John Bowring

(1792-1872 / England)

Autumn: Friday Morning - Poem by John Bowring

This is the day when prejudice and guilt
The blood of innocence and virtue spilt!
'Twas in those orient Syrian lands afar,
O'er whose high mountains towers the morning star;
Lands now to tyranny and treachery given,
But then the special care and charge of heaven;
Lands, now by ignorance and darkness trod,
Then shining brightest in the light of God!

Holiest and best of men! 'twas there thou walkedst,
There with thy faithful, privileged followers talkedst;
Privileged indeed, listening to truth divine
Breath'd from a heart, and taught by lips, like thine!

He that from all life's strange vicissitude
Drew forth the living, hidden soul of good;
And in the strength of wisdom, and the might
Of peaceful virtue fought, and won the fight:
His armour righteousness-his conquering sword
A spiritual weapon-his prophetic word
The arms of truth,-his banners from above-
His conquests meekness, and his warfare love.
He stands a pillar 'midst his children; grace
And majesty and truth illume his face;
He bows his head and dies! The very rock
Is rent, and Zion trembles at the shock!
But tho' he dies, he triumphs-and in vain
Would unbelief oppose his conquering reign;
A reign o'erspreading nature-gathering in
Kindreds and nations from the tents of sin
To virtue's temple. O how calm, how great,
A death like this!-Come, then, and venerate
Your Saviour and your King. All hail! All hail!
The songs of gratitude shall fill the vale,
And echo from the mountains, and shall rise
In one consenting tribute to the skies.

Sow, then, thy seed-that seed will spring, and give
Rich fruits and fairest flowers, that will survive
All chance, all change: and tho' the night may come,
And tho' the deeper darkness of the tomb,
A sun more bright than ours shall bid them grow,
And on the very grave hope's buds will blow,
And blow like those sweet flowers that, pluck'd, ne'er lose
Their freshness, nor their fragrance, nor their hues.

Now the day calls us with its eloquent ray;
O let us toil unwearied while 'tis day,
For the night cometh, all enveloping
But virtue, that on spiritual soaring wing
Flies to its rest! 'Tis but a pilgrim here,
Shaping its course towards a better sphere,
Where its own mansion is; yet, in its flight,
Dropping from its pinions healing and delight;
And from the darkest shades, like some fair star
Of midnight, scattering beams of light afar.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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