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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

An Evening Voluntary

NOT in the lucid intervals of life
That come but as a curse to party strife;
Not in some hour when Pleasure with a sigh
Of languor puts his rosy garland by;
Not in the breathing-times of that poor slave        5
Who daily piles up wealth in Mammon’s cave—
Is Nature felt, or can be; nor do words,
Which practised talent readily affords,
Prove that her hand has touched responsive chords;
Nor has her gentle beauty power to move        10
With genuine rapture and with fervent love
The soul of genius, if he dare to take
Life’s rule from passion craved for passion’s sake;
Untaught that meekness is the cherished bent
Of all the truly great and all the innocent.        15
But who is innocent? By grace divine,
Not otherwise, O Nature, we are thine,
Through good and evil thine, in just degree
Of rational and manly sympathy.
To all that earth from pensive hearts is stealing,        20
And Heaven is now to gladdened eyes revealing,
Add every charm the universe can show
Through every change its aspects undergo;
Care may be respited, but not repealed;
No perfect cure grows on that bounded field.        25
Vain is the pleasure, a false calm the peace,
If He, through whom alone our conflicts cease,
Our virtuous hopes without relapse advance,
Come not to speed the Soul’s deliverance;
To the distempered Intellect refuse        30
His gracious help, or give what we abuse.