The sky bent to the manger with still lips.
The universe hung watching with its stars
A dazzling drapery of silver fire,
Hung like a curtain to the marvelous spot.
The soul of all creation held its breath,
Leaned over with dumb time to watch the scene.
A hush locked silence to the silver hills
Where all infinity bent down in wonderment.
There was an hour that a man might love.
To the crossroads of the world and time
Where eternity stood pausing at the forks,
A shape came out of time and space to be
A thing of beauty and a joy forever,
Topping the world like music not to cease,
Lovelier than the rose, sweeter than song.
There came a sense to never die or pass
A thought that has enfolded all the world.
That hour was the hinge where being turned;
There all creation pivoted and swam
Out from the night and all the darkened past
Into the splendid beauty of the sun.
There as a flower burst so Christ was born.
Rocked in His mother's arms He was the bee,
Her breasts the blossoms where he suckled honey.
Lovely grew His eyes and sweeter grew His form.
His tongue found childlike music and first words.
His lips kissed her lips and He laughed to be.
Running in the golden sun He loved the world;
He loved the flowers, streams, the rain, and birds.
He loved the beauty of the golden afternoons;
And all things on the earth in turn loved Him;
He grew to be a happy and a noble man;
He loved the world and all the world loved Him.
Strong and beautiful He grew before his God
A youth of music and a youth of song,
Finding life a miracle, a delicious thing,
Finding being as a marvelous joy.
He laughed along the world and had his day,
Happy as the glory of eternal summer.
Peace was in his blood; with all the world
That tapped like bells across His heart and brain;
Life was music, and His consciousness
Held earth and beauty, and with these
He was but one, dissolved in glorious youth.
He loved the sunlight that hung on the grass
And swung across the skies a hill of gold;
The dappled shadows were as wine to Him.
He loved the rose and kissed her crimson blossoms
In forest halls where patterned flowers grew.
The whistles of the birds came as a flute
And pierced His ears with golden song and bells;
So finally he burst to the prime of man.
Life was to him a glorious, beautiful thing;
Full of the earth's fire, full of God and time.
His soul contained the world and universe.
He was a man to match the stars and sun,
To match the ocean and eternity.
To match the world, the mountains and His God.
His eyes burned like great jewels with His great love
He seemed to know, to look beyond tomorrow
And see the marvelous destiny He had ...
And finally that came like a cry.
The world was broken--It called out for God
And He went up to Calvary to die.
With no complaint he mounted up the hill,
Staggering, laboring with the happy tree.
Lifting mankind with Him as He rose,
Lifting all the world with every step.
On top the sky the rabble finally paused
Where all the world lay sprawled below
In mellow hills and running rich with green
To kiss blue skies that bent their curves around.
There lay the wave of land in ocean space
And He upon its crest pierce on its tip.
The Cross much like a hand reached to the skies;
There up a finger lifted straight to God, of wood
Pointing to eternity and time, with Him
A shape forever sacred to the world
A form of marvelous beauty past all things.
He linked the beams there to Himself and hung
As all the sky dropped down with dusk
And winds went flapping by with blackened wings;
The rustling air like ebon silk
Kissed on His lips and panting breast
Caressed His limbs and swam on wondering, by.
He leaned against the world and felt its pain,
Felt all its sorrow and its grief to come;
Felt all its pain and all its love and joy;
Felt all its generations cry to Him.
The earth began to tremble, made alive,
Breathing like an animal below,
Tossed like a ship in some illimitable sea,
Pulsing, shaking with its monstrous sides.
But bolted to the sky in silence there
He made no word or cry, but loved man still,
There standing on the nails, and space and time.
Rocks split and terror shuffled down the earth;
The graves yawned and cerements unwrapped
From burying grounds came laughter and weird song.
But silent there he suffered in the night,
Flying in the gale, rocking in the storm,
Shackled to the mountain and the sky,
Chained and locked to all the clapping winds,
Drowned in the whistle of the storm and rain.
The lightning silvered down His beautiful shape
Like shining liquid poured on ivory
Plating the sculpture of the marvelous man.
And someone put a rose upon His breast
And there it hung, a dappled crimson flower.
Sentinel, where is morning on the world?
Break the night for night has slept too long.
Where is the dawn? Is her rose still uncurled?
Unburst it! Let us have a harp and song!
Sentinel break the night with a golden spear--
Why does it stand out in the field like one
Who clings to all the earth with craven fear,
Pushing with his shoulder on the rising sun?
Sentinal, unlock the morning from its chains;
Throw by the bolts from off the eastern door;
Unlock that portal hinging on the plains,
And let the dawn gate loose its golden store.
Sentinel, the wings of morning wait somewhere
To break the night upon the world of men;
Somewhere that golden hearth crackles in the air.
Sentinel, tap the sky for day again.
Sentinel, knock upon that eyeless wall
And whistle sunrise down the hills with light.
The world grows weary and it sends its calls,
A voice that shrills up from the dreadful night.
The wind beats like a blackbird down the skies
Flapping on, unheeding men's sad cries.
Sentinel, leaning on the stars, on watch, above
You will not fail us, bending overhead.
Let burst the morning like a flower of love,
A rose there in Your breast of brilliant red,
Your wound too, where the world is dead.
Sentinel, burst the morning out with song;
The dreadful eyeless night has slept too long.
Ring out cathedral bells with glorious light,
Sentinel, lift Your spear and break the night!