Home  »  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century  »  George MacDonald (1824–1905)

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

By Organ Songs. I. “I know what beauty is”

George MacDonald (1824–1905)

I KNOW what beauty is, for Thou

Hast set the world within my heart;

Of me Thou madest it a part;

I never loved it more than now.

I know the Sabbath afternoons;

The light asleep upon the graves;

Against the sky the poplar waves;

The river murmurs organ tunes.

I know the spring with bud and bell;

The hush in summer woods at night;

Autumn, when leaves let in more light;

Fantastic winter’s lovely spell.

I know the rapture music gives,

Its mystery of ordered tones;

Dream-muffled soul, it loves and moans,

And, half-alive, comes in and lives.

And verse I know, whose concord high

Of thought and music lifts the soul

Where many a glimmering starry shoal

Glides through the Godhead’s living sky.

Yea, Beauty’s regnant All I know—

The imperial head, the thoughtful eyes;

The God-imprisoned harmonies,

That out in gracious motions go.

But I leave all, O Son of man,

Put off my shoes, and come to Thee,

Most lovely Thou of all I see,

Most potent Thou of all that can!

As child forsakes his favourite toy,

His sisters’ sport, his new-found nest;

And, climbing to his mother’s breast,

Enjoys yet more his late-left joy—

I lose to find. On fair-browed bride

Fair pearls their fairest light afford;

So, gathered round Thy glory, Lord,

All glory else is glorified.