“Then wake, my soul, to high desires, And earlier light thine altar fires”: Keble’s poem for Easter Day

Easter Day.

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen.  St. Luke xxiv. 5, 6.

Oh! day of days! shall hearts set free
No “minstrel rapture” find for thee?
Thou art this Sun of other days,
They shine by giving back thy rays:

Enthronèd in thy sovereign sphere,
Thou shedd’st thy light on all the year;
Sundays by thee more glorious break,
An Easter Day in every week:

And week days, following in their train,
The fulness of thy blessing gain,
Till all, both resting soil employ,
Be one Lord’s day of holy joy.

Then wake, my soul, to high desires,
And earlier light thine altar fires:
The World some hours is on her way,
Nor thinks on thee, thou blessèd day:

Or, if she think, it is in scorn:
The vernal light of Easter morn
To her dark gaze no brighter seems
Than Reason’s or the Law’s pale beams.

“Where is your Lord?” she scornful asks:
“Where is His hire? we know his tasks;
Sons of a King ye boast to be:
Let us your crowns and treasures see.”

We in the words of Truth reply,
(An angel brought them from this sky,)
“Our crown, our treasure is not here,
’Tis stored above the highest sphere:

“Methinks your wisdom guides amiss,
To seek on earth a Christian’s bliss;
We watch not now the lifeless stone;
Our only Lord is risen and gone.”

Yet e’en the lifeless stone is dear
For thoughts of Him who late lay here;
And the base world, now Christ hath died,
Ennobled is and glorified.

No more a charnel-house, to fence
The relics of lost innocence,
A vault of ruin and decay;
Th’ imprisoning stone is rolled away:

’Tis now a cell, where angels use
To come and go with heavenly news,
And in the ears of mourners say,
“Come, see the place where Jesus lay:”

’Tis now a fane, where Love can find
Christ everywhere embalmed and shined:
Aye gathering up memorials sweet,
Where’er she sets her duteous feet.

Oh! joy to Mary first allowed,
When roused from weeping o’er His shroud,
By His own calm, soul-soothing tone,
Breathing her name, as still His own!

Joy to the faithful Three renewed,
As their glad errand they pursued!
Happy, who so Christ’s word convey,
That he may meet them on their way!

So is it still: to holy tears,
In lonely hours, Christ risen appears:
In social hours, who Christ would see
Must turn all tasks to Charity.

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