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

The Mother Mary

George MacDonald (1824–1905)

MARY, to thee the heart was given

For infant hand to hold,

Thus clasping, an eternal heaven,

The great earth in its fold.

He seized the world with tender might

By making thee his own;

Thee, lowly queen, whose heavenly height

Was to thyself unknown.

He came, all helpless, to thy power,

For warmth, and love, and birth;

In thy embraces, every hour,

He grew into the earth.

And thine the grief, O mother high,

Which all thy sisters share,

Who keep the gate betwixt the sky

And this our lower air;

And unshared sorrows, gathering slow;

New thoughts within thy heart,

Which through thee like a sword will go,

And make thee mourn apart.

For, if a woman bore a son

That was of angel brood,

Who lifted wings ere day was done,

And soar’d from where he stood;

Strange grief would fill each mother-moan,

Wild longing, dim, and sore:

“My child! my child! He is my own,

And yet is mine no more.”

So thou, O Mary, years on years,

From child-birth to the cross,

Wast filled with yearnings, filled with fears,

Keen sense of love and loss.

His childish thoughts outsoared thy reach;

Even his tenderness

Had deeper springs than act or speech

Could unto thee express.

Strange pangs await thee, mother mild!

A sorer travail-pain,

Before the spirit of thy child

Is born in thee again.

And thou wilt still forbode and dread,

And loss be still thy fear,

Till form be gone, and, in its stead,

The very self appear.

For, when thy son hath reached his goal,

And vanished from the earth,

Soon shalt thou find him in thy soul,

A second, holier birth.