John Addington Symonds (1840-1893)

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The Sonnet (III)

The Sonnet is a world, where feelings caught
In webs of phantasy, combine and fuse
Their kindred elements 'neath mystic dews
Shed from the ether round man's dwelling wrought;
Distilling heart's content, star-fragrance fraught
With influences from the breathing fires
Of heaven in everlasting endless gyres
Ending and encircling orbs of thought.
Our Sonnet's world hath two fix'd hemispheres:
This, where the sun with fierce strength masculine
Pours his keen rays and bids the noonday shine;
That, where the moon and the stars, concordant powers,
Shed milder rays, and daylight disappears
In low melodious music of still hours.

Lux Est Umbra Dei

Nay, Death, thou art a shadow! Even as light
Is but the shadow of invisible God,
And of that shade the shadow is thin Night,
Veiling the earth whereon our feet have trod;
So art Thou but the shadow of this life,
Itself the pale and unsubstantial shade
Of living God, fulfill'd by love and strife
Throughout the universe Himself hath made:
And as frail Night, following the flight of earth,
Obscures the world we breathe in, for a while,
So Thou, the reflex of our mortal birth,
Veilest the life wherein we weep and smile:
But when both earth and life are whirl'd away,
What shade can shroud us from God's deathess day?

The Vanishing Point

There are who, when the bat on wing transverse
Skims the swart surface of some neighbouring mere,
Catch that thin cry too fine for common ear:
Thus the last joy-note of the universe
Is borne to those few listners who immerse
Their intellectual hearing in no clear
Paean, but pierce it with the thin-edged spear
Of utmost beauty which contains a curse.
Dead on their sense fall marches hymeneal,
Triumphal odes, hymns, symphonies sonorous;
They crave one shrill vibration, tense, ideal,
Transcending and surpassing the world's chorus;
Keen, fine, ethereal, exquisitely real,
Intangible as star's light quivering o'er us.

The Prism of Life

All that began with God, in God must end:
All lives are garnered in His final bliss:
All wills hereafter shall be one with His:
When in the sea we sought, our spirits blend.
Rays of pure light, which one frail prism may rend
Into conflicting colours, meet and kiss
With manifold attraction, yet still miss
Contentment, while their kindred hues contend.
Break but that three-edged glass:--inviolate
The sundered beams resume their primal state,
Weaving pure light in flawless harmony.
Thus decomposed, subject to love and strife,
God's thought, made conscious through man's mortal life,
Resumes through death the eternal unity.

Adventante Deo

Lift up your headds, gates of my heart, unfold
Your portals to salute the King of kings!
Behold Him come, borne on cherubic wings
Engrained with crimson eyes and grail of gold!
Before His path the thunder-clouds withhold
Their stormy pinions, and the desert sings:
He from His lips divine and forehead flings
Sunlight of peace unfathomed, bliss untold.
O soul, faint soul, disquieted how long!
Lift up thine eyes, for lo, thy Lord is near,
Lord of all loveliness and strength and song,
The Lord who brings heart-sadness better cheer,
Scattering those midnight dreams that dote on wrong
Purging with heaven's pure rays love's atmosphere!

Lux Est Umbra Dei, "light is the shadow of God."