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That knows thy guide. But since thy wish so presses

To learn the root whence grew our love exceeding,

I speak, as one who weeps and yet confesses.
One day we two for pleasure's sake were reading

Of Lancelot's true love in story famous ;

Alone we were, nor aught of danger heeding.
With mutual glance our lesson did inflame us

Full oft, and paleness o'er our faces glided ;

But one point only that which overcame us.
When we read how the ardent lover guided

His kiss toward the smile for which he longed,

Then he, who ne'er shall be from me divided,
All trembling kissed my lips : so were we wronged

By book and writer, tempters both ensnaring.

That day we read no more.' Ere she prolonged
Her words yet further, the other spirit hearing

Wailed so, that I became through pure compassion

All faint, as if death's mark upon me bearing :
And as a dead man falls, fell in like fashion.

(To be continued.)

140

MUSINGS OVER THE CHRISTIAN YEAR

AND LYRA INNOCENTIUM.

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.

6

The first Sunday after Easter has no less than three poems by Mr. Keble, if we reckon with the others one in the Child's Christian Year, which we believe is really one of his earliest poems. The subject of both this and of that in the Lyra is Faith—both alike being in accordance with the Epistle for the day, with its « Victory that overcometh the world, even our Faith ;' and the proclamation of that Faith in the words, “There are Three that bear witness in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these Three are One: and there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood.'

The analogy between the Witness in Heaven and Earth, is the subject of the early poem we mentioned.

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That witness is the Holy Spirit in man's heart, the Water of Baptism, and the cleansing Blood by which the Holy Spirit purifies the soul therein ; and again, it is 'the all-atoning Blood' which by One Spirit we all drink of in the Cup; and the hymn concludes with an earnest prayer for faith to accept the witness of the three on earth

O never may our sinful hearts

What Thou hast joined divide ;
Thy Spirit in Thy mysteries still

For life, not death, abide.'

From this extremely deep meditation on the 'Inward and Spiritual Grace' seen by faith in the witness on earth, we pass to the Lyra, in which the poet seems at first to be, as it were, seeking for the meetest embodiment or personification of Faith, among those that have been chosen as her emblem in 'banners bright and fair.'

The Fidelia of his much loved Spenser, and the usual emblem of Faith, as a virgin holding a cross, clouded below but the summit lost in

rays

of light-come first to mind; and then a figure always dear to him, and a print of which was one of the decorations of his room-Domenichino's St. John-is described :

"A calm Prophet's face, intent
To hear what God the Lord shall say,

Ere the dread tones be gone and spent.

An Eagle from the deep of space

Is hovering near, and hastes to bring,
Meetest the unearthly tale to trace,

A plume of his mysterious wing.

A golden Chalice standing nigh;

What mantles there is life or death-
A dragon to the unpurged eye,

A serpent from the Cross to faith.'

This verse alludes of course to the dragon in the cup, which to surface observers merely suggests the story of the draught of poison assuming a serpent form at St. John's touch; but to the eye of faith is an allusion to Him of whom the Brazen Serpent was a type, and Who comes, as it were, into the chalice-for life or for death to such as drink thereof.

But the poet looked from the rapt figure of Faith, and the mysterious adoring countenance of John the Divine, to a young child simply saying the Catechism, and therein rehearsing

• His chant of glory undefiled,
The Creed that with the Church was born.'

The pensive reverence of the boy's countenance—no imaginary picturebut thoroughly real and individual, suggests the scenes that each clause calls up in turn:

• The world new framed; the Christ new born;

The mother maid ; the Cross and grave;

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The rising Sun on Easter morn;

The fiery tongues sent down to save;
The gathering Church; the Font of life;

The saints and mourners kneeling round;
The day that ends the body's strife;

The Saviour in His people crowned.' Wonderful is this brief summary of the Creed; and this undoubting vision unfolding itself before the quietly attentive and simple hearted—is, he

says, “Faith :'

"And this is faith; and thus she wins

Her Victory, day by day rehearsed ;
Seal but thine eye to pleasant sins,

Love's glorious dream shall o'er thee burst.'

The boy's eye closed in attention suggested the ‘Seal but thine eye to pleasant sins. But that the writer himself had won or preserved that spiritual clearness of eye, which enabled him to realize thus wondrously, in living force, each sentence of our Belief, through the having thus resolutely sealed his own eye in his younger days, is evident from the companion poem. This is one written early in life, thoroughly personal, and bestowed upon this Sunday chiefly because in it was quoted Moses' argument to Korah in the morning First Lesson, on the privileges which as a Kohathite Levite he already enjoyed. To understand the spirit of it, it must be recollected that John Keble's talents had, at a very early age, brought him to the summit of university distinctions, and that he could not fail to be conscious that it was within his power to achieve any earthly distinction that mental exertions could accomplish; but that he deliberately renounced any such career, and, when devoting himself to the sole service of his Master, did so in so entire a manner that his very success, and the fame he could not but obtain, absolutely worked against him, and kept him utterly undistinguished by any external honour. Some sense of what lay within his grasp, if he would turn his talent to the service of the world, rather than that of the Church; some passing sense of regret--some gleam of ambition-would then seem to have passed over him, and to have been repented and confessed in the lines that begin, “First Father of the holy seed'-which opens with an entreaty for pardon, in spite of the possible consequences of the neglect that the poet accuses himself of, to the souls under his care.

He compares himself to a hermit gazing with a moment's longing after the gallant hunters sweeping through the forest; but as often as the temptation came to join the ranks of the votaries of this world, and put forth his hand to reach its distinctions, his better soul responded to the whispering voice,

• My servant, let the world alone;
Safe by the steps of Jesus' Throne,

Be tranquil and be blest.' Then applying to himself the remonstrance of Moses, he recites the glorious tasks of the sacred office, first going through those of the Kohathite of old, then passing on to those of the Christian priest—to whom is transmitted that breath of Christ that imparted the authority of Absolution, the keys of the Kingdom;

• Who lead the choir where angels meet,
With angels' food their brethren greet,

And pour the drink of Heaven.'

From the greatness of the pastoral vocation, he passes on to its peacefulness and soothing joy, striking a lower key, but coming home to many hearts where he observes that whereas men of other professions are incapacitated for them by sorrow, yet that the priest's office is his best comfort, his very life is the ministry of consolation. The happiness of the pastoral home is then dwelt on—no doubt with a thought of the much loved house at Fairford, with all its influences :

• Alms all around and hymns within,
What evil eye can entrance win?'

And the last verse is the sigh of one who knows that these home delights are but fleeting :

O joys that sweetest in decay,
Fall not like withered leaves away,

But with the silent breath
Of violets drooping one by one,
Soon as their fragrant task is done,

Are wafted high in death.'

And was not this entreaty granted to him ?

Nay, more—do we not see in this poem the struggle and renunciation that brings out the full meaning of the Lyra's

Seal but thine eye to pleasant sins.'

It was thus sealing his eye to wild fancy's gallant train,' and closing his ear to the bugle strain, that kept his vision clear to see the blessed pictures that the Creed unfolded to him.

SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.

Nowhere has Mr. Keble drawn a grander scene than this—the wouldbe enchanter, but unwilling Prophet, standing on the verge of the mountain, with floating hair, and eyes stretched to behold some mighty vision.

A mighty vision indeed it was, as Amalek, first of the nations-Moabthe wandering Kenites in their rock-built nest-Edom, Eber, Assur—the very ships of Chittim-passed before him in review, and the ruin of each was predicted ; yet without rousing the seer from his hopes of avarice. Not the sight of the future fate of all the kingdoms of the earth

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can show him the true worth of Balak’s rewards. As little can any bright sun or star in the whole range of heaven attract his

eye

from his selfish longings for preferment, as can the angel's sword or the Almighty word detach him from them by terror. His heart and hope alike lie below the range either of the inducements or the threatenings that should have diverted him from it.

"There shall come a Star out of Jacob' were his words. That gentle Star we know full well—it is the Day Star from on high that hath visited us, and though Balaam knew It as the 'token of wild war,'-'It shall smite all the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth, or confusion,'—to us it is the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world ; the bright and Morning Star, who will give Himself to him that overcometh.

For we are the heirs of those whom God had blessed, we have succeeded to the position of the chosen ; and ours by right of our spiritual ancestry were the goodly tents and tabernacles on which he gazed with unwilling admiration, as they stretched like dark cedars beside the waters, while his seven altar-fires flared up in the darkness. And as morning rose, there still lay the tents in their regular array; the sacred tabernacle, with the cloudy pillar in the centre, and each tribe marshalled around the ensign of their father, the Lion of Judah, the Mountain Bull of Ephraim, the Water-bearer of Reuben, all evidently visible to him.

He watched these tents till ‘knowledge came upon his soul like flame;' not from the magic of his sorcery—but the true light from Heaven, in one flash that died away at once in darkness.

How could he have helped fearing, whose curses were changed on his very tongue to blessings ? Alas! he had sold himself to the world, and the world had bound him beyond all power of escape.

And this grand though fragmentary poem closes with a prayer that we who are so much nearer to the shrine than ever Balaam was, may grow in love up to His heavenly light.

The other poem for this day is full of depth, so partially expressed that there is some amount both of obscurity and abruptness in it. The title is “Children with Dumb Creatures,' and the thought running through it is upon the mysterious sympathy' that certainly does exist between children and animals. The very infant will watch a fly or a bird more intently than any effort to amuse it ; and on the other hand, how often instances have been given of animals becoming suddenly gentle when encountered by a little child. Everyone has seen the tenderness of large dogs to little children, or heard of elephants tenderly protecting them ; and again, of children lost in the woods being found fearlessly playing with bears; St. Ambrose is far from being the only instance of bees swarming round a babe without hurting him; and for the war-horse treading full softly,' we have just met with an authentic anecdote * of a

** The Magazine for the Young,' 1868, p. 321.

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