James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

December 16


By John Hall Ingham (1860–1931)

(Born December 16, 1770)

THOU dost not sing of sorrow, being too vast

For puny personalities of woe;

Nor yet of joy: thy fateful measures flow

From springs too deep to sparkle, overcast

With midnight and immensity. The past

Is not thy theme, for all thy concords glow

With living fervor. And this present show

Seems lost in thy infinity at last.

What is thy message, what thy mystery?

—Or shall we ask what doctrine gilds the day;

What creed the clouds unfold,—the hills, the sea?

All things they tell,—or nothing. He alone

Who loves can learn, when Nature points the way

Or thou dost breathe the beautiful in tone.

Yet thou hast gentler moments when thy might,

No longer tuned to a supernal key,

Is modulated by humanity;

And in thy symphony the other night

A hero’s clarion sounded through the fight,

A maiden’s laughter rippled peacefully,

And love and sorrow woke a threnody

To speed a deathless spirit in its flight.

O sweetly human, splendidly divine!—

Not like a turbid torrent threading far

And fathomless abysses, thou dost shine

A clear, full flood wherein we joy to scan

The cloud, the snowy summit and the star,—

The flower, the forest and the face of man.