Man hath his nature of the vehement world;
He is a torrent like the stars and beasts
Flowing to answer the fierce world’s desire.
But like a giant wading in the sea
Stands in the rapture, and refusing it,
And looking upward out of it to find
Who knows what sign?—spirit, virginity;
A power caught by the power of the world;
The spirit in whose unknown hope doth man
Deny the mastery of his fortune here;
Virginity, whose pride, impassion’d only
To be as she herself would be, nor thence
To loosen for the world’s endeavouring,
And, though all give the rash obedience, stand
Her own possession,—this virginity,
This pride of the spirit, asking no reward
But to be pride unthrown, this is the force
Whereby man hath his courage in the strange
Fearful turmoil of being conscious man.
Yea, worshipping this spirit, he will at last
Grow into high divine imagination,
Wherein the envious wildness of the world
Yieldeth its striving up to him, and takes
His mind, building the endless stars like stone
To house his towering joy of self-possessing.
This made you dumb; ignorant knowledge of this,
Blind vision of virginity’s mightiness,
Did chide the exclamation in your hearts.
And think not you have seen, in Judith’s grief,
Virginity drown’d in the pouring world.
For what is done is naught; what is, is all:
And Judith is virginity’s appointed.
Even by her injury she showeth us,
As fire by violence may be revealed,
How sovereign is virginity.—
But let us now consult what way her grief,
Which is not to be understood by us,
May spend itself, with naught to urge its power.
Let us within our walls keep close this tale,
Close as the famine and the thirst were kept
Devouring us by the Assyrians.
Let there be no news going through the land
Out of Bethulia but this: that we
At Judith’s hands had our deliverance,
But she from Holofernes and his crew
Unwilling and astonisht reverence,
As they were men with minds opprest by God.
Even as a wind that hasteth round the world
From out cold hours fill’d with shadow of earth,
To pour alight against the risen sun;
So unto thee adoring, out of its shadow
Floweth my spirit, into the light of thee
Which Beauty is, and Joy. From my own fate,
From out the darkness wherein long I fared
Worshipping stars and morsels of the light,
Through doors of golden morning now I pass
Into the great whole light and perfect day
Of shining Beauty, open to me at last.
Yea, into thee now do I pass, beloved:
Beauty and thou are mine!
And I am thine!
I am desirable to my desire:
Thence am I clean as immortality
With Beauty and Joy, the fiery power of Beauty.