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But he, Thy son upon whose shoulders shone So long Elisha's gleaming garments, may Be pleased to hear a pleading human tone To sift the spirit of the words I say.
O, Master, since the gentle Stenhouse died And left the void that none can ever fill, One harp at least has sorrow thrown aside, Its strings all broken, and its notes all still.
Some lofty lord of music yet may find Its pulse of pa.s.sion. I can never touch The chords again--my life has been too blind; I've sinned too long and suffered far too much.
But you will listen to the voice, although The harp is silent--you who glorified Your great, sad gift of life, because you know How souls are tempted and how hearts are tried.
O marvellous follower in the steps of Christ, How pure your spirit must have been to see That light beyond our best expression priced The effluence of benignant Deity.
You saw it, Father? Let me think you did Because I, groping in the mists of Doubt, Am sometimes fearful that G.o.d's face is hid From all--that none can read His riddle out!
A hope from lives like yours must everywhere Become like faith--that blessing undefiled, The refuge of the grey philosopher-- The consolation of the simple child.
Here in a land of many sects, where G.o.d As shaped by man in countless forms appears, Few comprehend how carefully you trod Without a slip for two and forty years.
How wonderful the self-repression must Have been, that made you to the lovely close The Christian crowned with universal trust, The foe-less Father in a land of foes.
How patiently--with how divine a strength Of tolerance you must have watched the frays Of fighting churches--warring through the length Of your bright, beautiful, unruffled days!
Because men strove you did not love them less; You felt for each--for everyone and all-- With that same apostolic tenderness Which Samuel felt when yearning over Saul.
A crowned hierophant--a high Chief-Priest On flame with robes of light, you used to be; But yet you were as humble as the least Of those who followed Him of Galilee.
'Mid splendid forms of faith which flower and fill G.o.d's oldest Church with gleams ineffable You stand, Our Lord's serene disciple still, In all the blaze which on your pallium fell.
The pomp of altars, chasubles, and fires Of incense, moved you not; nor yet the dome Of haughty beauty--follower of the Sires-- Who made a holiness of elder Rome.
A lord of scholarship whose knowledge ran Through every groove of human history, you Were this and more--a Christian gentleman; A fount of learning with a heart like dew.
O Father! I who at your feet have knelt, On wings of singing fall, and fail to sing, Remembering the immense compa.s.sion felt By you for every form of suffering.
As dies a gentle April in a sky Of faultless beauty--after many days Of loveliness and grand tranquillity-- So pa.s.sed your presence from our human gaze.
But though your stately face is as the dust That windy hills to wintering hollows give, Your memory like a deity august Is with us still, to teach us how to live.
Ah! may it teach us--may the lives that are Take colour from the life that was; and may Those souls be helped that in the dark so far Have strayed, and have forgotten how to pray!
Let one of these at least retain the hope That fine examples, like a blessed dew Of summer falling in a fruitful scope, Give birth to issues beautiful and true.
Such hope, O Master, is a light indeed To him that knows how hard it is to save The spirit resting on no certain creed Who kneels to plant this blossom on your grave.
I see, as one in dreaming, A broad, bright, quiet sea; Beyond it lies a haven-- The only home for me.
Some men grow strong with trouble, But all my strength is past, And tired and full of sorrow, I long to sleep at last.
By force of chance and changes Man's life is hard at best; And, seeing rest is voiceless, The dearest thing is rest.
Beyond the sea--behold it, The home I wish to seek The refuge of the weary, The solace of the weak!
Sweet angel fingers beckon, Sweet angel voices ask My soul to cross the waters; And yet I dread the task.
G.o.d help the man whose trials Are tares that he must reap; He cannot face the future-- His only hope is sleep.
Across the main a vision Of sunset coasts and skies, And widths of waters gleaming, Enchant my human eyes.
I, who have sinned and suffered, Have sought--with tears have sought-- To rule my life with goodness, And shape it to my thought; And yet there is no refuge To shield me from distress, Except the realm of slumber And great forgetfulness.
[End of Other Poems, 1871-82.]
Note on corrections made: Less than a dozen errors were corrected, mostly punctuation, and one incorrect letter. However, one correction is in question. On p. 339 of this 1920 edition, or in this etext, the 1st line of the 9th stanza of "On a Street", the copy reads:
I tell you, this not a tale
which is neither grammatically nor rhythmically correct, for the poem in question. It has been corrected as:
I tell you, this is not a tale
which is probably correct. As this is the most serious error noticed in the text, I trust the reader will find the whole to be satisfactory.--A. L.