POETRY: Third Sunday In Lent by Blessed John Keble
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. (Luke 11:21-22)
See Lucifer like lightning fall
Dash’d from his throne of pride;
While, answering Thy victorious call,
The Saints his spoils divide,
This world of thine, by him usurp’d too long,
Now opening all her stores to heal thy servants’ wrong.
So when the first-born of thy foes
Dead in the darkness lay,
When thy redeem’d at midnight rose
And cast their bonds away,
The orphan’d realm threw wide her gates, and told
Into freed Israel’s lap her jewels and her gold.
And when their wondrous march was o’er,
And they had won their homes,
Where Abraham fed his flock of yore,
Among their fathers’ tombs;—
A land that drinks the rain of heaven at will,
Whose waters kiss the feet of man a vine-clad hill;—
Oft as they watch’d, at thoughtful eve,
A gale from bowers of balm
Sweep o’er the billowy corn, and heave
The tresses of the palm,
Just as the lingering Sun had touch’d with gold,
Far o’er the cedar shade, some tower of giants old;
It was a fearful joy, I ween,
To trace the Heathen’s toil,
The limpid wells, the orchards green
Left ready for the spoil,
The household stores untouch’d, the roses bright
Wreath’d o’er the cottage walls in garlands of delight.
And now another Canaan yields
To thine all-conquering ark;—
Fly from the “old poetic” fields,
Ye Paynim shadows dark!
Immortal Greece, dear land of glorious lays,
Lo! here the “unknown God” of thy unconscious praise!
The olive wreath, the ivied wand,
“The sword in myrtles drest,”
Each legend of the shadowy strand
Now wakes a vision blest:
As little children lisp, and tell of Heaven,
So thoughts beyond their thought to those high Bards were given.
And these are ours: Thy partial grace
The tempting treasure lends:
These relics of a guilty race
Are forfeit to thy friends:
What seem’d an idol hymn, now breathes of Thee,
Tun’d by Faith’s ear to some celestial melody.
There’s not a strain to memory ear,
Nor flower in classic grove,
There’s not a sweet note warbled here,
But minds us of thy Love.
O Lord, our Lord, and spoiler of our foes,
There is no light but thine: with Thee all beauty glows.
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