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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High; which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall arise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.                                                                                                  Numbers xxiv. 16,17. 
O FOR a sculptor’s hand, 
That thou might’st take thy stand, 
Thy wild hair floating on the eastern breeze, 
Thy tranc’d yet open gaze 
Fix’d on the desert haze, 
As one who deep in heaven some airy pageant sees. 

In outline dim and vast 
Their fearful shadows cast 
The giant forms of empires on their way 
To ruin: one by one 
They tower and they are gone, 
Yet in the Prophet’s soul the dreams of avarice stay. 

No sun or star so bright 
In all the world of light 
That they should draw to heaven his downward eye, 
He hears th’ Almighty’s word, 
He sees the angel’s sword, 
Yet low upon the earth his heart and treasure lie. 

Lo from you argent field, 
To him and us reveal’d 
One gentle star glides down, on earth to dwell. 
Chain’d as they are below 
Our eyes may see it glow, 
And as it mounts again, may track its brightness well. 

To him it glar’d afar, 
A token of wild war, 
The banner of his Lord’s victorious wrath: 
But close to us it gleams, 
Its soothing lustre streams 
Around our home’s green walls, and on our church-way path. 

We in the tents abide 
Which he at distance eyed 
Like goodly cedars by the waters spread, 
While seven red altar-fires 
Rose up in wavy spires, 
Where on the mount he watch’d his sorceries dark and dread. 

He watch’d till morning’s ray 
On lake and meadow lay, 
And willow-shaded streams, that silent sweep 
Around the banner’d lines, 
Where by their several signs 
The desert-wearied tribes in sight of Canaan sleep. 

He watch’d till knowledge came 
Upon his soul like flame, 
Not of those magic fires at random caught: 
But true prophetic light 
Flash’d o’er him, high and bright, 
Flash’d once, and died away, and left his darken’d thought. 

And can he choose but fear, 
Who feels his GOD so near, 
That when he fain would curse, his powerless tongue 
In blessing only moves?— 
Alas! the world he loves 
Too close around his heart her tangling veil hath flung. 

Sceptre and Star divine, 
Who in thine inmost shrine 
Hast made us worshippers, O claim thine own; 
More than thy seers we know— 
O teach our love to grow 
Up to thy heavenly light, and reap what Thou hast sown.