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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, October 1906

Ode on Metaphysical Thought

Ode on Metaphysical Thought.

Let the breeze blow about me all the prime
Of the unthreaded years, untold
Upon the rosary of Time;
Let the gull beat his happy wings that fold
All of the magic of the dateless Morn
When she looked forth with rosy fingers pressed
On silent lips, and with her smile caressed
Island and sea and gulf yet unforlorn
With the unknelled, the castaway, and sails
For ever raffled by the wind.
Oh bird, that to the dark song of the mind
Bearest a music with thy wheeling, tell
If ever in the sun the morning fails
To whisper to thee, like enchanted shell,
Message that we have never gathered home,
No more than we can treasure up the foam.
Thine hour is happiness,
There never comes duress
To thee, illusion; never is the cloud
All darkness where at night thy head is bowed.

page 55

Something of thy dominion do I gain,
Dreaming within the faint communing land
The soul finds in her slumber;
Somewhere I feel I touch again
Hours hidden by the ages without number,
And for a blessed moment do I stand
Before the past we know had taken shape,
Before the glow of the young world was dim,
When the uncontaminated mirrored Him,
Floe, sea and islet, continent and cape.
Yes, I would trench upon thy heritage—
To leave at will the tributary earth,
Rolling to greater orbs—and would assuage
Thought that will ask too much of human dearth.
To soothe our elementary pain,
To vex no more the doubting heart,
That were above all sunshine and all rain;
We cannot do it, but I feel apart,
Above, a mighty wand is given,
That we have never found, though we have ever striven.

Would God my heart could be
Uplifted from the banal load
Inherited with our abode!
Would that my spirit leapt to light as thee,
Not with a stagnant mortmain of old thought,
So little satisfying, on the bowed,
Tired children of humanity.
Thou hast the early path for ever sought
By man and never found,
Oh take me on thy wings from the unholy ground.
Then let me feel (or dream I feel) the cloud
That floats above the droning earth is strewn
An immaterial curtain, from me bowed
Far to the sunken haven of the moon;
Below me the grey roof
Of the world, and a woof
By the vapour spun
For the laughing sun,
Here we shall fly, oh my soul, till the day be done.

page 56

Below the world shall spin;
Here let my thought begin
Like the soft birth of Eden reveries,
Before the tribulation,
Or the prophecy;
When the heart knew its own elation
To be the music of the earth and sky,
When all things were the children of delight,
Nor man abstaining,
Thought was the shining disc of sight,
And moved with her to the heaven's cloudy veining.

Oh, Time irrevocable for all prayer,
All adoration, all supreme desire,
What if my heart would gather anywhere
One cloud-beat of thy fragrance when the fire
Of the first sun illumined the young sea;
What if I willed to wander back with thee
Before man brooded on his eternal pain;
Thou couldst not be again
The unrecordable, and free
From all conception men have woven round
Life, death and immortality;
For ever under thee there is a sound,
It is the moan of men who never Truth have found.
And they have looked for her with eyes
That tired not for their vigil, they outwatch
Soft-footed centuries;
They breathe with agony to catch
Her beam like palms of Paradise,
But she her pennon frees
To loftier worlds, and we descry afar
Some shadow of her splendour like a falling star.

Oh wealth of imagery men have weaved,
And held it Truth! Oh heart that leaps again,
For evermore aspiring, and deceived
For ever with interminable pain!
page 57 The rack lies through the tributary past,
Shadow and ruin of philosophy,
Broken as summer cloud—
The heady splendours of young souls to be
Never by sorrow bowed;
The sombre gloom of weary sages led
Through old despair to pale futility,
Losing themselves in maze
Of windlestraw of phrase,
Until the human heart supremely dowered be dead.

Yet building ever like the coral reef
For ever to the light, too hard it lies
Upon the heart that its relief
Never doth come until the weaver dies.
Art is all broidery for our despair,
The lance light of the throne we cannot see,
We know not if the anodyne of prayer
Hath aught of sacrament for what shall be;
We do but build, and scatter everywhere
Flower of our soul in fond hope it is He.

Behold the ocean of old Time
Traced with dead beliefs;
Naught visible sublime,
Only grey forgotten reefs,
Where drowned nations, who believed
The star led thither, moulder deep,
Their alchemy of Hope achieved
In a sea-change of quiet sleep.
Dreams are about us evermore—
Each hath a dream, a slender web
Spun from the lintel of his door
To the grave where life doth ebb;
Be it a famed phylactery,
The holy of a temple built
By thorn-grieved worshippers who see
In us a precious balsam spilt;
Be it forgotten in a day,
A chanceless seedling overblown
By ragged, uncurbed winds away
To the charity of a stone.

page 58

All shall perish—from the glow
Of dreaming prophets who have seen
The azure of heaven's inner bow,
To the dusk of thoughts that lean
On spectral mysteries outworn;
The flameless lamp of sodden mind
Where a Tashi Lama blinks
Before a multitude that thinks
In him heaven smiles or is unkind.
Oh, Father let us be forlorn
No longer in the desert, break
Thy clouds of darkness, oh forsake Infinity of shade, conceal
No more Thy splendour, oh reveal.!

Some diviner argonaut
Of the drifting soul of thought
Shall discover all the main
We have trembled for in vain.
Under Truth's pavilion cloud
Men shall wander pure and proud,
Ear shall hearken to a word
That no sophistry hath blurred,
Time shall fold his wing behind.
Death be youth and beauty blind;
Every heart shall burdened be
With more joy than it can see.

Hubert Church.

Sketch of harp on sheet of paper with plant