By Jones Very
(1813 - 1880)
The Dead
I SEE them,—crowd on crowd they walk the earth,
Dry leafless trees no autumn wind laid bare;
And in their nakedness find cause for mirth,
And all unclad would winter’s rudeness dare;
No sap doth through their clattering branches flow,
Whence springing leaves and blossoms bright appear:
Their hearts the living God have ceased to know
Who gives the springtime to the expectant year.
They mimic life, as if from Him to steal
His glow of health to paint the livid cheek;
They borrow words for thoughts they cannot feel,
That with a seeming heart their tongue may speak;
And in their show of life more dead they live
Than those that to the earth with many tears they give.
The Gifts of God
THE LIGHT that fills thy house at morn,
Thou canst not for thyself retain;
But all who with thee here are born,
It bids to share an equal gain.
The wind that blows thy ship along,
Her swelling sails cannot confine;
Alike to all the gales belong,
Nor canst thou claim a breath as thine.
The earth, the green out-spreading earth,
Why hast thou fenced it off from me?
Hadst thou than I a nobler birth,
Who callest thine a gift so free?
The wave, the blue encircling wave,
No chains can bind, no fetters hold;
Its thunders tell of Him who gave
What none can ever buy for gold.
The Idler
I IDLE stand that I may find employ,
Such as my Master when He comes will give;
I cannot find in mine own work my joy,
But wait, although in waiting I must live;
My body shall not turn which way it will,
But stand till I the appointed road can find,
And journeying so his messages fulfil,
And do at every step the work designed.
Enough for me, still day by day to wait
Till Thou who formest me findest me too a task,
A cripple lying at the rich man’s gate,
Content for the few crumbs I get to ask,
A laborer but in heart, while bound my hands
Hangidly down still waiting thy commands.
The New World
THE NIGHT that has no star lit up by God,
The day that round men shines who still are blind,
The earth their grave-turned feet for ages trod,
And sea swept over by His mighty wind,
All these have passed away, the melting dream
That flitted o’er the sleeper’s half-shut eye,
When touched by morning’s golden-darting beam;
And he beholds around the earth and sky
That ever real stands, the rolling shores
And heaving billows of the boundless main,
That show, though time is past, no trace of years.
And earth restored he sees as his again,
The earth that fades not and the heavens that stand,
Their strong foundations laid by God’s right hand.
The Old Road
THE ROAD is left that once was trod
By man and heavy-laden beast;
And new ways opened, iron-shod,
That bind the land from west to east.
I asked of Him who all things knows
Why none who lived now passed that way:
Where rose the dust the grass now grows?
A still, low voice was heard to say,—
“Thou knowest not why I change the course
Of him who travels: learn to go,
Obey the Spirit’s gentle force,
Nor ask thou where the stream may flow.
“Man shall not walk in his own ways,
For he is blind and cannot see;
But let him trust, and lengthened days
Shall lead his feet to heaven and Me.
Then shall the grass the path grow o’er,
That his own wilfulness has trod;
And man nor beast shall pass it more,
But he shall walk with Me, his God.”
’T IS to yourself I speak; you cannot know
Him whom I call in speaking such a one,
For you beneath the earth lie buried low,
Which he, alone, as living walks upon.
You may at times have heard him speak to you,
And often wished perchance that you were he;
And I must ever wish that it were true,
For then you could hold fellowship with me:
But now you hear us talk as strangers, met
Above the room wherein you lie abed;
A word perhaps loud spoken you may get,
Or hear our feet when heavily they tread;
But he who speaks, or he who’s spoken to,
Must both remain as strangers still to you.