They troop around me, children wildly crying;
Women with faded eyes, all spent of tears;
Men who have lived for love, yet lived alone;
And worse than so, whose grief cannot be said.
O God, thou hast a work to do indeed
To save these hearts of thine with full content,
Except thou give them Lethe’s stream to drink,
And that, my God, were all unworthy thee.
Dome up, O Heaven! yet higher o’er my head;
Back, back, horizon! widen out my world;
Rush in, O infinite sea of the Unknown!
For, though he slay me, I will trust in God.
I heard, in darkness, on my bed,
The beating of my heart
To servant feet and regnant head
A common life impart,
By the liquid cords, in every thread
Unbroken as they start.
Night, with its power to silence day,
Filled up my lonely room;
All motion quenching, save what lay
Beyond its passing doom,
Where in his shed the workman gay
Went on despite the gloom.
I listened, and I knew the sound,
And the trade that he was plying;
For backwards, forwards, bound and bound,
’Twas a shuttle, flying, flying;
Weaving ever life’s garment round,
Till the weft go out with sighing.
I said, O mystic thing, thou goest
On working in the dark;
In space’s shoreless sea thou rowest,
Concealed within thy bark;
All wondrous things thou, wonder, showest,
Yet dost not any mark.
For all the world is woven by thee,
Besides this fleshly dress;
With earth and sky thou clothest me,
Form, distance, loftiness;
A globe of glory spouting free
Around the visionless.
For when thy busy efforts fail,
And thy shuttle moveless lies,
They will fall from me, like a veil
From before a lady’s eyes;
As a night-perused, just-finished tale
In the new daylight dies.
But not alone dost thou unroll
The mountains, fields, and seas,
A mighty, wonder-painted scroll,
Like the Patmos mysteries;
Thou mediator ’twixt my soul
And higher things than these.
In holy ephod clothing me
Thou makest me a seer;
In all the lovely things I see,
The inner truths appear;
And the deaf spirit without thee
No spirit-word could hear.
Yet though so high thy mission is,
And thought to spirit brings,
Thy web is but the chrysalis,
Where lie the future wings,
Now growing into perfectness
By thy inwoven things.
Then thou, God’s pulse, wilt cease to beat;
But His heart will still beat on,
Weaving another garment meet,
If needful for his son;
And sights more glorious, to complete
The web thou hast begun.
O do not leave me, mother, till I sleep;
Be near me until I forget; sit there.
And the child having prayed lest she should weep,
Sleeps in the strength of prayer.