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

By The Christian Year (1827). X. “Where is it mothers learn their love?”

John Keble (1792–1866)

(Holy Baptism)

WHERE is it mothers learn their love?—

In every Church a fountain springs

O’er which th’ Eternal Dove

Hovers on softest wings.

What sparkles in that lucid flood

Is water, by gross mortals eyed:

But seen by Faith, ’tis blood

Out of a dear Friend’s side.

A few calm words of faith and prayer,

A few bright drops of holy dew,

Shall work a wonder there

Earth’s charmers never knew.

O happy arms, where cradled lies,

And ready for the Lord’s embrace,

That precious sacrifice,

The darling of His grace!

Blest eyes, that see the smiling gleam

Upon the slumbering features glow,

When the life-giving stream

Touches the tender brow!

Or when the holy cross is signed,

And the young soldier duly sworn

With true and fearless mind

To serve the Virgin born.

But happiest ye, who sealed and blest

Back to your arms your treasure take,

With Jesus’ mark impressed

To nurse for Jesus’ sake:

To whom—as if in hallowed air

Ye knelt before some awful shrine—

His innocent gestures wear

A meaning half divine:

By whom Love’s daily touch is seen

In strengthening form and freshening hue,

In the fixed brow serene,

The deep yet eager view.—

Who taught thy pure and even breath

To come and go with such sweet grace?

Whence thy reposing Faith,

Though in our frail embrace?

O tender gem, and full of Heaven!

Not in the twilight stars on high,

Not in moist flowers at even

See we our God so nigh.

Sweet one, make haste and know Him too,

Thine own adopting Father love,

That like thine earliest dew

Thy dying sweets may prove.