Carlyle

I.

" God does nothing!" sigh'd the Seer,
Sick of playing Prophet:
To his eyes the sun-flames clear
Seem'd the fumes of Tophet;
Off the King he tore his crown,
Stript the Priest of clothing,
Curst the world — then with a frown,
Murmur'd, " God does — nothing! "

II.

Bitter creed, and creedless cry
Of the soul despairing —
He who once on sea and sky
Saw the Portent flaring,
He who chose the thorny road,
Paths of pleasure loathing,
Crying loudly, " Great is God,
Only Man is nothing!"

III.

Many a year the merry world
Flash'd its lights before him,
Freedom's flag had been unfurl'd
To the ether o'er him,
Kings had fallen, empires changed,
Suns of science risen,
Innocence had been avenged,
Truth had burst her prison.

IV.

Having slain the serpent creeds,
Knowledge, swift, Persean,
On their grave had scatter'd seeds
From the Empyrean;
Godlike shapes had come and gone,
Naked Nations clothing,
While the Prophet sat alone,
Sighing " God does — nothing! "

V.

Nothing? Whence, then, came the Light,
Flashed across each Nation,
Working after years of night
Love's glad liberation?
Whose the Voice that from the grave
Cried, " Hell; fires I smother"?
Whose the Hand that freed the slave?
If not His, what other?

VI.

Nay, but who was busy too
In the Seer's own dwelling,
Planting flowers of heavenly blue
In a soul rebelling?
Who was whispering, even then,
Loving and not loathing,
" Only he who hateth men
Thinketh God does nothing!"

VII.

Strong and stubborn as the rock,
Blindly sat the Prophet —
Angels round his hearth might flock,
Yet he reck'd not of it!
Blind, — tho' one assumed the form
Of a weary Woman,
Shedding on his heart of stone
Love divinely human!

VIII.

Wrapt around with stoic pride
Blind he sat each morrow —
Whose, then, was the Voice that cried,
" Smite his soul with sorrow"?
Whose, then, was the shadowy Power
Which to overcome him,
Stooping as one plucks a flower,
Took that other from him?

IX.

Not alone on wings of storm,
Nor in tones of thunder,
Speaks the Voice and stirs the Form,
While we watch and wonder;
Still as falls the silent dew,
Sweet'ning, sanctifying,
He who stirs the suns can strew
Lilies on the dying!

X.

Darker grows the cloud, when we,
Blind and helpless creatures,
Face to face the Lord could see,
Scrutinise His features!
He who plans our loss or gain
Works beyond our guessing —
On the loneliest paths of pain
Grows His sweetest blessing!

XI.

Wouldst thou tear the clouds apart,
Seeking sign or token?
Look for God within thy heart,
Tho' that heart be broken!
All without thee — tempest-blown
Darkness of Creation —
Is a dream that needs thine own
Life's interpretation!

XII.

Seekest thou the God of wrath,
In the Tempest calling?
Or a Phantom in thy path,
Slaying and appalling?
Rather, when the light is low,
Crouching silent near it,
Seek Him in the ebb and flow
Of thy breathing spirit!

XIII.

See, the weary Prophet's grave!
Calm and sweet it lieth,
Hush'd, tho' still the human wave,
Breaking blindly, crieth!
He who works thro' quick and dead,
Loving, never loathing,
Blest this grey-hair'd child, who said
Feebly, " God does — nothing!"
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