Home  »  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century  »  Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–1897)

Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Amenophis and Other Poems (1892). I. At Ephesus

Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–1897)

  • … Vidi un veglio solo
  • Venir dormendo con la faccia arguta.

  • OF those that saw Him, when

    On common earth He trod

    The life of man with men,

    I only, only, breathe,

    Who lean’d upon His breast, and knew that He was God.

    As some strange thing that lies

    Surviving all his kind,

    I, ’neath the radiant skies,

    Crawl baby-weak once more,

    Stranded upon my hundred years of life, and blind.

    And as that beast could tell

    Of old incredible shapes

    That peopled lake and dell;

    Seas, where rocks climb the sky,

    And azure ice-hills where the parch’d Sahara gapes:—

    So John can testify,

    Alone of living men,

    By seeing of the eye

    And hearing of the ear,

    That very God as man breathed, died, and rose again.

    It was the time foreshown;

    Like a new sun o’er earth,—

    Beyond all wonders known

    Wonder most wonderful,—

    The Well-Belovèd came, the Babe of heavenly birth.

    He did the deeds, He spoke

    The words past human wit:

    Then gently slipp’d the yoke

    Of flesh, and went to God;—

    And we our treasure found, only when losing it.

    Yet, though the Word withdrew,

    The Paraclete remain’d;

    Christ’s nearness oft we knew;

    Enough to guide our life

    From thought of how He spoke, and how He loved, we gain’d.

    And once, ’tis said, o’er one

    As though born out of time

    The glory-vision shone,

    Journeying Damascus-way;

    Who lived in Christ, and died in some far westward clime.

    Of breathing witnesses

    Survives now none but I;

    Who heard the Master bless

    The bread and wine of life;

    Saw Him and touch’d, betwixt the sepulchre and the sky.

    —But though the faith of Sight

    By natural law must fail,

    A heavenlier higher light

    Upon the soul will dawn;

    The unseen outshine the seen; the faith of Faith prevail.

    The things of sense are much;

    But more the things of mind:

    What we but see or touch

    Less real, durable, true,

    Than that invisible all-sustaining Life behind:

    As one of Athens taught

    In his own ethnic way,

    That all things here were nought

    But shadowy images

    Of forms that in the eternal Wisdom living lay.

    When these dim eyes are closed,

    Children! Remember well

    The word that John imposed

    With his last lips on you,—

    To walk henceforth by faith, and grasp the invisible.

    What if no more the Lord

    Before the last dread day

    Be seen, yet shall His word

    Its might and music keep;

    Shall find fit echo in the heart of heart for aye.

    As, in due transit, by

    The milestone-years ye go,

    Though star-like fix’d on high

    The cross and He thereon

    Down Time’s gray avenue further, fainter, show:—

    If then the Lord delays,

    O yet ye need not fear,

    Faint hearts of latter days!

    Time cannot touch the love

    To which a thousand years but one brief hour appear.

    As age on age unrolls,

    If faith her light withdraw

    From present-bounded souls

    Who only dare believe

    What they themselves have seen, or hold for Nature’s law;

    Or those who will not raise,

    E’en as they cry for light,

    Their heads o’er life’s hot haze,

    Nor care to see the stars,

    Mute witnesses for God, nor dawning after night:—

    Yet oft in that dark hour

    When first the unseen is felt,

    The Word will come in power,

    The so-far-off draw nigh,

    Christ’s living love the long doubt-frozen bosom melt.

    —O living Love, so near

    On earth, so near above,

    In Thy good time appear,

    Take all Thy children home,—

    Who love, yet know Thee not;—who, faithful, bow, and love!

    —My little children true!

    Before these lips are dumb

    They leave this word for you,—

    Love one another! And

    Again, Love one another!… Enough; He calls; I come.