William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

Cardinal Newman - Poem by William Bell Scott


Good, learned, wise, in some sense; but to-day
Can we accept a Christopher, poor knight,
For guide, or take his lanthorn for the light
To guide our pathway, and so shunt away
Whole centuries with their severe assay
Of all the past; as if dark night were kin
To Christian wisdom, and the soul within
Was lost when powerful knowledge holdeth sway?

Can we ignore our birthright, on the back
Of packhorse can we seek the dead monk's cell,
And by the rush-wick in the thick fish-oil,
Let subtle Thomas and Duns Scotus rack
Our brains till common night-wind seems a coil
Of devils, and we trust some mad old spell!


Good Newman? well! he gives the devil his due,
Honours the Pope, whose chartered power can save
Gnostics like him on t'other side the grave,
If they but trust nought else, resign all clue
God-given through nature, holding only true
Traditional Rites, and with sealed eyes contrive
To shut out reason from their cloistered hive,
And what our mighty science teaches new.

But are they not right happy to have found
This haven? Ask the smile their thin lips feign
When workers tell of all the toils and fears
Manhood exacts each step of stable ground.
Ask the brave triumphs, the material gain
To civilization for a thousand years.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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