Rest (Mason)

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Rest
by Charlotte Mason
Written circa 1871 on the death of her parents, this poem was transcribed from Mason's personal notebooks for the 1960 The Story of Charlotte Mason.

A rest remaineth; is then rest so good?
The hope of weariness, a promise sweet
To labouring souls, but wherefore rest in Heaven?

Deeper than any thought of man,
Sweeter than any dream of man,
Fuller than any hope of man,
To conceive which hath not entered
Into any heart of man.

As the sunny air to the life of a bird,
As the fair sea to the way of a ship,
As brooding sleep to the life of a babe,
So the infinite, unutterable rest of God
To those blest souls that are upborne thereon.

The rest we plan,
Wherein to lay us down when labours end,
Is other in its kind : feelings, thoughts,
In burdens left behind, and chief of all,
In the dear face of God, we place our rest.

But rest, the pure element,
As God hath made, as He hath made the air,
Encompassing, conditionless and free,
That each blest life, unconscious, lives within,
This enters not our thought.

Once in a life, perhaps (nor then to all!)-
When in extreme strait a hopeless soul
Lies down beneath its burden - heaven's gate opes
And that soul for one supernal moment
Is taken in and steeped and bathed in rest.

Thus was it once :
A feeble body and a brain o'er fraught
With many thoughts and cares ; a desolate heart,
Brooding o'er empty places in the earth
Not to be filled again. Life was too much :
The fainting body and more languid soul
Made plaint, for voice too feeble, Lord how long?

And then it came,
The revelation of the infinite
Eternal rest of God.
It came : but how to tell of it! -
As well give features and a form
To sunshine hallow'd 'neath the charm
That quiets summer sabbaths.

It came, but not with words, too worn the heart
For any sound of words, tho' words of life :
With the sweet comprehending of a touch
That knew and pitied and was strong to help,
E'en so came quieting from the hand of God :
And the heart lay still
And ceased from itself :
Nor purpose, prayer, nor penitence was there,
Not praise nor love found place, but a great rest.

A rest that steeped that soul and bore it up
And circled it and shadow'd : only rest :
Not knowing, having, being, aught :
Yet life nor love had ever after brought
So full a draught.

And as that soul lay still,
For hours perhaps, or moments - lo there came
A writing on the wall of its hid room ;
The words appeared - As one is comforted,
Whom comforteth his mother! So, for aye,
That soul doth wot of one good thing prepared
Of God for them that love Him.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was first published outside the United States (and not published in the U.S. within 30 days), and it was first published before 1989 without complying with U.S. copyright formalities (renewal and/or copyright notice) and it was in the public domain in its home country on the URAA date (January 1, 1996 for most countries).

The author died in 1923, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.