Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 159. From ‘De Profundis’
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
159. From ‘De Profundis’
By Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel  (1834–1894)
THE SPIRIT grows the form for self-expression,
And for a hall where she may hold high session
With sister souls, who, allied with her, create
Her fair companion, her espousèd mate.
Ever the hidden Person will remould        5
For all our lives fresh organs manifold,
Gross for the earthly, for the heavenly fine,
Ethereal woof, wherein their graces shine.
And there be secret avenues, with doors
Yielding access to inmost chamber floors       10
Of the soul’s privacy; all varying frames,
Responsive to the several spirit-flames.
The vital form our lost now animate
Is one with what in their low mortal state
They made their own; the corse mere ashes, waste,       15
For all grand uses of the world replaced.
A larva needs no more the unliving husk,
When soaring winged he rends the dwelling dusk.
    A rabble rout of Sense light-headed pours
Into the holy Spirit-temple doors,       20
Where many a grave and stately minister
His place and function doth on each confer.
These Forms inhabiting the sacred gloom,
Whose name is legion, Present, Past, To Come,
One, Many, Same, or Different, evolve       25
Sweet concord from confusion; they resolve
The Babel dissonance to a choral song,
Till in divine societies a throng
Sets with one will toward the inmost shrine,
To feed there upon mystic Bread and Wine.       30
The Bacchanals are sobered, and grow grave,
In solemn silence treading the dim nave:
On their light hearts bloom-pinioned angels lay
Calm, hushful hands of married night and day.
    It is a changing scene within the pile:       35
New shows arrive, and tarry for a while:
But if one living Spirit-fane could fall,
His ruin were the knell of doom for all.
Their being blended each with every one,
If any failed, the universe were gone.       40
These conscious forms inhabit every mind;
All selves in one organic self they bind;
The bloomy beams, and all the shadowy blooms
Are pure white Light eternal that illumes
A universal conscious Spirit-whole,       45
Fair modulated in each several soul
To many-functioned organs of one Will,
Whose sovran Being who prevails to kill?
We may expand our being to embrace,
And mirror all therein of every race;       50
Each is himself by universal grace.
Dying is self-fulfilment; and we cherish
His life, who, wanting ours, would wholly perish.
The Father may not be without the Son;
No love, will, knowledge, were for Him alone.       55
And change is naught
Save at the bar of a sole personal thought,
Enthroned for judgement, summoning past time
With present, hearing now concordant rhyme,
Now variance among voices vanishing,       60
That so win semblance of substantial thing.
But how conceive that there may ever be
Change in the nerve of change, our known identity?
    If we, poor worms, involved in our own cloud,
Deem the wide world lies darkling in a shroud,       65
Raving the earth holds no felicity,
One child’s clear laughter may rebuke the lie,
A lark’s light rapture soaring in the blue,
Or rainbow radiant from a drop of dew!
    Nor let a low-born Sense usurp the rule,       70
Who is but handmaid in a loftier school,
Where Love and Conscience a lore not of earth
Impart to Wisdom, child of heavenly birth.
O Thou unknown, inscrutable Divine!
I deem that I am Thine, and Thou art mine;       75
And though I may not gaze into Thy face,
I feel that all are clasped in Thine embrace.
The Christ is with us, and He points to Thee:
When we have grown into Him we shall see;
Behold the Father in the perfect Son,       80
And feel, with Him, Thy holy will be done!
    Love may not compass her full harmony,
Wanting the deep dread note of those who die.
And as with master-hand He sweeps the grand awakening chords,
Our wailing sighs leap winged, live talismanic words,       85
Dull woes and errors tempered to seraphic swords,
Love’s colour-chorus flames with glorious morning-red,
His alchemy transmuting the poured heart’s blood of our dead,
And lurid bale from murderous eyes of souls who inly bled!
    Whose mortal mind may sail around the ocean of Thy might,       90
Billowing away in awful gloom to issues infinite?
Bind Thee with his poor girdle? Surveying all thy shore!
His daring sinks confounded, foundering evermore,
In his dazed ear reverberating a tempestuous roar!
…Who sounds the abyss of Thine immense design? We rest,       95
Aware that Thou art better than our best.



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