In that primordial darkness spake the Lord,
And said: "Let there be light." And light was there,
The white beatitude of the present Word
Too stark for man to see, who in despair
Shrank cowering from the mercy thus outpoured,
As from a truth too terrible to bear,
Begging a veil to make his sin less plain.
And darkness came, less merciful than light,
Yet mercy's still, that souls by mercy slain
Might sing of holy darkness, bless the night.
For he alone can bear the light that springs
Across the heavens, echoing Heaven's ray,
Whose soul forgets itself and, thoughtless, sings
Its humble opera in the blazoning day.
For us who struggle, stars by storms are hid
(And sins hid, too, to lessen our despair);
In mercy has the Light its own light bid
Lie silent, which man's weakness could not bear.
And where we bless the heavens' blackened lid,
Blest is his love, and blest our folly, there.
Yet still, in darkness struggling, my heart thrums
For that sight which would kill it. "Give me light!"
I cry in folly, and when answer comes,
"Desist!" and am cast back again in night.
Some saint may bear the brazen light that hums
Through all creation; some clear mind may sight
The stars; I know 'tis only mercy's rule
Holds firm, while round me mercy's thunder crashes.
I am no saint, no intellect: a fool
And poet, I live life by lightning-flashes.