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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir John Bowring 1792–1872

From the Recesses


FROM the recesses of a lowly spirit

My humble prayer ascends: O Father! hear it.

Upsoaring on the wings of fear and meekness,

Forgive its weakness.

I know, I feel, how mean and how unworthy

The trembling sacrifice I pour before thee;

What can I offer in thy presence holy,

But sin and folly?

For in thy sight, who every bosom viewest,

Cold are our warmest vows and vain our truest;

Thoughts of a hurrying hour; our lips repeat them,

Our hearts forget them.

We see thy hand—it leads us, it supports us;

We hear thy voice—it counsels and it courts us;

And then we turn away—and still thy kindness

Pardons our blindness.

And still thy rain descends, thy sun is glowing,

Fruits ripen round, flowers are beneath us blowing,

And, as if man were some deserving creature,

Joys cover nature.

Oh how long-suffering, Lord! but thou delightest

To win with love the wandering; thou invitest

By smiles of mercy, not by frowns or terrors,

Man from his errors.

Who can resist thy gentle call, appealing

To every generous thought and grateful feeling?

That voice paternal whispering, watching ever,

My bosom?—never.

Father and Saviour! plant within that bosom

These seeds of holiness; and bid them blossom

In fragrance and in beauty bright and vernal,

And spring eternal.

Then place them in those everlasting gardens

Where angels walk, and seraphs are the wardens;

Where every flower that creeps through death’s dark portal

Becomes immortal.