THE UNBELIEVING WORLD.
O Lord! when I look o'er the wide-spreading world,
How lovely and yet how unhappy it seems,
How full of realities, pure and divine,
Yet how bent on unworshipful dreams!
My heart swells within me with thankfulest joy
For the faith which to me Thou hast given;
For in all Thine amazing abundance of gifts,
Thou hast no better gift short of heaven.
There was darkness in Egypt while Israel had sun, And the songs in the corn fields of Gessen were gay,
And the chosen that dwelt mid the heathen moved on, Each threading the gloom with his own private day.
Ah! so is it now with the Church of Thy choice; Her lands lie in light which to worldlings seems dim;
A.nd each child of that Church, who must live in dark realms, Has a sun o'er his head which is only for him.
Yet it grieves me too, Lord! that so many should wander,
Should see nought before them but desolate night, That men should be walled in with darkness around them,
When within and without there is nothing but light.
But still more I grieve for Thy glory, O Lord!
That the world should be only an Egypt for Thee, That the bondsmen of error should boast of their chains,
And scoff at the love that would fain set them free. 7.
Ah Lord! they must learn that their light is but darkness;
They must come to believe that our darkness is light;
They, who think they see far, must acknowledge their blindness, And come to Thy Church to recover their sight.
But we who have light, we must make our light brighter,
And thus show our love to Thee, Lord! for Thy
The faith Thou hast sent us our love can make greater^
And almost to sight our believing can lift.
Faith is sweetest of worships to Him who so loves His unbearable splendors in darkness to hide;
And to trust to Thy word, dearest Lord! is true love, For those prayers are most granted which seem most denied.
Oh why hast Thou made then faith's field all so narrow,
Nor multiplied objects for childlike belief; For faith, though it is such a beautiful worship, Is but earth's span of heaven, too fleeting and brief.
Thou hast dealt better measure to hope than to faith;
Hope can hope for no more, since it hopes, Lord! for Thee;
Nought is lacking to love which has fastened on God!
It is love lost in love like a drop in the sea.
But faith throws her arms around all Thou hast told her,
And, able to hold as much more, can but grieve; She could hold Thy grand Self, Lord! if Thou wouldst reveal it, And love makes her long to have more to believe. 128.
THE OLD LABORER.
What end doth he fulfil?
He seems without a will,
Stupid, unhelpful, helpless, age-worn man!
He hath let the years pass;
He hath toiled, and heard Mass, Done what he could, and now does what he can.
And this forsooth is all!
A plant or animal
Hath a more positive work to do than he:
Along his daily beat,
Delighting in the heat,
He crawls in sunshine which he does not see.
What doth God get from him?
His very mind is dim,
Too weak to love, and too obtuse to fear.
Is there glory in his strife?
Is there meaning in his life?
Can God hold such a thing-like person dear?
Peace! he is dying now;
No light is on his brow;
He makes no sign, but without sign departs.
The poor die often so,—
And yet they long to go,
To take to God their over-weighted hearts.
Born only to endure,
The patient passive poor
Seem useful chiefly by their multitude;
For they are men who keep
Their lives secret and deep; Alas! the poor are seldom understood.
This laborer that is gone
Was childless and alone,
And homeless as his Saviour was before him;
He told in no man's ear
His longing, love or fear, Nor what he thought of life as it passed o'er him.
He had so long been old,
His heart was close and cold;
He had no love to take, no love to give:
Men almost wished him dead;
'Twas best for him, they said; 'Twas such a weary sight to see him live. 8.
He walked with painful stoop,
As if life made him droop, And care had fastened fetters round his feet;
He saw no bright blue sky,
Except what met his eye
Reflected from the rain-pools in the street.
To whom was he of good?
He slept and he took food, He used the earth and air, and kindled fire:
He bore to take relief,
Less as a right than grief;—
To what might such a soul as his aspire?
His inexpressive eye
Peered round him vacantly, As if whate'er he did he would be chidden;
He seemed a mere growth of earth;
Yet even he had mirth, As the great angels have, untold and hidden.
Alway his downcast eye
Was laughing silently,
As if he found some jubilee in thinking;
For his one thought was God,
In that one thought he abode, For ever in that thought more deeply sinking.
Thus did he live his life,
A kind of passive strife,
Upon the God within his heart relying;
Men left him all alone,
Because he was unknown, But he heard the angels sing when he was dying.
God judges by a light,
Which baffles mortal sight, And the useless-seeming man the crown hath won:
In His vast world above,
A world of broader love,
God hath some grand employment for His son.
THE EMIGRANT'S SONG.
Alas! o'er Erin's lessening shores
The flush of day is fading,
And coldly round us ocean roars,
The exiled heart upbraiding.
It tells of those whose pining love
Must cross the seas to find us,
And of the dead at peace above,
Whose graves we leave behind us.
Ah! we shall meet no green like thine,
Erin! where we are going: No waters to our eyes can shine
Like Shannon proudly flowing;
No sea-bays we can love so well
As that round Cove extending,
No fragrance like the peat^fire's smell
In evening's calm ascending.
Poor heart! God knows how sore and long
The fight hath been within it; The battle lies not with the strong,
Or our love of home might win it: We could not bear from wife's dear eyes
Each day to miss the shining, As oft she strove to hush the cries
Of babes in famine pining.
The very joy of all this earth,
The blessed name of Jesus,
They turned what was our holiest mirth
To Satan's snare to tease us.
He sent his troops, with food in hand,
To their false faith to woo us;
To take the blessing from our land,
And eternally undo us.
Twas hard to watch the wasting child,
Nor take the bribe thus given; Ah, me! a father's heart gone wild,
For earth might barter heaven: The men of stone, they watched their hour,
Darkness and light were striving; But Jesus tempered hunger's power,
We conquered and are living.
And now into that sunset far
Across the western waters, Freedom of faith and plenty's star
Lead Erin's sons and daughters. Dear friends at home! whene'er ye grieve,
Prayer o'er the sea can find us, And to our native land we leave
Blessing and love behind us.
That music breathes all through my spirit,
As the breezes blow through a tree;
And my soul gives light as it quivers,
Like moons on a tremulous sea.
New passions are wakened within me,
New passions that have not a name;
Dim truths that I knew but as phantoms
Stand up clear and bright in the flame.
And my soul is possessed with yearnings Which make my life broaden and swell;
And I hear strange things that are soundless, And I see the invisible.
Oh silence that clarion in mercy,—
For it carries my soul away; And it whirls my thoughts out beyond me,
Like the leaves on an autumn day.
O exquisite tyranny! silence,—
My soul slips from under my hand,
And as if by instinct is fleeing
To a dread unvisited land.
Is it sound, or fragrance, or vision?
Vocal light wavering down from above? Past prayer and past praise I am floating
Down the rapids of speechless love.
I strove, but the sweet sounds have conquered:
Within me the Past is awake;
The Present is grandly transfigured;
The Future is clear as day-break.
Now Past, Present, Future have mingled
A new sort of Present to make; And my life is all disembodied,
Without time, without space, without break.
But my soul seems floating for ever
In an orb of ravishing sounds, Through faint-falling echoes of heavens
Mid beautiful earths without bounds.
Now sighing, as zephyrs in summer,
The concords glide in like a stream,
With a sound that is almost a silence,
Or the soundless sounds in a dream.
Then oft, when the music is faintest,
My soul has a storm in its bowers,
Like the thunder among the mountains,
Like the wind in the abbey towers.
There are sounds, like flakes of snow falling
In their silent and eddying rings;
We tremble,—they touch us so lightly,
Like the feathers from angels' wings.
There are pauses of marvellous silence,
That are full of significant sound,
Like music echoing music
Under water or under ground.
That clarion again! through what valleys
Of deep inward life did it roll, Ere it blew that astonishing trumpet
Right down in the caves of my soul?
My mind is bewildered with echoes,—
Not all from the sweet sounds without;
But spirits are answering spirits
In a beautiful muffled shout.
Oh cease then, wild Horns! I am fainting;
If ye wail so, my heart will break; Some one speaks to me in your speaking
In a language I cannot speak.
Though the sounds ye make are all foreign, How native, how household they are;
The tones of old homes mixed with heaven, The dead and the angels, speak there.
Dear voices that long have been silenced,
Come clear from their peaceful land,
Come toned with unspeakable sweetness
From the Presence in which they stand.
Or is music the inarticulate
Speech of the angels on earth?
Or the voice of the Undiscovered
Bringing great truths to the birth?
O music! thou surely art worship;
But thou art not like praise or prayer; And words make better thanksgiving
Than thy sweet melodies are.
There is in thee another worship,
An outflow of something divine;
For the voice of adoring silence,
If it could be a voice, were thine.
Thou art fugitive splendors made vocal,
As they glanced from that shining sea,
Where the Vision is visible music,
Making music of spirits who see.
Thou, Lord! art the Father of music;
Sweet sounds are a whisper from Thee; Thou hast made Thy creation all anthems,
Though it singeth them silently.
But I guess by the stir of this music
What raptures in heaven can be,
Where the sound is Thy marvellous stillness,
And the music is light out of Thee.
THE STARRY SKIES.
The starry skies, they rest my soul,
Its chains of care unbind,
And with the dew of cooling thoughta
Refresh my sultry mind.
And, like a bird amidst the boughs,
I rest, and sing, and rest, Among those bright dissevered worlds,
As safe as in a nest.
And oft I think the starry sprays
Swing with me where I light,
While brighter branches lure me o'er
New gulfs of purple night.
Yes, something draws me upward there
As morning draws the lark;
Only my spell, whate'er it is,
Works better in the dark.
It is as if a home was there, *
To which my soul was turnimg,
A home not seen, but nightly proved
By a mysterious yearning.
It se.ems as if no actual space
Gould hold it in its bond; Thought climbs its highest, still it is
Always beyond, beyond.
Earth never feels like home, though fresh
And full its tide of mirth;
No glorious change we can conceive
Would make a home of earth.
But God alone can be a home;
And His sweet Vision lies Somewhere in that soft gloom concealed,
Beyond the starry skies.
So, as if waiting for a voice,
Nightly I gaze and sigh,
While the stars look at me silently
Out of their silent sky.
How have" I erred! God is my home,
And God Himself is here;
Why have I looked so far for Him
Who is nowhere but near?
Oh not in distant starry skies,
In vastness not abroad,
But everywhere in His whole Self
Abides the whole of God.
In golden presence not diffused,
Not in vague fields of bliss,
But whole in every present point
The Godhead simply is.
Down, in earth's duskiest vales, where'er
My pilgrimage may be,
Thou, Lord! wilt be a ready home
Always at hand for me.
I spake: but God was nowhere seen;
Was His love too tired to wait? Ah no! my own unsimple love
Hath often made me late.
How often things already won
It urges me to win,
How often makes me look outside
For that which is within!
Our souls go too much out of self
Into ways dark and dim:
'Tis rather God who seeks for us,
Than we who seek for Him.
Yet surely through my tears I saw
God softly drawing near; How came He without sight or sound
So soon to disappear?
God was not gone: but He so longed
His sweetness to impart,
He too was seeking for a home,
And found it in my heart. •
Twice had I erred: a distant God
Was what I could not bear;
Sorrows and cares were at my side;
I longed to have Him there.
But God is never so far off
As even to be near;
He is within: our spirit is
The home He holds most dear.
To think of Him as by our side
Is almost as untrue,
As to remove His throne beyond
Those skies of starry blue.
So all the while I thought myself
Homeless, forlorn, and weary,
Missing my joy, I walked the earth
Myself God's sanctuary.
THE SORROWFUL WORLD.
I heard the wild beasts in the woods complain;
Some slept, while others wakened to sustain
Through night and day the sad monotonous round,
Half savage and half pitiful the sound.
The outcry rose to God through all the air,
The worship of distress, an animal prayer,
Loud vehement pleadings, not unlike to those
Job uttered in his agony of woes.
The very pauses, when they came, were rife
With sickening sounds of too successful strife,
As, when the clash of battle dies away,
The groans of night succeed the shrieks of day.
Man's scent the untamed creatures scarce can bear,
As if his tainted blood defiled the air;
In the vast woods they fret as in a cage,
Or fly in fear, or gnash their teeth with rage.
The beasts of burden linger on their way,
Like slaves who will not speak when they obey;
Their faces, when their looks to us they raise,
With something of reproachful patience gaze.
All creatures round us seem to disapprove;
Their eyes discomfort us with lack of love;
Our very rights, with signs like these alloyed,
Not without sad misgivings are enjoyed.
Earth seems to make a sound in places lone,
Sleeps through the day, but wakes at night to moan,
Shunning our confidence, as if we were
A guilty burden it could hardly bear.
The winds can never sing but they must wail;
Waters lift up sad voices in the vale;
One mountain-hollow to another calls
With broken cries of plaining waterfalls.
Silence itself is but a heaviness,
As if the earth were fainting in distress,
Like one who wakes at night in panic fears,
And nought but his own beating pulses hears.
Inanimate things can rise into despair;
And, when the thunders bellow in the air,
Amid the mountains, earth sends forth a cry,
Like dying monsters in their agony.
The sea, unmated creature, tired and lone,
Makes on its desolate sands eternal moan:
Lakes on the calmest days are ever throbbing
Upon their pebbly shores with petulant sobbing.
O'er the white waste, cold grimly overawes
And hushes life beneath its merciless laws;
Invisible heat drops down from tropic skies,
And o'er the land, like an oppression lies.
The clouds in heaven their placid motions borrow
From the funereal tread of men in sorrow;
Or, when they scud across the stormy day,
Mimic the flight of hosts in disarray.
Mostly men's many-featured faces wear
Looks of fixed gloom, or else of restless care;
The very babes, that in their cradles lie,
Out of the depths of unknown troubles cry.
Labor itself is but a sorrowful song,
The protest of the weak against the strong;
Over rough waters, and in obstinate fields,
And from dank mines, the same sad sound it yields.
0 God! the fountain of perennial gladness!
Thy whole creation overflows with sadness;
Sights, sounds, are full of sorrow and alarm;
Even sweet scents have but a pensive charm.
Doth earth send nothing up to Thee but moans?
Father! canst Thou find melody in groans?
Oh can it be, that Thou, the God of bliss,
Canst feed Thy glory on a world like this?
Ah me! that sin should have such chemic power
To turn to dross the gold of nature's dower,
And straightway, of its single self, unbind
The eternal vision of Thy jubilant Mind!
Alas! of all this sorrow there is need;
For us earth weeps, for us the creatures bleed:
Thou art content, if all this woe imparts
The sense of exile to repentant hearts.
Yes! it is well for us: from these alarms,
Like children scared, we fly into Thine arms;
And pressing sorrows put our pride to rout
With a swift faith which has not time to doubt.
We cannot herd in peace with wild beasts rude;
We dare not live in nature's solitude;
In how few eyes of men can we behold
Enough of love to make us calm and bold?
Oh it is well for us: with angry glance
Life glares at us, or looks at us askance:
Seek where we will,—Father! we see it now,—
None love us, trust us, welcome us, but Thou I
Autumn once more begins to teach;
Sere 1 saves their annual sermon preach
And with the southward-slipping sun
Another stage of life is done.
The day is of a paler hue,
The night is of a darker blue,
Just as it was a year ago;
For time runs fast, but grace is slow!
Life glides away in many a bend,
In chapters which begin and end;
Each has its trial, each its grace,
Each in life's whole its proper place.
Life has its joinings and its breaks,
But each transition swiftly takes
Us nearer to or further from
The threshold of our heavenly home.
Years pass away; new crosses come;
Past sorrow is a sort of home,
An exile's home, and only lent
For needful rest in banishment.
It narrows life, and walls it in,
And shuts the door on many a sin;
'Tis almost like a calm fireside,
Where humbled hearts are fain to bide.
Thou comest, Autumn, to unlade
Thy wealthy freight of summer shade,
Still sorrowful as in past years,
Yet mild and sunny in thy tears,
Ripening and hardening all thy growth
Of solid wood, yet nothing loth
To waste upon the frolic breeze
Thy leaves, like flights of golden bees.
Have I laid by from summer hours
Ripe fruits as well as leaves and flowers?
Hath my past year a growth to harden,
As well as fewer sins to pardon?
Is God in all things more and more
A king within me than before?
I know not, yet one change hath come,—
The world feels less and less a home.
My soul appears, as I get old,
More prompt in act, in prayer less cold;
Crosses, from use, more lightly press;
Mirth is more purely weariness;
With less to quarrel with in life,
I grow less patient with its strife;
I wish more simply, Lord! to be,
Ailing or well, always with Thee!