Dark lay the plain, a tangled wilderness,
And dark the mountains in the mists afar—
A land of darkness where no order is,
Nor moon, nor star—
There was the line of drear confusion drawn,
The stones of emptiness lay wide and bare,
As though the ancient peoples of the dawn
Lay buried there.
There did the wild beasts of the desert meet
The creatures from the waste and lonely isles—
And there did nameless shadows glide and fleet
Through ruined piles.
There in the mouldered palaces there spread
The nettles, and the brambles and the thorn;
Now and again there brake the silence dread
Some cry forlorn.
And now and yet again a pallid light,
A magic gleam from out the darkness shone—
And then into a deeper, drearier night
It wandered on.
And he who dwells there dwelleth all alone,
All unaware of those who wander by;
They unto him, and he to them unknown,
They live and die.
Know’st thou the land? the land where wandered first
The two who could remember Paradise—
The land of hunger, and of quenchless thirst,
Of tear-worn eyes.
Know’st thou the land? too early known—too well,
Though veiled awhile in childhood’s golden haze;
But bare and drear when past the song and spell,
The infant days.
Thy land, O soul, thy fatherland of old—
The far, far country thou didst choose for thee;
Choose, rather than the palaces of gold,
Where God must be.
* * * * * *
The wilderness, the solitary place,
No more are sad—
Are lit with radiance of His glorious Face—
The wastes are glad;
They blossom as the roses thousand-fold,
They sing and they rejoice;
The glory of the mighty cedars old,
The summer’s voice,
The fresh green pastures, and the waters still
From fountains fed,
Where far aloft upon God’s holy hill
The Angels tread—
These, where the ancient land of darkness lay,
Lie still and fair;
The eyes unsealed to that eternal Day
Behold Him there.
Amidst the wilderness the waters flow,
The streams for ever spring;
Beside them in their raiment white as snow
The ransomed sing.
They pass along with music and with song,
And joy their diadem—
To God’s fair city wends the glorious throng,
And Jesus walks with them.
Know’st thou the Way? the one Highway of God
That leads therein?
The pathway of the Lamb’s most precious blood
Who bore thy sin?
Know’st thou the Way? the glorious Way He made
Through death’s deep sea?
O Lamb of God, I bless the love that laid
My sins on Thee.
Hymns of Ter Steegen and Others (Second Series), 1899