John Keble

Here you will find the Long Poem St. Matthew of poet John Keble

St. Matthew

Ye hermits blest, ye holy maids,
 The nearest Heaven on earth,
 Who talk with God in shadowy glades,
 Free from rude care and mirth;
 To whom some viewless teacher brings
 The secret lore of rural things,
 The moral of each fleeting cloud and gale,
The whispers from above, that haunt the twilight vale:

 Say, when in pity ye have gazed
 On the wreathed smoke afar,
 That o'er some town, like mist upraised,
 Hung hiding sun and star,
 Then as ye turned your weary eye
 To the green earth and open sky,
 Were ye not fain to doubt how Faith could dwell
Amid that dreary glare, in this world's citadel?

 But Love's a flower that will not die
 For lack of leafy screen,
 And Christian Hope can cheer the eye
 That ne'er saw vernal green;
 Then be ye sure that Love can bless
 E'en in this crowded loneliness,
 Where ever-moving myriads seem to say,
Go--thou art naught to us, nor we to thee--away!

 There are in this loud stunning tide
 Of human care and crime,
 With whom the melodies abide
 Of th' everlasting chime;
 Who carry music in their heart
 Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,
 Plying their daily task with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.

 How sweet to them, in such brief rest
 As thronging cares afford,
 In thought to wander, fancy-blest,
 To where their gracious Lord,
 In vain, to win proud Pharisees,
 Spake, and was heard by fell disease -
 But not in vain, beside yon breezy lake,
Bade the meek Publican his gainful seat forsake:

 At once he rose, and left his gold;
 His treasure and his heart
 Transferred, where he shall safe behold
 Earth and her idols part;
 While he beside his endless store
 Shall sit, and floods unceasing pour
 Of Christ's true riches o'er all time and space,
First angel of His Church, first steward of His Grace.

 Nor can ye not delight to think
 Where He vouchsafed to eat,
 How the Most Holy did not shrink
 From touch of sinner's meat;
 What worldly hearts and hearts impure
 Went with Him through the rich man's door,
 That we might learn of Him lost souls to love,
And view His least and worst with hope to meet above.

 These gracious lines shed Gospel light
 On Mammon's gloomiest cells,
 As on some city's cheerless night
 The tide of sunrise swells,
 Till tower, and dome, and bridge-way proud
 Are mantled with a golden cloud,
 And to wise hearts this certain hope us given;
"No mist that man may raise, shall hide the eye of Heaven."

 And oh! if e'en on Babel shine
 Such gleams of Paradise,
 Should not their peace be peace divine,
 Who day by day arise
 To look on clearer heavens, and scan
 The work of God untouch'd by man?
 Shame on us, who about us Babel bear,
And live in Paradise, as if God was not there!