General Gordon

A poem by George MacDonald

I.

Victorious through failure! faithful Lord,
Who for twelve angel legions wouldst not pray
From thine own country of eternal day,
To shield thee from the lanterned traitor horde,
Making thy one rash servant sheathe his sword!--
Our long retarded legions, on their way,
Toiling through sands, and shouldering Nile's down-sway,
To reach thy soldier, keeping at thy word,
Thou sawest foiled--but glorifiedst him,
Over ten cities giving him thy rule!
We will not mourn a star that grew not dim,
A soldier-child of God gone home from school!
A dregless cup, with life brimmed, he did quaff,
And quaffs it now with Christ's imperial staff!


II.

Another to the witnesses' roll-call
Hath answered, "Here I am!" and so stept out--
With willingness crowned everywhere about,
Not the head only, but the body all,
In one great nimbus of obedient fall,
His heart's blood dashing in the face of doubt--
Love's last victorious stand amid the rout!
--Silence is left, and the untasted gall.
No chariot with ramping steeds of fire
The Father sent to fetch his man-child home;
His brother only called, "My Gordon, come!"
And like a dove to heaven he did aspire,
His one wing Death, his other, Heart's-desire.
--Farewell a while! we climb where thou hast clomb!

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