Home  »  The Poets’ Bible  »  Besought to depart

W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

Besought to depart

John Keble (1792–1866)

‘When they saw Him, they besought Him to depart out of their coasts.’—MATT. VIII. 34.

THEY know th’ Almighty’s power,

Who, waken’d by the rushing midnight shower,

Watch for the fitful breeze

To howl and chafe amid the bending trees,

Watch for the still white gleam

To bathe the landscape in a fiery stream,

Touching the tremulous eye with sense of light

Too rapid and too pure for all but Angel sight.

They know th’ Almighty’s love,

Who, when the whirlwinds rock the topmost grove,

Stand in the shade, and hear

The tumult with a deep exulting fear,

How, in their fiercest sway,

Curb’d by some power unseen, they die away,

Like a bold steed that owns his rider’s arm,

Proud to be check’d and sooth’d by that o’er-mastering charm.

But there are storms within

That heave the struggling heart with wilder din,

And there is power and love

The maniac’s rushing frenzy to reprove,

And when he takes his seat,

Cloth’d and in calmness, at his Saviour’s feet,

Is not the power as strange, the love as blest,

As when He said, ‘Be still,’ and ocean sank to rest?

Woe to the wayward heart,

That gladlier turns to eye the shuddering start

Of Passion in her might,

Than marks the silent growth of grace and light;—

Pleas’d in the cheerless tomb

To linger, while the morning rays illume

Green lake, and cedar tuft, and spicy glade,

Shaking their dewy tresses now the storm is laid.

The storm is laid—and now

In His meek power He climbs the mountain’s brow,

Who bade the waves go sleep,

And lash’d the vex’d fiends to their yawning deep.

How on a rock they stand,

Who watch His eye, and hold His guiding hand!

Not half so fix’d, amid her vassal hills,

Rises the holy pile that Kedron’s valley fills.

And wilt thou seek again

Thy howling waste, thy charnel-house and chain,

And with the demons be,

Rather than clasp thine own Deliverer’s knee?

Sure ’tis no heav’n-bred awe

That bids thee from His healing touch withdraw;

The world and He are struggling in thine heart,

And in thy reckless mood thou bidd’st thy Lord depart.

He, merciful and mild,

As erst, beholding, loves His wayward child;

When souls of highest birth

Waste their impassion’d might on dreams of earth,

He opens Nature’s book,

And on His glorious Gospel bids them look,

Till by such chords, as rule the choirs above,

Their lawless cries are tun’d to hymns of perfect love.