Johannes Agricola in Meditation

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Johannes Agricola in Meditation
by Robert Browning


There's heaven above, and night by night
     I look right through its gorgeous roof;
No suns and moons though e'er so bright
     Avail to stop me; splendor-proof
     I keep the broods of stars aloof:
For I intend to get to God
     For 'tis to God I speed so fast,
For in God's breast my own abode,
     Those shoals of dazzling glory, past,
     I lay my spirit down at last.        10
I lie where I have always lain,
     God smiles as he has always smiled;
Ere suns and moons could wax and wane,
     Ere stars were thundergirt or piled
     The heavens, God thought on me his child;
Ordained a life for me, arrayed
     Its circumstances, every one
To the minutest; ay, God said
     This head this hand should rest upon
     Thus, ere he fashioned star or sun        20
And having thus created me,
     Thus rooted me, he bade me grow,
Guiltless forever, like a tree
     That buds and blooms, nor seeks to know
     The law by which it prospers so:
But sure that thought and word and deed
     All go to swell his love for me,
Me, made because that love had need
     Of something irreversibly
     Pledged solely its content to be.        30
Yes, yes, a tree which must ascend,
     No poison-gourd foredoomed to stoop!
I have God's warrant, could I blend
     All hideous sins, as in a cup,
     To drink the mingled venoms up;
Secure my nature will convert
     The draught to blossoming gladness fast:
While sweet dews turn to the gourd's hurt,
     And bloat, and while they bloat it, blast,
     As from the first its lot was cast.        40
For as I lie, smiled on, full-fed
     By unexhausted power to bless,
I gaze below on hell's fierce bed,
     And those its waves of flame oppress,
     Swarming in ghastly wretchedness;
Whose life on earth aspired to be
     One alter-smoke, so pure!—to win
If not love like God's love for me,
     At least to keep his anger in;
     And all their striving turned to sin.        50
Priest, doctor, hermit, monk grown white
     With prayer, the broken-hearted nun,
The martyr, the wan acolyte,
     The incense-swinging child,—undone
     Before God fashioned star or sun!
God, whom I praise; how could I praise,
     If such as I might understand,
Make out and reckon on his ways,
     And bargain for his love, and stand,
Paying a price, at his right hand?        60