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Concerning Jesus [Sonnets]
by [?]


But earth is now thy living picture, where
Thou shadowest truth, the simple and profound
By the same form in vital union bound:
Where one can see but the first step of thy stair,
Another sees it vanish far in air.
When thy king David viewed the starry round,
From heart and fingers broke the psaltery-sound:
Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst mind his prayer!
But when the child beholds the heavens on high,
He babbles childish noises–not less dear
Than what the king sang praying–to the ear
Of him who made the child and king and sky.
Earth is thy picture, painter great, whose eye
Sees with the child, sees with the kingly seer.


If thou hadst built some mighty instrument,
And set thee down to utter ordered sound,
Whose faithful billows, from thy hands unbound,
Breaking in light, against our spirits went,
And caught, and bore above this earthly tent,
The far-strayed back to their prime natal ground,
Where all roots fast in harmony are found,
And God sits thinking out a pure consent;–
Nay, that thou couldst not; that was not for thee!
Our broken music thou must first restore–
A harder task than think thine own out free;
And till thou hast done it, no divinest score,
Though rendered by thine own angelic choir,
Can lift one human spirit from the mire.


If thou hadst been a poet! On my heart
The thought flashed sudden, burning through the weft
Of life, and with too much I sank bereft.
Up to my eyes the tears, with sudden start,
Thronged blinding: then the veil would rend and part!
The husk of vision would in twain be cleft!
Thy hidden soul in naked beauty left,
I should behold thee, Nature, as thou art!
O poet Jesus! at thy holy feet
I should have lien, sainted with listening;
My pulses answering ever, in rhythmic beat,
The stroke of each triumphant melody’s wing,
Creating, as it moved, my being sweet;
My soul thy harp, thy word the quivering string.


Thee had we followed through the twilight land
Where thought grows form, and matter is refined
Back into thought of the eternal mind,
Till, seeing them one, Lo, in the morn we stand!–
Then started fresh and followed, hand in hand,
With sense divinely growing, till, combined,
We heard the music of the planets wind
In harmony with billows on the strand!–
Till, one with earth and all God’s utterance,
We hardly knew whether the sun outspake,
Or a glad sunshine from our spirits brake–
Whether we think, or winds and blossoms dance!
Alas, O poet leader, for such good
Thou wast God’s tragedy, writ in tears and blood!


Hadst thou been one of these, in many eyes,
Too near to be a glory for thy sheen,
Thou hadst been scorned; and to the best hadst been
A setter forth of strange divinities;
But to the few construct of harmonies,
A sudden sun, uplighting the serene
High heaven of love; and, through the cloudy screen
That ‘twixt our souls and truth all wretched lies,
Dawning at length, hadst been a love and fear,
Worshipped on high from Magian’s mountain-crest,
And all night long symbolled by lamp-flames clear,
Thy sign, a star upon thy people’s breast–
Where that strange arbitrary token lies
Which once did scare the sun in noontide skies.


But as thou camest forth to bring the poor,
Whose hearts are nearer faith and verity,
Spiritual childhood, thy philosophy–
So taught’st the A B C of heavenly lore;
Because thou sat’st not lonely evermore,
With mighty truths informing language high,
But, walking in thy poem continually,
Didst utter deeds, of all true forms the core–
Poet and poem one indivisible fact;
Because thou didst thine own ideal act,
And so, for parchment, on the human soul
Didst write thine aspirations–at thy goal
Thou didst arrive with curses for acclaim,
And cry to God up through a cloud of shame.