trembled at my warning word?
Who owned the prophet of the Lord?
How mocked the rude, how scoffed the vile,
How stung the Levites' scornful smile,
As o'er my spirit, dark and slow,
The shadow crept of Israel's woe
As if the angel's mournful roll
Had left its record on my soul,
And traced in lines of darkness there
The picture of its great despair!

Yet ever at the hour I feel
My lips in prophecy unseal.
Prince, priest, and Levite gather near,
And Salem's daughters haste to hear,
On Chebar's waste and alien shore,
The harp of Judah swept once more.
They listen, as in Babel's throng
The Chaldeans to the dancer's song,
Or wild sabbeka's nightly play,--
As careless and as vain as they.

     .     .     .     .     .

And thus, O Prophet-bard of old,
Hast thou thy tale of sorrow told
The same which earth's unwelcome seers
Have felt in all succeeding years.
Sport of the changeful multitude,
Nor calmly heard nor understood,
Their song has seemed a trick of art,
Their warnings but, the actor's part.
With bonds, and scorn, and evil will,
The world requites its prophets still.

So was it when the Holy One
The garments of the flesh put on
Men followed where the Highest led
For common gifts of daily bread,
And gross of ear, of vision dim,
Owned not the Godlike power of Him.
Vain as a dreamer's words to them
His wail above Jerusalem,
And meaningless the watch He kept
Through which His weak disciples slept.

Yet shrink not thou, whoe'er thou art,
For God's great purpose set apart,
Before whose far-discerning eyes,
The Future as the Present lies!
Beyond a narrow-bounded age
Stretches thy prophet-heritage,
Through Heaven's vast spaces angel-trod,
And through the eternal years of God
Thy audience, worlds!--all things to be
The witness of the Truth in thee!
1844.



WHAT THE VOICE SAID

MADDENED by Earth's wrong and evil,
"Lord!" I cried in sudden ire,
"From Thy right hand, clothed with thunder,
Shake the bolted fire!

"Love is lost, and Faith is dying;
With the brute the man is sold;
And the dropping blood of labor
Hardens into gold.

"Here the dying wail of Famine,
There the battle's groan of pain;
And, in silence, smooth-faced Mammon
Reaping men like grain.

"'Where is God, that we should fear Him?'
Thus the earth-born Titans say
'God! if Thou art living, hear us!'
Thus the weak ones pray."

"Thou, the patient Heaven upbraiding,"
Spake a solemn Voice within;
"Weary of our Lord's forbearance,
Art thou free from sin?

"Fearless brow to Him uplifting,
Canst thou for His thunders call,
Knowing that to guilt's attraction
Evermore they fall?

"Know'st thou not all germs of evil
In thy heart await their time?
Not thyself, but God's restraining,
Stays their growth of crime.

"Couldst thou boast, O child of weakness!
O'er the sons of wrong and strife,
Were their strong temptations planted
In thy path of life?

"Thou hast seen two streamlets gushing
From one fountain, clear and free,
But by widely varying channels
Searching for the sea.

"Glideth one through greenest valleys,
Kissing them with lips still sweet;
One, mad roaring down the mountains,
Stagnates at their feet.

"Is it choice whereby the Parsee
Kneels before his mother's fire?
In his black tent did the Tartar
Choose his wandering sire?

"He alone, whose hand is bounding
Human power and human will,
Looking through each soul's surrounding,
Knows its good or ill.

"For thyself, while wrong and sorrow
Make to thee their strong appeal,
Coward wert thou not to utter
What the heart must feel.

"Earnest words must needs be spoken
When the warm heart bleeds or burns
With its scorn of wrong, or pity
For the wronged, by turns.

"But, by all thy nature's weakness,
Hidden faults and follies known,
Be thou, in rebuking evil,
Conscious of thine own.

"Not the less shall stern-eyed Duty
To thy lips her trumpet set,
But with harsher blasts shall mingle
Wailings of regret."

Cease not, Voice of holy speaking,
Teacher sent of God, be near,
Whispering through the day's cool silence,
Let my spirit hear!

So, when thoughts of evil-doers
Waken scorn, or hatred move,
Shall a mournful fellow-feeling
Temper all with love.
1847.



THE ANGEL OF PATIENCE.

A FREE PARAPHRASE OF THE GERMAN.

To weary hearts, to mourning homes,
God's meekest Angel gently comes
No power has he to banish pain,
Or give us back our lost again;
And yet in tenderest love, our dear
And Heavenly Father sends him here.

There's quiet in that Angel's glance,
There 's rest in his still countenance!
He mocks no grief with idle cheer,
Nor wounds with words the mourner's ear;
But ills and woes he may not cure
He kindly trains us to endure.

Angel of Patience! sent to calm
Our feverish brows with cooling palm;
To lay the storms of hope and fear,
And reconcile life's smile and tear;
The throbs of wounded pride to still,
And make our own our Father's will.

O thou who mournest on thy way,
With longings for the close of day;
He walks with thee, that Angel kind,
And gently whispers, "Be resigned
Bear up, bear on, the end shall tell
The dear Lord ordereth all things well!"
1847.



THE WIFE OF MANOAH TO HER HUSBAND.

Against the sunset's glowing wall
The city towers rise black and tall,
Where Zorah, on its rocky height,
Stands like an armed man in the light.

Down Eshtaol's vales of ripened grain
Falls like a cloud the night amain,
And up the hillsides climbing slow
The barley reapers homeward go.

Look, dearest! how our fair child's head
The sunset light hath hallowed,
Where at this olive's foot he lies,
Uplooking to the tranquil skies.

Oh, while beneath the fervent heat
Thy sickle swept the bearded wheat,
I've watched, with mingled joy and dread,
Our child upon his grassy bed.

Joy, which the mother feels alone
Whose morning hope like mine had flown,
When to her bosom, over-blessed,
A dearer life than hers is pressed.

Dread, for the future dark and still,
Which shapes our dear one to its will;
Forever in his large calm eyes,
I read a tale of sacrifice.

The same foreboding awe I felt
When at the altar's side we knelt,
And he, who as a pilgrim came,
Rose, winged and glorious, through the flame.

I slept not, though the wild bees made
A dreamlike murmuring in the shade,
And on me the warm-fingered hours
Pressed with the drowsy smell of flowers.

Before me, in a vision, rose
The hosts of Israel's scornful foes,--
Rank over rank, helm, shield, and spear,
Glittered in noon's hot atmosphere.

I heard their boast, and bitter word,
Their mockery of the Hebrew's Lord,
I saw their hands His ark assail,
Their feet profane His holy veil.

No angel down the blue space spoke,
No thunder from the still sky broke;
But in their midst, in power and awe,
Like God's waked wrath, our child I saw!

A child no more!--harsh-browed and strong,
He towered a giant in the throng,
And down his shoulders, broad and bare,
Swept the black terror of his hair.

He raised his arm--he smote amain;
As round the reaper falls the grain,
So the dark host around him fell,
So sank the foes of Israel!

Again I looked. In sunlight shone
The towers and domes of Askelon;
Priest, warrior, slave, a mighty crowd
Within her idol temple bowed.

Yet one knelt not; stark, gaunt, and blind,
His arms the massive pillars twined,--
An eyeless captive, strong with hate,
He stood there like an evil Fate.

The red shrines smoked,--the trumpets pealed
He stooped,--the giant columns reeled;
Reeled tower and fane, sank arch and wall,
And the thick dust-cloud closed o'er all!

Above the shriek, the crash, the groan
Of the fallen pride of Askelon,
I heard, sheer down the echoing sky,
A voice as of an angel cry,--

The voice of him, who at our side
Sat through the golden eventide;
Of him who, on thy altar's blaze,
Rose fire-winged, with his song of praise.

"Rejoice o'er Israel's broken chain,
Gray mother of the mighty slain!
Rejoice!" it cried, "he vanquisheth!
The strong in life is strong in death!

"To him shall Zorah's daughters raise
Through coming years their hymns of praise,
And gray old men at evening tell
Of all be wrought for Israel.

"And they who sing and they who hear
Alike shall hold thy memory dear,
And pour their blessings on thy head,
O mother of the mighty dead!"

It ceased; and though a sound I heard
As if great wings the still air stirred,
I only saw the barley sheaves
And hills half hid by olive leaves.

I bowed my face, in awe and fear,
On the dear child who slumbered near;
"With me, as with my only son,
O God," I said, "Thy will be done!"
1847.



MY SOUL AND I

Stand still, my soul, in the silent dark
I would question thee,
Alone in the shadow drear and stark
With God and me!

What, my soul, was thy errand here?
Was it mirth or ease,
Or heaping up dust from year to year?
"Nay, none of these!"

Speak, soul, aright in His holy sight
Whose eye looks still
And steadily on thee through the night
"To do His will!"

What hast thou done, O soul of mine,
That thou tremblest so?
Hast thou wrought His task, and kept the line
He bade thee go?

Aha! thou tremblest!--well I see
Thou 'rt craven grown.
Is it so hard with God and me
To stand alone?

Summon thy sunshine bravery back,
O wretched sprite!
Let me hear thy voice through this deep and black
Abysmal night.

What hast thou wrought for Right and Truth,
For God and Man,
From the golden hours of bright-eyed youth
To life's mid span?

What, silent all! art sad of cheer?
Art fearful now?
When God seemed far and men were near,
How brave wert thou!

Ah, soul of mine, thy tones I hear,
But weak and low,
Like far sad murmurs on my ear
They come and go.

I have wrestled stoutly with the Wrong,
And borne the Right
From beneath the footfall of the throng
To life and light.

"Wherever Freedom shivered a chain,
God speed, quoth I;
To Error amidst her shouting train
I gave the lie."

Ah, soul of mine! ah, soul of mine!
Thy deeds are well:
Were they wrought for Truth's sake or for thine?
My soul, pray tell.

"Of all the work my hand hath wrought
Beneath the sky,
Save a place in kindly human thought,
No gain have I."

Go to, go to! for thy very self
Thy deeds were done
Thou for fame, the miser for pelf,
Your end is one!

And where art thou going, soul of mine?
Canst see the end?
And whither this troubled life of thine
Evermore doth tend?

What daunts thee now? what shakes thee so?
My sad soul say.
"I see a cloud like a curtain low
Hang o'er my way.

"Whither I go I cannot tell
That cloud hangs black,
High as the heaven and deep as hell
Across my track.

"I see its shadow coldly enwrap
The souls before.
Sadly they enter it, step by step,
To return no more.

"They shrink, they shudder, dear God! they kneel
To Thee in prayer.
They shut their eyes on the cloud, but feel
That it still is there.

"In vain they turn from the dread Before
To the Known and Gone;
For while gazing behind them evermore
Their feet glide on.

"Yet, at times, I see upon sweet pale faces
A light begin
To tremble, as if from holy places
And shrines within.

"And at times methinks their cold lips move
With hymn and prayer,
As if somewhat of awe, but more of love
And hope were there.

"I call on the souls who have left the light
To reveal their lot;
I bend mine ear to that wall of night,
And they answer not.

"But I hear around me sighs of pain
And the cry of fear,
And a sound like the slow sad dropping of rain,
Each drop a tear!

"Ah, the cloud is dark, and day by day
I am moving thither
I must pass beneath it on my way--
God pity me!--whither?"

Ah, soul of mine! so brave and wise
In the life-storm loud,
Fronting so calmly all human eyes
In the sunlit crowd!

Now standing apart with God and me
Thou art weakness all,
Gazing vainly after the things to be
Through Death's dread wall.

But never for this, never for this
Was thy being lent;
For the craven's fear is but selfishness,
Like his merriment.

Folly and Fear are sisters twain
One closing her eyes.
The other peopling the dark inane
With spectral lies.

Know well, my soul, God's hand controls
Whate'er thou fearest;
Round Him in calmest music rolls
Whate'er thou Nearest.

What to thee is shadow, to Him is day,
And the end He knoweth,
And not on a blind and aimless way
The spirit goeth.

Man sees no future,--a phantom show
Is alone before him;
Past Time is dead, and the grasses grow,
And flowers bloom o'er him.

Nothing before, nothing behind;
The steps of Faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The rock beneath.

The Present, the Present is all thou hast
For thy sure possessing;
Like the patriarch's angel hold it fast
Till it gives its blessing.

Why fear the night? why shrink from Death;
That phantom wan?
There is nothing in heaven or earth beneath
Save God and man.

Peopling the shadows we turn from Him
And from one another;
All is spectral and vague and dim
Save God and our brother!

Like warp and woof all destinies
Are woven fast,
Linked in sympathy like the keys
Of an organ vast.

Pluck one thread, and the web ye mar;
Break but one
Of a thousand keys, and the paining jar
Through all will run.

O restless spirit! wherefore strain
Beyond thy sphere?
Heaven and hell, with their joy and pain,
Are now and here.

Back to thyself is measured well
All thou hast given;
Thy neighbor's wrong is thy present hell,
His bliss, thy heaven.

And in life, in death, in dark and light,
All are in God's care
Sound the black abyss, pierce the deep of night,
And He is there!

All which is real now remaineth,
And fadeth never
The hand which upholds it now sustaineth
The soul forever.

Leaning on Him, make with reverent meekness
His own thy will,
And with strength from Him shall thy utter weakness
Life's task fulfil;

And that cloud itself, which now before thee
Lies dark in view,
Shall with beams of light from the inner glory
Be stricken through.

And like meadow mist through autumn's dawn
Uprolling thin,
Its thickest folds when about thee drawn
Let sunlight in.

Then of what is to be, and of what is done,
Why queriest thou?
The past and the time to be are one,
And both are now!
1847.



WORSHIP.

     "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this. To
     visit the fatherless and widows in, their affliction, and to keep
     himself unspotted from the world."--JAMES I. 27.

The Pagan's myths through marble lips are spoken,
And ghosts of old Beliefs still flit and moan
Round fane and altar overthrown and broken,
O'er tree-grown barrow and gray ring of stone.

Blind Faith had martyrs in those old high places,
The Syrian hill grove and the Druid's wood,
With mother's offering, to the Fiend's embraces,
Bone of their bone, and blood of their own blood.

Red altars, kindling through that night of error,
Smoked with warm blood beneath the cruel eye
Of lawless Power and sanguinary Terror,
Throned on the circle of a pitiless sky;

Beneath whose baleful shadow, overcasting
All heaven above, and blighting earth below,
The scourge grew red, the lip grew pale with fasting,
And man's oblation was his fear and woe!

Then through great temples swelled the dismal moaning
Of dirge-like music and sepulchral prayer;
Pale wizard priests, o'er occult symbols droning,
Swung their white censers in the burdened air

As if the pomp of rituals, and the savor
Of gums and spices could the Unseen One please;
As if His ear could bend, with childish favor,
To the poor flattery of the organ keys!

Feet red from war-fields trod the church aisles holy,
With trembling reverence: and the oppressor there,
Kneeling before his priest, abased and lowly,
Crushed human hearts beneath his knee of prayer.

Not such the service the benignant Father
Requireth at His earthly children's hands
Not the poor offering of vain rites, but rather
The simple duty man from man demands.

For Earth He asks it: the full joy of heaven
Knoweth no change of waning or increase;
The great heart of the Infinite beats even,
Untroubled flows the river of His peace.

He asks no taper lights, on high surrounding
The priestly altar and the saintly grave,
No dolorous chant nor organ music sounding,
Nor incense clouding tip the twilight nave.

For he whom Jesus loved hath truly spoken
The holier worship which he deigns to bless
Restores the lost, and binds the spirit broken,
And feeds the widow and the fatherless!

Types of our human weakness and our sorrow!
Who lives unhaunted by his loved ones dead?
Who, with vain longing, seeketh not to borrow
From stranger eyes the home lights which have fled?

O brother man! fold to thy heart thy brother;
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.

Follow with reverent steps the great example
Of Him whose holy work was "doing good;"
So shall the wide earth seem our Father's temple,
Each loving life a psalm of gratitude.

Then shall all shackles fall; the stormy clangor
Of wild war music o'er the earth shall cease;
Love shall tread out the baleful fire of anger,
And in its ashes plant the tree of peace!
1848.



THE HOLY LAND

     Paraphrased from the lines in Lamartine's _Adieu to Marseilles_,
     beginning

          "Je n'ai pas navigue sur l'ocean de sable."

I have not felt, o'er seas of sand,
The rocking of the desert bark;
Nor laved at Hebron's fount my hand,
By Hebron's palm-trees cool and dark;
Nor pitched my tent at even-fall,
On dust where Job of old has lain,
Nor dreamed beneath its canvas wall,
The dream of Jacob o'er again.

One vast world-page remains unread;
How shine the stars in Chaldea's sky,
How sounds the reverent pilgrim's tread,
How beats the heart with God so nigh
How round gray arch and column lone
The spirit of the old time broods,
And sighs in all the winds that moan
Along the sandy solitudes!

In thy tall cedars, Lebanon,
I have not heard the nations' cries,
Nor seen thy eagles stooping down
Where buried Tyre in ruin lies.
The Christian's prayer I have not said
In Tadmor's temples of decay,
Nor startled, with my dreary tread,
The waste where Memnon's empire lay.

Nor have I, from thy hallowed tide,
O Jordan! heard the low lament,
Like that sad wail along thy side
Which Israel's mournful prophet sent!
Nor thrilled within that grotto lone
Where, deep in night, the Bard of Kings
Felt hands of fire direct his own,
And sweep for God the conscious strings.

I have not climbed to Olivet,
Nor laid me where my Saviour lay,
And left His trace of tears as yet
By angel eyes unwept away;
Nor watched, at midnight's solemn time,
The garden where His prayer and groan,
Wrung by His sorrow and our crime,
Rose to One listening ear alone.

I have not kissed the rock-hewn grot
Where in His mother's arms He lay,
Nor knelt upon the sacred spot
Where last His footsteps pressed the clay;
Nor looked on that sad mountain head,
Nor smote my sinful breast, where wide
His arms to fold the world He spread,
And bowed His head to bless--and died!
1848.



THE REWARD

Who, looking backward from his manhood's prime,
Sees not the spectre of his misspent time?
And, through the shade
Of funeral cypress planted thick behind,
Hears no reproachful whisper on the wind
From his loved dead?

Who bears no trace of passion's evil force?
Who shuns thy sting, O terrible Remorse?
Who does not cast
On the thronged pages of his memory's book,
At times, a sad and half-reluctant look,
Regretful of the past?

Alas! the evil which we fain would shun
We do, and leave the wished-for good undone
Our strength to-day
Is but to-morrow's weakness, prone to fall;
Poor, blind, unprofitable servants all
Are we alway.

Yet who, thus looking backward o'er his years,
Feels not his eyelids wet with grateful tears,
If he hath been
Permitted, weak and sinful as he was,
To cheer and aid, in some ennobling cause,
His fellow-men?

If he hath hidden the outcast, or let in
A ray of sunshine to the cell of sin;
If he hath lent
Strength to the weak, and, in an hour of need,
Over the suffering, mindless of his creed
Or home, hath bent;

He has not lived in vain, and while he gives
The praise to Him, in whom he moves and lives,
With thankful heart;
He gazes backward, and with hope before,
Knowing that from his works he nevermore
Can henceforth part.
1848.



THE WISH OF TO-DAY.

I ask not now for gold to gild
With mocking shine a weary frame;
The yearning of the mind is stilled,
I ask not now for Fame.

A rose-cloud, dimly seen above,
Melting in heaven's blue depths away;
Oh, sweet, fond dream of human Love
For thee I may not pray.

But, bowed in lowliness of mind,
I make my humble wishes known;
I only ask a will resigned,
O Father, to Thine own!

To-day, beneath Thy chastening eye
I crave alone for peace and rest,
Submissive in Thy hand to lie,
And feel that it is best.

A marvel seems the Universe,
A miracle our Life and Death;
A mystery which I cannot pierce,
Around, above, beneath.

In vain I task my aching brain,
In vain the sage's thought I scan,
I only feel how weak and vain,
How poor and blind, is man.

And now my spirit sighs for home,
And longs for light whereby to see,
And, like a weary child, would come,
O Father, unto Thee!

Though oft, like letters traced on sand,
My weak resolves have passed away,
In mercy lend Thy helping hand
Unto my prayer to-day!
1848.



ALL'S WELL

The clouds, which rise with thunder, slake
Our thirsty souls with rain;
The blow most dreaded falls to break
From off our limbs a chain;
And wrongs of man to man but make
The love of God more plain.
As through the shadowy lens of even
The eye looks farthest into heaven
On gleams of star and depths of blue
The glaring sunshine never knew!
1850.



INVOCATION

Through Thy clear spaces, Lord, of old,
Formless and void the dead earth rolled;
Deaf to Thy heaven's sweet music, blind
To the great lights which o'er it shined;
No sound, no ray, no warmth, no breath,--
A dumb despair, a wandering death.

To that dark, weltering horror came
Thy spirit, like a subtle flame,--
A breath of life electrical,
Awakening and transforming all,
Till beat and thrilled in every part
The pulses of a living heart.

Then knew their bounds the land and sea;
Then smiled the bloom of mead and tree;
From flower to moth, from beast to man,
The quick creative impulse ran;
And earth, with life from thee renewed,
Was in thy holy eyesight good.

As lost and void, as dark and cold
And formless as that earth of old;
A wandering waste of storm and night,
Midst spheres of song and realms of light;
A blot upon thy holy sky,
Untouched, unwarned of thee, am I.

O Thou who movest on the deep
Of spirits, wake my own from sleep
Its darkness melt, its coldness warm,
The lost restore, the ill transform,
That flower and fruit henceforth may be
Its grateful offering, worthy Thee.
1851.



QUESTIONS OF LIFE

     And the angel that was sent unto me, whose name was Uriel,
     gave me an answer and said,
     "Thy heart hath gone too far in this world, and thinkest thou
     to comprehend the way of the Most High?"
     Then said I, "Yea, my Lord."
     Then said he unto me, "Go thy way, weigh me the weight of
     the fire or measure me the blast of the wind, or call me again the
     day that is past."--2 ESDRAS, chap. iv.

A bending staff I would not break,
A feeble faith I would not shake,
Nor even rashly pluck away
The error which some truth may stay,
Whose loss might leave the soul without
A shield against the shafts of doubt.

And yet, at times, when over all
A darker mystery seems to fall,
(May God forgive the child of dust,
Who seeks to know, where Faith should trust!)
I raise the questions, old and dark,
Of Uzdom's tempted patriarch,
And, speech-confounded, build again
The baffled tower of Shinar's plain.

I am: how little more I know!
Whence came I? Whither do I go?
A centred self, which feels and is;
A cry between the silences;
A shadow-birth of clouds at strife
With sunshine on the hills of life;
A shaft from Nature's quiver cast
Into the Future from the Past;
Between the cradle and the shroud,
A meteor's flight from cloud to cloud.

Thorough the vastness, arching all,
I see the great stars rise and fall,
The rounding seasons come and go,
The tided oceans ebb and flow;
The tokens of a central force,
Whose circles, in their widening course,
O'erlap and move the universe;
The workings of the law whence springs
The rhythmic harmony of things,
Which shapes in earth the darkling spar,
And orbs in heaven the morning star.
Of all I see, in earth and sky,--
Star, flower, beast, bird,--what part have I?
This conscious life,--is it the same
Which thrills the universal frame,
Whereby the caverned crystal shoots,
And mounts the sap from forest roots,
Whereby the exiled wood-bird tells
When Spring makes green her native dells?
How feels the stone the pang of birth,
Which brings its sparkling prism forth?
The forest-tree the throb which gives
The life-blood to its new-born leaves?
Do bird and blossom feel, like me,
Life's many-folded mystery,--
The wonder which it is to be?
Or stand I severed and distinct,
From Nature's "chain of life" unlinked?
Allied to all, yet not the less
Prisoned in separate consciousness,
Alone o'erburdened with a sense
Of life, and cause, and consequence?

In vain to me the Sphinx propounds
The riddle of her sights and sounds;
Back still the vaulted mystery gives
The echoed question it receives.
What sings the brook? What oracle
Is in the pine-tree's organ swell?
What may the wind's low burden be?
The meaning of the moaning sea?
The hieroglyphics of the stars?
Or clouded sunset's crimson bars?
I vainly ask, for mocks my skill
The trick of Nature's cipher still.

I turn from Nature unto men,
I ask the stylus and the pen;
What sang the bards of old? What meant
The prophets of the Orient?
The rolls of buried Egypt, hid
In painted tomb and pyramid?
What mean Idumea's arrowy lines,
Or dusk Elora's monstrous signs?
How speaks the primal thought of man
From the grim carvings of Copan?

Where rests the secret? Where the keys
Of the old death-bolted mysteries?
Alas! the dead retain their trust;
Dust hath no answer from the dust.

The great enigma still unguessed,
Unanswered the eternal quest;
I gather up the scattered rays
Of wisdom in the early days,
Faint gleams and broken, like the light
Of meteors in a northern night,
Betraying to the darkling earth
The unseen sun which gave them birth;
I listen to the sibyl's chant,
The voice of priest and hierophant;
I know what Indian Kreeshna saith,
And what of life and what of death
The demon taught to Socrates;
And what, beneath his garden-trees
Slow pacing, with a dream-like tread,--
The solemn-thoughted Plato said;
Nor lack I tokens, great or small,
Of God's clear light in each and all,
While holding with more dear regard
The scroll of Hebrew seer and bard,
The starry pages promise-lit
With Christ's Evangel over-writ,
Thy miracle of life and death,
O Holy One of Nazareth!

On Aztec ruins, gray and lone,
The circling serpent coils in stone,--
Type of the endless and unknown;
Whereof we seek the clue to find,
With groping fingers of the blind!
Forever sought, and never found,
We trace that serpent-symbol round
Our resting-place, our starting bound
Oh, thriftlessness of dream and guess!
Oh, wisdom which is foolishness!
Why idly seek from outward things
The answer inward silence brings?
Why stretch beyond our proper sphere
And age, for that which lies so near?
Why climb the far-off hills with pain,
A nearer view of heaven to gain?
In lowliest depths of bosky dells
The hermit Contemplation dwells.
A fountain's pine-hung slope his seat,
And lotus-twined his silent feet,
Whence, piercing heaven, with screened sight,
He sees at noon the stars, whose light
Shall glorify the coining night.

Here let me pause, my quest forego;
Enough for me to feel and know
That He in whom the cause and end,
The past and future, meet and blend,--
Who, girt with his Immensities,
Our vast and star-hung system sees,
Small as the clustered Pleiades,--
Moves not alone the heavenly quires,
But waves the spring-time's grassy spires,
Guards not archangel feet alone,
But deigns to guide and keep my own;
Speaks not alone the words of fate
Which worlds destroy, and worlds create,
But whispers in my spirit's ear,
In tones of love, or warning fear,
A language none beside may hear.

To Him, from wanderings long and wild,
I come, an over-wearied child,
In cool and shade His peace to find,
Lice dew-fall settling on my mind.
Assured that all I know is best,
And humbly trusting for the rest,
I turn from Fancy's cloud-built scheme,
Dark creed, and mournful eastern dream
Of power, impersonal and cold,
Controlling all, itself controlled,
Maker and slave of iron laws,
Alike the subject and the cause;
From vain philosophies, that try
The sevenfold gates of mystery,
And, baffled ever, babble still,
Word-prodigal of fate and will;
From Nature, and her mockery, Art;
And book and speech of men apart,
To the still witness in my heart;
With reverence waiting to behold
His Avatar of love untold,
The Eternal Beauty new and old!
1862.



FIRST-DAY THOUGHTS.

In calm and cool and silence, once again
I find my old accustomed place among
My brethren, where, perchance, no human tongue
Shall utter words; where never hymn is sung,
Nor deep-toned organ blown, nor censer swung,
Nor dim light falling through the pictured pane!
There, syllabled by silence, let me hear
The still small voice which reached the prophet's ear;
Read in my heart a still diviner law
Than Israel's leader on his tables saw!
There let me strive with each besetting sin,
Recall my wandering fancies, and restrain
The sore disquiet of a restless brain;
And, as the path of duty is made plain,
May grace be given that I may walk therein,
Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain,
With backward glances and reluctant tread,
Making a merit of his coward dread,
But, cheerful, in the light around me thrown,
Walking as one to pleasant service led;
Doing God's will as if it were my own,
Yet trusting not in mine, but in His strength alone!
1852.



TRUST.

The same old baffling questions! O my friend,
I cannot answer them. In vain I send
My soul into the dark, where never burn
The lamps of science, nor the natural light
Of Reason's sun and stars! I cannot learn
Their great and solemn meanings, nor discern
The awful secrets of the eyes which turn
Evermore on us through the day and night
With silent challenge and a dumb demand,
Proffering the riddles of the dread unknown,
Like the calm Sphinxes, with their eyes of stone,
Questioning the centuries from their veils of sand!
I have no answer for myself or thee,
Save that I learned beside my mother's knee;
"All is of God that is, and is to be;
And God is good." Let this suffice us still,
Resting in childlike trust upon His will
Who moves to His great ends unthwarted by the ill.
1853.



TRINITAS.

At morn I prayed, "I fain would see
How Three are One, and One is Three;
Read the dark riddle unto me."

I wandered forth, the sun and air
I saw bestowed with equal care
On good and evil, foul and fair.

No partial favor dropped the rain;
Alike the righteous and profane
Rejoiced above their heading grain.

And my heart murmured, "Is it meet
That blindfold Nature thus should treat
With equal hand the tares and wheat?"

A presence melted through my mood,--
A warmth, a light, a sense of good,
Like sunshine through a winter wood.

I saw that presence, mailed complete
In her white innocence, pause to greet
A fallen sister of the street.

Upon her bosom snowy pure
The lost one clung, as if secure
From inward guilt or outward lure.

"Beware!" I said; "in this I see
No gain to her, but loss to thee
Who touches pitch defiled must be."

I passed the haunts of shame and sin,
And a voice whispered, "Who therein
Shall these lost souls to Heaven's peace win?

"Who there shall hope and health dispense,
And lift the ladder up from thence
Whose rounds are prayers of penitence?"

I said, "No higher life they know;
These earth-worms love to have it so.
Who stoops to raise them sinks as low."

That night with painful care I read
What Hippo's saint and Calvin said;
The living seeking to the dead!

In vain I turned, in weary quest,
Old pages, where (God give them rest!)
The poor creed-mongers dreamed and guessed.

And still I prayed, "Lord, let me see
How Three are One, and One is Three;
Read the dark riddle unto me!"

Then something whispered, "Dost thou pray
For what thou hast? This very day
The Holy Three have crossed thy way.

"Did not the gifts of sun and air
To good and ill alike declare
The all-compassionate Father's care?

"In the white soul that stooped to raise
The lost one from her evil ways,
Thou saw'st the Christ, whom angels praise!

"A bodiless Divinity,
The still small Voice that spake to thee
Was the Holy Spirit's mystery!

"O blind of sight, of faith how small!
Father, and Son, and Holy Call
This day thou hast denied them all!

"Revealed in love and sacrifice,
The Holiest passed before thine eyes,
One and the same, in threefold guise.

"The equal Father in rain and sun,
His Christ in the good to evil done,
His Voice in thy soul;--and the Three are One!"

I shut my grave Aquinas fast;
The monkish gloss of ages past,
The schoolman's creed aside I cast.

And my heart answered, "Lord, I see
How Three are One, and One is Three;
Thy riddle hath been read to me!"
1858.



THE SISTERS

A PICTURE BY BARRY

The shade for me, but over thee
The lingering sunshine still;
As, smiling, to the silent stream
Comes down the singing rill.

So come to me, my little one,--
My years with thee I share,
And mingle with a sister's love
A mother's tender care.

But keep the smile upon thy lip,
The trust upon thy brow;
Since for the dear one God hath called
We have an angel now.

Our mother from the fields of heaven
Shall still her ear incline;
Nor need we fear her human love
Is less for love divine.

The songs are sweet they sing beneath
The trees of life so fair,
But sweetest of the songs of heaven
Shall be her children's prayer.

Then, darling, rest upon my breast,
And teach my heart to lean
With thy sweet trust upon the arm
Which folds us both unseen!
1858



"THE ROCK" IN EL GHOR.

Dead Petra in her hill-tomb sleeps,
Her stones of emptiness remain;
Around her sculptured mystery sweeps
The lonely waste of Edom's plain.

From the doomed dwellers in the cleft
The bow of vengeance turns not back;
Of all her myriads none are left
Along the Wady Mousa's track.

Clear in the hot Arabian day
Her arches spring, her statues climb;
Unchanged, the graven wonders pay
No tribute to the spoiler, Time!

Unchanged the awful lithograph
Of power and glory undertrod;
Of nations scattered like the chaff
Blown from the threshing-floor of God.

Yet shall the thoughtful stranger turn
From Petra's gates with deeper awe,
To mark afar the burial urn
Of Aaron on the cliffs of Hor;

And where upon its ancient guard
Thy Rock, El Ghor, is standing yet,--
Looks from its turrets desertward,
And keeps the watch that God has set.

The same as when in thunders loud
It heard the voice of God to man,
As when it saw in fire and cloud
The angels walk in Israel's van,

Or when from Ezion-Geber's way
It saw the long procession file,
And heard the Hebrew timbrels play
The music of the lordly Nile;

Or saw the tabernacle pause,
Cloud-bound, by Kadesh Barnea's wells,
While Moses graved the sacred laws,
And Aaron swung his golden bells.

Rock of the desert, prophet-sung!
How grew its shadowing pile at length,
A symbol, in the Hebrew tongue,
Of God's eternal love and strength.

On lip of bard and scroll of seer,
From age to age went down the name,
Until the Shiloh's promised year,
And Christ, the Rock of Ages, came!

The path of life we walk to-day
Is strange as that the Hebrews trod;
We need the shadowing rock, as they,--
We need, like them, the guides of God.

God send His angels, Cloud and Fire,
To lead us o'er the desert sand!
God give our hearts their long desire,
His shadow in a weary land!
1859.



THE OVER-HEART.

     "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things,
     to whom be glory forever! "--PAUL.

Above, below, in sky and sod,
In leaf and spar, in star and man,
Well might the wise Athenian scan
The geometric signs of God,
The measured order of His plan.

And India's mystics sang aright
Of the One Life pervading all,--
One Being's tidal rise and fall
In soul and form, in sound and sight,--
Eternal outflow and recall.

God is: and man in guilt and fear
The central fact of Nature owns;
Kneels, trembling, by his altar-stones,
And darkly dreams the ghastly smear
Of blood appeases and atones.

Guilt shapes the Terror: deep within
The human heart the secret lies
Of all the hideous deities;
And, painted on a ground of sin,
The fabled gods of torment rise!

And what is He? The ripe grain nods,
The sweet dews fall, the sweet flowers blow;
But darker signs His presence show
The earthquake and the storm are God's,
And good and evil interflow.

O hearts of love! O souls that turn
Like sunflowers to the pure and best!
To you the truth is manifest:
For they the mind of Christ discern
Who lean like John upon His breast!

In him of whom the sibyl told,
For whom the prophet's harp was toned,
Whose need the sage and magian owned,
The loving heart of God behold,
The hope for which the ages groaned!

Fade, pomp of dreadful imagery
Wherewith mankind have deified
Their hate, and selfishness, and pride!
Let the scared dreamer wake to see
The Christ of Nazareth at his side!

What doth that holy Guide require?
No rite of pain, nor gift of blood,
But man a kindly brotherhood,
Looking, where duty is desire,
To Him, the beautiful and good.

Gone be the faithlessness of fear,
And let the pitying heaven's sweet rain
Wash out the altar's bloody stain;
The law of Hatred disappear,
The law of Love alone remain.

How fall the idols false and grim!
And to! their hideous wreck above
The emblems of the Lamb and Dove!
Man turns from God, not God from him;
And guilt, in suffering, whispers Love!

The world sits at the feet of Christ,
Unknowing, blind, and unconsoled;
It yet shall touch His garment's fold,
And feel the heavenly Alchemist
Transform its very dust to gold.

The theme befitting angel tongues
Beyond a mortal's scope has grown.
O heart of mine! with reverence own
The fulness which to it belongs,
And trust the unknown for the known.
1859.



THE SHADOW AND THE LIGHT.

     "And I sought, whence is Evil: I set before the eye of my spirit
     the whole creation; whatsoever we see therein,--sea, earth, air,
     stars, trees, moral creatures,--yea, whatsoever there is we do not
     see,--angels and spiritual powers. Where is evil, and whence comes
     it, since God the Good hath created all things? Why made He
     anything at all of evil, and not rather by His Almightiness cause
     it not to be? These thoughts I turned in my miserable heart,
     overcharged with most gnawing cares." "And, admonished to return to
     myself, I entered even into my inmost soul, Thou being my guide,
     and beheld even beyond my soul and mind the Light unchangeable. He
     who knows the Truth knows what that Light is, and he that knows it
     knows Eternity! O--Truth, who art Eternity! Love, who art Truth!
     Eternity, who art Love! And I beheld that Thou madest all things
     good, and to Thee is nothing whatsoever evil. From the angel to the
     worm, from the first motion to the last, Thou settest each in its
     place, and everything is good in its kind. Woe is me!--how high art
     Thou in the highest, how deep in the deepest! and Thou never
     departest from us and we scarcely return to Thee."
     --AUGUSTINE'S Soliloquies, Book VII.

The fourteen centuries fall away
Between us and the Afric saint,
And at his side we urge, to-day,
The immemorial quest and old complaint.

No outward sign to us is given,--
From sea or earth comes no reply;
Hushed as the warm Numidian heaven
He vainly questioned bends our frozen sky.

No victory comes of all our strife,--
From all we grasp the meaning slips;
The Sphinx sits at the gate of life,
With the old question on her awful lips.

In paths unknown we hear the feet
Of fear before, and guilt behind;
We pluck the wayside fruit, and eat
Ashes and dust beneath its golden rind.

From age to age descends unchecked
The sad bequest of sire to son,
The body's taint, the mind's defect;
Through every web of life the dark threads run.

Oh, why and whither? God knows all;
I only know that He is good,
And that whatever may befall
Or here or there, must be the best that could.

Between the dreadful cherubim
A Father's face I still discern,
As Moses looked of old on Him,
And saw His glory into goodness turn!

For He is merciful as just;
And so, by faith correcting sight,
I bow before His will, and trust
Howe'er they seem He doeth all things right.

And dare to hope that Tie will make
The rugged smooth, the doubtful plain;
His mercy never quite forsake;
His healing visit every realm of pain;

That suffering is not His revenge
Upon His creatures weak and frail,
Sent on a pathway new and strange
With feet that wander and with eyes that fail;

That, o'er the crucible of pain,
Watches the tender eye of Love
The slow transmuting of the chain
Whose links are iron below to gold above!

Ah me! we doubt the shining skies,
Seen through our shadows of offence,
And drown with our poor childish cries
The cradle-hymn of kindly Providence.

And still we love the evil cause,
And of the just effect complain
We tread upon life's broken laws,
And murmur at our self-inflicted pain;

We turn us from the light, and find
Our spectral shapes before us thrown,
As they who leave the sun behind
Walk in the shadows of themselves alone.

And scarce by will or strength of ours
We set our faces to the day;
Weak, wavering, blind, the Eternal Powers
Alone can turn us from ourselves away.

Our weakness is the strength of sin,
But love must needs be stronger far,
Outreaching all and gathering in
The erring spirit and the wandering star.

A Voice grows with the growing years;
Earth, hushing down her bitter cry,
Looks upward from her graves, and hears,
"The Resurrection and the Life am I."

O Love Divine!--whose constant beam
Shines on the eyes that will not see,
And waits to bless us, while we dream
Thou leavest us because we turn from thee!

All souls that struggle and aspire,
All hearts of prayer by thee are lit;
And, dim or clear, thy tongues of fire
On dusky tribes and twilight centuries sit.

Nor bounds, nor clime, nor creed thou know'st,
Wide as our need thy favors fall;
The white wings of the Holy Ghost
Stoop, seen or unseen, o'er the heads of all.

O Beauty, old yet ever new!
Eternal Voice, and Inward Word,
The Logos of the Greek and Jew,
The old sphere-music which the Samian heard!

Truth, which the sage and prophet saw,
Long sought without, but found within,
The Law of Love beyond all law,
The Life o'erflooding mortal death and sin!

Shine on us with the light which glowed
Upon the trance-bound shepherd's way.
Who saw the Darkness overflowed
And drowned by tides of everlasting Day.

Shine, light of God!--make broad thy scope
To all who sin and suffer; more
And better than we dare to hope
With Heaven's compassion make our longings poor!
1860.



THE CRY OF A LOST SOUL.

     Lieutenant Herndon's Report of the Exploration of the Amazon has a
     striking description of the peculiar and melancholy notes of a
     bird heard by night on the shores of the river. The Indian guides
     called it "The Cry of a Lost Soul"! Among the numerous translations
     of this poem is one by the Emperor of Brazil.

In that black forest, where, when day is done,
With a snake's stillness glides the Amazon
Darkly from sunset to the rising sun,

A cry, as of the pained heart of the wood,
The long, despairing moan of solitude
And darkness and the absence of all good,

Startles the traveller, with a sound so drear,
So full of hopeless agony and fear,
His heart stands still and listens like his ear.

The guide, as if he heard a dead-bell toll,
Starts, drops his oar against the gunwale's thole,
Crosses himself, and whispers, "A lost soul!"

"No, Senor, not a bird. I know it well,--
It is the pained soul of some infidel
Or cursed heretic that cries from hell.

"Poor fool! with hope still mocking his despair,
He wanders, shrieking on the midnight air
For human pity and for Christian prayer.

"Saints strike him dumb! Our Holy Mother hath
No prayer for him who, sinning unto death,
Burns always in the furnace of God's wrath!"

Thus to the baptized pagan's cruel lie,
Lending new horror to that mournful cry,
The voyager listens, making no reply.

Dim burns the boat-lamp: shadows deepen round,
From giant trees with snake-like creepers wound,
And the black water glides without a sound.

But in the traveller's heart a secret sense
Of nature plastic to benign intents,
And an eternal good in Providence,

Lifts to the starry calm of heaven his eyes;
And to! rebuking all earth's ominous cries,
The Cross of pardon lights the tropic skies!

"Father of all!" he urges his strong plea,
"Thou lovest all: Thy erring child may be
Lost to himself, but never lost to Thee!

"All souls are Thine; the wings of morning bear
None from that Presence which is everywhere,
Nor hell itself can hide, for Thou art there.

"Through sins of sense, perversities of will,
Through doubt and pain, through guilt and shame  and ill,
Thy pitying eye is on Thy creature still.

"Wilt thou not make, Eternal Source and Goal!
In Thy long years, life's broken circle whole,
And change to praise the cry of a lost soul?"
1862.



ANDREW RYKMAN'S PRAYER

Andrew Rykman's dead and gone;
You can see his leaning slate
In the graveyard, and thereon
Read his name and date.

"_Trust is truer than our fears_,"
Runs the legend through the moss,
"_Gain is not in added years,
Nor in death is loss_."

Still the feet that thither trod,
All the friendly eyes are dim;
Only Nature, now, and God
Have a care for him.

There the dews of quiet fall,
Singing birds and soft winds stray:
Shall the tender Heart of all
Be less kind than they?

What he was and what he is
They who ask may haply find,
If they read this prayer of his
Which he left behind.


       .    .    .    .

Pardon, Lord, the lips that dare
Shape in words a mortal's prayer!
Prayer, that, when my day is done,
And I see its setting sun,
Shorn and beamless, cold and dim,
Sink beneath the horizon's rim,--
When this ball of rock and clay
Crumbles from my feet away,
And the solid shores of sense
Melt into the vague immense,
Father! I may come to Thee
Even with the beggar's plea,
As the poorest of Thy poor,
With my needs, and nothing more.

Not as one who seeks his home
With a step assured I come;
Still behind the tread I hear
Of my life-companion, Fear;
Still a shadow deep and vast
From my westering feet is cast,
Wavering, doubtful, undefined,
Never shapen nor outlined
From myself the fear has grown,
And the shadow is my own.

Yet, O Lord, through all a sense
Of Thy tender providence
Stays my failing heart on Thee,
And confirms the feeble knee;
And, at times, my worn feet press
Spaces of cool quietness,
Lilied whiteness shone upon
Not by light of moon or sun.
Hours there be of inmost calm,
Broken but by grateful psalm,
When I love Thee more than fear Thee,
And Thy blessed Christ seems near me,
With forgiving look, as when
He beheld the Magdalen.
Well I know that all things move
To the spheral rhythm of love,--
That to Thee, O Lord of all!
Nothing can of chance befall
Child and seraph, mote and star,
Well Thou knowest what we are
Through Thy vast creative plan
Looking, from the worm to man,
There is pity in Thine eyes,
But no hatred nor surprise.
Not in blind caprice of will,
Not in cunning sleight of skill,
Not for show of power, was wrought
Nature's marvel in Thy thought.
Never careless hand and vain
Smites these chords of joy and pain;
No immortal selfishness
Plays the game of curse and bless
Heaven and earth are witnesses
That Thy glory goodness is.

Not for sport of mind and force
Hast Thou made Thy universe,
But as atmosphere and zone
Of Thy loving heart alone.
Man, who walketh in a show,
Sees before him, to and fro,
Shadow and illusion go;
All things flow and fluctuate,
Now contract and now dilate.
In the welter of this sea,
Nothing stable is but Thee;
In this whirl of swooning trance,
Thou alone art permanence;
All without Thee only seems,
All beside is choice of dreams.
Never yet in darkest mood
Doubted I that Thou wast good,
Nor mistook my will for fate,
Pain of sin for heavenly hate,--
Never dreamed the gates of pearl
Rise from out the burning marl,
Or that good can only live
Of the bad conservative,
And through counterpoise of hell
Heaven alone be possible.

For myself alone I doubt;
All is well, I know, without;
I alone the beauty mar,
I alone the music jar.
Yet, with hands by evil stained,
And an ear by discord pained,
I am groping for the keys
Of the heavenly harmonies;
Still within my heart I bear
Love for all things good and fair.
Hands of want or souls in pain
Have not sought my door in vain;
I have kept my fealty good
To the human brotherhood;
Scarcely have I asked in prayer
That which others might not share.
I, who hear with secret shame
Praise that paineth more than blame,
Rich alone in favors lent,
Virtuous by accident,
Doubtful where I fain would rest,
Frailest where I seem the best,
Only strong for lack of test,--
What am I, that I should press
Special pleas of selfishness,
Coolly mounting into heaven
On my neighbor unforgiven?
Ne'er to me, howe'er disguised,
Comes a saint unrecognized;
Never fails my heart to greet
Noble deed with warmer beat;
Halt and maimed, I own not less
All the grace of holiness;
Nor, through shame or self-distrust,
Less I love the pure and just.
Lord, forgive these words of mine
What have I that is not Thine?
Whatsoe'er I fain would boast
Needs Thy pitying pardon most.
Thou, O Elder Brother! who
In Thy flesh our trial knew,
Thou, who hast been touched by these
Our most sad infirmities,
Thou alone the gulf canst span
In the dual heart of man,
And between the soul and sense
Reconcile all difference,
Change the dream of me and mine
For the truth of Thee and Thine,
And, through chaos, doubt, and strife,
Interfuse Thy calm of life.
Haply, thus by Thee renewed,
In Thy borrowed goodness good,
Some sweet morning yet in God's
Dim, veonian periods,
Joyful I shall wake to see
Those I love who rest in Thee,
And to them in Thee allied
Shall my soul be satisfied.

Scarcely Hope hath shaped for me
What the future life may be.
Other lips may well be bold;
Like the publican of old,
I can only urge the plea,
"Lord, be merciful to me!"
Nothing of desert I claim,
Unto me belongeth shame.
Not for me the, crowns of gold,
Palms, and harpings manifold;
Not for erring eye and feet
Jasper wall and golden street.
What thou wilt, O Father, give I
All is gain that I receive.

If my voice I may not raise
In the elders' song of praise,
If I may not, sin-defiled,
Claim my birthright as a child,
Suffer it that I to Thee
As an hired servant be;
Let the lowliest task be mine,
Grateful, so the work be Thine;
Let me find the humblest place
In the shadow of Thy grace
Blest to me were any spot
Where temptation whispers not.
If there be some weaker one,
Give me strength to help him on
If a blinder soul there be,
Let me guide him nearer Thee.
Make my mortal dreams come true
With the work I fain would do;
Clothe with life the weak intent,
Let me be the thing I meant;
Let me find in Thy employ
Peace that dearer is than joy;
Out of self to love be led
And to heaven acclimated,
Until all things sweet and good
Seem my natural habitude.

     .    .    .    .

So we read the prayer of him
Who, with John of Labadie,
Trod, of old, the oozy rim
Of the Zuyder Zee.

Thus did Andrew Rykman pray.
Are we wiser, better grown,
That we may not, in our day,
Make his prayer our own?





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