Poems by George MacDonald

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The lightning and thunder
I took it for a bird of prey that soared
Who know thee, love: thy life be such
Ah me! in ages far away,
0 Lord, my God, how long
Babe Jesus lay in Mary's lap,
Loving looks the large-eyed cow,
Lord, hear my discontent: all blank I stand,
When the clock hath ceased to tick
A child was born in sin and shame,
I dreamed of a song--I heard it sung;
The stars are spinning their threads,
When God's own child came down to earth,
O Mother Earth, I have a fear
My gift would find thee fast asleep,
Proudly the youth, by manhood sudden crowned,
Rose o' my hert,
I will think as thinks the rabbit:--
The croak of a raven hoar!
'Tis a poor drizzly morning, dark and sad.
Queen Mary one day Jesus sent
My thoughts are like fire-flies, pulsing in moonlight;
Everything goes to its rest;
Thou who mad'st the mighty clock
When I look back upon my life nigh spent,
All sights and sounds of day and year,
All sights and sounds of every year,
Now far from my old northern land,
Thou foldest me in sickness;
The hinges are so rusty
Ane by ane they gang awa;
Hark, in the steeple the dull bell swinging
I dreamed of a song, I heard it sung;
I would I were an angel strong,
A brown bird sang on a blossomy tree,
I dinna ken what's come ower me!
Lord Jesus,
Job xiv. 13-15.
The veil hath lifted and hath fallen; and him
I Thank Thee, boundless Giver,
Come through the gloom of clouded skies,
Sighing above,
Methinks I see thee, lying straight and low,
"If I sit in the dust
"It is only just
The monk was praying in his cell,
The monk was praying in his cell,
I have long enough been working down in my cellar,
Are the leaves falling round about
I am a bubble
The stars cleave the sky.
My wife contrived a fleecy thing
In the ancient house of ages,
They were parted at last, although
Came of old to houses lonely
Annie she's dowie, and Willie he's wae:
Daylight fades away.
If in my arms I bore my child,
When thou turn'st away from ill,
Heaven and the sea attend the dying day,
Autumn clouds are flying, flying
Along the tops of all the yellow trees,
The stars are all watching;
Where did you come from, baby dear?
"Come, children, put away your toys;
It's all very well,
Better to smell the violet
Better to smell a violet,
I will sing a song,
A quiet heart, submissive, meek,
As Jesus went into Jericho town,
"My life is drear; walking I labour sore;
Methought I stood among the stars alone,
Brother artist, help me; come!
Close her eyes: she must not peep!
Star high,
Beautiful stories wed with lovely days
He who by a mother's love
Cold my heart, and poor, and low,
Well for youth to seek the strong,
Christmas-Days are still in store:--
Great-hearted child, thy very being The Son,
Though in my heart no Christmas glee,
I think I might be weary of this day
Wash the window; rub it dry;
Still am I haunting
Come to me, come to me, O my God;
Come unto me, the Master says:--
When the snow is on the earth
Lie down upon the ground, thou hopeless one!
Lord, according to thy words,
Out of the gulf into the glory,
When I am dead unto myself, and let,
Mourn not, my friends, that we are growing old:
When in the bosom of the eldest night
'Tis the midnight hour; I heard
A Symbol.
When, like a garment flung aside at night,
Yes, there is one who makes us all lay down
O Father, I am in the dark,
If I might guess, then guess I would
An angel saw me sitting by a brook,
"What! you Dr. Doddridge's dog, and not know who made you?"
Dark, as if it would not tell,
Graut Euch nicht, Ihr lieben Leute,
No bird can sing in tune but that the Lord
O God, whose daylight leadeth down
'Tis not the violent hands alone that bring
Farewell, O Arm of the Lord!
"Earth, if aught should check thy race,
Would-be prophets tell us
[The fact which suggested this poem is related by Clarke in his Travels.]
[The fact to which the following verses refer, is related by Dr. Edward Clarke in his Travels.]
Oft, as I rest in quiet peace, am I
Here is a temple strangely wrought:
I do remember how, when very young,
Waking in the night to pray,
The miser lay on his lonely bed;
God gives his child upon his slate a sum--
Some men there are who cannot spare
When the summer gave us a longer day,
Uplifted is the stone
Whan Andrew frae Strathbogie gaed
"And yet it moves!" Ah, Truth, where wert thou then
Dead art thou? No more dead than was the maid
I said, I will arise and work some thing,
Gray clouds my heaven have covered o'er;
Little one, you must not fret
"What maks ye sae canty, granny dear?
Greitna, father, that I'm gauin,
Sweep up the flure, Janet;
The warl it's dottit wi' hames
I am weary, and very lonely,
Of whispering trees the tongues to hear,
Ance was a woman wha's hert was gret;
If thou art tempted by a thought of ill,
A tattered soldier, gone the glow and gloss,
An unborn bird lies crumpled and curled,
Summer is come again. The sun is bright,
"Where is thy crown, O tree of Love?
How shall he sing who hath no song?
Father, I cry to thee for bread
Father, in the dark I lay,
What gars ye sing sae, birdie,
I know what beauty is, for thou
Yes, Master, when thou comest thou shalt find
I would I were a child,
I would I were a child,
If I were a monk, and thou wert a nun,
There may be seeming calm above, but no!--
Of the poor bird that cannot fly
Now in the dark of February rains,
The mountain-stream may humbly boast
As to her child a mother calls,
In the winter, flowers are springing;
King Cole he reigned in Aureoland,
Prince Breacan of Denmark was lord of the strand
Sometimes, O Lord, thou lightest in my head
Is there a secret Joy, that may not weep,
O Thou that walkest with nigh hopeless feet
First-born of the creating Voice!
First-born of the creating Voice!
Little Bo-Peep, she has lost her sheep,
Little Boy Blue lost his way in a wood--
I have a puppet-jointed child,
I have an elfish maiden child;
My heart is full of inarticulate pain,
Away from the city's herds!
I missed him when the sun began to bend;
Lost the little one roams about,
Love is the part, and love is the whole;
Love alone is great in might,
Love, the baby,
A recollection and attempted completion of a prose fragment read in boyhood.
A recollection and attempted completion of a prose fragment read in childhood.
A name of the Year. Some say the word means a march of wolves, which wolves, running in single file, are the Months of the Year.
"They have no more wine!" she said.
"WHO is this little one lying,"
The stars are steady abune;
O Lord of life, thy quickening voice
Beautiful mother is busy all day,
When thy heart, love-filled, grows graver,
"My eyes make pictures, when they are shut."
Why dost thou want to sing
I heard, in darkness, on my bed,
To G. E. M.
'Tis a little room, my friend;
I like ye weel upo Sundays, Nannie,
Nature, to him no message dost thou bear
I have not any fearful tale to tell
There is a river
O Lord, if on the wind, at cool of day,
I love thy skies, thy sunny mists,
Tumultuous rushing o'er the outstretched plains;
What dost thou here, O soul,
O do not leave me, mother, lest I weep;
O lassie ayont the hill,
O Lord, How Happy!
O wind of God, that blowest in the mind,
Trust him in the common light;
Loosener of springs, he died by thee!
I. I honour Nature, holding it unjust
Oh that a wind would call
Sad-hearted, be at peace: the snowdrop lies
Whence do ye come, ye creatures? Each of you
Hears't thou the dash of water, loud and hoarse,
I have a fellowship with every shade
Had I a great ship coming home,
Power that is not of God, however great,
We doubt the word that tells us: Ask,
Nobody knows the world but me.
Above my head the great pine-branches tower;
Mourner, that dost deserve thy mournfulness,
Quiet, quiet dead,
Her mother, Elfie older grown,
"Rejoice," said the Sun; "I will make thee gay
A power is on me, and my soul must speak
Heart, thou must learn to do without--
I do not know thy final will,
I follow, tottering, in the funeral train
Strait is the path? He means we must not roam?
In that high country whither thou art gone,
Oh holy Sabbath bells,
Said the boy as he read, "I too will be bold,
O Peter, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Rich is the fancy which can double back
All things are shadows of thee, Lord;
I cannot praise thee. By his instrument
On the far horizon there
"Shew us the Father." Chiming stars of space,
"Good morrow, my lord!" in the sky alone
Oh! is it Death that comes
Lord, I have laid my heart upon thy altar
A Microcosm In Terza Rima.
I was very cold
Lighter and sweeter
She loves thee, loves thee not!
Why do the houses stand
Roses all the rosy way!
Merry, merry we well may be,
JANUARY 26, 1885.
With us there is no gray fearing,
I shall be satisfied
In his arms thy silly lamb,
Mercy to thee, O Lord, belongs,
Lord, what is man
"I do beseech Thee, God, show me thy face."
If Thou hadst been a sculptor, what a race
"There, Buonarotti, stands thy statue. Take
Some men I have beheld with wonderment,
If Thou hadst been a painter, what fresh looks,
So if Thou hadst been scorned in human eyes,
But I have looked on pictures made by man,
And is not Earth thy living picture, where
If Thou hadst been a Poet! On my heart
Thou wouldst have led us through the twilight land
But as Thou earnest forth to bring the Poor,
The eye was shut in men; the hearing ear
So highest poets, painters, owe to Thee
So, as Thou wert the seed and not the flower,
All divine artists, humble, filial,
Men may pursue the Beautiful, while they
And yet I fear lest men who read these lines,
The highest marble Sorrow vanishes
Thou art before me, and I see no more
Methinks I see thee, lying calm and low,
Inscribed to S.F.S.
Inscribed to S.F.S., about her father.
Inscribed to S.F.S.
Inscribed to S.F.S.
I pray you, all ye men who put your trust
Days of old,
Here stands a giant stone from whose far top
If thou wouldst live the Truth in very deed,
There is a bellowing in me, as of might
Summer, sweet Summer, many-fingered Summer!
"Murmuring, 'twixt a murmur and moan,
First came the red-eyed sun as I did wake;
DECEMBER 28, 1879.
Sweep and sweep and sweep the floor,
Grief held me silent in my seat;
"Traveller, what lies over the hill?
They all were looking for a king
Satan, avaunt!
There was an auld fisher, he sat by the wa',
Lord, I'm an auld man,
Now have I grown a sharpness and an edge
Oh! the bonny, bonny dell, whaur the yorlin sings,
The water ran doon frae the heich hope-heid,
Is there a man on earth, who, every night,
Thrice-happy he whose heart, each new-born night,
0 Lord, at Joseph's humble bench
Heavily slumbered noonday bright
Heavily lay the warm sunlight
The infant lies in blessed ease
"Little one, who straight hast come
Methought I floated sightless, nor did know
A clock aeonian, steady and tall,
The Lord gaed wi' a crood o' men
And must I ever wake, gray dawn, to know
The witch lady walked along the strand,
The weary Old Year is dead at last;
The Deil's forhooit his ain, his ain!
Sweet friends, receive my offering. You will find
Down a warm alley, early in the year,
A little bird sat on the edge of her nest;
Where went the feet that hitherto have come?
'Tis we, not in thine arms, who weep and pray;
Of old, with goodwill from the skies--
A harebell hung her wilful head:
There was a girl that lost things--
To give a thing and take again
In God alone, the perfect end,
From off the earth the vapours curled,
With joyful pride her heart is high:
She sitteth at the Master's feet
With wandering eyes and aimless zeal,
Why came in dreams the low-born man
She knelt, she bore a bold request,
"Grant, Lord, her prayer, and let her go;
Forth from the city, with the load
Here much and little shift and change,
A still dark joy! A sudden face!
In the hot sun, for water cool
Filled with his words of truth and right,
His face, his words, her heart awoke;
Near him she stole, rank after rank;
For years eighteen she, patient soul,
Enough he labours for his hire;
Had I the grace to win the grace
Suggested by a drawing of Thomas Moran, the American painter.
They come to thee, the halt, the maimed, the blind,
"What gars ye sing," said the herd-laddie,
Behind my father's cottage lies
Behind my father's house there lies
Ah, holy midnight of the soul,
Of old, with goodwill from the skies,
"Death, whaur do ye bide, auld Death?"
Through still, bare streets, and cold moonshine
Still flowed the music, flowed the wine.
Within each living man there doth reside,
In the air why such a ringing?
"O lat me in, my bonny lass!
The Man says:
There is not any weed but hath its shower,
Out of thy door I run to do the thing
Look! look there!
Brothers, look there!
"Thou wanderest in the land of dreams,
Up cam the tide wi' a burst and a whush,
Kiss me: there now, little Neddy,
She comes! again she comes, the bright-eyed moon!
Be welcome, year! with corn and sickle come;
The brother knew well the castle old,
Bing, Bim, Bang, Bome!
When peevish flaws his soul have stirred
Speak, Prophet of the Lord! We may not start
Doon cam the sunbeams, and up gaed the stour,
A Part Of The Story Omitted In The Old Romances.
My little boy, with smooth, fair cheeks,
The thousand streets of London gray
'Tis time to sleep, my little boy:
See how the storm of life ascends
O Lord, I cannot but believe
Methought that in a solemn church I stood.
When the cock crows loud from the glen,
In the desert by the bush,
My little child receives my gift,
My Lily snatches not my gift;
It is May, and the moon leans down at night
Within my heart a worm had long been hid.
What shall I be?--I will be a knight
Alas, 'tis cold and dark!
I envy the tree-tops that shake so high
Stately, lang-robit, an' steppin at ease,
"I do beseech thee, God, show me thy face."
Forth to his study the sculptor goes
There cam a man to oor toon-en',
When things are holding wonted pace
From out a windy cleft there comes a gaze
Said the Wind to the Moon, "I will blow you out!
Chained is the Spring. The Night-wind bold
Where the bud has never blown
The wind it blew, and the ship it flew,
They are blind, and they are dead:
The rich man sat in his father's seat--
Thy world is made to fit thine own,
Cry out upon the crime, and then let slip
Make not of thy heart a casket,
A lang-backit, spilgie, fuistit auld carl
As I was walkin on the strand,
I cannot write old verses here,
Such guests as you, sir, were not in my mind
I know not what among the grass thou art,
A fresh young voice that sings to me
Oh, melancholy fragment of the night
When, long ago, the daring of my youth
Thus, once, long since, the daring of my youth
Seek not my name--it doth no virtue bear;
If I did seem to you no more
Go not forth to call Dame Sorrow
Ray of the Dawn of Truth, Aubrey de Vere,
To God and man be simply true;
To God and man be simply true:
A broken tale of endless things,
The sun is sinking in the west,
When at Philippi, he who would have freed
The silence of traitorous feet!
Ah, truant, thou art here again, I see!
Men sought, ambition's thirst to slake,
It is no winter night comes down
Oh how oft I wake and find
Imagination cannot rise above thee;
0 Earth, Earth, Earth,
O sister, God is very good--
When, with all the loved around thee,
They say that lonely sorrows do not chance:
Through the unchanging heaven, as ye have sped,
Thou art my thought, my heart, my being's fortune,
Dead, why defend thee, who in life
My TO-MORROW is but a flitting
Lord, keep us by thy word in hope,
Long ago, there lived far to the west a very young man, good, but extremely odd. He tormented himself continually about this nothing and that nothing, always walked in silence and straight before him, sat down alone when the others were at their spor
A new song here shall be begun--
Jesus Christ, our Saviour true
Praised be thou, O Jesus Christ,
Now let us pray the Holy Ghost,
Let God be blest, be praised, and be thanked,
Christ Jesus, our Redeemer born,
Dear Christians, let us now rejoice,
Her, the worthy maid, my heart doth hold,
From heaven high I come to you,
To Jordan when our Lord had gone,
Come, saviour of nations wild,
From heaven the angel-troop come near
Jesus we now must laud and sing,
I am content. In triumph's tone
Of all the joys earth possesses,
In the midst of life, we are
Death held our Lord in prison
Herod, why dreadest thou a foe
In these epigrams I have altered the form, which in the original is the elegiac distich.
In these epigrams I have altered the form, which in the original is the elegiac distich.
Men talk with their lips and dream with their soul
True love, knight, as to a brother,
In these epigrams I have altered the form, which in the original is the elegiac distich.
Ah, from out this valley hollow,
Night lay upon mine eyelids;
I dreamt of the daughter of a king,
In the sunny summer morning
The phantoms of times forgotten
O Lady fair, whose honoured name doth grace
As in the twilight brown, on hillside bare,
Ladies, and youths that in their favour bask,
Diodati--and I muse to tell the tale--
Certes, my lady sweet, your blessed eyes--
A modest youth, in love a simpleton,
In these epigrams I have altered the form, which in the original is the elegiac distich.
To the tune--Ein Lappisch Mann: A Silly Man.
I am so weary with the burden old
The elect angels and the souls in bliss,
Poems are painted window-panes:
Psyche moans, in deep-sunk, darksome prison,
In peace and joy I now depart,
Son, first-born, at home abiding!
Up there, upon yonder mountain,
In one true God we all believe,
"Which of you, knight or squire, will dare
In a garden sweet went walking
Although the fools say with their mouth:
Our God he is a castle strong,
The grave is deep and soundless,
From trouble deep I cry to thee;
Happy who in God's fear doth stay,
Were God not with us all the time--
1. Chorus: Kyrie, 2. Chorus: Eleison.
Our Father in the heaven who art,
In the far forest, overhead,
"How far the world lies under me!
Sleep, baby boy, sleep sweet, secure;
The principle whence everything
Unto the seer, Isaiah, it was given
Would that the Lord would grant us grace,
The first Choir.--Lord God, thee praise do we.
That was the sound of the wicket!
Ah God, from heaven look down and view;
Three words I will tell you, of meaning full:
You have two ears--and but one mouth:
Bands of dark and bands of light
Few in joy's sweet riot
I'm a puir man I grant,
Oh that men would praise the Lord
When the heart is a cup
I came upon a fountain on my way
Were thou and I the white pinions
Comes there, O Earth, no breathing time for thee,
The sun is gone down
What would you see, if I took you up
I waited for the Master
Lie, little cow, and chew thy cud,
This is the way we wash the clo'es
Were I a skilful painter,
Doon frae Jerus'lem a traveller took
Winter froze both brook and well;
The homely words how often read!
The bairns i' their beds, worn oot wi' nae wark,
Trust my father, saith the eldest-born;
When the storm was proudest,
Who lights the fire--that forth so gracefully
Who would have thought that even an idle song
Content Primroses,
Willie speaks.
Win' that blaws the simmer plaid
They were parted then at last?
What life it is, and how that all these lives do gather--
I woke at midnight, and my heart,
Shepherd, on before thy sheep,
O wild and dark! a night hath found me now
To whom the heavy burden clings,