Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;
Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.
Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.
Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.
Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.
Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.
Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.
Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.
Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.
Such clouds of nameless trouble cross
All night below the darken’d eyes;
With morning wakes the will, and cries,
‘Thou shalt not be the fool of loss.’
I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.
One writes, that `Other friends remain,’
That `Loss is common to the race’—
And common is the commonplace,
And vacant chaff well meant for grain.
That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break.
O somewhere, meek, unconscious dove,
That sittest ranging golden hair;
And glad to find thyself so fair,
Poor child, that waitest for thy love!
A hand that can be clasp’d no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro’ the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
A happy lover who has come
To look on her that loves him well,
Who ‘lights and rings the gateway bell,
And learns her gone and far from home;
He saddens, all the magic light
Dies off at once from bower and hall,
And all the place is dark, and all
The chambers emptied of delight:
So find I every pleasant spot
In which we two were wont to meet,
The field, the chamber, and the street,
For all is dark where thou art not.
Yet as that other, wandering there
In those deserted walks, may find
A flower beat with rain and wind,
Which once she foster’d up with care;
So seems it in my deep regret,
O my forsaken heart, with thee
And this poor flower of poesy
Which little cared for fades not yet.
But since it pleased a vanish’d eye,
I go to plant it on his tomb,
That if it can it there may bloom,
Or, dying, there at least may die.
And was the day of my delight
As pure and perfect as I say?
The very source and fount of Day
Is dash’d with wandering isles of night.
If all was good and fair we met,
This earth had been the Paradise
It never look’d to human eyes
Since our first Sun arose and set.
And is it that the haze of grief
Makes former gladness loom so great?
The lowness of the present state,
That sets the past in this relief?
Or that the past will always win
A glory from its being far;
And orb into the perfect star
We saw not, when we moved therein?
I know that this was Life,—the track
Whereon with equal feet we fared;
And then, as now, the day prepared
The daily burden for the back.
But this it was that made me move
As light as carrier-birds in air;
I loved the weight I had to bear,
Because it needed help of Love:
Nor could I weary, heart or limb,
When mighty Love would cleave in twain
The lading of a single pain,
And part it, giving half to him.
Still onward winds the dreary way;
I with it; for I long to prove
No lapse of moons can canker Love,
Whatever fickle tongues may say.
And if that eye which watches guilt
And goodness, and hath power to see
Within the green the moulder’d tree,
And towers fall’n as soon as built—
Oh, if indeed that eye foresee
Or see (in Him is no before)
In more of life true life no more
And Love the indifference to be,
Then might I find, ere yet the morn
Breaks hither over Indian seas,
That Shadow waiting with the keys,
To shroud me from my proper scorn.
And so may Place retain us still,
And he the much-beloved again,
A lord of large experience, train
To riper growth the mind and will:
And what delights can equal those
That stir the spirit’s inner deeps,
When one that loves but knows not, reaps
A truth from one that loves and knows?
Could I have said while he was here,
`My love shall now no further range;
There cannot come a mellower change,
For now is love mature in ear’?
Love, then, had hope of richer store:
What end is here to my complaint?
This haunting whisper makes me faint,
‘More years had made me love thee more.’
But Death returns an answer sweet:
`My sudden frost was sudden gain,
And gave all ripeness to the grain,
It might have drawn from after-heat.’
I wage not any feud with Death
For changes wrought on form and face;
No lower life that earth’s embrace
May breed with him, can fright my faith.
Eternal process moving on,
From state to state the spirit walks;
And these are but the shatter’d stalks,
Or ruin’d chrysalis of one.
Nor blame I Death, because he bare
The use of virtue out of earth:
I know transplanted human worth
Will bloom to profit, otherwhere.
For this alone on Death I wreak
The wrath that garners in my heart;
He put our lives so far apart
We cannot hear each other speak.
Dip down upon the northern shore,
O sweet new-year delaying long;
Thou doest expectant nature wrong;
Delaying long, delay no more.
What stays thee from the clouded noons,
Thy sweetness from its proper place?
Can trouble live with April days,
Or sadness in the summer moons?
Bring orchis, bring the foxglove spire,
The little speedwell’s darling blue,
Deep tulips dash’d with fiery dew,
Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.
O thou, new-year, delaying long,
Delayest the sorrow in my blood,
That longs to burst a frozen bud
And flood a fresher throat with song.
When I contemplate all alone
The life that had been thine below,
And fix my thoughts on all the glow
To which thy crescent would have grown;
I see thee sitting crown’d with good,
A central warmth diffusing bliss
In glance and smile, and clasp and kiss,
On all the branches of thy blood;
Thy blood, my friend, and partly mine;
For now the day was drawing on,
When thou should’st link thy life with one
Of mine own house, and boys of thine
Had babbled `Uncle’ on my knee;
But that remorseless iron hour
Made cypress of her orange flower,
Despair of Hope, and earth of thee.
I seem to meet their least desire,
To clap their cheeks, to call them mine.
I see their unborn faces shine
Beside the never-lighted fire.
I see myself an honor’d guest,
Thy partner in the flowery walk
Of letters, genial table-talk,
Or deep dispute, and graceful jest;
While now thy prosperous labor fills
The lips of men with honest praise,
And sun by sun the happy days
Descend below the golden hills
With promise of a morn as fair;
And all the train of bounteous hours
Conduct by paths of growing powers,
To reverence and the silver hair;
Till slowly worn her earthly robe,
Her lavish mission richly wrought,
Leaving great legacies of thought,
Thy spirit should fail from off the globe;
What time mine own might also flee,
As link’d with thine in love and fate,
And, hovering o’er the dolorous strait
To the other shore, involved in thee,
Arrive at last the blessed goal,
And He that died in Holy Land
Would reach us out the shining hand,
And take us as a single soul.
What reed was that on which I leant?
Ah, backward fancy, wherefore wake
The old bitterness again, and break
The low beginnings of content.
This truth came borne with bier and pall,
I felt it, when I sorrow’d most,
‘Tis better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all—
O true in word, and tried in deed,
Demanding, so to bring relief
To this which is our common grief,
What kind of life is that I lead;
And whether trust in things above
Be dimm’d of sorrow, or sustain’d;
And whether love for him have drain’d
My capabilities of love;
Your words have virtue such as draws
A faithful answer from the breast,
Thro’ light reproaches, half exprest,
And loyal unto kindly laws.
My blood an even tenor kept,
Till on mine ear this message falls,
That in Vienna’s fatal walls
God’s finger touch’d him, and he slept.
The great Intelligences fair
That range above our mortal state,
In circle round the blessed gate,
Received and gave him welcome there;
Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
On knowledge, under whose command
Is Earth and Earth’s, and in their hand
Is Nature like an open book;
No longer half-akin to brute,
For all we thought and loved and did,
And hoped, and suffer’d, is but seed
Of what in them is flower and fruit;
Whereof the man, that with me trod
This planet, was a noble type
Appearing ere the times were ripe,
That friend of mine who lives in God,
That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.