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Archive for the ‘ReligiousInspirational’ Category

I.

Said Abner, “At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak,
“Kiss my cheek, wish me well!” Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek.
And he, “Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent,
“Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent
“Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet,
“Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be wet.
“For out of the black mid-tent’s silence, a space of three days,
“Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of prayer nor of praise,
“To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their strife,
“And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back upon life.

II.

“Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! God’s child with his dew
“On thy gracious gold hair, and those lilies still living and blue
“Just broken to twine round thy harp-strings, as if no wild beat
“Were now raging to torture the desert!”

III.

Then I, as was meet,
Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my feet,
And ran o’er the sand burnt to powder. The tent was unlooped;
I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I stooped
Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered and gone,
That extends to the second enclosure, I groped my way on
Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open. Then once more I prayed,
And opened the foldskirts and entered, and was not afraid
But spoke, “Here is David, thy servant!” And no voice replied.
At the first I saw nought but the blackness but soon I descried
A something more black than the blackness—the vast, the upright
Main prop which sustains the pavilion: and slow into sight
Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all.
Then a sunbeam, that burst thro’ the tent-roof, showed Saul.

IV.

He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide
On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side;
He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his pangs
And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs,
Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come
With the spring-time,—so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb.

V.

Then I tuned my harp,—took off the lilies we twine round its chords
Lest they snap ‘neath the stress of the noon-tide—those sunbeams like swords!
And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one,
So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done.
They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed
Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream’s bed;
And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star
Into eve and the blue far above us,—so blue and so far!

VI.

—Then the tune, for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate
To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate
Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight
To set the quick jerboa amusing outside his sand house—
There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse!
God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here.

VII.

Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand
Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts expand
And grow one in the sense of this world’s life.—And then, the last song
When the dead man is praised on his journey—“Bear, bear him along
“With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here
“To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier.
“Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!”—And then, the glad chaunt
Of the marriage,—first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt
As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.—And then, the great march
Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch
Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?—Then, the chorus intoned
As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.
But I stopped here: for here in the darkness Saul groaned.

VIII.

And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart;
And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles ‘gan dart
From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start,
All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart.
So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect.
And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked,
As I sang,—

IX.

“Oh, our manhood’s prime vigour! No spirit feels waste,
“Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.
“Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock,
“The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock
“Of the plunge in a pool’s living water, the hunt of the bear,
“And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair.
“And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine,
“And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine,
“And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell
“That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
“How good is man’s life, the mere living! how fit to employ
“All the heart and the soul and the senses for ever in joy!
“Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou didst guard
“When he trusted thee forth with the armies, for glorious reward?
“Didst thou see the thin hands of thy mother, held up as men sung
“The low song of the nearly-departed, and bear her faint tongue
“Joining in while it could to the witness, `Let one more attest,
“ `I have lived, seen God’s hand thro’a lifetime, and all was for best’?
“Then they sung thro’ their tears in strong triumph, not much, but the rest.
“And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence grew
“Such result as, from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true:
“And the friends of thy boyhood—that boyhood of wonder and hope,
“Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye’s scope,—
“Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine;
“And all gifts, which the world offers singly, on one head combine!
“On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage (like the throe
“That, a-work in the rock, helps its labour and lets the gold go)
“High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them,—all
“Brought to blaze on the head of one creature—King Saul!”

X.

And lo, with that leap of my spirit,—heart, hand, harp and voice,
Each lifting Saul’s name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice
Saul’s fame in the light it was made for—as when, dare I say,
The Lord’s army, in rapture of service, strains through its array,
And up soareth the cherubim-chariot—“Saul!” cried I, and stopped,
And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung propped
By the tent’s cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name.
Have ye seen when Spring’s arrowy summons goes right to the aim,
And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone,
While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone
A year’s snow bound about for a breastplate,—leaves grasp of the sheet?
Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet,
And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain of old,
With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold—
Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar
Of his head thrust ‘twixt you and the tempest—all hail, there they are!
—Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest
Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest
For their food in the ardours of summer. One long shudder thrilled
All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled
At the King’s self left standing before me, released and aware.
What was gone, what remained? All to traverse, ‘twixt hope and despair;
Death was past, life not come: so he waited. Awhile his right hand
Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand
To their place what new objects should enter: ’twas Saul as before.
I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more
Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore,
At their sad level gaze o’er the ocean—a sun’s slow decline
Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o’erlap and entwine
Base with base to knit strength more intensely: so, arm folded arm
O’er the chest whose slow heavings subsided.

XI.

What spell or what charm,
(For, awhile there was trouble within me) what next should I urge
To sustain him where song had restored him?—Song filled to the verge
His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields
Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty: beyond, on what fields,
Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye
And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by?
He saith, “It is good;” still he drinks not: he lets me praise life,
Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.

XII.

Then fancies grew rife
Which had come long ago on the pasture, when round me the sheep
Fed in silence—above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep;
And I lay in my hollow and mused on the world that might lie
‘Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip ‘twixt the hill and the sky:
And I laughed—“Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks,
“Let me people at least, with my fancies, the plains and the rocks,
“Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show
“Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know!
“Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains,
“And the prudence that keeps what men strive for.” And now these old trains
Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string
Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus—

XIII.

“Yea, my King,”
I began—“thou dost well in rejecting mere comforts that spring
“From the mere mortal life held in common by man and by brute:
“In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit.
“Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,—how its stem trembled first
“Till it passed the kid’s lip, the stag’s antler then safely outburst
“The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn
“Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect: yet more was to learn,
“E’en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we slight,
“When their juice brings a cure for all sorrow? or care for the plight
“Of the palm’s self whose slow growth produced them? Not so! stem and branch
“Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall staunch
“Every wound of man’s spirit in winter. I pour thee such wine.
“Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine!
“By the spirit, when age shall o’ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy
“More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy.
“Crush that life, and behold its wine running! Each deed thou hast done
“Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e’en as the sun
“Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests efface,
“Can find nothing his own deed produced not, must everywhere trace
“The results of his past summer-prime’—so, each ray of thy will,
“Every flash of thy passion and prowess, long over, shall thrill
“Thy whole people, the countless, with ardour, till they too give forth
“A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the North
“With the radiance thy deed was the germ of. Carouse in the past!
“But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last:
“As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height
“So with man—so his power and his beauty for ever take flight.
“No! Again a long draught of my soul-wine! Look forth o’er the years!
“Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer’s!
“Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb—bid arise
“A grey mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies,
“Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know?
“Up above see the rock’s naked face, where the record shall go
“In great characters cut by the scribe,—Such was Saul, so he did;
“With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,—
“For not half, they’ll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend,
“In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend
“(See, in tablets ’tis level before them) their praise, and record
“With the gold of the graver, Saul’s story,—the statesman’s great word
“Side by side with the poet’s sweet comment. The river’s a-wave
“With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet-winds rave:
“So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part
“In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!”

XIV.

And behold while I sang … but O Thou who didst grant me that day,
And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay,
Carry on and complete an adventure,—my shield and my sword
In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,—
Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavour
And scaling the highest, man’s thought could, gazed hopeless as ever
On the new stretch of heaven above me—till, mighty to save,
Just one lift of thy hand cleared that distance—God’s throne from man’s grave!
Let me tell out my tale to its ending—my voice to my heart
Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part,
As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep,
And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep!
For I wake in the grey dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves
The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron retrieves
Slow the damage of yesterday’s sunshine.

XV.

I say then,—my song
While I sang thus, assuring the monarch, and ever more strong
Made a proffer of good to console him—he slowly resumed
His old motions and habitudes kingly. The right-hand replumed
His black locks to their wonted composure, adjusted the swathes
Of his turban, and see—the huge sweat that his countenance bathes,
He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore,
And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before.
He is Saul, ye remember in glory,—ere error had bent
The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent
Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose,
To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose.
So sank he along by the tent-prop till, stayed by the pile
Of his armour and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile,
And sat out my singing,—one arm round the tent-prop, to raise
His bent head, and the other hung slack—till I touched on the praise
I foresaw from all men in all time, to the man patient there;
And thus ended, the harp falling forward. Then first I was ‘ware
That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees
Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please
To encircle a lamb when it slumbers. I looked up to know
If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow
Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care
Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow: thro’ my hair
The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my bead, with kind power—
All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower.
Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine—
And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign?
I yearned—“Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss,
“I would add, to that life of the past, both the future and this;
“I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence,
“As this moment,—had love but the warrant, love’s heart to dispense!”

XVI.

Then the truth came upon me. No harp more—no song more! outbroke—

XVII.

“I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
“I, a work of God’s hand for that purpose, received in my brain
“And pronounced on the rest of his hand-work—returned him again
“His creation’s approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
“I report, as a man may of God’s work—all’s love, yet all’s law.
“Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
“To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
“Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
“Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
“Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
“I but open my eyes,—and perfection, no more and no less,
“In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
“In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
“And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
“(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
“The submission of man’s nothing-perfect to God’s all-complete,
“As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet.
“Yet with all this abounding experience, this deity known,
“I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
“There’s a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink,
“I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think)
“Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst
“E’en the Giver in one gift.—Behold, I could love if I durst!
“But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o’ertake
“God’s own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love’s sake.
“—What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
“Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
“In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
“Do I find love so full in my nature, God’s ultimate gift,
“That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift?
“Here, the creature surpass the Creator,—the end, what Began?
“Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man,
“And dare doubt he alone shall not help him, who yet alone can?
“Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power,
“To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower
“Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul,
“Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole?
“And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest)
“These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best?
“Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height
“This perfection,—succeed with life’s day-spring, death’s minute of night?
“Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake,
“Saul the failure, the ruin he seems now,—and bid him awake
“From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set
“Clear and safe in new light and new life,—a new harmony yet
“To be run, and continued, and ended—who knows?—or endure!
“The man taught enough, by life’s dream, of the rest to make sure;
“By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
“And the next world’s reward and repose, by the struggles in this.

XVIII.

“I believe it! ‘Tis thou, God, that givest, ’tis I who receive:
“In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe.
“All’s one gift: thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer
“As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air.
“From thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth:
“_I_ will?—the mere atoms despise me! Why am I not loth
“To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare
“Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my despair?
“This;—’tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
“See the King—I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
“Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich,
“To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would—knowing which,
“I know that my service is perfect. Oh, speak through me now!
“Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou—so wilt thou!
“So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown—
“And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
“One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
“Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
“As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
“Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
“He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
“’Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
“In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
“A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
“Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
“Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!”

XIX.

I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right,
Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive, the aware:
I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there,
As a runner beset by the populace famished for news—
Life or death. The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews;
And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot
Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not,
For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported, suppressed
All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest,
Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest.
Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth—
Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day’s tender birth;
In the gathered intensity brought to the grey of the hills;
In the shuddering forests’ held breath; in the sudden wind-thrills;
In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still
Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and chill
That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe:
E’en the serpent that slid away silent,—he felt the new law.
The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers;
The same worked in the heart of the cedar and moved the vine-bowers:
And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low,
With their obstinate, all but hushed voices—“E’en so, it is so!”

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Peace! Be still!
In this night of sorrow bow,
O my heart! Contend not thou!
What befalls thee is God’s will –
Peace! Be still!

Peace! Be still!
All thy murmuring words are vain –
God will make the riddle plain,
Wait His word and bear His will –
Peace! Be still!

Hold thou still!
Though the good Physician’s knife
Seems to touch thy very life,
Death alone He means to kill, –
Hold thou still!

Shepherd mine!
From Thy fullness give me still
Faith to do and hear Thy will,
Till the morning light shall shine,
Shepherd mine!

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I go to prove my soul,
I see my way as birds their trackless way,
I shall arrive. – What time, what circuit first,
I ask not: but unless God send His hail
Of blinding fireballs, sleet, or stifling snow,
In some time, His Good time, I shall arrive;
He guides me and the bird. In His good time.

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Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than the daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee! 

Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
The solemn hush of nature newly born;
Alone with Thee, in breathless adoration,
In the calm dew and freshness of the morn. 

Still, still with Thee, as to each new-born morning
A fresh and solemn splendor still is given,
So doth this blessed consciousness awakening,
Breathe, each day, nearness unto Thee and heaven. 

When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
Its closing eye looks up to Thee in prayer;
Sweet the repose beneath Thy wings o’er shading,
But sweet still to wake and find Thee there. 

So shall it be at last, in that bright morning
When the soul waketh and life’s shadows flee;
Oh, in that hour fairer than daylight dawning,
Shall rise the glorious thought, I am with Thee!

 

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Sometime now past in the Autumnal Tide,
When Phoebus wanted but one hour to bed,
The trees all richly clad, yet void of pride,
Were gilded o’re by his rich golden head.
Their leaves and fruits seem’d painted but was true
Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hew,
Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.

I wist not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below,
How excellent is he that dwells on high?
Whose power and beauty by his works we know.
Sure he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light,
That hath this under world so richly dight.
More Heaven than Earth was here, no winter and no night.

Then on a stately Oak I cast mine Eye,
Whose ruffling top the Clouds seem’d to aspire;
How long since thou wast in thine Infancy?
Thy strength and stature, more thy years admire,
Hath hundred winters past since thou wast born?
Or thousand since thou brakest thy shell of horn,
If so, all these as nought, Eternity doth scorn.

Then higher on the glistering Sun I gaz’d,
Whose beams was shaded by the leafy Tree.
The more I look’d, the more I grew amaz’d
And softly said, what glory’s like to thee?
Soul of this world, this Universe’s Eye,
No wonder some made thee a Deity:
Had I not better known (alas) the same had I.

Thou as a Bridegroom from thy Chamber rushes
And as a strong man joys to run a race.
The morn doth usher thee with smiles and blushes.
The Earth reflects her glances in thy face.
Birds, insects, Animals with Vegative,
Thy heat from death and dullness doth revive:
And in the darksome womb of fruitful nature dive.

Thy swift Annual and diurnal Course,
Thy daily straight and yearly oblique path,
Thy pleasing fervour, and thy scorching force,
All mortals here the feeling knowledge hath.
Thy presence makes it day, thy absence night,
Quaternal seasons caused by thy might:
Hail Creature, full of sweetness, beauty, and delight.

Art thou so full of glory that no Eye
Hath strength thy shining Rays once to behold?
And is thy splendid Throne erect so high?
As, to approach it, can no earthly mould.
How full of glory then must thy Creator be?
Who gave this bright light luster unto thee:
Admir’d, ador’d for ever be that Majesty.

Silent alone where none or saw, or heard,
In pathless paths I lead my wand’ring feet.
My humble Eyes to lofty Skies I rear’d
To sing some Song my mazed Muse thought meet.
My great Creator I would magnifie,
That nature had thus decked liberally:
But Ah and Ah again, my imbecility!

I heard the merry grasshopper then sing,
The black clad Cricket bear a second part.
They kept one tune and played on the same string,
Seeming to glory in their little Art.
Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise?
And in their kind resound their maker’s praise:
Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher layes.

When present times look back to Ages past
And men in being fancy those are dead,
It makes things gone perpetually to last
And calls back months and years that long since fled
It makes a man more aged in conceit,
Than was Methuselah or’s grand-sire great:
While of their persons and their acts his mind doth treat.

Sometimes in Eden fair he seems to be,
See glorious Adam there made Lord of all,
Fancies the Apple, dangle on the Tree,
That turn’d his Sovereign to a naked thrall,
Who like a miscreant’s driven from that place
To get his bread with pain and sweat of face:
A penalty impos’d on his backsliding Race.

Here sits our Grandame in retired place,
And in her lap her bloody Cain new born,
The weeping Imp oft looks her in the face,
Bewails his unknown hap and fate forlorn;
His Mother sighs to think of Paradise,
And how she lost her bliss, to be more wise,
Believing him that was, and is, Father of lyes.

Here Cain and Abel come to sacrifice,
Fruits of the Earth and Fatlings each do bring,
On Abels gift the fire descends from Skies,
But no such sign on false Cain’s offering;
With sullen hateful looks he goes his wayes.
Hath thousand thoughts to end his brothers dayes,
Upon whose blood his future good he hopes to raise.

There Abel keeps his sheep, no ill he thinks,
His brother comes, then acts his fratricide.
The Virgin Earth of blood her first draught drinks,
But since that time she often hath been cloy’d;
The wretch with ghastly face and dreadful mind,
Thinks each he sees will serve him in his kind,
Though none on Earth but kindred near then could he find.

Who fancies not his looks now at the Barr,
His face like death, his heart with horror fraught,
Nor Male-factor ever felt like warr,
When deep despair with wish of life hath fought,
Branded with guilt, and crusht with treble woes,
A Vagabond to Land of Nod he goes.
A City builds, that wals might him secure from foes.

Who thinks not oft upon the Fathers ages.
Their long descent, how nephews sons they saw,
The starry observations of those Sages,
And how their precepts to their sons were law,
How Adam sigh’d to see his Progeny,
Cloath’d all in his black, sinful Livery,
Who neither guilt not yet the punishment could fly.

Our Life compare we with their length of dayes
Who to the tenth of theirs doth now arrive?
And though thus short, we shorten many wayes,
Living so little while we are alive;
In eating, drinking, sleeping, vain delight
So unawares comes on perpetual night,
And puts all pleasures vain unto eternal flight.

When I behold the heavens as in their prime,
And then the earth (though old) still clad in green,
The stones and trees, insensible of time,
Nor age nor wrinkle on their front are seen;
If winter come, and greenness then do fade,
A Spring returns, and they more youthfull made;
But Man grows old, lies down, remains where once he’s laid.

By birth more noble than those creatures all,
Yet seems by nature and by custom curs’d,
No sooner born, but grief and care makes fall
That state obliterate he had at first:
Nor youth, nor strength, nor wisdom spring again
Nor habitations long their names retain,
But in oblivion to the final day remain.

Shall I then praise the heavens, the trees, the earth
Because their beauty and their strength last longer
Shall I wish there, or never to had birth,
Because they’re bigger and their bodyes stronger?
Nay, they shall darken, perish, fade and dye,
And when unmade, so ever shall they lye,
But man was made for endless immortality.

Under the cooling shadow of a stately Elm
Close sate I by a goodly Rivers side,
Where gliding streams the Rocks did overwhelm;
A lonely place, with pleasures dignifi’d.
I once that lov’d the shady woods so well,
Now thought the rivers did the trees excel,
And if the sun would ever shine, there would I dwell.

While on the stealing stream I fixt mine eye,
Which to the long’d-for Ocean held its course,
I markt, nor crooks, nor rubs that there did lye
Could hinder ought but still augment its force:
O happy Flood, quoth I, that holds thy race
Till thou arrive at thy beloved place,
Nor is it rocks or shoals that can obstruct thy pace.

Nor is’t enough that thou alone may’st slide,
But hundred brooks in thy cleer waves do meet,
So hand in hand along with thee they glide
To Thetis house, where all imbrace and greet:
Thou Emblem true of what I count the best,
O could I lead my Rivolets to rest,
So may we press to that vast mansion, ever blest.

Ye Fish which in this liquid Region ’bide
That for each season have your habitation,
Now salt, now fresh where you think best to glide
To unknown coasts to give a visitation,
In Lakes and ponds, you leave your numerous fry,
So Nature taught, and yet you know not why,
You watry folk that know not your felicity.

Look how the wantons frisk to tast the air,
Then to the colder bottome streight they dive,
Eftsoon to Neptun’s glassy Hall repair
To see what trade they, great ones, there do drive,
Who forrage o’re the spacious sea-green field,
And take the trembling prey before it yield,
Whose armour is their scales, their spreading fins their shield.

While musing thus with contemplation fed,
And thousand fancies buzzing in my brain,
The sweet-tongu’d Philomel percht ore my head,
And chanted forth a most melodious strain
Which rapt me so with wonder and delight,
I judg’d my hearing better than my sight,
And wisht me wings with her a while to take my flight.

O merry Bird (said I) that fears no snares,
That neither toyles nor hoards up in thy barn,
Feels no sad thoughts, nor cruciating cares
To gain more good, or shun what might thee harm
Thy clothes ne’re wear, thy meat is every where,
Thy bed a bough, thy drink the water cleer,
Reminds not what is past, nor whats to come dost fear.

The dawning morn with songs thou dost prevent,
Sets hundred notes unto thy feathered crew,
So each one tunes his pretty instrument,
And warbling out the old, begin anew,
And thus they pass their youth in summer season,
Then follow thee into a better Region,
Where winter’s never felt by that sweet airy legion.

Man at the best a creature frail and vain,
In knowledge ignorant, in strength but weak,
Subject to sorrows, losses, sickness, pain,
Each storm his state, his mind, his body break,
From some of these he never finds cessation,
But day or night, within, without, vexation,
Troubles from foes, from friends, from dearest, near’st Relation.

And yet this sinfull creature, frail and vain,
This lump of wretchedness, of sin and sorrow,
This weather-beaten vessel wrackt with pain,
Joys not in hope of an eternal morrow;
Nor all his losses, crosses and vexation,
In weight, in frequency and long duration
Can make him deeply groan for that divine Translation.

The Mariner that on smooth waves doth glide,
Sings merrily and steers his Barque with ease,
As if he had command of wind and tide,
And now becomes great Master of the seas;
But suddenly a storm spoils all the sport,
And makes him long for a more quiet port,
Which ’gainst all adverse winds may serve for fort.

So he that faileth in this world of pleasure,
Feeding on sweets, that never bit of th’ sowre,
That’s full of friends, of honour and of treasure,
Fond fool, he takes this earth ev’n for heav’ns bower,
But sad affliction comes and makes him see
Here’s neither honour, wealth, nor safety;
Only above is found all with security.

O Time the fatal wrack of mortal things,
That draws oblivions curtains over kings,
Their sumptuous monuments, men know them not,
Their names without a Record are forgot,
Their parts, their ports, their pomp’s all laid in th’ dust.
Nor wit, nor gold, nor buildings scape times rust;
But he whose name is grav’d in the white stone
Shall last and shine when all of these are gone.

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Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee

Let the water and the blood
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure
Cleanse me from it’s guilt and pow’r

Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling

Naked, come to Thee for dress
Helpless, look to Thee for grace
Vile, I to the fountain fly
Wash me, savior, or I die

Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee

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Go make thy garden fair as thou canst,
Thou workest never alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine
May see it and mend his own.

 

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A traveler once, when skies were rose and gold
With Syrian sunset, paused beside the fold
Where an Arabian shepherd housed his flock,
Only a circling wall of rough, grey rock –
No door, no gate, but just an opening wide
Enough for snowy, huddling sheep to come inside.
“So,” questioned he, “then no wild beasts you dread?”
“Ah, yes, the wolf is near,” the shepherd said.
“But” – strange and sweet the word Divine of yore
Fell on his startled ear: “I am the door!
When skies are sown with stars, and I may trace
The velvet shadows in this narrow space,
I lay me down. No silly sheep may go
Without the fold but I, the shepherd, know.
Nor need my cherished flock close-sheltered, warm,
Fear ravening wolf, save o’er my prostrate form.”
O word of Christ – illumined evermore
For us his timid sheep – “I am the door!

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Not charity we ask,
Nor yet thy gift refuse;
Please thy light fancy with the easy task
Only to look and choose. 

The little-heeded toy
That wins thy treasured gold
May be the dearest memory, holiest joy,
Of coming years untold. 

Heaven rains on every heart,
But there its showers divide,
The drops of mercy choosing, as they part,
The dark or glowing side. 

One kindly deed may turn
The fountain of thy soul
To love’s sweet day-star, that shall o’er thee burn
Long as its currents roll! 

The pleasures thou hast planned, –
Where shall their memory be
When the white angel with the freezing hand
Shall sit and watch by thee? 

Living, thou dost not live,
If mercy’s spring run dry;
What Heaven has lent thee wilt thou freely give,
Dying, thou shalt not die! 

He promised even so!
To thee his lips repeat, –
Behold, the tears that soothed thy sister’s woe
Have washed thy Master’s feet.

 

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We live by faith; but faith is not the slave
Of text and legend. Reason’s voice and God’s;
Nature’s and Duty’s, never are at odds.
What asks our Father of His children, save
Justice, mercy and humility,
A reasonable service of good deeds,
Pure living, tenderness to human needs,
Reverence and trust, and prayer for light to see
The Master’s footprints in our daily ways.

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I would add this:  Biblical faith is not a blind leap.
It is not without reason or against reason.  It is
based upon evidence and many verses show this
to be true.  I believe in God, the Bible as His word,
and Jesus as the Christ risen from the dead because
there is abundant evidence for each.  DL

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