Sydney Thompson Dobell

(1824-1874 / England)

In War-Time: An Aspiration Of The Spirit - Poem by Sydney Thompson Dobell

Lord Jesus, as a little child,
Upon some high ascension day
When a great people goes to pay
Allegiance, and the tumult wild


Roars by its thousand streets, and fills
The billowy nation on the plain,
As roar into the heaving main
A thousand torrents from the hills,


Caught in the current of the throng
Is drawn beneath the closing crowd,
And, drowning in the human flood,
Is whirled in its dark depths along;


And low under the ruthless feet,
Or high as to the awful knees
Of giants that he partly sees,
Blinded with fear and faint with heat,


Mindless of all but what doth seem,
And shut out from the upper light,
Maddens within a monstrous night
Of limbs that crush him like a dream;


And when his strength no more can stand,
And while he sinks in his last swound,
Is lifted from the deadly ground,
And led by a resistless hand,


And thro' the opening agony
Goes on and knows not where, beside
The mastery of his guardian guide,
Goes on, and knows not where nor why,


Till, when the sky no more is hid,
Between the rocking heads he sees
A mount that rises by degrees
Above them like a pyramid,


And on the summit of the mount
A vacant throne, and round the throne
Bright-vestured princes, zone by zone,
In circles that he cannot count.


And feels, at length, a slanting way,
And labours by his guardian good
Till forth, as from a lessening wood,
They step into the dazzling day,


And from the mount he sees below
The maivel of the marshalled plain,
And what was tumult is a reign,
And, as he climbs, the princes know


His guide, and fall about his feet,
Before his face the courtiers fall,
And lo! it is the Lord of all,
And on his throne he takes his seat;


And, while strong fears transfix the boy,
The mighty people far and near
Throw up upon the eye and ear
The flash and thunder of their joy,


And, round the royal flag unfurled,
In sequent love and circling awe
The legions lead their living law,
And what was Chaos is a World:


So, Lord, Thou seest this mortal me,
Deep in Titanic days that press
Incessant from unknown access
To issues that I cannot see.


Caught in the current stern and strong
I sink beneath the closing crowd,
And drowning in the awful flood
Am whirled in its dark depths along,


Struggling with shows so thronged and thrust
On these wide eyes which bruise and burn,
And flash with half-seen sights, or turn
To that worse darkness thick with dust,


That mindful of but what doth seem,
And hopeless of the upper light,
I madden in a monstrous night
Of shapes that crush me like a dream.


Then when my strength no more can stand,
And while I sink in my last swound,
Lo! I am lifted from the ground,
And led by a resistless hand;


And thro' the opening agony
Go on and know not where, beside
The mastery of my guardian guide,
Go on, and know not where or why;


Nor, tho' I cannot see Thy brow,
Distrust the hand I feel so dear,
Nor question how Thou wert so near,
Nor ask Thee whither goest Thou,


Nor whence Thy footsteps first began.
Whence, Lord, Thou knowest: whither, Lord,
Thou knowest: how Thou knowest. Oh Word
That can be touched, oh Spoken Man,


Enough, enough, if Thou wilt lead,
To know Thou knowest: enough to know
That darkling at Thy side I go,
And this strong hand is Thine indeed.


Yet by that side, unspent, untrod,
Oh let me, clinging still to Thee,
Between the swaying wonders see
The throne upon the mount of God.


And-tho' they close before mine eye,
And all my course is choked and shut-
Feel Time grow steeper under foot,
And know the final height is nigh.


And as one sees, thro' cambered straits
Of forests, on his forward way,
Horizons green of coloured day,
Oh let me thro' the crowding Fates


Behold the light of skies unseen,
Till on that sudden Capitol
I step forth to the sight of all
That is, and shall be, and hath been,


And Thou, O King, shalt take Thine own
Triumphant; and, Thy place fulfilled,
The flaw of Nature shall be healed,
And joyous round Thy central throne


I see the vocal ages roll,
And all the human universe
Like some great symphony rehearse
The order of its perfect whole;


And seek in vain where once I fell,
Nor know the anarchy I knew
In those congenial motions due
Of this great work where all is well,


And smile, with dazzled wisdom dumb,
-Remembering all I said and sung-
That man asks more of mortal tongue
Than skill to say, 'Thy kingdom come.'


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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