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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


And He turned unto His disciples, and said privately, Blessed are
the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I tell you, that many
prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see,
and have not seen them: and to hear those things which ye hear, 
and have not heard them.                          ST. LUKE x. 23, 24

On Sinai's top, in prayer and trance, 
     Full forty nights and forty days
The Prophet watch'd for one dear glance
     Of Thee and of Thy ways:

Fasting he watch'd and all alone,
     Wrapt in a still, dark, solid cloud,
The curtain of the Holy One
     Drawn round him like a shroud:

So, separate from the world, his breast
     Might duly take and strongly keep
The print of Heaven, to be express'd
     Ere long on Sion's steep.1

There one by one his spirit saw
     Of things divine the shadows bright,
The pageant of God's perfect law;
     Yet felt not full delight.

Through gold and gems, a dazzling maze,
     From veil to veil the vision led,
And ended, where unearthly rays
     From o'er the ark were shed.

Yet not that gorgeous place, nor aught
     Of human or angelic frame,
Could half appease his craving thought:
     The void was still the same.

"Shew me Thy glory, gracious Lord!
     "'Tis Thee," he cries, "not Thine, I seek" 2--
Nay, start not at so bold a word
     From man, frail worm and weak:

The spark of his first deathless fire
     Yet buoys him up, and high above
The holiest creature, dares aspire
     To the Creator's love.

The eye in smiles may wander round,
     Caught by earth's shadows as they fleet;
But for the soul no help is found,
     Save Him who made it, meet.

Spite of yourselves, ye witness this,3
     who blindly self or sense adore;
Else wherefore leaving your own bliss
     Still restless ask ye more?

This witness bore the saints of old
     When highest rapt and favour'd most,
Still seeking precious things untold,
     Not in fruition lost.

Canaan was theirs, and in it all
     The proudest hope of kings dare claim:
Sion was theirs; and at their call
     Fire from Jehovah came.

Yet monarchs walk'd as pilgrims still
     In their own land, earth's pride and grace
And seers would mourn on Sion's hill
     Their Lord's averted face.

Vainly they tried the deeps to sound
     Even of their own prophetic thought,
When of Christ crucified and crown'd
     His Spirit in them taught:

But He their aching gaze repress'd
     Which sought behind the veil to see,
For not without us fully bless'd 4
     Or perfect might they be.

The rays of the Almight's face 
     No sinner's eye might then receive;
Only the meekest man found grace 5
     To see His skirts and live.

But we as in a glass espy
     The glory of His countenance,
Not in a whirlwind hurrying by
     The too presumptuous glance,

But with mild radiance every hour,
     From our dear Saviour's face benign
Bent on us with tranforming power,
     Till we, too, faintly shine.

Sprinkled with His atoning blood
     Safely before our God we stand,
As on the rock the Prophet stood,
     Beneath His shadowing hand.--

Bless'd eyes, which see the things we see!
     And yet this tree of life hath prov'd
To many a soul a poison tree,
     Beheld, and not belov'd.

So like an angel's is our bliss
     (Oh! thought to comfort and appal)
It needs must bring, if us'd amiss,
     An angel's hopeless fall.

1  See that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. Hebrews viii. 5.

2 Exodus xxxiii. 18.

3 Pensees de Pascal, part I. art. viii.

4 Heb. xi. 40.  That they without us should not be made perfect.

5 Exodus xxxiii. 20-23.

Used with permission from the Project Canterbury website.  Transcribed by Julia Beth Bruskin, AD 1999.