“Will not the long-forgotten glow Of mingled joy and awe return”: Keble’s poem for the Epiphany

The Epiphany.

And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  St. Matthew ii. 9, 10.

Star of the East, how sweet art Thou,

Seen in life’s early morning sky,

Ere yet a cloud has dimmed the brow,

While yet we gaze with childish eye;

When father, mother, nursing friend,

Most dearly loved, and loving best,

First bid us from their arms ascend,

Pointing to Thee, in Thy sure rest.

Too soon the glare of earthly day

Buries, to us, Thy brightness keen,

And we are left to find our way

By faith and hope in Thee unseen.

What matter? if the waymarks sure

On every side are round us set,

Soon overleaped, but not obscure?

’Tis ours to mark them or forget.

What matter? if in calm old age

Our childhood’s star again arise,

Crowning our lonely pilgrimage

With all that cheers a wanderer’s eyes?

Ne’er may we lose it from our sight,

Till all our hopes and thoughts are led

To where it stays its lucid flight

Over our Saviour’s lowly bed.

There, swathed in humblest poverty,

On Chastity’s meek lap enshrined,

With breathless Reverence waiting by,

When we our Sovereign Master find,

Will not the long-forgotten glow

Of mingled joy and awe return,

When stars above or flowers below

First made our infant spirits burn?

Look on us, Lord, and take our parts

E’en on Thy throne of purity!

From these our proud yet grovelling hearts

Hide not Thy mild forgiving eye.

Did not the Gentile Church find grace,

Our mother dear, this favoured day?

With gold and myrrh she sought Thy face;

Nor didst Thou turn Thy face away.

She too, in earlier, purer days,

Had watched thee gleaming faint and far—

But wandering in self-chosen ways

She lost Thee quite, Thou lovely star.

Yet had her Father’s finger turned

To Thee her first inquiring glance:

The deeper shame within her burned,

When wakened from her wilful trance.

Behold, her wisest throng Thy gate,

Their richest, sweetest, purest store,

(Yet owned too worthless and too late,)

They lavish on Thy cottage-floor.

They give their best—O tenfold shame

On us their fallen progeny,

Who sacrifice the blind and lame—

Who will not wake or fast with Thee!

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