Category Archives: Poetry & Hymns

St. George of England

Mine eyes were sealed with slumber; I sat too long at the ale.
The green dew blights the banner; the red rust eats the mail.
And a spider spanned the chasm from the hand to the fallen sword,
And the sea sang me to sleep; for it called me lord.

This was the hand of the hero; it strangled the dragon’s scream,
But I dreamed so long of the dragon that the dragon was a dream:
And the knight that defied the dragon deserted the princess.
Her knight has stolen her dowry; she has no redress.

Mirror of Justice, shine on us; blaze though the broad sky break
Show us our face though it shatter us; shatter and shake us awake!
We were not tortured of demons, with Berber and Scot,
We that have loved have failed thee! Oh, fail us not!


Source: G. K. Chesterton, The Queen of Seven Swords. London: Sheed & Ward, 1926, p. 49.

Light Shining out of Darkness

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain:
God is His own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

William Cowper, Olney Hymns.

The Human Tree

Source: G. K. Chesterton, The Wild Knight & Other Poems

Many have Earth’s lovers been,
Tried in seas and wars, I ween;
Yet the mightiest have I seen:
Yea, the best saw I.
One that in a field alone
Stood up stiller than a stone
Lest a moth should fly.

Birds had nested in his hair,
On his shoon were mosses rare,
Insect empires flourished there,
Worms in ancient wars;
But his eyes burn like a glass,
Hearing a great sea of grass
Roar towards the stars.

From them to the human tree
Rose a cry continually:
‘Thou art still, our Father, we
Fain would have thee nod.
Make the skies as blood below thee,
Though thou slay us, we shall know thee.
Answer us, O God!

‘Show thine ancient fame and thunder,
Split the stillness once asunder,
Lest we whisper, lest we wonder
Art thou there at all?’
But I saw him there alone,
Standing stiller than a stone
Lest a moth should fall.

Joy and Peace in Believing

Source: William Cowper, Olney Hymns.

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in his wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation,
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation,
And find it ever new:
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
E’en let th’ unknown to-morrow
Bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing
But he will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing,
Will clothe his people too:
Beneath the spreading heavens,
No creature but is fed;
And he who feeds the ravens,
Will give his children bread.

Though vine nor fig-tree neither
Their wonted fruit shall bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there:
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For while in him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

The Cross of Bethlehem

Shrouded in mist, behold the scene:
The Tale-teller is entering—
The man we name Immannuel,
Who didn’t blink when Satan fell.
But sweeter motives sent him here,
Like starlight to our atmosphere,
To take back what that serpent took.
He spurned man’s fig leaf and forsook
Immortal crowns a babe to be—
Clothed only with humility.
Becoming flesh he left heaven
And saw the cross at Bethlehem.
He lived as dead. He took no thought
For rights or power though being God.
Misunderstood, betrayed, tortured,
God gave no curse—nay, spoke no word—
Then ending what birth had begun,
Was hung shame, and hid the sun.
Naked he came; naked returned.
By blood his own perfection learned,
He offered up humanity—
Heard no reply. Surrend’ring, he
Went lower still, to deepest earth,
And changed the grave from dread to mirth.
Now—thought of thoughts—sin’s blindness cured,
Our man of sorrows has secured
The highest throne, the noblest name,
The purest bride for which he came,
And crowning all rewards of grace,
The smile upon his Father’s face.