George MacDonald(10 December 1824 - 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland)
A Book Of Strife In The Form Of The Diary Of An Old Soul - April
- by George MacDonald59
1. LORD, I do choose the higher than my will. I would be handled by thy nursing arms After thy will, not my infant alarms. Hurt me thou wilt-but then more loving still, If more can be and less, in love's perfect zone! My fancy shrinks from least of all thy harms, But do thy will with me-I am thine own.
Some things wilt thou not one day turn to dreams? Some dreams wilt thou not one day turn to fact? The thing that painful, more than should be, seems, Shall not thy sliding years with them retract- Shall fair realities not counteract? The thing that was well dreamed of bliss and joy- Wilt thou not breathe thy life into the toy?
I have had dreams of absolute delight, Beyond all waking bliss-only of grass, Flowers, wind, a peak, a limb of marble white; They dwell with me like things half come to pass, True prophecies:-when I with thee am right, If I pray, waking, for such a joy of sight, Thou with the gold, wilt not refuse the brass.
I think I shall not ever pray for such; Thy bliss will overflood my heart and brain, And I want no unripe things back again. Love ever fresher, lovelier than of old- How should it want its more exchanged for much? Love will not backward sigh, but forward strain, On in the tale still telling, never told.
What has been, shall not only be, but is. The hues of dreamland, strange and sweet and tender Are but hint-shadows of full many a splendour Which the high Parent-love will yet unroll Before his child's obedient, humble soul. Ah, me, my God! in thee lies every bliss Whose shadow men go hunting wearily amiss.
Now, ere I sleep, I wonder what I shall dream. Some sense of being, utter new, may come Into my soul while I am blind and dumb- With shapes and airs and scents which dark hours teem, Of other sort than those that haunt the day, Hinting at precious things, ages away In the long tale of us God to himself doth say.
Late, in a dream, an unknown lady I saw Stand on a tomb; down she to me stepped thence. 'They tell me,' quoth I, 'thou art one of the dead!' And scarce believed for gladness the yea she said; A strange auroral bliss, an arctic awe, A new, outworldish joy awoke intense, To think I talked with one that verily was dead.
Thou dost demand our love, holy Lord Christ, And batest nothing of thy modesty;- Thou know'st no other way to bliss the highest Than loving thee, the loving, perfectly. Thou lovest perfectly-that is thy bliss: We must love like thee, or our being miss- So, to love perfectly, love perfect Love, love thee.
Here is my heart, O Christ; thou know'st I love thee. But wretched is the thing I call my love. O Love divine, rise up in me and move me- I follow surely when thou first dost move. To love the perfect love, is primal, mere Necessity; and he who holds life dear, Must love thee every hope and heart above.
Might I but scatter interfering things- Questions and doubts, distrusts and anxious pride, And in thy garment, as under gathering wings, Nestle obedient to thy loving side, Easy it were to love thee. But when thou Send'st me to think and labour from thee wide, Love falls to asking many a why and how.
Easier it were, but poorer were the love. Lord, I would have me love thee from the deeps- Of troubled thought, of pain, of weariness. Through seething wastes below, billows above, My soul should rise in eager, hungering leaps; Through thorny thicks, through sands unstable press- Out of my dream to him who slumbers not nor sleeps.
I do not fear the greatness of thy command- To keep heart-open-house to brother men; But till in thy God's love perfect I stand, My door not wide enough will open. Then Each man will be love-awful in my sight; And, open to the eternal morning's might, Each human face will shine my window for thy light.
Make me all patience and all diligence; Patience, that thou mayst have thy time with me; Diligence, that I waste not thy expense In sending out to bring me home to thee. What though thy work in me transcends my sense- Too fine, too high, for me to understand- I hope entirely. On, Lord, with thy labour grand.
Lest I be humbled at the last, and told That my great labour was but for my peace That not for love or truth had I been bold, But merely for a prisoned heart's release; Careful, I humble me now before thy feet: Whate'er I be, I cry, and will not cease- Let me not perish, though favour be not meet.
For, what I seek thou knowest I must find, Or miserably die for lack of love. I justify thee: what is in thy mind, If it be shame to me, all shame above. Thou know'st I choose it-know'st I would not shove The hand away that stripped me for the rod- If so it pleased my Life, my love-made-angry God.
I see a door, a multitude near by, In creed and quarrel, sure disciples all! Gladly they would, they say, enter the hall, But cannot, the stone threshold is so high. From unseen hand, full many a feeding crumb, Slow dropping o'er the threshold high doth come: They gather and eat, with much disputing hum.
Still and anon, a loud clear voice doth call- 'Make your feet clean, and enter so the hall.' They hear, they stoop, they gather each a crumb. Oh the deaf people! would they were also dumb! Hear how they talk, and lack of Christ deplore, Stamping with muddy feet about the door, And will not wipe them clean to walk upon his floor!
But see, one comes; he listens to the voice; Careful he wipes his weary dusty feet! The voice hath spoken-to him is left no choice; He hurries to obey-that only is meet. Low sinks the threshold, levelled with the ground; The man leaps in-to liberty he's bound. The rest go talking, walking, picking round.
If I, thus writing, rebuke my neighbour dull, And talk, and write, and enter not the door, Than all the rest I wrong Christ tenfold more, Making his gift of vision void and null. Help me this day to be thy humble sheep, Eating thy grass, and following, thou before; From wolfish lies my life, O Shepherd, keep.
God, help me, dull of heart, to trust in thee. Thou art the father of me-not any mood Can part me from the One, the verily Good. When fog and failure o'er my being brood. When life looks but a glimmering marshy clod, No fire out flashing from the living God- Then, then, to rest in faith were worthy victory!
To trust is gain and growth, not mere sown seed! Faith heaves the world round to the heavenly dawn, In whose great light the soul doth spell and read Itself high-born, its being derived and drawn From the eternal self-existent fire; Then, mazed with joy of its own heavenly breed, Exultant-humble falls before its awful sire.
Art thou not, Jesus, busy like to us? Thee shall I image as one sitting still, Ordering all things in thy potent will, Silent, and thinking ever to thy father, Whose thought through thee flows multitudinous? Or shall I think of thee as journeying, rather, Ceaseless through space, because thou everything dost fill?
That all things thou dost fill, I well may think- Thy power doth reach me in so many ways. Thou who in one the universe dost bind, Passest through all the channels of my mind; The sun of thought, across the farthest brink Of consciousness thou sendest me thy rays; Nor drawest them in when lost in sleep I sink.
So common are thy paths, thy coming seems Only another phase oft of my me; But nearer is my I, O Lord, to thee, Than is my I to what itself it deems; How better then couldst thou, O master, come, Than from thy home across into my home, Straight o'er the marches that I cannot see!
Marches?-'Twixt thee and me there's no division, Except the meeting of thy will and mine, The loves that love, the wills that will the same. Where thine meets mine is my life's true condition; Yea, only there it burns with any flame. Thy will but holds me to my life's fruition. O God, I would-I have no mine that is not thine.
I look for thee, and do not see thee come.- If I could see thee, 'twere a commoner thing, And shallower comfort would thy coming bring. Earth, sea, and air lie round me moveless dumb, Never a tremble, an expectant hum, To tell the Lord of Hearts is drawing near: Lo! in the looking eyes, the looked for Lord is here.
I take a comfort from my very badness: It is for lack of thee that I am bad. How close, how infinitely closer yet Must I come to thee, ere I can pay one debt Which mere humanity has on me set! 'How close to thee!'-no wonder, soul, thou art glad! Oneness with him is the eternal gladness.
What can there be so close as making and made? Nought twinned can be so near; thou art more nigh To me, my God, than is this thinking I To that I mean when I by me is said; Thou art more near me, than is my ready will Near to my love, though both one place do fill;- Yet, till we are one,-Ah me! the long until!
Then shall my heart behold thee everywhere. The vision rises of a speechless thing, A perfectness of bliss beyond compare! A time when I nor breathe nor think nor move, But I do breathe and think and feel thy love, The soul of all the songs the saints do sing!- And life dies out in bliss, to come again in prayer.
In the great glow of that great love, this death Would melt away like a fantastic cloud; I should no more shrink from it than from the breath That makes in the frosty air a nimbus-shroud; Thou, Love, hast conquered death, and I aloud Should triumph over him, with thy saintly crowd, That where the Lamb goes ever followeth.
A Book Of Strife In The Form Of The Diary Of An Old Soul - July
- by George MacDonald59
1. ALAS, my tent! see through it a whirlwind sweep! Moaning, poor Fancy's doves are swept away. I sit alone, a sorrow half asleep, My consciousness the blackness all astir. No pilgrim I, a homeless wanderer- For how canst Thou be in the darkness deep, Who dwellest only in the living day?
It must be, somewhere in my fluttering tent, Strange creatures, half tamed only yet, are pent- Dragons, lop-winged birds, and large-eyed snakes! Hark! through the storm the saddest howling breaks! Or are they loose, roaming about the bent, The darkness dire deepening with moan and scream?- My Morning, rise, and all shall be a dream.
Not thine, my Lord, the darkness all is mine- Save that, as mine, my darkness too is thine: All things are thine to save or to destroy- Destroy my darkness, rise my perfect joy; Love primal, the live coal of every night, Flame out, scare the ill things with radiant fright, And fill my tent with laughing morn's delight.
Master, thou workest with such common things- Low souls, weak hearts, I mean-and hast to use, Therefore, such common means and rescuings, That hard we find it, as we sit and muse, To think thou workest in us verily: Bad sea-boats we, and manned with wretched crews- That doubt the captain, watch the storm-spray flee.
Thou art hampered in thy natural working then When beings designed on freedom's holy plan Will not be free: with thy poor, foolish men, Thou therefore hast to work just like a man. But when, tangling thyself in their sore need, Thou hast to freedom fashioned them indeed, Then wilt thou grandly move, and Godlike speed.
Will this not then show grandest fact of all- In thy creation victory most renowned- That thou hast wrought thy will by slow and small, And made men like thee, though thy making bound By that which they were not, and could not be Until thou mad'st them make along with thee?- Master, the tardiness is but in me.
Hence come thy checks-because I still would run My head into the sand, nor flutter aloft Towards thy home, with thy wind under me. 'Tis because I am mean, thy ways so oft Look mean to me; my rise is low begun; But scarce thy will doth grasp me, ere I see, For my arrest and rise, its stern necessity.
Like clogs upon the pinions of thy plan We hang-like captives on thy chariot-wheels, Who should climb up and ride with Death's conqueror; Therefore thy train along the world's highway steals So slow to the peace of heart-reluctant man. What shall we do to spread the wing and soar, Nor straiten thy deliverance any more?
The sole way to put flight into the wing, To preen its feathers, and to make them grow, Is to heed humbly every smallest thing With which the Christ in us has aught to do. So will the Christ from child to manhood go, Obedient to the father Christ, and so Sweet holy change will turn all our old things to new.
Creation thou dost work by faint degrees, By shade and shadow from unseen beginning; Far, far apart, in unthought mysteries Of thy own dark, unfathomable seas, Thou will'st thy will; and thence, upon the earth- Slow travelling, his way through centuries winning- A child at length arrives at never ending birth.
Well mayst thou then work on indocile hearts By small successes, disappointments small; By nature, weather, failure, or sore fall; By shame, anxiety, bitterness, and smarts; By loneliness, by weary loss of zest:- The rags, the husks, the swine, the hunger-quest, Drive home the wanderer to the father's breast.
How suddenly some rapid turn of thought May throw the life-machine all out of gear, Clouding the windows with the steam of doubt, Filling the eyes with dust, with noise the ear! Who knows not then where dwells the engineer, Rushes aghast into the pathless night, And wanders in a land of dreary fright.
Amazed at sightless whirring of their wheels, Confounded with the recklessness and strife, Distract with fears of what may next ensue, Some break rude exit from the house of life, And plunge into a silence out of view- Whence not a cry, no wafture once reveals What door they have broke open with the knife.
Help me, my Father, in whatever dismay, Whatever terror in whatever shape, To hold the faster by thy garment's hem; When my heart sinks, oh, lift it up, I pray; Thy child should never fear though hell should gape, Not blench though all the ills that men affray Stood round him like the Roman round Jerusalem.
Too eager I must not be to understand. How should the work the master goes about Fit the vague sketch my compasses have planned? I am his house-for him to go in and out. He builds me now-and if I cannot see At any time what he is doing with me, 'Tis that he makes the house for me too grand.
The house is not for me-it is for him. His royal thoughts require many a stair, Many a tower, many an outlook fair, Of which I have no thought, and need no care. Where I am most perplexed, it may be there Thou mak'st a secret chamber, holy-dim, Where thou wilt come to help my deepest prayer.
I cannot tell why this day I am ill; But I am well because it is thy will- Which is to make me pure and right like thee. Not yet I need escape-'tis bearable Because thou knowest. And when harder things Shall rise and gather, and overshadow me, I shall have comfort in thy strengthenings.
How do I live when thou art far away?- When I am sunk, and lost, and dead in sleep, Or in some dream with no sense in its play? When weary-dull, or drowned in study deep?- O Lord, I live so utterly on thee, I live when I forget thee utterly- Not that thou thinkest of, but thinkest me.
Thou far!-that word the holy truth doth blur. Doth the great ocean from the small fish run When it sleeps fast in its low weedy bower? Is the sun far from any smallest flower, That lives by his dear presence every hour? Are they not one in oneness without stir- The flower the flower because the sun the sun?
'Dear presence every hour'!-what of the night, When crumpled daisies shut gold sadness in; And some do hang the head for lack of light, Sick almost unto death with absence-blight?- Thy memory then, warm-lingering in the ground, Mourned dewy in the air, keeps their hearts sound, Till fresh with day their lapsed life begin.
All things are shadows of the shining true: Sun, sea, and air-close, potent, hurtless fire- Flowers from their mother's prison-dove, and dew- Every thing holds a slender guiding clue Back to the mighty oneness:-hearts of faith Know thee than light, than heat, endlessly nigher, Our life's life, carpenter of Nazareth.
Sometimes, perhaps, the spiritual blood runs slow, And soft along the veins of will doth flow, Seeking God's arteries from which it came. Or does the etherial, creative flame Turn back upon itself, and latent grow?- It matters not what figure or what name, If thou art in me, and I am not to blame.
In such God-silence, the soul's nest, so long As all is still, no flutter and no song, Is safe. But if my soul begin to act Without some waking to the eternal fact That my dear life is hid with Christ in God- I think and move a creature of earth's clod, Stand on the finite, act upon the wrong.
My soul this sermon hence for itself prepares:- 'Then is there nothing vile thou mayst not do, Buffeted in a tumult of low cares, And treacheries of the old man 'gainst the new.'- Lord, in my spirit let thy spirit move, Warning, that it may not have to reprove:- In my dead moments, master, stir the prayers.
Lord, let my soul o'erburdened then feel thee Thrilling through all its brain's stupidity. If I must slumber, heedless of ill harms, Let it not be but in my Father's arms; Outside the shelter of his garment's fold, All is a waste, a terror-haunted wold.- Lord, keep me. 'Tis thy child that cries. Behold.
Some say that thou their endless love host won By deeds for them which I may not believe Thou ever didst, or ever willedst done: What matter, so they love thee? They receive Eternal more than the poor loom and wheel Of their invention ever wove and spun.- I love thee for I must, thine all from head to heel.
The love of thee will set all notions right. Right save by love no thought can be or may; Only love's knowledge is the primal light. Questions keep camp along love's shining coast- Challenge my love and would my entrance stay: Across the buzzing, doubting, challenging host, I rush to thee, and cling, and cry-Thou know'st.
Oh, let me live in thy realities, Nor substitute my notions for thy facts, Notion with notion making leagues and pacts; They are to truth but as dream-deeds to acts, And questioned, make me doubt of everything.- 'O Lord, my God,' my heart gets up and cries, 'Come thy own self, and with thee my faith bring.'
O master, my desires to work, to know, To be aware that I do live and grow- All restless wish for anything not thee, I yield, and on thy altar offer me. Let me no more from out thy presence go, But keep me waiting watchful for thy will- Even while I do it, waiting watchful still.
Thou art the Lord of life, the secret thing. Thou wilt give endless more than I could find, Even if without thee I could go and seek; For thou art one, Christ, with my deepest mind, Duty alive, self-willed, in me dost speak, And to a deeper purer being sting: I come to thee, my life, my causing kind.
Nothing is alien in thy world immense- No look of sky or earth or man or beast; 'In the great hand of God I stand, and thence' Look out on life, his endless, holy feast. To try to feel is but to court despair, To dig for a sun within a garden-fence: Who does thy will, O God, he lives upon thy air.
Poems by George MacDonald, George MacDonald's poems collection. George MacDonald is a classical and famous poet (10 December 1824 - 18 September 1905 / Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland). Share all poems of George MacDonald.