Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

And, making earth too great for heaven, She hides the Giver in the given.

From time and place and form apart,
Its holy ground the human heart,
Nor ritual-bound nor templeward
Walks the free spirit of the Lord !
Our common Master did not pen
His followers up from other men ;
His service liberty indeed,
He built no church, he framed no creed;
But while the saintly Pharisee
Made broader his phylactery,
As from the synagogue was seen
The dusty-sandalled Nazarene
Through ripening cornfields lead the way
Upon the awful Sabbath day,
His sermons were the healthful talk
That shorter made the mountain-walk,
His wayside texts were flowers and birds,
Where mingled with his gracious words
The rustle of the tamarisk-tree
And ripple-wash of Galilee."

“And so I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room,
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world's control;
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More carnestly our common needs;
And from the silence multiplied.
By these still forms on either side,
The world that time and sense have known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.

“ Thy words are well, O friend," I said ;
“Unmeasured and unlimited,
With noiseless slide of stone to stone,
The mystic Church of God has grown.
Invisible and silent stands
The temple never made with hands,
Unheard the voices still and small
Of its unseen confessional.
He needs no special place of prayer
Whose hearing ear is everywhere ;
He brings not back the childish days
That ringed the earth with stones of praise,
Roofed Karnak's hall of gods, and laid
The plinths of Philæ's colonnade.
Still less he owns the selfish good
And sickly growth of solitude, -
The worthless grace that, out of sight,
Flowers in the desert anchorite ;
Dissevered from the suffering whole,
Love hath no power to save a soul.
Not out of Self, the origin
And native air and soil of sin,
The living waters spring and flow,
The trees with leaves of healing grow.

“Yet rarely through the charmed repose
Unmixed the stream of motive flows,
A flavor of its many springs,
The tints of carth and sky it brings ;
In the still waters needs must be
Some shade of human sympathy;
And here, in its accustomed place,
I look on memory's dearest face ;
The blind by-sitter guesseth not
What shadow haunts that vacant spot;
No eyes save mine alone can see
The love wherewith it welcomes me !
And still, with those alone my kin,
In doubt and weakness, want and sin,
I bow my head, my heart I bare
As when that face was living there,
And strive (too oft, alas ! in vain)
The peace of simple trust to gain,
Fold fancy's restless wings, and lay
The idols of my heart away.
“Welcome the silence all unbroken,
Nor less the words of fitness spoken,
Such golden words as hers for whom
Our autumn flowers have just made room ;
Whose hopeful utterance through and through
The freshness of the morning blew;
Who loved not less the carth that light
Fell on it from the heavens in sight,
But saw in all fair forms more fair
The Eternal beauty mirrored there.
Whose eighty years but added grace
And saintlier meaning to her face, —
The look of one who bore away
Glad tidings from the hills of day,
While all our hearts went forth to meet
The coming of her beautiful feet!
Or haply hers whose pilgrim tread
Is in the paths where Jesus led ;
Who dreams her childhood's sabbath dream
By Jordan's willow-shaded stream,
And, of the hymns of hope and faith,
Sung by the monks of Nazareth,
Hears pious echoes, in the call
To prayer, from Moslem minarets fall,

“Dream not, O friend, because I seek
This quiet shelter twice a week,
I better deem its pine-laid floor
Than breezy hill or sea-sung shore ;
But nature is not solitude ;
She crowds us with her thronging wood;
Her many hands reach out to us,
Her many tongues are garrulous ;
Perpetual riddles of surprise
She offers to our ears and eyes ;
She will not leave our senses still,
But drags them captive at her will ;

Of old the fire-tongued miracle, But flamed o'er all the thronging host The baptisin of the Holy Ghost; Heart answers heart: in one desire The blending lines of prayer aspire ; •Where, in my name, meet two or three,' Our Lord hath said, “I there will be !' “So sometimes comes to soul and sense The feeling which is evidence That very near about us lies The realm of spiritual mysteries. The sphere of the supernal powers Impinges on this world of ours. The low and dark horizon lists, To light the scenic terror shifts ; The breath of a diviner air Blows down the answer of a prayer :That all our sorrow, pain, and doubt A great compassion clasps about, And law and goodness, love and force, Are wedded fast beyond divorce. Then duty leaves to love its task, The beggar Self forgets to ask ; With smile of trust and folded hands, The passive soul in waiting stands To feel, as flowers the sun and dew, The One true Life its own renew.

Repeating where His works were wrought The lesson that her Master taught, Of whom an elder Sibyl gave, The prophecies of Cumæ's cave! I ask no organ's soulless breath To drone the themes of life and death, No altar candle-lit by day, No ornate wordsman's rhetoric-play, No cool philosophy to teach Its bland audacities of speech To doubled-tasked idolaters, Themselves their gods and worshippers, No pulpit hammered by the fist Of loud-asserting dogmatist, Who borrows for the hand of love The smoking thunderbolts of Jove. I know how well the fathers taught, What work the later schoolmen wrought; I reverence old-time faith and men, But God is near us now as then ; His force of love is still unspent, His hate of sin as imminent; And still the measure of our needs Outgrows the cramping bounds of creeds ; The manna gathered yesterday Already savors of decay ; Doubts to the world's child-heart unknown Question us now from star and stone; Too little or too much we know, And sight is swift and faith is slow; The power is lost to self-deceive With shallow forms of make-believe. We walk at high noon, and the bells Call to a thousand oracles, But the sound deafens, and the light Is stronger than our dazzled sight; The letters of the sacred Book Glimmer and swim beneath our look ; Still struggles in the Age's breast With deepening agony of quest The old entreaty : 'Art thou He, Or look we for the Christ to be ?' “God should be most where man is least; So, where is neither church nor priest, And never rag of form or creed To clothe the nakedness of need, — Where farmer-folk in silence meet, I turn my bell-unsummoned feet; I lay the critic's glass aside, I tread upon my lettered pride, And, lowest-seated, testify To the oneness of humanity; Confess the universal want, And share whatever Heaven may grant. He findeth not who seeks his own, The soul is lost that's saved alone. Not on one favored forehead fell

“So, to the calmly gathered thought The innermost of truth is taught, The mystery dimly understood, That love of God is love of good, And, chiefly, its divinest trace In Him of Nazareth's holy face ; That to be saved is only this, Salvation from our selfishness, From more than elemental fire, The soul's unsanctified desire, From sin itself, and not the pain That warns us of its chafing chain ; That worship's deeper meaning lies In mercy, and not sacrifice, Not proud humilities of sense And posturing of penitence, But love's unforced obedience ; That Book and Church and Day are given For man, not God, — for carth, not heaven, The blessed means to holiest ends, Not masters, but benignant friends ; That the dear Christ dwells not afar, The king of some remoter star, But flamed o'er all the thronging host The baptism of the Holy Ghost; Heart answers heart : in one desire The blending lines of prayer aspire ; • Where, in my name, meet two or three,' Our Lord hath said, “I there will be !'"

JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.

A PRAYER FOR LIFE.

Writ on the silent heavens in starry script,
· And flashing fitfully from her shuddering

tombs, -
O FATHER, let me not die young!

Commissioned Angels of the new-born Faith, Earth's beauty asks a heart and tongue

To teach the immortality of Good, To give true love and praises to her worth ;

The soul's God-likeness, Sin's coeval death,
Her sins and judgment-sufferings call

And Man's indissoluble Brotherhood.
For fearless martyrs to redeem thy Earth
From her disastrous fall.

Yet never an age, when God has need of him, For though her summer hills and vales might

Shall want its Man, predestined by that seem

' need, The fair creation of a poet's dream,

To pour his life in fiery word or deed, Ay, of the Highest Poet,

The strong Archangel of the Elohim ! Whose wordless rhythms are chanted by the

Earth's hollow want is prophet of his comgyrés

ing : Of constellate star-choirs,

In the low murmur of her famished cry, That with deep melody flow and overflow it, —

And heavy sobs breathed up despairingly, The sweet Earth, — very sweet, despite

Ye hear the near invisible humming The rank grave-smell forever drifting in Among the odors from her censers white

Of his wide wings that fan the lurid sky

Into cool ripples of new life and hope, Of wave-swung lilies and of wind-swung roses,

While far in its dissolving ether ope The Earth sad-sweet is deeply attaint with sin!

Deeps beyond deeps, of sapphire calm, to cheer The pure air, which encloses

With Sabbath gleams the troubled Now and Her and her starry kin, Still shudders with the unspent palpitating

Here.
Of a great Curse, that to its utmost shore

Father ! thy will be done,
Thrills with a deadly shiver

Holy and righteous One !
Which has not ceased to quiver

Though the reluctant years
Down all the ages, nathless the strong beating
Of Angel-wings, and the defiant roar

May never crown my throbbing brows with

white, Of Earth's Titanic thunders.

Nor round my shoulders turn thegolden light

Fair and sad, Of my thick locks to wisdom's royal ermine : In sin and beauty, our beloved Earth

Yet by the solitary tears, Has need of all her sons to make her glad ;

Deeper than joy or sorrow,- by the thrill, Has need of martyrs to refire the hearth Higher than hope or terror, whose quick germen, Of her quenched altars, — of heroic men

In those hot tears to sudden vigor sprung, With Freedoin's sword, or Truth's supernal pen, Sheds, even now, the fruits of graver age, – To shape the worn-out mould of nobleness again. By the long wrestle in which inward ill And she has need of Poets who can string Fell like a trampled viper to the ground, Their harps with steel to catch the lightning's By all that lifts me o'er my outward peers fire,

To that supernal stage And pourherthunders from the clanging wire, Where soul dissolves the bonds by Nature To cheer the hero, mingling with his cheer,

bound, Arouse the laggard in the battle's rear,

Fall when I may, by pale disease unstrung, Daunt the stern wicked, and from discord wring

Or by the hand of fratricidal rage, . Prevailing harmony, while the humblest soul

I cannot now die young! Who keeps the tune the warder angels sing

ANONYMOUS In golden choirs above, And only wears, for crown and aureole, The glow-worm light of lowliest human THE GREENWOOD SHRIFT.

love, Shall fill with low, sweet undertones the

One the GEORGE MI. AND A DYING WOMAN IN WINDSOR FOREST. chasms

OUTSTRETCHED beneath the leafy shade Of silence, 'twixt the booming thunder Of Windsor forest's deepest glade, spasms.

A dying woman lay; And Earth has need of Prophets fiery-lipped Three little children round her stood, And deep-souled, to announce the glorious And there went up from the greenwood dooms

A woful wail that day.

[blocks in formation]

For of the noblest of the land
Was that deep-hushed, bareheaded band;

And, central in the ring,
By that dead pauper on the ground,
Her ragged orphans clinging round,
Knelt their anointed king.

ROBERT and CAROLINE SOUTHEY.

They were not brawny men who bowed,
With harvest-voices rough and loud,
But spirits, moving as a cloud.
Like little lightnings in their hold,
The silver sickles manifold
Slid musically through the gold.

O, bid the morning stars combine
To match the chorus clear and fine,
That rippled lightly down the line,
A cadence of celestial rhyme,
The language of that cloudless clime,
To which their shining hands kept time!

ABDIEL.

FROM "PARADISE LOST." .... The seraph Abdiel, faithful found Among the faithless, faithful only he ; Among inuumerable false, unmoved, Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified, His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal ; Nor number, nor example with him wrought Toswerve from truth, or change his constant mind, Though single. From amidst them forth he passed, Long way through hostile scorn, which he sus

tained Superior, nor of violence feared aught; And with retorted scorn his back he turned' On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed.

MILTON.

Behind them lay the gleaming rows,
Like those long clouds the sunset shows
On amber meadows of repose;
But, like a wind, the binders bright
Soon followed in their mirthful might,
And swept them into sheaves of light.

Doubling the splendor of the plain,
There rolled the great celestial wain,
To gather in the fallen grain.
Its frame was built of golden bars ;
Its glowing wheels were lit with stars ;
The royal Harvest's car of cars.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »