Why Should We Faint And Fear To Live Alone
The heart knoweth his own bitterness: and a stranger doth not
intermeddle with his joy. Proverbs xiv. 10.
~The Rev. John Keble
WHY should we faint and fear to live alone,
Since all alone, so Heaven has willed, we die,
Nor e’en the tenderest heart, and next our own,
Knows half the reasons why we smile and sigh?
Each in his hidden sphere of joy or woe
Our hermit spirits dwell, and range apart,
Our eyes see all around in gloom or glow—
Hues of their own, fresh borrowed from the heart.
And well it is for us our GOD should feel
Alone our secret throbbings: so our prayer
May readier spring to Heaven, nor spend its zeal
On cloud-born idols of this lower air.
For if one heart in perfect sympathy
Beat with another, answering love for love,
Weak mortals, all entranced, on earth would lie,
Nor listen for those purer strains above.
Or what if Heaven for once its searching light
Lent to some partial eye, disclosing all
The rude bad thoughts, that in our bosom’s night
Wander at large, nor heed Love’s gentle thrall?
Who would not shun the dreary uncouth place?
As if, fond leaning where her infant slept,
A mother’s arm a serpent should embrace:
So might we friendless live, and die unwept.
Then keep the softening veil in mercy drawn,
Thou who canst love us, thro’ Thou read us true;
As on the bosom of th’ aërial lawn
Melts in dim haze each coarse ungentle hue.
So too may soothing Hope Thy heave enjoy
Sweet visions of long-severed hearts to frame:
Though absence may impair, or cares annoy,
Some constant mind may draw us still the same.
We in dark dreams are tossing to and fro,
Pine with regret, or sicken with despair,
The while she bathes us in her own chaste glow,
And with our memory wings her own fond prayer.
O bliss of child-like innocence, and love
Tried to old age! creative power to win,
And raise new worlds, where happy fancies rove,
Forgetting quite this grosser world of sin.
Bright are their dreams, because their thoughts are clear,
Their memory cheering: but th’ earth-stained spright,
Whose wakeful musings are of guilt and fear,
Must hover nearer earth, and less in light.
Farewell, for her, th’ ideal scenes so fair—
Yet not farewell her hope, since thou hast deigned,
Creator of all hearts! to own and share
The woe of what Thou mad’st, and we have stained.
Thou knowst our bitterness—our joys are Thine—
No stranger Thou to all our wanderings wild:
Nor could we bear to think, how every line
Of us, Thy darkened likeness and defiled,
Stands in full sunshine of Thy piercing eye,
But that Thou call’st us Brethren: sweet repose
Is in that word—the LORD who dwells on high
Knows all, yet loves us better than He knows.