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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Alfred Noyes (1880–1958)

IN the beginning, there was nought

But heaven, one Majesty of Light,

Beyond all speech, beyond all thought,

Beyond all depth, beyond all height,

Consummate heaven, the first and last,

Enfolding in its perfect prime

No future rushing to the past,

But one rapt Now, that knew not Space or Time.

Formless it was, being gold on gold,

And void—but with that complete Life

Where music could no wings unfold

Till lo, God smote the strings of strife!

“Myself unto Myself am Throne,

Myself unto Myself am Thrall

I that am All am all alone,”

He said, “Yea, I have nothing, having all.”

And, gathering round His mount of bliss

The angel-squadrons of His will,

He said, “One battle yet there is

To win, one vision to fulfil!

Since heaven where’er I gaze expands,

And power that knows no strife or cry,

Weakness shall bind and pierce My hands

And make a world for Me wherein to die.

“All might, all vastness and all glory

Being Mine, I must descend and make

Out of My heart a song, a story

Of little hearts that burn and break;

Out of My passion without end

I will make little azure seas,

And into small sad fields descend

And make green grass, white daisies, rustling trees.”

Then shrank His angels, knowing He thrust

His arms out East and West and gave

For every little dream of dust

Part of His life as to a grave!

“Enough, O Father, for Thy words

Have pierced Thy hands!” But, low and sweet,

He said, “Sunsets and streams and birds,

And drifting clouds!”—The purple stained His feet.—

“Enough!” His angels moaned in fear,

“Father, Thy words have pierced Thy side!

He whispered, “Roses shall grow there,

And there must be a hawthorn-tide,

And ferns, dewy at dawn,” and still

They moaned—“Enough, the red drops bleed!”

“And,” sweet and low, “on every hill,”

He said, “I will have flocks and lambs to lead.”

His angels bowed their heads beneath

Their wings till that great pang was gone:

“Pour not Thy soul out unto Death!”

They moaned, and still His Love flowed on,

“There shall be small white wings to stray

From bliss to bliss, from bloom to bloom,

And blue flowers in the wheat; and—” “Stay!

Speak not,” they cried, “the word that seals Thy tomb!

He spake—“I have thought of a little child

That I will have there to embark

On small adventures in the wild,

And front slight perils in the dark;

And I will hide from him and lure

His laughing eyes with suns and moons,

And rainbows that shall not endure;

And—when he is weary, sing him drowsy tunes.

His angels fell before him weeping

“Enough! Tempt not the Gates of Hell!

He said, “His soul is in his keeping

That we may love each other well,

And lest the dark too much affright him,

I will strow countless little stars

Across his childish skies to light him

That he may wage in peace his mimic wars;

“And oft forget Me as he plays

With swords and childish merchandize,

Or with his elfin balance weighs,

Or with his foot-rule metes, the skies;

Or builds his castles by the deep,

Or tunnels through the rocks, and then—

Turn to Me as he falls asleep,

And, in his dreams, feel for My hand again.

“And when he is older he shall be

My friend and walk here at My side;

Or—when he wills—grow young with Me,

And, to that happy world where once we died

Descending through the calm blue weather,

Buy life once more with our immortal breath,

And wander through the little fields together,

And taste of Love and Death.”