POETRY: First Sunday After Easter by John Keble

First Sunday After Easter by John Keble

Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself? (Numbers 16:9)

First Father of the holy seed,
If yet, invok’d in hour of need,
Thou count me for thine own,
Not quite an outcast if I prove,
(Thou joy’s in miracles of love)
Hear, from thy mercy-throne!
Upon thine altar’s horn of gold
Help me to lay my trembling hold,
Though stain’d with Christian gore;—
The blood of souls by Thee redeem’d,
But, while I rov’d or idly dream’d,
Lost to be found no more.

For oft, when summer leaves were bright,
And every flower was bath’d in light,
In sunshine moments past,
My willful heart would burst away
From where the holy shadow lay,
Where Heaven my lot had cast.

I thought it scorn with Thee to dwell,
A Hermit in a silent cell,
While, gaily sweeping by,
Wild Fancy blew his bugle strain,
And marshall’d all his galland train
In the world’s wondering eye.

I would have join’d him—but as oft
Thy whisper’d warnings, kind and soft,
My better soul confess’d.
“My servant, let the world alone—
“Safe on the steps of Jesus’ throne
“Be tranquil and be blest.

“Seems it to thee a niggard hand
“That nearest Heaven has bade thee stand,
“The ark to touch and bear,
“With incense of pure heart’s desire
“To heap the censer’s sacred fire,
“The snow-white Ephod wear?”

Why should we crave the worldling’s wreath,
On whom the Savior deign’d to breathe,
To whom his keys were given,
Who lead the choir where angels meet,
With angels’ food our brethren greet,
And pour the drink of Heaven?

When sorrow all our heart would ask,
We need not shun our daily task,
And hide ourselves for calm;
The herbs we seek to heal our woe
Familiar by our pathway grow,
Our common air is balm.

Around each pure domestic shrine
Bright flowers of Eden bloom and twine,
Our hearths are altars all;
The prayers of hungry souls and poor,
Like armed angels at the door,
Our unseen foes appall.

Alms all around and hymns within—
What evil eye can entrance win
Where guards like these abound?
If chance some heedless heart should roam,
Sure, thought of these will lure it home
Ere lost in Folly’s round.

O joys, that sweetest in decay,
Fall not, like wither’d leaves, away,
But with the silent breath
Of violets drooping one by one,
Soon as their fragrant task is done,
Are wafted high in death!

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