The Miner

A poem by James Russell Lowell

Down 'mid the tangled roots of things
That coil about the central fire,
I seek for that which giveth wings
To stoop, not soar, to my desire.

Sometimes I hear, as 'twere a sigh,
The sea's deep yearning far above,
'Thou hast the secret not,' I cry,
'In deeper deeps is hid my Love.'

They think I burrow from the sun,
In darkness, all alone, and weak;
Such loss were gain if He were won,
For 'tis the sun's own Sun I seek.

'The earth,' they murmur, 'is the tomb
That vainly sought his life to prison;
Why grovel longer in the gloom?
He is not here; he hath arisen.'

More life for me where he hath lain
Hidden while ye believed him dead,
Than in cathedrals cold and vain,
Built on loose sands of It is said.

My search is for the living gold;
Him I desire who dwells recluse,
And not his image worn and old,
Day-servant of our sordid use.

If him I find not, yet I find
The ancient joy of cell and church,
The glimpse, the surety undefined,
The unquenched ardor of the search.

Happier to chase a flying goal
Than to sit counting laurelled gains,
To guess the Soul within the soul
Than to be lord of what remains.

Hide still, best Good, in subtile wise,
Beyond my nature's utmost scope;
Be ever absent from mine eyes
To be twice present in my hope!

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