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CCIII

A HYMN ON RECOVERY FROM SEVERE ILLNESS

163

C. Smart

When Israel's ruler on the royal bed

In anguish and in perturbation lay,

The down relieved not his anointed head,

And rest gave place to horror and dismay.

Fast flow'd the tears, high heaved each gasping sigh,

When God's own prophet thunder'd--'Monarch, thou must die.'

'And must I go,' the illustrious mourner cried,

'I who have served Thee still in faith and truth,

Whose snow-white conscience no foul crime has dyed

From youth to manhood, infancy to youth;

Like David, who have still revered Thy word--

The sovereign of myself, and servant of the LORD.'

The Judge Almighty heard His suppliant's moan,

Repeal'd his sentence, and his health restored;

The beams of mercy on his temples shone,

Shot from that Heaven to which his sighs had soar'd;

The Sun retreated at his Maker's nod,

And miracles confirm the genuine work of GOD.

But, O Immortals!--What had I to plead

When Death stood o'er me with his threatening lance,

When reason left me in the time of need,

And sense was lost in terror or in trance?

My sinking soul was with my blood inflamed,

And the celestial image sunk, defaced and maim'd.

I sent back memory, in heedful guise,

To search the records of preceding years;

Home, like the raven to the ark, she flies,

Croaking bad tidings to my trembling ears:

O Sun, again that179179again [would] that thy retreat was made,

And threw my follies back into the friendly shade!

But soul-rejoicing health again returns,

The blood meanders gentle in each vein;

The lamp of life renew'd with vigour burns,

And exiled reason takes her seat again:--

Brisk leaps the heart, the mind's at large once more,

To love, to praise, to bless, to wonder and adore.

The virtuous partner of my nuptial bands

Appear'd a widow to my frantic sight;

My little prattlers, lifting up their hands,

Beckon me back to them, to life, and light;

I come, ye spotless sweets! I come again,

Nor have your tears been shed, nor have ye knelt in vain.

--All glory to the Eternal, to the Immense,

All glory to the Omniscient and Good,

Whose power 's uncircumscribed, Whose love 's intense,

But yet Whose justice ne'er could be withstood

Except thro' Him--thro' Him, Who stands alone,

Of worth, of weight allow'd for all mankind to atone!

O Penitence!--to virtue near allied,

Thou canst new joys e'en to the blest impart;

The listening Angels lay their harps aside

To bear the music of thy contrite heart;

And Heaven itself wears a more radiant face,

When Charity presents thee to the Throne of grace!

Chief of metallic forms is regal gold;

Of elements, the limpid fount that flows;

Give me 'mongst gems the brilliant to behold;

O'er Flora's flock imperial is the rose:

Above all birds the sovereign eagle soars;

And monarch of the field the lordly lion roars.

What can with great Leviathan compare,

Who takes his pastime in the mighty main?

What, like the Sun, shines thro' the realms of air,

And gilds and glorifies th' ethereal plain?--

Yet what are these to man, who bears the sway?

For all was made for him--to serve and to obey.

Thus in high Heaven Charity is great,

Faith, hope, devotion hold a lower place;

On her the Cherubs and the Seraphs wait,

Her, every virtue courts, and every grace;

See! on the right, close by the Almighty's throne,

In Him she shines confess'd, Who came to make her known.

Deep-rooted in my heart then let her grow,

That for the past the future may atone;

That I may act what Thou hast given to know,

That I may live for Thee, and Thee alone,--

And justify those sweetest words from Heaven,

'That he shall love Thee most, to whom Thou'st most forgiven.'


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