Altitudo at Five P.M., An

Across the dead acre of Saint Paul's
The darkness falls,
And under those steep walls
And cliffs of golden panellings
There crawls an Elevated train.

Here, through a dusty window pane
I see great wings—
Wings darkly spread against the blue;
Or, burning high in level sun
Him, my Shining One!
So, through the speckled opaque brain
Men look, and see, or think they see,
Doting on their idolatry:
But shall they minify in a creed
The God, the Shining One I need?

Mine is the God of the sounding whale
(The thresh of that great tail!)
God of the orchid's fluted womb,
The God from whom
No thought, no mind can ever be shut out,
The God of gales and gravity,
The God of honourable doubt.
God of the odorous Eskimo
Under the flickering Arctic glow.

God of the Kootenai forest spires
(I've seen them on a postal card)
God of the dog that never tires
Of looking hopefully at his master.
The God (though you may find him hard)
Of ecstasy and of disaster.
God of the influenza germ,
God of the leopard and the worm—
But even “God”'s too narrow a word,
Defaced by zealot use, I've heard.

The uplook to those great dark wings
A nobler extuition brings;
And with no self-hypnotic awe
But in an agony and mirth
I saw the small intrepid earth
Tossed in the gust of Perfect Law.
And yet you ask me if I pray?
Ah! leave to me
My own content idolatry
And let me worship and obey
My Golden Lightning every day!

I pray you give me generous heed,
This contradicts no mystic creed:
But I suspect, among my sins,
Where the creeds end, Belief begins.
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