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Thy body was a fetter
That bound me to the flesh,
Thank God that it is broken,
And now I live afresh!
Now I can see thee clearly ;
The dusky cloud of clay,
That hid thy starry spirit,
Is rent and blown away:
To earth I give thy body,
Thy spirit to the sky,
I saw its bright wings growing,
And knew that thou must fly.
Now I can love thee truly,
For nothing comes between
The senses and the spirit,
The seen and the unseen;
Lifts the eternal sh: dow,
The silence bursts a part,
And the soul's boundless futuro
Is present in my heart.
WORN and footsore was the Prophet
When he gained the holy hill; •God has left the earth,' he murmured,
Here his presence lirgers still. •God of all the olden prophets,
Wilt thou speak with men no more? Have I not as truly served thee,
As thy chosen ones of yore? • Hear me, guider of my fathers,
Lo! a humble heart is mine; By thy mercy I beseech thee,
Grant thy servant but a sign !'
Bowing then his head, he listened
For an answer to his prayer;
No loud burst of thunder followed,
Not a murmur stirred the air :-
But the tuft of moss before him
Opened while he waited yet, And, from out the rock's hard hosom,
Sprang a tender violet.
• God! I thank thee,' said the Prophet;
· Hard of heart and blind was I,
Looking to the holy mountain
For the gift of prophecy.
Still thou speakest with thy children
Freely as in eld sublime;
Humbleness, and love, and patience,
Still give empire over time. • Had I trusted in my nature,
And had faith in lowly things,
Thou thyself wouldst then have sought me,
And set free my spirit's wings.
But I looked for signs and wonders,
That o'er men should give me sway,
Thirsting to be more than mortal,
I was even less than clay.
· Ere I entered on my journey,
As I girt my loins to start,
Ran to me my little daughter,
The beloved of my heart;-
In her hand she held a flower,
Like to this as like may be,
Which, beside my very threshold,
She had plucked and brought to me.'
A GLANCE BEHIND THE CURTAIN.
We see but half the causes of our deeds,
Seeking them wholly in the outer life,
And heedless of the encircling spirit-world,
Which, though unseen, is felt, and sows in us
All germs of pure and world-wide purposes.
From one stage of our being to the next
We pass unconscious o'er a slender bridge,
The momentary work of unseen hands,
Which crumbles down behind us; looking back,
We see the other shore, the gulf between,
And, marvelling how we won to where we stand,
Content ourselves to call the builder Chance,
We trace the wisdom to the apple's fall,
Not to the birth-throes of a mighty Truth
Which, for long ages in blank Chaos dumb,
Yet yearned to be incarnate, and had found
At last a spirit meet to be the womb
From which it might be born to bless mankind,
Not to the soul of Newton, ripe with all
The hoarded thoughtfulness of earnest years,
And waiting but one ray of sunlight more
To blossom fully.
But whence came that ray ?
We call our sorrows Destiny, but ought
Rather to name our high successes so.
Only the instincts of great souls are Fate,
And have predestined sway: all other things,
Except by leave of us, could never be.
For Destiny is but the breath of God
Still moving in us, the last fragment left
Of our unfallen nature, waking oft
Within our thought, to beckon us beyond
The narrow circle of the seen and known,
And always tending to a noble end,
As all things must that overrule the soul,
And for a space unseat the helmsman, Will.
The fate of England and of freedom once
Seemed wavering in the heart of one plain man:
One step of his, and the great dial-hand,
That marks the destined progress of the world
In the eternal round from wisdom on
To higher wisdom, had been made to pause
A hundred years. That step he did not take, –
He knew not why, nor we, but only God,
And live to make his simple oaken chair
More terrible and grandly beautiful,
More full of majesty than any throne
Before or after, of a British king.
Upon the pier stood two stern-visaged men,
Looking to where a little craft lay moored,
Swayed by the lazy current of the Thames,
Which weltered by in muddy listlessness.
Grave men they were, and battlings of fierce thought
Had trampled out all softness from their brows,
And ploughed rough furrows there before their time,
For other crop than such as homebred Peace
Sows broadcast in the willing soil of Youth.
Care, not of self, but of the commonweal,
Had robbed their eyes of youth, and left instead
A look of patient power and iron will,
And something fiercer, too, that gare broad hint
Of the plain weapons girded at their sides.
The younger had an aspect of command,
Not such as trickles down, a slender stream,
In the shrunk channel of a great descent,
But such as lies entowered in heart and head,
And an arm prompt to do the 'hests of both.
His was a brow where gold were out of place,
And yet it seemed right worthy of a crown
(Though he despised such), were it only made
Of iron, or some serviceable stuff
That would have matched his sinewy, brown face.
The elder, although such he hardly seemed
(Care makes so little of some five short years),
Had a clear, honest face, whose rough-hewn strength
Was mildened by the scholar's wiser heart
To sober courage, such as best befits
The unsullied temper of a well-taught mind,
Yet so remained that one could plainly guess
The hushed volcano smouldering underneath.
He spoke: the other, hearing, kept his gaze
Still fixed, as on some problem in the sky.
O, CROMWELL, we are fallen on evil times !
There was a day when England had wide room
For honest men as well as foolish kings;
But now the uneasy stomach of the time
Turns squeamish at them both. Therefore let us
Seek out that savage clime, where men as yet
Are free: there sleeps the vessel on the tide,
Her languid canvas drooping for the wind;
Give us but that, and what need we to fear
This Order of the Council ? The free waves
Will not say, No, to please a wayward king,
Nor will the winds turn traitors at his beck:
All things are fitly cared for, and the Lord
Will watch as kindly o'er the exodus
Of us his servants now, as in old time.
We have no cloud or fire, and haply we
May not pass dry-shod through the ocean-stream;
But, saved or lost, all things are in His hand.'
So spake he, and meantime the other stood
With wide gray eyes still reading the blank air,
As if upon the sky's blue wall he saw
Some mystic sentence, written by a hand,
Such as of old made pale the Assyrian king,
Girt with his satraps in the blazing feast.
· HAMPDEN! a moment since, my purpose was To fly with thee,—for I will call it flight,
Nor flatter it with any smoother name-
But something in me bids me not to go;
And I am one, thou knowest, who, unmoved
By what the weak deem omens, yet give heed
And reverence due to whatsoe'er my soul
Whispers of warning to the inner ear.
Moreover, as I know that God brings round
His purposes in ways undreamed by us,
And makes the wicked but His instruments
To hasten on their swift and sudden fall,
I see the beauty of His providence
In the King's order: blind, he will not let
His doom part from him, but must bid it stay
As 'twere a cricket, whose enlivening chirp
He loved to hear beneath his very hearth.
Why should we fly? Nay, why not rather stay
And rear again our Zion's crumbled walls,
Not, as of old the walls of Thebes were built,
By minstrel twanging, but, if need should be,
With the more potent music of our swords ?
Think'st thou that score of men beyond the sea
Claim more God's care than all of England here?
No: when He moves His arm, it is to aid
Whole peoples, heedless if a few be crushed,
As some are ever, when the destiny
Of man takes one stride onward nearer home.
Believe it, 'tis the mass of men He loves ;
And, where there is most sorrow and most want,
Where the high heart of man is trodden down
The most, 'tis not because He hides His face
From them in wrath, as purblind teachers prate:-
Not so: there most is He, for there is He
Most needed. Men who seek for Fate abroad
Are not so near His heart as they who dare
Frankly to face her where she faces them,
On their own threshold, where their souls are strong
To grapple with and throw her; as I once,
Being yet a boy, did cast this puny king,
Who now has grown so dotard as to deem
That he can wrestle with an angry realm,
And throw the brawned Antæus of men's rights.
No, Hampden! they have half-way conquered Fate
go half-way to meet her—as will I.
Freedom hath yet a work for me to do ;
So speaks that inward voice which never yet
Spake falsely, when it urged the spirit on
To noble deeds for country and mankind.