ON through the Libyan sand
Rolls ever, mile on mile,
League on long league, cleaving the rainless land,
Fed by no friendly wave, the immemorial Nile.
Down through the cloudless air,
Undimmd, from heavens sheer height,
Bend their inscrutable gaze, austere and bare,
In long-proceeding pomp, the stars of Libyan night.
Beneath the stars, beside the unpausing flood,
Earth trembles at the wandering lions roar;
Trembles again, when in blind thirst of blood
Sweep the wild tribes along the startled shore.
They sweep and surge and struggle, and are gone:
The mournful desert silence reigns again,
The immemorial River rolleth on,
The orderd stars gaze blank upon the plain.
O awful Presence of the lonely Nile,
O awful Presence of the starry sky,
Lo, in this little while
Unto the minds trueseeing inward eye
There hath arisen there
Another haunting Presence as sublime,
As great, as sternly fair;
Yea, rather fairer far
Than stream, or sky, or star,
To live while star shall burn or river roll,
Unmarrd by marring Time,
The crown of Being, a heroic soul.
Beyond the weltering tides of worldly change
He saw the invisible things, 30
The eternal Forms of Beauty and of Right;
Wherewith well pleasd his spirit wont to range,
Rapt with divine delight,
Richer than empires, royaler than kings.
Lover of children, lord of fiery fight,
Saviour of empires, servant of the poor,
Not in the sordid scales of earth, unsure,
He measurd small and great,
But by some righteous balance wrought in heaven,
To his pure hand by Powers empyreal given;
Therewith, by men unmovd, as God he judged aright.
As on the broad sweet-waterd river tost
Falls some poor grain of salt,
And melts to naught, nor leaves embittering trace;
As in the oer-arching vault
With unrepelld assault
A cloudy climbing vapor, lightly lost,
Vanisheth utterly in the starry space;
So from our thought, when his enthrond estate
We inly contemplate,
All wrangling phantoms fade, and leave us face to face.
Dwell in us, sacred spirit, as in thee
Dwelt the eternal Love, the eternal Life,
Nor dwelt in only thee; not thee alone
We honor reverently,
But in thee all who in some succoring strife,
By day or dark, world-witnessd or unknown,
Crushd by the crowd, or in late harvest haild,
Warring thy war have triumphd, or have faild.
Nay, but not only there
Broods thy great Presence, oer the Libyan plain.
It haunts a kindlier clime, a dearer air,
The liberal air of England, thy lovd home.
Thou through her sunlit clouds and flying rain
Breathe, and all winds that sweep her island shore
Rough fields of riven foam,
Where in stern watch her guardian breakers roar.
Ay, thrond with all her mighty memories,
Wherefrom her nobler sons their nurture draw,
With all of good or great
For aye incorporate
That rears her race to faith and generous shame,
To high-aspiring awe,
To hate implacable of thick thronging lies,
To scorn of gold and gauds and clamorous fame;
With all we guard most dear and most divine,
All records rankd with thine,
Here be thy home, brave soul, thy undecaying shrine.
© Ernest Myers