What Liberty So Glad

  Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?
Matthew xviii. 21.

~The Rev. John Keble


WHAT liberty so glad and gay,
As where the mountain boy,
Reckless of regions far away,
A prisoner lives in joy?

The dreary sounds of crowded earth,
The cries of camp or town,
Never untuned his lonely mirth,
Nor drew his visions down.

The snow-clad peaks of rosy light
That meet his morning view,
The thwarting cliffs that bound his sight,
They bound his fancy too.

Two ways alone his roving eye
For aye may onward go,
Or in the azure deep on high,
Or darksome mere below.

O blest restraint! more blessèd range!
Too soon the happy child
His nook of homely thought will change
For life’s seducing wild:

Too soon his altered day-dreams show
This earth a boundless space,
With sun-bright pleasures to and fro
Sporting in joyous race:

While of his narrowing heart each year,
Heaven less and less will fill,
Less keenly, thorough his grosser ear,
The tones of mercy thrill.

It must be so: else wherefore falls
The Saviour’s voice unheard,
While from His pard’ning Cross He calls,
“O spare as I have spared?”

By our own niggard rule we try
The hope to suppliants given!
We mete out love, as if our eye
Saw to the end of Heaven.

Yes, ransomed sinner! wouldst thou know
How often to forgive,
How dearly to embrace thy foe,
Look where thou hop’st to live;—

When thou hast told those isles of light,
And fancied all beyond,
Whatever owns, in depth or height,
Creation’s wondrous bond;

Then in their solemn pageant learn
Sweet mercy’s praise to see:
Their Lord resigned them all, to earn
The bliss of pardoning thee.