A Mystery Play


The Father. The Child. Death. Angels. Two Travellers.


The even settles still and deep,

In the cold sky the last gold burns,

Across the colour snowflakes creep.

Each one from grey to glory turns

Then flutters into nothingness;

The frost down falls with mighty stress

Through the swift cloud that parts on high;

The great stars shrivel into less

In the hard depth of the iron sky.


The Child:

What is that light, dear father,

That light in the dark, dark sky?

The Father:

Those are the lights of the city

And the villages thereby.

The Child:

There must be fire in the city

To throw that yellow glare;

And fire in the little villages

On all the hearthstones there.

The Father, musing:

Yea, flames are on the hearthstones;

The ovens are full of bread,

BuThere the coals are dying

And the flames are dead.

The Child:

What is the cold, dear father?

It stings like an angry bee.

Wherever it stings my hand turns white,


The Father:

The cold is a beast, my dear one,

With his paws he tears at the thatch,

His breath is a curse and a warning,

You can see it creep on the latch.

The Child:

If 'tis a wolf, dear father,

That lies with his paw on the floor,

Let us heat the spade in the embers

And drive him away from the door.


God is the power of growth,

In the snail and the tree,

God is the power of growth

In the heart of the man.

The Child:

Did you noThear the singing,

Voices overhead?

Mother's voice and Ruth's voice,

Voices of the dead.

The Father, musing:

Our Ruth died in the springtime,

With the spade I turned the sod,

We buried her by the brier rose,

Her life is hid with God.

The Child:

All summer long in the garden

No roses came to the tree.

Father, was it for sorrow,

Sorrow for thee and me?

The Father:

Roses grew in the garden,

I saw them at morning and even,

Shadows of earthly roses

They bloomed for fingers in heaven.


The air is very clear and still,

The moonlight falls from half the sphere;

The shadow from the silver hill

Fills half the vale, and half is clear

As the moon's self with cloudless snow;

By the dead stream the alders throw

Their shadows, shot with tingling spars;

On the sheer height the elm trees glow:

Their tops are tangled with the stars.


The Child:

Father, the coals are dying,

See! I have heated the spade,

Let me throw the door wide open,

I will not be afraid.

The Father:

Let me kiss you once on the forehead,

And once on your darling eyes;

We may see them both at the dawning,

In the dales of Paradise.

The Child:

And if I only see them,

I will tell them how you smiled;

For the wolf, you know, is angry,

And I am a little child.


Undaunted spirits,

I give thee peace,

For a world of dread —


For desperate toil —


Thou who didst say,

When the waters of poverty

Waxed deep, deep,

What we bear is best;

Just ones,

I give thee sleep.

First Traveller:

Keep up your spirits, I know

There's a cabin under the hill,

The fellow will make a roaring fire;

We'll heat our hands and drink our fill

And go warm to our heart's desire!

Second Traveller:

The door is open, — Heigho!

This pair will claim neither crown nor groat,

The man has gripped his garden spade

As if he would dig his grave in the snow;

The boy has the face of a saint, I trow;

His brow says, " I was not afraid! "

First Traveller:

Ah well, these things must be, you know!

Gather your sables around your throat;

Give us that story about the monk,

His niece, and the wandering conjurer,

Just to keep our blood astir.

The Angels:

The heart of God,

The worlds and man,

Are fashioned and moulded,

In a subtle plan;

Passion outsurges,

Sweeps far but converges;

Nothing is lost,

Sod or stone,

But comes to its own;

Bear well thy joy,

'Tis mixed with alloy,

Bear well thy grief,

'Tis a rich full sheaf:

Gather the souls that have passed in the night,

Theirs is the peace and the light.


The moon is gone, the dawning brings

A deeper dark with silver blent,

Above the wells where, myriad, springs

Light from the crimson orient;

The elms are born, the shadows creep,

Tremble and melt away — one sweep

The great soft color floods and flows,

Where under snow the roses sleep;

The morn has turned the snow to rose.

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