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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not  
lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.   
                                    HABAKKUK ii. 3. 
   The morning mist is clear'd away, 
   Yet still the face of heaven is grey, 
Nor yet th'autumnal breeze has stirr'd the grove, 
   Faded yet full, a paler green 
   Skirts soberly the tranquil scene, 
The red-breast warbles round this leafy cove. 

   Sweet messenger of "calm decay," 
   Saluting sorrow as you may, 
As one still bent to find or make the best, 
   In thee, and in this quiet mead, 
   The lesson of sweet peace I read, 
Rather in all to be resign'd than blest. 

   'Tis a low chant, according well 
   With the soft solitary knell, 
As homeward from some grave belov'd we turn, 
   Or by some holy death-bed dear, 
   Most welcome to the chasten'd ear 
Of her whom Heaven is teaching how to mourn. 

   O cheerful tender strain! the heart 
   That duly bears with you its part, 
Singing so thankful to the dreary blast, 
   Though gone and spent its joyous prime, 
   And on the world's autumnal time, 
'Mid wither'd hues and sere, its lot be cast: 

   That is the heart for thoughtful seer, 
   Watching, in trance nor dark nor clear*, 
Th' o'erwhelming Future as it nearer draws: 
   His spirit calm'd the storm to meet, 
   Feeling the rock beneath his feet, 
And tracing through the cloud th'eternal Cause. 

   That is the heart for watchman true 
   Waiting to see what God will do, 
As o'er the Church the gathering twilight falls: 
   No more he strains his wistful eye, 
   If chance the golden hours be nigh, 
By youthful Hope seen beaming round her walls. 

   Forc'd from his shadowy paradise, 
   His thoughts to Heaven the steadier rise: 
There seek his answer when the world reproves: 
   Contented in his darkling round, 
   If only he be faithful found, 
When from the east th'eternal morning moves. 

* Zechariah xiv. 6.  It shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark. 

Note:  The expression, "calm decay," is borrowed from a friend; by whose kind permission the following stanzas are here inserted. 

               TO THE RED-BREAST.

Unheard in summer's flaring ray, 
   Pour forth thy notes, sweet singer, 
Wooing the stillness of the autumn day: 
   Bid it a moment linger, 
      Nor fly 
Too soon from winter's scowling eye. 

The blackbird's song at even-tide, 
   And hers, who gay seconds,
Filling the heavens far and wide, 
   Are sweet.  But none so blends, 
      As thine, 
With calm decay, and peace divine. 

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