I would find God--the sovereign quest of life--
And finding Him be quit of reason's strife.
His handiwork in all around I see,
But, impotent, behold Him not in me.
And yet no higher source than this I find--
To trace a God through haunts of human mind.
I note exquisite form of rose and tree,
And yet discern no proof of deity.
The silver lights that interlace the sky,
Thrill with their wonder, then dissatisfy.
I view the beauty of the human face,
But falter at the acts that so debase.
I find the joy of life in all I see,
And then the human pain, and misery,
I flush with heaving passion's strange delight,
Yet find contentment lost in appetite.
I scan the heart of life for destiny,
And find it only added mystery.
I listen to the sweet-lipped brook that tells
Of soothing shades, and nymph-blest sylvan dells.
I hear the warble of a bird in ecstasy,
But none of these reveal divinity.
I rest my cheek against a human face,
Or petal of a rose with velvet grace.
I feel the thrill of some soft hand I love,
And these more ardently than all will move
My searching spirit to keep up its quest,
That I may find the One, and Him attest.
I sit beside the shattered altars of the gods,
But fabled fancies turn my dreams to clods.
I see the white hands on the cross that die,
And then the scarlet hands that crucify.
The books I read are burdened with dark doubt,
And history puts the deepest faith to rout.
The life that starts with sigh and ends with gasp,
Leaves little for my anxious soul to grasp.
Cathedral aisles are filled with kneeling souls,
But penitence is not the thing consoles.
I give myself to pleasure's easy way,
And turning home, observe all things decay.
I haunt my soul, and it goes haunting me,
And both are lost in idle vagrancy.
I dip my heart in passion's seething pool,
And see the shadow of a willing fool.
I lift my soul in pleading, fervent prayer,
But silence reigns supreme in sky and air.
So close to life I hold my beating heart,
I seem to feel the secret of its art.
I touch the things that into life are thrust,
And then behold them falling into dust.
I test the claims of human friendship
To see if God be in companionship.
The tender cords I find too frail to stand
The strain of cold necessity's demand.
And all the things my troubled soul affright,
Are things of mystery that shed no light.
Pain, sorrow, sickness, death--so much akin--
Where with these mysteries shall I begin?
Each soul must find its own uncertain way,
Regardless of the traveler yesterday;
That we, along, may find the God we seek
In solitude, where He to us may speak.
The revelation is by slow degree,
And all His laws make time their one decree.
Time's evolution is the needful space
To seek the marvels of eternal grace.
Supreme authority is righteousness,
And manifests itself in gentleness.
The high-priest of the Temple is a child,
Innocent, pure, with thought all undefiled.
The cherubim of love are better far
Than pillared wisdom's most seraphic star.
And knowledge cannot bring the sweet delight
Of childhood's faith that pierces darkest night.
The stainless flowers on the altar stairs,
More holy offerings are than sin prepares.
The snow-flake, and the petal of a rose,
The planet's journey, orbits wide, disclose.
Through myriad miles of space the earth must go
For summer's harvest, and the winter's snow.
The deepening purple of the luscious grape,
The crimson fluid of the berry, shape
Their mysteries of color eminent,
Where God's fond forethought is so evident,
By waiting for the lifting snow or rain
From sea and lake, from mountain-peak and plain.
And with what eloquence does nature speak,
Whose arrows of the sun in silence seek,
The benedictions in the nursing draught--
The searching secret of each golden shaft!
When the thundering batteries of heaven resound,
I wait a cherished silence more profound
Than trumpetings in any angry sky,
Of deathless verities, can testify.
Transfiguration has its holy hour,
Transforming all things by love's mystic power.
Cathedral windows, dull for lack of light,
Effulgent shine with colors warm and bright,
When gilded beams from altar's tapers reach
The glass transfigured, as if light had speech.
The human temples, holier by far
Than men have ever dreamed, who them do scar,
These bodies pour a more celestial glow,
When health its radiant light would fain bestow.
The face, made dull by blighting ignorance,
Shines, all illumined, by intelligence.
The drudging work that solace never knows,
Resplendent joy transforms until it glows.
The testing trial that useless seems to be,
The wisdom of experience will see.
The earth embraced by dark and starless skies
Is glorified by every morn's sunrise.
And death, that sits in marble silence cold,
Will furnish hope to those who may behold
The meaning in the everlasting change
Of all that dies, returning, wondrous strange.
Devotion's gilded selfishness is not
The holy hand untying mystery's knot.
Love's sacrifice is ever what compels
The homage of the world where wisdom dwells.
The queen whose beauty does the gaze transfix,
Adorns herself with pallid crucifix.
We wonder at the miracles of old,
That sacred print, and saintly heart enfold.
And yet the daily round of circumstance
May bring miraculous inheritance
To him who touches life with holy hands,
And sanctity of thought well understands.
The fishes and the loaves were marveled at,
When these, a feast for multitudes that sat,
Grew plentiful in His sweet, gracious hand
Who won the populace with love's command.
Our hands, our feet, this ruling head of ours,
Are loaves of plenty in the trying hours.
Five loaves of grace, when transformed by the will,
Removing mountains, and more marvelous still,
Changing the poverty of sin and shame
To riches, and yet leave a spotless name.
These eyes that swim in tears--sad human seas--
May, like the fishes of the lad, increase,
When sickened hearts of others they search out,
And furnish truth in common ways devout.
These bodies--shrines where God, Himself, would dwell,
Love's residence, faith's holy citadel--
Our parent care, and deep concern should be.
Neglected and debased irreverently,
They wait to transmit love's sweet eloquence
Of other worlds through man's intelligence--
The cosmic medium that God employs,
Wherein to manifest supernal joys.
For only these can character express.
The rose sheds perfume, these show holiness.
No other source for rain but vapored cloud.
These temples, only, for His name to laud.
No primal cause of heat, but flaming suns;
No vehicle but these through which thought runs.
And yet these bodies generate no force.
To some unending power have they recourse.
The food we eat will bring no energy.
It but repairs the waste and injury.
In foot and water and all substance lies
Another power that each deifies.
The smallest parts to which all things reduce
Give evidence of who and what produce.
Each has its separate intelligence,
And all derived from mind's omnipotence.
The primal cause of all things that we see--
Eternal thought, divinest entity.
But thought, unseen, holds some supreme retreat;
In silence must it reign and rule complete.
Far, far away, beyond all noise and strife,
In echoless distance lives its royal life.
Pervading all, yet touching every part
Where stirs sweet life, or beats a human heart.
Its warming breath, impassioned eloquence.
Its touch, the thrill of minds munificence.
Its isolation, argument for worship rare.
Its love unmeasured and beyond compare.
The greatest souls must always lonely be,
Since isolation aids tranquility.
In solitude, and silence, and the night,
The God we seek will yearning souls invite.
Here find we God, at last, to be adored,
In silence, more eloquent than spoken word.
A peace, a calm, a silence reverent,
Where man may know he is of God's descent.
Into the place where nothing is, but thought,
The secret place wherein all things are wrought,
Where glows the sacred fire that never dies,
And where the solemn plan of all things lies,
Here comes life, soul--primordial things untaught--
And ruling these, is everlasting thought.