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Poem by Francis Thompson


Any Saint


    His shoulder did I hold
    Too high that I, o'erbold
            Weak one,
        Should lean thereon.

    But He a little hath
    Declined His stately path
            And my
        Feet set more high;

    That the slack arm may reach
    His shoulder, and faint speech
            Stir
        His unwithering hair.

    And bolder now and bolder
    I lean upon that shoulder,
            So dear
        He is and near.

    And with His aureole
    The tresses of my soul
            Are blent
        In wished content.

    Yea, this too gentle Lover
    Hath flattering words to move her
            To pride
        By His sweet side.

    Ah, Love! somewhat let be!
    Lest my humility
            Grow weak
        When Thou dost speak!

    Rebate Thy tender suit,
    Lest to herself impute
            Some worth
        Thy bride of earth!

    A maid too easily
    Conceits herself to be
            Those things
        Her lover sings;

    And being straitly wooed,
    Believes herself the Good
            And Fair
        He seeks in her.

    Turn something of Thy look,
    And fear me with rebuke,
            That I
        May timorously

    Take tremors in Thy arms,
    And with contrivèd charms
            Allure
        A love unsure.

    Not to me, not to me,
    Builded so flawfully,
            O God,
        Thy humbling laud!

    Not to this man, but Man,--
    Universe in a span;
            Point
        Of the spheres conjoint;

    In whom eternally
    Thou, Light, dost focus Thee!--
            Didst pave
        The way o' the wave,

    Rivet with stars the Heaven,
    For causeways to Thy driven
            Car
        In its coming far

    Unto him, only him;
    In Thy deific whim
            Didst bound
        Thy works' great round

    In this small ring of flesh;
    The sky's gold-knotted mesh
            Thy wrist
        Did only twist

    To take him in that net.--
    Man! swinging-wicket set
            Between
        The Unseen and Seen,

    Lo, God's two worlds immense,
    Of spirit and of sense,
            Wed
        In this narrow bed;

    Yea, and the midge's hymn
    Answers the seraphim
            Athwart
        Thy body's court!

    Great arm-fellow of God!
    To the ancestral clod
            Kin,
        And to cherubin;

    Bread predilectedly
    O' the worm and Deity!
            Hark,
        O God's clay-sealed Ark,

    To praise that fits thee, clear
    To the ear within the ear,
            But dense
        To clay-sealed sense.

    Thee God's great utterance bore,
    O secret metaphor
            Of what
        Thou dream'st no jot!

    Cosmic metonymy;
    Weak world-unshuttering key;
            One
        Seal of Solomon!

    Trope that itself not scans
    Its huge significance,
            Which tries
        Cherubic eyes.

    Primer where the angels all
    God's grammar spell in small,
            Nor spell
        The highest too well.

    Point for the great descants
    Of starry disputants;
            Equation
        Of creation.

    Thou meaning, couldst thou see,
    Of all which dafteth thee;
            So plain,
        It mocks thy pain;

    Stone of the Law indeed,
    Thine own self couldst thou read,
            Thy bliss
        Within thee is.

    Compost of Heaven and mire,
    Slow foot and swift desire!
            Lo,
        To have Yes, choose No;

    Gird, and thou shalt unbind;
    Seek not, and thou shalt find;
            To eat,
        Deny thy meat;

    And thou shalt be fulfilled
    With all sweet things unwilled:
            So best
        God loves to jest

    With children small--a freak
    Of heavenly hide-and-seek
            Fit
        For thy wayward wit,

    Who art thyself a thing
    Of whim and wavering;
            Free
        When His wings pen thee;

    Sole fully blest, to feel
    God whistle thee at heel;
            Drunk up
        As a dew-drop,

    When He bends down, sun-wise,
    Intemperable eyes;
            Most proud,
        When utterly bowed,

    To feel thyself and be
    His dear nonentity--
            Caught
        Beyond human thought

    In the thunder-spout of Him,
    Until thy being dim
            And be
        Dead deathlessly.

    Stoop, stoop; for thou dost fear
    The nettle's wrathful spear,
            So slight
        Art thou of might!

    Rise; for Heaven hath no frown
    When thou to thee pluck'st down,
            Strong clod!
        The neck of God.



Francis Thompson


Francis Thompson's other poems:
  1. Epilogue to the Poet's Sitter
  2. A Fallen Yew
  3. A Judgment in Heaven
  4. To My Godchild, Francis M.W.M.
  5. St. Monica


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