FROM thine, as then, the healing virtue goes
Into our hearts—that is the Father’s plan.
From heart to heart it sinks, it steals, it flows,
From these that know thee still infecting those.
Here is my heart—from thine, Lord, fill it up,
That I may offer it as the holy cup
Of thy communion to my every man.
When thou dost send out whirlwinds on thy seas,
Alternatest thy lightning with its roar,
Thy night with morning, and thy clouds with stars
Or, mightier force unseen in midst of these,
Orderest the life in every airy pore;
Guidest men’s efforts, rul’st mishaps and jars,—
‘Tis only for their hearts, and nothing more.
This, this alone thy father careth for—
That men should live hearted throughout with thee—
Because the simple, only life thou art,
Of the very truth of living, the pure heart.
For this, deep waters whelm the fruitful lea,
Wars ravage, famine wastes, plague withers, nor
Shall cease till men have chosen the better part.
But, like a virtuous medicine, self-diffused
Through all men’s hearts thy love shall sink and float;
Till every feeling false, and thought unwise,
Selfish, and seeking, shall, sternly disused,
Wither, and die, and shrivel up to nought;
And Christ, whom they did hang ‘twixt earth and skies,
Up in the inner world of men arise.
Make me a fellow worker with thee, Christ;
Nought else befits a God-born energy;
Of all that’s lovely, only lives the highest,
Lifing the rest that it shall never die.
Up I would be to help thee—for thou liest
Not, linen-swathed in Joseph’s garden-tomb,
But walkest crowned, creation’s heart and bloom.
My God, when I would lift my heart to thee,
Imagination instantly doth set
A cloudy something, thin, and vast, and vague,
To stand for him who is the fact of me;
Then up the Will, and doth her weakness plague
To pay the heart her duty and her debt,
Showing the face that hearkeneth to the plea.
And hence it comes that thou at times dost seem
To fade into an image of my mind;
I, dreamer, cover, hide thee up with dream,—
Thee, primal, individual entity!—
No likeness will I seek to frame or find,
But cry to that which thou dost choose to be,
To that which is my sight, therefore I cannot see.
No likeness? Lo, the Christ! Oh, large Enough!
I see, yet fathom not the face he wore.
He is—and out of him there is no stuff
To make a man. Let fail me every spark
Of blissful vision on my pathway rough,
I have seen much, and trust the perfect more,
While to his feet my faith crosses the wayless dark.
Faith is the human shadow of thy might.
Thou art the one self-perfect life, and we
Who trust thy life, therein join on to thee,
Taking our part in self-creating light.
To trust is to step forward out of the night—
To be—to share in the outgoing Will
That lives and is, because outgoing still.
I am lost before thee, Father! yet I will
Claim of thee my birthright ineffable.
Thou lay’st it on me, son, to claim thee, sire;
To that which thou hast made me, I aspire;
To thee, the sun, upflames thy kindled fire.
No man presumes in that to which he was born;
Less than the gift to claim, would be the giver to scorn.
Henceforth all things thy dealings are with me
For out of thee is nothing, or can be,
And all things are to draw us home to thee.
What matter that the knowers scoffing say,
“This is old folly, plain to the new day”?—
If thou be such as thou, and they as they,
Unto thy Let there be, they still must answer Nay.
They will not, therefore cannot, do not know him.
Nothing they could know, could be God. In sooth,
Unto the true alone exists the truth.
They say well, saying Nature doth not show him:
Truly she shows not what she cannot show;
And they deny the thing they cannot know.
Who sees a glory, towards it will go.
Faster no step moves God because the fool
Shouts to the universe God there is none;
The blindest man will not preach out the sun,
Though on his darkness he should found a school.
It may be, when he finds he is not dead,
Though world and body, sight and sound are fled,
Some eyes may open in his foolish head.
When I am very weary with hard thought,
And yet the question burns and is not quenched,
My heart grows cool when to remembrance wrought
That thou who know’st the light-born answer sought
Know’st too the dark where the doubt lies entrenched—
Know’st with what seemings I am sore perplexed,
And that with thee I wait, nor needs my soul be vexed.
Who sets himself not sternly to be good,
Is but a fool, who judgment of true things
Has none, however oft the claim renewed.
And he who thinks, in his great plenitude,
To right himself, and set his spirit free,
Without the might of higher communings,
Is foolish also—save he willed himself to be.
How many helps thou giv’st to those would learn!
To some sore pain, to others a sinking heart;
To some a weariness worse than any smart;
To some a haunting, fearing, blind concern;
Madness to some; to some the shaking dart
Of hideous death still following as they turn;
To some a hunger that will not depart.
To some thou giv’st a deep unrest—a scorn
Of all they are or see upon the earth;
A gaze, at dusky night and clearing morn,
As on a land of emptiness and dearth;
To some a bitter sorrow; to some the sting
Of love misprized—of sick abandoning;
To some a frozen heart, oh, worse than anything!
To some a mocking demon, that doth set
The poor foiled will to scoff at the ideal,
But loathsome makes to them their life of jar.
The messengers of Satan think to mar,
But make—driving the soul from false to feal—
To thee, the reconciler, the one real,
In whom alone the would be and the is are met.
Me thou hast given an infinite unrest,
A hunger—not at first after known good,
But something vague I knew not, and yet would—
The veiled Isis, thy will not understood;
A conscience tossing ever in my breast;
And something deeper, that will not be expressed,
Save as the Spirit thinking in the Spirit’s brood.
But now the Spirit and I are one in this—
My hunger now is after righteousness;
My spirit hopes in God to set me free
From the low self loathed of the higher me.
Great elder brother of my second birth,
Dear o’er all names but one, in heaven or earth,
Teach me all day to love eternally.
Lo, Lord, thou know’st, I would not anything
That in the heart of God holds not its root;
Nor falsely deem there is any life at all
That doth in him nor sleep nor shine nor sing;
I know the plants that bear the noisome fruit
Of burning and of ashes and of gall—
From God’s heart torn, rootless to man’s they cling.
Life-giving love rots to devouring fire;
Justice corrupts to despicable revenge;
Motherhood chokes in the dam’s jealous mire;
Hunger for growth turns fluctuating change;
Love’s anger grand grows spiteful human wrath,
Hunting men out of conscience’ holy path;
And human kindness takes the tattler’s range.
Nothing can draw the heart of man but good;
Low good it is that draws him from the higher—
So evil—poison uncreate from food.
Never a foul thing, with temptation dire,
Tempts hellward force created to aspire,
But walks in wronged strength of imprisoned Truth,
Whose mantle also oft the Shame indu’th.
Love in the prime not yet I understand—
Scarce know the love that loveth at first hand:
Help me my selfishness to scatter and scout;
Blow on me till my love loves burningly;
Then the great love will burn the mean self out,
And I, in glorious simplicity,
Living by love, shall love unspeakably.
Oh, make my anger pure—let no worst wrong
Rouse in me the old niggard selfishness.
Give me thine indignation—which is love
Turned on the evil that would part love’s throng;
Thy anger scathes because it needs must bless,
Gathering into union calm and strong
All things on earth, and under, and above.
Make my forgiveness downright—such as I
Should perish if I did not have from thee;
I let the wrong go, withered up and dry,
Cursed with divine forgetfulness in me.
‘Tis but self-pity, pleasant, mean, and sly,
Low whispering bids the paltry memory live:—
What am I brother for, but to forgive!
“Thou art my father’s child—come to my heart:”
Thus must I say, or Thou must say, “Depart;”
Thus I would say—I would be as thou art;
Thus I must say, or still I work athwart
The absolute necessity and law
That dwells in me, and will me asunder draw,
If in obedience I leave any flaw.
Lord, I forgive—and step in unto thee.
If I have enemies, Christ deal with them:
He hath forgiven me and Jerusalem.
Lord, set me from self-inspiration free,
And let me live and think from thee, not me—
Rather, from deepest me then think and feel,
At centre of thought’s swift-revolving wheel.
I sit o’ercanopied with Beauty’s tent,
Through which flies many a golden-winged dove,
Well watched of Fancy’s tender eyes up bent;
A hundred Powers wait on me, ministering;
A thousand treasures Art and Knowledge bring;
Will, Conscience, Reason tower the rest above;
But in the midst, alone, I gladness am and love.
‘Tis but a vision, Lord; I do not mean
That thus I am, or have one moment been—
‘Tis but a picture hung upon my wall,
To measure dull contentment therewithal,
And know behind the human how I fall;—
A vision true, of what one day shall be,
When thou hast had thy very will with me.
© George MacDonald