Thomas Aird

Monkwood: Part Second

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Pride, wrath, revenge, the passions of his blood,
All dead; repentant o'er the pondered past,
And summing up the actions of the day,
Sits Father Monkwood by his evening fire.

Changed long ago, his worse than wasted youth
Filled him with sorrow; guided to the Cross,
He took its priestly training, and went forth
To give the solace which himself had found.
Strong-grained of good, as he had been of ill,
No danger daunted him, no trial stayed.
Lean with endeavour, through the Western world,
On to its outer rim, by watered plains,
And thankless sands; the stony drought of hills,
Glared down upon; plague-rotten swamps; the dusk
Of swarming forests; on by capes of ice
Horned to the floods; snow-wildered lands, far lands
Glimmering away into the skirts of time,
Lost at the Pole; all places, wheresoe'er
Were human hearts to suffer and to die,
There still was he with the immortal help.

Nor yet content with individual aims,
Widening of soul, with large prophetic eye,
He fixed the cradle of the coming Age
By fruitful rivers, measuring out for Man
The axe-doomed forests, and the virgin hills
Of mineral womb, the mothers yet to be
Of Iron Power, begot by Social Fire,
And cities sleeping in the shapeless stone,
All for the kingdom of the Lord of Life.

A sudden tempest tears the cracking night.
Uprising firm and slow, stately in age,
The Father from the entrance of his cave
Looks out and eyes, self-lit by its own fires,
Sucked through the mountain-gorges of the West,
The level havoc burst careering by.
Calm turning in he couches him to sleep,
Blessing the God who gives us in their change
The ordered seasons, and the day and night:—
Famine may waste, the blue spasmodic pest
May ride the tainted winds, with rifts may heave
The central fires, tilting the lifted hills,
And stony waves of movement undulate
Throughout the rock-ribbed earth; yet fear not, Man!
Upheld for Jesus' sake, this frame of things
Shall perish not until His own Great Day.
Plead thou the Incarnate Plea, and meet that Day,
Standing up calm before the Opened Books,
Tried in the last resort of wondering worlds.

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Thomas Aird