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The Lay Missioner Post by :novasoft Category :Poems Author :Denis Florence Maccarthy Date :October 2011 Read :1998

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The Lay Missioner

Had I a wish--'twere this, that heaven would make
My heart as strong to imitate as love,
That half its weakness it could leave, and take
Some spirit's strength, by which to soar above,
A lordly eagle mated with a dove.
Strong-will and warm affection, these be mine;
Without the one no dreams has fancy wove,
Without the other soon these dreams decline,
Weak children of the heart, which fade away and pine!

Strong have I been in love, if not in will;
Affections crowd and people all the past,
And now, even now, they come and haunt me still,
Even from the graves where once my hopes were cast.
But not with spectral features--all aghast--
Come they to fright me; no, with smiles and tears,
And winding arms, and breasts that beat as fast
As once they beat in boyhood's opening years,
Come the departed shades, whose steps my rapt soul hears.

Youth has passed by, its first warm flush is o'er,
And now, 'tis nearly noon; yet unsubdued
My heart still kneels and worships, as of yore,
Those twin-fair shapes, the Beautiful and Good!
Valley and mountain, sky and stream, and wood,
And that fair miracle, the human face,
And human nature in its sunniest mood,
Freed from the shade of all things low and base,--
These in my heart still hold their old accustom'd place.

'Tis not with pride, but gratitude, I tell
How beats my heart with all its youthful glow,
How one kind act doth make my bosom swell,
And down my cheeks the sweet, warm, glad tears flow.
Enough of self, enough of me you know,
Kind reader, but if thou wouldst further wend,
With me, this wilderness of weak words thro',
Let me depict, before the journey end,
One whom methinks thou'lt love, my brother and my friend.

Ah! wondrous is the lot of him who stands
A Christian Priest, with a Christian fane,
And binds with pure and consecrated hands,
Round earth and heaven, a festal, flower chain;
Even as between the blue arch and the main,
A circling western ring of golden light
Weds the two worlds, or as the sunny rain
Of April makes the cloud and clay unite,
Thus links the Priest of God the dark world and the bright.

All are not priests, yet priestly duties may
And should be all men's: as a common sight
We view the brightness of a summer's day,
And think 'tis but its duty to be bright;
But should a genial beam of warming light
Suddenly break from out a wintry sky,
With gratitude we own a new delight,
Quick beats the heart and brighter beams the eye,
And as a boon we hail the splendour from on high.

'Tis so with men, with those of them at least
Whose hearts by icy doubts are chill'd and torn;
They think the virtues of a Christian Priest
Something professional, put on and worn
Even as the vestments of a Sabbath morn:
But should a friend or act or teach as he,
Then is the mind of all its doubting shorn,
The unexpected goodness that they see
Takes root, and bears its fruit, as uncoerced and free!

One I have known, and haply yet I know,
A youth by baser passions undefiled,
Lit by the light of genius and the glow
Which real feeling leaves where once it smiled;
Firm as a man, yet tender as a child;
Armed at all points by fantasy and thought,
To face the true or soar amid the wild;
By love and labour, as a good man ought,
Ready to pay the price by which dear truth is bought!

'Tis not with cold advice or stern rebuke,
With formal precept, or wit face demure,
But with the unconscious eloquence of look,
Where shines the heart so loving and so pure:
'Tis these, with constant goodness, that allure
All hearts to love and imitate his worth.
Beside him weaker natures feel secure,
Even as the flower beside the oak peeps forth,
Safe, though the rain descends, and blows the biting North!

Such is my friend, and such I fain would be,
Mild, thoughtful, modest, faithful, loving, gay,
Correct, not cold, nor uncontroll'd though free,
But proof to all the lures that round us play,
Even as the sun, that on his azure way
Moveth with steady pace and lofty mien,
Though blushing clouds, like syrens, woo his stay,
Higher and higher through the pure serene,
Till comes the calm of eve and wraps him from the scene.

(The end)
Denis Florence MacCarthy's poem: Lay Missioner

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