Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 158. From ‘Pan’
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
158. From ‘Pan’
By Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel  (1834–1894)
AH! Nature, would that I before I pass
Might thrill with joy of thy communion
One childlife only knowing thee from far!
Love we may well, for surely one were nought
Without the other, intermarrying breath;        5
Nature the systole, thought the diastole
Of one Divine forever-beating Heart.
Feeding from her maternal breast we grow
Full to our height of stately dominance,
And yet create, yea dower as we grow       10
Her with all colour, form and comeliness.
Nature the heaving of a tender breast
Revealing inspiration from within,
Sweet rending of a calyx, telling clear
Expansion of the spirit’s folded flower,       15
Nature the lake where looking long we fall
With our own likeness tremulous in love.
    And shall we climb, ascension infinite,
From star to star? explore from world to world—
Gods reigning yonder in the tranquil stars?       20
Death! what is Death? a turning-point of Life
Winding so sharp the way dips out of sight,
Seeming to end, yet winding on for ever
Through teeming glories of the Infinite.
Look with bold eyes unquailing in the face       25
Of that foul haunting phantom, it will fade,
Melt to the face of some familiar friend.… 1 
    One selfsame Spirit breathing evermore
Rouses in each the momentary wave,
One water and one motion and one wind,       30
Now feeble undulation myriadfold,
Now headlong mountain thunder-clothed and crowned
With foamy lightning; such we name Zerduscht,
Dante, Spinoza, or Napoleon—
The motion travels, and the wave subsides.…       35
    May cold ascetic hard, ill-favoured, crude,
Ever persuade me vision and fond play
Of sense about fair fleshly loveliness
Of youth in man or woman is accurst—
Since God hath made the spirit, but a fiend       40
Hath mocked it with a syren phantom-flesh?—
Nay, to mine ear ’tis rankest blasphemy!
For is not flesh the shadow of the soul,
Her younger sister, both alike Divine?
Yea verily! for when I love a friend       45
How may I sunder body from the soul?
Few win my love, but they who win it seem
Ever well-favoured to me, and I greet
All comeliness of colour and of form,
Mere side reverse of spiritual grace.       50
Yea, limbs well turned and bodies almond-smooth
Full fair and white in maiden or in youth,
With what sense-thrillings may attend on these;
All lusty might of supple athletic men;
Are surely worthy reverence like flowers,       55
Or like the culminating heart and soul.
Only to each one yield his very own:
Yield to young sense his toy of fantasy,
And never frown until he glides to steal
The royal sceptre from Intelligence,       60
Or crown of light from spiritual Love.
Nor dare to maim lives infinite Divine
Seeking to graft one pale monotonous flower;
For is not Being thirsting to exhaust
His all exhaustless capability?       65
Evil mere vantage-ground for an advance,
If not for thee, yet for the universe,
And so for thee as member of the whole.

Note 1.  These dots are the author’s, and do not mark omissions. [back]



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