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The World's Best Poetry Volume IV. by Bliss Carman

Part 8 out of 9

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The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amid the war of elements,
The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds!


* * * * *



The black-haired gaunt Paulinus
By ruddy Edwin stood:--
"Bow down, O king of Deira,
Before the blessed Rood!
Cast out thy heathen idols.
And worship Christ our Lord."
--But Edwin looked and pondered,
And answered not a word.

Again the gaunt Paulinus
To ruddy Edwin spake:
"God offers life immortal
For his dear Son's own sake!
Wilt thou not hear his message,
Who bears the keys and sword?"
--But Edwin looked and pondered,
And answered not a word.

Rose then a sage old warrior
Was fivescore winters old;
Whose beard from chin to girdle
Like one long snow-wreath rolled:
"At Yule-time in our chamber
We sit in warmth and light,
While cold and howling round us
Lies the black land of Night.

"Athwart the room a sparrow
Darts from the open door:
Within the happy hearth-light
One red flash,--and no more!
We see it come from darkness,
And into darkness go:--
So is our life. King Edwin!
Alas, that it is so!

"But if this pale Paulinus
Have somewhat more to tell;
Some news of Whence and Whither,
And where the soul will dwell;--
If on that outer darkness
The sun of hope may shine;--
He makes life worth the living!
I take his God for mine!"

So spake the wise old warrior;
And all about him cried,
"Paulinus' God hath conquered!
And he shall be our guide:--
For he makes life worth living
Who brings this message plain,
When our brief days are over,
That we shall live again."


* * * * *


Could we but know
The land that ends our dark, uncertain travel,
Where lie those happier hills and meadows low;
Ah! if beyond the spirit's inmost cavil
Aught of that country could we surely know,
Who would not go?

Might we but hear
The hovering angels' high imagined chorus,
Or catch, betimes, with wakeful eyes and clear
One radiant vista of the realm before us,--
With one rapt moment given to see and hear,
Ah, who would fear?

Were we quite sure
To find the peerless friend who left us lonely,
Or there, by some celestial stream as pure,
To gaze in eyes that here were lovelit only,--
This weary mortal coil, were we quite sure,
Who would endure?


* * * * *


"Das stille Land."

Into the Silent Land!
Ah, who shall lead us thither?
Clouds in the evening sky more darkly gather,
And shattered wrecks lie thicker on the strand.
Who leads us with a gentle hand
Thither, oh, thither,
Into the Silent Land?

Into the Silent Land!
To you, ye boundless regions
Of all perfection! Tender morning-visions
Of beauteous souls! The future's pledge and band!
Who in life's battle firm doth stand
Shall bear hope's tender blossoms
Into the Silent Land!

O Land! O Land!
For all the broken-hearted
The mildest herald by our fate allotted
Beckons, and with inverted torch doth stand
To lead us with a gentle hand
Into the land of the great departed,
Into the Silent Land!


Translation of H.W. LONGFELLOW.

* * * * *


It lies around us like a cloud,--
A world we do not see;
Yet the sweet closing of an eye
May bring us there to be.

Its gentle breezes fan our cheek;
Amid our worldly cares
Its gentle voices whisper love,
And mingle with our prayers.

Sweet hearts around us throb and beat,
Sweet helping hands are stirred,
And palpitates the veil between
With breathings almost heard.

The silence--awful, sweet, and calm--
They have no power to break;
For mortal words are not for them
To utter or partake.

So thin, so soft, so sweet they glide,
So near to press they seem,--
They seem to lull us to our rest,
And melt into our dream.

And in the bush of rest they bring
'Tis easy now to see
How lovely and how sweet a pass
The hour of death may be.

To close the eye, and close the ear,
Rapt in a trance of bliss,
And gently dream in loving arms
To swoon to that--from this.

Scarce knowing if we wake or sleep,
Scarce asking where we are,
To feel all evil sink away,
All sorrow and all care.

Sweet souls around us! watch us still,
Press nearer to our side,
Into our thoughts, into our prayers,
With gentle helpings glide.

Let death between us be as naught,
A dried and vanished stream;
Your joy be the reality.
Our suffering life the dream.


* * * * *


I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spake with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.


* * * * *


High thoughts!
They come and go,
Like the soft breathings of a listening maiden,
While round me flow
The winds, from woods and fields with gladness laden:
When the corn's rustle on the ear doth come--
When the eve's beetle sounds its drowsy hum--
When the stars, dew-drops of the summer sky,
Watch over all with soft and loving eye--
While the leaves quiver
By the lone river,
And the quiet heart
From depths doth call
And garners all--
Earth grows a shadow
Forgotten whole,
And heaven lives
In the blessed soul!

High thoughts
They are with me
When, deep within the bosom of the forest,
Thy mourning melody
Abroad into the sky, thou, throstle! pourest.
When the young sunbeams glance among the trees--
When on the ear comes the soft song of bees--
When every branch has its own favorite bird
And songs of summer from each thicket heard!--
Where the owl flitteth,
Where the roe sitteth,
And holiness
Seems sleeping there;
While nature's prayer
Goes up to heaven
In purity,
Till all is glory
And joy to me!

High thoughts!
They are my own
When I am resting on a mountain's bosom,
And see below me strown
The huts and homes where humble virtues blossom;
When I can trace each streamlet through the meadow,
When I can follow every fitful shadow--
When I can watch the winds among the corn,
And see the waves along the forest borne;
Where blue-bell and heather
Are blooming together,
And far doth come
The Sabbath bell,
O'er wood and fell;
I hear the beating
Of nature's heart:
Heaven is before me--
God! thou art.

High thoughts!
They visit us
In moments when the soul is dim and darkened;
They come to bless,
After the vanities to which we hearkened:
When weariness hath come upon the spirit--
(Those hours of darkness which we all inherit)--
Bursts there not through a glint of warm sunshine,
A winged thought which bids us not repine?
In joy and gladness,
In mirth and sadness,
Come signs and tokens;
Life's angel brings,
Upon its wings,
Those bright communings
The soul doth keep--
Those thoughts of heaven
So pure and deep!


* * * * *


One sweetly solemn thought
Comes to me o'er and o'er;
I am nearer home to-day
That I ever have been before;

Nearer my Father's house,
Where the many mansions be;
Nearer the great white throne,
Nearer the crystal sea;

Nearer the bound of life,
Where we lay our burdens down;
Nearer leaving the cross,
Nearer gaining the crown!

But lying darkly between,
Winding down through the night,
Is the silent, unknown stream.
That leads at last to the light.

Closer and closer my steps
Come to the dread abysm:
Closer Death to my lips
Presses the awful chrism.

Oh, if my mortal feet
Have almost gained the brink;
If it be I am nearer home
Even to-day than I think;

Father, perfect my trust;
Let my spirit feel in death,
That her feet are firmly set
On the rock of a living faith!


* * * * *


If yon bright stars which gem the night
Be each a blissful dwelling-sphere
Where kindred spirits reunite
Whom death hath torn asunder here,--
How sweet it were at once to die,
To leave this blighted orb afar!
Mixt soul and soul to cleave the sky,
And soar away from star to star.

But oh, how dark, how drear, how lone,
Would seem the brightest world of bliss,
If, wandering through each radiant one,
We failed to meet the loved of this!
If there no more the ties shall twine
Which death's cold hand alone could sever,
Ah, would those stars in mockery shine,
More joyless, as they shine forever!

It cannot be,--each hope, each fear
That lights the eye or clouds the brow,
Proclaims there is a happier sphere
Than this bleak world that holds us now.
There, Lord, thy wayworn saints shall find
The bliss for which they longed before;
And holiest sympathies shall bind
Thine own to thee forevermore.

O Jesus, bring us to that rest,
Where all the ransomed shall be found,
In thine eternal fulness blest,
While ages roll their cycles round.


* * * * *


My days among the dead are passed;
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old;
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.

With them I take delight in weal,
And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedewed
With tears of thoughtful gratitude.

My thoughts are with the dead; with them
I live in long-past years;
Their virtues love, their faults condemn,
Partake their hopes and fears,
And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind.

My hopes are with the dead; anon
My place with them will be.
And I with them shall travel on
Through all futurity:
Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.


* * * * *


How shall I know thee in the sphere which keeps
The disembodied spirits of the dead,
When all of thee that time could wither sleeps
And perishes among the dust we tread?

For I shall feel the sting of ceaseless pain
If there I meet thy gentle presence not;
Nor hear the voice I love, nor read again
In thy serenest eyes the tender thought.

Will not thy own meek heart demand me there?
That heart whose fondest throbs to me were given;
My name on earth was ever in thy prayer,
And wilt thou never utter it in heaven?

In meadows fanned by heaven's life-breathing wind,
In the resplendence of that glorious sphere,
And larger movements of the unfettered mind,
Wilt thou forget the love that joined us here?

The love that lived through all the stormy past,
And meekly with my harsher nature bore,
And deeper grew, and tenderer to the last.
Shall it expire with life, and be no more?

A happier lot than mine, and larger light,
Await thee there; for thou hast bowed thy will
In cheerful homage to the rule of right,
And lovest all, and renderest good for ill.

For me, the sordid cares in which I dwell,
Shrink and consume my heart, as heat the scroll;
And wrath has left its scar--that fire of hell
Has left its frightful scar upon my soul.

Yet though thou wear'st the glory of the sky,
Wilt thou not keep the same beloved name,
The same fair thoughtful brow, and gentle eye,
Lovelier in heaven's sweet climate, yet the same?

Shalt thou not teach me, in that calmer home,
The wisdom that I learned so ill in this--
The wisdom which is love--till I become
Thy fit companion in that land of bliss?


* * * * *


That clime is not like this dull clime of ours;
All, all is brightness there;
A sweeter influence breathes around its flowers,
And a benigner air.
No calm below is like that calm above,
No region here is like that realm of love;
Earth's softest spring ne'er shed so soft a light,
Earth's brightest summer never shone so bright.

That sky is not like this sad sky of ours,
Tinged with earth's change and care;
No shadow dims it, and no rain-cloud lowers;
No broken sunshine there:
One everlasting stretch of azure pours
Its stainless splendor o'er those sinless shores;
For there Jehovah shines with heavenly ray,
And Jesus reigns, dispensing endless day.

The dwellers there are not like those of earth,--
No mortal stain they bear,--
And yet they seem of kindred blood and birth;
Whence and how came they there?
Earth was their native soil; from sin and shame,
Through tribulation, they to glory came;
Bond-slaves delivered from sin's crushing load,
Brands plucked from burning by the hand of God.

Yon robes of theirs are not like those below;
No angel's half so bright;
Whence came that beauty, whence that living glow,
And whence that radiant white?
Washed in the blood of the atoning Lamb,
Fair as the light these robes of theirs became;
And now, all tears wiped off from every eye,
They wander where the freshest pastures lie,
Through all the nightless day of that unfading sky!


* * * * *


Two worlds there are. To one our eyes we strain,
Whose magic joys we shall not see again;
Bright haze of morning veils its glimmering shore.
Ah, truly breathed we there
Intoxicating air--
Glad were our hearts in that sweet realm of

The lover there drank her delicious breath
Whose love has yielded since to change or death;
The mother kissed her child, whose days are o'er.
Alas! too soon have fled
The irreclaimable dead:
We see them--visions strange--amid the

The merrysome maiden used to sing--
The brown, brown hair that once was wont to cling
To temples long clay-cold: to the very core
They strike our weary hearts,
As some vexed memory starts
From that long faded land--the realm of

It is perpetual summer there. But here
Sadly may we remember rivers clear,
And harebells quivering on the meadow-floor.
For brighter bells and bluer,
For tenderer hearts and truer
People that happy land--the realm of

Upon the frontier of this shadowy land
We pilgrims of eternal sorrow stand:
What realm lies forward, with its happier store
Of forests green and deep,
Of valleys hushed in sleep,
And lakes most peaceful? 'Tis the land of

Very far off its marble cities seem--
Very far off--beyond our sensual dream--
Its woods, unruffled by the wild wind's roar;
Yet does the turbulent surge
Howl on its very verge.
One moment--and we breathe within the

They whom we loved and lost so long ago
Dwell in those cities, far from mortal woe--
Haunt those fresh woodlands, whence sweet carollings soar.
Eternal peace have they;
God wipes their tears away:
They drink that river of life which flows from

Thither we hasten through these regions dim,
But, lo, the wide wings of the Seraphim
Shine in the sunset! On that joyous shore
Our lightened hearts shall know
The life of long ago:
The sorrow-burdened past shall fade for


* * * * *


"Who would not go"
With buoyant steps, to gain that blessed portal,
Which opens to the land we long to know?
Where shall be satisfied the soul's immortal,
Where we shall drop the wearying and the woe
In resting so?

"Ah, who would fear?"
Since, sometimes through the distant pearly portal,
Unclosing to some happy soul a-near,
We catch a gleam of glorious light immortal,
And strains of heavenly music faintly hear,
Breathing good cheer!

"Who would endure"
To walk in doubt and darkness with misgiving,
When he whose tender promises are sure--
The Crucified, the Lord, the Ever-living--
Keeps us those "mansions" evermore secure
By waters pure?

Oh, wondrous land!
Fairer than all our spirit's fairest dreaming:
"Eye hath not seen," no heart can understand
The things prepared, the cloudless radiance streaming.
How longingly we wait our Lord's command--
His opening hand!

O dear ones there!
Whose voices, hushed, have left our pathway lonely,
We come, erelong, your blessed home to share;
We take the guiding hand, we trust it only--
Seeing, by faith, beyond this clouded air,
That land so fair!


* * * * *


Forever with the Lord!
Amen! so let it be!
Life from the dead is in that word,
And immortality.

Here in the body pent,
Absent from him I roam,
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day's march nearer home.

My Father's house on high,
Home of my soul! how near,
At times, to faith's foreseeing eye
Thy golden gates appear!

Ah! then my spirit faints
To reach the land I love,
The bright inheritance of saints,
Jerusalem above!

Yet clouds will intervene,
And all my prospect flies;
Like Noah's dove, I flit between
Rough seas and stormy skies.

Anon the clouds depart,
The winds and waters cease;
While sweetly o'er my gladdened heart
Expands the bow of peace!

Beneath its glowing arch,
Along the hallowed ground,
I see cherubic armies march,
A camp of fire around.

I hear at morn and even,
At noon and midnight hour,
The choral harmonies of heaven
Earth's Babel tongues o'erpower.

Then, then I feel that he,
Remembered or forgot,
The Lord, is never far from me,
Though I perceive him not.

In darkness as in light,
Hidden alike from view,
I sleep, I wake, as in his sight
Who looks all nature through.

All that I am, have been,
All that I yet may be,
He sees at once, as he hath seen,
And shall forever see.

"Forever with the Lord;"
Father, if 'tis thy will,
The promise of that faithful word
Unto thy child fulfil!

So, when my latest breath
Shall rend the veil in twain,
By death I shall escape from death,
And life eternal gain.


* * * * *


To heaven approached a Sufi Saint,
From groping in the darkness late,
And, tapping timidly and faint,
Besought admission at God's gate.

Said God, "Who seeks to enter here?"
"'Tis I, dear Friend," the Saint replied,
And trembling much with hope and fear.
"If it be _thou_, without abide."

Sadly to earth the poor Saint turned,
To bear the scourging of life's rods;
But aye his heart within him yearned
To mix and lose its love in God's.

He roamed alone through weary years,
By cruel men still scorned and mocked,
Until from faith's pure fires and tears
Again he rose, and modest knocked.

Asked God, "Who now is at the door?"
"It is thyself, beloved Lord,"
Answered the Saint, in doubt no more,
But clasped and rapt in his reward.

From the Persian of JALLAL-AD-DIN RUMI.

Translation of WILLIAM R. ALGER.

* * * * *



As in a wheel, all sinks, to reascend:
Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
With this minute distinction, emblems just,
Nature revolves, but man advances; both
Eternal, that a circle, this a line.
That gravitates, this soars. Th' aspiring soul,
Ardent, and tremulous, like flame, ascends,
Zeal and humility her wings, to Heaven.
The world of matter, with its various forms,
All dies into new life. Life born from death
Rolls the vast mass, and shall for ever roll.
No single atom, once in being, lost,
With change of counsel charges the Most High.
What hence infers Lorenzo? Can it be?
Matter immortal? And shall spirit die?
Above the nobler, shall less noble rise?
Shall man alone, for whom all else revives,
No resurrection know? Shall man alone,
Imperial man! be sown in barren ground,
Less privileged than grain, on which he feeds?

* * * * *

Look Nature through, 'tis neat gradation all.
By what minute degrees her scale ascends!
Each middle nature joined at each extreme,
To that above is joined, to that beneath;
Parts, into parts reciprocally shot,
Abhor divorce: what love of union reigns!
Here, dormant matter waits a call to life;
Half-life, half-death, joined there; here life and sense;
There, sense from reason steals a glimmering ray;
Reason shines out in man. But how preserved
The chain unbroken upward, to the realms
Of incorporeal life? those realms of bliss
Where death hath no dominion? Grant a make
Half-mortal, half-immortal; earthy, part,
And part ethereal; grant the soul of man
Eternal; or in man the series ends.
Wide yawns the gap; connection is no more;
Checked Reason halts; her next step wants support;
Striving to climb, she tumbles from her scheme.


* * * * *



FESTUS.-- Oh! there is
A life to come, or all's a dream.

LUCIFER.-- And all
May be a dream. Thou seest in thine, men, deeds,
Clear, moving, full of speech and order; then
Why may not all this world be but a dream
Of God's? Fear not! Some morning God may waken.

FESTUS.--I would it were. This life's a mystery.
The value of a thought cannot be told;
But it is clearly worth a thousand lives
Like many men's. And yet men love to live
As if mere life were worth their living for.
What but perdition will it be to most?
Life's more than breath and the quick round of blood;
It is a great spirit and a busy heart.
The coward and the small in soul scarce do live.
One generous feeling--one great thought--one deed
Of good, ere night, would make life longer seem
Than if each year might number a thousand days,
Spent as is this by nations of mankind.
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most--feels the noblest--acts the best.
Life's but a means unto an end--that end
Beginning, mean, and end to all things--God.


* * * * *


O beauteous God! uncircumscribed treasure
Of an eternal pleasure!
Thy throne is seated far
Above the highest star,
Where thou preparest a glorious place,
Within the brightness of thy face,
For every spirit
To inherit
That builds his hopes upon thy merit,
And loves thee with a holy charity.
What ravished heart, seraphic tongue, or eyes
Clear as the morning rise,
Can speak, or think, or see
That bright eternity,
Where the great King's transparent throne
Is of an entire jasper stone?
There the eye
O' the chrysolite,
And a sky
Of diamonds, rubies, chrysoprase,--
And above all thy holy face,--
Makes an eternal charity.
When thou thy jewels up dost bind, that day
Remember us, we pray,--
That where the beryl lies,
And the crystal 'bove the skies,
There thou mayest appoint us place
Within the brightness of thy face,--
And our soul
In the scroll
Of life and blissfulness enroll,
That we may praise thee to eternity. Allelujah!


* * * * *


Father! thy wonders do not singly stand,
Nor far removed where feet have seldom strayed;
Around us ever lies the enchanted land,
In marvels rich to thine own sons displayed.
In finding thee are all things round us found;
In losing thee are all things lost beside;
Ears have we, but in vain strange voices sound;
And to our eyes the vision is denied.
We wander in the country far remote,
Mid tombs and ruined piles in death to dwell;
Or on the records of past greatness dote,
And for a buried soul the living sell;
While on our path bewildered falls the night
That ne'er returns us to the fields of light.


* * * * *


Beyond these chilling winds and gloomy skies,
Beyond death's cloudy portal,
There is a land where beauty never dies,
Where love becomes immortal;

A land whose life is never dimmed by shade,
Whose fields are ever vernal;
Where nothing beautiful can ever fade,
But blooms for aye eternal.

We may know how sweet its balmy air,
How bright and fair its flowers;
We may not hear the songs that echo there,
Through those enchanted bowers.

The city's shining towers we may not see
With our dim earthly vision,
For Death, the silent warder, keeps the key
That opes the gates elysian.

But sometimes, when adown the western sky
A fiery sunset lingers,
Its golden gates swing inward noiselessly,
Unlocked by unseen fingers.

And while they stand a moment half ajar,
Gleams from the inner glory
Stream brightly through the azure vault afar,
And half reveal the story.

O land unknown! O land of love divine!
Father, all-wise, eternal!
O, guide these wandering, wayworn feet of mine
Into those pastures vernal!


* * * * *


Tell me, ye winged winds,
That round my pathway roar,
Do ye not know some spot
Where mortals weep no more?
Some lone and pleasant dell,
Some valley in the west,
Where, free from toil and pain,
The weary soul may rest?
The loud wind dwindled to a whisper low,
And sighed for pity as it answered,--"No."

Tell me, thou mighty deep.
Whose billows round me play,
Know'st thou some favored spot,
Some island far away,
Where weary man may find
The bliss for which he sighs,--
Where sorrow never lives,
And friendship never dies?
The loud waves, rolling in perpetual flow,
Stopped for awhile, and sighed to answer,--"No."

And thou, serenest moon,
That, with such lovely face,
Dost look upon the earth,
Asleep in night's embrace;
Tell me, in all thy round
Hast thou not seen some spot
Where miserable man
May find a happier lot?
Behind a cloud the moon withdrew in woe,
And a voice, sweet but sad, responded,--"No."

Tell me, my secret soul,
O, tell me, Hope and Faith,
Is there no resting-place
From sorrow, sin, and death?
Is there no happy spot
Where mortals may be blest,
Where grief may find a balm,
And weariness a rest?
Faith, Hope, and Love, best boons to mortals given,
Waved their bright wings, and whispered,--"Yes, in heaven!"


* * * * *


There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.

There everlasting spring abides,
And never-withering flowers;
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heavenly land from ours.

Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Stand dressed in living green;
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between.

But timorous mortals start and shrink
To cross this narrow sea,
And linger shivering on the brink,
And fear to launch away.

Oh! could we make our doubts remove,
Those gloomy doubts that rise,
And see the Canaan that we love
With unbeclouded eyes--

Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o'er,
Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood
Should fright us from the shore.


* * * * *


My soul, there is a country
Afar beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry,
All skilful in the wars.

There, above noise and danger,
Sweet peace sits crowned with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious friend,
And (O my soul awake!)
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake.

If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flower of peace--
The rose that cannot wither--
Thy fortress, and thy ease.

Leave, then, thy foolish ranges;
For none can thee secure,
But one who never changes--
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.


* * * * *



More and more stars! behold yon hazy arch
Spanning the vault on high,
By planets traversed in majestic march,
Seeming to earth's dull eye
A breath of gleaming air: but take thou wing
Of Faith and upward spring:--
Into a thousand stars the misty light
Will part; each star a world with its own day and night.

Not otherwise of yonder Saintly host
Upon the glorious shore
Deem thou. He marks them all, not one is lost;
By name He counts them o'er.
Full many a soul, to man's dim praise unknown,
May on its glory throne
As brightly shine, and prove as strong in prayer
As theirs, whose separate beams shoot keenest thro' this air.


* * * * *



And is there care in heaven? And is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is:--else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts: but O the exceeding grace
Of Highest God! that loves his creatures so,
And all his workes with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed angels he sends to and fro,
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe!

How oft do they their silver bowers leave,
To come to succour us that succour want!
How oft do they with golden pinions cleave
The flitting skyes, like flying pursuivant,
Against fowle feendes to ayd us militant!
They for us fight, they watch, and dewly ward,
And their bright squadrons round about us plant;
And all for love, and nothing for reward;
O, why should heavenly God to men have such regard!


* * * * *


Deep on the convent-roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapor goes:
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent-towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord:
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snow-drop of the year
That in my bosom lies.

As these white robes are soiled and dark,
To yonder shining ground;
As this pale taper's earthly spark,
To yonder argent round;
So shows my soul before the Lamb,
My spirit before Thee;
So in mine earthly house I am,
To that I hope to be.
Break up the heavens, O Lord! and far,
Through all yon starlight keen,
Draw me, thy bride, a glittering star,
In raiment white and clean.

He lifts me to the golden doors;
The flashes come and go;
All heaven bursts her starry floors,
And strows her lights below,
And deepens on and up! the gates
Roll backhand far within
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits,
To make me pure of sin.
The sabbath of Eternity,
One sabbath deep and wide--
A light upon the shining sea--
The Bridegroom with his bride!


* * * * *


[The poem _De Contemptu Mundi_ was written by Bernard de
Morlaix, Monk of Cluni. The translation following is of a
portion of the poem distinguished by the sub-title "Laus
Patriae Coelestis."]

The world is very evil,
The times are waxing late;
Be sober and keep vigil,
The Judge is at the gate,--
The Judge that comes in mercy,
The Judge that comes with might,
To terminate the evil,
To diadem the right.
When the just and gentle Monarch
Shall summon from the tomb,
Let man, the guilty, tremble,
For Man, the God, shall doom!

Arise, arise, good Christian,
Let right to wrong succeed;
Let penitential sorrow
To heavenly gladness lead,--
To the light that hath no evening,
That knows nor moon nor sun,
The light so new and golden,
The light that is but one.

And when the Sole-Begotten
Shall render up once more
The kingdom to the Father,
Whose own it was before,
Then glory yet unheard of
Shall shed abroad its ray,
Resolving all enigmas,
An endless Sabbath-day.

For thee, O dear, dear Country!
Mine eyes their vigils keep;
For very love, beholding
Thy happy name, they weep.
The mention of thy glory
Is unction to the breast,
And medicine in sickness,
And love, and life, and rest.

O one, O only Mansion!
O Paradise of Joy,
Where tears are ever banished,
And smiles have no alloy!
Beside thy living waters
All plants are, great and small,
The cedar of the forest,
The hyssop of the wall;
With jaspers glow thy bulwarks,
Thy streets with emeralds blaze,
The sardius and the topaz
Unite in thee their rays;
Thine ageless walls are bonded
With amethyst unpriced;
Thy Saints build up its fabric,
And the corner-stone is Christ.

The Cross is all thy splendor,
The Crucified thy praise;
His laud and benediction
Thy ransomed people raise:
"Jesus, the gem of Beauty,
True God and Man," they sing,
"The never-failing Garden,
The ever-golden Ring;
The Door, the Pledge, the Husband,
The Guardian of his Court;
The Day-star of Salvation,
The Porter and the Port!"

Thou hast no shore, fair ocean!
Thou hast no time, bright day!
Dear fountain of refreshment
To pilgrims far away!
Upon the Rock of Ages
They raise thy holy tower;
Thine is the victor's laurel,
And thine the golden dower!

Thou feel'st in mystic rapture,
O Bride that know'st no guile,
The Prince's sweetest kisses,
The Prince's loveliest smile;
Unfading lilies, bracelets
Of living pearl thine own;
The Lamb is ever near thee,
The Bridegroom thine alone.
The Crown is he to guerdon,
The Buckler to protect,
And he himself the Mansion,
And he the Architect.

The only art thou needest--
Thanksgiving for thy lot;
The only joy thou seekest--
The Life where Death is not.
And all thine endless leisure,
In sweetest accents, sings
The ill that was thy merit,
The wealth that is thy King's!

Jerusalem the golden,
With milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation
Sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not,
What social joys are there!
What radiancy of glory,
What light beyond compare!

And when I fain would sing them,
My spirit fails and faints;
And vainly would it image
The assembly of the Saints.

They stand, those halls of Zion,
Conjubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel,
And all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them,
The daylight is serene;
The pastures of the Blessed
Are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the Throne of David,
And there, from care released,
The song of them that triumph,
The shout of them that feast;
And they who, with their Leader,
Have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever
Are clad in robes of white!

O holy, placid harp-notes
Of that eternal hymn!
O sacred, sweet reflection,
And peace of Seraphim!
O thirst, forever ardent,
Yet evermore content!
O true peculiar vision
Of God cunctipotent!
Ye know the many mansions
For many a glorious name,
And divers retributions
That divers merits claim;
For midst the constellations
That deck our earthly sky,
This star than that is brighter--
And so it is on high.

Jerusalem the glorious!
The glory of the Elect!
O dear and future vision
That eager hearts expect!
Even now by faith I see thee,
Even here thy walls discern;
To thee my thoughts are kindled,
And strive, and pant, and yearn.

Jerusalem the only,
That look'st from heaven below,
In thee is all my glory,
In me is all my woe;
And though my body may not,
My spirit seeks thee fain,
Till flesh and earth return me
To earth and flesh again.

O none can tell thy bulwarks,
How gloriously they rise!
O none can tell thy capitals
Of beautiful device!
Thy loveliness oppresses
All human thought and heart;
And none, O peace, O Zion,
Can sing thee as thou art!

New mansion of new people,
Whom God's own love and light
Promote, increase, make holy,
Identify, unite!
Thou City of the Angels!
Thou City of the Lord!
Whose everlasting music
Is the glorious decachord!

And there the band of Prophets
United praise ascribes,
And there the twelvefold chorus
Of Israel's ransomed tribes.
The lily-beds of virgins,
The roses' martyr-glow,
The cohort of the Fathers
Who kept the faith below.

And there the Sole-Begotten
Is Lord in regal state,--
He, Judah's mystic Lion,
He, Lamb Immaculate.
O fields that know no sorrow!
O state that fears no strife!
O princely bowers! O land of flowers!
O realm and home of Life!

Jerusalem, exulting
On that securest shore,
I hope thee, wish thee, sing thee,
And love thee evermore!
I ask not for my merit,
I seek not to deny
My merit is destruction,
A child of wrath am I;
But yet with faith I venture
And hope upon my way;
For those perennial guerdons
I labor night and day.

The best and dearest Father,
Who made me and who saved,
Bore with me in defilement,
And from defilement laved,
When in his strength I struggle,
For very joy I leap,
When in my sin I totter,
I weep, or try to weep:
Then grace, sweet grace celestial,
Shall all its love display,
And David's Royal Fountain
Purge every sin away.

O mine, my golden Zion!
O lovelier far than gold,
With laurel-girt battalions,
And safe victorious fold!
O sweet and blessed Country,
Shall I ever see thy face?
O sweet and blessed Country,
Shall I ever win thy grace?
I have the hope within me
To comfort and to bless!
Shall I ever win the prize itself?
O tell me, tell me, Yes!

Exult! O dust and ashes!
The Lord shall be thy part;
His only, his forever,
Thou shalt be, and thou art!
Exult, O dust and ashes!
The Lord shall be thy part;
His only, his forever,
Thou shalt be, and thou art!

From the Latin of BERNARD DE MORLAIX.

Translation of JOHN MASON NEALE.

* * * * *



"Since Christ's fair truth needs no man's art,
Take this rude song in better part."

O mother dear, Jerusalem,
When shall I come to thee?
When shall my sorrows have an end--
Thy joys when shall I see?
O happy harbor of God's saints!
O sweet and pleasant soil!
In thee no sorrows can be found--
No grief, no care, no toil.

In thee no sickness is at all,
No hurt, nor any sore;
There is no death nor ugly night,
But life for evermore.
No dimming cloud o'ershadows thee,
No cloud nor darksome night,
But every soul shines as the sun--
For God himself gives light.

There lust and lucre cannot dwell,
There envy bears no sway;
There is no hunger, thirst, nor heat.
But pleasures every way.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Would God I were in thee!
Oh! that my sorrows had an end,
Thy joys that I might see!

No pains, no pangs, no grieving griefs,
No woful night is there;
No sigh, no sob, no cry is heard--
No well-away, no fear.
Jerusalem the city is
Of God our king alone;
The Lamb of God, the light thereof,
Sits there upon His throne.

O God! that I Jerusalem
With speed may go behold!
For why? the pleasures there abound
Which here cannot be told.
Thy turrets and thy pinnacles
With carbuncles do shine--
With jasper, pearl, and chrysolite,
Surpassing pure and fine.

Thy houses are of ivory,
Thy windows crystal clear,
Thy streets are laid with beaten gold--
There angels do appear.
Thy walls are made of precious stone,
Thy bulwarks diamond square,
Thy gates are made of orient pearl--
O God! if I were there!

Within thy gates no thing can come
That is not passing clean;
No spider's web, no dirt, nor dust,
No filth may there be seen.
Jehovah, Lord, now come away,
And end my griefs and plaints--
Take me to Thy Jerusalem,
And place me with Thy saints!

Who there are crowned with glory great,
And see God face to face,
They triumph still, and aye rejoice--
Most happy is their case.
But we that are in banishment,
Continually do moan;
We sigh, we mourn, we sob, we weep--
Perpetually we groan.

Our sweetness mixed is with gall,
Our pleasures are but pain,
Our joys not worth the looking on--
Our sorrows aye remain.
But there they live in such delight,
Such pleasure and such play,
That unto them a thousand years
Seems but as yesterday.

O my sweet home, Jerusalem!
Thy joys when shall I see--
The King sitting upon His throne,
And thy felicity?
Thy vineyards, and thy orchards,
So wonderfully rare,
Are furnished with all kinds of fruit,
Most beautifully fair.

Thy gardens and thy goodly walks
Continually are green;
There grow such sweet and pleasant flowers
As nowhere else are seen.
There cinnamon and sugar grow,
There nard and balm abound;
No tongue can tell, no heart can think,
The pleasures there are found.

There nectar and ambrosia spring--
There music's ever sweet;
There many a fair and dainty thing
Are trod down under feet.
Quite through the streets, with pleasant sound,
The flood of life doth flow;
Upon the banks, on every side,
The trees of life do grow.

These trees each month yield ripened fruit--
For evermore they spring;
And all the nations of the world
To thee their honors bring.
Jerusalem, God's dwelling-place,
Full sore I long to see;
Oh! that my sorrows had an end,
That I might dwell in thee!

There David stands, with harp in hand,
As master of the choir;
A thousand times that man were blest
That might his music hear.
There Mary sings "Magnificat,"
With tunes surpassing sweet;
And all the virgins bear their part,
Singing around her feet.

"Te Deum," doth Saint Ambrose sing,
Saint Austin doth the like;
Old Simeon and Zacharie
Have not their songs to seek.
There Magdalene hath left her moan,
And cheerfully doth sing,
With all blest saints whose harmony
Through every street doth ring.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Thy joys fain would I see;
Come quickly, Lord, and end my grief,
And take me home to Thee;
Oh! paint Thy name on my forehead,
And take me hence away,
That I may dwell with Thee in bliss,
And sing Thy praises aye.

Jerusalem, the happy home--
Jehovah's throne on high!
O sacred city, queen, and wife
Of Christ eternally!
O comely queen with glory clad,
With honor and degree,
All fair thou art, exceeding bright--
No spot there is in thee!

I long to see Jerusalem,
The comfort of us all;
For thou art fair and beautiful--
None ill can thee befall.
In thee, Jerusalem, I say,
No darkness dare appear--
No night, no shade, no winter foul--
No time doth alter there.

No candle needs, no moon to shine,
No glittering star to light;
For Christ, the king of righteousness,
For ever shineth bright.
A lamb unspotted, white and pure,
To thee doth stand in lieu
Of light--so great the glory is
Thine heavenly king to view.

He is the King of kings beset
In midst His servants' sight:
And they, His happy household all,
Do serve Him day and night.
There, there the choir of angels sing--
There the supernal sort
Of citizens, which hence are rid
From dangers deep, do sport.

There be the prudent prophets all,
The apostles six and six,
The glorious martyrs in a row,
And confessors betwixt.
There doth the crew of righteous men
And matrons all consist--
Young men and maids that here on earth
Their pleasures did resist.

The sheep and lambs, that hardly 'scaped
The snare of death and hell,
Triumph in joy eternally,
Whereof no tongue can tell;
And though the glory of each one
Doth differ in degree,
Yet is the joy of all alike
And common, as we see.

There love and charity do reign,
And Christ is all in all,
Whom they most perfectly behold
In joy celestial.
They love, they praise--they praise, they love;
They "Holy, holy," cry;
They neither toil, nor faint, nor end,
But laud continually.

Oh! happy thousand times were I,
If, after wretched days,
I might with listening ears conceive
Those heavenly songs of praise,
Which to the eternal king are sung
By happy wights above--
By saved souls and angels sweet,
Who love the God of love.

Oh! passing happy were my state,
Might I be worthy found
To wait upon my God and king,
His praises there to sound;
And to enjoy my Christ above,
His favor and His grace,
According to His promise made,
Which here I interlace:

"O Father dear," quoth He, "let them
Which Thou hast put of old
To me, be there where lo! I am--
Thy glory to behold;
Which I with Thee, before the world
Was made in perfect wise,
Have had--from whence the fountain great
Of glory doth arise."

Again: "If any man will serve
Thee, let him follow me;
For where I am, he there, right sure,
Then shall my servant be."
And still: "If any man loves me,
Him loves my Father dear,
Whom I do love--to him myself
In glory will appear."

Lord, take away my misery,
That then I may be bold
With Thee, in Thy Jerusalem,
Thy glory to behold;
And so in Zion see my king,
My love, my Lord, my all--
Where now as in a glass I see,
There face to face I shall.

Oh! blessed are the pure in heart--
Their sovereign they shall see;
O ye most happy, heavenly wights,
Which of God's household be!
O Lord, with speed dissolve my bands,
These gins and fetters strong;
For I have dwelt within the tents
Of Kedar over long.

Yet search me, Lord, and find me out!
Fetch me Thy fold unto,
That all Thy angels may rejoice,
While all Thy will I do.
O mother dear! Jerusalem!
When shall I come to thee?
When shall my sorrows have an end,
Thy joys when shall I see?

Yet once again I pray Thee, Lord,
To quit me from all strife,
That to Thy hill I may attain,
And dwell there all my life--
With cherubim and seraphim
And holy souls of men,
To sing Thy praise, O God of hosts!
Forever and amen!


* * * * *


O Paradise, O Paradise,
Who doth not crave for rest,
Who would not seek the happy land
Where they that loved are blest?
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight.

O Paradise, O Paradise,
The world is growing old;
Who would not be at rest and free
Where love is never cold?
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight.

O Paradise, O Paradise,
Wherefore doth death delay?--
Bright death, that is the welcome dawn
Of our eternal day;
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight.

O Paradise, O Paradise,
'Tis weary waiting here;
I long to be where Jesus is,
To feel, to see him near;
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight.

O Paradise, O Paradise,
I want to sin no more,
I want to be as pure on earth
As on thy spotless shore;
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight.

O Paradise, O Paradise,
I greatly long to see
The special place my dearest Lord
Is destining for me;
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight.

O Paradise, O Paradise,
I feel 'twill not be long;
Patience! I almost think I hear
Faint fragments of thy song;
Where loyal hearts and true
Stand ever in the light,
All rapture through and through,
In God's most holy sight.



* * * * *




"Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

* * * * *




When I was freed
From all those spirits, who prayed for others' prayers
To hasten on their state of blessedness;
Straight I began: "O thou, my luminary!
It seems expressly in thy text denied,
That Heaven's supreme decree can ever bend
To supplication; yet with this design
Do these entreat. Can then their hope be vain?
Or is thy saying not to be revealed?"
He thus to me: "Both what I write is plain,
And these deceived not in their hope; if well
Thy mind consider, that the sacred height
Of judgment doth not stoop, because love's flame
In a short moment all fulfils, which he,
Who sojourns here, in right should satisfy.
Besides, when I this point concluded thus,
By praying no defect could be supplied:
Because the prayer had none access to God.
Yet in this deep suspicion rest thou not
Contented, unless she assure thee so,
Who betwixt truth and mind infuses light:
I know not if thou take me right; I mean
Beatrice. Her thou shalt behold above,
Upon this mountain's crown, fair seat of joy."

* * * * *



"O thou Almighty Father! who dost make
The heavens thy dwelling, not in bounds confined,
But that, with love intenser, there thou view'st
Thy primal effluence; hallowed be thy name:
Join, each created being, to extol
Thy might; for worthy humblest thanks and praise
Is thy blest Spirit. May thy kingdom's peace
Come unto us; for we, unless it come,
With all our striving, thither tend in vain.
As, of their will, the angels unto thee
Tender meet sacrifice, circling thy throne
With loud hosannas; so of theirs be done
By saintly men on earth. Grant us, this day,
Our daily manna, without which he roams
Through this rough desert retrograde, who most
Toils to advance his steps. As we to each
Pardon the evil done us, pardon thou
Benign, and of our merit take no count.
'Gainst the old adversary, prove thou not
Our virtue, easily subdued; but free
From his incitements, and defeat his wiles.
This last petition, dearest Lord! is made
Not for ourselves; since that were needless now;
But for their sakes who after us remain."

* * * * *



"Ye, who live,
Do so each cause refer to heaven above,
E'en as its motion, of necessity,
Drew with it all that moves. If this were so,
Free choice in you were none; nor justice would
There should be joy for virtue, woe for ill.
Your movements have their primal bent from heaven;
Not all: yet said I all; what then ensues?
Light have ye still to follow evil or good,
And of the will free power, which, if it stand
Firm and unwearied in Heaven's first assay,
Conquers at last, so it be cherished well,
Triumphant over all. To mightier force,
To better nature subject, ye abide
Free, not constrained by that which forms in you
The reasoning mind uninfluenced of the stars.
If then the present race of mankind err,
Seek in yourselves the cause, and find it there."

* * * * *



Now was the sun so stationed, as when first
His early radiance quivers on the heights,
Where streamed his Maker's blood; while Libra hangs
Above Hesperian Ebro; and new fires,
Meridian, flash on Ganges' yellow tide.
So day was sinking, when the angel of God
Appeared before us. Joy was in his mien.
Forth of the flame he stood upon the brink;
And with a voice, whose lively clearness far
Surpassed our human, "Blessed are the pure
In heart," he sang: then near him as we came,
"Go ye not further, holy spirits!" he cried,
"Ere the fire pierce you: enter in; and list
Attentive to the song ye hear from thence."
I, when I heard his saying, was as one
Laid in the grave. My hands together clasped,
And upward stretching, on the fire I looked;
And busy fancy conjured up the forms
Erewhile beheld alive consumed in flames.
The escorting spirits turned with gentle looks
Toward me; and the Mantuan spake: "My son,
Here torment thou may'st feel, but canst not death.
Remember thee, remember thee, if I
Safe e'en on Geryon brought thee; now I come
More near to God, wilt thou not trust me now?
Of this be sure; though in its womb that flame
A thousand years contained thee, from thy head
No hair should perish. If thou doubt my truth,
Approach; and with thy hands thy vesture's hem
Stretch forth, and for thyself confirm belief.
Lay now all fear, oh! lay all fear aside.
Turn hither, and come onward undismayed."
I still, though conscience urged, no step advanced.

* * * * *

Into the fire before me then he walked:
And Statius, who erewhile no little space
Had parted us, he prayed to come behind.
I would have cast me into molten glass
To cool me, when I entered; so intense
Raged the conflagrant mass. The sire beloved,
To comfort me, as he proceeded, still
Of Beatrice talked. "Her eyes," saith he,
"E'en now I seem to view." From the other side
A voice, that sang, did guide us; and the voice
Following, with heedful ear, we issued forth,
There where the path led upward. "Come," we heard,
"Come, blessed of my Father." Such the sounds,
That hailed us from within a light, which shone
So radiant, I could not endure the view.
"The sun," it added, "hastes: and evening comes.
Delay not: ere the western sky is hung
With blackness, strive ye for the pass." Our way
Upright within the rock arose, and faced
Such part of heaven, that from before my steps
The beams were shrouded of the sinking sun.

* * * * *




What I have heard,
Is plain, thou say'st: but wherefore God this way
For our redemption chose, eludes my search.
"Brother! no eye of man not perfected,
Nor fully ripened in the flame of love,
May fathom this decree. It is a mark,
In sooth, much aimed at, and but little kenned:
And I will therefore show thee why such way
Was worthiest. The celestial love, that spurns
All envying in its bounty, in itself
With such effulgence blazeth, as sends forth
All beauteous things eternal. What distils
Immediate thence, no end of being knows;
Bearing its seal immutably imprest.
Whatever thence immediate falls, is free,
Free wholly, uncontrollable by power
Of each thing new: by such conformity
More grateful to its author, whose bright beams,

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