Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 139. Sonnets
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
139. Sonnets
By William Alexander Archbishop of Armagh  (1824–1911)
  
Suggested by St. Augustine

I

WHAT love I when I love Thee, O my God?
Not corporal beauty, nor the limb of snow,
  Nor of loved light the white and pleasant flow,
Nor manna showers, nor streams that flow abroad,
Nor flowers of Heaven, nor small stars of the sod:        5
  Not these, my God, I love, who love Thee so;
  Yet love I something better than I know:—
A certain light on a more golden road;
A sweetness, not of honey or the hive;
  A beauty, not of summer or the spring;       10
  A scent, a music, and a blossoming
Eternal, timeless, placeless, without gyve,
  Fair, fadeless, undiminish’d, ever dim,—
  This, this is what I love in loving Him.
 
II

This, this is what I love, and what is this?
       15
  I ask’d the beautiful earth, who said—‘ not I’.
  I ask’d the depths, and the immaculate sky
And all the spaces said—‘ not He but His.’
And so, like one who scales a precipice,
  Height after height, I scaled the flaming ball       20
  Of the great universe, yea, pass’d o’er all
The world of thought, which so much higher is.
Then I exclaimed, ‘To whom is mute all murmur
  Of phantasy, of nature, and of art,
He, than articulate language hears a firmer       25
  And grander meaning in his own deep heart.
No sound from cloud or angel.’ Oh, to win
That voiceless voice—‘My servant, enter in’!

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