To the True Romance


Thy face is far from this our war,  
 Our call and counter-cry,  
I shall not find Thee quick and kind,  
 Nor know Thee till I die.  
Enough for me in dreams to see          
 And touch Thy garments’ hem:  
Thy feet have trod so near to God  
 I may not follow them!  
Through wantonness if men profess  
 They weary of Thy parts,          
E’en let them die at blasphemy  
 And perish with their arts;  
But we that love, but we that prove  
 Thine excellence august,  
While we adore, discover more  
 Thee perfect, wise, and just.  
Since spoken word Man’s Spirit stirred  
 Beyond his belly-need,  
What is is Thine of fair design  
 In Thought and Craft and Deed.          
Each stroke aright of toil and fight,  
 That was and that shall be,  
And hope too high wherefore we die,  
 Has birth and worth in Thee.  
Who holds by Thee hath Heaven in fee          
 To gild his dross thereby,  
And knowledge sure that he endure  
 A child until he die—  
For to make plain that man’s disdain  
 Is but new Beauty’s birth—          
For to possess in singleness  
 The joy of all the earth.  
As Thou didst teach all lovers speech  
 And Life all mystery,  
So shalt Thou rule by every school          
 Till life and longing die,  
Who wast or yet the Lights were set,  
 A whisper in the Void,  
Who shalt be sung through planets young  
 When this is clean destroyed.          
Beyond the bounds our staring rounds,  
 Across the pressing dark,  
The children wise of outer skies  
 Look hitherward and mark  
A light that shifts, a glare that drifts,          
 Rekindling thus and thus,  
Not all forlorn, for Thou hast borne  
 Strange tales to them of us.  
Time hath no tide but must abide  
 The servant of Thy will;           50
Tide hath no time, for to Thy rhyme  
 The ranging stars stand still—  
Regent of spheres that lock our fears  
 Our hopes invisible,  
Oh ’t was certes at Thy decrees          
 We fashioned Heaven and Hell!  
Pure Wisdom hath no certain path  
 That lacks thy morning-eyne,  
And Captains bold by Thee controlled  
 Most like to Gods design.          
Thou art the Voice to kingly boys  
 To lift them through the fight,  
And Comfortress of Unsuccess,  
 To give the Dead good-night.  
A veil to draw ’twixt God His Law          
 And Man’s infirmity,  
A shadow kind to dumb and blind  
 The shambles where we die;  
A rule to trick th’ arithmetic,  
 Too base, of leaguing odds—          
The spur of trust, the curb of lust,  
 Thou handmaid of the Gods!  
O Charity, all patiently  
 Abiding wrack and scaith!  
O Faith, that meets ten thousand cheats          
 Yet drops no jot of faith!  
Devil and brute Thou dost transmute  
 To higher, lordlier show,  
Who art in sooth that lovely Truth  
 The careless angels know!          
Thy face is far from this our war,  
 Our call and counter-cry,  
I may not find Thee quick and kind,  
 Nor know Thee till I die.  
Yet may I look with heart unshook          
 On blow brought home or missed—  
Yet may I hear with equal ear  
 The clarions down the List;  
Yet set my lance above mischance  
 And ride the barriere—          
Oh, hit or miss, how little ’t is,  
 My Lady is not there!
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