A Brother wandered forth with me,
Beside a barren beach :
He harped on things beyond the sea,
And out of reach.
He hinted once of unknown skies,
And then I would not hark,
But turned away from steadfast eyes,
Into the dark.
And said — “an ancient faith is dead
And wonder fills my mind :
I marvel how the blind have led
So long the blind.
“Behold this truth we only know
That night is on the land !
And we a weary way must go
To find God’s hand.”
I wept — “Our fathers told us, Lord,
That Thou wert kind and just,
But lo ! our wailings fly abroad
For broken trust.
“How many evil ones are here
Who mocking go about,
Because we are too faint with fear
To wrestle Doubt !
“Thy riddles are beyond the ken
Of creatures of the sod :
Remember that we are but men,
And Thou art God !
“O, doting world, methinks your stay
Is weaker than a reed !
Our Father turns His face away ;
’Tis dark indeed.”
The evening woods lay huddled there,
All wrapped in silence strange :
A sudden wind — and lo ! the air
Was filled with change.
“Your words are wild,” my brother said,
“For God’s voice fills the breeze
Go — hide yourself, as Adam did,
Amongst the trees.
“I pluck the shoes from off my feet,
But dare to look around ;
Behold,” he said, “my Lord I greet,
On holy ground !”
And God spake through the wind to me —
“Shake off that gloom of Fear,
You fainting soul who could not see
That I was near.
“Why vex me crying day and night ? —
You call on me to hark !
But when I bless your world with light,
Who makes it dark ?
“Is there a ravelled riddle left
That you would have undone?
What other doubts are there to sift ?”
I answered — “None.”
“My son, look up, if you would see
The Promise on your way,
And turn a trustful face to me.”
I whispered — “Yea.”
Henry Kendall, Poems and Songs, J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1862, pages 136-139
hark = listen, pay attention
ken = knowledge, perception, understanding
ravelled = (also spelt “raveled”) complicated, tangled, twisted