Verse > John Greenleaf Whittier > The Poetical Works in Four Volumes
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892).  The Poetical Works in Four Volumes.  1892.
Religious Poems
The Over-Heart
          “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.”—PAUL.

ABOVE, below, in sky and sod,
  In leaf and spar, in star and man,
  Well might the wise Athenian scan
The geometric signs of God,
  The measured order of His plan.        5
And India’s mystics sang aright
  Of the One Life pervading all,—
  One Being’s tidal rise and fall
In soul and form, in sound and sight,—
  Eternal outflow and recall.        10
God is: and man in guilt and fear
  The central fact of Nature owns;
  Kneels, trembling, by his altar-stones,
And darkly dreams the ghastly smear
  Of blood appeases and atones.        15
Guilt shapes the Terror: deep within
  The human heart the secret lies
  Of all the hideous deities;
And, painted on a ground of sin,
  The fabled gods of torment rise!        20
And what is He? The ripe grain nods,
  The sweet dews fall, the sweet flowers blow;
  But darker signs His presence show:
The earthquake and the storm are God’s,
  And good and evil interflow.        25
O hearts of love! O souls that turn
  Like sunflowers to the pure and best!
  To you the truth is manifest:
For they the mind of Christ discern
  Who lean like John upon His breast!        30
In him of whom the sibyl told,
  For whom the prophet’s harp was toned,
  Whose need the sage and magian owned,
The loving heart of God behold,
  The hope for which the ages groaned!        35
Fade, pomp of dreadful imagery
  Wherewith mankind have deified
  Their hate, and selfishness, and pride!
Let the scared dreamer wake to see
  The Christ of Nazareth at his side!        40
What doth that holy Guide require?
  No rite of pain, nor gift of blood,
  But man a kindly brotherhood,
Looking, where duty is desire,
  To Him, the beautiful and good.        45
Gone be the faithlessness of fear,
  And let the pitying heaven’s sweet rain
  Wash out the altar’s bloody stain;
The law of Hatred disappear,
  The law of Love alone remain.        50
How fall the idols false and grim!
  And lo! their hideous wreck above
  The emblems of the Lamb and Dove!
Man turns from God, not God from him;
  And guilt, in suffering, whispers Love!        55
The world sits at the feet of Christ,
  Unknowing, blind, and unconsoled;
  It yet shall touch His garment’s fold,
And feel the heavenly Alchemist
  Transform its very dust to gold.        60
The theme befitting angel tongues
  Beyond a mortal’s scope has grown.
  O heart of mine! with reverence own
The fulness which to it belongs,
  And trust the unknown for the known.


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