Page images
PDF
EPUB

I praise thee, O beloved sign,
From the God-soul unto mine!
Praise me, that I cast on thee
The cunning sweet interpretation,
The help and glory and dilation

Of mine immortality !?

X.
There was silence. None did dare
To use again the spoken air
Of that far-charming voice, until
A Christian resting on the hill,
With a thoughtful smile subdued
(Seeming learnt in solitude)
Which a weeper might have viewed
Without new tears, did softly say,
And looked up unto heaven alway
While he praised the Earth-

"O Earth,
I count the praises thou art worth,
By thy waves that move aloud,
By thy hills against the cloud,
By thy valleys warm and green,
By the copses' elms between,
By their birds which, like a sprite
Scattered by a strong delight
Into fragments musical,
Stir and sing in every bush;
By thy silver founts that fall,
As if to entice the stars at night
To thine heart; by grass and rush,
And little weeds the children pull,
Mistook for flowers!

... --Oh, beautiful

Art thou, Earth, albeit worse
Than in heaven is called good!
Good to us, that we may know
Meekly from thy good to go;
While the holy, crying Blood
Puts its music kind and low,
'Twixt such ears as are not dull,

And thine ancient curse!

[ocr errors]

'Praised be the mosses soft
In thy forest path ways oft,
And the thorns, which make us think
Of the thornless river-brink,

Where the ransomed tread.
Praised be thy sunny gleams,
And the storm, that worketh dreams

Of calm unfinished.
Praised be thine active days,
And thy night-time's solemn need,
When in God's dear book we read

No night shall be therein.
Praised be thy dwellings warm
By household faggot's cheerful blaze,
Where, to hear of pardoned sin,
Pauseth oft the merry din,
Save the babe's upon the arm,
Who croweth to the crackling wood.
Yea, and better understood,
Praised be thy dwellings cold,
Hid beneath the churchyard mould,
Where the bodies of the saints,
Separate from earthly taints,

Lie asleep, in blessing bound,
Waiting for the trumpet's sound
To free them into blessing ;-none
Weeping more beneath the sun,
Though dangerous words of human love
Be graven very near, above.

XI.

' Earth, we Christians praise thee thus,
Even for the change that comes,
With a grief, from thee to us!
For thy cradles and thy tombs,
For the pleasant corn and wine,
And summer-heat; and also for
The frost upon the sycamore,

And hail upon the vine!'

'HE VIRGIN MARY TO THE CHILD JESUS.

But see the Virgin blest
Hath laid her babe to rest.

Milton's Hymn on the Nativity.

SLEEP, sleep, mine Holy One!
My flesh, my Lord !—what name ? I do not know
A name that seemeth not too high or low,

Too far from me or heaven.
My Jesus, that is best! that word being given
By the majestic angel whose command

Was softly as a man's beseeching said,
When I and all the earth appeared to stand

In the great overflow
Of light celestial from his wings and head.

Sleep, sleep, my saving One!

II.

And art thou come for saving, baby-browed
And speechless Being-art thou come for saving?
The palm that grows beside our door is bowed
By treadings of the low wind from the south,
A restless shadow through the chamber waving:
Upon its bough a bird sings in the sun;
But Thou, with that close sluinber on thy mouth,
Dost seem of wind and sun already weary.
Art come for saving, O my weary One ?

III.

Perchance this sleep that shutteth out the dreary Earth-sounds and motions, opens on Thy soul

High dreams on fire with God; High songs that make the pathways where they roll More bright than stars do theirs; and visions new Of Thine eternal Nature's old abode.

Suffer this mother's kiss,

Best thing that earthly is,
To glide the music and the glory through,
Nor narrow in thy dream the broad upliftings

Of any seraph wing.
Thus noiseless, thus. Sleep, sleep, my dreaming One!

IV.

The slumber of His lips meseems to run
Through my lips to mine heart,—to all its shiftings

Of sensual life, bringing contrariousness
In a great calm. I feel, I could lie down
As Moses did, and die, * -and then live most.
I am 'ware of you, heavenly Presences,
That stand with your peculiar light unlost,
Each forehead with a high thought for a crown,
Unsunned i’ the sunshine! I am 'ware. Ye throw
No shade against the wall! How motionless
Ye round me with your living statuary,
While through your whiteness, in and outwardly,
Continual thoughts of God appear to go,
Like light's soul in itself. I bear, I bear,
To look upon the dropt lids of your eyes,
Though their external shining testifies
To that beatitude within, which were
Enough to blast an eagle at his sun.
I fall not on my sad clay face before ye,-

I look on His. I know
My spirit which dilateth with the woe

Of His mortality,
May well contain your glory.

Yea, drop your lids more low.
Ye are but fellow-worshippers with me!

Sleep, sleep, my worshipped One!

V.
We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem.
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,

Softened their hornèd faces
To almost human gazes

Toward the newly Born.
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks

* It is a Jewish tradition that Moses died of the kisses of God's lips.

« PreviousContinue »