Yes! I have walked the world these two months
past With quick free step, loud voice, and youth’s light
cheer; And dull and weary were the shadows cast
From the dark Cross and Lent’s dim portals near.
Yes! I rode up with such a noisy state
And retinue of all things bright and fair,
And reached in this new pilgrim guise the gate,
As though my dreams might have free passage there.
Dreams of far travel, visionary love,
Hopes, memories, sweet songs, and sunny faces,
Cheering each other on, with me did move
Some way on Lent’s keen roads and desert places.
And many a pilgrim wending o’er the plain,
With face half-veiled and tear-drops flowing fast,
Marvelled perchance at that unsightly train,
When I and my strange servitors rode past.
But every stone that lay along the way,
Wounding the feet of those who travelled by,
Each sleety shower, chill blast, and cloudy day,
Scattered my poor soft-living company.
Thus as my spirit more and more drank in
The deep mysterious dimness of the time,
Old forms waxed pale, and lines and shapes of sin
Wore hardly off, and my baptismal prime
Grew into colour and distinctness’ there; —
But my blythe train and equipage were gone,
The songs and sunny smiles; my heart was bare,
With Lent all darkening round me, and alone.
O joy of all our joys! to be bereft
Of our false power to make the world so dear!
O joy of all our joys! to be thus left
In our wild years, with none but Jesus near!
How sweetly then shall Lent’s few Sundays shock
The sadness which itself hath now grown sweet,
Like the soft striking of an old church-clock,
Making the heart of summer midnight beat.
How sweetly now shall this most holy gloom
Gather and double on my chastened heart,
Circling with dark bright folds the Garden-Tomb,
Where Lent and I, like Christian friends, shall part.