Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THOUGHTS IN A CATHEDRAL, by RHYS CARPENTER



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THOUGHTS IN A CATHEDRAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lord, not with these thy priesthood dwells
Last Line: With these thy holy priesthood dwells.
Variant Title(s): In A Cathedral
Subject(s): Churches; Creation; God; Nature; Spring; Cathedrals


LORD, not with these thy priesthood dwells,
Not in these carven stalls,
Not where the mighty organ swells,
Nor 'mid the toll of bells,
Not in thy Sabbath, God, not in thy holy halls
Where the cleft sunlight falls
Deep-stained like wine,
Not here, O God, not here
Where the deep pulse of silence holds thy shrine
'Twixt awe and fear,
Not here thy voice, not here that breath divine.

How very old, O God, are we, how very old.
The Spring with all its blossom comes anew;
The giant shadows of the elms unfold,
The river grasses show their tenderest hue,
And all the meadows shine with gold,
And the great skies are blue.
Within our hearts a glory stirs;
Our slothful winter blood
Like river-flood
With rushing stream in foaming speed
Leaps on, or like the warrior's steed
Which feels the battle spurs.
Is here thy shrine, O God? Art thou revealed
In swaying blossom and in blowing field,
Is thy deep priesthood but the heart of joy,
The ever-brimming laughter unconcealed
Of Spring's light-hearted mirth?
Shall even these fresh pleasures never cloy?
Dwells here thy priesthood, God, on earth?

Ah no, ah no, we are not as the leaf,
In thoughtless growth unfurled;
And though our life be brief
We are as ancient as the world,
And in our heart there lies unmeasured grief.
Our memories are older than the sea
And wash the headlands of uncrumbling time;
Deep visionary gods are we,
And not the masking creatures of a rhyme:
God dwells within us, silent, secretly.

Yet unto some he speaks, through some he moves in view
And with creative finger writes beneath our eyes,
Lest we grow blind and perish. Yet how few,
How few on whom the sacred laurel lies,
To whom their labour yields
Fruit in unfurrowed fields,
Upon whose quiet brows
No hate and anger rouse,
But deep within their eyes
Like dawn upon the hills, the mystic visions rise.

Their knowledge is a servant unto power,
Their passions are the root whence springs the flower,
Their hearts are turned to catch the hidden strain
Of laughter and of pain,
And all the ages mould for them a single hour.
They see the dawn of wisdom on the earth,
They draw from Time's enchanted wells,
Theirs are the doors of death and birth.
With these thy holy priesthood dwells.





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