Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 248. A Ladder of Life
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
248. A Ladder of Life
By Arthur Edward Waite  (b. 1860)
  
FROM age to age in the public place,
  With the under steps in view,
The stairway stands, having earth for base,
  But the heavens it passes through.
 
    O height and deep,        5
  And the quests, in sleep,
  Yet the Word of the King says well,
  That the heart of the King is unsearchable.
 
Of the utmost steps there are legends grand,
  And far stars shine as they roll;       10
But, of child or man in the wonderful land,
  Is there one who has scaled the whole?
 
    Yet the great hope stirs,
  Though His thoughts as yours
  Are not, since the first man fell;       15
  For the heart of the King is unsearchable.
 
A pulsing song of the stairway strange
  Sing, lark, dissolved in the sky!
But no, for it passes beyond the range
  Of thy song and thy soaring high.       20
 
    The star is kin
  To our soul within—
  God orders His world so well:
  Yet the heart of the King is unsearchable.
 
They say that the angels thereby come down,       25
  Thereby do the saints ascend,
And that God’s light shining from God’s own Town
  May be seen at the stairway’s end:
 
    For good and ill
  May be mixed at will,       30
  The false shew true by a spell,
  But the heart of the King is unsearchable.
 
Now, the stairway stands by the noisy mart
  And the stairway stands by the sea;
About it pulses the world’s great heart       35
  And the heart of yourself and me.
 
    We may read amiss
  Both in that and this,
  And the truth we read in a well;
  Since the heart of the King is unsearchable       40
 
For a few steps here and a few steps there
  It is fill’d with our voices loud,
But above these slumbers the silent air
  And the hush of a dreaming cloud.
 
    In the strain and stress       45
  Of that silentness,
  Our hearts for the height may swell;
  But the heart of the King is unsearchable.
 
Some few of us, fill’d with a holy fire,
  The Cross and the Christ have kiss’d;       50
We have sworn to achieve our soul’s desire
  By mass and evangelist:
 
    Of step the third
  I can bring down word,
  And you on the fifth may dwell;       55
  Yet the heart of the King is unsearchable.
 
As each of us stands at his place assign’d
  And ponders the things we love,
It is meet and right we should call to mind
  That some must have pass’d above:       60
 
    Yes, some there are
  Who have pass’d so far,
  They have never return’d to tell;
  And the heart of the King is unsearchable.
 
Some glimpse at least of the end we glean,       65
  Of the spiral curve and plan;
For stretch as it may through the worlds unseen,
  They are ever the worlds of man;
 
    And—with all spaces—
  His mind embraces       70
  The way of the stairs as well—
  For his heart, like the King’s, is unsearchable.

CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD

  PREVIOUS NEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors