Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 103. From ‘Saul’
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
103. From ‘Saul’
By Robert Browning  (1812–1889)
I HAVE gone the whole round of Creation: I saw and I spoke!
I, a work of God’s hand for that purpose, received in my brain
And pronounced on the rest of His handwork—returned Him again
His creation’s approval or censure: I spoke as I saw.
I report, as a man may of God’s work—all’s love, yet all’s law        5
Now I lay down the judgeship He lent me. Each faculty tasked
To perceive Him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?       10
I but open my eyes,—and perfection, no more and no less,
In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)       15
The submission of Man’s nothing-perfect to God’s All Complete,
As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to His feet!
Yet with all this abounding experience, this Deity known,
I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
There’s a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink,       20
I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think)
Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst
E’en the Giver in one gift.—Behold! I could love if I durst!
But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o’ertake
God’s own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love’s sake.       25
—What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
Do I find love so full in my nature, God’s ultimate gift,
That I doubt His own love can compete with it? here, the parts shift?       30
Here, the creature surpass the Creator, the end, what Began?
Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man,
And dare doubt He alone shall not help him, who yet alone can?
Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power,
To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower       35
Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul,
Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole?
And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest)
These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best?
Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height       40
This perfection—succeed with life’s dayspring, death’s minute of night?
Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul, the mistake,
Saul, the failure, the ruin he seems now—and bid him awake
From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set
Clear and safe in new light and new life,—a new harmony yet       45
To be run, and continued, and ended—who knows?—or endure!
The man taught enough by life’s dream, of the rest to make sure;
By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
And the next world’s reward and repose, by the struggles in this.
I believe it! ’tis Thou, God, that givest, ’tis I who receive:       50
In the first is the last, in Thy will is my power to believe.
All’s one gift: Thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer
As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air.
From Thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth:
I will?—the mere atoms despise me! why am I not loth       55
To look that, even that in the face too? why is it I dare
Think but lightly of such impuissance? what stops my despair?
This;—’tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
See the King—I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich,       60
To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would—knowing which,
I know that my service is perfect. Oh, speak through me now!
Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst Thou—so wilt Thou!
So shall crown Thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown—
And Thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down       65
One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
As Thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.       70
’Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!       75



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