Third Sunday After Easter – by John Keble

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Wonderful to see one of Keble’s poems get a look-in. The whole of his ‘Christian Year’ deserves more attention.

  2. catholiccomelately says:

    Lovely, Father! Thank you.
    Hope you are feeling better soon. Prayers continue.

  3. jeff says:

    Keble’s writings feature quite prominently in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham.

  4. Maltese says:

    Being an ex-firefighter, I don’t cry often, but this made me cry. Thank you Father!

  5. amsjj1002 says:

    I got to admire John Keble while reading the “Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman” and his name is in my little prayer book.

    Blessed John Henry wrote of his death in Volume 22:
    The one doctrine dear Keble did not receive was that communion with the Holy See was necessary for being in the Church. The few hours that I saw him in September, it astonished me how far he seemed to go. I suppose he looked forward to Purgatory with real comfort, as a mode of honouring God.”
    + LD XXII, 208 (April 8. 1866)

    Keble was told his wife could not live many hours. He had borne up, in spite of his great infirmities, longer than I supposed possible. He was seized with fainting fits. His friends took him from her room. When he got into his own, he fancied it a Church. He knelt down, and said the Lord’s Prayer. Then he began a Latin Hymn — they could not make out what. Those were his last words. Thus he ended with the prayer which he first said on his knees as a little child.
    + LD XXII, 216 (April 16. 1866)

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