An Old Story

A poem by George MacDonald

In the ancient house of ages,
See, they cannot rest!
With a hope, which awe assuages,
Tremble all the blest.
For the son and heir eternal,
To be son yet more,
Leaves his stately chair supernal
For the earth's low floor;

Leaves the room so high and old,
Leaves the all-world hearth,
Seeks the out-air, frosty-cold,
Of the twilight earth--
To be throned in newer glory
In a mother's lap,
Gather up our broken story,
And right every hap.


II.

There Earth's foster-baby lies,
Sleep-dimmed all his graces,
'Neath four stars of parents' eyes,
And two heavens of faces!
See! the cow and ass, dumb-staring,
Feel the skirts of good
Fold them in dull-blessed sharing
Of infinitude.

Make a little room betwixt you,
Pray you, Ass and Cow!
Sure we shall, if I kneel next you,
Know each other now!
To the pit-fallen comes salvation--
Love is never loath!
Here we are, thy whole creation,
Waiting, Lord, thy growth!


III.

On the slopes of Bethlehem,
Round their resting sheep,
Shepherds sat, and went and came,
Guarding holy sleep;
But the silent, high dome-spaces,
Airy galleries,
Thronged they were with watching faces,
Thronged with open eyes.

Far across the desert floor,
Come, slow-drawing nigher,
Sages deep in starry lore,
Priests of burning Fire.
In the sky they read his story,
And, through starlight cool,
They come riding to the Glory,
To the Wonderful.


IV.

Babe and mother, coming Mage,
Shepherd, ass, and cow!
Angels watching the new age,
Time's intensest Now!
Heaven down-brooding, Earth upstraining,
Far ends closing in!
Sure the eternal tide is gaining
On the strand of sin!

See! but see! Heaven's chapel-master
Signs with lifted hand;
Winds divine blow fast and faster,
Swelling bosoms grand.
Hark the torrent-joy let slip!
Hark the great throats ring!
Glory! Peace! Good-fellowship!
And a Child for king!

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