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

By Frederic William Henry Myers (1843–1901)

S. Paul speaks

GOD, 1 who at sundry times in manners many
  Spake to the fathers and is speaking still,
Eager to find if ever or if any
  Souls will obey and hearken to His will,—
Who that one moment has the least descried Him,        5
  Dimly and faintly, hidden and afar,
Doth not despise all excellence beside Him,
  Pleasures and powers that are not and that are,—
Ay amid all men bear himself thereafter,
  Smit with a solemn and a sweet surprise,        10
Dumb to their scorn, and turning on their laughter
  Only the dominance of earnest eyes?—
God, who, whatever frenzy of our fretting
  Vexes sad life to spoil and to destroy,
Lendeth an hour for peace and for forgetting,        15
  Setteth in pain the jewel of his joy:—
Gentle and faithful, tyrannous and tender,
  Ye that have known Him, is He sweet to know?
Softly he touches, for the reed is slender,
  Wisely enkindles, for the flame is low.        20
God, who when Enoch from the earth was hidden
  Saved him from death, and Noë from the sea,
Chose Him a people for His purpose bidden,
  Found in Chaldæa the elect Chaldee,—
God, who, His promise thro’ the ages keeping,        25
  Called him from Charran, summoned him from Ur,
Gave to his wife a laughter and a weeping,
  Light to the nations and a son for her,—
God, who in Israel’s bondage and bewailing
  Heard them and granted them their heart’s desire,        30
Clave them the deep with power and with prevailing,
  Gloomed in the cloud and glowed into the fire,
Fed them with manna, furnished with a fountain,
  Followed with waves the raising of the rod,
Drew them and drave, till Moses on the mountain        35
  Died of the kisses of the lips of God;—
God, who was not in earth when it was shaken,
  Could not be found in fury of the flame,
Then to His seer, the faithful and forsaken,
  Softly was manifest and spake by name,        40
Showed him a remnant barred from the betrayal,
  Close in his Carmel, where the caves are dim,
So many knees that had not bent to Baal,
  So many mouths that had not kissèd him,—
God, who to glean the vineyard of his choosing        45
  Sent them evangelists till day was done,
Bore with the churls, their wrath and their refusing,—
  Gave at the last the glory of His Son:—
Lo, as in Eden, when the days were seven,
  Pison thro’ Havilah that softly ran        50
Bare on his breast the changes of the heaven,
  Felt on his shores the silence of a man:
Silence, for Adam, when the day departed
  Left him in twilight with his charge to keep,
Careless and confident and single-hearted,        55
  Trusted in God and turned himself to sleep:
Then in the midnight stirring in his slumber
  Opened his vision on the heights and saw
New without name or ordinance or number,
  Set for a marvel, silent for an awe,        60
Stars in the firmament above him beaming,
  Stars, in the firmament, alive and free,
Stars, and of stars the innumerable streaming,
  Deep in the deeps, a river in the sea;—
These as he watched thro’ march of their arising,        65
  Many in multitudes and one by one,
Somewhat from God with a superb surprising
  Breathed in his eyes the promise of the sun.
So tho’ our Daystar from our sight be taken,
  Gone from His brethren, hidden from His own,        70
Yet in His setting are we not forsaken,
  Suffer not shadows of the dark alone.
Not in the west is Thine appearance ended,
  Neither from dark shall Thy renewal be,
Lo, for the firmament in spaces splendid        75
  Lighteth her beacon-fires ablaze for Thee:
Holds them and hides and drowns them and discovers,
  Throngs them together, kindles them afar,
Showeth, O Love, Thy multitude of lovers,
  Souls that shall know Thee and the saints that are.        80
Look what a company of constellations!
  Say, can the sky so many lights contain?
Hath the great earth these endless generations?
  Are there so many purified thro’ pain?
Witness the wonder when Thy saints assembled        85
  Waited the message, and the message came;
Ay with hearts tremulous and house that trembled,
  Ay with the Paraclete that fell in flame.
Witness the men whom with a word he gaineth,
  Bold who were base and voiceful who were dumb:—        90
Battle, I know, so long as life remaineth,
  Battle for all, but these have overcome.
Witness the women, of His children sweetest,—
  Scarcely earth seeth them, but earth shall see,—
Thou in their woe Thine agony completest,        95
  Christ, and their solitude is nigh to Thee.
What is this psalm from pitiable places
  Glad where the messengers of peace have trod;
Whose are these beautiful and holy faces
  Lit with their loving and aflame with God?        100
Eager and faint, impassionate and lonely,
  These in their hour shall prophesy again:
This is His will who hath endured, and only
  Sendeth the promise where He sends the pain.
Ay unto these distributeth the Giver        105
  Sorrow and sanctity, and loves them well,
Grants them a power and passion to deliver
  Hearts from the prison-house and souls from hell.
Thinking hereof, I wot not if the portal
  Opeth already to my Lord above:        110
Lo, there is no more mortal and immortal,
  Nought is on earth or in the heavens but love.
Surely He cometh, and a thousand voices
  Call to the saints and to the deaf are dumb;
Surely He cometh, and the earth rejoices,        115
  Glad in His coming who hath sworn, I come.
This hath He done, and shall we not adore Him?
  This shall He do, and can we still despair?
Come, let us quickly fling ourselves before Him,
  Cast at His feet the burthen of our care,        120
Flash from our eyes the glow of our thanksgiving,
  Glad and regretful, confident and calm,
Then thro’ all life, and what is after living,
  Thrill to the tireless music of a psalm.
Yea, thro’ life, death, thro’ sorrow and thro’ sinning,        125
  He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
  Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.
Note 1. From “St Paul”: the text was printed by the author’s desire from the latest edition (1894). [back]