Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A HYMN IN TIME OF IDOLS, by LEWIS MORRIS (1833-1907)



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A HYMN IN TIME OF IDOLS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Though they may crowd
Last Line: From whom their lord and king is far.
Subject(s): Public Worship; Church Attendance


THOUGH they may crowd
Rite upon rite, and mystic song on song;
Though the deep organ loud
Through the long nave reverberate full and strong;
Though the weird priest,
Whom rolling clouds of incense half conceal,
By gilded robes increased,
Mutter and sign, and proudly prostrate kneel;
Not pomp, nor song, nor bended knee
Shall bring them any nearer Thee.

I would not hold
Therefore that those who worship still where they,
In dear dead days of old,
Their distant sires, knelt once and passed away,
May not from carven stone,
High arching nave and reeded column fine,
And the thin soaring tone
Of the keen music catch a breath divine,
Or that the immemorial sense
Of worship adds not reverence.

But by some bare
Hill-side or plain, or crowded city street,
Wherever purer spirits are,
Or hearts with love inflamed together meet,
Rude bench and naked wall,
Humble and sordid to the world-dimmed sight,
On these shall come to fall
A golden ray of consecrating light,
And Thou within the midst shalt there
Invisible receive the prayer.

In every home,
Wherever there are loving hearts and mild,
Thou still dost deign to come,
Clothed with the likeness of a little child;
Upon the hearth Thou still
Dwellest with them at meat, or work, or play;
Thou who all space dost fill
Art with the pure and humble day by day;
Thou treasurest the tears they weep,
And watchest o'er them while they sleep.

Spirit and Word!
That still art hid in every faithful heart,
Indwelling Thought and Lord --
How should they doubt who know Thee as Thou art?
How think to bring Thee near
By magic words, or signs, or any spell,
Who art among us here,
Who always in the loving soul dost dwell,
Who art the staff and stay indeed
Of the weak knees and hands that bleed?

Then let them take
Their pagan trappings, and their lifeless lore;
Let us arise and make
A worthy temple where was none before.
Each soul its own best shrine,
Its priesthood, its sufficient sacrifice,
Its cleansing fount divine,
Its hidden store of precious sanctities.
Those only fit for priestcraft are
From whom their Lord and King is far.





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