This etext was compiled and prepared by John Bechard, an American living in London, England. JaBBechard@aol.com
A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul
by George MacDonald
The Diary of an Old Soul was first published in 1880.
[The dedication refers to the fact that the book was originally published using only the right-hand side pages of the book, leaving the left-hand side blank to allow for and acknowledge any thoughtful reader responses.] JB
Sweet friends, receive my offering. You will find Against each worded page a white page set:– This is the mirror of each friendly mind Reflecting that. In this book we are met. Make it, dear hearts, of worth to you indeed:– Let your white page be ground, my print be seed, Growing to golden ears, that faith and hope shall feed.
YOUR OLD SOUL
The Diary of an Old Soul.
LORD, what I once had done with youthful might, Had I been from the first true to the truth, Grant me, now old, to do–with better sight, And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth; So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and ruth, Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain, Round to his best–young eyes and heart and brain.
A dim aurora rises in my east,
Beyond the line of jagged questions hoar, As if the head of our intombed High Priest Began to glow behind the unopened door:
Sure the gold wings will soon rise from the gray!– They rise not. Up I rise, press on the more, To meet the slow coming of the Master’s day.
Sometimes I wake, and, lo! I have forgot, And drifted out upon an ebbing sea!
My soul that was at rest now resteth not, For I am with myself and not with thee;
Truth seems a blind moon in a glaring morn, Where nothing is but sick-heart vanity:
Oh, thou who knowest! save thy child forlorn.
Death, like high faith, levelling, lifteth all. When I awake, my daughter and my son,
Grown sister and brother, in my arms shall fall, Tenfold my girl and boy. Sure every one
Of all the brood to the old wings will run. Whole-hearted is my worship of the man
>From whom my earthly history began.
Thy fishes breathe but where thy waters roll; Thy birds fly but within thy airy sea;
My soul breathes only in thy infinite soul; I breathe, I think, I love, I live but thee. Oh breathe, oh think,–O Love, live into me; Unworthy is my life till all divine,
Till thou see in me only what is thine.
Then shall I breathe in sweetest sharing, then Think in harmonious consort with my kin; Then shall I love well all my father’s men, Feel one with theirs the life my heart within. Oh brothers! sisters holy! hearts divine! Then I shall be all yours, and nothing mine– To every human heart a mother-twin.
I see a child before an empty house,
Knocking and knocking at the closed door; He wakes dull echoes–but nor man nor mouse, If he stood knocking there for evermore.– A mother angel, see! folding each wing,
Soft-walking, crosses straight the empty floor, And opens to the obstinate praying thing.
Were there but some deep, holy spell, whereby Always I should remember thee–some mode Of feeling the pure heat-throb momently
Of the spirit-fire still uttering this I!– Lord, see thou to it, take thou remembrance’ load: Only when I bethink me can I cry;
Remember thou, and prick me with love’s goad.
If to myself–“God sometimes interferes”– I said, my faith at once would be struck blind. I see him all in all, the lifing mind,
Or nowhere in the vacant miles and years. A love he is that watches and that hears, Or but a mist fumed up from minds of men, Whose fear and hope reach out beyond their ken.
When I no more can stir my soul to move, And life is but the ashes of a fire;
When I can but remember that my heart Once used to live and love, long and aspire,– Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art; Be thou the calling, before all answering love, And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.
I thought that I had lost thee; but, behold! Thou comest to me from the horizon low,
Across the fields outspread of green and gold– Fair carpet for thy feet to come and go. Whence I know not, or how to me thou art come!– Not less my spirit with calm bliss doth glow, Meeting thee only thus, in nature vague and dumb.
Doubt swells and surges, with swelling doubt behind! My soul in storm is but a tattered sail, Streaming its ribbons on the torrent gale; In calm, ’tis but a limp and flapping thing: Oh! swell it with thy breath; make it a wing,– To sweep through thee the ocean, with thee the wind Nor rest until in thee its haven it shall find.
The idle flapping of the sail is doubt; Faith swells it full to breast the breasting seas. Bold, conscience, fast, and rule the ruling helm; Hell’s freezing north no tempest can send out, But it shall toss thee homeward to thy leas; Boisterous wave-crest never shall o’erwhelm Thy sea-float bark as safe as field-borne rooted elm.
Sometimes, hard-trying, it seems I cannot pray– For doubt, and pain, and anger, and all strife. Yet some poor half-fledged prayer-bird from the nest May fall, flit, fly, perch–crouch in the bowery breast Of the large, nation-healing tree of life;– Moveless there sit through all the burning day, And on my heart at night a fresh leaf cooling lay.
My harvest withers. Health, my means to live– All things seem rushing straight into the dark. But the dark still is God. I would not give The smallest silver-piece to turn the rush Backward or sideways. Am I not a spark
Of him who is the light?–Fair hope doth flush My east.–Divine success–Oh, hush and hark!
Thy will be done. I yield up everything. “The life is more than meat”–then more than health; “The body more than raiment”–then than wealth; The hairs I made not, thou art numbering. Thou art my life–I the brook, thou the spring. Because thine eyes are open, I can see;
Because thou art thyself, ’tis therefore I am me.
No sickness can come near to blast my health; My life depends not upon any meat;
My bread comes not from any human tilth; No wings will grow upon my changeless wealth; Wrong cannot touch it, violence or deceit; Thou art my life, my health, my bank, my barn– And from all other gods thou plain dost warn.
Care thou for mine whom I must leave behind; Care that they know who ’tis for them takes care; Thy present patience help them still to bear; Lord, keep them clearing, growing, heart and mind; In one thy oneness us together bind;
Last earthly prayer with which to thee I cling– Grant that, save love, we owe not anything.
‘Tis well, for unembodied thought a live, True house to build–of stubble, wood, nor hay; So, like bees round the flower by which they thrive, My thoughts are busy with the informing truth, And as I build, I feed, and grow in youth– Hoping to stand fresh, clean, and strong, and gay, When up the east comes dawning His great day.
Thy will is truth–’tis therefore fate, the strong. Would that my will did sweep full swing with thine! Then harmony with every spheric song,
And conscious power, would give sureness divine. Who thinks to thread thy great laws’ onward throng, Is as a fly that creeps his foolish way
Athwart an engine’s wheels in smooth resistless play.
Thou in my heart hast planted, gardener divine, A scion of the tree of life: it grows;
But not in every wind or weather it blows; The leaves fall sometimes from the baby tree, And the life-power seems melting into pine; Yet still the sap keeps struggling to the shine, And the unseen root clings cramplike unto thee.
Do thou, my God, my spirit’s weather control; And as I do not gloom though the day be dun, Let me not gloom when earth-born vapours roll Across the infinite zenith of my soul.
Should sudden brain-frost through the heart’s summer run, Cold, weary, joyless, waste of air and sun, Thou art my south, my summer-wind, my all, my one.
O Life, why dost thou close me up in death? O Health, why make me inhabit heaviness?– I ask, yet know: the sum of this distress, Pang-haunted body, sore-dismayed mind,
Is but the egg that rounds the winged faith; When that its path into the air shall find, My heart will follow, high above cold, rain, and wind.
I can no more than lift my weary eyes; Therefore I lift my weary eyes–no more. But my eyes pull my heart, and that, before ‘Tis well awake, knocks where the conscience lies; Conscience runs quick to the spirit’s hidden door: Straightway, from every sky-ward window, cries Up to the Father’s listening ears arise.
Not in my fancy now I search to find thee; Not in its loftiest forms would shape or bind thee; I cry to one whom I can never know,
Filling me with an infinite overflow; Not to a shape that dwells within my heart, Clothed in perfections love and truth assigned thee, But to the God thou knowest that thou art.
Not, Lord, because I have done well or ill; Not that my mind looks up to thee clear-eyed; Not that it struggles in fast cerements tied; Not that I need thee daily sorer still;
Not that I wretched, wander from thy will; Not now for any cause to thee I cry,
But this, that thou art thou, and here am I.
Yestereve, Death came, and knocked at my thin door. I from my window looked: the thing I saw, The shape uncouth, I had not seen before. I was disturbed–with fear, in sooth, not awe; Whereof ashamed, I instantly did rouse
My will to seek thee–only to fear the more: Alas! I could not find thee in the house.
I was like Peter when he began to sink. To thee a new prayer therefore I have got– That, when Death comes in earnest to my door, Thou wouldst thyself go, when the latch doth clink, And lead him to my room, up to my cot;
Then hold thy child’s hand, hold and leave him not, Till Death has done with him for evermore.
Till Death has done with him?–Ah, leave me then! And Death has done with me, oh, nevermore! He comes–and goes–to leave me in thy arms, Nearer thy heart, oh, nearer than before! To lay thy child, naked, new-born again
Of mother earth, crept free through many harms, Upon thy bosom–still to the very core.
Come to me, Lord: I will not speculate how, Nor think at which door I would have thee appear, Nor put off calling till my floors be swept, But cry, “Come, Lord, come any way, come now.” Doors, windows, I throw wide; my head I bow, And sit like some one who so long has slept That he knows nothing till his life draw near.
O Lord, I have been talking to the people; Thought’s wheels have round me whirled a fiery zone, And the recoil of my words’ airy ripple
My heart unheedful has puffed up and blown. Therefore I cast myself before thee prone: Lay cool hands on my burning brain, and press >From my weak heart the swelling emptiness.
I TO myself have neither power nor worth, Patience nor love, nor anything right good; My soul is a poor land, plenteous in dearth– Here blades of grass, there a small herb for food– A nothing that would be something if it could; But if obedience, Lord, in me do grow,
I shall one day be better than I know.
The worst power of an evil mood is this– It makes the bastard self seem in the right, Self, self the end, the goal of human bliss. But if the Christ-self in us be the might Of saving God, why should I spend my force With a dark thing to reason of the light– Not push it rough aside, and hold obedient course?
Back still it comes to this: there was a man Who said, “I am the truth, the life, the way:”– Shall I pass on, or shall I stop and hear?– “Come to the Father but by me none can:” What then is this?–am I not also one
Of those who live in fatherless dismay? I stand, I look, I listen, I draw near.
My Lord, I find that nothing else will do, But follow where thou goest, sit at thy feet, And where I have thee not, still run to meet. Roses are scentless, hopeless are the morns, Rest is but weakness, laughter crackling thorns, If thou, the Truth, do not make them the true: Thou art my life, O Christ, and nothing else will do.
Thou art here–in heaven, I know, but not from here– Although thy separate self do not appear; If I could part the light from out the day, There I should have thee! But thou art too near: How find thee walking, when thou art the way? Oh, present Christ! make my eyes keen as stings, To see thee at their heart, the glory even of things.
That thou art nowhere to be found, agree Wise men, whose eyes are but for surfaces; Men with eyes opened by the second birth, To whom the seen, husk of the unseen is, Descry thee soul of everything on earth. Who know thy ends, thy means and motions see: Eyes made for glory soon discover thee.
Thou near then, I draw nearer–to thy feet, And sitting in thy shadow, look out on the shine; Ready at thy first word to leave my seat– Not thee: thou goest too. From every clod Into thy footprint flows the indwelling wine; And in my daily bread, keen-eyed I greet Its being’s heart, the very body of God.
Thou wilt interpret life to me, and men, Art, nature, yea, my own soul’s mysteries– Bringing, truth out, clear-joyous, to my ken, Fair as the morn trampling the dull night. Then The lone hill-side shall hear exultant cries; The joyous see me joy, the weeping weep; The watching smile, as Death breathes on me his cold sleep.
I search my heart–I search, and find no faith. Hidden He may be in its many folds–
I see him not revealed in all the world Duty’s firm shape thins to a misty wraith. No good seems likely. To and fro I am hurled. I have no stay. Only obedience holds:–
I haste, I rise, I do the thing he saith.
Thou wouldst not have thy man crushed back to clay; It must be, God, thou hast a strength to give To him that fain would do what thou dost say; Else how shall any soul repentant live,
Old griefs and new fears hurrying on dismay? Let pain be what thou wilt, kind and degree, Only in pain calm thou my heart with thee.
I will not shift my ground like Moab’s king, But from this spot whereon I stand, I pray– >From this same barren rock to thee I say, “Lord, in my commonness, in this very thing That haunts my soul with folly–through the clay Of this my pitcher, see the lamp’s dim flake; And hear the blow that would the pitcher break.”
Be thou the well by which I lie and rest; Be thou my tree of life, my garden ground; Be thou my home, my fire, my chamber blest, My book of wisdom, loved of all the best; Oh, be my friend, each day still newer found, As the eternal days and nights go round! Nay, nay–thou art my God, in whom all loves are bound!
Two things at once, thou know’st I cannot think. When busy with the work thou givest me,
I cannot consciously think then of thee. Then why, when next thou lookest o’er the brink Of my horizon, should my spirit shrink,
Reproached and fearful, nor to greet thee run? Can I be two when I am only one.
My soul must unawares have sunk awry. Some care, poor eagerness, ambition of work, Some old offence that unforgiving did lurk, Or some self-gratulation, soft and sly– Something not thy sweet will, not the good part, While the home-guard looked out, stirred up the old murk, And so I gloomed away from thee, my Heart.
Therefore I make provision, ere I begin To do the thing thou givest me to do,
Praying,–Lord, wake me oftener, lest I sin. Amidst my work, open thine eyes on me,
That I may wake and laugh, and know and see Then with healed heart afresh catch up the clue, And singing drop into my work anew.
If I should slow diverge, and listless stray Into some thought, feeling, or dream unright, O Watcher, my backsliding soul affray;
Let me not perish of the ghastly blight. Be thou, O Life eternal, in me light;
Then merest approach of selfish or impure Shall start me up alive, awake, secure.
Lord, I have fallen again–a human clod! Selfish I was, and heedless to offend;
Stood on my rights. Thy own child would not send Away his shreds of nothing for the whole God! Wretched, to thee who savest, low I bend: Give me the power to let my rag-rights go In the great wind that from thy gulf doth blow.
Keep me from wrath, let it seem ever so right: My wrath will never work thy righteousness. Up, up the hill, to the whiter than snow-shine, Help me to climb, and dwell in pardon’s light. I must be pure as thou, or ever less
Than thy design of me–therefore incline My heart to take men’s wrongs as thou tak’st mine.
Lord, in thy spirit’s hurricane, I pray, Strip my soul naked–dress it then thy way. Change for me all my rags to cloth of gold. Who would not poverty for riches yield?
A hovel sell to buy a treasure-field? Who would a mess of porridge careful hold Against the universe’s birthright old?
Help me to yield my will, in labour even, Nor toil on toil, greedy of doing, heap– Fretting I cannot more than me is given; That with the finest clay my wheel runs slow, Nor lets the lovely thing the shapely grow; That memory what thought gives it cannot keep, And nightly rimes ere morn like cistus-petals go.
‘Tis–shall thy will be done for me?–or mine, And I be made a thing not after thine–
My own, and dear in paltriest details? Shall I be born of God, or of mere man?
Be made like Christ, or on some other plan?– I let all run:–set thou and trim my sails; Home then my course, let blow whatever gales.
With thee on board, each sailor is a king Nor I mere captain of my vessel then,
But heir of earth and heaven, eternal child; Daring all truth, nor fearing anything;
Mighty in love, the servant of all men; Resenting nothing, taking rage and blare Into the Godlike silence of a loving care.
I cannot see, my God, a reason why
>From morn to night I go not gladsome free; For, if thou art what my soul thinketh thee, There is no burden but should lightly lie, No duty but a joy at heart must be:
Love’s perfect will can be nor sore nor small, For God is light–in him no darkness is at all.
‘Tis something thus to think, and half to trust– But, ah! my very heart, God-born, should lie Spread to the light, clean, clear of mire and rust, And like a sponge drink the divine sunbeams. What resolution then, strong, swift, and high! What pure devotion, or to live or die!
And in my sleep, what true, what perfect dreams!
There is a misty twilight of the soul, A sickly eclipse, low brooding o’er a man, When the poor brain is as an empty bowl, And the thought-spirit, weariful and wan, Turning from that which yet it loves the best, Sinks moveless, with life-poverty opprest:– Watch then, O Lord, thy feebly glimmering coal.
I cannot think; in me is but a void;
I have felt much, and want to feel no more; My soul is hungry for some poorer fare– Some earthly nectar, gold not unalloyed:– The little child that’s happy to the core, Will leave his mother’s lap, run down the stair, Play with the servants–is his mother annoyed?
I would not have it so. Weary and worn, Why not to thee run straight, and be at rest? Motherward, with toy new, or garment torn, The child that late forsook her changeless breast, Runs to home’s heart, the heaven that’s heavenliest: In joy or sorrow, feebleness or might,
Peace or commotion, be thou, Father, my delight.
The thing I would say, still comes forth with doubt And difference:–is it that thou shap’st my ends? Or is it only the necessity
Of stubborn words, that shift sluggish about, Warping my thought as it the sentence bends?– Have thou a part in it, O Lord, and I
Shall say a truth, if not the thing I try.
Gather my broken fragments to a whole, As these four quarters make a shining day. Into thy basket, for my golden bowl,
Take up the things that I have cast away In vice or indolence or unwise play.
Let mine be a merry, all-receiving heart, But make it a whole, with light in every part.
THE song birds that come to me night and morn, Fly oft away and vanish if I sleep,
Nor to my fowling-net will one return: Is the thing ever ours we cannot keep?– But their souls go not out into the deep. What matter if with changed song they come back? Old strength nor yet fresh beauty shall they lack.
Gloriously wasteful, O my Lord, art thou! Sunset faints after sunset into the night, Splendorously dying from thy window-sill– For ever. Sad our poverty doth bow
Before the riches of thy making might: Sweep from thy space thy systems at thy will– In thee the sun sets every sunset still.
And in the perfect time, O perfect God, When we are in our home, our natal home, When joy shall carry every sacred load,
And from its life and peace no heart shall roam, What if thou make us able to make like thee– To light with moons, to clothe with greenery, To hang gold sunsets o’er a rose and purple sea!
Then to his neighbour one may call out, “Come! Brother, come hither–I would show you a thing;” And lo, a vision of his imagining,
Informed of thought which else had rested dumb, Before the neighbour’s truth-delighted eyes, In the great æther of existence rise,
And two hearts each to each the closer cling!
We make, but thou art the creating core. Whatever thing I dream, invent, or feel, Thou art the heart of it, the atmosphere. Thou art inside all love man ever bore;
Yea, the love itself, whatever thing be dear. Man calls his dog, he follows at his heel, Because thou first art love, self-caused, essential, mere.
This day be with me, Lord, when I go forth, Be nearer to me than I am able to ask.
In merriment, in converse, or in task, Walking the street, listening to men of worth, Or greeting such as only talk and bask,
Be thy thought still my waiting soul around, And if He come, I shall be watching found.
What if, writing, I always seem to leave Some better thing, or better way, behind, Why should I therefore fret at all, or grieve! The worse I drop, that I the better find; The best is only in thy perfect mind.
Fallen threads I will not search for–I will weave. Who makes the mill-wheel backward strike to grind!
Be with me, Lord. Keep me beyond all prayers: For more than all my prayers my need of thee, And thou beyond all need, all unknown cares; What the heart’s dear imagination dares, Thou dost transcend in measureless majesty All prayers in one–my God, be unto me
Thy own eternal self, absolutely.
Where should the unknown treasures of the truth Lie, but there whence the truth comes out the most– In the Son of man, folded in love and ruth? Fair shore we see, fair ocean; but behind Lie infinite reaches bathing many a coast– The human thought of the eternal mind,
Pulsed by a living tide, blown by a living wind.
Thou, healthful Father, art the Ancient of Days, And Jesus is the eternal youth of thee.
Our old age is the scorching of the bush By life’s indwelling, incorruptible blaze. O Life, burn at this feeble shell of me, Till I the sore singed garment off shall push, Flap out my Psyche wings, and to thee rush.
But shall I then rush to thee like a dart? Or lie long hours æonian yet betwixt
This hunger in me, and the Father’s heart?– It shall be good, how ever, and not ill; Of things and thoughts even now thou art my next; Sole neighbour, and no space between, thou art– And yet art drawing nearer, nearer still.
Therefore, my brothers, therefore, sisters dear, However I, troubled or selfish, fail
In tenderness, or grace, or service clear, I every moment draw to you more near;
God in us from our hearts veil after veil Keeps lifting, till we see with his own sight, And all together run in unity’s delight.
I love thee, Lord, for very greed of love– Not of the precious streams that towards me move, But of the indwelling, outgoing, fountain store. Than mine, oh, many an ignorant heart loves more! Therefore the more, with Mary at thy feet, I must sit worshipping–that, in my core, Thy words may fan to a flame the low primeval heat.
Oh my beloved, gone to heaven from me! I would be rich in love to heap you with love; I long to love you, sweet ones, perfectly– Like God, who sees no spanning vault above, No earth below, and feels no circling air– Infinitely, no boundary anywhere.
I am a beast until I love as God doth love.
Ah, say not, ’tis but perfect self I want But if it were, that self is fit to live Whose perfectness is still itself to scant, Which never longs to have, but still to give. A self I must have, or not be at all:
Love, give me a self self-giving–or let me fall To endless darkness back, and free me from life’s thrall.
“Back,” said I! Whither back? How to the dark? >From no dark came I, but the depths of light; >From the sun-heart I came, of love a spark: What should I do but love with all my might? To die of love severe and pure and stark, Were scarcely loss; to lord a loveless height– That were a living death, damnation’s positive night.
But love is life. To die of love is then The only pass to higher life than this.
All love is death to loving, living men; All deaths are leaps across clefts to the abyss. Our life is the broken current, Lord, of thine, Flashing from morn to morn with conscious shine– Then first by willing death self-made, then life divine.
I love you, my sweet children, who are gone Into another mansion; but I know
I love you not as I shall love you yet. I love you, sweet dead children; there are none In the land to which ye vanished to go,
Whose hearts more truly on your hearts are set– Yet should I die of grief to love you only so.
“I am but as a beast before thee, Lord.”– Great poet-king, I thank thee for the word.– Leave not thy son half-made in beastly guise– Less than a man, with more than human cries– An unshaped thing in which thyself cries out! Finish me, Father; now I am but a doubt; Oh! make thy moaning thing for joy to leap and shout.
Let my soul talk to thee in ordered words, O king of kings, O lord of only lords!– When I am thinking thee within my heart, >From the broken reflex be not far apart. The troubled water, dim with upstirred soil, Makes not the image which it yet can spoil:– Come nearer, Lord, and smooth the wrinkled coil.
O Lord, when I do think of my departed, I think of thee who art the death of parting; Of him who crying Father breathed his last, Then radiant from the sepulchre upstarted.– Even then, I think, thy hands and feet kept smarting: With us the bitterness of death is past, But by the feet he still doth hold us fast.
Therefore our hands thy feet do hold as fast. We pray not to be spared the sorest pang, But only–be thou with us to the last.
Let not our heart be troubled at the clang Of hammer and nails, nor dread the spear’s keen fang, Nor the ghast sickening that comes of pain, Nor yet the last clutch of the banished brain.
Lord, pity us: we have no making power; Then give us making will, adopting thine. Make, make, and make us; temper, and refine. Be in us patience–neither to start nor cower. Christ, if thou be not with us–not by sign, But presence, actual as the wounds that bleed– We shall not bear it, but shall die indeed.
O Christ, have pity on all men when they come Unto the border haunted of dismay;
When that they know not draweth very near– The other thing, the opposite of day,
Formless and ghastly, sick, and gaping-dumb, Before which even love doth lose his cheer: O radiant Christ, remember then thy fear.
Be by me, Lord, this day. Thou know’st I mean– Lord, make me mind thee. I herewith forestall My own forgetfulness, when I stoop to glean The corn of earth–which yet thy hand lets fall. Be for me then against myself. Oh lean
Over me then when I invert my cup;
Take me, if by the hair, and lift me up.
Lord of essential life, help me to die. To will to die is one with highest life, The mightiest act that to Will’s hand doth lie– Born of God’s essence, and of man’s hard strife: God, give me strength my evil self to kill, And die into the heaven of thy pure will.– Then shall this body’s death be very tolerable.
As to our mothers came help in our birth– Not lost in lifing us, but saved and blest– Self bearing self, although right sorely prest, Shall nothing lose, but die and be at rest In life eternal, beyond all care and dearth. God-born then truly, a man does no more ill, Perfectly loves, and has whate’er he will.
As our dear animals do suffer less
Because their pain spreads neither right nor left, Lost in oblivion and foresightlessness– Our suffering sore by faith shall be bereft Of all dismay, and every weak excess.
His presence shall be better in our pain, Than even self-absence to the weaker brain.
“Father, let this cup pass.” He prayed–was heard. What cup was it that passed away from him? Sure not the death-cup, now filled to the brim! There was no quailing in the awful word; He still was king of kings, of lords the lord:– He feared lest, in the suffering waste and grim, His faith might grow too faint and sickly dim.
Thy mind, my master, I will dare explore; What we are told, that we are meant to know. Into thy soul I search yet more and more, Led by the lamp of my desire and woe.
If thee, my Lord, I may not understand, I am a wanderer in a houseless land,
A weeping thirst by hot winds ever fanned.
Therefore I look again–and think I see That, when at last he did cry out, “My God, Why hast thou me forsaken?” straight man’s rod Was turned aside; for, that same moment, he Cried “Father!” and gave up will and breath and spirit Into his hands whose all he did inherit– Delivered, glorified eternally.
LORD, I do choose the higher than my will. I would be handled by thy nursing arms
After thy will, not my infant alarms. Hurt me thou wilt–but then more loving still, If more can be and less, in love’s perfect zone! My fancy shrinks from least of all thy harms, But do thy will with me–I am thine own.
Some things wilt thou not one day turn to dreams? Some dreams wilt thou not one day turn to fact? The thing that painful, more than should be, seems, Shall not thy sliding years with them retract– Shall fair realities not counteract?
The thing that was well dreamed of bliss and joy– Wilt thou not breathe thy life into the toy?
I have had dreams of absolute delight, Beyond all waking bliss–only of grass,
Flowers, wind, a peak, a limb of marble white; They dwell with me like things half come to pass, True prophecies:–when I with thee am right, If I pray, waking, for such a joy of sight, Thou with the gold, wilt not refuse the brass.
I think I shall not ever pray for such; Thy bliss will overflood my heart and brain, And I want no unripe things back again.
Love ever fresher, lovelier than of old– How should it want its more exchanged for much? Love will not backward sigh, but forward strain, On in the tale still telling, never told.
What has been, shall not only be, but is. The hues of dreamland, strange and sweet and tender Are but hint-shadows of full many a splendour Which the high Parent-love will yet unroll Before his child’s obedient, humble soul. Ah, me, my God! in thee lies every bliss Whose shadow men go hunting wearily amiss.
Now, ere I sleep, I wonder what I shall dream. Some sense of being, utter new, may come Into my soul while I am blind and dumb– With shapes and airs and scents which dark hours teem, Of other sort than those that haunt the day, Hinting at precious things, ages away
In the long tale of us God to himself doth say.
Late, in a dream, an unknown lady I saw Stand on a tomb; down she to me stepped thence. “They tell me,” quoth I, “thou art one of the dead!” And scarce believed for gladness the yea she said; A strange auroral bliss, an arctic awe,
A new, outworldish joy awoke intense, To think I talked with one that verily was dead.
Thou dost demand our love, holy Lord Christ, And batest nothing of thy modesty;–
Thou know’st no other way to bliss the highest Than loving thee, the loving, perfectly. Thou lovest perfectly–that is thy bliss: We must love like thee, or our being miss– So, to love perfectly, love perfect Love, love thee.
Here is my heart, O Christ; thou know’st I love thee. But wretched is the thing I call my love. O Love divine, rise up in me and move me– I follow surely when thou first dost move. To love the perfect love, is primal, mere Necessity; and he who holds life dear,
Must love thee every hope and heart above.
Might I but scatter interfering things– Questions and doubts, distrusts and anxious pride, And in thy garment, as under gathering wings, Nestle obedient to thy loving side,
Easy it were to love thee. But when thou Send’st me to think and labour from thee wide, Love falls to asking many a why and how.
Easier it were, but poorer were the love. Lord, I would have me love thee from the deeps– Of troubled thought, of pain, of weariness. Through seething wastes below, billows above, My soul should rise in eager, hungering leaps; Through thorny thicks, through sands unstable press– Out of my dream to him who slumbers not nor sleeps.
I do not fear the greatness of thy command– To keep heart-open-house to brother men; But till in thy God’s love perfect I stand, My door not wide enough will open. Then
Each man will be love-awful in my sight; And, open to the eternal morning’s might, Each human face will shine my window for thy light.
Make me all patience and all diligence; Patience, that thou mayst have thy time with me; Diligence, that I waste not thy expense
In sending out to bring me home to thee. What though thy work in me transcends my sense– Too fine, too high, for me to understand– I hope entirely. On, Lord, with thy labour grand.
Lest I be humbled at the last, and told That my great labour was but for my peace That not for love or truth had I been bold, But merely for a prisoned heart’s release; Careful, I humble me now before thy feet: Whate’er I be, I cry, and will not cease– Let me not perish, though favour be not meet.
For, what I seek thou knowest I must find, Or miserably die for lack of love.
I justify thee: what is in thy mind, If it be shame to me, all shame above.
Thou know’st I choose it–know’st I would not shove The hand away that stripped me for the rod– If so it pleased my Life, my love-made-angry God.
I see a door, a multitude near by,
In creed and quarrel, sure disciples all! Gladly they would, they say, enter the hall, But cannot, the stone threshold is so high. >From unseen hand, full many a feeding crumb, Slow dropping o’er the threshold high doth come: They gather and eat, with much disputing hum.
Still and anon, a loud clear voice doth call– “Make your feet clean, and enter so the hall.” They hear, they stoop, they gather each a crumb. Oh the deaf people! would they were also dumb! Hear how they talk, and lack of Christ deplore, Stamping with muddy feet about the door, And will not wipe them clean to walk upon his floor!
But see, one comes; he listens to the voice; Careful he wipes his weary dusty feet!
The voice hath spoken–to him is left no choice; He hurries to obey–that only is meet.
Low sinks the threshold, levelled with the ground; The man leaps in–to liberty he’s bound. The rest go talking, walking, picking round.
If I, thus writing, rebuke my neighbour dull, And talk, and write, and enter not the door, Than all the rest I wrong Christ tenfold more, Making his gift of vision void and null. Help me this day to be thy humble sheep, Eating thy grass, and following, thou before; >From wolfish lies my life, O Shepherd, keep.
God, help me, dull of heart, to trust in thee. Thou art the father of me–not any mood
Can part me from the One, the verily Good. When fog and failure o’er my being brood. When life looks but a glimmering marshy clod, No fire out flashing from the living God– Then, then, to rest in faith were worthy victory!
To trust is gain and growth, not mere sown seed! Faith heaves the world round to the heavenly dawn, In whose great light the soul doth spell and read Itself high-born, its being derived and drawn >From the eternal self-existent fire;
Then, mazed with joy of its own heavenly breed, Exultant-humble falls before its awful sire.
Art thou not, Jesus, busy like to us? Thee shall I image as one sitting still, Ordering all things in thy potent will,
Silent, and thinking ever to thy father, Whose thought through thee flows multitudinous? Or shall I think of thee as journeying, rather, Ceaseless through space, because thou everything dost fill?
That all things thou dost fill, I well may think– Thy power doth reach me in so many ways. Thou who in one the universe dost bind,
Passest through all the channels of my mind; The sun of thought, across the farthest brink Of consciousness thou sendest me thy rays; Nor drawest them in when lost in sleep I sink.
So common are thy paths, thy coming seems Only another phase oft of my me;
But nearer is my I, O Lord, to thee, Than is my I to what itself it deems;
How better then couldst thou, O master, come, Than from thy home across into my home,
Straight o’er the marches that I cannot see!
Marches?–‘Twixt thee and me there’s no division, Except the meeting of thy will and mine, The loves that love, the wills that will the same. Where thine meets mine is my life’s true condition; Yea, only there it burns with any flame. Thy will but holds me to my life’s fruition. O God, I would–I have no mine that is not thine.
I look for thee, and do not see thee come.– If I could see thee, ’twere a commoner thing, And shallower comfort would thy coming bring. Earth, sea, and air lie round me moveless dumb, Never a tremble, an expectant hum,
To tell the Lord of Hearts is drawing near: Lo! in the looking eyes, the looked for Lord is here.
I take a comfort from my very badness: It is for lack of thee that I am bad.
How close, how infinitely closer yet Must I come to thee, ere I can pay one debt Which mere humanity has on me set!
“How close to thee!”–no wonder, soul, thou art glad! Oneness with him is the eternal gladness.
What can there be so close as making and made? Nought twinned can be so near; thou art more nigh To me, my God, than is this thinking I
To that I mean when I by me is said; Thou art more near me, than is my ready will Near to my love, though both one place do fill;– Yet, till we are one,–Ah me! the long until!
Then shall my heart behold thee everywhere. The vision rises of a speechless thing,
A perfectness of bliss beyond compare! A time when I nor breathe nor think nor move, But I do breathe and think and feel thy love, The soul of all the songs the saints do sing!– And life dies out in bliss, to come again in prayer.
In the great glow of that great love, this death Would melt away like a fantastic cloud;
I should no more shrink from it than from the breath That makes in the frosty air a nimbus-shroud; Thou, Love, hast conquered death, and I aloud Should triumph over him, with thy saintly crowd, That where the Lamb goes ever followeth.
WHAT though my words glance sideways from the thing Which I would utter in thine ear, my sire! Truth in the inward parts thou dost desire– Wise hunger, not a fitness fine of speech: The little child that clamouring fails to reach With upstretched hand the fringe of her attire, Yet meets the mother’s hand down hurrying.
Even when their foolish words they turned on him, He did not his disciples send away;
He knew their hearts were foolish, eyes were dim, And therefore by his side needs must they stay. Thou will not, Lord, send me away from thee. When I am foolish, make thy cock crow grim; If that is not enough, turn, Lord, and look on me.
Another day of gloom and slanting rain! Of closed skies, cold winds, and blight and bane! Such not the weather, Lord, which thou art fain To give thy chosen, sweet to heart and brain!– Until we mourn, thou keep’st the merry tune; Thy hand unloved its pleasure must restrain, Nor spoil both gift and child by lavishing too soon.
But all things shall be ours! Up, heart, and sing. All things were made for us–we are God’s heirs– Moon, sun, and wildest comets that do trail A crowd of small worlds for a swiftness-tail! Up from Thy depths in me, my child-heart bring– The child alone inherits anything:
God’s little children-gods–all things are theirs!
Thy great deliverance is a greater thing Than purest imagination can foregrasp;
A thing beyond all conscious hungering, Beyond all hope that makes the poet sing. It takes the clinging world, undoes its clasp, Floats it afar upon a mighty sea,
And leaves us quiet with love and liberty and thee.
Through all the fog, through all earth’s wintery sighs, I scent Thy spring, I feel the eternal air, Warm, soft, and dewy, filled with flowery eyes, And gentle, murmuring motions everywhere– Of life in heart, and tree, and brook, and moss; Thy breath wakes beauty, love, and bliss, and prayer, And strength to hang with nails upon thy cross.
If thou hadst closed my life in seed and husk, And cast me into soft, warm, damp, dark mould, All unaware of light come through the dusk, I yet should feel the split of each shelly fold, Should feel the growing of my prisoned heart, And dully dream of being slow unrolled,
And in some other vagueness taking part.
And little as the world I should foreknow Up into which I was about to rise–
Its rains, its radiance, airs, and warmth, and skies, How it would greet me, how its wind would blow– As little, it may be, I do know the good Which I for years half darkling have pursued– The second birth for which my nature cries.
The life that knows not, patient waits, nor longs:– I know, and would be patient, yet would long. I can be patient for all coming songs,
But let me sing my one monotonous song. To me the time is slow my mould among;
To quicker life I fain would spur and start The aching growth at my dull-swelling heart.
Christ is the pledge that I shall one day see; That one day, still with him, I shall awake, And know my God, at one with him and free. O lordly essence, come to life in me;
The will-throb let me feel that doth me make; Now have I many a mighty hope in thee,
Then shall I rest although the universe should quake.
Haste to me, Lord, when this fool-heart of mine Begins to gnaw itself with selfish craving; Or, like a foul thing scarcely worth the saving, Swoln up with wrath, desireth vengeance fine. Haste, Lord, to help, when reason favours wrong; Haste when thy soul, the high-born thing divine, Is torn by passion’s raving, maniac throng.
Fair freshness of the God-breathed spirit air, Pass through my soul, and make it strong to love; Wither with gracious cold what demons dare Shoot from my hell into my world above;
Let them drop down, like leaves the sun doth sear, And flutter far into the inane and bare, Leaving my middle-earth calm, wise, and clear.
Even thou canst give me neither thought nor thing, Were it the priceless pearl hid in the land, Which, if I fix thereon a greedy gaze,
Becomes not poison that doth burn and cling; Their own bad look my foolish eyes doth daze, They see the gift, see not the giving hand– >From the living root the apple dead I wring.
This versing, even the reading of the tale That brings my heart its joy unspeakable, Sometimes will softly, unsuspectedly hale That heart from thee, and all its pulses quell. Discovery’s pride, joy’s bliss, take aback my sail, And sweep me from thy presence and my grace, Because my eyes dropped from the master’s face.
Afresh I seek thee. Lead me–once more I pray– Even should it be against my will, thy way. Let me not feel thee foreign any hour,
Or shrink from thee as an estranged power. Through doubt, through faith, through bliss, through stark dismay, Through sunshine, wind, or snow, or fog, or shower, Draw me to thee who art my only day.
I would go near thee–but I cannot press Into thy presence–it helps not to presume. Thy doors are deeds; the handles are their doing. He whose day-life is obedient righteousness, Who, after failure, or a poor success,
Rises up, stronger effort yet renewing– He finds thee, Lord, at length, in his own common room.
Lord, thou hast carried me through this evening’s duty; I am released, weary, and well content.
O soul, put on the evening dress of beauty, Thy sunset-flush, of gold and purple blent!– Alas, the moment I turn to my heart,
Feeling runs out of doors, or stands apart! But such as I am, Lord, take me as thou art.
The word he then did speak, fits now as then, For the same kind of men doth mock at it. God-fools, God-drunkards these do call the men Who think the poverty of their all not fit, Borne humbly by their art, their voice, their pen, Save for its allness, at thy feet to fling, For whom all is unfit that is not everything.
O Christ, my life, possess me utterly. Take me and make a little Christ of me.
If I am anything but thy father’s son, ‘Tis something not yet from the darkness won. Oh, give me light to live with open eyes. Oh, give me life to hope above all skies. Give me thy spirit to haunt the Father with my cries.
‘Tis hard for man to rouse his spirit up– It is the human creative agony,
Though but to hold the heart an empty cup, Or tighten on the team the rigid rein.
Many will rather lie among the slain Than creep through narrow ways the light to gain– Than wake the will, and be born bitterly.
But he who would be born again indeed, Must wake his soul unnumbered times a day, And urge himself to life with holy greed; Now ope his bosom to the Wind’s free play; And now, with patience forceful, hard, lie still, Submiss and ready to the making will,
Athirst and empty, for God’s breath to fill.
All times are thine whose will is our remede. Man turns to thee, thou hast not turned away; The look he casts, thy labour that did breed– It is thy work, thy business all the day: That look, not foregone fitness, thou dost heed. For duty absolute how be fitter than now? Or learn by shunning?–Lord, I come; help thou.
Ever above my coldness and my doubt
Rises up something, reaching forth a hand: This thing I know, but cannot understand. Is it the God in me that rises out
Beyond my self, trailing it up with him, Towards the spirit-home, the freedom-land, Beyond my conscious ken, my near horizon’s brim?
O God of man, my heart would worship all My fellow men, the flashes from thy fire; Them in good sooth my lofty kindred call, Born of the same one heart, the perfect sire; Love of my kind alone can set me free;
Help me to welcome all that come to me, Not close my doors and dream solitude liberty!
A loving word may set some door ajar
Where seemed no door, and that may enter in Which lay at the heart of that same loving word. In my still chamber dwell thou always, Lord; Thy presence there will carriage true afford; True words will flow, pure of design to win; And to my men my door shall have no bar.
My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not; I think thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought follows upon thought, But the still depth beneath is all thine own, And there thou mov’st in paths to us unknown. Out of strange strife thy peace is strangely wrought; If the lion in us pray–thou answerest the lamb.
So bound in selfishness am I, so chained, I know it must be glorious to be free
But know not what, full-fraught, the word doth mean. By loss on loss I have severely gained
Wisdom enough my slavery to see;
But liberty, pure, absolute, serene, No freëst-visioned slave has ever seen.
For, that great freedom how should such as I Be able to imagine in such a self?
Less hopeless far the miser man might try To image the delight of friend-shared pelf. Freedom is to be like thee, face and heart; To know it, Lord, I must be as thou art, I cannot breed the imagination high.
Yet hints come to me from the realm unknown; Airs drift across the twilight border land, Odoured with life; and as from some far strand Sea-murmured, whispers to my heart are blown That fill me with a joy I cannot speak,
Yea, from whose shadow words drop faint and weak: Thee, God, I shadow in that region grand.
O Christ, who didst appear in Judah land, Thence by the cross go back to God’s right hand, Plain history, and things our sense beyond, In thee together come and correspond:
How rulest thou from the undiscovered bourne The world-wise world that laughs thee still to scorn? Please, Lord, let thy disciple understand.
‘Tis heart on heart thou rulest. Thou art the same At God’s right hand as here exposed to shame, And therefore workest now as thou didst then– Feeding the faint divine in humble men.
Through all thy realms from thee goes out heart-power, Working the holy, satisfying hour,
When all shall love, and all be loved again.
FROM thine, as then, the healing virtue goes Into our hearts–that is the Father’s plan. >From heart to heart it sinks, it steals, it flows, >From these that know thee still infecting those. Here is my heart–from thine, Lord, fill it up, That I may offer it as the holy cup
Of thy communion to my every man.
When thou dost send out whirlwinds on thy seas, Alternatest thy lightning with its roar, Thy night with morning, and thy clouds with stars Or, mightier force unseen in midst of these, Orderest the life in every airy pore;
Guidest men’s efforts, rul’st mishaps and jars,– ‘Tis only for their hearts, and nothing more.
This, this alone thy father careth for– That men should live hearted throughout with thee– Because the simple, only life thou art,
Of the very truth of living, the pure heart. For this, deep waters whelm the fruitful lea, Wars ravage, famine wastes, plague withers, nor Shall cease till men have chosen the better part.
But, like a virtuous medicine, self-diffused Through all men’s hearts thy love shall sink and float; Till every feeling false, and thought unwise, Selfish, and seeking, shall, sternly disused, Wither, and die, and shrivel up to nought; And Christ, whom they did hang ‘twixt earth and skies, Up in the inner world of men arise.
Make me a fellow worker with thee, Christ; Nought else befits a God-born energy;
Of all that’s lovely, only lives the highest, Lifing the rest that it shall never die. Up I would be to help thee–for thou liest Not, linen-swathed in Joseph’s garden-tomb, But walkest crowned, creation’s heart and bloom.
My God, when I would lift my heart to thee, Imagination instantly doth set
A cloudy something, thin, and vast, and vague, To stand for him who is the fact of me;
Then up the Will, and doth her weakness plague To pay the heart her duty and her debt,
Showing the face that hearkeneth to the plea.
And hence it comes that thou at times dost seem To fade into an image of my mind;
I, dreamer, cover, hide thee up with dream,– Thee, primal, individual entity!–
No likeness will I seek to frame or find, But cry to that which thou dost choose to be, To that which is my sight, therefore I cannot see.
No likeness? Lo, the Christ! Oh, large Enough! I see, yet fathom not the face he wore.
He is–and out of him there is no stuff To make a man. Let fail me every spark
Of blissful vision on my pathway rough, I have seen much, and trust the perfect more, While to his feet my faith crosses the wayless dark.
Faith is the human shadow of thy might. Thou art the one self-perfect life, and we Who trust thy life, therein join on to thee, Taking our part in self-creating light.
To trust is to step forward out of the night– To be–to share in the outgoing Will
That lives and is, because outgoing still.
I am lost before thee, Father! yet I will Claim of thee my birthright ineffable.
Thou lay’st it on me, son, to claim thee, sire; To that which thou hast made me, I aspire; To thee, the sun, upflames thy kindled fire. No man presumes in that to which he was born; Less than the gift to claim, would be the giver to scorn.
Henceforth all things thy dealings are with me For out of thee is nothing, or can be,
And all things are to draw us home to thee. What matter that the knowers scoffing say, “This is old folly, plain to the new day”?– If thou be such as thou, and they as they, Unto thy Let there be, they still must answer Nay.
They will not, therefore cannot, do not know him. Nothing they could know, could be God. In sooth, Unto the true alone exists the truth.
They say well, saying Nature doth not show him: Truly she shows not what she cannot show; And they deny the thing they cannot know. Who sees a glory, towards it will go.
Faster no step moves God because the fool Shouts to the universe God there is none; The blindest man will not preach out the sun, Though on his darkness he should found a school. It may be, when he finds he is not dead, Though world and body, sight and sound are fled, Some eyes may open in his foolish head.
When I am very weary with hard thought, And yet the question burns and is not quenched, My heart grows cool when to remembrance wrought That thou who know’st the light-born answer sought Know’st too the dark where the doubt lies entrenched– Know’st with what seemings I am sore perplexed, And that with thee I wait, nor needs my soul be vexed.
Who sets himself not sternly to be good, Is but a fool, who judgment of true things Has none, however oft the claim renewed. And he who thinks, in his great plenitude, To right himself, and set his spirit free, Without the might of higher communings,
Is foolish also–save he willed himself to be.
How many helps thou giv’st to those would learn! To some sore pain, to others a sinking heart; To some a weariness worse than any smart; To some a haunting, fearing, blind concern; Madness to some; to some the shaking dart Of hideous death still following as they turn; To some a hunger that will not depart.
To some thou giv’st a deep unrest–a scorn Of all they are or see upon the earth;
A gaze, at dusky night and clearing morn, As on a land of emptiness and dearth;
To some a bitter sorrow; to some the sting Of love misprized–of sick abandoning;
To some a frozen heart, oh, worse than anything!
To some a mocking demon, that doth set The poor foiled will to scoff at the ideal, But loathsome makes to them their life of jar. The messengers of Satan think to mar,
But make–driving the soul from false to feal– To thee, the reconciler, the one real,
In whom alone the would be and the is are met.
Me thou hast given an infinite unrest, A hunger–not at first after known good, But something vague I knew not, and yet would– The veiled Isis, thy will not understood; A conscience tossing ever in my breast;
And something deeper, that will not be expressed, Save as the Spirit thinking in the Spirit’s brood.
But now the Spirit and I are one in this– My hunger now is after righteousness;
My spirit hopes in God to set me free >From the low self loathed of the higher me. Great elder brother of my second birth,
Dear o’er all names but one, in heaven or earth, Teach me all day to love eternally.
Lo, Lord, thou know’st, I would not anything That in the heart of God holds not its root; Nor falsely deem there is any life at all That doth in him nor sleep nor shine nor sing; I know the plants that bear the noisome fruit Of burning and of ashes and of gall–
>From God’s heart torn, rootless to man’s they cling.
Life-giving love rots to devouring fire; Justice corrupts to despicable revenge;
Motherhood chokes in the dam’s jealous mire; Hunger for growth turns fluctuating change; Love’s anger grand grows spiteful human wrath, Hunting men out of conscience’ holy path; And human kindness takes the tattler’s range.
Nothing can draw the heart of man but good; Low good it is that draws him from the higher– So evil–poison uncreate from food.
Never a foul thing, with temptation dire, Tempts hellward force created to aspire, But walks in wronged strength of imprisoned Truth, Whose mantle also oft the Shame indu’th.
Love in the prime not yet I understand– Scarce know the love that loveth at first hand: Help me my selfishness to scatter and scout; Blow on me till my love loves burningly; Then the great love will burn the mean self out, And I, in glorious simplicity,
Living by love, shall love unspeakably.
Oh, make my anger pure–let no worst wrong Rouse in me the old niggard selfishness. Give me thine indignation–which is love Turned on the evil that would part love’s throng; Thy anger scathes because it needs must bless, Gathering into union calm and strong
All things on earth, and under, and above.
Make my forgiveness downright–such as I Should perish if I did not have from thee; I let the wrong go, withered up and dry, Cursed with divine forgetfulness in me.
‘Tis but self-pity, pleasant, mean, and sly, Low whispering bids the paltry memory live:– What am I brother for, but to forgive!
“Thou art my father’s child–come to my heart:” Thus must I say, or Thou must say, “Depart;” Thus I would say–I would be as thou art; Thus I must say, or still I work athwart The absolute necessity and law
That dwells in me, and will me asunder draw, If in obedience I leave any flaw.
Lord, I forgive–and step in unto thee. If I have enemies, Christ deal with them: He hath forgiven me and Jerusalem.
Lord, set me from self-inspiration free, And let me live and think from thee, not me– Rather, from deepest me then think and feel, At centre of thought’s swift-revolving wheel.
I sit o’ercanopied with Beauty’s tent, Through which flies many a golden-winged dove, Well watched of Fancy’s tender eyes up bent; A hundred Powers wait on me, ministering; A thousand treasures Art and Knowledge bring; Will, Conscience, Reason tower the rest above; But in the midst, alone, I gladness am and love.
‘Tis but a vision, Lord; I do not mean That thus I am, or have one moment been– ‘Tis but a picture hung upon my wall,
To measure dull contentment therewithal, And know behind the human how I fall;–
A vision true, of what one day shall be, When thou hast had thy very will with me.
ALAS, my tent! see through it a whirlwind sweep! Moaning, poor Fancy’s doves are swept away. I sit alone, a sorrow half asleep,
My consciousness the blackness all astir. No pilgrim I, a homeless wanderer–
For how canst Thou be in the darkness deep, Who dwellest only in the living day?
It must be, somewhere in my fluttering tent, Strange creatures, half tamed only yet, are pent– Dragons, lop-winged birds, and large-eyed snakes! Hark! through the storm the saddest howling breaks! Or are they loose, roaming about the bent, The darkness dire deepening with moan and scream?– My Morning, rise, and all shall be a dream.
Not thine, my Lord, the darkness all is mine– Save that, as mine, my darkness too is thine: All things are thine to save or to destroy– Destroy my darkness, rise my perfect joy; Love primal, the live coal of every night, Flame out, scare the ill things with radiant fright, And fill my tent with laughing morn’s delight.
Master, thou workest with such common things– Low souls, weak hearts, I mean–and hast to use, Therefore, such common means and rescuings, That hard we find it, as we sit and muse, To think thou workest in us verily:
Bad sea-boats we, and manned with wretched crews– That doubt the captain, watch the storm-spray flee.
Thou art hampered in thy natural working then When beings designed on freedom’s holy plan Will not be free: with thy poor, foolish men, Thou therefore hast to work just like a man. But when, tangling thyself in their sore need, Thou hast to freedom fashioned them indeed, Then wilt thou grandly move, and Godlike speed.
Will this not then show grandest fact of all– In thy creation victory most renowned–
That thou hast wrought thy will by slow and small, And made men like thee, though thy making bound By that which they were not, and could not be Until thou mad’st them make along with thee?– Master, the tardiness is but in me.
Hence come thy checks–because I still would run My head into the sand, nor flutter aloft Towards thy home, with thy wind under me. ‘Tis because I am mean, thy ways so oft
Look mean to me; my rise is low begun; But scarce thy will doth grasp me, ere I see, For my arrest and rise, its stern necessity.
Like clogs upon the pinions of thy plan We hang–like captives on thy chariot-wheels, Who should climb up and ride with Death’s conqueror; Therefore thy train along the world’s highway steals So slow to the peace of heart-reluctant man. What shall we do to spread the wing and soar, Nor straiten thy deliverance any more?
The sole way to put flight into the wing, To preen its feathers, and to make them grow, Is to heed humbly every smallest thing
With which the Christ in us has aught to do. So will the Christ from child to manhood go, Obedient to the father Christ, and so
Sweet holy change will turn all our old things to new.