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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald

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Sometimes, in daylight hours, awake,

Our souls with visions teem

Which to the slumbering brain would take

The form of wondrous dream.

Once, with my thought-sight, I descried

A plain with hills around;

lordly company on each side Leaves bare the middle ground.

Great terrace-steps at one end rise

To something like a throne,

And thither all the radiant eyes,

As to a centre, shone.

snow-white glory, dim-defined, Those seeking eyes beseech--

Him who was not in fire or wind,

But in the gentle speech.

They see his eyes far-fixed wait:

Adown the widening vale

They, turning, look; their breath they bate,

With dread-filled wonder pale.

In raiment worn and blood-bedewed,

With faltering step and numb,

Toward the shining multitude

A weary man did come.

His face was white, and still-composed,

As of a man nigh dead;

The eyes, through eyelids half unclosed,

A faint, wan splendour shed.

Drops on his hair disordered hung

Like rubies dull of hue;

His hands were pitifully wrung,

And stricken through and through.

Silent they stood with tender awe:

Between their ranks he came;

Their tearful eyes looked down, and saw

What made his feet so lame.

He reached the steps below the throne,

There sank upon his knees;

Clasped his torn hands with stifled groan,

And spake in words like these:--

"Father, I am come back. Thy will

Is sometimes hard to do."

From all that multitude so still

A sound of weeping grew.

Then mournful-glad came down the One;

He kneeled and clasped his child;

Lay on his breast the outworn man,

And wept until he smiled.

The people, who, in bitter woe

And love, had sobbed and cried,

Raised aweful eyes at length--and, Lo,

The two sat side by side!

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