Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Chorus of the Elements
By John Henry Newman (1801–1890)
 
  MAN is permitted much
    To scan and learn
    In Nature’s frame;
  Till he wellnigh 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 hath sway.        15
  What influence day by day
  In straiter belt prevents
  The impious Ocean thrown
Alternate o’er the ever-sounding shore?
  Or who hath eye to trace        20
    How the Plague came?
Fore-run the doublings of the Tempest’s race?
  Or the Air’s weight and flame
  On a set scale explore?
 
    Thus God hath will’d        25
  That Man, when fully skill’d,
  Still gropes in twilight dim;
  Encompass’d all his hours
    By fearfull’st 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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