As one, escaped the bustling trafficking town,
Worn out and weary, climbs his favourite hill
And thinks it Heaven to see the calm green fields
Mapped out in beautiful sunlight at his feet:
Or walks enraptured where the fitful south
Comes past the beans in blossom; and no sight
Or scent or sound but fills his soul with glee:
So I, -- rejoicing once again to stand
Where Siloa's brook flows softly, and the meads
Are all enamell'd o'er with deathless flowers,
And Angel voices fill the dewy air.
Strife is so hateful to me! most of all
A strife of words about the things of God.
Better by far the peasant's uncouth speech
Meant for the heart's confession of its hope.
Sweeter by far in village-school the words
But half remembered from the Book of Life,
Or scarce articulate lispings of the Creed.
And yet, three times that miracle of Spring
The grand old tree that darkens Exeter wall
Hath decked itself with blossoms as with stars,
Since I, like one that striveth unto death,
Find myself early and late and oft all day
Engaged in eager conflict for God's Truth;
God's Truth, to be maintained against Man's lie.
And lo, my brook which widened out long since
Into a river, threatens now at length
To burst its channel and become a sea.
O Sister, who ere yet my task is done
Art lying (my loved Sister!) in thy shroud
With a calm placid smile upon thy lips
As thou wert only "taking of rest in sleep,"
Soon to wake up to ministries of love, --
Open those lips, kind Sister, for my sake
In the mysterious place of thy sojourn,
(For thou must needs be with the bless'd, -- yea, where The pure in heart draw wondrous nigh to God,)
And tell the Evangelist of thy brother's toil;
Adding (be sure!) "He found it his reward,
Yet supplicates thy blessing and thy prayers,
The blessing, saintly Stranger, of thy prayers,
Sure at the least unceasingly of mine!"
One other landed on the eternal shore!
One other garnered into perfect peace!
One other hid from hearing and from sight! . . .
O but the days go heavily, and the toil
Which used to seem so pleasant yields scant joy.
There come no tokens to us from the dead:
Save -- it may be -- that now and then we reap
Where not we sowed, and that may be from them,
Fruit of their prayers when we forgot to pray!
Meantime there comes no message, comes no word:
Day after day no message and no sign:
And the heart droops, and finds that it was Love
Not Fame it longed for, lived for: only Love.