Littell's Living Age/Volume 148/Issue 1915/The New Birth

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For works with similar titles, see The New Birth.

The New Birth [edit]


God spake in a voice of thunder,

    Of old from Sinai’s hill;

And the mystic words of wonder

    Thrill the believer still;

He sees in the vault above him,

    With the eye of faith alone,

Gemmed round by the souls that love him,

    The great Creator’s throne.

He sees, in the day of danger,

    The column of cloud that led,

From the land of the alien stranger,

    His Israel whom he fed;

And knows, tho’ his footsteps wander

    Astray in a twilight land,

That his home is building yonder,

    By the one unerring hand.

He sees, in the night of peril,

    The pillar of fire that shone

From the halls of pearl and beryl,

    To light God’s children on;

And feels that straight from Heaven,

    When the eye of sense grows dim,

Shall a grander sight be given

    To all who trust in him.

On the page of the mighty ocean

    He reads the mightier still,

Who curbs its restless motion

    By the law of his royal will;

And while in its course diurnal

    It murmurs, or sings, or raves,

He lists to the voice eternal,

    In the language of the waves.

He marks in the plants around him

    The throbs of a life their own,

While the wordless worlds that bound him

    Whisper their undertone.

From the hawk and the hound yet clearer

    He hears the secret fall,

Which nearer to him and nearer

    Brings the great God of all.

In the leaves that blow and perish

    In the space of a single hour,

As the loves that most we cherish

    Die like the frailest flower, —

In the living things whose living

    Withers or e’er they bloom,

He reads of the great thanksgiving,

    Which breathes from the open tomb.

The bright spring leaves returning

    To the stem whence autumn’s fell,

And the heart of summer burning,

    To change at the winter’s spell,

The year that again repasses,

    The grain that again revives,

Are signs on the darkened glasses

    That bar and bound our lives.

I know how the glass must darken

    To my vision more and more,

When the weak ear strains to hearken,

    When the faint eye glazes o’er;

But the glass shall melt and shiver,

    Once kissed by the fighting breath,

And the light beyond the river

    Shine full in the face of Death.

Strong-set in a strong affection,

    We look to the golden prime,

When a mightier resurrection

    Shall burst on the doubts of time;

And the thoughts of all the sages,

    Like the waves of the fretful main,

At the base of the Rock of Ages

    Shall foam and fume in vain.