Where shall Devotion find her fitting food?
'Twas asked; and it was answered, 'Every where.'
Whate'er the region, bring but thou the mood,
And, high or low, her nutriment is there.
Her's—road-side chapel; her's—cathedral roof;
The holy reverence, which bends—aloof;
The love familiar, that delights to cling.
Her's—purest Godhead, veiled in depth of skies;
The Being, unapproachable—unseen;
And her's—the visible; for peasant eyes
By village painter robed in red or green.
Come, lead me thou to yonder ancient pile,
Where the built organ, through its thousand flutes,
Peals majesty; and incense, all the while,
Is circling up 'mid arches and volutes;
And as we wander thro' the wond'rous fane,
Or kneel us, trust me! I shall feel, like thee,
Nay, cope and robe. But come thou too, with me,
To where yon worshipper, more picturesque
Than graceful, in his coat of many a flaw,
Is humbly hymning to that Saint grotesque,
'From forth his scrannel-pipe of wretched straw.'
And then avouch, (not bearing less in mind
The glorious strains that roll these roofs along,)
That there Devotion too fit food may find
In the rude notes of that street-chaunted song.
So deemed our elder race. Their faith—they knew—
Was strong for daily wear; a stuff to trust.
No flimsy robe, hung up the whole week thro',
'And but for Sunday-service cleansed from dust;'
But a stout faith, that free from formalism,
(On which Devotion's name too oft we dub,)
In week-day life nor found, nor sought, a schism;
But mingled with it; and could bear the rub.
Or, must we come in smoother phrase array'd,
(Tho' truth, I ween, might spare such silken grace,)
Their faith (like Una, wheresoe'er she stray'd)
Could make 'a sunshine in the shady place.'
And far above, as abstract thought may reach,
And far beneath, as human instincts go,
Could find congenial atmosphere in each;
No theme too lofty, as no love too low.
With such interpretation would I leaven
That ladder-vision, erst by Jacob seen;
Its foot on common earth; its top in heaven;
And God's mild angels on each step between.