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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 
The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not 
intermeddle with his joy. PROVERBS xiv. 10.

WHY should we faint and fear to live alone, 
   Since all alone, so Heaven has will’d, we diea,
Nor even the tenderest heart, and next our own, 
   Knows half the reasons why we smile and sigh?

Each in his hidden sphere of joy or woe 
   Our hermit spirits dwell, and range apart,
Our eyes see all around in gloom or glow— 
   Hues of their own, fresh borrow’d from the heart.

And well it is for us our GOD should feel 
   Alone our secret throbbings: so our prayer
May readier spring to Heaven, nor spend its zeal 
   On cloud-born idols of this lower air.

For if one heart in perfect sympathy 
   Beat with another, answering love for love,
Weak mortals, all entranc’d, on earth would lie, 
   Nor listen for those purer strains above.

Or what if Heaven for once its searching light 
   Lent to some partial eye, disclosing all
The rude bad thoughts, that in our bosom’s night 
   Wander at large, nor heed Love’s gentle thrall?

Who would not shun the dreary uncouth place? 
   As if, fond leaning where her infant slept,
A mother’s arm a serpent should embrace:
   So might we friendless live, and die unwept.

Then keep the softening veil in mercy drawn, 
   Thou who canst love us, tho’ Thou read us true;
As on the bosom of th’ aerial lawn 
   Melts in dim haze each coarse ungentle hue.

So too may soothing Hope Thy leave enjoy 
   Sweet visions of long-sever’d hearts to frame:
Though absence may impair, or cares annoy, 
   Some constant mind may draw us still the same.

We in dark dreams are tossing to and fro,
   Pine with regret, or sicken with despair,
The while she bathes us in her own chaste glow, 
   And with our memory wings her own fond prayer.

O bliss of child-like innocence, and love 
   Tried to old age! creative power to win,
And raise new worlds, where happy fancies rove, 
   Forgetting quite this grosser world of sin.

Bright are their dreams, because their thoughts are clear,
   Their memory cheering: but th’ earth-stain’d spright,
Whose wakeful musings are of guilt and fear, 
   Must hover nearer earth, and less in light,

Farewell, for her, th’ ideal scenes so fair— 
   Yet not farewell her hope, since Thou hast deign’d,
Creator of all hearts! to own and share 
   The woe of what Thou mad’st, and we have stain’d,

Thou know’st our bitterness—our joys are Thineb— 
   No stranger Thou to all our wanderings wild:
Nor could we bear to think, how every line 
   Of us, Thy darken’d likeness and defil’d,

Stands in full sunshine of Thy piercing eye, 
   But that Thou call’st us Brethren: sweet repose
Is in that word—the LORD who dwells on high 
   Knows all, yet loves us better than He knows.

a   Je mourrai seul.  Pascal.
Psalm xxxi. 7.  Thou hast known my soul in adversities.