Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HYMNS OF A HERMIT: 3, by JOHN STERLING (1806-1844)



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HYMNS OF A HERMIT: 3, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Time more than earthly o'er this hour prevail
Last Line: And he who dooms the flesh, redeems the soul.
Subject(s): Hermits; Time


TIME more than earthly o'er this hour prevails,
While thus I stand beside the newly dead;
My heart is raised in awe, in terror quails
Before these relics, whence the life is fled.

That face, so well beloved, is senseless now,
And lies a shrunken mask of common clay;
No more shall thought inspire the pulseless brow,
Or laughter round the mouth keep holiday.

In vain affection yearns to own as man
This clod turn'd over by the plough of death
The sharpen'd nose, the frozen eyes we scan,
And wondering think the heap had human breath.

An hour ago its lightest looks or throbs
Impell'd in me the bosom's ample tide;
Its farewell words awaken'd sighs and sobs,
To me more vivid seem'd than all beside.

Now not a worm is crawling o'er the earth,
But shows than this an impulse more divine;
And, wandering lost in stunn'd reflection's dearth,
I only feel what total loss is mine.

Cold hand, I touch thee! Perish'd friend! I know
What years of mutual joy are gone with thee;
And yet from these benumb'd remains there flow
Calm thoughts that first with chasten'd hopes agree.

How strange is death to life! and yet how sure
The law which dooms each living thing to die!
Whate'er is outward cannot long endure,
And all that lasts eludes the subtlest eye.

Because the eye is only made to spell
The grosser garb and failing husk of things;
The vital strengths and streams that inlier dwell,
Our faith divines amid their secret springs.

The stars will sink as fade the lamps of earth,
The earth be lost as vapour seen no more,
And all around that seems of oldest birth,
Abides one destined day -- and all is o'er.

Himalah's piles, like heaps of autumn leaves,
Will one day spread along the winds of space,
And each strong stamp of man the world receives
Will flit like steps in sand, without a trace.

Yet something still will somewhere needs abide
Of all whose being e'er has fill'd our thought;
In different shapes to other worlds may glide,
But still must live as more than empty naught.

The trees decay'd, their parent soil will feed,
Whence trees may grow more fair than grew the first:
To worlds destroy'd, so worlds may still succeed,
And still the earliest may have been the worst.
Thus, never desperate, muse believing men;
But what, O Power divine! shall men become?
This pale memorial meets my gaze again,
And grief a moment bids my hopes be dumb.

Not thus, O God! desert us! Rather I
Should sink at once to unremembering clay,
And close my sight on thy translucent sky,
Than yield my soul to death a helpless prey;

Oh! rather bear beyond the date of stars
All torments heap'd that nerve and soul can feel,
Than but one hour believe destruction mars
Without a hope the life our breasts reveal.

Bold is the life and deep and vast in man,
A flood of being pour'd uncheck'd from Thee;
To Thee return'd by thine eternal plan,
When tried and train'd thy will unveil'd to see.

The spirit leaves the body's wondrous frame,
That frame itself a world of strength and skill;
The nobler inmate new abodes will claim,
In every change to Thee aspiring still.

Although from darkness born, to darkness fled,
We know that light beyond surrounds the whole;
The man survives, though the weird-corpse be dead,
And He who dooms the flesh, redeems the soul.





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