Someone, stooping through the starlight,
At my feet, laid down a cross,
And I bent me low to lift it,
Feeling I had suffered loss.
Loss of all that seemed most lovely,
Loss of all that looked most fair;
Oh! I cared not for the freshness
Of the fragrant, dewy air.
So I raised it, slowly, sadly,
Bore it, walking wearily;
And the awful hours that followed,
Drunk with anguish seemed to be.
Tired limbs that scarce could stagger,
’Neath that crushing weight of dread;
I was as the living, fettered
Helpless, to the leaden dead.
All my heart was ice within me,
All the sky was steel above;
With that thing of dread upon me,
Could I — could I dream of love?
Love of earth, and love of heaven,
Mockery alike to me —
Bowed as I was, I could nothing
But the rocks I trod on see.
Did God see me in the darkness,
Feel the words I never said,
See the feet all torn and bleeding,
See the weary, drooping head?
Someone touched me in mine anguish,
And the darkness turned to light;
Someone touched my hideous burden,
Changed it to my wondering sight.
And I took it, took it slowly,
Laid it gently on my breast,
And, through all my soul, upgushing
Sprung exhaustless founts of rest.
All my dead flowers blossomed newly,
Blossomed with a lovelier grace;
All the golden sunshine kissed me,
As I raised to heaven my face.
Still a cross, but oh how altered!
Still a burden to be borne;
Still, yes sometimes, weary footsteps,
Made with feet all bruised and torn.
What the difference? nothing, only
God to be my guide and friend;
This the difference — Jesus with me,
Always, ever, to life’s end.
Agnes Neale, Shadows and Sunbeams, Adelaide: Burden & Bonython, 1890, pages 7-9
’neath = beneath