Henry Alford Poems >>
The School Of The Heart. Lesson The Sixth

Erewhile of Death and human suffering
 Spoke we, and lingered, as in some dark wood
 The pilgrim lingers ere he dare approach
 The golden shrine, where on his sight shall break
 Light of pure grace from Heaven;--the end of toil
 Is near; and through the trembling intervals
 Of over--arching boughs, rich pinnacles
 Spire up into the sky: the music deep
 Of prayer--inviting bells fills all the air,
 No longer heard in fitful swells and falls,
 Over far fields and waters, but poured forth
 As if the voice of the cathedral pile
 From tower and transept, and the thousand forms
 Of sculptured saints and angels, sent at once
 Its hymn of holy rapture up to God.

 As when the stars in heaven around the moon
 Show brightly, and the under air is calm,
 All headland tops and beacon--towers, and steeps,
 Are clothed with visible light, and from above
 The glory of the boundless firmament
 Flows downward, and the heavenly host is seen,
 The heart of him that watches by the fold
 Swells in his breast for joy; so riseth now
 My labouring bosom, and the choking tears
 Are thronging on my voice for very joy
 At prospect of the inner life divine.

 Light from afar: The night is well--nigh spent,
 The day at hand. No more of earthly woe,
 Of conflict now no more. The laver pure
 Of new Baptismal innocence, the Ark
 That bears us through the flood which fell for sin,
 And lands us in the country far away,
 All love, all knowledge of divinest lore
 Regained; the pathway shining like the light
 That shineth ever to the perfect day,--
 These be our converse now; yon solemn Church,
 The sanctuary of Earth, with its flushed tower,
 Is full in view: and we are here in peace
 With the sunset falling round us, by our hearth;
 Meet time for talk of mystic truths and high,
 Best pondered on, when every fleeting thing
 Is shut from our observance, and the sight
 From outward lures turns inward on the soul.
 And thou art with me, who hast ever been
 The spirit of my song--no longer now
 Half--known, untried, a theme of restless thought,
 By self--distrusting fondness glorified;
 But tried and known, approved and manifest,
 Partaker of a thousand wakeful schemes,
And cares of daily love. The April moon,
 When she looks over thickets fresh in green,
 Whose young leaves tremble in her golden light,
 Tempereth not with such a peaceful charm
 The rapturous gush of bowered nightingale,
 As doth thy quiet look my struggling thoughts;
 Nor, if I guess aright, doth the full song
 Of the night warbler with more life endow
 The slumbering moonlight, than these tuneful words
 Thy patient spirit, rapt in holy calm
 Of contemplation, married to desire,
 Wandering or resting as affection leads.

 We have been dwellers in a lovely land,
 A land of lavish lights and floating shades,
 And broad green flats, bordered by woody capes
 That lessen ever as they stretch away
 Into the distance blue; a land of hills,
 Cloud--gathering ranges, on whose ancient breast
 The morning mists repose; each autumn tide
 Deep purple with the heath--bloom; from whose brow
 We might behold the crimson sun go down
 Behind the barrier of the western sea:
 A land of beautiful and stately fanes,
 A