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

By Poems. III. Humility

James Drummond Burns (1823–1864)

O! LEARN that it is only by the lowly

The paths of peace are trod;

If thou would’st keep thy garments white and holy,

Walk humbly with thy God.

The man with earthly wisdom high uplifted

Is in God’s sight a fool;

But he in heavenly truth most deeply gifted

Sits lowest in Christ’s school.

The lowly spirit God hath consecrated

As His abiding rest;

And angels by some patriarch’s tent have waited,

When kings had no such guest.

The dew that never wets the flinty mountain,

Falls in the valley free;

Bright verdure fringes the small desert-fountain,

But barren sand the sea.

Not in the stately oak the fragrance dwelleth

Which charms the general wood,

But in the violet low, whose sweetness telleth

Its unseen neighbourhood.

The censer swung by the proud hand of merit

Fumes with a fire abhorred;

But Faith’s two mites, dropped covertly, inherit

A blessing from the Lord.

Round lowliness a gentle radiance hovers,

A sweet unconscious grace;

Which, even in shrinking, evermore discovers

The brightness on its face.

Where God abides, Contentment is and Honour,

Such guerdon Meekness knows;

His peace within her, and His smile upon her,

Her saintly way she goes.

Through the straight gate of life she passes stooping,

With sandals on her feet;

And pure-eyed Graces, hand in hand come trooping,

Their sister fair to greet.

The angels bend their eyes upon her goings,

And guard her from annoy;

Heaven fills her heart with silent overflowings

Of its perennial joy.

The Saviour loves her, for she wears the vesture

With which He walked on Earth;

And through her child-like glance, and step, and gesture,

He knows her heavenly birth.

He now beholds this seal of glory graven

On all whom He redeems;

And in His own bright City, crystal-paven,

On every brow it gleams.

The white-robed saints, the throne-steps singing under,

Their state all meekly wear;

Their praise wells up from hidden springs of wonder

That grace has brought them there.