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

Peter and Cornelius

John Keble (1792–1866)

‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.’—ACTS X. 34, 35.

GO up and watch the new-born rill

Just trickling from its mossy bed,

Streaking the heath-clad hill

With a bright emerald thread.

Canst thou her bold career foretell,

What rocks she shall o’erleap or rend,

How far in ocean’s swell

Her freshening billows send?

Perchance that little brook shall flow

The bulwark of some mighty realm,

Bear navies to and fro

With monarchs at their helm.

Or canst thou guess how far away

Some sister nymph, beside her urn

Reclining night and day,

Mid reeds and mountain fern,

Nurses her store, with thine to blend,

When many a moor and glen are past,

Then in the wide sea end

Their spotless lives at last?

Even so, the course of prayer who knows?

It springs in silence where it will,

Springs out of sight, and flows

At first a lonely rill:

But streams shall meet it by-and-by

From thousand sympathetic hearts,

Together swelling high

Their chant of many parts.

Unheard by all but Angel ears

The good Cornelius knelt alone,

Nor dream’d his prayers and tears

Would help a world undone.

The while upon his terrac’d roof

The lov’d Apostle to his Lord

In silent thought aloof

For heavenly vision soar’d.

Far o’er the glowing western main

His wistful brow was upward raised,

Where, like an Angel’s train,

The burnish’d water blaz’d.

The saint beside the ocean pray’d,

The soldier in his chosen bower,

Where all his eye survey’d

Seem’d sacred in that hour.

To each unknown his brother’s prayer,

Yet brethren true in dearest love

Were they—and now they share

Fraternal joys above.

There daily through Christ’s open gate

They see the Gentile spirits press,

Brightening their high estate

With dearer happiness.

What civic wreath for comrades sav’d

Shone ever with such deathless gleam,

Or when did perils brav’d

So sweet to veterans seem?