Sweet friends, receive my offering. You will find
Against each worded page a white page set:–
This is the mirror of each friendly mind
Reflecting that. In this book we are met.
Make it, dear hearts, of worth to you indeed:–
Let your white page be ground, my print be seed,
Growing to golden ears, that faith and hope shall feed.
YOUR OLD SOUL
THE DIARY OF AN OLD SOUL.
LORD, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do–with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;
So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and ruth,
Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,
Round to his best–young eyes and heart and brain.
A dim aurora rises in my east,
Beyond the line of jagged questions hoar,
As if the head of our intombed High Priest
Began to glow behind the unopened door:
Sure the gold wings will soon rise from the gray!–
They rise not. Up I rise, press on the more,
To meet the slow coming of the Master’s day.
Sometimes I wake, and, lo! I have forgot,
And drifted out upon an ebbing sea!
My soul that was at rest now resteth not,
For I am with myself and not with thee;
Truth seems a blind moon in a glaring morn,
Where nothing is but sick-heart vanity:
Oh, thou who knowest! save thy child forlorn.
Death, like high faith, levelling, lifteth all.
When I awake, my daughter and my son,
Grown sister and brother, in my arms shall fall,
Tenfold my girl and boy. Sure every one
Of all the brood to the old wings will run.
Whole-hearted is my worship of the man
From whom my earthly history began.
Thy fishes breathe but where thy waters roll;
Thy birds fly but within thy airy sea;
My soul breathes only in thy infinite soul;
I breathe, I think, I love, I live but thee.
Oh breathe, oh think,–O Love, live into me;
Unworthy is my life till all divine,
Till thou see in me only what is thine.
Then shall I breathe in sweetest sharing, then
Think in harmonious consort with my kin;
Then shall I love well all my father’s men,
Feel one with theirs the life my heart within.
Oh brothers! sisters holy! hearts divine!
Then I shall be all yours, and nothing mine–
To every human heart a mother-twin.
I see a child before an empty house,
Knocking and knocking at the closed door;
He wakes dull echoes–but nor man nor mouse,
If he stood knocking there for evermore.–
A mother angel, see! folding each wing,
Soft-walking, crosses straight the empty floor,
And opens to the obstinate praying thing.
Were there but some deep, holy spell, whereby
Always I should remember thee–some mode
Of feeling the pure heat-throb momently
Of the spirit-fire still uttering this I!–
Lord, see thou to it, take thou remembrance’ load:
Only when I bethink me can I cry;
Remember thou, and prick me with love’s goad.
If to myself–“God sometimes interferes”–
I said, my faith at once would be struck blind.
I see him all in all, the lifing mind,
Or nowhere in the vacant miles and years.
A love he is that watches and that hears,
Or but a mist fumed up from minds of men,
Whose fear and hope reach out beyond their ken.
When I no more can stir my soul to move,
And life is but the ashes of a fire;
When I can but remember that my heart
Once used to live and love, long and aspire,–
Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art;
Be thou the calling, before all answering love,
And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.