Verse > Anthologies > W. Garrett Horder, ed. > The Poets’ Bible: New Testament
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W. Garrett Horder, comp.  The Poets’ Bible: New Testament.  1895.
 
“Whence Shall We Buy Bread?”
Edward Hayes Plumptre (1821–1891)
 
THE AFTER-GLOW lies purple on the hill,
  And o’er the listening crowd,
There falls the boding of the evening chill,
  And mist of thickening cloud.
 
Where shall they go who all day long have stood        5
  Hearing the news of joy?
Where in this town, that village, gather food
  For woman, man, and boy?
 
Weary, and sad that journey through the waste,
  Half-fainting by the way,        10
Through darkness pressing with bewildering haste,
  Down sinking ere the day.
 
And some are lame, and palsied, deaf or blind,
  Still waiting for His hand;
Or, healed that very day, can hardly find        15
  Their strength to walk or stand.
 
Rumour had told that once before He fed
  Five thousand in the wild,
And satisfied the hungry souls with bread,
  And all their fears beguiled.        20
 
Oh, was it true that He a feast can make
  When man’s resources fail,
And spread His banquet by the lonely lake,
  In grassy upland vale?
 
Can He, with one poor fisher’s scanty store,        25
  For all that crowd provide,
The bread and fish still growing more and more,
  Till none are unsupplied?
 
Yes, He who gives the full corn in the ear,
  The olive oil and wine,        30
Who guides the seasons of the circling year
  Through every changing sign,
 
He can compress within a moment’s space
  The magic of the spring,
Seed-time and harvest in one act embrace,        35
  And home the full sheaves bring.
 
Yes; evermore He feeds the hungry souls
  With bounties full and free,
And calms the waters when the thunder rolls,
  And storms-blasts sweep the sea.        40
 
Our souls were faint; we deemed no helper nigh,
  When lo! He gave us bread;
Calm breezes lulled the waters surging high,
  And all our terrors fled.
 
The fragments of God’s store are bounteous feast        45
  To weary souls and faint;
They gather round, the greatest and the least,
  The sinner and the saint.
 
He can refresh, and bid His servants take
  The fragments that remain,        50
And peasant’s meal, if He but bless and break,
  Whole thousands can sustain
 
From out the fulness of His bounty free,
  We treasure what is left;
His joy, once known, can never wholly flee,        55
  Though we’re of all bereft.
 
Through the dark night we journey o’er the hill,
  Not knowing where we go;
That food sustains us through the dark hour’s chill
  Until the morning glow.        60
 
 
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