THE FOUR RELIGIOUS HEATHENS.
Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)
'CONVERSE IN FEAR, DURING THE TIME OF YOUR SOJOURNING HERE.'
HE was a mild old man, and cherished much
The weight dark
And with a sinuous eloquence would touch
For ever at that haven of the dead.
Single romantic words by him were thrown,
As types, on men and places, with a power
Like that of shifting sunlight after shower
Kindling the cones of hills, and journeying on.
He feared the gods and heroes, and spake low,
That Echo might not hear in her light room :
He was a dweller underground ; for gloom
Fitted old heathen goodness more than glow ;
And, where love was not, faith might gather mirth
From ore that glistened in pale beds of earth.
‘IN ALL THESE THINGS JOB SINNED NOT BY HIS LIPS, NOR SPOKE HE ANY FOOLISH THINGS AGAINST GOD.
NURSLING of heathen fear ! thy woful being
Was steeped in gentleness by long disease,
Though round thine awestruck mind were ever fleeing
Omens, and signs, and direful presages.
One might believe in frames so gently stern
Some Christian thoughts before their time did burn.
Sadness was unto thee for love ; thy spirit
Rose loftily like some hard-featured stone,
Which summer sunbeam never makes its throne,
E'en while it fills the skirts of vapour near it.
One wert thou, Nicias ! of the few who urge
Their stricken souls where far-seen Death doth hover
In vision on them, nor may they diverge
From the black line his chilling shadows cover.
'OF MAKING MANY BOOKS THERE IS NO END; AND MUCH STUDY IS AN AFFLICTION OF THE FLESH.'
THOU, mighty Heathen, wert not so bereft
Of heavenly helps to thy great-hearted deeds,
That thou shouldst dig for truths in broken creeds,
Mid the loose sands of four old empires left.
Motions and shadows dimly glowing fell
On thy broad soul from forms invisible.
With its plain grandeur, simple, calm, and free,
What wonder was it that thy life should merit
Sparkles of grace, and angel ministry,
With jealous glimpses of the world of spirit ?
Greatest and best in this — that thy pure mind,
Upon its saving mission all intent,
Scorned the untruth of leaving books behind,
To claim for thine what through thy lips was sent.
'WHEN PETER CAME, HIS SHADOW AT THE LEAST MIGHT OVEESHADOW ANY OF THEM.'
OFT in the crowd and crossings of old Rome
The Christ-like shadow of the gifted Paul,
As he looked forth betimes from his hired home,
Might at this Gentile's hurrying footsteps fall,
When, from his mornings in the Caesar's hall,
Spurred by great thoughts, the troubled sage might come.
Some balmy truths most surely did he borrow
From the sweet neighbourhood of Christ, to bring
The harsh, hard waters of his heathen spring
In softening ducts o'er wastes of pagan sorrow.
As slips of green from fertile confines shoot
Into the tracts of sand, so heathen duty
Caught from his guided pen a cold, bright beauty,
Where flowers might all but blossom into fruit.