Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Extracts from The Christian Year: Third Sunday in Lent
By John Keble (1792–1866)
 
(The Christian Inheritance)

    SEE Lucifer like lightning fall,
      Dashed from his throne of pride;
    While, answering Thy victorious call,
      The Saints his spoils divide;
  This world of Thine, by him usurped too long,        5
Now opening all her stores to heal Thy servants’ wrong.
 
    So when the first-born of Thy foes
      Dead in the darkness lay,
    When Thy redeemed at midnight rose
      And cast their bonds away,        10
  The orphaned realm threw wide her gates, and told
Into freed Israel’s lap her jewels and her gold.
 
    And when their wondrous march was o’er,
      And they had won their homes,
    Where Abraham fed his flock of yore,        15
      Among their fathers’ tombs;—
  A land that drinks the rain of Heaven at will,
Whose waters kiss the feet of many a vine-clad hill;—
 
    Oft as they watched, at thoughtful eve,
      A gale from bowers of balm        20
    Sweep o’er the billowy corn, and heave
      The tresses of the palm,
  Just as the lingering Sun had touched with gold,
Far o’er the cedar shade, some tower of giants old;
 
    It was a fearful joy, I ween,        25
      To trace the Heathen’s toil,
    The limpid wells, the orchards green,
      Left ready for the spoil,
  The household stores untouched, the roses bright
Wreathed o’er the cottage walls in garlands of delight.        30
 
    And now another Canaan yields
      To Thine all-conquering ark;—
    Fly from the ‘old poetic’ fields, 1
      Ye Paynim shadows dark!
  Immortal Greece, dear land of glorious lays,        35
Lo! here the ‘unknown God’ of thy unconscious praise!
 
    The olive-wreath, the ivied wand,
      ‘The sword in myrtles drest,’
    Each legend of the shadowy strand
      Now wakes a vision blest;        40
  As little children lisp, and tell of Heaven,
So thoughts beyond their thought to those high Bards were given.
 
    And these are ours: Thy partial grace
      The tempting treasure lends:
    These relics of a guilty race        45
      Are forfeit to Thy friends;
  What seemed an idol hymn, now breathes of Thee,
Tuned by Faith’s ear to some celestial melody.
 
    There ’s not a strain to Memory dear, 2
      Nor flower in classic grove,        50
    There ’s not a sweet note warbled here,
      But minds us of Thy Love,
  O Lord, our Lord, and spoiler of our foes,
There is no light but Thine: with Thee all beauty glows.
 
Note 1.
  Where each old poetic mountain
  Inspiration breathed around.
Gray.    
 [back]
Note 2. See Burns’s Works, i. 293. Dr. Currie’s edition. [back]
 
 
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