1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Tuesday before Easter.

The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holydays throughout the Year. 2 Vols.

Rev. John Keble


Thirteen blank verse stanzas: "Love masters agony; the soul that seem'd | Forsaken, feels her present God again, | And in her Father's arms | Contented dies away." John Keble employs a variety of lyric stanzas in his cycle of devotional poems. The blank-verse quatrain of Collins's Ode to Evening was particularly popular in the 1790s though it had since become much less common.

John Wilson: "This volume is winning its way into many a library — nor will it lie unread on the shelves to which the soul, when wearied or alarmed with this life, turns for consolation to the musings of those men of the holy spirit, who 'Have built their Pindus upon Lebanon,' and, in still more awful mode, have feared not to murmur their melodies even on Mount Calvary, at the very foot of the cross" Blackwood's Magazine 24 (December 1828) 938.

James Anthony Froude: "High churchmanship has hitherto been dry and formal; Keble carried into it the emotions of Evangelicalism while he avoided angry collision with Evangelical opinions. Thus all parties could find much to admire in him, and very little to suspect. English religious poetry was generally weak — was not, indeed, poetry at all. Here was something which in its kind was excellent; and every one who was really religious, or wished to be religious, or even outwardly and from habit professed himself and believed himself to be a Christian, found Keble's verses chime in his heart like church bells" "The Oxford Counter-Revolution" Short Studies on Great Subjects (1881) 4:173; in Moulton, Library of Literary Criticism (1901-05) 6:462.



"Fill high the bowl, and spice it well, and pour
The dews oblivious: for the Cross is sharp,
The Cross is sharp, and He
Is tenderer than a lamb.

"He wept by Lazarus' grave — how will he bear
This bed of anguish? and his pale weak form
Is worn with many a watch
Of sorrow and unrest.

"His sweat last night was as great drops of blood,
And the sad burthen press'd him so to earth,
The very tortures paus'd
To help Him on His way.

"Fill high the bowl, benumb His aching sense
With medicin'd sleep." — O awful is thy woe!
The parching thirst of death
Is on thee, and thou triest

The slumbrous potion bland, and wilt not drink:
Not sullen, nor in scorn, like haughty man
With suicidal hand
Putting his solace by:

But as at first thine all-pervading look
Saw from thy Father's bosom to th' abyss
Measuring in calm presage
The infinite descent;

So to the end, though now of mortal pangs
Made heir, and emptied of thy glory' awhile,
With unaverted eye
Thou meetest all the storm.

Thou wilt feel all, that Thou may'st pity all;
And rather wouldst Thou wrestle with strong pain,
Than overcloud thy soul,
So clear is agony.

Or lose one glimpse of Heaven before the time,
O most entire and perfect sacrifice,
Renew'd in every pulse
That on the tedious Cross

Told the long hours of death, as, one by one,
The life-strings of that tender heart gave way;
Even sinners, taught by Thee,
Look Sorrow in the face,

And bid her freely welcome, unbeguil'd
By false kind solace, and spells of earth:—
And yet not all unsooth'd;
For when was Joy so dear,

As the deep calm that breath'd, "Father, forgive,"
Or, "Be with me in Paradise to-day?"
And, though the strife be sore,
Yet in His parting breath

Love masters agony; the soul that seem'd
Forsaken, feels her present God again,
And in her Father's arms
Contented dies away.

[1:125-27]