POETRY: Quinquagesima Sunday by Blessed John Keble
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the Earth. (Genesis 9:13)
Sweet Dove! the softest, steadiest plume
In all the sunbright sky,
Brightening in ever-changeful bloom
As breezes change on high;—
Sweet Leaf! the pledge of peace and mirth,
“Long sought, and lately won,”
Bless’d increase of reviving Earth,
When first it felt the Sun;—
Sweet Rainbow! pride of summer days,
High set at Heaven’s command,
Though into drear and dusky haze
Thou melt on either hand;—
Dear tokens of a pardoning God,
We hail ye, one and all,
As when our father’s wak’d abroad,
Freed from their twelvemonths’ thrall.
How joyful from th’ imprisoning ark,
On the green Earth they spring!
Not blither, after showers, the Lark
Mounts up with glistening wing.
So home-bound sailors spring to shore,
Two oceans safely past;
So happy souls, when life is o’er,
Plunge in th’ empyreal vast.
What wins their first and finest gaze
In all the blissful field,
And keeps it through a thousand days?
Love face to face reveal’d:
Love imag’d in that cordial look
Our Lord in Eden bends
On souls that sin and Earth forsook
In time to die his friends.
And what most welcome and serene
Dawns on the Patriarch’s eye,
In all th’ emerging hills so green,
In all the brightening sky?
What but the gentle rainbow’s gleam,
Soothing the wearied sight,
That cannot bear the solar beam,
With soft undazzling light?
Lord, if our fathers turn’d to thee
With such adoring gaze,
Wondering frail man thy light should see
Without thy scorching blaze.
Where is our love, and where our hearts,
We who have seen thy Son,
Have tried thy Spirit’s winning arts,
And yet we are not won?
The Son of God in radiance beam’d
Too bright for us to scan,
But we may face the rays that stream’d
From the mild Son of Man.
There, parted into rainbow hues,
In sweet harmonious strife,
We see celestial love diffuse
Its light o’er Jesus’s life.
God, by his bow, vouchsafes to write
This truth in Heaven above;
As every lovely hue is Light,
So every grace is Love.
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