I touch but the things which are near;
The heavens are too high for my reach:
In shadow and symbol and creed,
I discern not the soul from the deed,
Nor the thought hidden under, from speech;
And the thing which I know not I fear.
I dare not despair nor despond,
Though I grope in the dark for the dawn:
Birth and laughter, and bubbles of breath,
And tears, and the blank void of death,
Round each its penumbra is drawn,--
I touch them,--I see not beyond.
What voice speaking solemn and slow,
Before the beginning for me,
From the mouth of the primal First Cause,
Shall teach me the thing that I was,
Shall point out the thing I shall be,
And show me the path that I go?
Were there any that missed me, or sought,
In the cycles and centuries fled.
Ere my soul had a place among men?--
Even so, unremembered again
I shall lie in the dust with the dead,
And my name shall be heard not, nor thought.
Yea rather,--from out the abyss,
Where the stars sit in silence and light,
When the ashes and dust of our world
Are like leaves in their faces up-whirled,--
What orb shall look down through the night,
And take note of the quenching of this?
Yea, beyond--in the heavens of space
Where Jehovah sits, absolute Lord,
Who made out of nothing the whole
Round world, and man's sentient soul--
Will He crush, like a creature abhorred,
What He fashioned with infinite grace
In His own awful image, and made
Quick with the flame of His breath,--
Which He saw and behold it was good?--
Ah man! thou hast waded through blood
And crime down to darkness and death,
Since thou stood'st before Him unafraid.
My life falls away like a flower
Day by day,--dispersed of the wind
Its vague perfume, nor taketh it root,
Ripening seeds for the sower, or fruit
To make me at one with my kind,
And give me my work, and my hour
No creed for my hunger sufficed,
Though I clung to them, each after other,
They slipped from my passionate hold,--
The prophets, the martyrs of old,--
Thy pitying face, Mary Mother,--
Thy thorn-circled forehead, O Christ!
Pilgrim sandalled, the deserts have known
The track of my wandering feet,
Where dead saints and martyrs have trod,
To search for the pure faith of God,
Making life with its bitterness sweet,
And death the white gate to a throne.
O Thou, who the wine-press hast trod,
Thy cross o'er my spirit prevails;
In Thy hands with the print of the nails,
My life with its burdens is laid,--
O Christ--Thou art sole--Thou art God!