Take of the first fruits, Father, of thy care,
Wrapped in the fresh leaves of my gratitude
Late waked for early gifts ill understood;
Claiming in all my harvests rightful share,
Whether with song that mounts the joyful air
I praise my God; or, in yet deeper mood,
Sit dumb because I know a speechless good,
Needing no voice, but all the soul for prayer.
Thou hast been faithful to my highest need;
And I, thy debtor, ever, evermore,
Shall never feel the grateful burden sore.
Yet most I thank thee, not for any deed,
But for the sense thy living self did breed
That fatherhood is at the great world's core.
All childhood, reverence clothed thee, undefined,
As for some being of another race;
Ah! not with it departing--grown apace
As years have brought me manhood's loftier mind
Able to see thy human life behind--
The same hid heart, the same revealing face--
My own dim contest settling into grace
Of sorrow, strife, and victory combined.
So I beheld my God, in childhood's morn,
A mist, a darkness, great, and far apart,
Moveless and dim--I scarce could say Thou art:
My manhood came, of joy and sadness born--
Full soon the misty dark, asunder torn,
Revealed man's glory, God's great human heart.
Algiers, April, 1857.