Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 218. The God Within
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
218. The God Within
By Edmond Gore Alexander Holmes  (1850–1906)
  
LIFE of my life! soul of my inmost soul!
  Pure central point of everlasting light!
Creative splendour! Fountain-head and goal
  Of all the rays that make the darkness bright—
    And pierce the gloom of nothing more and more        5
  And win new realms from the abyss of night!
    O God, I veil my eyes and kneel before
    Thy shrine of love and tremble and adore.
 
The unfathomable past is but the dawn
  Of thee triumphant rising from the tomb;       10
And could we deem thy lamp of light withdrawn,
  Back in an instant into primal gloom
  All things that are, all things that time has wrought,
All that shall ever yet unseal the womb
  Of elemental Chaos, swift as thought       15
  Would melt away and leave a world of nought.
 
We gaze in wonder on the starry face
  Of midnight skies, and worship and aspire,
Yet all the kingdoms of abysmal space
  Are less than thy one point of inmost fire:       20
    We dare not think of time’s unending way,
  Yet present, past, and future would expire,
    And all eternity would pass away
    In thy one moment of intensest day.
 
Of old our fathers heard thee when the roll       25
  Of midnight thunder crashed across the sky:
I hear thee in the silence of the soul—
  Its very stillness is the majesty
    Of thy mysterious voice, that moves me more
  Than wrath of tempest as it rushes by,       30
    Or booming thunder, or the surging roar
    Of seas that storm a never-trodden shore.
 
And they beheld thee when the lightning shone,
  And tore the leaden slumber of the storm
With vivid flame that was and then was gone,       35
  Whose blaze made blind, whose very breath was warm:—
    But I, if I would see thee, pray for grace
  To veil my eyes to every outward form,
    And in the darkness for a moment’s space
    I see the splendour of thy cloudless face.       40
 
In thought I climb to Being’s utmost brink
  And pass beyond the last imagined star,
And tremble and grow dizzy while I think—
  But thou art yet more infinitely far,
  O God, from me who breathe the air of sin,       45
And I am doomed to traverse worlds that are
  More fathomless to fancy ere I win
  The central altar of the soul within.
 
How shall I worship thee? With speechless awe
  Of guilt that shrinks when innocence is near       50
And veils its face: with faith, that ever saw
  Most when its eyes were clouded with a tear:
    With hope, the breath of spirits that aspire:
  Lastly, with love—the grave of every fear,
    The fount of faith, the triumph of desire,       55
    The burning brightness of thine own white fire.…
 
O God that dwellest in transcendent light
  Beyond our dreams, who grope in darkness here,
Beyond imagination’s utmost flight,—
  I bless thee most that sometimes when a tear       60
    Of tender yearning rises unrepressed,
  Lo! for an instant thou art strangely near—
    Nearer to my own heart than I who rest
    In speechless adoration on thy breast.

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