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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


Joseph made haste, for his bowels did yearn upon his brother; and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there. Gen. xliii.30. 

There stood no man with them, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. Gen. xiv. 1. 

WHEN Nature tries her finest touch, 
Weaving her vernal wreath, 
Mark ye, how close she veils her round, 
Not to be trac’d by sight or sound, 
Nor soil’d by ruder breath? 

Who ever saw the earliest rose 
First open her sweet breast? 
Or, when the summer sun goes down, 
The first soft star in evening’s crown 
Light up her gleaming crest? 

Fondly we seek the dawning bloom 
On features wan and fair,— 
The gazing eye no change can trace, 
But look away a little space, 
Then turn, and, lo! ‘tis there. 

But there’s a sweeter flower than e’er 
Blush’d on the rosy spray— 
A brighter star, a richer bloom 
Than e’er did western heaven illume 
At close of summer day. 

‘Tis Love, the last best gift of Heaven; 
Love gentle, holy, pure: 
But tenderer than a dove’s soft eye, 
The searching sun, the open sky, 
She never could endure. 

Even human Love will shrink from sight 
Here in the coarse rude earth: 
How then should rash intruding glance 
Break in upon her sacred trance 
Who boasts a heavenly birth? 

So still and secret is her growth, 
Ever the truest heart, 
Where deepest strikes her kindly root 
For hope or joy, for flower or fruit, 
Least knows its happy part. 

God only, and good angels, look 
Behind the blissful screen— 
As when, triumphant o’er his woes, 
The Son of God by moonlight rose, 
By all but Heaven unseen: 

As when the holy Maid beheld 
Her risen Son and Lord: 
Thought has not colours half so fair 
That she to paint that hour may dare, 
In silence best ador’d. 

The gracious Dove, that brought from Heaven 
The earnest of our bliss, 
Of many a chosen witness telling, 
On many a happy vision dwelling, 
Sings not a note of this. 

So, truest image of the Christ, 
Old Israel’s long-lost son, 
What time, with sweet forgiving cheer, 
He call’d his conscious brethren near, 
Would weep with them alone. 

He could not trust his melting soul 
But in his Maker’s sight— 
Then why should gentle hearts and true 
Bare to the rude world’s withering view 
Their treasure of delight! 

No—let the dainty rose awhile 
Her bashful fragrance hide— 
Rend not her silken veil too soon, 
But leave her, in her own soft noon, 
To flourish and abide.