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

By Poems. IV. A Fine Day in Holy Week

William Alexander (1824–1911)

THERE is a rapturous movement, a green growing

Among the hills and valleys once again,

And silent rivers of delight are flowing

Into the hearts of men.

There is a purple weaving on the heather,

Night drops down starry gold upon the furze,

Wild rivers and wild birds sing songs together,

Dead nature breathes and stirs.

Is this the season when our hearts should follow

The Man of Sorrows to the hills of scorn?

Must not our pilgrim grief be scant and hollow

On such a sunny morn?

Will not the silver trumpet of the river

Wind us to gladsomeness against our will?

The subtle eloquence of sunlight shiver

What sadness haunts us still?

If I might choose these notes should all be duller,

That silver trump should fail in Passion week;

The mountain-crowning sky wear one pale colour,

Pale as my Saviour’s cheek.

And day and night there should be one slow raining,

With mournful plash, upon the moor and moss,

And on the hill one tree, its bare arms straining;

Bare as my Saviour’s cross.

Nay, if my heart were sorrowful exceeding,

Its pulses big with that divinest woe,

These natural things would only set it bleeding

To think it should be so—

To think that guilty and degraded Nature

Could look as joyful as she looketh now,

When the warm blood has dropp’d from her Creator

Upon her branded brow.