The Questioning Angels
There ran behind the angels' wings
by Alexander Anderson
An undertone of murmurings,
Faint, as when sighing autumn grieves,
And wrings her palms of wither'd leaves.
Then God said, as He heard the sound,
'Who murmurs?' And He look'd around.
But never folded pinion stirr'd,
Or lip to speak one single word.
Such silence in the heavens dwelt,
The motions of the stars were felt.
'Who murmurs here?' He ask'd again,
With something on His brow like pain.
At length one trembling angel said,
With bending knee and bowing head:
'We murmur, for we cannot see
The earth as it appears to Thee.
We look, and only see below
An endless stretch of human woe.'
Then God touch'd with his finger-tips,
While sunshine clad His brow and lips,
The doubting angels' eyes, that could
See naught on earth that seem'd of good.
'Look now,' He said, 'and what ye see
Turn round, and straightway tell to me.'
They look'd; one angel from his place
Made answer, looking in His face:
'Father, thine own great purpose runs
Round men, as planets round their suns,
And binds them like a golden band,
The end of which is in Thy hand,
For some great good we cannot see,
Yet rooted and full-growth'd in Thee.
We murmur not; this much we know,
Thy shadow falls on men below.
And all, when truly understood,
Is fair and wise, and pure and good.'
He who can stand upon the earth,
And see all things take perfect birth,
The same hath felt in awed surprise
God's fingers laid upon his eyes.