Sydney Thompson Dobell

(1824-1874 / England)

In War-Time: A Prayer Of The Understanding - Poem by Sydney Thompson Dobell

Lo, this is night. Hast thou, oh sun, refused
Thy countenance, or is thy golden arm
Shortened, or from thy shining place in heaven
Art thou put down and lost? Neither hast thou
Refused thy constant face, nor is thine arm
Shortened, nor from thy principality
Art thou deposed, oh sun. Ours, ours, the sin,
The sorrow. From thy steadfast noon we turned
Into the eastern shade-and this is night.


Yet so revolves the axle of the world,
And by that brief aversion wheels us round
To morn, and rolls us on the larger paths
Of annual duty. Thou observant moon,
That dancest round the seasonable earth
As David round the ark, but half thy ring
In process, yet, complete, the circular whole
Promotes thee, and expedes thy right advance,
And all thy great desire of summer signs.
And thou, oh sun, our centre, who thyself
Art satellite, and, conscious of the far
Archelion, in obedience of free will
And native duty, as the good man walks
Among the children's faces, with thine house
About thee, least and greatest, first and last,
Makest of the blue eternal holiday
Thy glad perambulation; and thou, far
Archelion, feudatory still, of one
Not sovran nor in fee of paramount power;
Moons round your worlds, worlds round your suns, suns round
Such satraps as in orderly degree
Confess a lordlier regent and pervade
A vaster cycle-ye, so moved, commoved,
Revolving and convolving, turn the heavens
Upon the pivot of that summery star,
Centre of all we know: and thou, oh star,
Centre of all we know, chief crown of crowns,
Who art the one in all, the all in one,
And seest the ordered whole-nought uninvolved
But all involved to one direct result
Of multiform volution-in one pomp,
One power, one tune, one time, upon one path
Move with thee moving, Thou, amid thy host
Marchest-ah whither?
--Oh God, before Whom
We marshal thus Thy legioned works to take
The secret of Thy counsel, and array
Congress and progress, and, with multitude
As conquerors and to conquer, in consent
Of universal law, approach Thy bound,
Thine immemorial bound, and at Thy face
Heaven and earth flee away; oh Thou Lord God,
Whether oh absolute existence, Thou,
The Maker, makest, and this fair we see
Be but the mote and dust of that unseen
Unsought unsearchable; or whether Thou
Whose goings forth are from of old, around
Thy going in mere effluence without care
Breathest creation out into the cold
Beyond Thee, and, within Thine ambient breath,
So walkest everlasting as we walk
The unportioned snows; or whether, meditating
Eternity, self-centred, self-fulfilled,
Self-continent, Thou thinkest and we live,
A little while forgettest and we fade,
Rememberest and we are, and this bright vision
Wherein we move, nay all our total sum
And story, be to Thee as to a man
When in the drop and rising of a lid
Lo the swift rack and fashion of a dream,
No more; oh Thou inscrutable, whose ways
Are not as ours, whose form we know not, voice
Hear not, true work behold not, mystery
Conceive not, who-as thunder shakes the world
And rings a silver bell-hast sometime moved
The tongue of man, but in Thy proper speech
Wearest a human language on a word
As limpets on a rock, who, as Eternal,
Omnipotential, Infinite, Allwise,
In measure of Thine operation hast
No prime or term, in subject as in scheme
No final end, in eidol as in act
Nought but the perfect God; oh Thou Supreme,
Inaudible, Invisible, Unknown,
Thy will be done.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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