9/27/16

Poems

THE GREAT MINIMUM

It is something to have wept as we have wept,
It is something to have done as we have done,
It is something to have watched when all men slept,
And seen the stars which never see the sun.
It is something to have smelt the mystic rose,
Although it break and leave the thorny rods,
It is something to have hungered once as those
Must hunger who have ate the bread of gods.
To have seen you and your unforgotten face,
Brave as a blast of trumpets for the fray,
Pure as white lilies in a watery space,
It were something, though you went from me to-day.
To have known the things that from the weak are furled,
Perilous ancient passions, strange and high;
It is something to be wiser than the world,
It is something to be older than the sky.
In a time of sceptic moths and cynic rusts,
And fatted lives that of their sweetness tire,
In a world of flying loves and fading lusts,
It is something to be sure of a desire.
Lo, blessed are our ears for they have heard;
Yea, blessed are our eyes for they have seen:
Let thunder break on man and beast and bird
And the lightning. It is something to have been.

* * *

ALONE

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
And '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' plea,
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.'

* * *

BEHIND

I saw an old man like a child,
His blue eyes bright, his white hair wild,
Who turned for ever, and might not stop,
Round and round like an urchin's top.
'Fool,' I cried, 'while you spin round,
'Others grow wise, are praised, are crowned.'
Ever the same round road he trod,
'This is better: I seek for God.'
'We see the whole world, left and right,
'Yet at the blind back hides from sight
'The unseen Master that drives us forth
'To East and West, to South and North.
'Over my shoulder for eighty years
I have looked for the gleam of the sphere of spheres.'
'In all your turning, what have you found?'
'At least, I know why the world goes round.'

* * *

THE NEGLECTED CHILD

(Dedicated, in a glow of Christmas charity, to a philanthropic society)

The Teachers in the Temple
They did not lift their eyes
For the blazing star on Bethlehem
Or the Wise Men grown wise.
They heeded jot and tittle,
They heeded not a jot
The rending voice of Ramah
And the children that were not.
Or how the panic of the poor
Choked all the field with flight,
Or how the red sword of the rich
Ran ravening through the night.
They made their notes; while naked
And monstrous and obscene
A tyrant bathed in all the blood
Of men that might have been.
But they did chide Our Lady
And tax her for this thing,
That she had lost Him for a time
And sought Him sorrowing.

~G. K. Chesterton