W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.
The Conversion of St. PaulJohn Keble (17921866)
Broods o’er the hazy, twinkling air;
Along the level sand
The palm-tree’s shade unwavering lies,
Just as thy towers, Damascus, rise
To greet yon wearied band.
Seems bent some mighty deed to do,
So steadily he speeds,
With lips firm clos’d and fixed eye,
Like warrior when the fight is nigh,
Nor talk nor landscape heeds.
As though all Heaven’s refulgent hoard
In one rich glory shone?
One moment—and to earth he falls:
What voice his inmost heart appals?—
Voice heard by him alone.
Seem lost in lightning and in storm,
While Saul, in wakeful trance,
Sees deep within that dazzling field
His persecuted Lord reveal’d
With keen yet pitying glance:
As gently on his spirit fall
As if th’ Almighty Son
Were prisoner yet in this dark earth,
Nor had proclaim’d His royal birth,
Nor His great power begun.
He heard and saw, and sought to free
His strain’d eye from the sight:
But Heaven’s high magic bound it there,
Still gazing, though untaught to bear
Th’ insufferable light.
So shall Sin ask of heaven and earth
At the last awful day.
“When did we see Thee suffering nigh,
And pass’d Thee with unheeding eye?
Great God of judgment, say?”
What glorious presence they despise,
While, in our noon of life,
To power or fame we rudely press.—
Christ is at hand, to scorn or bless,
Christ suffers in our strife.
And our dear Lord in bliss repos’d
High above mortal ken,
To every ear in every land
(Though meek ears only understand)
He speaks as He did then.
’Tis hard, ye so in love should be
With your own endless woe.
Know, though at God’s right hand I live,
I feel each wound ye reckless give
To the least saint below.
Not willing ye should be bereft
Of waiting on your Lord.
The meanest offering ye can make—
A drop of water—for love’s sake,
In heaven, be sure, is stor’d.”
When Thou hast stay’d our wild career,
Thou only hope of souls,
Ne’er let us cast one look behind,
But in the thought of Jesus find
What every thought controls.
Thy lightning glance did then impart
Zeal’s never-dying fire,
So teach us on Thy shrine to lay
Our hearts, and let them day by day
Intenser blaze and higher.
(Like pulses that round harp-strings float,
When the full strain is o’er)
Left lingering on his inward ear
Music, that taught, as death drew near,
Love’s lesson more and more:
Still may the echo of that sound,
Be in our memory stor’d:
“Christians! behold your happy state:
Christ is in these, who round you wait;
Make much of your dear Lord!”