“The waves of this troublesome world” (The disciple)

“The waves of this troublesome world” (The disciple)

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV Book I Poem VII)

The waves of this troublesome world o’erwhelm us, too;
Our heavens are dark, and we are sore distressed;
We needs must right ourselves by our own might;
We bale out heavy seas with shallow scoop;
Exhausted arms still labour at the oars;
We scan the waters, not a craft in sight;
Alone, deserted, hopeless, dark, we wait
A greater wave to sink us! What worse case
Can happen to a man? But there is worse;
Till now we judged things had gone contrary,
Misfortun’d overta’en us, unlucky fate;
Sudden, an awful Vision see we walk
Th’ flood of our ’whelming troubles: all at once,
Aware are we; not flesh and blood we fight,
No, nor our fears or fancies; there is more;
Are powers of darkness leagued against us? Worse,
Doth an angry God oppose? Extreme our woe;
Welcome, rough billows of the stormy sea,
Or sudden sinking in its weltering flood!
Hair-raising apparition, who may face?
The worst has come upon us; now we know
What weapons God hath in His armoury!

In anguish of our terror, lo, a voice,
Pitiful, tender—sure, the voice of Christ,
Breaks through our abject dismay; speaks,—“It is I!”—
And, face to face with Him, we find our peace:
In all our misery, was He dealing with us,
In His love and in His pity, did He come?
Willing our hearts to receive Him in that bark,
The tattered, crazy vessel of our life:
He enters; now we know adversity
Hath but made opportunity for Him:
The troublesome ways of life are, sudden, smooth,
The far-off port as sudden is at hand,—
Christ in the vessel—all is well with us!

The bless’d mystery of the Church reveals itself
In glimpse we catch of myriad suffering souls
O’erwhelmed throughout the ages,—sudden, eased,
Their troubles all assuaged in happy calm,
For that they hear,—“See, it is I, fear not!”
Good Lord, deliver us in all those times
When tribulation threatens to submerge!

“Ah, would I could believe this tale of peace!”
Saith one who has laboured for his soul’s release
From all conditions asking faith and love:
“’Tis impossible, that a living man should move
On the face of the waters:”

Impossible, indeed,

For any man to work this wonder: What,
If it were Very God who walked the waves!

A little child spends half his happy days
In Faëry; how else might he endure
The circumscribing of this straitened life?
We, too, are prisoned in a narrow cage;
“I can’t get out!” we cry, to that free air
So proper for our breathing, to that large place
Where all is possible, and comes to pass!
No tribe of men so poor in fantasy,
But, lo, they make a way:—devils, or gods,
Shall know no let or hindrance!—What if He,
Who knows what is in man, hath opened doors
By signs and wonders for our soul’s escape,
And for her larger vision, that she see,
In common meat and drink and health and sleep,
Signs of God immanent? All things to Him
With whom we have to do are possible!

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