Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Mohammedanism
By Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)
 
ONE God the Arabian Prophet preached to man,
  One God the Orient still
Adores through many a realm of mighty span,
  A God of Power and Will—
 
A God that shrouded in His lonely light        5
  Rests utterly apart
From all the vast Creations of His might,
  From Nature, Man, and Art:—
 
A Being in whose solitary hand
  All other beings weigh        10
No more than in the potter’s reckoning stand
  The workings of his clay:—
 
A Power that at its pleasure will create,
  To save or to destroy;
And to eternal pain predestinate,        15
  As to eternal joy:—
 
An unconditioned, irrespective Will,
  Demanding simple awe,
Beyond all principles of good or ill,
  Above idea of law.        20
 
No doctrine here of perfect Love divine,
  To which the bounds belong
Only of that unalterable line
  Disparting right from wrong:—
 
A love that while it must not regulate        25
  The issues of free-will,
By its own sacrifice can expiate
  The penalties of ill.
 
No message here of man redeemed from sin,
  Of fallen nature raised,        30
By inward strife and moral discipline
  Higher than e’er debased,—
 
Of the immense parental heart that yearns
  From highest heaven to meet
The poorest wandering spirit that returns        35
  To its Creator’s feet.
 
No Prophet here by common essence bound
  At once to God and man,
Author Himself and part of the profound
  And providential plan:        40
 
Himself the ensample of unuttered worth,
  Himself the living sign,
How by God’s grace the fallen sons of earth
  May be once more divine.
 
Thus in the faiths old Heathendom that shook        45
  Were different powers of strife;
Mohammed’s truth lay in a holy Book,
  Christ’s in a sacred Life.
 
So, while the world rolls on from change to change
  And realms of thought expand,        50
The Letter stands without expanse or range,
  Stiff as a dead man’s hand;
 
While, as the life-blood fills the growing form,
  The Spirit Christ has shed
Flows through the ripening ages fresh and warm,        55
  More felt than heard or read.
 
And therefore, though ancestral sympathies,
  And closest ties of race,
May guard Mohammed’s precept and decrees,
  Through many a tract of space,        60
 
Yet in the end the tight-drawn line must break,
  The sapless tree must fall,
Nor let the form one time did well to take
  Be tyrant over all.
 
The tide of things rolls forward, surge on surge,        65
  Bringing the blessèd hour,
When in Himself the God of Love shall merge
  The God of Will and Power.
 
 
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