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

By Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770)


O GOD, 1 whose thunder shakes the sky,
  Whose eye this atom globe surveys,
To Thee, my only rock, I fly,
  Thy mercy in Thy justice praise.
The mystic mazes of Thy will,—        5
  The shadows of celestial light,—
Are past the power of human skill,
  But what the Eternal acts is right.
Oh, teach me in the trying hour
  When anguish swells the dewy tear,        10
To still my sorrows, own Thy power,
  Thy goodness love, Thy justice fear.
If in this bosom aught but Thee
  Encroaching sought a boundless sway,
Omniscience could the danger see,        15
  And Mercy look the cause away.
Then why, my soul, dost thou complain?
  Why drooping seek the dark recess?
Shake off the melancholy chain,
  For God created all to bless.
*        *        *        *        *
The gloomy mantle of the night,
  Which on my sinking spirit steals,
Will vanish at the morning light,
  Which God, my East, my Sun, reveals.
Note 1. Thomas Chatterton came of a long line of sextons at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, and, having access to the muniment room, fell in love with antiquity. His first poems were pseudo-antiques, the so-called Rowley poems, which imposed on Horace Walpole. When he was eighteen, his indentures with an attorney were cancelled for some supposed irreverence, and he went to try his fortune in London. For four months he battled with the publishers and the public, and then took arsenic. Among his best pieces are some of the songs in “Aella.” Except for the second line of the third stanza, the poem here given is remarkably inartificial; two stanzas are omitted before the last. [back]