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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

The Boy with the Five Loaves

John Keble (1792–1866)

‘If thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little.’

WHAT time the Saviour spread His feast

For thousands on the mountain’s side,

One of the last and least

The abundant store supplied.

Haply, the wonders to behold,

A boy ’mid other boys he came,

A lamb of JESUS’ fold,

Though now unknown by name.

Or for his sweet obedient ways

The Apostles brought him near, to share

Their Lord’s laborious days,

His frugal basket bear?

Or might it be his duteous heart,

That led him sacrifice to bring

For his own simple part,

To the world’s hidden King?

Well may I guess how glow’d his cheek,

How he look’d down, half pride, half fear

Far off he saw one speak

Of him in JESUS’ ear.

‘There is a lad—five loaves hath he,

And fishes twain:—but what are they

Where hungry thousands be?’—

Nay, Christ will find a way.

In order, on the fresh green hill,

The mighty Shepherd ranks his Sheep

By tens and fifties, still

As clouds when breezes sleep.

O who can tell the trembling joy,

Who paint the grave endearing look,

When from that favoured boy

The wondrous pledge He took?—

Keep thou, dear child, thine early word;

Bring Him thy best: who knows but He

For His eternal board

May take some gift of thee?

Thou prayest without the veil as yet:

But kneel in faith: an arm benign

Such prayer will duly set

Within the holiest shrine.

And Prayer has might to spread and grow.

Thy childish darts, right-aim’d on high,

May catch Heaven’s fire and glow

Far in the eternal sky:

Even as He made that stripling’s store

Type of the Feast by Him decreed,

Where Angels might adore,

And souls for ever feed.