Songs of Consolation (I)

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NOT in cloud and not in thunder,
Filling all the world with wonder,
    Came to earth the Lord of earth;
But with helpless cries and tears,
Mid a mother's pains and fears,
    Entered by the gate of birth.

By the way of flesh he came —
How else could he kindred claim?
    How else, save life's path he trod.
Coming in the way of breath.
Going out the way of death.
    Be himself the way to God?

Living words by prophets spoken,
Hearts with longing well nigh broken,
    Expectation in the air;
Blind desire of every nation.
Eyes that waited for salvation,
    Coming of the Son declare.

Thus he came, our new beginning,
For the death doom of our sinning,
    Giving us God's life again:
Then a bright new star shone o'er us,
Then began that heavenly chorus,
    'Peace on earth, good will to men.'




HE came from fasting in the wild,
    He made them glad with wine;
Amid the marriage mirth he smiled,
    And gave a gift divine.

Upon the water coldly urned
    He looked, to blood of vine
It blushed and glowed and swiftly turned,
    Beneath his smile divine.

Not more is here than nature yields;
    The rain, the sweet sunshine,
Make miracles in all the fields,
    And, Lord, the power is thine!

Life's blessings free as water flow
    From the same source divine —
Bid Jesus to the feast, and lo!
    He makes the water wine.




'He healed them all.' — St. Matthew xii. 15.

ALL the birds sang in the sunshine gaily,
    All the glad hills blossomed to the sea;
And the sick folk came unto him daily,
    As he walked in lovely Galilee.

Sad to see the many eager faces,
    Seeking one, amid the multitude;
Sad to see them strive to fill the places,
    When they found him, nearest where he

Sad to see the forms disease had blighted,
    Mid the blowing flowers and singing birds;
The dim eyes with their last hope relighted —
    Sadder far than can be said in words.

Some had heard of him and of his healing,
    Faint and far had come their cure to meet;
Some, alike past hope and help and feeling.
    Love had carried to the Saviour's feet.

And how weak soe'er the prayer they fashion.
    Not in vain on him for help they call;
All his heart moved with divine compassion
    For their sorrows, and 'he healed them all.'

Since they hear his voice, no guidance needing,
    The blind stretch their hands to seek his
And the deaf with restless eyes are pleading,
    Since they see the promise of his face.

And 'he healed them all' — the blind beholding,
    See a heavenly beauty round him shine;
And the deaf ears hear his voice unfolding
    From earth's music meaning more divine.

'Healed them all' — the loathly leper creeping
    Through the crowd, he touches and makes
The demoniac, ceasing her wild weeping,
    Leaves His presence with an altered mien.

Gladness grows, the bowed down are uplifted,
    Wasted women feel their bloom renewed;
Birds sing, blossoms on the breeze are drifted,
    Great the joy among the multitude.

'Tis thy presence, Lord, such bliss bestoweth;
    Since these days have thy compassions
Unto us no healing virtue floweth.
    Unto us the sorrows are increased.
He — the Roman — for his faithful servant
    Who besought thee, better things believed,
Holding all of thy commands observant
    As the hundred who his word received.

From the source of life, for ever hidden
    From our deepest search, our clearest sight,
Thou the swift and secret force had'st bidden
    When thy miracle amazed men's sight.

But with deeper search and clearer seeing
    More and more the miracle dismays,
Though in every changeless law of being
    Standing fast thy word its power displays.

Till we truly, in that power believing,
    Owning thee the Living Source of Life —
Life which from thy spirit law receiving
    With its undisturbing force is rife —

Feel that thou canst reach the death power
    In the change between the dead and quick,
That thy will, through ordered nature working,
    At the prayer of faith can save the sick.
For all suffering then we claim the healing.
    Of the power that was and still is thine,
And yet more we claim thy fellow feeling.
    The compassion of thy heart divine.





Higher and higher yet
    He goeth up the hill;
And higher yet, and higher yet,
    He leadeth those who will.

Upon the crowning height
    The Master takes his seat;
They follow — he sits in the light,
    And they sit at his feet.

Oh, miracle of speech! —
    The life in word that flows —
He openeth his mouth to teach,
    And forth the blessing goes.

Not whom the world hath blest,
    He blesses, but declares
Those whom it pities at the best,
    Of earth and heaven the heirs.

Who would such blessing seek
    Won by the worst of woes!
The poor, the mournful and the
    Oh, who would be as those?

For such with heavenly light
    The sacred Mount doth shine;
To such from off its holy height
    He gives the law divine.

The law, the death of sin —
    The new and living law,
Which, written on the heart within,
    Can neither break nor flaw.

The law of love, which shall
    By sacrificing save,
By yielding triumph, giving all,
    Shall gain by what it gave.

The love that must be loved
    Until it reigns supreme;
That to the world divinely proved
    Shall yet the world redeem.

Lord, lead us to the height
    Of this thy holy hill,
That we may sit there in thy light
    With souls intense and still;

Thy blessing to receive,
    All blessedness above,
And learn ere we thy presence
    Thy law of perfect love.





THE city pours her filth and scum
To see the pastime of the day,
From every horrid haunt they come,
Like vultures on the scent of prey,
To see the malefactors die,
To feast themselves on agony.

Three crosses crown Golgotha's height —
Each tree its ghastly fruit doth bear;
A wild thief shrieks to left and right,
He in the midst, hangs silent there
Amid the curses and the cries,
The jeers and shouts and blasphemies.

'Behold him!   In the midst there see
The man who called himself a king!
Nay, Son of God!   If thou art he' —
Mid laughter with which hell might
        ring —
'Come down, and save thyself,' they cried,
'Come down, come down, thou crucified!'

Silent he hangs from morn till noon —
Slow are the hours, the torture slow —
Slow drips the blood — it ends not soon;
The careless crowd may come and go,
And eat and drink, nor miss the play
That spices their high holiday.

But now at noon a darkness spreads,
Solemn and strange, o'er all the skies,
On every upturned face it sheds
A livid light — the discord dies, —
Hear, they, as when the nails were driven,
'Father, forgive them,' rise to heaven?

Burning his Saviour soul within,
The passion of Christ's love for men,
Even as an offering for sin,
Upon the cross consumed him, when
Above his agony there rose
That prayer for his assembled foes.

Surged at his feet that sea of hate;
But one reviling by his side
Is won by love so heavenly great,
And turns and owns the crucified:
'To-day,' he to the thief replies,
'Thou'lt be with me in Paradise.'

A loving few were gathered near
Amid that hate-filled multitude;
Leaning on the disciple dear
The heart-pierced mother fainting
And he, remembering their pain
Amid his anguish, spoke again.

'Woman, behold thy son,' he said;
'Son, see thy mother' — in this wise,
Bending his thorn-crowned, kingly
He fixed on them his dying eyes,
And to each other gave the twain
Who loved him best, nor loved in vain.

Slow pass the hours of torture, slow
The warm blood drips, the full veins
'I thirst ' he saith, and in his woe
He tasted what one gave to drink —
Perhaps 'twas some relenting hand
That filled the sponge and held the

The hours pass on, the end is near!
Will not the Father own him now?
Alas! what deeper woe is here.
What dire defeat his lips avow —
'My God!   My God!' in anguish, 'why
Hast thou forsaken me?' they cry.

The hour has come! the pain is past;
Few are his words and faint his breath;
And are these doubtful words the last,
The 'It is finished'?   Yet he saith,
'Father, my spirit I commit
Into thy hands,' and yieldeth it.

Thy sins — thine own — O sinner, greet
In that dark crew who streamed away,
Fearing each other's eyes to meet,
From Calvary's hill that dreadful day.
They smiting on their breasts depart,
Thou hid'st his murderers in thy heart.





'Dead form of my beloved! thou
    Art precious,' cries the mourning heart,
'I close thine eyes, I kiss thy brow,
    I feel it agony to part.

'And thou dark grave, which now must hide
    The cherished form from my embrace,
To me for evermore abide,
    Henceforth, the earth's most precious place.'

Oh! awful triumph of the tomb —
    The deepest love must leave us there;
And ending thus in mortal gloom,
    The deeper love, the worse despair.

The few who gathered round the cross,
    And thence the murdered Christ received,
Lamented a more bitter loss
    Than ever tender hearts had grieved.

Their hope, and all the world's, they laid
    In that new grave, to which they bore
His body marred with wounds, and made
    To bleed as 'twere at every pore.

They knew not when they laid him down
    A swiftly coming dawn would bring
New hope for love's immortal crown:
    That from his grave new life should spring.

These wounds the love divine disclose,
    Which to the world shall healing give:
That precious death the life bestows
    By which our souls divinely live.

Buried with him our dear ones lie,
    Not blindly into darkness thrust;
With him, with them, we calmly die,
    Nor dread the gateway of the dust.




WHAT to the soul in sorrow's night
    The dawning of another day?
New sorrow comes with morning light,
    Fresh bleed the wounds sleep scarce could

Again unto the opening eyes
    Is death disclosed, again they weep,
Rising for one who cannot rise,
    Waking for one who still must sleep.

Thus waking early to their woe,
    The women ere the dawn of day
Went forth to seek the grave, where low
    In death their Lord and master lay.

The living wonder of the dawn
    Was born in heaven, and spread and grew;
The veil of night was half withdrawn,
    And gave the sleeping earth to view.

Spring's resurrection breathed abroad,
    And many a blossom shook its wings
Dust free, arising from the sod,
    A glory among living things.

It breathed about the garden tomb
    Made in the rock and sealed with stone —
Hard rock, to thee it brings no bloom,
    It brings no life to thee alone!

O Death, to thee no morning brings
    The light by which thou shalt awake;
The blossoms of a thousand springs
    Out of thy dust in vain shall break.

Our life is vainer than a flower ;
    Vain is our hope, our sorrow vain!
If this be all — a little hour
    Annuls our joy, annuls our pain.

And though the flower of life be fair,
    If false its highest promise prove —
If but a motion of the air
    Its cry for an undying love,

'Twere better that we had not been —
    If death's dominion holds, and he
The face of God has never seen,
    Who dreamt that dream of life to be;

Better that unto us be born
    No child, to us no son be given,
That, mocked of God, creation's scorn,
    Our race should fail from under heaven.

The childless world for some few years
    Would bear her freight of human woe.
And then, rejoicing with her peers,
    Voiceless but glad would onward go.

Dim was the dawn its light that lent,
    Ere day rose bright beyond belief;
Dim were their thoughts who weeping went
    To Christ's new grave to nurse their grief.

Glorious and fair the day that burst
    From that dim dawn as these drew near,
And learnt that death had done its worst —
    'The Lord has risen!   He is not here.'

This greeting from the empty tomb
    Is doubtful joy till he appears;
Their risen sun dispels the gloom —
    And Mary sees him through her tears.

The light which on that morning broke,
    Lights the dark realm where death was king,
The greeting from that grave which spoke,
    Round all the world shall joyful ring.

Glorious and fair beyond our hope
    The day which in that hour had birth,
The glad new day of boundless scope,
    No more to set upon the earth.

'The Lord has risen!'   Our life appears
    Divine in that diviner light,
Which shines immortal through our tears
    What time we sit in sorrow's night.

'The Lord has risen, — has risen indeed!'
    Throughout the earth the tidings run,
In higher thought and holier deed
    Life blossoms to her living sun.




        'WHY stand ye gazing yet?'
        The brow of Olivet
Darkened as he was parted from you there,
        And empty is the air;
        Only a cloud in view,
Only a bird's wing in the summer blue.

        'Why stand ye gazing yet?'
        Looking from Olivet,
Ye see the white walls of Jerusalem,
        Standing each stone of them: —
        There is no sign of fear;
Nothing is changed, because he is not here.

        No longer through the land
        With his devoted band
Of witnesses, shall the Redeemer walk;
        With his disciples talk
        By the wayside, or climb
Some lonely hill to hold a converse more

        Down yonder in the vale
        Gather, with sorrow pale,
The household whom he loved, and who no
        Will watch him coming o'er
        The hill, and haste to meet
The heavenly joy of his returning feet.

        The strange things of these days
        Have filled them with amaze,
Have sadly seemed to set him far above,
        And out of reach of love;
        And now the sisters twain
To draw nigh each to each in love and help
            are fain.

        Oh, to have been as they
        Who gazing stood that day!
Oh, to have been as one of those who knew
        The Christ — that favoured few
        Who heard his living word,
Nor drew on empty air a vision of their

        Did not a solemn change
        Pass on their lives? — a strange
And awful sense of unreality
        Shadow the earth, as he
        Was parted from them there,
Melting away into the viewless air?

        O our ascended Lord!
        We who receive their word
Who saw thee going up from Olivet,
        Believe that thou art yet
        Still nearer to be found,
Than if thy blessed feet we there could
            gather round.

        Lost in the viewless air,
        To be found everywhere,
Thenceforth, beneath our most miraculous sky;
        Ascended up on high,
        Yet in each lowly heart
Ready to come and dwell, and never more




'COME unto me.'   Who calls?
For we are weary; heavier every day
Life's heavy burden falls.

'Come unto me.'   Who saith
He giveth rest?   There is but one who
That promise: it is Death.

'Tis Christ who calleth thus,
'Come unto me, and I will give you rest' —
His spirit calleth us.

Surely thou wilt not mock
The weary!   Thou art tender whom we
Thy word is as a rock!

And coming at thy call,
The burden of our selfishness and sin,
Life's heavy load, will fall!

With this no more opprest,
Taking love's easy yoke, love's burden light.
We find thy promised rest.




HAST thou seen the night withdrawn,
    When the dews the deepest lie;
Earth re-entering the dawn,
    Day returning to the sky?

Scarce at any moment more
    Is the light, the darkness less,
Only paler than before
    Seem the shadows as they press.

Now, like mystic flower, the light
    Opens swift from change to change;
And a world grows into sight,
    Unfamiliar, new and strange.

Darkly is the cedar spread
    On the pure and pearly skies,
Dimly glows the gold and red,
    And ghost-white the lilies rise.

Then a sudden burst of beams.
    Waking thousand sleeping things,
Pours a splendour, in whose streams
    Doves are sunning silver wings.

Often thus upon the soul
    Dawns the day of grace divine,
Gradual light overflows the whole,
    Ere the sun arise and shine.

Every dark denial dies
    In the darkness unaware;
Truth o'erspreads the spirit's skies,
    And desire grows pure as prayer.

Surely grows the heavenly light
    Though its source is hid from view;
To the soul's awakened sight
    All things are revealed anew.

Till at length the light o'erflows,
    And the conscious spirit, won
To new life, rejoicing knows
    God its source and Christ its sun.

Heavenly ardours wake and throw
    Glory over earth and sky;
And life enters in the glow,
    On the day of duty high.




MY soul seemed dead
As a leafless tree,
In the little wood,
As I wandered free.

The boughs were bare,
And the doubtful blue
Of a dim spring day
Looked down and through,

While I cast myself
On the lifeless sod;
Unable to lift
A thought to God.

But with tender blade
Half out of the sheath,
Fresh grass was springing
Dead leaves beneath.

And on each bare bough,
Though no leaf was seen.
Yet each tree was clad
In a mist of green.

And the whole wood breathed
Like a living thing
With the breath of life,
With the life of spring.

Then I lay as dead
On the living earth,
Longing to share
In its sweet new birth

I thought if I lie
Asking though dumb,
Here the sweet spirit
Of life may come.

Let me stretch out
My arms like these,
God will not give me
Less than his trees.




St. Matthew xvi. 22-32.

'TIS the fourth watch of the night;
    Tossing on the stormy sea,
They are longing for the light,
    They are struggling wearily.

When amid the night and storm,
    Walking on the watery floor,
They behold, in phantom form,
    Him they left upon the shore.

' 'Tis a spirit!' this they cry,
    Trembling as he draweth near —
Jesus, saying 'It is I,'
    Comes and bids them cease to fear.

Often, like that little crew,
    The frail bark of faith is out
Beating stormy waters through
    On a midnight sea of doubt.

Faith would deem the Saviour nigh
    Walking on the waves again,
But there comes the bitter cry,
    'Tis a phantom of the brain.

Then there grows beyond control
    The intolerable pain
Of the yearning of the soul
    That hath known its Lord in vain.

Doubt no more may be endured,
    And, like Peter, to the waves
It must trust to be assured
    That it hath the Christ it craves.

Casts itself upon the sea!
    Sinks appalled by wind and wave!
Knows, in sinking, it is he!
    Sinking calls on him to save!

Caught and clasped within the hold
    Of the all-sustaining hand,
Finds the winds and waves controlled,
    And the morning on the land.




HERE in the wilderness of souls,
    My fainting spirit groans;
No water in this waste there is,
    No bread amid these stones.

The light beats through the blazing day,
    But light no more is sweet;
It shines to burn, but shows no way
    Before the weary feet.

No footprints mark the barren sand.
    It sinks beneath the tread;
From sky to sky the dreary land
    Is lifeless, dry, and dead.

No refuge of a rock is given
    From the unpitying skies;
God sheds a glory in his heaven,
    But blinds these living eyes.

I perish in this wilderness.
    My fainting spirit groans;
No water in this waste there is,
    No bread amid these stones.

Yet let thy spirit heed my call.
    Lord of my life, and lo,
Here shall the living manna fall,
    The living water flow.





FALSE was the voice that in my heart
Whispered, and bade me dwell apart,
Bade me seek God in loftier ways
Than by weak prayer and feeble praise;

For that in nature's solitudes
Of silent hills and breathing woods,
More than in temples made with hands
The soul within his presence stands.

I drowned my voice amid the roar
Of waters on a lonely shore,
And this, I thought, was nobler praise
Than mingling it with infant lays;

Far out of human sound and sight
Lay lifted on the lonely height;
And held my worship purer there
Than joining in the 'Common Prayer.'

False voice, that led me more astray,
As more apart I took my way;
Until pride's barren path I trod,
Further, and further still, from God.

But grief laid hold of me, and led
Back from that brink a heart that bled;
'Twas such a common grief, it must
Be wept into the common dust.

I went into the house of prayer,
And knelt with other mourners there;
A better spirit whispered then,
'God's tabernacle is with men.'

The broken murmurs floating round,
Rose from the sea of souls profound,
More deep, more awful, than the roar
Of many waters on the shore.

As fire by fire enkindled glows,
From soul to soul the spirit flows;
Save God come down, no mountain height
Can lift us up into his light.

My hope is here, that he is nigh
To listen to the feeblest cry;
In that, the meanest trusts, I trust,
With faith that blossoms from the dust.




'And there will I meet thee.' — Exodus xxv. 17.

          IN the most holy place,
          The secret, sacred place,
In ancient days stood veiled the seat of
              heavenly grace.

          Above the holy things
          Brooded the cherub wings,
Symbols of mercy swift, and love's sweet

          And, sign more gracious yet,
          The golden pinions met
Above the ark wherein the law itself was set.

          And there, all veiled and dim.
          The dwelling place of him
Who owned the Mercy Seat was 'tween the

          For I will meet thee there,
          And commune with thee there,
Said God, and from this place will hear my
              people's prayer.

          Down through the years, replete
          With anguish and defeat.
That prayer hath risen toward the veiled
              Mercy Seat.

          Down through the years the cry
          Hath echoed ceaselessly,
'Be merciful to us, O Lord, our God Most

          What lips, with anguish pale,
          Have poured the ceaseless wail,
What streaming, straining eyes have striven to
              pierce the veil.

          What shipwrecked souls have stood,
          In dark despairing mood.
Appealing against God unto some higher good.

          No longer, as of old,
          The cherubims of gold,
God's meeting-place with men, with shadowing
              wings enfold.

          Behind a darker veil,
          Our cry would seem to fail,
Where Christ hath entered in, thorn-crowned
              and torture-pale.

          For lo! we witness still.
          The holy law fulfil,
And vindicate itself by adding ill to ill.

          Adding sin's hurt to sin —
          How then shall good begin?
Yea how shall God be God, save mercy enter in?

          But the old symbols teach
          The truth our hearts would reach,
The truth the years of Christ have echoed
              each to each.

          That God's most holy place,
          His secret, sacred place,
Is still the mercy seat where reigns his sovran

          And when our souls at last
          These outer courts have passed,
Where o'er God's mercy still the veil is darkly

          The veil itself shall fall,
          And we adoring shall
God's hidden purpose see and Mercy over all. *

* 'That he might have mercy upon all.' — Romans xi. 32.
   'Whose tender mercies are over all his works.'




'I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable
unto God, which is your reasonable service.' — Romans xii. i .

I COMMUNED with my heart one night when
        Had bound me on my bed,
When a swift fire ran through each throbbing
        Up to my burning head.

I had been drinking of life's bitter cup,
        And, closing weary eyes,
I felt as if I lay there lifted up
        As for a sacrifice.

Like a great wheel of torture infinite
        The fiery heavens went round,
On one of whose star points amid the night
        Burning I lay and bound.

And my heart whispered, God will still accept
        An offering by fire:
Offer thyself; and to my lips there leapt
        A flame of pure desire.

Then, as in vision, creatures doomed and vowed,
        To slaughter led along,
I seemed to see, the heifer, lowing loud,
        Milk-white, and mild, and strong.

Young lambs and doves men in their bosoms bore,
        Victims whose pleading eyes
Might make the swiftest slayer half abhor
        The bloody sacrifice.

O'ershadowed by the mystery of pain,
        'Will God accept,' I said —
Alas, my heart came back to me again.
        Sickening with doubt and dread.

Then I beheld a better sacrifice
        Where, at the font of grace,
The pure baptismal water dew-like lies
        Upon an infant's face.

With holy joy a tender mother there
        Owned a more tender love
Than hers, a father owned a father's care
        His fondest care above:

While the most precious gift God gave but now
        They to the Giver bring,
And yield it, bound by the baptismal vow
        A living offering.

And looking up into the face of him
        Who took the babe, with awe,
And a great joy in which mine eyes grew dim,
        The face of Christ I saw.

Then in new garments, with a glad new song,
        And gladly willing feet,
Unto God's altar came a youthful throng
        That offering to repeat.

Yielding the dew and beauty of their youth
        They knelt in silent prayer:
I looked, and lo! the Son of God in truth
        Laid hands upon them there. 

Thither they came, again and yet again,
        To offer themselves up;
One doth each living sacrifice sustain
        With blessed bread and cup.

'Preserve thee unto everlasting life,
        Body and soul,' he saith;
And lo! the blessing with all blessings rife
        Was his who conquered death.

Upon the sacrifice which God entreats,
        Fire kindles from above,
And all that we can bring acceptance meets,
        And is consumed by love.

O heart, though dim thy vision, strive to see
        And triumph over pain,
Like the old sacrifices ours should be,
        Unblemished, free from stain.

Our best of life, the joy, the grace, the strength —
        For these no more we kill —
We offer, and pain-purchased, bring at length
        Pure heart and holy will.




I Timothy v. 6.

        DEAD!   I looked in her eyes.
        Full of an eager light;
        She gazed on herself, in pleasure's guise,
        Arrayed for the festive night.
        Thus she takes her delight,
        Night after night alway;
        She seems alive by night.
        But she has no life by day:
She is dead! for when I looked in her eyes
By the light of life's realities,
        Alas, they had no sight.

        Dead!   For the living words
        I breathed into her ear,
        To waken the soul's responsive chords,
        Alas! she did not hear;
        Nor the voice so still and small
        Of the spirit from on high:
        She heeds not the poor who call
        Nor the perishing who cry.

        She is not clad for the tomb —
        There are flowers upon her head;
        She is fair, in her life's full bloom.
        Her lips are passionate red:
        Daintily clad and fed,
        She looks in the glass — look thou
        In the glass of time instead;
Can'st thou not see the worm consume,
The garments perished, perished the bloom,
        The things that die, all dead?

        Ah! by sorrow and pain,
        Or it may be by joy,
        Christ may make her alive again,
        And the power of death destroy.
        Strong is his word to save
        Who cried 'Come forth' to him
        Who had lain three days in the grave
        And was bound in every limb.




'O SOUL! how deep is thy doubt?'
'It is deep as despair;
It is dark as the universe,
If no God is there.'

Deep is the doubt of our day —
If a book we mis-read,
We ask, shall we God disown?
Not a clause of a creed.

We ask — if one raised the dead,
And we saw them rise,
Should we not simply cease
To believe our eyes?

Yet if part of an order of things
That cannot be moved —
Cannot change for love, or for hate,
Cannot be loved;

Why should the universe lie
On my heart like a load? —
Why should my inmost soul
Cry out for a God?

I go forth into the night
To utter my cry;
The stars in their places shine.
And the moon is high. 

Strange flowers in the meadows seem
To have risen to-night—
Moon-flowers, with a ghostly gleam
Of unearthly white.

I am wet with the heavy dews
As I brush the flowers,
But my heart is the withered grass
Which the flame devours,

I cross the moonlighted mead,
And hasten to meet
Shadows that out of the wood
Reach forth for my feet.

Here I can groan aloud,
As I stand in the dark —
The stars are shut out, but lo!
At my feet a spark.

In a single drop of dew
Such a spark were quenched,
And here every leaf and blade
In a flood is drenched.

Just such a spark of light
In my soul is found —
The floods have been over my soul,
Yet it is not drowned.

And I own as I cast me down
With the worm on the sod,
That my soul like the worm is lit
By a living God.




'IS it life, or is it death?'
Had been spoken underbreath,
    Where a little child was lying:
In that moment down to dust
Had that flower-like life been thrust,
    A soul first had lived in dying.

But for answer back again,
Through each fever-wasted vein
    The swift ebbing turned to flowing,
And each breath, as when the clod
First drew in the life of God,
    Each faint breath came life bestowing.

In that hour the soul awoke,
In that hour the spirit spoke,
    God by name his child was naming;
He had claimed that soul in death.
And, returning life and breath,
    Now in life his own was claiming.

And the child lay listening there
Till its breathing grew to prayer.
    Hearing, answering, rising, falling:
Ah! and he remembers still
The great 'Wilt thou' and 'I will,'
    And the clearness of the calling.

Childhood, carried to and fro
With the movement and the show,
    Leads a life of little will —
Leads the life of growing flower.
In the sunshine and the shower
    Takes the good and takes the ill.

Filled with anguish, filled with awe,
In a childish dream he saw,
    Rising up, an endless stair,
Which he longed to climb, but ever
Seemed to fail in the endeavour.
    And fall back to darkness there.

Climbing step by step a stair
In the darkness, he was ware
    Of a meaning in his dream;
He had fallen back from God
Through the years, and now he trod
    Darkly to a distant gleam.

'Nay, I shall but fall again,'
Thought he, smit with sudden pain,
    'On that height I shall not stand; —
I would climb there if I could' —
Helpless in the dark he stood.
    And Christ seemed to reach his hand.

Dream and vision pass away,
It is manhood's middle day,
    And the world's work he is doing;
Let him but of this be free,
He will serve God faithfully,
    Earthly good no more pursuing.

Ah! he pauses but to own
All his purpose overthrown.
    And life drifting ever faster
From each lofty hope and aim —
Then a voice will hearing claim,
    'Come and serve a better master.'

Now the work aside is laid,
And the wages earned are paid;
    Dreams return the while life lingers —
Weary is the man and old,
And what seemed his gains of gold
    Turn to ashes in his fingers.

All the house is still at last,
He is listening to the past,
    And one knocketh at the door!
Surely, as with trembling hand,
He unbars each iron band,
    He hath heard that voice before.

Will he take the last and worst,
Who should have the best and first?—
    Now the door is open wide —
'I will come and sup with thee,'
Saith the Lord, for it is he,
    Waiting there at eventide.


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