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SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER

He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out at Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children at Sheth. Numbers xxiv. 16, 17.

O for a sculptor’s hand,

That thou might’st take thy stand,

Thy wild hair floating on the eastern breeze,

Thy tranc’d yet open gaze

Fix’d on the desert haze,

As one who deep in heaven some airy pageant sees.

In outline dim and vast

Their fearful shadows cast

This giant forms of empires on their way

To ruin: one by one

They tower and they are gone,

Yet in the Prophet’s soul the dreams of avarice stay.

No sun or star so bright

In all the world of light

That they should draw to Heaven his downward eye:

He hears th’ Almighty’s word,

He sees the angel’s sword,

Yet low upon the earth his heart and treasure lie.

Lo! from you argent field,

To him and us reveal’d,

One gentle Star glides down, on earth to dwell.

Chain’d as they are below

Our eyes may see it glow,

And as it mounts again, may track its brightness well.

To him it glar’d afar,

A token of wild war,

The banner of his Lord’s victorious wrath:

But close to us it gleams,

Its soothing lustre streams

Around our home’s green walls, and on our church-way path.

We in the tents abide

Which he at distance eyed

Like goodly cedars by the waters spread,

While seven red altar-fires

Rose up in wavy spires,

Where on the mount he watch’d his sorceries dark and dread.

He watch’d till morning’s ray

On lake and meadow lay,

And willow-shaded streams that silent sweep

Around the banner’d lines,

Where by their several signs

The desert-wearied tribes in sight of Canaan sleep.

He watch’d till knowledge came

Upon his soul like flame,

Not of those magic fires at random caught:

But true Prophetic light

Flash’d o’er him, high and bright,

Flash’d once, and died away, and left his darken’d thought.

And can he choose but fear,

Who feels his God so near,

That when he fain would curse, his powerless tongue

In blessing only moves? —

Alas! the world he loves

Too close around his heart her tangling veil hath flung.

Sceptre and Star divine,

Who in Thine inmost shrine

Hash made us worshippers, O claim Thine own;

More than Thy seers we know —

O teach our love to grow

Up to Thy heavenly light, and reap what Thou hast sown.

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