Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
I. The Divine Element—(God, Christ, the Holy Spirit)
Hymn to Zeus
Cleanthes (331–232 B.C.)
 
Anonymous translation from the Greek

MOST glorious of all the Undying, many-named, girt round with awe!
Jove, author of Nature, applying to all things the rudder of law—
Hail! Hail! for it justly rejoices the races whose life is a span
To lift unto thee their voices—the Author and Framer of man.
For we are thy sons; thou didst give us the symbols of speech at our birth,        5
Alone of the things that live, and mortal move upon earth.
Wherefore thou shalt find me extolling and ever singing thy praise;
Since thee the great Universe, rolling on its path round the world, obeys:—
Obeys thee, wherever thou guidest, and gladly is bound in thy bands,
So great is the power thou confidest, with strong, invincible hands,        10
To thy mighty ministering servant, the bolt of the thunder, that flies,
Two-edged like a sword, and fervent, that is living and never dies.
All nature, in fear and dismay, doth quake in the path of its stroke,
What time thou preparest the way for the one Word thy lips have spoke,
Which blends with lights smaller and greater, which pervadeth and thrilleth all things,        15
So great is thy power and thy nature—in the Universe Highest of Kings!
On earth, of all deeds that are done, O God! there is none without thee;
In the holy ether not one, nor one on the face of the sea,
Save the deeds that evil men, driven by their own blind folly, have planned;
But things that have grown uneven are made even again by thy hand;        20
And things unseemly grow seemly, the unfriendly are friendly to thee;
For no good and evil supremely thou hast blended in one by decree.
For all thy decree is one ever—a Word that endureth for aye,
Which mortals, rebellious, endeavor to flee from and shun to obey—
Ill-fated, that, worn with proneness for the lordship of goodly things,        25
Neither hear nor behold, in its oneness, the law that divinity brings;
Which men with reason obeying, might attain unto glorious life,
No longer aimlessly straying in the paths of ignoble strife.
There are men with a zeal unblest, that are wearied with following of fame,
And men with a baser quest, that are turned to lucre and shame.        30
There are men too that pamper and pleasure the flesh with delicate stings:
All these desire beyond measure to be other than all these things.
Great Jove, all-giver, dark-clouded, great Lord of the thunderbolt’s breath!
Deliver the men that are shrouded in ignorance dismal as death.
O Father! dispel from their souls the darkness, and grant them the light        35
Of reason, thy stay, when the whole wide world thou rulest with might,
That we, being honored, may honor thy name with the music of hymns,
Extolling the deeds of the Donor, unceasing, as rightly beseems
Mankind; for no worthier trust is awarded to God or to man
Than forever to glory with justice in the law that endures and is One.        40
 
 
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