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

By Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles

John Stuart Blackie (1809–1895)

JOHN STUART BLACKIE is represented in another volume of the present Anthology by a selection of verse which was largely his own choice; but his “Songs of Religion and Life” (1876) give him claims to a place in any volume devoted to the sacred poetry of his time, hence two poems from that work are quoted here. Perhaps no better representation could be given of his fine manly religious spirit within the space than that afforded by the following lines entitled “The Laws of Nature” and the “Benedicite,” given here.

  • The fool hath in his heart declared,—by laws
  • Since time began,
  • Blind, and without intelligential cause,
  • Or reasoned plan,
  • All things are ruled. I from this lore dissent,
  • With sorrowful shame
  • That reasoning men such witless wit should vent
  • In reason’s name.
  • O Thou that o’er this lovely world hast spread
  • Thy jocund light,
  • Weaving with flowers beneath, and stars o’erhead
  • This tissue bright
  • Of living powers, clear Thou my sense, that I
  • May ever find
  • In all the marshalled pomp of earth and sky
  • The marshalling mind!
  • Laws are not powers; nor can the well-timed courses
  • Of earths and moons
  • Ring to the stroke of blind unthinking forces
  • Their jarless tunes.
  • Wiser were they who in the flaming vault
  • The circling sun
  • Beheld, and in his ray, with splendid fault,
  • Worshipped the one
  • Eye of the universe that seeth all,
  • And shapeth sight
  • In man and moth through curious visual ball
  • With fine delight.
  • O blessed beam, on whose refreshful might
  • Profusely shed
  • Six times ten years, with ever young delight,
  • Mine eye hath fed,
  • Still let me love thee, and with wonder new,
  • By flood and field,
  • Worship the fair, and consecrate the true
  • By Thee revealed!
  • And loving thee, beyond thee love that first
  • Father of Lights
  • From whom the ray vivific marvellous burst,
  • Might of all mights,
  • Whose thought is order, and whose will is law.
  • That man is wise
  • Who worships God wide-eyed, with cheerful awe
  • And chaste surprise.
  • Since the publication of the volume already referred to, the poet has passed away from amongst us, and the place that knew his characteristic face and figure knows them now no more. He died at Edinburgh on the 2nd of March, 1895.