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On Love

Written by: Bliss Carman | Biography
 | Quotes (2) |
 TO the assembled folk 
At great St. Kavin’s spoke 
Young Brother Amiel on Christmas Eve; 
I give you joy, my friends, 
That as the round year ends, 
We meet once more for gladness by God’s leave. 

On other festal days 
For penitence or praise 
Or prayer we meet, or fullness of thanksgiving; 
To-night we calendar 
The rising of that star 
Which lit the old world with new joy of living. 

Ah, we disparage still 
The Tidings of Good Will, 
Discrediting Love’s gospel now as then! 
And with the verbal creed 
That God is love indeed, 
Who dares make Love his god before all men? 

Shall we not, therefore, friends, 
Resolve to make amends 
To that glad inspiration of the heart; 
To grudge not, to cast out 
Selfishness, malice, doubt, 
Anger and fear; and for the better part, 

To love so much, so well, 
The spirit cannot tell 
The range and sweep of her own boundary! 
There is no period 
Between the soul and God; 
Love is the tide, God the eternal sea.… 

To-day we walk by love; 
To strive is not enough, 
Save against greed and ignorance and might. 
We apprehend peace comes 
Not with the roll of drums, 
But in the still processions of the night. 

And we perceive, not awe 
But love is the great law 
That binds the world together safe and whole. 
The splendid planets run 
Their courses in the sun; 
Love is the gravitation of the soul. 

In the profound unknown, 
Illumined, fair, and lone, 
Each star is set to shimmer in its place. 
In the profound divine 
Each soul is set to shine, 
And its unique appointed orbit trace. 

There is no near nor far, 
Where glorious Algebar 
Swings round his mighty circuit through the night, 
Yet where without a sound 
The winged seed comes to ground, 
And the red leaf seems hardly to alight. 

One force, one lore, one need 
For satellite and seed, 
In the serene benignity for all. 
Letting her time-glass run 
With star-dust, sun by sun, 
In Nature’s thought there is no great nor small. 

There is no far nor near 
Within the spirit’s sphere. 
The summer sunset’s scarlet-yellow wings 
Are tinged with the same dye 
That paints the tulip’s ply. 
And what is colour but the soul of things? 

(The earth was without form; 
God moulded it with storm, 
Ice, flood, and tempest, gleaming tint and hue; 
Lest it should come to ill 
For lack of spirit still, 
He gave it colour,—let the love shine through.)… 

Of old, men said, ‘Sin not; 
By every line and jot 
Ye shall abide; man’s heart is false and vile.’ 
Christ said, ‘By love alone 
In man’s heart is God known; 
Obey the word no falsehood can defile.’… 

And since that day we prove 
Only how great is love, 
Nor to this hour its greatness half believe. 
For to what other power 
Will life give equal dower, 
Or chaos grant one moment of reprieve! 

Look down the ages’ line, 
Where slowly the divine 
Evinces energy, puts forth control; 
See mighty love alone 
Transmuting stock and stone, 
Infusing being, helping sense and soul. 

And what is energy, 
In-working, which bids be 
The starry pageant and the life of earth? 
What is the genesis 
Of every joy and bliss, 
Each action dared, each beauty brought to birth? 

What hangs the sun on high? 
What swells the growing rye? 
What bids the loons cry on the Northern lake? 
What stirs in swamp and swale, 
When April winds prevail, 
And all the dwellers of the ground awake?… 

What lurks in the deep gaze 
Of the old wolf? Amaze, 
Hope, recognition, gladness, anger, fear. 
But deeper than all these 
Love muses, yearns, and sees, 
And is the self that does not change nor veer. 

Not love of self alone, 
Struggle for lair and bone, 
But self-denying love of mate and young, 
Love that is kind and wise, 
Knows trust and sacrifice, 
And croons the old dark universal tongue.… 

And who has understood 
Our brothers of the wood, 
Save he who puts off guile and every guise 
Of violence,—made truce 
With panther, bear, and moose, 
As beings like ourselves whom love makes wise? 

For they, too, do love’s will, 
Our lesser clansmen still; 
The House of Many Mansions holds us all; 
Courageous, glad and hale, 
They go forth on the trail, 
Hearing the message, hearkening to the call.… 

Open the door to-night 
Within your heart, and light 
The lantern of love there to shine afar. 
On a tumultuous sea 
Some straining craft, maybe, 
With bearings lost, shall sight love’s silver star.



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