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

By Hymns and Poems. IV. Matter and Mind

Sir John Bowring (1792–1872)

IF in the vast material world

No atom ever perished,—though

In multitudinous changes hurl’d

Upwards and downwards, to and fro,

And all that in the present orb’d

From silent growth and sudden storms,

Is but a former past absorb’d

In ever-shifting frames and forms,—

If He who made the worlds that were

And makes the worlds that are to be,

Has with all-wise, all-potent care

Preserved the smallest entity

Imperishable—though it pass

From shape to shape, by heat or cold

Dispersed, attracted, monad mass—

A wind-blown sand, a solid mould,—

Shall He not save those noble things,

Those elements of mind and thought,

Whose marvellous imaginings

Have the great deeds of progress wrought?

Those instincts, be they what they may,

Of which the soul of man is made,

By which he works his wondrous way

Up to light’s very fountain head?

From earth’s untold materials, man

Can build, unbuild, can break or bind;

But from mind’s elements who can

Transform, create another mind?

Who rear new piles of thought from aught

Of thought surviving its decay—

Who ever from the grave has brought

A spirit that had passed away?

If God have left no blank,—no void

Unfilled,—if in Creation’s reign

Nothing is born to be destroyed

Or perish—but to live again;—

If in the cycles of the earth

No atom of that earth can die—

The soul, which is of nobler birth,

Must live,—and live eternally.