Third Sunday After Easter
John Keble (a leading figure in the Oxford Movement, but who did not swim the Tiber)
[A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.–St. John xvi. 21.]
Well may I guess and feel
Why Autumn should be sad;
But vernal airs should sorrow heal,
Spring should be gay and glad:
Yet as along this violet bank I rove,
The languid sweetness seems to choke my breath,
I sit me down beside the hazel grove,
And sigh, and half could wish my weariness were death.
Like a bright veering cloud
Grey blossoms twinkle there,
Warbles around a busy crowd
Of larks in purest air.
Shame on the heart that dreams of blessings gone,
Or wakes the spectral forms of woe and crime,
When nature sings of joy and hope alone,
Reading her cheerful lesson in her own sweet time.
Nor let the proud heart say,
In her self-torturing hour,
The travail pangs must have their way,
The aching brow must lower.
To us long since the glorious Child is born
Our throes should be forgot, or only seem
Like a sad vision told for joy at morn,
For joy that we have waked and found it but a dream.
Mysterious to all thought
A mother’s prime of bliss,
When to her eager lips is brought
Her infant’s thrilling kiss.
O never shall it set, the sacred light
Which dawns that moment on her tender gaze,
In the eternal distance blending bright
Her darling’s hope and hers, for love and joy and praise.
No need for her to weep
Like Thracian wives of yore,
Save when in rapture still and deep
Her thankful heart runs o’er.
They mourned to trust their treasure on the main,
Sure of the storm, unknowing of their guide:
Welcome to her the peril and the pain,
For well she knows the bonus where they may safely hide.
She joys that one is born
Into a world forgiven,
Her Father’s household to adorn,
And dwell with her in Heaven.
So have I seen, in Spring’s bewitching hour,
When the glad Earth is offering all her best,
Some gentle maid bend o’er a cherished flower,
And wish it worthier on a Parent’s heart to rest.