Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

A Te Deum - Poem by Alfred Austin

Now let me praise the Lord,
The Lord, the Maker of all!
I will praise Him on timbrel and chord;
Will praise Him, whatever befall.

For the Heavens are His, and the Earth,
His are the wind and the wave;
His the begetting, the birth,
And His the jaws of the grave.

'Tis He that hath made us, not we;
We were dust and slime of the ground:
He breathed on the dark, and we see;
He flooded the silence with sound.

Shall I pick and choose for His praise?
Shall I thank Him for good, not ill?
He is the Ancient of Days,
And He hews the rocks as He will.

So I praise Thee, O Lord, for the good,
For the ill, for the weal, for the woe,
For the cushat that coos in the wood,
And the wolves that howl in the snow.

For the close-fitting doors that are barred,
Lest the vagrant should whine for bread,
And the yawn of the slinking pard
That hath gorged and surfeited.

For the owl that jibbers and blinks
In the arches the Flavian planned,
And the stare of the stony Sphynx
O'er the ribs of the fleshless sand.

What is there Thou hast done,
I will not thank for and praise?
Thanks for the sands that are run,
Thanks for the unborn days.

For the stealthy mildew and blight
That shows on the mellowing corn,
And the bankrupt that wakes at night
And weeps o'er the day he was born.

For the fears and the years that are null,
And the hopes Thou dost bring to nought,
And the worm-thridden ways of the skull
In which Shakespeare thought.

How shall I thank Thee, O Lord!
For Thy infinite ways and deeds?
For the edge of the cleaving sword,
And the neigh of riderless steeds:

The murderous glitter and tramp,
And the lives that are mown like grain,
The cheers of the victors' camp,
And the clammy sleep of the slain.

The laurels and loves that await
The Hero returned from the strife,
And the widows that stand at the gate
Loveless and lonely for life.

Thanks for all things that are,
For the fair, the foul, the fell;
Thanks for the Morning-star,
And the nethermost murk of Hell.

For the music of moonlight nights,
And the savour of summer days,
For the swoop of carrion kites,
And the stench of gibbeted jays.

The soft ripples that laugh in the bay,
The soft shadows that sweep o'er the moor,
And the plunge of the tides at their prey
When they level the homes of the poor.

Lift up your throats, ye waves!
Swell out your voice, ye hills!
Thank for the chance that saves;
Thank for the flash that kills.

For the bliss of a dewy dell
When lover and maiden meet,
And the venal kisses they sell
In the shade of the lamp-lit street.

For the tumult of hopes and fears
When the bridegroom steals to his bride,
And the coldness born of the years,
Though they still lie side by side.

Praise we, praise we the Lord,
The Lord, the Maker of all!
Praise Him on timbrel and chord;
Praise Him, whatever befall!


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010



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