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Musings in Maoriland

A Christmas Reverie

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A Christmas Reverie.

My soul is silent now; I cannot give
A living impulse to the thoughts that fill
My being with a plenitude of joy
Too deep for utterance.

Alone with God—
Or Nature, if you will—I stand and strive
To find expression for the love and praise
That rise within me, eager to be freed
From this poor clod that drags them downwards still.
'Tis evening, and fair Summer softly rests
On hill and valley, sprinkled with the tears.
That, but an hour ago, have fallen from
A silver cloud that melted in a shower
Of pearly beads, when warmly kissed to life
By golden sunbeams ere they hid themselves
Beneath the gorgeous canopy that fades

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In rainbow coruscations in the west.
Above the wooded slope that skirts the Leith
I stand, and gaze around, and wonder why
This earth of ours is called a "vale of tears."
O, noble hills! O, lovely vales and swards!
Robed in the richest foliage, and dressed
In all the pride of many-tinted green;
O, singing stream! O, flowers and blossoms rare!
That breathe your lives away in odours sweet,
And die in perfume when the summer wanes;—
O, bright-wing'd and sweet-throated choristers!
Whose notes make all the leaflets in the woods
Dance on each sportive breeze in pure delight;—
O, beauties that I cannot name, but feel!
My spirit at this moment fain would lose
Itself among you all, and be at one
With Nature, and with that mysterious Power
Whose presence is proclaimed with double force
At such a time in such a scene as this;
Our Father, and our Mother, and our All!
We thank Thee for this lovely land of ours;
We bow ourselves before Thee, yet we lift
Our highest aspirations up to Thee;
We feel that Thou art Omnipresent here,
For all the ecstasies and pure delights
That spread themselves around are part of Thee;
And those with souls athirst can come and quaff
The sweetness of such sacramental feasts
As this, and hold communion with their God.

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Alone with Nature on the wooded hill
  That skirts the lovely valley of the Leith;
The voices of the brooklet and the rill,
  That purl and babble through the glen beneath;
The feather'd exiles warbling through the heath
  Their old-world melodies; the tui's trill;
The mystic whisp'rings of the leaves that shake
  With tremulous emotion to the breeze
That fans them into music on the trees;
  The mournful murmur of the waves which break
In silver flakes along the distant strand;
  And all the harmonies of sea and land
Blend in a glorious concert, and I stand
  Entranced with joy—asleep, and yet awake.

A sighing sea gust from the ocean brought
  Forgotten Christmas memories along;
My list'ning spirit, wrapped in wonder, caught
  The soft, sweet echo of a dear old song;
And soaring skywards on the wings of thought,
It chased the wandering melody that sought
  To find its own sweet biding place among
  The sacred sounds that live where angels throng.

Music's heart, with wild pulsation,
  Throbb'd among the trembling stars,

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Shaking, with divine vibration,
  Thunder-bolts and lightning bars;
Op'ning up the azure portals,
  Till the echo of my lay,
'Scaping with the bright Immortals,
  Died in euphony away;
Where converging melodies,
  Silver notes from golden keys,
Melt, with songs of sighing seas,
  In a flood of joy supreme.
Still the spirit of my dream,
  Drunk with splendours pure and bright,
  Dazzled with supernal light,
Strong in all its new existence,
  'Franchised from its earthly clod,
Saw the glory in the distance;
  Onward soaring with the fire
  Of a longing swift desire
  To examine and inquire,
Why and who and what is God?

"And why and who and what art thou
  That durst approach the High Unknown?
Poor naked soul, be dumb and bow
  Before the great eternal throne.
Be dumb and bow, for God transcends
  The highest stretch of human thought;

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He orders all for noble ends;
  His works are all with wisdom fraught.
Enough for thee that thou hadst birth;
  Enough for thee He sent a Man
To purify and bless the earth—
  That speck upon His wondrous plan;—
Enough for thee, there lived and died,
  To make men noble, true and free,
  A thorn-crowned King in Galilee,
The living God personified,
  The Champion who conquered hell.
Descend into thy coat of clay;
  Go back into thy carnal shell;
Make merry on His Natal day—
  This knowledge is enough for thee."

The voice came from the awful height
  Where time becomes eternity;
My soul, though dazzled with the light,
  Gazed boldly up, and cried, "Ah! why
  Did God send Jesus down to die
  A felon's death on Calvary?
The sacrifice was made in vain,
  For wrong still triumphs over right,
And pleasure still succumbs to pain,
  And day is shadowed by the night,

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And Sin, the tyrant, is not slain,
  And Justice staggers in the fight.
Oh, Father! come Thyself and reign.
  Are we not 'precious in Thy sight'?
Sin, sorrow, suff'ring, greed and lust
  Enthral Thy creatures. Oh, unbind
  The parts of Thy Eternal Mind,
Called human souls, for Thou art just
And we are struggling through the dust
  In search of Thee. Ah! we are blind.
Yea, blind; the wisest and the best.
  The pioneers who boldly march
In front, ahead of all the rest,
  With Reason's torch to light the arch,
Must halt and tremble in the race,
  Amazed in wonderment and awe.
Yet bowing to Thy will and law,
  Whilst weeping for the human race.
Ay, weeping as our Christ hath wept
  Of yore in sad Gethsemane,
When Justice, Truth, and Reason slept,
  And men refused to hear and see
  The Word Incarnate, that should be
    The Law below, the Light above,
    The Talisman of angels—Love."

"Away, away," the voice replied,
  "Thou art not worthy to be known

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In our bright realms; thy puny pride
  Would make God live for Earth alone.
Enough for thee that Christ hath died,
  Yet lives and moves, evolving still
The God-force that remains in man;
He is and was, since time began,
  The Good that triumphs over ill—
The Royal Keystone of the span
  That bridges the Eternal Will.
His reign shall be made manifest
  When words are fashion'd into deeds;
  And all your petty jarring creeds
  Shall merge in 'one harmonious whole;'
  When each and every human soul
Has reached the standard of His test;
  When Justice shall assert its might,
  And every wrong shall blend in right."

My dream was ended, and I stood
  Alone among the white-tipp'd broom,
  And down the vale the evening's gloom
Came floating on a dying flood
  Of sunset glories, and the boom
Of ocean followed from afar
  With music solemn, sad, and strange,
  And night crept o'er the rugged range,

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And mellow'd down each golden bar
  Of blazing gorse that ribb'd the green;
I turned and left the evening star
  To sentinel the lovely scene.