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The Church-Builder

Written by: Thomas Hardy | Biography
 | Quotes (33) |
 The church flings forth a battled shade 
Over the moon-blanched sward: 
The church; my gift; whereto I paid 
My all in hand and hoard; 
Lavished my gains 
With stintless pains 
To glorify the Lord. 

I squared the broad foundations in 
Of ashlared masonry; 
I moulded mullions thick and thin, 
Hewed fillet and ogee; 
I circleted 
Each sculptured head 
With nimb and canopy. 

I called in many a craftsmaster 
To fix emblazoned glass, 
To figure Cross and Sepulchure 
On dossal, boss, and brass. 
My gold all spent, 
My jewels went 
To gem the cups of Mass. 

I borrowed deep to carve the screen 
And raise the ivoried Rood; 
I parted with my small demesne 
To make my owings good. 
Heir-looms unpriced 
I sacrificed, 
Until debt-free I stood. 

So closed the task. "Deathless the Creed 
Here substanced!" said my soul: 
"I heard me bidden to this deed, 
And straight obeyed the call. 
Illume this fane, 
That not in vain 
I build it, Lord of all!" 

But, as it chanced me, then and there 
Did dire misfortunes burst; 
My home went waste for lack of care, 
My sons rebelled and curst; 
Till I confessed 
That aims the best 
Were looking like the worst. 

Enkindled by my votive work 
No burnng faith I find; 
The deeper thinkers sneer and smirk, 
And give my toil no mind; 
From nod and wink 
I read they think 
That I am fool and blind. 

My gift to God seems futile, quite; 
The world moves as erstwhile; 
And powerful Wrong on feeble Right 
Tramples in olden style. 
My faith burns down, 
I see no crown; 
But Cares, and Griefs, and Guile. 

So now, the remedy? Yea, this: 
I gently swing the door 
Here, of my fane--no soul to wis-- 
And cross the patterned floor 
To the rood-screen 
That stands between 
The nave and inner chore. 

The rich red windows dim the moon, 
But little light need I; 
I mount the prie-dieu, lately hewn 
From woods of rarest dye; 
Then from below 
My garment, so, 
I draw this cord, and tie 

One end thereof around the beam 
Midway 'twixt Cross and truss: 
I noose the nethermost extreme, 
And in ten seconds thus 
I journey hence-- 
To that land whence 
No rumour reaches us. 

Well: Here at morn they'll light on one 
Dangling in mockery 
Of what he spent his substance on 
Blindly and uselessly!... 
"He might," they'll say, 
"Have built, some way, 
A cheaper gallows-tree!"



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