Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Christopher Smart. 1722–1770
  
465. Song to David
  
SUBLIME—invention ever young, 
Of vast conception, tow'ring tongue 
    To God th' eternal theme; 
Notes from yon exaltations caught, 
Unrivall'd royalty of thought         5
    O'er meaner strains supreme. 
 
His muse, bright angel of his verse, 
Gives balm for all the thorns that pierce, 
    For all the pangs that rage; 
Blest light still gaining on the gloom,  10
The more than Michal of his bloom, 
    Th' Abishag of his age. 
 
He sang of God—the mighty source 
Of all things—the stupendous force 
    On which all strength depends;  15
From whose right arm, beneath whose eyes, 
All period, power, and enterprise 
    Commences, reigns, and ends. 
 
Tell them, I AM, Jehovah said 
To Moses; while earth heard in dread,  20
    And, smitten to the heart, 
At once above, beneath, around, 
All Nature, without voice or sound, 
    Replied, O LORD, THOU ART. 
 
The world, the clustering spheres, He made;  25
The glorious light, the soothing shade, 
    Dale, champaign, grove, and hill; 
The multitudinous abyss, 
Where Secrecy remains in bliss, 
    And Wisdom hides her skill.  30
 
The pillars of the Lord are seven, 
Which stand from earth to topmost heaven; 
    His Wisdom drew the plan; 
His Word accomplish'd the design, 
From brightest gem to deepest mine;  35
    From Christ enthroned, to Man. 
 
For Adoration all the ranks 
Of Angels yield eternal thanks, 
    And David in the midst; 
With God's good poor, which, last and least  40
In man's esteem, Thou to Thy feast, 
    O blessèd Bridegroom, bidd'st! 
 
For Adoration, David's Psalms 
Lift up the heart to deeds of alms; 
    And he, who kneels and chants,  45
Prevails his passions to control, 
Finds meat and medicine to the soul, 
    Which for translation pants. 
 
For Adoration, in the dome 
Of Christ, the sparrows find a home,  50
    And on His olives perch: 
The swallow also dwells with thee, 
O man of God's humility, 
    Within his Saviour's church. 
 
Sweet is the dew that falls betimes,  55
And drops upon the leafy limes; 
    Sweet Hermon's fragrant air: 
Sweet is the lily's silver bell, 
And sweet the wakeful tapers' smell 
    That watch for early prayer.  60
 
Sweet the young nurse, with love intense, 
Which smiles o'er sleeping innocence; 
    Sweet, when the lost arrive: 
Sweet the musician's ardour beats, 
While his vague mind's in quest of sweets,  65
    The choicest flowers to hive. 
 
Strong is the horse upon his speed; 
Strong in pursuit the rapid glede, 
    Which makes at once his game: 
Strong the tall ostrich on the ground;  70
Strong through the turbulent profound 
    Shoots Xiphias to his aim. 
 
Strong is the lion—like a coal 
His eyeball,—like a bastion's mole 
    His chest against the foes:  75
Strong, the gier-eagle on his sail; 
Strong against tide th' enormous whale 
    Emerges as he goes. 
 
But stronger still, in earth and air, 
And in the sea, the man of prayer,  80
    And far beneath the tide: 
And in the seat to faith assign'd, 
Where ask is have, where seek is find, 
    Where knock is open wide. 
 
Precious the penitential tear;  85
And precious is the sigh sincere, 
    Acceptable to God: 
And precious are the winning flowers, 
In gladsome Israel's feast of bowers 
    Bound on the hallow'd sod.  90
 
Glorious the sun in mid career; 
Glorious th' assembled fires appear; 
    Glorious the comet's train: 
Glorious the trumpet and alarm; 
Glorious the Almighty's stretched-out arm;  95
    Glorious th' enraptured main: 
 
Glorious the northern lights astream; 
Glorious the song, when God 's the theme; 
    Glorious the thunder's roar: 
Glorious Hosanna from the den; 100
Glorious the catholic Amen; 
    Glorious the martyr's gore: 
 
Glorious—more glorious—is the crown 
Of Him that brought salvation down, 
    By meekness call'd thy Son: 105
Thou that stupendous truth believed;— 
And now the matchless deed 's achieved, 
    Determined, dared, and done! 
 
GLOSS:  glede] kite.  Xiphias] sword-fish.
 
 
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