GRAND IS THE LEISURE OF THE EARTH
From Scholar and
by: Jean Ingelow (1830-1897)
is the leisure of the earth;
- She gives her happy myriads birth,
- And after harvest fears not dearth,
- But goes to sleep in snow-wreaths dim.
- Dread is the leisure up above
- The while He sits whose name is Love,
- And waits, as Noah did, for the dove,
- To wit if she would fly to him.
- He waits for us, while, houseless things,
- We beat about with bruisèd wings
- On the dark floods and water-springs,
- The ruined world, the desolate sea;
- With open windows from the prime
- All night, all day, He waits sublime,
- Until the fullness of the time
- Decreed from His eternity.
- Where is OUR leisure?--Give us rest.
- Where is the quiet we possessed?
- We must have had it once--were blest
- With peace whose phantoms yet entice.
- Sorely the mother of mankind
- Longed for the garden left behind;
- For we still prove some yearnings blind
- Inherited from Paradise.
- Hold, heart! I cried; for trouble sleeps,
- I hear no sound of aught that weeps;
- I will not look into thy deeps--
- I am afraid, I am afraid!
- Afraid! she saith; and yet tis true
- That what man dreads he still should view--
- Should do the thing he fears to do,
- And storm the ghosts in ambuscade!
- What good! I sigh. Was reason meant
- To straighten branches that are bent,
- Or soothe an ancient discontent,
- The instinct of a race dethroned?
- Ah! doubly should that instinct go,
- Must the four rivers cease to flow,
- Nor yield those rumours sweet and low
- Wherewith mans life is undertoned.
- Yet had I but the past, she cries,
- And it was lost, I would arise
- And comfort me some other wise.
- But more than loss about me clings.
- I am but restless with my race;
- The whispers from a heavenly place,
- Once dropped among us, seem to chase
- Rest with their prophet-visitings.
- The race is like a child, as yet
- Too young for all things to be set
- Plainly before him, with no let
- Or hindrance meet for his degree;
- But neertheless by much too old
- Not to perceive that men withhold
- More of the story than is told,
- And so infer a mystery.
- If the Celestials daily fly
- With messages on missions high,
- And float, our nests and turrets nigh,
- Conversing on Heavens great intents,
- What wonder hints of coming things,
- Whereto mens hope and yearning clings,
- Should drop like feathers from their wings
- And give us vague presentiments.
- And as the waxing moon can take
- The tidal waters in her wake,
- And lead them round and round, to break
- Obedient to her drawings dim;
- So may the movements of His mind,
- The first Great Father of mankind,
- Affect with answering movements blind,
- And draw the souls that breathe by Him.
- We had a message long ago
- That like a river peace should flow,
- And Eden bloom again below.
- We heard, and we began to wait:
- Full soon that message men forgot;
- Yet waiting is their destined lot,
- And, waiting for they know not what,
- They strive with yearnings passionate.
POEMS BY JEAN INGELOW
"Grand is the Leisure of the
Earth" is reprinted from The Oxford Book of English Mystical
Verse. Ed. Nicholson & Lee. Oxford: The Clarendon Press,