Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
763. From “God and the Soul”
By John Lancaster Spalding

FOR many blessings I to God upraise
A thankful heart; the life He gives is fair
And sweet and good, since He is everywhere,
Still with me even in the darkest ways.
But most I thank Him for my earliest days,        5
Passed in the fields and in the open air,
With flocks and birds and flowers, free from all care,
And glad as brook that through a meadow strays.
O balmy air, O orchards white with bloom,
O waving fields of ever-varying green,        10
O deep, mysterious woods, whose leafy gloom
Invites to pensive dreams of worlds unseen,
To thoughts as solemn as the silent tomb,
No power from you my heart can ever wean!

THE STAR must cease to burn with its own light
Before it can become the dwelling-place
Of hearts that love,—beings of godlike race,
Through its own death attaining to the height
Of excellence, and sinking into night,
That it may glow with a more perfect grace,        20
And bear a nobler life through boundless space,
Till time shall bring eternity in sight.
So man, if he would truly live, must die,
Descending through the grave that he may rise
To higher worlds and dwell in purer sky;        25
Making of seeming life the sacrifice
To share the perfect life with God on high,
Where love divine is the infinite prize.

WHEN from the gloom of earth we see the sky,
The happy stars seem each to other near,        30
And their low-whispered words we almost hear,
As in sweet company they smile or sigh.
Alas! infinite worlds between them lie,
And solitary each within its sphere
Rolls lonely ever onward without cheer,        35
Is born, and lives and dies with no one near.
And so men’s souls seem close together bound,
But worlds immeasurable lie between,
And each is centre in a void profound,
Wherein he lonely lives sad or serene,        40
And, planet-like, moves higher centre round,
Whence light he draws as from the sun night’s Queen.

ELI, Eli, lama sabacthani?
O sadder than the ocean’s wailing moan,
Sadder than homes whence life and joy have flown,        45
Than graves where those we love in darkness lie;
More full of anguish than all agony
Of broken hearts, forsaken of their own
And left in hopeless misery alone,
Is this, O sweet and loving Christ, Thy cry!        50
For this, this only is infinite pain:
To feel that God Himself has turned away.
If He abide, all loss may still be gain,
And darkest night be beautiful as day.
But lacking Him the universe is vain,        55
And man’s immortal soul is turned to clay.


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.