I am like the blossom of an hour.
But long, long vanished sun and shower
Awoke my breath i’ the young world’s air.
I track the past back everywhere
Through seed and flower and seed and flower.
Or I am like a stream that flows
Full of the cold springs that arose
In morning lands, in distant hills;
And down the plain my channel fills
With melting of forgotten snows.
Voices, I have not heard, possessed
My own fresh songs; my thoughts are blessed
With relics of the far unknown.
And mixed with memories not my own
The sweet streams throng into my breast.
Before this life began to be,
The happy songs that wake in me
Woke long ago and far apart.
Heavily on this little heart
Presses this immortality.
Farewell has long been said; I have forgone thee;
I never name thee even.
But how shall I learn virtues and yet shun thee?
For thou art so near Heaven
That heavenward meditations pause upon thee.
Thou dost beset the path to every shrine;
My trembling thoughts discern
Thy goodness in the good for which I pine;
And if I turn from but one sin, I turn
Unto a smile of thine.
How shall I thrust thee apart
Since all my growth tends to thee night and day—
To thee faith, hope, and art?
Swift are the currents setting all one way;
They draw my life, my life, out of my heart.
I must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
I shun the thought that lurks in all delight—
The thought of thee—and in the blue Heaven’s height,
And in the sweetest passage of a song.
Oh, just beyond the fairest thoughts that throng
This breast, the thought of thee waits, hidden yet bright;
But it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away,—
With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart.
So humble things Thou hast borne for us, O God,
Left’st Thou a path of lowliness untrod?
Yes, one, till now; another Olive-Garden.
For we endure the tender pain of pardon,—
One with another we forbear. Give heed,
Look at the mournful world Thou hast decreed.
The time has come. At last we hapless men
Know all our haplessness all through. Come, then,
Endure undreamed humility: Lord of Heaven,
Come to our ignorant hearts and be forgiven.