John William Streets

(1883-1916 / England)

Hymn To Life: Hurdcott Camp - Poem by John William Streets

I hear thy voice in the lonely pines
When the winds arise in their unknown lair;
In the rush of waves in the caves' confines;
In the skylark's song o'er the moorlands bare
My eyes behold thy majesty
In the stars that tangle the web of night
With the woof and warp of mystery;
In the dawn that trembles into light
O'er the hills ; in the bridal of the spring;
In the flash of wild brooks murmuring.

Hushed is the night with thy serenity;
Calm : not a zephyr, stirs the pine-tree-tops:
I stand unbared beneath thy sanctity
Alone with thee and dreams in some fir copse,
Thy spirit stirring, wakening my sense
With some divine, blest consciousness intense.
Or in some wild and silent solitude,
Remote, afar, with desolation bare,
With thee I dwell in thy existence rude,
Finding in solitude a passion rare.

Thou wert thou art; thou shalt be-mystery!
Sprung in the nebulae of myriad stars;
Thou art the soul of all humanity,
Of men who are thy own true avatars.
Thou art the spirit that dost ever weave
A cosmos from the chaos vast and deep;
A power that eternally dost heave
A consciousness from out a lifeless sleep.
Thou art desire; the birth, the end of race;

The soul of love; of hate; of peace and strife,
The mystery we fear, yet search its face;
Thou wert, thou art, thou shalt be-Life!

Through thee man tastes all joy, he burdens pain
Sorrow thou art (tho' ecstasy yet grief);
Pregnant thou art with passion strong and vain,
With vast eternities, illusions brief.
How'round thee wild imagination plays,
Finding in thee its Litany, its Jove,
Losing itself in thy intricate maze,
A wanderer doom'd ever in thee to rove!
Thou art the exultation of the morn;
The myst'ry of the starless lone twilight;
The wonder in the heart of Childhood born;
The wild despair found in the heart of night:

Wing'd like the dawn I saw thee arise,
Why wild wings fanning my heart to fire;
Magic burst on my wondering eyes,
My soul fled down the ways of desire.
Then shadows fell from thy beating wings,
Throwing night o'er the orient flame;
I knew the burden of deeper things
That from the heart of thy sadness came.
I have drunk with thee thy rosy wine
Intoxicating with delight;
I have knelt with thee at some far shrine.
Alone in the bitterness of night.
I have struck thy harp till its ecstasies
Burst in madness musical;
My fingers have touched the minor keys
That like a dirge on my heart did fall.

Thou hast crushed me in thy titan arms;
Hast shadow'd my youth, destroyed its hope;
Divested love of its earliest charms,
And left me faithless in night to grope.
Like the laugh of doom I have heard thy laugh
At my grief and disillusionment;
Thou hast given me little wine to quaff
Till drunk with wild despair I went.
Thou hast scored me, thwarted my desires;
Played with my soul as a worthless pawn;
Heated me in the furnace fires
And on thy anvil welt me in scorn.
Hast denied me love, hast denied me hope;
And left me alone in the night to grope.

By thee denied; yet am I not of thee?
Of bliss deprived, thy urge is in my blood.
That urge shall lead me on to mastery;
I shall aspire, I shall attain my good;
With thee I've fought, with thee I've wrestled long,
My purpose is as silent, sure as light;
I still will strive with thee, O spirit strong:
Thou canst not crush me; hide me in thy night.

The wind is in the pines, night on the hill;
Thou callest me, my spirit answers still;
Thou callest me from out Youth's paradise
To make for thee the final sacrifice.
I am not daunted by the mystery
Of that beyond to which thou bidst me go;
I calmly mount the hill of Calvary
With songs of life, with footsteps sure, tho slow.

Perhaps when at thy touch sets my lone sun,
Perhaps amid the closing of my dreams
I may behold Love (with its web unspun)
Shining on me with its eternal beams,

I knew that in that hour I shall undaunted stand
With purpose in my eyes, sword in my hand;
I know that when I sink beneath the strife
I there shall dream of Love, exult in Life.


November, 1915


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010



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