So when the first-born of Thy
Dead in the darkness lay,
When Thy redeemed at midnight rose
And cast their bonds away,
The orphaned realm threw wide her gates, and told
Into freed Israel’s lap her jewels and her gold.
And when their wondrous march
And they had won their homes,
Where Abraham fed his flock of yore,
Among their fathers’ tombs; —
A land that drinks the rain of Heaven at will,
Whose waters kiss the feet of many a vine-clad hill; —
Oft as they watched, at thoughtful
A gale from bowers of balm
Sweep o’er the billowy corn, and heave
The tresses of the palm,
Just as the lingering Sun had touched with gold,
Far o’er the cedar shade, some tower of giants old;
It was a fearful joy, I ween,
To trace the Heathen’s toil,
The limpid wells, the orchards green,
Left ready for the spoil,
The household stores untouched, the roses bright
Wreathed o’er the cottage walls in garlands of delight.
And now another Canaan yields
To Thine all-conquering ark: —
Fly from the “old poetic” fields,
Ye Paynim shadows dark!
Immortal Greece, dear land of glorious lays,
Lo! here the “unknown God” of thy unconscious praise.
The olive-wreath, the ivied wand,
“The sword in myrtles drest,”
Each legend of the shadowy strand
Now wakes a vision blest;
As little children lisp, and tell of Heaven,
So thoughts beyond their thought to those high Bards were given.
And these are ours: Thy
The tempting treasure lends:
These relies of a guilty race
Are forfeit to Thy friends;
What seemed an idol hymn, now breathes of Thee,
Tuned by Faith’s ear to some celestial melody.
There’s not a strain to
Nor flower in classic grove,
There’s not a sweet note warbled here,
But minds us of Thy Love.
O Lord, our Lord, and spoiler of our foes,
There is no light but Thine: with Thee all beauty glows.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother; and he sought where to weep, and he entered into his chamber and wept there. Genesis xliii. 30.
There stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. Genesis xlv. 1.
When Nature tries her finest touch,
Weaving her vernal wreath,
Mark ye, how close she veils her round,
Not to be traced by sight or sound,
Nor soiled by ruder breath?
Who ever saw the earliest rose
First open her sweet breast?
Or, when the summer sun goes down,
The first soft star in evening’s crown
Light up her gleaming crest?
Fondly we seek the dawning bloom
On features wan and fair,
The gazing eye no change can trace,
But look away a little space,
Then turn, and lo! ’tis there.