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Of The Son Of Man
by [?]

I. I honour Nature, holding it unjust
To look with jealousy on her designs;
With every passing year more fast she twines
About my heart; with her mysterious dust
Claim I a fellowship not less august
Although she works before me and combines
Her changing forms, wherever the sun shines
Spreading a leafy volume on the crust
Of the old world; and man himself likewise
Is of her making: wherefore then divorce
What God hath joined thus, and rend by force
Spirit away from substance, bursting ties
By which in one great bond of unity
God hath together bound all things that be?

II. And in these lines my purpose is to show
That He who left the Father, though he came
Not with art-splendour or the earthly flame
Of genius, yet in that he did bestow
His own true loving heart, did cause to grow,
Unseen and buried deep, whate’er we name
The best in human art, without the shame
Of idle sitting in most real woe;
And that whate’er of Beautiful and Grand
The Earth contains, by him was not despised,
But rather was so deeply realized
In word and deed, though not with artist hand,
That it was either hid or all disguised
From those who were not wise to understand.

III. Art is the bond of weakness, and we find
Therein acknowledgment of failing power:
A man would worship, gazing on a flower–
Onward he passeth, lo his eyes are blind!
The unenlivened form he left behind
Grew up within him only for an hour!
And he will grapple with Nature till the dower
Of strength shall be retreasured in his mind.
And each form-record is a high protest
Of treason done unto the soul of man,
Which, striving upwards, ever is oppress’d
By the old bondage, underneath whose ban
He, failing in his struggle for the best,
Must live in pain upon what food he can.

IV. Moreover, were there perfect harmony
‘Twixt soul and Nature, we should never waste
The precious hours in gazing, but should haste
To assimilate her offerings, and we
From high life-elements, as doth the tree,
Should grow to higher; so what we call Taste
Is a slow living as of roots encased
In the grim chinks of some sterility
Both cramping and withholding. Art is Truth,
But Truth dammed up and frozen, gagged and bound
As is a streamlet icy and uncouth
Which pebbles hath and channel but no sound:
Give it again its summer heart of youth
And it will be a life upon the ground.

V. And Love had not been prisoned in cold stone,
Nor Beauty smeared on the dead canvas so,
Had not their worshipper been forced to go
Questful and restless through the world alone,
Searching but finding not, till on him shone
Back from his own deep heart a chilly glow
As of a frost-nipped sunbeam, or of snow
Under a storm-dodged crescent which hath grown
Wasted to mockery; and beneath such gleam
His wan conceits have found an utterance,
Which, had they found a true and sunny beam,
Had ripened into real touch and glance–
Nay more, to real deed, the Truth of all,
To some perfection high and personal.

VI. “But yet the great of soul have ever been
The first to glory in all works of art;
For from the genius-form would ever dart
A light of inspiration, and a sheen
As of new comings; and ourselves have seen
Men of stern purpose to whose eyes would start
Sorrow at sight of sorrow though no heart
Did riot underneath that chilly, screen;
And hence we judge such utterance native to
The human soul–expression highest–best.”
–Nay, it is by such sign they will pursue,
Albeit unknowing, Beauty, without rest;
And failing in the search, themselves will fling
Speechless before its shadow, worshipping.