Puslapio vaizdai

to reason against and set aside the fear of widening separation between souls in different conditions of existence, and subject perhaps to different laws and measures of spiritual growth. There is much curiosity, both of a physical and of a moral kind, which simple love should silence, taking her own trusts and prophecies as sufficient for her confidence, as Mary was satisfied to ask no questions of Lazarus, of his four days' sojourn beyond mortality, in her full contentment with his presence, and that of the holy Love which gave him back.

"Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,

Nor other thought her mind admits
But, he was dead, and there he sits,
And he that brought him back is there.

Then one deep love doth supersede
All other, when her ardent gaze
Roves from the living brother's face,
And rests upon the Life indeed.

All subtle thought, all curious fears,
Borne down by gladness so complete,
She bows, she bathes the Saviour's feet
With costly spikenard and with tears.

Thrice blest whose lives are faithful prayers,
Whose loves in higher love endure;
What souls possess themselves so pure,
Or is there blessedness like theirs?"-P. 51.

There is no more common trepidation of the heart, than that new and inconceivable modes of existence may so deprive us of all fellowship "in the links that bind the changes" of the dead, that never can we be truly mated again. The fear belongs to the speculative, not to the spiritual nature. It is powerfully put in one of these poems, and nobly answered in the next.

"I vex my heart with fancies dim:
He still outstript me in the race;
It was but unity of place

That made me dream I rank'd with him.

And so may Place retain us still,
And he the much-beloved again,
A lord of large experience, train
To riper growth the mind and will:

And what delights can equal those

That stir the spirit's inner deeps,

When one that loves, but knows not, reaps

A truth from one that loves and knows?"-P. 64.

Love indeed is the only condition of intercourse, and so he speaks his confidence out of the noble trusts of the heart:

"I loved thee, Spirit, and love, nor can

The soul of Shakspeare love thee more."

Nor does Love fear the holiness of God's sainted ones. How noble, how truly Christian and trustful, is this vindication of the boldness of earthly affection, even through much consciousness of failure, weakness, and sin, to meet the inspecting eye of the righteous dead. The heart suggests no fears, so long as the will is loyal, and the aspiration that admits us to God, cannot be rejected by any that stand between us and Him.

"Do we indeed desire the dead

Should still be near us at our side?
Is there no baseness we would hide?
No inner vileness that we dread?

Shall he for whose applause I strove,

I had such reverence for his blame,
See with clear eye some hidden shame,
And I be lessened in his love?


wrong the grave with fears untrue :

Shall love be blamed for want of faith?

There must be wisdom with great Death;
The dead shall look me thro' and thro'!

Be near us when we climb or fall:

Ye watch, like God, the rolling hours
With larger, other, eyes than ours
To make allowance for us all."-P. 73.

Again how true to love, and therefore to God, is the strong desire for personal identity and recognition, though compelled to struggle with spiritual trusts and weapons against some of nature's signs of individual decay! There is something spiritual even in the constancy with which he clings to the "eternal form" that shall still individualize, "divide the eternal soul from all beside," as a protest and protection against the heartless mockery of any "remerging in the general Soul."

"The wish that of the living whole

No life may fail beyond the grave;
Derives it not from what we have
The likest God within the soul?

Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;

That I, considering every where

Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear;

I falter where I firmly trod,

And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world's altar-stairs
That slope through darkness up to God;

I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,

And faintly trust the larger hope."-P. 79.

The fears and doubts that issue out of the perishableness of our bodies and the sins of our souls, are worthily extinguished by the cries of the heart, and the prophecies of the spirit, accredited by Faith as God's own voice and word. That faith is itself not the evidence, but the reality of a divine nature in us.

"Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,

To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroyed,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;

That not a worm is cloven in vain ;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivel'd in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another's gain.

Behold! we know not anything;

I can but trust that good shall fall
At last-far off at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:

An infant crying for the light:

And with no language but a cry."—P. 77.

This subservience of Knowledge to Faith appears from first to last as the Poet's confidence, for he every where takes the knowledge of the Heart as that margin of experience, of real contact with God, which gives strength and ground to trust the infinite unknown. Thus in the prefatory poem :

"Our little systems have their day;

They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,—
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see ;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster."

And the volume is closed and rounded with the same sentiment, that Faith grows out of Knowledge, and that Knowledge is Wisdom only when culminating in Faith.

"Half grown as yet, a child, and vain—
She cannot fight the fear of death.
What is she, cut from love and faith,
But some wild Pallas from the brain

Of Demons? fiery-hot to burst

All barriers in her onward race

For power. Let her know her place ;
She is the second, not the first.

A higher hand must make her mild,
If all be not in vain; and guide
Her footsteps, moving side by side
With wisdom, like the younger child:

For she is earthly of the mind,

But wisdom heavenly of the soul.
O, friend, who camest to thy goal
So early, leaving me behind,

I would the great world grew like thee,
Who grewest not alone in power

And knowledge, but from hour to hour
In reverence and in charity.”—P. 177.

How truly religious is this noble affirmation of the rights of the Heart to have its experiences and testimonies taken for the holy pledges of God!

"If e'er when faith had fall'n asleep,

I heard a voice, 'Believe no more,'
And heard an ever-breaking shore
That tumbled in the Godless deep;

A warmth within the breast would melt
The freezing reason's colder part,

And like a man in wrath the heart

Stood up and answer'd 'I have felt." "—P. 191.

The progress of individual man and of the race, and the successive changes even of the inanimate earth through the slow periods of geology, are all signs to the poet's heart of God's full intention to fulfil the longings after perfection, the prophetic intimations of the nature He has given. We have the earnest of His spirit; and such are the proofs with which Religion deals: all else is sense or science. And this faith touches all the springs of indi

« AnkstesnisTęsti »