John Keble

Here you will find the Long Poem Sixth Sunday After Epiphany of poet John Keble

Sixth Sunday After Epiphany

There are, who darkling and alone,
 Would wish the weary night were gone,
 Though dawning morn should only show
 The secret of their unknown woe:
 Who pray for sharpest throbs of pain
 To ease them of doubt's galling chain:
 "Only disperse the cloud," they cry,
"And if our fate be death, give light and let us die."

 Unwise I deem them, Lord, unmeet
 To profit by Thy chastenings sweet,
 For Thou wouldst have us linger still
 Upon the verge of good or ill.
 That on Thy guiding hand unseen
 Our undivided hearts may lean,
 And this our frail and foundering bark
Glide in the narrow wake of Thy beloved ark.

 'Tis so in war--the champion true
 Loves victory more when dim in view
 He sees her glories gild afar
 The dusky edge of stubborn war,
 Than if the untrodden bloodless field
 The harvest of her laurels yield;
 Let not my bark in calm abide,
But win her fearless way against the chafing tide.

 'Tis so in love--the faithful heart
 From her dim vision would not part,
 When first to her fond gaze is given
 That purest spot in Fancy's heaven,
 For all the gorgeous sky beside,
 Though pledged her own and sure to abide:
 Dearer than every past noon-day
That twilight gleam to her, though faint and far away.

 So have I seen some tender flower
 Prized above all the vernal bower,
 Sheltered beneath the coolest shade,
 Embosomed in the greenest glade,
 So frail a gem, it scarce may bear
 The playful touch of evening air;
 When hardier grown we love it less,
And trust it from our sight, not needing our caress.

 And wherefore is the sweet spring-tide
 Worth all the changeful year beside?
 The last-born babe, why lies its part
 Deep in the mother's inmost heart?
 But that the Lord and Source of love
 Would have His weakest ever prove
 Our tenderest care--and most of all
Our frail immortal souls, His work and Satan's thrall.

 So be it, Lord; I know it best,
 Though not as yet this wayward breast
 Beat quite in answer to Thy voice,
 Yet surely I have made my choice;
 I know not yet the promised bliss,
 Know not if I shall win or miss;
 So doubting, rather let me die,
Than close with aught beside, to last eternally.

 What is the Heaven we idly dream?
 The self-deceiver's dreary theme,
 A cloudless sun that softly shines,
 Bright maidens and unfailing vines,
 The warrior's pride, the hunter's mirth,
 Poor fragments all of this low earth:
 Such as in sleep would hardly soothe
A soul that once had tasted of immortal Truth.

 What is the Heaven our God bestows?
 No Prophet yet, no Angel knows;
 Was never yet created eye
 Could see across Eternity;
 Not seraph's wing for ever soaring
 Can pass the flight of souls adoring,
 That nearer still and nearer grow
To the unapproached Lord, once made for them so low.

 Unseen, unfelt their earthly growth,
 And self-accused of sin and sloth,
 They live and die; their names decay,
 Their fragrance passes quite away;
 Like violets in the freezing blast
 No vernal steam around they cast. -
 But they shall flourish from the tomb,
The breath of God shall wake them into odorous bloom.

 Then on the incarnate Saviour's breast,
 The fount of sweetness, they shall rest,
 Their spirits every hour imbued
 More deeply with His precious blood.
 But peace--still voice and closed eye
 Suit best with hearts beyond the sky,
 Hearts training in their low abode,
Daily to lose themselves in hope to find their God.