Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 137.pdf/653

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It has been thought that there may be a place for some

expression, such as the following hymn or hymns
endeavor to embody, of the prospect of another
world, more hopeful than the touching address of
the emperor Hadrian to his soul, less vague and
material than Pope’s graceful version of it in his
well-known lines. "Vital spark of heavenly flame."



O frail spirit — vital spark,
Trembling, toiling, rising, sinking,
Flickering bright mid shadows dark,
Spring of feeling, acting, thinking,
Central flame of smiles and tears,
Boundless hopes and wasting fears,
Whither wilt thou wend thy way,
When we close this mortal day?


Shall the course of earthly joys
Still repeat their round forever,
Feasts and songs, and forms and toys,
Endless throbs of this life's fever?
Or, beyond these weary woes,
Shall we find a deep repose,
And, like dove that seeks her nest,
Flee away and be at rest?


Dimly, through those shades unknown,
Gleams the fate that shall befall us;
Faintly, entering there alone,
Can we hear what voices call us;
Yet our spirit's inmost breath,
As we near the gates of death,
In that purer, larger air,
Thus may shape a worthier prayer: —


"Maker of the human heart,
Scorn not thou thine own creation,
Onward guide its nobler part,
Train it for its high vocation:
From the long-infected grain
Cleanse and purge each sinful stain;
Kindle with a kindred fire
Every good and great desire.


"When in ruin and in gloom
Falls to dust our earthly mansion,
Give us ample verge and room
For the measureless expansion:
Clear our clouded mental sight
To endure thy piercing light,
Open wide our narrow thought
To embrace thee as we ought.


"When the shadows melt away,
And the eternal day is breaking,
Judge most just, be thou our stay
In that strange and solemn waking;
Thou to whom the heart sincere
Is thy best of temples here,
May thy faithfulness and love
Be our long last home above."



"Rise, my soul, and stretch thy wings,
All thy better portion trace,
Rise from transitory things,
Heavenward to thy native place."[1]
Higher still and ever higher,
Let thy soaring flight aspire,
Toward the Perfectness Supreme,
Goal of saints' and sages' dream.


There may we rejoicing meet
Loved and lost, our hearts' best treasures,
Not without surprises sweet
Mount with them to loftier pleasures;
Though the earthly bond be gone,
Yet the spirits still are one —
One in love, and hope, and faith;
One in all that conquers death.


And, in those celestial spheres,
Shall not then our keener vision
See, athwart the mist of years,
Through the barriers of division,
Holy soul and noble mind,
From their baser dross refined,
Heroes of the better land
Whom below we scorn'd and bann'd?


May we wisely, humbly scan,
Face to face at last beholding,
Glimpses of the Son of Man,
All his grace and truth unfolding;
Through the ages still the same,
As of old on earth he came;
May our hope in him be sure,
To be pure as he is pure.


As we climb that steep ascent,
May the goodness and the glory,
Which to cheer our path were lent,
Seem but fragments of the story,
There to be unroll'd at length,
In its fulness and its strength,
Not with words that fade and die,
In the book of God Most High.


Through our upward pilgrimage,
Larger, deeper, lessons learning,
May we boldly page on page
Of diviner lore be turning;
May we still in labors blest
Never tire and never rest,
And with forces ever new
Serve the Holy and the True.

Macmillan's Magazine.A. P. S.

  1. These four lines are taken, with two slight
    alterations, from the fine hymn of Robert Seagrave, 1748.