George MacDonald

(10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

Within And Without: Part V: A Dramatic Poem - Poem by George MacDonald

AND do not fear to hope. Can poet's brain
More than the Father's heart rich good invent?
Each time we smell the autumn's dying scent,
We know the primrose time will come again;
Not more we hope, nor less would soothe our pain.
Be bounteous in thy faith, for not mis-spent
Is confidence unto the Father lent:
Thy need is sown and rooted for his rain.
His thoughts are as thine own; nor are his ways
Other than thine, but by pure opulence
Of beauty infinite and love immense.
Work on. One day, beyond all thoughts of praise,
A sunny joy will crown thee with its rays;
Nor other than thy need, thy recompense.

A DREAM.

SCENE I.-'
A world not realized
.' LILY.
To her
JULIAN.


Lily
.
O father, come with me! I have found her-mother!


SCENE II.-A room in a cottage. LILIA
on her knees before a
crucifix. Her back only is seen, for the Poet dares not look on her
face. On a chair beside her lies a book, open at CHAPTER VIII.
Behind her stands an Angel, bending forward, as if to protect her
with his wings partly expanded. Appear
JULIAN,
with
LILY
in his
arms
. LILY
looks with love on the angel, and a kind of longing
fear on her mother
.


Julian
.
Angel, thy part is done; leave her to me.


Angel
.
Sorrowful man, to thee I must give place;
Thy ministry is stronger far than mine;
Yet have I done my part.-She sat with him.
He gave her rich white flowers with crimson scent,
The tuberose and datura ever burning
Their incense to the dusky face of night.
He spoke to her pure words of lofty sense,
But tinged with poison for a tranced ear.
He bade low music sound of faint farewells,
Which fixed her eyes upon a leafy picture,
Wherein she wandered through an amber twilight
Toward a still grave in a sleepy nook.
And ever and anon she sipped pale wine,
Rose-tinged, rose-odoured, from a silver cup.
He sang a song, each pause of which closed up,
Like a day-wearied daisy for the night,
With these words falling like an echo low:
'Love, let us love and weep and faint and die.'
With the last pause the tears flowed at their will,
Without a sob, down from their cloudy skies.
He took her hand in his, and it lay still.-
blast of music from a wandering band
Billowed the air with sudden storm that moment.
The visible rampart of material things
Was rent-the vast eternal void looked in
Upon her awe-struck soul. She cried and fled.

It was the sealing of her destiny.
A wild convulsion shook her inner world;
Its lowest depths were heaved tumultuously;
Far unknown molten gulfs of being rushed
Up into mountain-peaks, rushed up and stood.
The soul that led a fairy life, athirst
For beauty only, passed into a woman's:
In pain and tears was born the child-like need
For God, for Truth, and for essential Love.
But first she woke to terror; was alone,
For God she saw not;-woke up in the night,
The great wide night alone. No mother's hand,
To soothe her pangs, no father's voice was near.
She would not come to thee; for love itself
Too keenly stung her sad, repentant heart,
Giving her bitter names to give herself;
But, calling back old words which thou hadst spoken,
In other days, by light winds borne afar,
And now returning on the storm of grief,
Hither she came to seek her Julian's God.
Farewell, strange friend! My care of her is over.


Julian
.
A heart that knows what thou canst never know,
Fair angel, blesseth thee, and saith, farewell.

[
The
Angel
goes
. JULIAN
and
LILY
take his place
.
LILIA
is praying, and they hear parts of her prayer
.]


Lilia
.
O Jesus, hear me! Let me speak to thee.
No fear oppresses me; for misery
Fills my heart up too full for any fear.

Is there no help, O Holy? Am I stained
Beyond release?


Julian
.
Lilia, thy purity
Maketh thy heart abuse thee. I, thy husband,
Sinned more against thee, in believing ill,
Than thou, by ten times what thou didst, poor child,
Hadst wronged thy husband.


Lilia
.
Pardon will not do:
I need much more, O Master. That word
go

Surely thou didst not speak to send away
The sinful wife thou wouldst not yet condemn!
Or was that crime, though not too great for pardon,
Too great for loving-kindness afterward?
Might she not too have come behind thy feet,
And, weeping, wiped and kissed them, Mary's son,
Blessed for ever with a heavenly grief?
Ah! she nor I can claim with her who gave
Her tears, her hair, her lips, her precious oil,
To soothe feet worn with Galilean roads:-
She sinned against herself, not against-Julian.

My Lord, my God, find some excuse for me.
Find in thy heart something to say for me,
As for the crowd that cried against thee, then,
When heaven was dark because thy lamp burned low.


Julian
.
Not thou, but I am guilty, Lilia.
I made it possible to tempt thee, child.
Thou didst not fall, my love; only, one moment,
Beauty was queen, and Truth not lord of all.


Lilia
.
O Julian, my husband, is it strange,
That, when I think of Him, he looks like thee?
That, when he speaks to comfort me, the voice
Is like thy voice, my husband, my beloved?
Oh! if I could but lie down at thy feet,
And tell thee all-yea, every thought-I know
That thou wouldst think the best that could be thought,
And love and comfort me. O Julian,
I am more thine than ever.-Forgive me, husband,
For calling me, defiled and outcast, thine.
Yet may I not be thine as I am His?
Would I might be thy servant-yes, thy slave,
To wash thy feet, and dress thy lovely child,
And bring her at thy call-more wife than I.
But I shall never see thee, till the earth
Lies on us both-apart-oh, far apart!
How lonely shall I lie the long, long years!


Lily
.
O mother, there are blue skies here, and flowers,
And blowing winds, and kisses, mother dear!
And every time my father kisses me,
It is not father only, but another.
Make haste and come. My head never aches here.


Lilia
.
Can it be that they are dead? Is it possible?
I feel as if they were near me!-Speak again,
Beloved voices; comfort me; I need it.


Julian
(singing).

Come to us: above the storm
Ever shines the blue.
Come to us: beyond its form
Ever lies the True.

Lily
(singing).

Mother, darling, do not weep-
All I cannot tell:
By and by you'll go to sleep,
And you'll wake so well.


Julian
(singing).

There is sunshine everywhere
For thy heart and mine:
God, for every sin and care,
Is the cure divine.


Lily
(singing).

We're so happy all the day,
Waiting for another!
All the flowers and sunshine stay,
Watching for my mother.

Julian
.
My maiden! for true wife is always maiden
To the true husband: thou art mine for ever.


Lilia
.
What gentle hopes keep passing to and fro!
Thou shadowest me with thine own rest, my God;
A cloud from thee stoops down and covers me.

[
She falls asleep on her knees
]

SCENE III.-JULIAN
on the summit of a mountain-peak. The stars are
brilliant around a crescent moon, hanging half-way between the
mountain and the zenith. Below lies a sea of vapour. Beyond rises a
loftier pinnacle, across which is stretched a bar of cloud
. LILY

lies on the cloud, looking earnestly into the mist below
.


Julian
(gazing upward).
And thou wast with me all the time, my God,
Even as now! I was not far from thee.
Thy spirit spoke in all my wants and fears,
And hopes and longings. Thou art all in all.
I am not mine, but thine. I cannot speak
The thoughts that work within me like a sea.
When on the earth I lay, crushed down beneath
A hopeless weight of empty desolation,
Thy loving face was lighted then, O Christ,
With expectation of my joy to come,
When all the realm of possible ill should lie
Under my feet, and I should stand as now
Heart-sure of thee, true-hearted, only One.
Was ever soul filled to such overflowing
With the pure wine of blessedness, my God!
Filled as the night with stars, am I with joys;
Filled as the heavens with thee, am I with peace;
For now I wait the end of all my prayers-
Of all that have to do with old-world things:
What new things come to wake new prayers, my God,
Thou know'st; I wait on thee in perfect peace.

[
He turns his gaze downward.-From the fog-sea
below half-rises a woman-form, which floats toward him.
]

Lo, as the lily lifts its shining bosom
From the lone couch of waters where it slept,
When the fair morn toucheth and waketh it;
So riseth up my lily from the deep
Where human souls are vexed in awful dreams!

[LILY
spies her mother, darts down, and is caught in
her arms. They land on
JULIAN'S
peak, and
climb
, LILY
leading her mother
.]


Lily
.
Come faster, mother dear; father is waiting.


Lilia
.
Have patience with me, darling. By and by,
I think, I shall do better.-Oh my Julian!


Julian
.
I may not help her. She must climb and come.

[
He reaches his hand, and the three are clasped in
an infinite embrace
.]

O God, thy thoughts, thy ways, are not as ours:
They fill our longing hearts up to the brim.

[
The moon and the stars and the blue night close
around them; and the poet awakes from his dream
.]


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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