When round the earth the Father's hands
Have gently drawn the dark;
Sent off the sun to fresher lands,
And curtained in the lark;
'Tis sweet, all tired with glowing day,
To fade with faded light;
To lie once more, the old weary way,
Upfolded in the night.
A mother o'er the couch may bend,
And rose-leaf kisses heap:
In soothing dreams with sleep they blend,
Till even in dreams we sleep.
And, if we wake while night is dumb,
'Tis sweet to turn and say,
It is an hour ere dawning come,
And I will sleep till day.
There is a dearer, warmer bed,
Where one all day may lie,
Earth's bosom pillowing the head,
And let the world go by.
Instead of mother's love-lit eyes,
The church's storied pane,
All blank beneath cold starry skies,
Or sounding in the rain.
The great world, shouting, forward fares:
This chamber, hid from none,
Hides safe from all, for no one cares
For those whose work is done.
Cheer thee, my heart, though tired and slow
An unknown grassy place
Somewhere on earth is waiting now
To rest thee from thy race.
There is a calmer than all calms,
A quiet more deep than death:
A folding in the Father's palms,
A breathing in his breath;
A rest made deeper by alarms
And stormy sounds combined:
The child within its mother's arms
Sleeps sounder for the wind.
There needs no curtained bed to hide
The world with all its wars,
Nor grassy cover to divide
From sun and moon and stars
A window open to the skies,
A sense of changeless life,
With oft returning still surprise
Repels the sounds of strife.
As one bestrides a wild scared horse
Beneath a stormy moon,
And still his heart, with quiet force,
Beats on its own calm tune;
So if my heart with trouble now
Be throbbing in my breast,
Thou art my deeper heart, and Thou,
O God, dost ever rest.
When mighty sea-winds madly blow,
And tear the scattered waves;
As still as summer woods, below
Lie darkling ocean caves:
The wind of words may toss my heart,
But what is that to me!
'Tis but a surface storm--Thou art
My deep, still, resting sea.
(1864 George MacDonald)