Henry Abbey


Faith's Vista

When from the vaulted wonder of the sky
The curtain of the light is drawn aside,
And I behold the stars in all their wide
Significance and glorious mystery,
Assured that those more distant orbs are suns
Round which innumerable worlds revolve,—
My faith grows strong, my day-born doubts dissolve,
And death, that dread annulment which life shuns,
Or fain would shun, becomes to life the way,
The thoroughfare to greater worlds on high,
The bridge from star to star. Seek how we may,
There is no other road across the sky;

Mary Magdalene

All night I cried in agony
Of grief and bitter loss,
And wept for Him whom they had nailed
Against the shameful cross.

But in the morning, in the dark,
Before the east was gray,
I hastened to the sepulcher
Wherein the body lay.

The stone was rolled away I found;
And filled with fear and woe,
I straight to His disciples ran,
Thereof to let them know.

I said, 'The body of the Lord
Is not within the tomb;
For they have taken him away
Unnoticed in the gloom.

The Age of Good

I had a vision of mankind to be:
I saw no grated windows, heard no roar
From iron mouths of war on land and sea;
Ambition broke the sway of peace no more.
Out of the chaos of ill-will had come
Cosmos, the Age of Good, Millennium!

The lowly hero had of praise his meed,
And loving-kindnesses joined roof to roof.
The poor were few, and to their daily need
Abundance ministered: men bore reproof;
On crags of self-denial sought to cull
Rare flowers to deck their doors hospitable.

The Drawbridge Keeper

Drecker, a drawbridge keeper, opened wide
The dangerous gate to let the vessel through;
His little son was standing by his side,
Above Passaic River deep and blue,
While in the distance, like a moan of pain,
Was heard the whistle of the coming train.

At once brave Drecker worked to swing it back,
The gate-like bridge that seems a gate of death;
Nearer and nearer, on the slender track,
Came the swift engine, puffing its white breath.
Then, with a shriek, the loving father saw
His darling boy fall headlong from the draw!

The Picture

A widow by her landlord was oppressed
To pay at once her backward coin of rent;
For he, cursed by the wealth that should have blessed,
Forgot that he, too, in a tenement
Dwelt, with unpaid arrear; and surely he,
More than a widow, lived in poverty.

For they alone are rich who have obtained
The love of God, for which no gold can pay.
Blind to the peaceful joy he might have gained,
The craven landlord, on a winter's day
That pierced with cold and wind-thrust snow and sleet,
Drove forth the widow to the roofless street.

To Baffle Time

To baffle time, whose tooth has never rest,
And make the counted line, from page to page,
Compact, fulfilled of what is apt and best,
And vibrant with the keynote of the age,
This is my aim; and even aims are things;
They give men value who have won no place.
We pass for what we would be, by some grace,
And our ambitions make us seem like kings.
But never yet has destiny's clear star
For aimless feet shed light upon the way.
So have I hope, since purpose sees no bar,
To write immortally some lyric day,