Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 189. The Beatific Vision
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
189. The Beatific Vision
By Frederick William Orde Ward  (b. 1843)
  
BETWIXT the dawning and the day it came
  Upon me like a spell,
  While tolled a distant bell,
A wondrous vision but without a name
In pomp of shining mist and shadowed flame,        5
  Exceeding terrible;
Before me seemed to open awful Space,
  And sheeted tower and spire
  With forms of shrouded ’tire
Arose and beckoned with unearthly grace,       10
I felt a Presence though I saw no face
  But the dark rolling fire.
 
And then a Voice as sweet and soft as tears
  But yet of gladness part,
  Thrilled through my inmost heart,       15
Which told the secret of the solemn years
And swept away the clouds of gloomy fears,
  The riddles raised by art;
Till all my soul was bathed with trembling joy
  And lost in dreadful bliss,       20
  As at God’s very kiss,
While the earth shrivelled up its broken toy,
And like a rose the heavens no longer coy
  Laid bare their blue abyss.
 
The giant wheels and all the hidden springs       25
  Of this most beauteous globe,
  Which man may never probe,
Burst on me with a blaze of angel wings
And each bright orb that like a diamond clings
  To the veiled Father’s robe:       30
I saw with vision that was more than sight,
  The levers and the laws
  That fashion stars as straws
And link with perfect loveliness of right,
In the pure duty that is pure delight       35
  And to one Center draws.
 
I knew with sudden insight all was best,
  The passion and the pain,
  The searching that seem vain
But lead if by dim blood-stained steps to Rest.       40
And only are the beatings of God’s Breast
  Beneath the iron chain;
I knew each work was blessèd in its place,
  The eagle and the dove,
  While Nature was the glove       45
Of that dear Hand which everywhere we trace,
I felt a Presence though I saw no face,
  And it was boundless Love.

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