Samuel Taylor Coleridge |
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind.
The owlet's cry
Came loud---and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
`Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness.
Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.
But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
>From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!
Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the interspersed vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shall learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.
Rudyard Kipling |
The Four Archangels, so the legends tell,
Raphael, Gabriel, Michael, Azrael,
Being first of those to whom the Power was shown
Stood first of all the Host before The Throne,
And, when the Charges were allotted, burst
Tumultuous-winged from out the assembly first.
Zeal was their spur that bade them strictly heed
Their own high judgment on their lightest deed.
Zeal was their spur that, when relief was given,
Urged them unwearied to new toils in Heaven;
For Honour's sake perfecting every task
Beyond what e 'en Perfection's self could ask.
And Allah, Who created Zeal and Pride,
Knows how the twain are perilous-near allied.
It chanced on one of Heaven's long-lighted days,
The Four and all the Host being gone their ways
Each to his Charge, the shining Courts were void
Save for one Seraph whom no charge employed,
With folden wings and slumber-threatened brow,
To whom The Word: "Beloved, what dost thou?"
"By the Permission," came the answer soft,
Little I do nor do that little oft.
As is The Will in Heaven so on Earth
Where by The Will I strive to make men mirth"
He ceased and sped, hearing The Word once more:
" Beloved, go thy way and greet the Four.
Systems and Universes overpast,
The Seraph came upon the Four, at last,
Guiding and guarding with devoted mind
The tedious generations of mankind
Who lent at most unwilling ear and eye
When they could not escape the ministry.
Yet, patient, faithful, firm, persistent, just
Toward all that gross, indifferent, facile dust,
The Archangels laboured to discharge their trust
By precept and example, prayer and law,
Advice, reproof, and rule, but, labouring, saw
Each in his fellows' countenance confessed,
The Doubt that sickens: "Have I done my best?"
Even as they sighed and turned to toil anew,
The Seraph hailed them with observance due;
And, after some fit talk of higher things,
Touched tentative on mundane happenings.
This they permitting, he, emboldened thus,
Prolused of humankind promiscuous,
And, since the large contention less avails
Than instances observed, he told them tales--
Tales of the shop, the bed, the court, the street,
Intimate, elemental, indiscreet:
Occasions where Confusion smiting swift
Piles jest on jest as snow-slides pile the drift
Whence, one by one, beneath derisive skies,
The victims' bare, bewildered heads arise--
Tales of the passing of the spirit, graced
With humour blinding as the doom it faced--
Stark tales of ribaldy that broke aside
To tears, by laughter swallowed ere they dried-
Tales to which neither grace nor gain accrue,
But Only (Allah be exalted!) true,
And only, as the Seraph showed that night,
Delighting to the limits of delight.
These he rehearsed with artful pause and halt,
And such pretence of memory at fault,
That soon the Four--so well the bait was thrown--
Came to his aid with memories of their own--
Matters dismissed long since as small or vain,
Whereof the high significance had lain
Hid, till the ungirt glosses made it plain.
Then, as enlightenment came broad and fast,
Each marvelled at his own oblivious past
Until--the Gates of Laughter opened wide--
The Four, with that bland Seraph at their side,
While they recalled, compared, and amplified,
In utter mirth forgot both Zeal and Pride!
High over Heaven the lamps of midnight burned
Ere, weak with merriment, the Four returned,
Not in that order they were wont to keep--
Pinion to pinion answering, sweep for sweep,
In awful diapason heard afar--
But shoutingly adrift 'twixt star and star;
Reeling a planet's orbit left or right
As laughter took them in the abysmal Night;
Or, by the point of some remembered jest,
Winged and brought helpless down through gulfs unguessed,
Where the blank worlds that gather to the birth
Leaped in the Womb of Darkness at their mirth,
And e'en Gehenna's bondsmen understood.
They were not damned from human brotherhood .
Not first nor last of Heaven's high Host, the Four
That night took place beneath The Throne once more.
0 lovelier than their morning majesty,
The understanding light behind the eye!
0 more compelling than their old command,
The new-learned friendly gesture of the hand!
0 sweeter than their zealous fellowship,
The wise half-smile that passed from lip to lip!
0 well and roundly, when Command was given,
They told their tale against themselves to Heaven,
And in the silence, waiting on The Word,
Received the Peace and Pardon of The Lord!
Jane Austen |
Of a Ministry pitiful, angry, mean,
A gallant commander the victim is seen.
For promptitude, vigour, success, does he stand
Condemn'd to receive a severe reprimand!
To his foes I could wish a resemblance in fate:
That they, too, may suffer themselves, soon or late,
The injustice they warrent.
But vain is my spite
They cannot so suffer who never do right.
Robert Browning |
A PICTURE AT FANO.
Dear and great Angel, wouldst thou only leave
That child, when thou hast done with him, for me!
Let me sit all the day here, that when eve
Shall find performed thy special ministry,
And time come for departure, thou, suspending
Thy flight, mayst see another child for tending,
Another still, to quiet and retrieve.
Then I shall feel thee step one step, no more,
From where thou standest now, to where I gaze,
---And suddenly my head is covered o'er
With those wings, white above the child who prays
Now on that tomb---and I shall feel thee guarding
Me, out of all the world; for me, discarding
Yon heaven thy home, that waits and opes its door.
I would not look up thither past thy head
Because the door opes, like that child, I know,
For I should have thy gracious face instead,
Thou bird of God! And wilt thou bend me low
Like him, and lay, like his, my hands together,
And lift them up to pray, and gently tether
Me, as thy lamb there, with thy garment's spread?
If this was ever granted, I would rest
My bead beneath thine, while thy healing hands
Close-covered both my eyes beside thy breast,
Pressing the brain, which too much thought expands,
Back to its proper size again, and smoothing
Distortion down till every nerve had soothing,
And all lay quiet, happy and suppressed.
How soon all worldly wrong would be repaired!
I think how I should view the earth and skies
And sea, when once again my brow was bared
After thy healing, with such different eyes.
O world, as God has made it! All is beauty:
And knowing this, is love, and love is duty.
What further may be sought for or declared?
Guercino drew this angel I saw teach
(Alfred, dear friend!)---that little child to pray,
Holding the little hands up, each to each
Pressed gently,---with his own head turned away
Over the earth where so much lay before him
Of work to do, though heaven was opening o'er him,
And he was left at Fano by the beach.
We were at Fano, and three times we went
To sit and see him in his chapel there,
And drink his beauty to our soul's content
---My angel with me too: and since I care
For dear Guercino's fame (to which in power
And glory comes this picture for a dower,
Fraught with a pathos so magnificent)---
And since he did not work thus earnestly
At all times, and has else endured some wrong---
I took one thought his picture struck from me,
And spread it out, translating it to song.
My love is here.
Where are you, dear old friend?
How rolls the Wairoa at your world's far end?
This is Ancona, yonder is the sea.
C S Lewis |
There is a wildness still in England that will not feed
In cages; it shrinks away from the touch of the trainer's hand,
Easy to kill, not easy to tame.
It will never breed
In a zoo for the public pleasure.
It will not be planned.
Do not blame us too much if we that are hedgerow folk
Cannot swell the rejoicings at this new world you make -
We, hedge-hogged as Johnson or Borrow, strange to the yoke
As Landor, surly as Cobbett (that badger), birdlike as Blake.
A new scent troubles the air -- to you, friendly perhaps
But we with animal wisdom have understood that smell.
To all our kind its message is Guns, Ferrets, and Traps,
And a Ministry gassing the little holes in which we dwell.
Lucy Maud Montgomery |
My friend has gone away from me
From shadow into perfect light,
But leaving a sweet legacy.
My heart shall hold it long in fee
A grand ideal, calm and bright,
A song of hope for ministry,
A faith of unstained purity,
A thought of beauty for delight
These did my friend bequeath to me;
And, more than even these can be,
The worthy pattern of a white,
Unmarred life lived most graciously.
Dear comrade, loyal thanks to thee
Who now hath fared beyond my sight,
My friend has gone away from me,
But leaving a sweet legacy.
Thomas Blackburn |
Holding with shaking hands a letter from some
Official – high up he says in the Ministry,
I note that I am invited to Birmingham,
There pedagogues to address for a decent fee.
'We like to meet,' he goes on, 'men eminent
In the field of letters each year,' and that's well put,
Though I find his words not wholly relevant
To this red-eyed fellow whose mouth tastes rank as soot.
No doubt what he's thinking of is poetry
When 'Thomas Blackburn' he writes, and not the fuss
A life makes when it has no symmetry,
Though the term 'a poet' being mainly posthumous,
Since I'm no stiff, is inappropriate.
What I can confirm is the struggle that never lets up
Between the horses of Plato beneath my yoke,
One after Light, and for Hell not giving a rap,
The other only keen on infernal smoke.
? From time to time they commemorate
Some particularly dirty battle between these two;
I put the letter down – what's the right note?
'Dear Sir,' I type, 'how nice to speak to you!'
Andrew Barton Paterson |
The shades of night had fallen at last,
When through the house a shadow passed,
That once had been the Genial Dan,
But now become a desperate man,
At question time he waited near,
And on the Premier's startled ear
A voice fell like half a brick --
"Did ye, or did ye not, pay Crick
By land and sea the Premier sped,
But found his foe where'er he fled,
The sailors swore -- with whitened lip --
That Neptune swam behind the ship:
When to the stern the Premier ran,
Behold, 'twas no one else but Dan,
And through the roaring of the gale
That clarion voice took up the tale,
"Ahot there! Answer, straight and slick!
Did not the Ministry pay Crick
In railway trains he sought retreat,
But soon, from underneath the seat,
With blazing eye and bristling beard,
His ancient enemy appeared,
And like a boiling torrent ran
The accents of the angry Dan --
"Tell me, John See, and tell me quick
Did not ye pay your shares to Crick
Edgar Lee Masters |
Not character, not fortitude, not patience
Were mine, the which the village thought I had
In bearing with my wife, while preaching on,
Doing the work God chose for me.
I loathed her as a termagant, as a wanton.
I knew of her adulteries, every one.
But even so, if I divorced the woman
I must forsake the ministry.
Therefore to do God's work and have it crop,
I bore with her!
So lied I to myself!
So lied I to Spoon River!
Yet I tried lecturing, ran for the legislature,
Canvassed for books, with just the thought in mind:
If I make money thus, I will divorce her.
Du Fu |
Kui prefecture lonely wall set sun slant
Every rely Southern Dipper gaze capital city
Hear ape real fall three sound tear
Sent on mission vain follow eight month raft
Picture ministry incense stove apart hidden pillow
Mountain tower white battlements hide sad reed whistle
Ask look stone on creeper moon
Already reflect islet before rushes reeds flowers
Over Kuizhou's lonely wall, the setting sun slants,
Every day I follow the Plough to look to the capital city.
I hear an ape; the third call really makes tears fall,
Undertaking a mission, in vain I follow the eighth month raft.
The muralled ministry's incense stove is far from my hidden pillow,
The mountain tower's white battlements hide the sad reed flutes.
Just look at the moonlight on the creepers that cover the stones,
Already in front of the islet, the rushes and reed flowers shine!