The Prophet Unveiled.

From: Poems (1844)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Carey and Hart 1844 Philadelphia

The Prophet Unveiled.

KINDLY he did receive us where he dwelt,
And in his smile and eye I inly felt
The self-same power, the influence mild and grand,
Which o’er our kindled souls had held command,
When to the page his mind had wrought we turned.
But now anew our hearts within us burned,
As side by side, we hearkened to his talk,
Or rambled with him in his morning walk.
Unveiled he stood; and beautiful he moved
Amid home-sympathies;—a heart that loved
Nature as dearly as a gentle mother,
And man as a great spirit and a brother.
In the clear deepening river of his thought,
Welling in tones and words by nature taught;
In the mild lustre of the long-lashed eye,
And round the delicate lips, how artlessly
Broke forth the intuitions of his mind.
I listened and I looked, but could not find
Courage or words to tell my sympathy
With all this deep-toned wisdom borne to me.
Still less could I declare how, ere I knew
The spell his visible presence o’er me threw,
The page his inspiration wrought, had warmed
Daily to life the faith within me formed
Of Nature’s great relationship to man;
So far his speed of sight my own outran.
And if I spoke, it seemed to me my thought
Was but a pale and broken reflex caught
From his own orb; so silently I sat
Drinking in truth and beauty. Yet there was that
In his serene and sympathizing smile,
Which as I listened, told me all the while
That nearer intercourse might give me right
To come within the region of his light;
Not to be dazzled, moth-like, by his flame,
But go as independent as I came.

And once again within the lighted hall,
Where Mind and Beauty gathered to his call,
We heard him speak; upon his eye and tongue,
Dropping their golden thoughts we mutely hung.
Aurora shootings mixed with summer lightning;
Meteors of truth through beauty’s sky still bright’ning;
Phœnix-lived things born amid stars and flashes,
And rising rocket-winged from their own ashes;
Pearls prodigally rained, too large and fast;
Rich music-tones too sweet and rare to last—
Such seemed his natural utterance as it passed.
And yet the steadier light that shone alway,
Looked through these meteors in their rapid play,
And warmed around us like the sunlight mild,
And Truth in Beauty’s robes stood by and smiled.

Dec. 1839.

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