It might be common—earth afforested
Newly, to follow her great ones to the sun,
When from transcendent aisles of gloom they sped
Some work august (there would be work) now done.
And list, and their high matters strive to scan
The seekers after God, and lovers of man,
Sitting together in amity on a hill,
The Saint of Visions from Greek Patmos come—
Aurelius, lordly, calm-eyed, as of will
Austere, yet having rue on lost, lost Rome,
And with them One who drank a fateful bowl,
And to the unknown God trusted his soul.
The mitred Cranmer pitied even there
(But could it be?) for that false hand which signed
O, all pathetic—no. But it might bear
To soothe him marks of fire—and gladsome kind
The man, as all of joy him well beseemed
Who ‘lighted on a certain place and dreamed.’
And fair with the meaning of life their divine brows,
The daughters of well-doing famed in song;
But what! could old-world love for child, for spouse,
For land, content through lapsing eons long?
Oh for a watchword strong to bridge the deep
And satisfy of fulness after sleep.
What know we? Whispers fall, ’And the
And the first last.’ The child before the king?
The slave before that man a master erst?
The woman before her lord? Shall glory fling
The rolls aside—time raze out triumphs past?
They sigh, ‘And the last first, and the first last.’
Answers that other, ’Lady, sister, friend,
It is enough, for I have worshipped Life;
With Him that is the Life man’s life shall blend,
E’en now the sacred heavens do help his strife.
There do they knead his bread and mix his cup,
And all the stars have leave to bear him up.
Yet must he sink and fall away to a sleep,
As did his Lord. This Life his worshipped
Religion, Life. The silence may be deep,
Life listening, watching, waiting by His dead,
Till at the end of days they wake full fain
Because their King, the Life, doth love and reign.
I know the King shall come to that new earth,
And His feet stand again as once they stood,
In His man’s eyes will shine Time’s end and worth
The chiefest beauty and the chiefest good,
And all shall have the all and in it bide,
And every soul of man be satisfied.
They tell strange things of the primeval earth,
But things that be are never strange to those
Among them. And we know what it was like,
Many are sure they walked in it; the proof
This, the all gracious, all admired whole
Called life, called world, called thought, was all as one.
Nor yet divided more than that old earth
Among the tribes. Self was not fully come—
Self was asleep, embedded in the whole.
I too dwelt once in a primeval world,
Such as they tell of, all things wonderful;
Voices, ay visions, people grand and tall
Thronged in it, but their talk was overhead
And bore scant meaning, that one wanted not
Whose thought was sight as yet unbound of words,
This kingdom of heaven having entered through
Being a little child.