To all who fain
Would keep the grain,
And cast the husk away–
That it may feed
The living seed,
And serve it with decay–
I offer this dim story
Whose clouds crack into glory.
The times are changed, and gone the day
When the high heavenly land,
Though unbeheld, quite near them lay,
And men could understand.
The dead yet find it, who, when here,
Did love it more than this;
They enter in, are filled with cheer,
And pain expires in bliss.
All glorious gleams the blessed land!–
O God, forgive, I pray:
The heart thou holdest in thy hand
Loves more this sunny day!
I see the hundred thousand wait
Around the radiant throne:
Ah, what a dreary, gilded state!
What crowds of beings lone!
I do not care for singing psalms;
I tire of good men’s talk;
To me there is no joy in palms,
Or white-robed, solemn walk.
I love to hear the wild winds meet,
The wild old winds at night;
To watch the cold stars flash and beat,
The feathery snow alight.
I love all tales of valiant men,
Of women good and fair:
If I were rich and strong, ah, then
I would do something rare!
But for thy temple in the sky,
Its pillars strong and white–
I cannot love it, though I try,
And long with all my might.
Sometimes a joy lays hold on me,
And I am speechless then;
Almost a martyr I could be,
To join the holy men.
Straightway my heart is like a clod,
My spirit wrapt in doubt:–
A pillar in the house of God,
And never more go out!
No more the sunny, breezy morn;
All gone the glowing noon;
No more the silent heath forlorn,
The wan-faced waning moon!
My God, this heart will never burn,
Must never taste thy joy!
Even Jesus’ face is calm and stern:
I am a hapless boy!
* * * * *
I read good books. My heart despairs.
In vain I try to dress
My soul in feelings like to theirs–
These men of holiness.
My thoughts, like doves, abroad I fling
Into a country fair:
Wind-baffled, back, with tired wing,
They to my ark repair.
Or comes a sympathetic thrill
With long-departed saint,
A feeble dawn, without my will,
Of feelings old and quaint,
As of a church’s holy night,
With low-browed chapels round,
Where common sunshine dares not light
On the too sacred ground,–
One glance at sunny fields of grain,
One shout of child at play–
A merry melody drives amain
The one-toned chant away!
My spirit will not enter here
To haunt the holy gloom;
I gaze into a mirror mere,
A mirror, not a room.
And as a bird against the pane
Will strike, deceived sore,
I think to enter, but remain
Outside the closed door.
Oh, it will call for many a sigh
If it be what it claims–
This book, so unlike earth and sky,
Unlike man’s hopes and aims!–
To me a desert parched and bare–
In which a spirit broods
Whose wisdom I would gladly share
At cost of many goods!
* * * * *
O hear me, God! O give me joy
Such as thy chosen feel;
Have pity on a wretched boy;
My heart is hard as steel.
I have no care for what is good;
Thyself I do not love;
I relish not this Bible-food;
My heaven is not above.
Thou wilt not hear: I come no more;
Thou heedest not my woe.
With sighs and tears my heart is sore.
Thou comest not: I go.