Henry Kendall

(18 April 1839 – 1 August 1882 / Ulladulla, New South Wales)

Elijah - Poem by Henry Kendall

INTO that good old Hebrew’s soul sublime
The spirit of the wilderness had passed;
For where the thunders of imperial Storm
Rolled over mighty hills; and where the caves
Of cloud-capt Horeb rang with hurricane;
And where wild-featured Solitude did hold
Supreme dominion; there the prophet saw
And heard and felt that large mysterious life
Which lies remote from cities, in the woods
And rocks and waters of the mountained Earth.
And so it came to pass, Elijah caught
That scholarship which gave him power to see
And solve the deep divinity that lies
With Nature, under lordly forest-domes,
And by the seas; and so his spirit waxed,
Made strong and perfect by its fellowship
With God’s authentic world, until his eyes
Became a splendour, and his face was as
A glory with the vision of the seer.
Thereafter, thundering in the towns of men,
His voice, a trumpet of the Lord, did shake
All evil to its deep foundations. He,
The hairy man who ran before the king,
Like some wild spectre fleeting through the storm,
What time Jezreel’s walls were smitten hard
By fourfold wind and rain; ’twas he who slew
The liars at the altars of the gods,
And, at the very threshold of a throne,
Heaped curses on its impious lord; ’twas he
Jehovah raised to grapple Sin that stalked,
Arrayed about with kingship; and to strike
Through gold and purple, to the heart of it.
And therefore Falsehood quaked before his face,
And Tyranny grew dumb at sight of him,
And Lust and Murder raged abroad no more;
But where these were he walked, a shining son
Of Truth, and cleared and sanctified the land.

Not always was the dreaded Tishbite stern;
The scourge of despots, when he saw the face
Of Love in sorrow by the bed of Death,
Grew tender as a maid; and she who missed
A little mouth that used to catch, and cling—
A small, sweet trouble—at her yearning breast;*
Yea, she of Zarephath, who sat and mourned
The silence of a birdlike voice that made
Her flutter with the joy of motherhood
In other days, she came to know the heart
Of Pity that the rugged prophet had.
And when he took the soft, still child away,
And laid it on his bed; and in the dark
Sent up a pleading voice to Heaven; and drew
The little body to his breast; and held
It there until the bright, young soul returned
To earth again; the gladdened woman saw
A radiant beauty in Elijah’s eyes,
And knew the stranger was a man of God.

We want a new Elijah in these days,
A mighty spirit clad in shining arms
Of Truth—yea, one whose lifted voice would break,
Like thunder, on our modern Apathy,
And shake the fanes of Falsehood from their domes
Down to the firm foundations; one whose words,
Directly coming from a source divine,
Would fall like flame where Vice holds festival,
And search the inmost heart of nations; one
Made godlike with that scholarship supreme
Which comes of suffering; one, with eyes to see
The very core of things; with hands to grasp
High opportunities, and use them for
His glorious mission; one, whose face inspired
Would wear a terror for the lying soul,
But seem a glory in the sight of those
Who make the light and sweetness of the world,
And are the high priests of the Beautiful.
Yea, one like this we want amongst us now
To drive away the evil fogs that choke
Our social atmosphere, and leave it clear
And pure and hallowed with authentic light.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010



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