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The Boy And the Angel

 Morning, evening, noon and night,
``Praise God!; sang Theocrite.
Then to his poor trade he turned, Whereby the daily meal was earned.
Hard he laboured, long and well; O'er his work the boy's curls fell.
But ever, at each period, He stopped and sang, ``Praise God!'' Then back again his curls he threw, And cheerful turned to work anew.
Said Blaise, the listening monk, ``Well done; ``I doubt not thou art heard, my son: ``As well as if thy voice to-day ``Were praising God, the Pope's great way.
``This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome ``Praises God from Peter's dome.
'' Said Theocrite, ``Would God that I ``Might praise him, that great way, and die!'' Night passed, day shone, And Theocrite was gone.
With God a day endures alway, A thousand years are but a day.
God said in heaven, ``Nor day nor night ``Now brings the voice of my delight.
'' Then Gabriel, like a rainbow's birth, Spread his wings and sank to earth; Entered, in flesh, the empty cell, Lived there, and played the craftsman well; And morning, evening, noon and night, Praised God in place of Theocrite.
And from a boy, to youth he grew: The man put off the stripling's hue: The man matured and fell away Into the season of decay: And ever o'er the trade he bent, And ever lived on earth content.
(He did God's will; to him, all one If on the earth or in the sun.
) God said, ``A praise is in mine ear; ``There is no doubt in it, no fear: ``So sing old worlds, and so ``New worlds that from my footstool go.
``Clearer loves sound other ways: ``I miss my little human praise.
'' Then forth sprang Gabriel's wings, off fell The flesh disguise, remained the cell.
'Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome, And paused above Saint Peter's dome.
In the tiring-room close by The great outer gallery, With his holy vestments dight, Stood the new Pope, Theocrite: And all his past career Came back upon him clear, Since when, a boy, he plied his trade, Till on his life the sickness weighed; And in his cell, when death drew near, An angel in a dream brought cheer: And rising from the sickness drear He grew a priest, and now stood here.
To the East with praise he turned, And on his sight the angel burned.
``I bore thee from thy craftsman's cell ``And set thee here; I did not well.
``Vainly I left my angel-sphere, ``Vain was thy dream of many a year.
``Thy voice's praise seemed weak; it dropped--- ``Creation's chorus stopped! ``Go back and praise again ``The early way, while I remain.
``With that weak voice of our disdain, ``Take up creation's pausing strain.
``Back to the cell and poor employ: ``Resume the craftsman and the boy!'' Theocrite grew old at home; A new Pope dwelt in Peter's dome.
One vanished as the other died: They sought God side by side.

by Robert Browning
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