“An Infant Crying in the Night”

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[From Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”]

O, yet we trust that somehow good

Will be the final goal of ill,

To pangs of nature, sins of will,

Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;

That not one life shall be destroyed,

Or cast as rubbish to the void,

When God hath made the pile complete;

That not a worm is cloven in vain;

That not a moth with vain desire,

Is shriveled in a fruitless fire,

Or but subserves another’s gain.

Behold, we know not anything;

I can but trust that good shall fall

At last – far off – at last, to all,

And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream; but what am I?

An infant crying in the night;

An infant crying for the light,

And with no language but a cry.

 

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That which we dare invoke to bless;

Our dearest faith; our ghastliest doubt;

He, They, One, All; within, without;

The Power in darkness whom we guess —

I found Him not in world or sun,

Or eagle’s wing, or insect’s eye,

Nor through the questions men may try,

The petty cobwebs we have spun.

If e’er when faith had fallen asleep,

I heard a voice, “believe no more,”

And heard an ever-breaking shore

That tumbled in the Godless deep,

A warmth within the breast would melt

The freezing reason’s colder part,

And like a man in wrath the heart

Stood up and answered, “I have felt.”

No, like a child in doubt and fear:

But, that blind clamor made me wise;

Then was I as a child that cries,

But, crying, knows his father near;

And what I am beheld again

What is, and no man understands;

And out of darkness came the hands

That reach through nature, molding men.

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