The following is one of my favorite assessments of the Christian poet. It is from Francis Thompson, a great and mostly-forgotten English poet. The Romantic style of the poem is perhaps off-putting to a modern reader, but dig into it and I promise you will find worth. I might do an analysis later if anyone asks, and until then my inclination now is to leave the poem as a puzzle.
TO A POET BREAKING SILENCE – Francis Thompson
Too wearily had we and song
Been left to look and left to long,
Yea, song and we to long and look,
Since thine acquainted feet forsook
The mountain where the Muses hymn
For Sinai and the Seraphim.
Now in both the mountains’ shine
Dress thy countenance, twice divine!
From Moses and the Muses draw
The Tables of thy double Law!
His rod-born fount and Castaly
Let the one rock bring forth for thee,
Renewing so from either spring
The songs which both thy countries sing:
Or we shall fear lest, heavened thus long,
Thou should’st forget thy native song,
And mar thy mortal melodies
With broken stammer of the skies.
Ah! let the sweet birds of the Lord
With earth’s waters make accord;
Teach how the crucifix may be
Carven from the laurel-tree,
Fruit of the Hesperides
Burnish take on Eden-trees,
The Muses’ sacred grove be wet
With the red dew of Olivet,
And Sappho lay her burning brows
In white Cecilia’s lap of snows!
Thy childhood must have felt the stings
Of too divine o’ershadowings;
Its odorous heart have been a blossom
That in darkness did unbosom,
Those fire-flies of God to invite,
Burning spirits, which by night
Bear upon their laden wing
To such hearts impregnating.
For flowers that night-wings fertilize
Mock down the stars’ unsteady eyes,
And with a happy, sleepless glance
Gaze the moon out of countenance.
I think thy girlhood’s watchers must
Have took thy folded songs on trust,
And felt them, as one feels the stir
Of still lightnings in the hair,
When conscious hush expects the cloud
To speak the golden secret loud
Which tacit air is privy to;
Flasked in the grape the wine they knew,
Ere thy poet-mouth was able
For its first young starry babble.
Keep’st thou not yet that subtle grace?
Yea, in this silent interspace,
God sets His poems in thy face!
The loom which mortal verse affords,
Out of weak and mortal words,
Wovest thou thy singing-weed in,
To a rune of thy far Eden.
Vain are all disguises! Ah,
Thy mien bewrayeth through that wrong
The great Uranian House of Song!
As the vintages of earth
Taste of the sun that riped their birth,
We know what never cadent Sun
Thy lamped clusters throbbed upon,
What plumed feet the winepress trod;
Thy wine is flavorous of God.
Whatever singing-robe thou wear
Has the Paradisal air;
And some gold feather it has kept
Shows what Floor it lately swept!