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

By Via Crucis (1906). I. Renunciation (Selected Stanzas)

William Hall (1838– )

(Section II)
THE BREAKING dawn the darkness puts to flight,

Kindling to flame each cold, bleak, naked height;

Its splendours strike thy sleep-locked, shrouded sight.

Part with the visionary for the real,—

Phantoms of night when dreams the eyelids seal;

Let not the illusive show the substance steal:

Shake off thy sleep, let go!

(Section XV)
Wrapt in her cerements, prisoned in the tomb

Of flesh, thy spirit sighs for ampler room,

Buried in night-shades and sepulchral gloom.

This is the note of each progressive thing—

Reluctance to its cruder stage to cling,

Fain the growth-hindering husk away to fling.

Who shun the birth-pangs ushering from the womb—

Abortions of the universe become,

Cast on the void—their spirit-sense all numb.

Develop thou the nobler life within,

Fling off the veil—the envelope of sin,

Die to the death of life, to live begin!

Divest thy sheath; let go!

(Section XVI)
Let the gay gauze-winged fly apt lesson teach,—

Matured she mounts some reed at easy reach,

Leaves low companionship of eft and leech:

Hangs for a tremulous moment while she dries

Her veined diaphanous fans,—then venturous tries

A region strange, while functions new she plies.

Above her stretch the fields of azure air;

Beneath—the foul depths of her stagnant mere,

Of loathsome creeping things the horrid lair.

Of her stupendous change now on the eve,

Prepared new large endowments to receive,

Such uncongenial scenes she joys to leave.

Thy wings for heavenly flight all plumed and drest,

Why lingerest still in this thy sorry nest?

In prison-cage fledged spirits find scant rest:

Poor straitened soul, let go!

(Section XVIII)
Learn in self-sacrifice to find thy joy,

The only bliss unmingled with alloy;

All lesser pleasures soon must pall and cloy.

Better it is to give than to receive,

All to forsake than unto aught to cleave;—

’Tis in the act of giving that we live.

All spiritual Being lives by this—

The ground and basis of the Godhood’s bliss;

Who turn therefrom the Life Eternal miss.

For though discharged in full strict duty’s round,

If in the chains of self-hood thou art bound—

Lifeless and void of worth thy works are found.

Throughout the extent of Nature’s wide domain

See this great law of sacrifice obtain,

The creature’s loss conditioning its gain.

The very elements this law obey,—

The beams that from the solar source outray,

The springing fount’s perpetual sparkling play.

All living things are constituted so,

All organisms from out earth’s womb that grow;

As is the outward, so the to-ward flow:

So that whate’er impedes or hindereth

The pores’ free play, the issue of the breath,

Is the concomitant or cause of death:

Would’st truly live?—let go!

(Section XIX)
E’en when thou hast parted with these meaner things,

Christ’s law of sacrifice fresh claims still brings;

To life’s last close the imperious summons rings.

Driv’n from each hold—self builds thereof in lieu

Some later refuge with materials new,

For life at any cost content to sue.

To virtue’s supreme summits would’st thou press,—

Thy righteousness must be renounced no less

Than erst thine evil and unrighteousness.

To the whole human family akin—

Accept as thine the common guilt and sin,

Whose undeveloped germs thou bear’st within.

Howsoe’er pure and blameless in men’s eyes

Thy life and deeds—beneath a thin disguise

An unknown world of foul corruption lies.

Shun not the Spirit’s probing of thine heart,

The full disclosure of the thing thou art,

However keen and painful be the smart.

Yea, welcome all that weakens self-esteem

Awakes thee from each vain, self-flattering dream;

Meanest of all men learn thyself to deem.

Abase thee in thine own and others’ sight,

A just and lowly estimate invite,

Take the last place—in thy false pride’s despite;

All vain pretence let go!

(Section XX)
Whate’er thou’st won, remaineth still much more;

Heaven hath abundance yet for thee in store;

Still glows the grand Ideal on before!—

Which all thy best achievements doth degrade,

Thy boasted virtues dwarfs, and makes to fade,

Yea pass into complete eclipse and shade.

Ev’n he who such high eminence had gained

Yet counted not that aught was yet attained,

But onward to the goal with ardour strained,—

Reckoning his reach but as the starting-place,

Whence to pursue the spirit’s boundless race;

Of life’s grand edifice but laid the base.

E’en saints on high with heavenly honours crowned

Their crowns of glory cast upon the ground,

Not otherwise loyal and faultless found.

Great is the goal, the guerdon ’fore thee set,

No self-complacence must thy progress let,

Press boldly on, the things behind forget;

Part with thy past, let go!

(Section XXI)
This moment’s thine, thou never more may’st hear

The clarion-summons-call thus loud and clear;

What now thou buyest cheap may yet prove dear.

Part with thine all, spare not the needed cost;

That which thou partest with were better lost,

Thy selfish worldly schemes more wisely crossed.

Thy loss infinitesimal, thy gain

Endless, immense; thy momentary pain

The single step the boundless bliss to attain!

These idol loves that gender loveless lust—

Weighed in the balances, whose scales are just,

With the bright hopes thou spurn’st—are breath-borne dust!

Eye hath not seen, man’s ear hath never heard,

Nor heart conceived—save some faint image blurred—

The bliss of those who keep the Christly word—

Let go; my soul, let go!