Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles
John Stuart Blackie (1809–1895)
JOHN STUART BLACKIE is represented in another volume of the present Anthology by a selection of verse which was largely his own choice; but his “Songs of Religion and Life” (1876) give him claims to a place in any volume devoted to the sacred poetry of his time, hence two poems from that work are quoted here. Perhaps no better representation could be given of his fine manly religious spirit within the space than that afforded by the following lines entitled “The Laws of Nature” and the “Benedicite,” given here.

        The fool hath in his heart declared,—by laws
    Since time began,
Blind, and without intelligential cause,
    Or reasoned plan,
All things are ruled. I from this lore dissent,
    With sorrowful shame
That reasoning men such witless wit should vent
    In reason’s name.
O Thou that o’er this lovely world hast spread
    Thy jocund light,
Weaving with flowers beneath, and stars o’erhead
    This tissue bright
Of living powers, clear Thou my sense, that I
    May ever find
In all the marshalled pomp of earth and sky
    The marshalling mind!
Laws are not powers; nor can the well-timed courses
    Of earths and moons
Ring to the stroke of blind unthinking forces
    Their jarless tunes.
Wiser were they who in the flaming vault
    The circling sun
Beheld, and in his ray, with splendid fault,
    Worshipped the one
Eye of the universe that seeth all,
    And shapeth sight
In man and moth through curious visual ball
    With fine delight.
O blessed beam, on whose refreshful might
    Profusely shed
Six times ten years, with ever young delight,
    Mine eye hath fed,
Still let me love thee, and with wonder new,
    By flood and field,
Worship the fair, and consecrate the true
    By Thee revealed!
And loving thee, beyond thee love that first
    Father of Lights
From whom the ray vivific marvellous burst,
    Might of all mights,
Whose thought is order, and whose will is law.
    That man is wise
Who worships God wide-eyed, with cheerful awe
    And chaste surprise.
  Since the publication of the volume already referred to, the poet has passed away from amongst us, and the place that knew his characteristic face and figure knows them now no more. He died at Edinburgh on the 2nd of March, 1895.  2

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