I cannot count the sands or search the seas,
Death cometh, and I leave so much untrod.
Grant my immortal aureole, O my God,
And I will name the leaves upon the trees.
In heaven I shall stand on gold and glass,
Still brooding earth’s arithmetic to spell;
Or see the fading of the fires of hell
Ere I have thanked my God for all the grass.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)
The Christ-child stood at Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at him.
And all the stars looked down.
Blessings there are of cradle and of clan,
Blessings that fall of priests’ and princes’ hands;
But never blessing full of lives and lands,
Broad as the blessing of a lonely man.
Though that old king fell from his primal throne,
And ate among the cattle, yet this pride
Had found him in the deepest grass, and cried
An ‘Ecce Homo’ with the trumpets blown.
And no mad tyrant, with almighty ban,
Who in strong madness dreams himself divine,
But hears through fumes of flattery and of wine
The thunder of this blessing name him man.
Let all earth rot past saints’ and seraphs’
Yet shall a Voice cry through its last lost war,
’This is the world, this red wreck of a star,
That a man blessed beneath an alder-tree.’
KING’S CROSS STATION
This circled cosmos whereof man is god
Has suns and stars of green and gold and red,
And cloudlands of great smoke, that range o’er range
Far floating, hide its iron heavens o’erhead.
God! shall we ever honour what we are,
And see one moment ere the age expire,
The vision of man shouting and erect,
Whirled by the shrieking steeds of flood and fire?
Or must Fate act the same grey farce again,
And wait, till one, amid Time’s wrecks and scars,
Speaks to a ruin here, ’What poet-race
Shot such cyclopean arches at the stars?’
THE HUMAN TREE
Many have Earth’s lovers been,
Tried in seas and wars, I ween;
Yet the mightiest have I seen:
Yea, the best saw I.
One that in a field alone
Stood up stiller than a stone
Lest a moth should fly.
Birds had nested in his hair,
On his shoon were mosses rare.
Insect empires flourished there,
Worms in ancient wars;
But his eyes burn like a glass,
Hearing a great sea of grass
Roar towards the stars.