Where ocean reaches vast and wonderful
Its ever-changing leagues of liquid light,
Beating against the shore, but leading on
The ardent vision, on and ever on,
Beyond the circled margin of the sky,
To fabled islands and to thoughts of God,
There with what radiance of majesty
The sun approaches, all the heavens lit
With torches of his couriers, all the sea
Laid with resplendent carpets for his feet!
And how the flaming arches blare and ring
With color salvos as my lord the sun
Steps from the invisible chariot of the night
And lifts his golden sceptre o'er the world!
Beholding, man becomes imperial,
And bears himself with finer confidence,
For he, yes, he, and haply who but he,
Sits on a throne co-sovereign of the day,
And smiles at fear and toil and destiny,
But dearer is the breaking of the dawn,
And nearer is the coming of the sun,
When, far from ocean or the level sweep
Of broad savannas, through the friendly trees,
The many-branching, close, and friendly trees,
We see the sun approaching neighborly.
Each waiting leaf is shining with the joy
He flings before him; crossed and intercrossed
With woodland mysteries of dark design,
The softly happy sky pours gladness down,
Till all the shadows twinkle with a smile,
And all the blacknesses dissolve away.
There's not a twig upon a lowly bush,
Or bit of moss that gems a hidden stone,
Or tiniest ant that creeps along the ground,
But knows his neighbor Sun, and, knowing loves.
The slender brook that winds through ferny clefts
Talks of him to the pebbles; butterflies
Carry the word of him, and reverent thrush
Sings in his praise the anthem of the woods.
Thus came the Christ: not clothed in sovereign state,
Flashing with jewels, girt with steely pride,
An empire-founder, builder of a throne,
Uplifted high above the mass of men,
And glittering on a million dazzled eyes;
But taking little children on His knee,
And pointing weary fishers to a catch,
And lingering beside a village well
To help a harlot into purity.
And trudging up and down the flinty ways
Of common life with homely, common men,
Just to give here a smile, a warning there,
Or glorify a meal by sharing it.
And so He brought the heavens very near,
For men to touch, and love, and rest upon.
And wrap their shivering bodies in its glow.
Thus to the hidden darkness of the world.
The lurking fears, the festering secret sins,
He brought the medicine of light; and thus
To lonely souls despairing of a friend,
And empty souls despairing of a good,
And bitter souls despairing of a God,
He brought a friendliness that never fails.
The treasure-key of all and endless wealth,
And showed them God low-knocking at their doors.
O Sun of righteousness, Thou glorious One,
Thou Majesty of majesties, Thou Might,
Thou Wisdom, Thou Supreme of vastnesses,
How good to know Thee in our woodland ways,
And greet Thee through the parting of the trees!