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

By Organ Songs. IV. Rest

George MacDonald (1824–1905)

WHEN round the earth the Father’s hands

Have gently drawn the dark;

Sent off the sun to fresher lands,

And curtained in the lark;

’Tis sweet, all tired with glowing day,

To fade with fading light,

To lie once more, the old weary way,

Upfolded in the night.

If mothers o’er our slumbers bend,

And unripe kisses reap,

In soothing dreams with sleep they blend,

Till even in dreams we sleep.

And if we wake while night is dumb,

’Tis sweet to turn and say,

It is an hour ere dawning come,

And I will sleep till day.

There is a dearer, warmer bed,

Where one all day may lie,

Earth’s bosom pillowing the head,

And let the world go by.

There come no watching mother’s eyes;

The stars instead look down;

Upon it breaks, and silent dies,

The murmur of the town.

The great world, shouting, forward fares:

This chamber, hid from none,

Hides safe from all, for no one cares

For him whose work is done.

Cheer thee, my friend; bethink thee how

A certain unknown place,

Or here or there, is waiting now,

To rest thee from thy race.

Nay, nay, not there the rest from harms,

The slow composèd breath!

Not there the folding of the arms,

The cool, the blessèd death!

That needs no curtained bed to hide

The world with all its wars;

No grassy cover to divide

From sun and moon and stars.

It is a rest that deeper grows

In midst of pain and strife;

A mighty, conscious, willed repose,

The death of deepest life

To have and hold the precious prize

No need of jealous bars;

But windows open to the skies,

And skill to read the stars.

Who dwelleth in that secret place,

Where tumult enters not,

Is never cold with terror base,

Never with anger hot.

For if an evil host should dare

His very heart invest,

God is his deeper heart, and there

He enters in to rest.

When mighty sea-winds madly blow,

And tear the scattered waves,

Peaceful as summer woods, below

Lie darkling ocean caves:

The wind of words may toss my heart,

But what is that to me!

’Tis but a surface storm—Thou art

My deep, still, resting sea.