In a Church.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


THE organ breathed in harmonies so sweet,
That Paradise, with sons of light and air,
And daughters of the morn, seemed floating round:
Rich modulations, vaulting fugues that bear
The heart a captive; as when Ganymede
Borne by Jove’s eagle to the Olympian feast,
Sees the earth fade, and all the sky becomes
Before his gaze one wide auroral east.

The sunshine, flashing through the flying cloud,
Struck on the many-tinted window-panes,
And dashed a chord of colors on the wall,
Now strong, now fading like the dying strains,—
A prismy gush of hues that slid oblique
Down the gray columns, like a glowing truth
Whose white light tinted in a poet’s brain
Breaks in a thousand rhymes of love and youth.

The hour was framed for silent thought and prayer,
The place should seem a heavenly shepherd’s fold.
We waited for a voice that might sustain
Our spirits’ flight, nor let the air grow cold
About our wings, but bear us higher still,
Till touched by faith and love and wisdom pure,
We felt the power that lifted man to God,—
The central truths no dogmas could obscure.

And yet the priest, discordant mid accords,
With waste of words, half truth, half error mixed,
Thin homilies and theologic prayers,—
He only jarred the music, spread betwixt
Nature and God a cloud that dimmed the sun,
And made the inspiring church a vaulted tomb;
And not till once again we trod the street
Vanished that shadow of imagined doom.

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