Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Elements
 
John Henry Newman (1801–90)
 
 
A Tragic Chorus
 
 
  MAN is permitted much
    To scan and learn
    In Nature’s frame;
  Till he well-nigh can tame
  Brute mischiefs, and can touch        5
  Invisible things, and turn
All warring ills to purposes of good.
  Thus, as a god below,
    He can control,
And harmonize, what seems amiss to flow        10
  As sever’d from the whole
  And dimly understood.
 
  But o’er the elements
    One Hand alone,
    One Hand has sway.        15
  What influence day by day
  In straiter belt prevents
  The impious Ocean, thrown
Alternate o’er the ever-sounding shore?
  Or who has eye to trace        20
    How the Plague came?
Forerun the doublings of the Tempest’s race?
  Or the Air’s weight and flame
  On a set scale explore?
 
  Thus God has will’d        25
  That man, when fully skill’d,
  Still gropes in twilight dim;
  Encompass’d all his hours
    By fearfullest powers
  Inflexible to him.        30
  That so he may discern
    His feebleness,
  And e’en for earth’s success
  To Him in wisdom turn,
Who holds for us the keys of either home,        35
  Earth and the world to come.
 

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