Two clouds before the summer gale
by John Keble
In equal race fleet o'er the sky:
Two flowers, when wintry blasts assail,
Together pins, together die.
But two capricious human hearts -
No sage's rod may track their ways.
No eye pursue their lawless starts
Along their wild self-chosen maze.
He only, by whose sovereign hand
E'en sinners for the evil day
Were made--who rules the world He planned,
Turning our worst His own good way;
He only can the cause reveal,
Why, at the same fond bosom fed,
Taught in the self-same lap to kneel
Till the same prayer were duly said,
Brothers in blood and nurture too,
Aliens in heart so oft should prove;
One lose, the other keep, Heaven's clue;
One dwell in wrath, and one in love.
He only knows--for He can read
The mystery of the wicked heart -
Why vainly oft our arrows speed
When aimed with most unerring art;
While from some rude and powerless arm
A random shaft in season sent
Shall light upon some lurking harm,
And work some wonder little meant.
Doubt we, how souls so wanton change,
Leaving their own experienced rest?
Need not around the world to range;
One narrow cell may teach us best.
Look in, and see Christ's chosen saint
In triumph wear his Christ-like chain;
No fear lest he should swerve or faint;
"His life is Christ, his death is gain."
Two converts, watching by his side,
Alike his love and greetings share;
Luke the beloved, the sick soul's guide,
And Demas, named in faltering prayer.
Pass a few years--look in once more -
The saint is in his bonds again;
Save that his hopes more boldly soar,
He and his lot unchanged remain.
But only Luke is with him now:
Alas! that e'en the martyr's cell,
Heaven's very gate, should scope allow
For the false world's seducing spell.
'Tis sad--but yet 'tis well, be sure,
We on the sight should muse awhile,
Nor deem our shelter all secure
E'en in the Church's holiest aisle.
Vainly before the shrine he bends,
Who knows not the true pilgrim's part:
The martyr's cell no safety lends
To him who wants the martyr's heart.
But if there be, who follows Paul
As Paul his Lord, in life and death,
Where'er an aching heart may call,
Ready to speed and take no breath;
Whose joy is, to the wandering sheep
To tell of the great Shepherd's love;
To learn of mourners while they weep
The music that makes mirth above;
Who makes the Saviour all his theme,
The Gospel all his pride and praise -
Approach: for thou canst feel the gleam
That round the martyr's death-bed plays:
Thou hast an ear for angels' songs,
A breath the gospel trump to fill,
And taught by thee the Church prolongs
Her hymns of high thanksgiving still.
Ah! dearest mother, since too oft
The world yet wins some Demas frail
E'en from thine arms, so kind and soft,
May thy tried comforts never fail!
When faithless ones forsake thy wing,
Be it vouchsafed thee still to see
Thy true, fond nurslings closer cling,
Cling closer to their Lord and thee.