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

By Sonnets. St. John at Patmos. III. “But ere heaven’s cressets burn”

William Alexander (1824–1911)

BUT ere heaven’s cressets burn along its plain,

The Master comes. And as a man, all night

Lull’d in a room full fronting ocean’s might,

First waking sees a whiteness on his pane,

A little dawning whiteness, then again

A little line insufferably bright

Edging the ripples, orbing on outright

Until the glory he may scarce sustain;

And as a mighty city far-off kenn’d

Although the same, from each new height and glen

Looks strangely different to the merchantmen,

Who in long files towards its ramparts wend;—

So to St. John’s deep meditative eye,

That Nature grew to God’s own majesty.