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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald

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Little white Lily
Sat by a stone,
Drooping and waiting
Till the sun shone.
Little white Lily
Sunshine has fed;
Little white Lily
Is lifting her head.

Little white Lily
Said, "It is good:
Little white Lily's
Clothing and food!
Little white Lily
Drest like a bride!
Shining with whiteness, And crowned beside!"

Little white Lily
Droopeth in pain,
Waiting and waiting
For the wet rain.
Little white Lily
Holdeth her cup;
Rain is fast falling,
And filling it up.

Little white Lily
Said, "Good again,
When I am thirsty
To have nice rain!
Now I am stronger,
Now I am cool;
Heat cannot burn me,
My veins are so full!"

Little white Lily
Smells very sweet:
On her head sunshine,
Rain at her feet.
"Thanks to the sunshine! Thanks to the rain!
Little white Lily
Is happy again!"

[He is silent for a moment; then goes and looks at her.]

She is asleep, the darling! Easily Is Sleep enticed to brood on childhood's heart. Gone home unto thy Father for the night!

[He returns to his seat.]

I have grown common to her. It is strange-- This commonness--that, as a blight, eats up All the heart's springing corn and promised fruit.

[Looking round.]

This room is very common: everything Has such a well-known look of nothing in it; And yet when first I called it hers and mine, There was a mystery inexhaustible About each trifle on the chimney-shelf: The gilding now is nearly all worn off. Even she, the goddess of the wonder-world, Seems less mysterious and worshipful: No wonder I am common in her eyes. Alas! what must I think? Is this the true? Was that the false that was so beautiful? Was it a rosy mist that wrapped it round? Or was love to the eyes as opium, Making all things more beauteous than they were? And can that opium do more than God To waken beauty in a human brain? Is this the real, the cold, undraperied truth-- A skeleton admitted as a guest At life's loud feast, wearing a life-like mask? No, no; my heart would die if I believed it. A blighting fog uprises with the days, False, cold, dull, leaden, gray. It clings about The present, far dragging like a robe; but ever Forsakes the past, and lets its hues shine out: On past and future pours the light of heaven. The Commonplace is of the present mind. The Lovely is the True. The Beautiful Is what God made. Men from whose narrow bosoms The great child-heart has withered, backward look To their first-love, and laugh, and call it folly, A mere delusion to which youth is subject, As childhood to diseases. They know better! And proud of their denying, tell the youth, On whom the wonder of his being shines, That will be over with him by and by: "I was so when a boy--look at me now!" Youth, be not one of them, but love thy love. So with all worship of the high and good, And pure and beautiful. These men are wiser! Their god, Experience, but their own decay; Their wisdom but the gray hairs gathered on them. Yea, some will mourn and sing about their loss, And for the sake of sweet sounds cherish it, Nor yet believe that it was more than seeming. But he in whom the child's heart hath not died, But grown a man's heart, loveth yet the Past; Believes in all its beauty; knows the hours Will melt the mist; and that, although this day Cast but a dull stone on Time's heaped-up cairn, A morning light will break one morn and draw The hidden glories of a thousand hues Out from its diamond-depths and ruby-spots And sapphire-veins, unseen, unknown, before. Far in the future lies his refuge. Time Is God's, and all its miracles are his; And in the Future he overtakes the Past, Which was a prophecy of times to come: There lie great flashing stars, the same that shone In childhood's laughing heaven; there lies the wonder In which the sun went down and moon arose; The joy with which the meadows opened out Their daisies to the warming sun of spring; Yea, all the inward glory, ere cold fear Froze, or doubt shook the mirror of his soul: To reach it, he must climb the present slope Of this day's duty--here he would not rest. But all the time the glory is at hand, Urging and guiding--only o'er its face Hangs ever, pledge and screen, the bridal veil: He knows the beauty radiant underneath; He knows that God who is the living God, The God of living things, not of the dying, Would never give his child, for God-born love, A cloud-made phantom, fading in the sun. Faith vanishes in sight; the cloudy veil Will melt away, destroyed of inward light.

If thy young heart yet lived, my Lilia, thou And I might, as two children, hand in hand, Go home unto our Father.--I believe It only sleeps, and may be wakened yet.

SCENE X.--Julian's room. Christmas Day; early morn. JULIAN.

The light comes feebly, slowly, to the world On this one day that blesses all the year, Just as it comes on any other day: A feeble child he came, yet not the less Brought godlike childhood to the aged earth, Where nothing now is common any more. All things had hitherto proclaimed God: The wide spread air; the luminous mist that hid The far horizon of the fading sea; The low persistent music evermore Flung down upon the sands, and at the base Of the great rocks that hold it as a cup; All things most common; the furze, now golden, now Opening dark pods in music to the heat Of the high summer-sun at afternoon; The lone black tarn upon the round hill-top, O'er which the gray clouds brood like rising smoke, Sending its many rills, o'erarched and hid, Singing like children down the rocky sides;-- Where shall I find the most unnoticed thing, For that sang God with all its voice of song? But men heard not, they knew not God in these; To their strange speech unlistening ears were strange; For with a stammering tongue and broken words, With mingled falsehoods and denials loud, Man witnessed God unto his fellow man: How then himself the voice of Nature hear? Or how himself he heeded, when, the leader, He in the chorus sang a discord vile? When prophet lies, how shall the people preach? But when He came in poverty, and low, A real man to half-unreal men, A man whose human thoughts were all divine, The head and upturned face of human kind-- Then God shone forth from all the lowly earth, And men began to read their maker there. Now the Divine descends, pervading all. Earth is no more a banishment from heaven; But a lone field among the distant hills, Well ploughed and sown, whence corn is gathered home. Now, now we feel the holy mystery That permeates all being: all is God's; And my poor life is terribly sublime. Where'er I look, I am alone in God, As this round world is wrapt in folding space; Behind, before, begin and end in him: So all beginnings and all ends are hid; And he is hid in me, and I in him.

Oh, what a unity, to mean them all!-- The peach-dyed morn; cold stars in colder blue Gazing across upon the sun-dyed west, While the dank wind is running o'er the graves; Green buds, red flowers, brown leaves, and ghostly snow; The grassy hills, breeze-haunted on the brow; And sandy deserts hung with stinging stars! Half-vanished hangs the moon, with daylight sick, Wan-faced and lost and lonely: daylight fades-- Blooms out the pale eternal flower of space, The opal night, whose odours are gray dreams-- Core of its petal-cup, the radiant moon! All, all the unnumbered meanings of the earth, Changing with every cloud that passes o'er; All, all, from rocks slow-crumbling in the frost Of Alpine deserts, isled in stormy air, To where the pool in warm brown shadow sleeps, The stream, sun-ransomed, dances in the sun; All, all, from polar seas of jewelled ice, To where she dreams out gorgeous flowers--all, all The unlike children of her single womb! Oh, my heart labours with infinitude! All, all the messages that these have borne To eyes and ears, and watching, listening souls; And all the kindling cheeks and swelling hearts, That since the first-born, young, attempting day, Have gazed and worshipped!--What a unity, To mean each one, yet fuse each in the all! O centre of all forms! O concord's home! O world alive in one condensed world! O face of Him, in whose heart lay concealed The fountain-thought of all this kingdom of heaven! Lord, thou art infinite, and I am thine!

I sought my God; I pressed importunate; I spoke to him, I cried, and in my heart It seemed he answered me. I said--"Oh! take Me nigh to thee, thou mighty life of life! I faint, I die; I am a child alone 'Mid the wild storm, the brooding desert-night."

"Go thou, poor child, to him who once, like thee, Trod the highways and deserts of the world."

"Thou sendest me then, wretched, from thy sight! Thou wilt not have me--I am not worth thy care!"

"I send thee not away; child, think not so; From the cloud resting on the mountain-peak, I call to guide thee in the path by which Thou may'st come soonest home unto my heart. I, I am leading thee. Think not of him As he were one and I were one; in him Thou wilt find me, for he and I are one. Learn thou to worship at his lowly shrine, And see that God dwelleth in lowliness."

I came to Him; I gazed upon his face; And Lo! from out his eyes God looked on me!-- Yea, let them laugh! I will sit at his feet, As a child sits upon the ground, and looks Up in his mother's face. One smile from him, One look from those sad eyes, is more to me Than to be lord myself of hearts and thoughts. O perfect made through the reacting pain In which thy making force recoiled on thee! Whom no less glory could make visible Than the utter giving of thyself away; Brooding no thought of grandeur in the deed, More than a child embracing from full heart! Lord of thyself and me through the sore grief Which thou didst bear to bring us back to God, Or rather, bear in being unto us Thy own pure shining self of love and truth! When I have learned to think thy radiant thoughts, To love the truth beyond the power to know it, To bear my light as thou thy heavy cross, Nor ever feel a martyr for thy sake, But an unprofitable servant still,-- My highest sacrifice my simplest duty Imperative and unavoidable, Less than which All, were nothingness and waste; When I have lost myself in other men, And found myself in thee--the Father then Will come with thee, and will abide with me.

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