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Musings in Maoriland

Ocean's Answer

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Ocean's Answer.

Why is it thus?"
I said, as standing near
The Ocean's silvery edges, I surveyed
The grand expanse of earth, and sea, and sky
Stretched out before my gaze. a rich soul-feast,
At which Imagination revelled free
In Nature's arms, and whispered in her ear
Its secret thoughts. The glorious king of light,
Arrayed in gorgeous robes of brightest hues,
Was sinking in his golden bath, beyond
The crested foam-hills in the distant-west,
And on the track o'er which his train had passed
Remained the traces of his chariot wheels.
When rising for the nonce above myself,
I mused on earth, and sun and moon, and stars,
And sea, and sky, and all Creation's plan,

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And, as I mused and wondered, thus I spake
Unto the prattling breakers 'neath my feet
(Those playful white-haired children of the sea
That bear their mother's messages to land):
"Why is it thus, that Man, the prince of all
This prospect grand, cannot discern the Cause?"
And they went out and asked their mother sage,
And brought back this reply: "God only knows."

Then turning from the Ocean's face, I gazed
Along the giant hills that proudly raised
Their weather-beaten brows above the bay
Which mirror'd all their forms upon its breast,
And as my eye swept o'er the verdant meads
And tall young saplings belting peaceful homes,
I thanked my Maker for His gracious gifts
To our New Land; and as my gaze fell down
Upon the fair white city that reposed
In Sabbath quietness, within the vale,
Again I thanked my God for all His gifts;
But, musing still, I said: "Ay, even there,
In that calm city, there are weary hearts
And wounded spirits crushed by worldly cares,
And sad ones praying for the call of death,
That they might leave their sufferings behind
And go to sleep in peace upon yon hill
Where those pale monuments as emblems stand
Of human nothingness! Why is it thus?"

page 135

Again the breakers to their mother went
And brought this answer back: "God only knows,"
"Old Ocean!" I exclaimed, "thou should'st have known
The key to this great problem; thou wert by
Creation's cradle with thy mellow songs,
When Man, in pristine majesty, surveyed
The grand estate bequeathed to him by God.
Oh, tell me why there's so much sorrow here
Upon this earth, that is itself so fair;
Oh, tell me why the cruel waves of war
Have swept the millions down its crimson tide;
Oh, tell me why the many have been crushed
Beneath oppression's heel in ages past;
Oh, tell me why have Discord's fiends been loosed
From lowest hell, to spread the poisoned flames
Of violence and hatred amongst men;
Oh, tell me why have famine and disease
Scourged God's poor creatures? Shall it ever end?
When, when shall He, who rules omnipotent,
Take off the curse which still hangs o'er the earth,
And in its stead spread joy serene around?
When, when shall He make all His purpose known?
Our knowledge yet is weak. Why is it thus?"
Again the breakers to their mother went,
And brought back this reply: "God only knows."