##. The tempered daylight smiles,And solemn music swells and falls Adown these stately aisles;Beneath that carven chancel-roodLow murmurs, hushed to silence, brood; One voice in prayer appealsFor Holy Spirit's quickening graceTo light his now anointed face Who at the altar kneels.
##. Along these cloisters dim --Now we are bid to reverence God Made manifest in him;To mock at our enlightened senseAnd dearly won experience, So far beyond his own;To take him for our heaven-sent guideUpon these seas, so wild and wide, To him as yet unknown.
##. Unformed in mind and thought,Without one ripe idea of life Save what his school books taught,An ignorant boy, he vows a vowTo think and feel as he does now Till his gold locks are grey;Pledges his word to learn no more --To add no wisdom to the store His young mind holds to-day.
##. When once a full-grown man?How shall he check his upward growth To fit this meagre plan?Only by ruthless pinching outOf all the fairest shoots that sprout, As on a healthy tree,From his expanding brain and heart --Defrauding his diviner part Of its virility.
##. In native force and fire;And thus shall soaring pinions fail, Bedraggled in the mire;This tender conscience, now so bright,Lose its fine sense of wrong and right -- Dulled with a moral rust;This ardent intellect be damped,This eager spirit starved and cramped -- Choked in mediæval dust.
##. And blind the bandaged eye;Thus shall the silenced voice grow dumb, As year by year goes by;Until at last, from long abuseAnd lack of free and wholesome use, All manhood's powers decline;And, like a lamp unfed, untrimmed,Intelligence, once bright, is dimmed, No more to burn and shine.
##. Born for a nobler lot --Turn traitor to the highest truth Because he knows it not;Serving for Mammon, veiled as God,Cringing for high-born patron's nod, For social place and gain,While he mechanically yieldsThe produce of his fallow fields -- Husks of long-garnered grain.
##. Whose conscience is his own,But worse than thief and courtesan To degradation grown;A cheat and hypocrite, content,In shelter of base precedent, The downward path to tread,Lest he should lose his Esau's bowl,That bought the birthright of his soul, And have to earn his bread.
##. Of his ignoble case,Owning himself too weak to dare A brother's hostile face,Too weak to stand alone and fightAgainst the strong world's might with right -- A leader's part to take;Dying a daily death in life,At outward peace and inward strife, For poor convention's sake.
##. And priests and people pray,Let those who can at altar kneel -- I have no heart to stay.I cannot bear to see it done --This fresh young life, scarce yet begun, Closed by that iron door;A free-born spirit gagged and bound,Tethered to one small plot of ground,While all the great world spreads around, And doomed to fly no more.