Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DIMANCHE, by LEVI BISHOP

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DIMANCHE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Hail sabbath-day! Of all the seven the best!
Last Line: Thine own right arm, omnipotent to save!
Subject(s): Death; Love; Sea; Soul; Dead, The; Ocean

Hail Sabbath-day! Of all the seven the best!
From six of bustling toil how sweet the calm!
A troubled sea, from surging waves, at rest --
To weary, wounded life, a healing balm!

The ever-circling hours upon the wing,
Are told by stately peals of morning bell;
In plaintive tone responding breezes sing;
The air seems laden with a solemn spell.

The home affairs of morn at first arranged,
For worship, parent, maiden, swain prepare;
From plain, to neat and gay, attire is changed,
In cabin, cottage, mansion -- everywhere.

Now forth they issue on the rural way,
Or on the shady walk in cities swarm;
The sun looks down with mild, effulgent ray;
The twittering linnet lends melodious charm.

On every hand the "Earthly Courts" unclose;
Inviting calls the undulating chime;
In happy mood, while sipping every rose,
The wild bee hums response in gentle rhyme.

In "living green" the garden, forest, field,
The buzzing insect chants a solemn lay;
The locust blossoms sweetest incense yield;
All nature celebrates the sacred day.

The temple reached, the chimes their choral cease;
In beauty, fashion, shines the well-filled nave;
Yet all is pensive, for the Prince of Peace
Is here to bless, to sanctify and save.

And now the organ warbles softest notes,
Now gathers volume in its swell above;
Now bolder strain in vaulted arches floats,
And hearts are tuned to worship and to love.

In robes as white -- as pure as faith is pure,
The priest advances now, sedate and slow;
And with a voice as calm as faith is sure --
"Arise I will and to my father go."

Impressive are the accents of the service -- all:
The chant, the bow at Jesus' name, the air
And song of praise, to bended knee the fall,
The absolution, and the humble prayer;

The lessons, and the sermon -- earnest -- clear,
The creed, and that majestic litany!
In short, from "scripture moveth -- brethren dear,"
To "Father, Son and Spirit -- One in Three."

And then that fountain, full of mystery!
But which, to the devout, is all so plain;
That figures forth the passage through the sea,
"Of water-spirit, thou art born again."

And then the meeting of that little band
Of childhood years, whose plastic heart and mind
Are led and molded by the gentle hand,
And taught to lisp "The Saviour of mankind."

By hands laid on -- confirmed baptismal vow;
Another solemn and mysterious rite!
Salvation's helmet -- hope, reburnished now;
Another shield of faith for christian fight!

The innocence that "round the altar goes,"
The "comfortable" wine and broken bread --
The broken body of the Man of woes --
The risen Lord that brings to life the dead!

And then that nuptial form -- ordeal severe;
But yet, which covet all, in proper course;
That blends in one two loving hearts so dear,
In life till death "for better or for worse."

And then the Herald, sent to distant lands,
Where millions groan beneath the pagan rod;
Where superstition grim a monster stands,
And gnashes vengeance on the man of God.

And then that safe retreat from want and woe,
Which giver's heart improves in what is given --
The Hospital -- a vestibule below,
That smooths for honest poor the path to heaven.

And then the bed of sickness and of pain
Where minutes -- hours, are mark'd by sigh and moan,
O there, consoling thought! a Savior slain,
Can soothe the anguish, sweeten every groan!

O yes, and e'en amid consuming fires
That persecution lights -- that blaze around
The martyr's head! E'en there the soul aspires
To God, and with eternal life is crowned!

And then that solemn burial of the dead!
Corruption incorrupt! Where ends the strife!
The immortality in Christ, the head!
"I am the resurrection and the life!"

The whole; how comprehensive and sublime!
It covers life -- the shortest, longest span;
Embraces all the wants and hopes of time;
A boon of God, vouchsafed to fallen man!

It fits us for the race that here we run;
From earth to heaven it draws the soul and heart!
'Tis all a preparation, now begun,
For future world to which we soon depart.

Or true or false, let me believe it true!
Let not annihilation snatch my soul!
Let that soul live, eternal ages through,
And reach the blest abode, the happy goal!

Oh, when this weary life at last shall end,
Let not oblivion's ever gloomy wave
Roll o'er my sleeping dust! Great God! O lend
Thine own right arm, Omnipotent to save!

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