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The Poetical Works of George MacDonald (Parables)

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Joy! O joy! the dawning sea Answers to the dawning sky, Foretaste of the coming glee When the sun will lord it high! See the swelling radiance growing To a dazzling glory-might!
See the shadows gently going 'Twixt the wave-tops wild with light!

Hear the smiting billows clang! See the falling billows lean Half a watery vault, and hang Gleaming with translucent green, Then in thousand fleeces fall, Thundering light upon the strand!-- This the whiteness which did call Through the dusk, across the land!

See, a boat! Out, out we dance! Fierce blasts swoop upon my sail! What a terrible expanse--
Tumbling hill and heaving dale! Stayless, helpless, lost I float, Captive to the lawless free! But a prison is my boat!
Oh, for petrel-wings to flee!

Look below
each watery whirl Cast in beauty's living mould! Look above: each feathery curl Dropping crimson, dropping gold!-- Oh, I tremble in the flush Of the everlasting youth! Love and awe together rush: I am free in God, the Truth!


Alas, 'tis cold and dark!
The wind all night hath sung a wintry tune! Hail from black clouds that swallowed up the moon Beat, beat against my bark.

Oh! why delays the spring?
Not yet the sap moves in my frozen veins; Through all my stiffened roots creep numbing pains, That I can hardly cling.

The sun shone yester-morn;
I felt the glow down every fibre float, And thought I heard a thrush's piping note Of dim dream-gladness born.

Then, on the salt gale driven, The streaming cloud hissed through my outstretched arms, Tossed me about in slanting snowy swarms, And blotted out the heaven.

All night I brood and choose Among past joys. Oh, for the breath of June! The feathery light-flakes quavering from the moon The slow baptizing dews!

Oh, the joy-frantic birds!-- They are the tongues of us, mute, longing trees! Aha, the billowy odours! and the bees That browse like scattered herds!

The comfort-whispering showers That thrill with gratefulness my youngest shoot! The children playing round my deep-sunk root, Green-caved from burning hours!

See, see the heartless dawn, With naked, chilly arms latticed across! Another weary day of moaning loss On the thin-shadowed lawn!

But icy winter's past;
Yea, climbing suns persuade the relenting wind: I will endure with steadfast, patient mind; My leaves will come at last!


Were I a skilful painter,
My pencil, not my pen,
Should try to teach thee hope and fear, And who would blame me then?-- Fear of the tide of darkness That floweth fast behind,
And hope to make thee journey on In the journey of the mind.

Were I a skilful painter,
What should I paint for thee?-- A tiny spring-bud peeping out From a withered wintry tree; The warm blue sky of summer O'er jagged ice and snow,
And water hurrying gladsome out From a cavern down below;

The dim light of a beacon
Upon a stormy sea,
Where a lonely ship to windward beats For life and liberty;
A watery sun-ray gleaming
Athwart a sullen cloud
And falling on some grassy flower The rain had earthward bowed;

Morn peeping o'er a mountain, In ambush for the dark,
And a traveller in the vale below Rejoicing like a lark;
A taper nearly vanished
Amid the dawning gray,
And a maiden lifting up her head, And lo, the coming day!

I am no skilful painter;
Let who will blame me then
That I would teach thee hope and fear With my plain-talking pen!-- Fear of the tide of darkness That floweth fast behind,
And hope to make thee journey on In the journey of the mind.

[The fact which suggested this poem is related by Clarke in his Travels.]

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