Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 176. O Soul of Mine!
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
176. O Soul of Mine!
By James Rhoades  (b. 1841)
  
AGAIN that Voice, which on my listening ears
  Falls like star-music filtering through the spheres:
‘Know this, O Man, sole root of sin in thee
Is not to know thine own divinity!’
 
      And the Voice said:        5
‘Awake, thou drunken and yet not with wine!
    Arise and shine!
  Uplift thee from the dead!
Cast off the clinging cerements of sin
    Fool-sense hath swathed thee in!       10
      Though drugged and dulled
    With every evil anodyne
From the rank soil of the world’s waste-heap culled,
  Thou crown and pattern of the eternal Plan,
    Awake, O Soul of Man!       15
      O Soul of Mine,
Awake, I say, and know thyself divine!
 
      ‘Behold, behold!
  Thou art not that thou deemest,
  Or to thy fellows seemest       20
    In death-bound body hearsed:
  But, like a silver summit
    Enshrouded
    And o’er-clouded
With earth-born vapour vainest,       25
So gross no eye may plumb it,
    E’en as of old
From out My Heart all-seeing—
  Ere yet in body dressed,
    Best of the best,       30
And of most holy holiest—
  Thou soared’st into being,
  So, godlike as at first
I made thee, thou remainest.
 
    ‘What look of wonder dawns within thine eyes,       35
    O soul of Mine?
  Hast utterly forgot from whence art risen?
  That essence rare can walls of space imprison,
Or time with dull decrepitude surprise?
    Nay now       40
From every chain thy self hath forged for thee
  Thy Self can set thee free:
    Let the sea burn,
  Let fire to water turn,
      But thou       45
Cleave to thy birthright and thy Royal Line!
 
‘For lo! thou hast within thee to dispel
    This haunting hell
  Of error-teemèd night
    That hides thy height,       50
And the dread rumour and malefic breath
  Of thy doomed enemy, Death,
Whose birth-lair, ignorance, like a stagnant pool,
  Of its accursèd kind
Breeds ague of unfaith, and terrors blind       55
Hatched in the darkened hollows of the mind;
    Whence too arise
Hallucinations, lurid phantasies,
And gross desires, with every vice that springs
  From false imaginings,       60
And vain reliance upon visible things—
    The mad misrule
Of creeds and deeds idolatrous, whereof
Love were sworn hater, an she were not Love.
 
      ‘These in their hidden dens       65
Behoves thee with pure thoughts to cleave or cleanse,
  Aye, and unmask those counterfeits of bliss,
  Which to believe thy deep undoing is—
    Joys which but lure to leave thee,
      And leave to grieve thee,       70
  Not of the fine-spun stuff
  That from the eternal spool
    My Hands would weave thee!
      Enough, enough!
  How long shall they deceive thee,       75
    And thou still dote
  Importuning high Heaven
    That more be given
With cries monotonous as the wry-neck’s note?
 
      ‘Such pleasures and such pain       80
      Alike are vain.
Not while the chords of thought are keyed to these
    Shalt thou find rest or ease,
Seeing that thyself art tuned eternally
  To That which only is without alloy       85
      Pure Life and Joy.
    Ah! would thy throbbing shell
Awake the Spirit’s whispered harmonies,
      Bethink thee well
That every trembling hidden string must be       90
      Vibrant of Me
Who am the Truth, and at thy centre dwell—
The very Breath of God made visible!
  For know the myriad miseries of mankind,
    And the long reign of sin,       95
Came but of questing outward, for to find
    That which abides within.
 
‘But what hast thou to do with sinning,
    O Soul of Mine,
  Or what with dying,      100
    Sorrow and sighing,
Who hast nor ending nor beginning,
Nor power from thy perfection to decline?—
      Who canst not guess
    From the gaunt shadow cast      105
On folly’s fog-belt, but shalt learn at last,
  Thine own inalienable loveliness;
    Whom sinless, deathless, I created
      Of elements so fine,
        That with my Being sated,      110
        In glorious garments dight
          Of Life and Light,
        Lowly, yet unafraid,
With an eternity of joy sufficed,
      The Spirit’s Self might love thee      115
        And brood above thee,
          Pure Maid
  And Mother of the indwelling Christ!
 
‘Hereby thou comest at last unto thine own,
    The Heaven of Heaven!      120
    Self-wittingly at one
With Him who hath the Universe for throne,
  Who wieldeth the stars seven;
    Who only is
  The Mystery of Mysteries      125
    Ineffable, My Son,
My sole-begotten ere the worlds began,
    Made manifest as Man.
 
‘And the grim Nothingness thou namest Death,
    With all his shadowy peers—      130
    Angers, and lusts, and fears—
The which so long against thy peace did plot,
  Shall be remembered not,
  Or, shrivelling at a breath,
      Be known as naught;      135
    Yea, that they never were
Save in the realm of things that but appear,
  Creations of thine unillumined thought.
 
      ‘Then deem not Heaven a place,
As though ’twere measurable in terms of sense—      140
    Length, breadth, circumference,
Or spread throughout illimitable space.
  It is the enthronization of the soul
    Upon the heights of Being; it is to know;
    It is the rapture that I AM is so,      145
  Whatever clouds of ignorance up-roll.
      It is the joy of joys,
To thrill co-operant with the primal cause
      Of the unswerving laws
Which hold in everlasting equipoise      150
      Those balances of God,
The visible and invisible Universe;
  Wherein, couldst thou but measure with His rod—
      With undistorted sight
        Couldst read aright—      155
      Nor better is, nor worse,
        But only best;
’Tis from thy centre to thine utmost bound
    To feel that thou hast found—
      That thou too art      160
From all to all eternity a part
  Of that which never was in speech expressed,
  The unresting Order which is more than rest.
 
‘Who is he prateth of Original Sin?
  I am thine Origin,      165
And I thy Kingdom waiting thee within!
  Seek Me, and thou hast found it,
  My seas of Life surround it,
    My Love’s o’er-arching splendour
  For canopy hath crowned it.      170
    All that nor eye nor ear
      Can hear or see
Lies stored within its boundless empery.
    Not there, O Soul of Mine,
      Shalt thou surrender,      175
    Torn from thy tortured breast,
    Those whom thou heldest here
      In bonds so tender.
      Death cannot quell
    Their residue divine.      180
Seek, then, within, but spurn the unhallowed spell:
  In light unutterable alive they shine,
    Leave thou to Me the rest!
      Have I not said?
And shall not they that mourn be comforted?      185
 
    ‘Yet these for whom thou pinest,
  Thy dearest and divinest,
  Are but rills from out the river
  Of the all-and-only Giver:
Why tarry, then, thy thirst in Him to slake      190
Who flowed through earthen channels for thy sake,
    From death-drought to deliver?
  Hadst thou but eyes for seeing
  The wells of thine own being,
What draughts of living water wouldst thou take!      195
 
‘Ever, then, singly, and all aims above,—
    For That I AM is thine,—
Think Oneness, and think Worship, and think Love;
    The which, translated to thine outward need
(Sith every thought must still creative prove),      200
  Shall limn their likeness with invisible hand—
  As the sea-ripples write them on the sand—
    In bodily form and deed.
So shalt thou make for thine eternal Meed;
  So shalt thou fashion thee, O Soul of Mine,      205
      A glorious shrine
  Wherein to house thee, and wherethrough to shine—
Or here, or in My Mansions crystalline—
Serenely changeless, dazzlingly divine!’

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