LORD, I do choose the higher than my will.
I would be handled by thy nursing arms
After thy will, not my infant alarms.
Hurt me thou wilt—but then more loving still,
If more can be and less, in love’s perfect zone!
My fancy shrinks from least of all thy harms,
But do thy will with me—I am thine own.
Some things wilt thou not one day turn to dreams?
Some dreams wilt thou not one day turn to fact?
The thing that painful, more than should be, seems,
Shall not thy sliding years with them retract—
Shall fair realities not counteract?
The thing that was well dreamed of bliss and joy—
Wilt thou not breathe thy life into the toy?
I have had dreams of absolute delight,
Beyond all waking bliss—only of grass,
Flowers, wind, a peak, a limb of marble white;
They dwell with me like things half come to pass,
True prophecies:—when I with thee am right,
If I pray, waking, for such a joy of sight,
Thou with the gold, wilt not refuse the brass.
I think I shall not ever pray for such;
Thy bliss will overflood my heart and brain,
And I want no unripe things back again.
Love ever fresher, lovelier than of old—
How should it want its more exchanged for much?
Love will not backward sigh, but forward strain,
On in the tale still telling, never told.
What has been, shall not only be, but is.
The hues of dreamland, strange and sweet and tender
Are but hint-shadows of full many a splendour
Which the high Parent-love will yet unroll
Before his child’s obedient, humble soul.
Ah, me, my God! in thee lies every bliss
Whose shadow men go hunting wearily amiss.
Now, ere I sleep, I wonder what I shall dream.
Some sense of being, utter new, may come
Into my soul while I am blind and dumb—
With shapes and airs and scents which dark hours teem,
Of other sort than those that haunt the day,
Hinting at precious things, ages away
In the long tale of us God to himself doth say.
Late, in a dream, an unknown lady I saw
Stand on a tomb; down she to me stepped thence.
“They tell me,” quoth I, “thou art one of the dead!”
And scarce believed for gladness the yea she said;
A strange auroral bliss, an arctic awe,
A new, outworldish joy awoke intense,
To think I talked with one that verily was dead.
Thou dost demand our love, holy Lord Christ,
And batest nothing of thy modesty;—
Thou know’st no other way to bliss the highest
Than loving thee, the loving, perfectly.
Thou lovest perfectly—that is thy bliss:
We must love like thee, or our being miss—
So, to love perfectly, love perfect Love, love thee.
Here is my heart, O Christ; thou know’st I love thee.
But wretched is the thing I call my love.
O Love divine, rise up in me and move me—
I follow surely when thou first dost move.
To love the perfect love, is primal, mere
Necessity; and he who holds life dear,
Must love thee every hope and heart above.
Might I but scatter interfering things—
Questions and doubts, distrusts and anxious pride,
And in thy garment, as under gathering wings,
Nestle obedient to thy loving side,
Easy it were to love thee. But when thou
Send’st me to think and labour from thee wide,
Love falls to asking many a why and how.
Easier it were, but poorer were the love.
Lord, I would have me love thee from the deeps—
Of troubled thought, of pain, of weariness.
Through seething wastes below, billows above,
My soul should rise in eager, hungering leaps;
Through thorny thicks, through sands unstable press—
Out of my dream to him who slumbers not nor sleeps.
I do not fear the greatness of thy command—
To keep heart-open-house to brother men;
But till in thy God’s love perfect I stand,
My door not wide enough will open. Then
Each man will be love-awful in my sight;
And, open to the eternal morning’s might,
Each human face will shine my window for thy light.
Make me all patience and all diligence;
Patience, that thou mayst have thy time with me;
Diligence, that I waste not thy expense
In sending out to bring me home to thee.
What though thy work in me transcends my sense—
Too fine, too high, for me to understand—
I hope entirely. On, Lord, with thy labour grand.
Lest I be humbled at the last, and told
That my great labour was but for my peace
That not for love or truth had I been bold,
But merely for a prisoned heart’s release;
Careful, I humble me now before thy feet:
Whate’er I be, I cry, and will not cease—
Let me not perish, though favour be not meet.
For, what I seek thou knowest I must find,
Or miserably die for lack of love.
I justify thee: what is in thy mind,
If it be shame to me, all shame above.
Thou know’st I choose it—know’st I would not shove
The hand away that stripped me for the rod—
If so it pleased my Life, my love-made-angry God.
I see a door, a multitude near by,
In creed and quarrel, sure disciples all!
Gladly they would, they say, enter the hall,
But cannot, the stone threshold is so high.
From unseen hand, full many a feeding crumb,
Slow dropping o’er the threshold high doth come:
They gather and eat, with much disputing hum.
Still and anon, a loud clear voice doth call—
“Make your feet clean, and enter so the hall.”
They hear, they stoop, they gather each a crumb.
Oh the deaf people! would they were also dumb!
Hear how they talk, and lack of Christ deplore,
Stamping with muddy feet about the door,
And will not wipe them clean to walk upon his floor!
But see, one comes; he listens to the voice;
Careful he wipes his weary dusty feet!
The voice hath spoken—to him is left no choice;
He hurries to obey—that only is meet.
Low sinks the threshold, levelled with the ground;
The man leaps in—to liberty he’s bound.
The rest go talking, walking, picking round.
If I, thus writing, rebuke my neighbour dull,
And talk, and write, and enter not the door,
Than all the rest I wrong Christ tenfold more,
Making his gift of vision void and null.
Help me this day to be thy humble sheep,
Eating thy grass, and following, thou before;
From wolfish lies my life, O Shepherd, keep.
God, help me, dull of heart, to trust in thee.
Thou art the father of me—not any mood
Can part me from the One, the verily Good.
When fog and failure o’er my being brood.
When life looks but a glimmering marshy clod,
No fire out flashing from the living God—
Then, then, to rest in faith were worthy victory!
To trust is gain and growth, not mere sown seed!
Faith heaves the world round to the heavenly dawn,
In whose great light the soul doth spell and read
Itself high-born, its being derived and drawn
From the eternal self-existent fire;
Then, mazed with joy of its own heavenly breed,
Exultant-humble falls before its awful sire.
Art thou not, Jesus, busy like to us?
Thee shall I image as one sitting still,
Ordering all things in thy potent will,
Silent, and thinking ever to thy father,
Whose thought through thee flows multitudinous?
Or shall I think of thee as journeying, rather,
Ceaseless through space, because thou everything dost fill?
That all things thou dost fill, I well may think—
Thy power doth reach me in so many ways.
Thou who in one the universe dost bind,
Passest through all the channels of my mind;
The sun of thought, across the farthest brink
Of consciousness thou sendest me thy rays;
Nor drawest them in when lost in sleep I sink.
So common are thy paths, thy coming seems
Only another phase oft of my me;
But nearer is my I, O Lord, to thee,
Than is my I to what itself it deems;
How better then couldst thou, O master, come,
Than from thy home across into my home,
Straight o’er the marches that I cannot see!
Marches?—’Twixt thee and me there’s no division,
Except the meeting of thy will and mine,
The loves that love, the wills that will the same.
Where thine meets mine is my life’s true condition;
Yea, only there it burns with any flame.
Thy will but holds me to my life’s fruition.
O God, I would—I have no mine that is not thine.
I look for thee, and do not see thee come.—
If I could see thee, ’twere a commoner thing,
And shallower comfort would thy coming bring.
Earth, sea, and air lie round me moveless dumb,
Never a tremble, an expectant hum,
To tell the Lord of Hearts is drawing near:
Lo! in the looking eyes, the looked for Lord is here.
I take a comfort from my very badness:
It is for lack of thee that I am bad.
How close, how infinitely closer yet
Must I come to thee, ere I can pay one debt
Which mere humanity has on me set!
“How close to thee!”—no wonder, soul, thou art glad!
Oneness with him is the eternal gladness.
What can there be so close as making and made?
Nought twinned can be so near; thou art more nigh
To me, my God, than is this thinking I
To that I mean when I by me is said;
Thou art more near me, than is my ready will
Near to my love, though both one place do fill;—
Yet, till we are one,—Ah me! the long until!
Then shall my heart behold thee everywhere.
The vision rises of a speechless thing,
A perfectness of bliss beyond compare!
A time when I nor breathe nor think nor move,
But I do breathe and think and feel thy love,
The soul of all the songs the saints do sing!—
And life dies out in bliss, to come again in prayer.
In the great glow of that great love, this death
Would melt away like a fantastic cloud;
I should no more shrink from it than from the breath
That makes in the frosty air a nimbus-shroud;
Thou, Love, hast conquered death, and I aloud
Should triumph over him, with thy saintly crowd,
That where the Lamb goes ever followeth.
© George MacDonald