Verse > Anthologies > W. Garrett Horder, ed. > The Poets’ Bible: New Testament
W. Garrett Horder, comp.  The Poets’ Bible: New Testament.  1895.
The Boy with the Five Loaves
John Keble (1792–1866)
‘If thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little.’

WHAT time the Saviour spread His feast
  For thousands on the mountain’s side,
    One of the last and least
      The abundant store supplied.
Haply, the wonders to behold,        5
  A boy ’mid other boys he came,
    A lamb of JESUS’ fold,
      Though now unknown by name.
Or for his sweet obedient ways
  The Apostles brought him near, to share        10
    Their Lord’s laborious days,
      His frugal basket bear?
Or might it be his duteous heart,
  That led him sacrifice to bring
    For his own simple part,        15
      To the world’s hidden King?
Well may I guess how glow’d his cheek,
  How he look’d down, half pride, half fear
    Far off he saw one speak
      Of him in JESUS’ ear.        20
‘There is a lad—five loaves hath he,
  And fishes twain:—but what are they
    Where hungry thousands be?’—
      Nay, Christ will find a way.
In order, on the fresh green hill,        25
  The mighty Shepherd ranks his Sheep
    By tens and fifties, still
      As clouds when breezes sleep.
O who can tell the trembling joy,
  Who paint the grave endearing look,        30
    When from that favoured boy
      The wondrous pledge He took?—
Keep thou, dear child, thine early word;
  Bring Him thy best: who knows but He
    For His eternal board        35
      May take some gift of thee?
Thou prayest without the veil as yet:
  But kneel in faith: an arm benign
    Such prayer will duly set
      Within the holiest shrine.        40
And Prayer has might to spread and grow.
  Thy childish darts, right-aim’d on high,
    May catch Heaven’s fire and glow
      Far in the eternal sky:
Even as He made that stripling’s store        45
  Type of the Feast by Him decreed,
    Where Angels might adore,
      And souls for ever feed.

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