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That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not a worm is cloven in vain ;
Behold! we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
So runs my dream: but what am I?
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:
We have but faith: we cannot know;
Let knowledge grow from more to more,
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—
Of Demons? fiery-hot to burst
All barriers in her onward race
For power. Let her know her place;
A higher hand must make her mild,
For she is earthly of the mind,
But wisdom heavenly of the soul.
I would the great world grew like thee,
And knowledge, but from hour to hour
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,'
A warmth within the breast would melt
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
vidual effort, for unless we co-operate with God's spirit where can be our confidence that we are born to such hopes? All the inferences we may trace from the course of Providence are for us null and void, until we partake of the creative spirit, and feel the force of Christ's axiom, "My father worketh, and I work." It is only the consciousness that there is no answering reality within, that could dim the prophecies of man's future blessedness and perfection.
Contemplate all this work of Time,
The giant labouring in his youth;
But trust that those we call the dead,
In tracts of fluent heat began,
And grew to seeming random forms,
Till at the last arose the man;
Who throve and branch'd from clime to clime,
And of himself in higher place,
If so he type this work of time
Within himself, from more to more;
And crown'd with attributes of woe
But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears ;
To shape and use. Arise and fly
The reeling Faun, the sensual feast;
This faith can spiritually subdue all the outward and material evidences of decay and annihilation-the worm
and the grave, but it cannot subdue the hunger of the heart for renewed personal communication. If it could, indeed, it would subdue the heart itself, the basis of Faith, for what redemption of His pledges could God owe to us, if it could become to us a matter of indifference whether our affections fed on phantoms or realities? It is unsatisfied desire that promises the future.
feud with Death
For changes wrought on form and face;
Eternal process moving on,
From state to state the spirit walks ;
Nor blame I Death, because he bare
For this alone on Death I wreak
The wrath that garners in my heart;
We cannot hear each other speak.”—P. 112.
The sentiment of the last verse, somewhat impatiently and rebelliously expressed, under the influence of time and faith assumes towards the close of the volume this chastened and perfect form :
"The face will shine
Upon me, while I muse alone;
The dear, dear voice that I have known
Will speak to me of me and mine:
Yet less of sorrow lives in me
For days of happy commune dead;
There are two pieces which we wish to bring into immediate connection: the difference between all earthly partings and that parting which places the great gulf of death
between us and our friend; and the spiritual qualifications for any feeling of communion with the dead :
"Could we forget the widow'd hour
When first she wears her orange-flower!
When crown'd with blessings she doth rise
And doubtful joys the father move,
Her office then to rear, to teach,
A link among the days, to knit
And, doubtless, unto thee is given
Ay me, the difference I discern!
How often shall her old fire-side
And tell them all they would have told,
But thou and I have shaken hands,
Till growing winters lay me low;
"How pure at heart and sound in head,
Should be the man whose thought would hold
An hour's communion with the dead.