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Being thyself of all the Highest good!
Thou, Holy Father, thou, the Lord of hosts,
After thy will, and by thy power alone,
The world, this midway garden, didst create;
And by thy will, as now thy wisdom would,
Wieldest it all! For thou, O God of truth,
Long time of old didst deal out all good things,
Making thy creatures mainly well alike,
Yet not alike in all ways; and didst name
With one name all together all things here,
“ The World under the clouds.” Yet, God of glory,
That one name, Father, thou didst turn to four :
The first, this Earth-field; and the second, water;
Shares of the world: third, fire, and fourth, air :
This is again the whole world all together.
Yet have these four each one his stead and stool,
Each hath its place; tho' much with other mixt;
Fast by thy might, Almighty Father, bound,
Biding at peace, and softly well together
By thy behest, kind Father! so that none
Durst overstep its mark, for fear of Thee,
But willing thanes and warriors of their King
Live well together, howsoever strive
The wet with dry, the chilly with the hot.
Water and Earth, both cold in kind, breed fruits :
Water lies wet and cold around the field.
With the green earth is mingled the cold air,
Dwelling in middle place : it is no wonder
That it be warm and cold, blent by the winds,
This wide wet tier of clouds ; for, in my judgment,
Air hath a midway place, 'twixt earth and fire:
All know that fire is uppermost of all
Over this earth, and ground is nethermost.
Yet is this wonderful, O Lord of Hosts,
Which by thy thought thou workest, that distinctly
Thou to thy creatures settest mark and bound
And dost not mingle them : the wet cold water
Thou fixest it the fast earth for a floor,
For that itself, unstill and weak and soft
Alone would widely wander everywhere,
Nor (well I wot it sooth) could ever stand.
But the earth holds, and swills it in some sort,
That through such sipping it may afterward
Moisten the aery-lift : then leaves and grass
Yond o'er the breadth of Britain blow and grow,
Its praise of old. The cold earth bringeth fruits
More marvellously forth, when it is thawed
And wetted by the water : if not so,
Then were it dried to dust, and driven away
Wide by the winds; as often ashes now
Over the earth are blown : nor might on earth
Aught live, nor any wight by any craft
Brook the cold water, neither dwell therein,
If thou, O King of Angels, otherwhile
Mingledst not soil and stream with fire together;
And didst not craftwise mete out cold and heat
So that the fire may never fiercely burn
Earth and the sea stream, though fast linked with both,
The Father's work of old. Nor is methinks
This wonder aught the less, that earth and sea,
Cold creatures both, can by no skill put out
The fire that in them sticks, fixt by the Lord.
Such is the proper use of the salt seas
Of earth and water and the welkin eke,
And even of the upper skies above.
There, is of right the primal place of fire;
Its birth-right over all things else we see
Throughout the varied deep, tho' mixt with all
Things of this world, it cannot over one
Rise to such height as to destroy it quite,
But by His leave who shaped out life to us,
The Everliving and Almighty One.
Earth is more heavy and more thickly pack'd
Than other things; for that it long hath stood
Of all the nethermost: saying the sky
Which daily wafteth round this roomy world,
Yet never whirleth it away, nor can
Get nearer anywhere than everywhere,
Striking it round-about, above, below,
With even nearness wheresoe'er it be.
Each creature that we speak of hath his place
Own and asunder, yet is mixt with all.
No one of them may be without the rest,
Though dwelling all together mixedly :
As now the earth and water dwell in fire,
A thing to the unlearned hard to teach,
But to the wise right clear : and in same sort
Fire is fast fixt in water, and in stones
Still hidden away and fixt, tho' hard to find.
Yet thitherward the Father of angels hath
So fastly bound up fire, that it may
Never again get back to its own home
Where over all this earth sure dwells the fire.
Soon would it leave this lean world, overcome
Of cold, if to its kith on high it went;
Yet everything is yearning thitherward
Where its own kindred bide the most together.
Thou hast established, thro' thy strong might, O glorious king of hosts, right wondrously The earth so fast, that it on either half Heeleth not over, nor can stronger lean Hither or thither, than it ever did. Since nothing earthly holds it, to this globe 'Twere easy up or down to fall aside, Likest to this, that in an egg the yolk Bides in the middle, tho' the egg glides round. So all the world still standeth on its stead Among the streams, the meeting of the floods : The lift and stars and the clear shell of heaven Sail daily round it, as they long have done.
Moreover, God of people, thou hast set A threefold soul in us, and afterward Stirrest and quick’nest it with thy strong might So that there bideth not the less thereof In a little finger than in all the body. Therefore a little before I clearly said That the soul is a threefold workmanship
In every man : because the wise all say
That ire is one whole part in every soul,
Another, lust; another and the third
Far better than these twain, wise-mindedness :
This is no sorry craft; for only man
Hath this, and not the cattle : the other two
Things out of number have as well as we;
For ire and lust each beast hath of itself.
Therefore have men, thro’out this middle sphere
Surpassed Earth's creatures all; for that they have
What these have not, the one good craft we named.
Wisemindedness in each should govern lust
And ire, and its own self; in every man
With thought and understanding ruling him.
This is the mightiest mainstay of man's soul,
The one best mark to sunder it from beasts.
Thou mighty king of peoples, glorious Lord, Didst fashion thus the soul, that it should turn Itself around itself, as in swift race Doth all the firmament, which quickly twirls Every day around this middle sphere, By the Lord's might : so doth the soul of man Likest a wheel whirl round about itself, Oft-times keen searching out by day and night About these earthly creatures of the Lord : Somewhile herself she probes with prying eye: Somewhile again she asks about her God The Ever One, her Maker; going round Likest a wheel, whirling around herself. When she about her Maker heedful asks, She is upheaved above her lower self : She altogether in herself abides When, seeking round, she pries about herself : But furthest falls beneath herself, when she With love and wonder searcheth out this earth, With its lean lusts, above the lore for ever!
Yea, more; Thou, Evergood! to souls in heaven Givest an heritage, Almighty God,
And worthiest lasting gifts, as each hath earned.
They thro’the moonlit night shine calmin heaven;
Yet are not all of even brightness there,
So oft we see the stars of heaven by night
They shine not ever all of even brightness.
Moreover, Ever-Good! thou minglest here
Heavenly things with Earthly, soul with flesh :
Afterwards soul and flesh both live together
Earthly with heavenly : ever hence they strive
Upward to thee, because they came from thee,
And yet again they all shall go to thee !
This living body yet once more on earth
Shall keep its ward, for-that it theretofore
Wax'd in the world: they dwelt (this body and soul)
So long together as to them gave leave
The Almighty, who had made them one before;
That is in sooth the King! who made this world
And fill'd it mixedly with kinds of cattle,
Our saviour and near helper, as I trow.
Thence he with many seeds of woods and worts
Stock'd it in all the corners of the world.
Forgive now, Ever Good! and give to us
That in our minds we may upsoar to thee,
Maker of all things, thro' these troublous ways;
And from amidst these busy things of life,
O tender Father, 'Wielder of the world,
Come unto Thee, and then thro’thy good speed
With the mind's eyes well opened well may see
The welling spring of Good, that Good, Thyself,
O Lord, the God of Glory !—Then make whole
eyes of our understandings, so that we, Father of angels, fasten them on Thee ! Drive away this thick mist, which long while now Hath hung before our mind's eyes,heavy and dark. Enlighten now these mind's eyes with thy light, Master of life ; for thou, O tender Father, Art very brightness of true light thyself ; Thyself Almighty Father, the sure rest Of all thy fast and true ones; winningly