Today is one of those Holy Days of Obligation. After Halloween it seems like everyone shifts gears and starts talking turkey yet here is a poem which takes some time to reflect on this feast. This is a poem from the collection The Christian Year by John Keble. In the collection Keble wrote a poem for each week of the liturgical year as well as for many feast days. If you are interested in reading it The Christian Year is available over at Project Gutenberg.
All Saints’ Day.
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Revelation vii. 3.
Why blow’st thou not, thou wintry wind,
Now every leaf is brown and sere,
And idly droops, to thee resigned,
The fading chaplet of the year?
Yet wears the pure aërial sky
Her summer veil, half drawn on high,
Of silvery haze, and dark and still
The shadows sleep on every slanting hill.
How quiet shows the woodland scene!
Each flower and tree, its duty done,
Reposing in decay serene,
Like weary men when age is won,
Such calm old age as conscience pure
And self-commanding hearts ensure,
Waiting their summons to the sky,
Content to live, but not afraid to die.
Sure if our eyes were purged to trace
God’s unseen armies hovering round,
We should behold by angels’ grace
The four strong winds of Heaven fast bound,
Their downward sweep a moment stayed
On ocean cove and forest glade,
Till the last flower of autumn shed
Her funeral odours on her dying bed.
So in Thine awful armoury, Lord,
The lightnings of the judgment-day
Pause yet awhile, in mercy stored,
Till willing hearts wear quite away
Their earthly stains; and spotless shine
On every brow in light divine
The Cross by angel hands impressed,
The seal of glory won and pledge of promised
Little they dream, those haughty souls
Whom empires own with bended knee,
What lowly fate their own controls,
Together linked by Heaven’s decree;—
As bloodhounds hush their baying wild
To wanton with some fearless child,
So Famine waits, and War with greedy eyes,
Till some repenting heart be ready for the skies.
Think ye the spires that glow so bright
In front of yonder setting sun,
Stand by their own unshaken might?
No—where th’ upholding grace is won,
We dare not ask, nor Heaven would tell,
But sure from many a hidden dell,
From many a rural nook unthought of there,
Rises for that proud world the saints’ prevailing prayer.
On, Champions blest, in Jesus’ name,
Short be your strife, your triumph full,
Till every heart have caught your flame,
And, lightened of the world’s misrule,
Ye soar those elder saints to meet
Gathered long since at Jesus’ feet,
No world of passions to destroy,
Your prayers and struggles o’er, your task all praise and joy.