O soul of mine, repining

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O soul of mine, repining,
What wouldst have done for thee?
Speak, great or small defining:
Granted thy wish shall be.

Of all bright things, prized highest,
Beneath the rolling sun,
Tell that for which thou sighest;
For thee it shall be done.

Wouldst thou assume the measure
Of Gyges, Lydia's king,
To hide or show at pleasure
By power of magic ring?

Wouldst thou rich Midas follow?
"All gold I touch," he cried:
'Tis given! e'en gold to swallow:
So all of gold he died.

Wouldst shine in brilliant trammels,
With pearls and jewels grand?
Have flocks, and herds, and camels,
And acres of fat land?

Such things we will not barter:
To thee they were a snare:
They are not in our charter,
Nor would I have them there.

For since to God advancing
I came at His own call,
Such cares the soul entrancing,
I have abandoned all.

Wouldst have the nations bending
Beneath thy yoke to day,
To-morrow thyself lending
To grace another's sway?

The sway of one, once marching,
It might be, at thy side;
Or menial base, now arching
His neck in lofty pride?

Wouldst thou in Love's sweet anguish,
In indolence and ease,
Let truth and honour languish,
And change with changing breeze?

Wouldst wed a fair Heth's daughter,
Fair progeny to see?
Ah me! of woes and slaughter
Progenitor to be!

Wouldst have the commons sounding
The greatness of thy fame,
And theatres rebounding
With echoes of thy name?

Wouldst thou in courts o'erflowing
With legal mockery,
Justice and truth o'erthrowing,
Pillage, and pillaged be?

Wouldst take a martial bearing,
And sport with blood and gore?
Or, Pythian garlands wearing,
Defy the lion's roar?

Wouldst have the town applauding,
And statues reared to thee?
The world thy merits lauding,
Wouldst thou its idol be?

Vain wish! a shadowy dreaming,
A moan of wind hence bound,
Whiz of an arrow gleaming,
A hand-clap's dying sound.

Such things will fade to-morrow,
However bright to-day:
And he must sleep in sorrow
Who makes them his heart's stay.

Toys common! bad men's heaven!
And ah! when hence they go,
To none is it then given
To carry aught below.

What then, O soul repining,
Since these things nothing be,
Substantial good defining,
Wouldst thou have done for thee?

Wouldst be a god, presiding
At God's own side most high,
Angelic chorus guiding,
All radiant o'er the sky?

Go thou, on pinions gliding
Of vehement desire,
On rapid whirlwind riding
Whither thou dost aspire.

To plume thy wing I'm trying,
Nor spare the friendly goad:
Mount upward, bird-like flying
On thine ethereal road.

But earth's own child on crutches,
Since, I am yoked to thee,
As queen in butchers' clutches,
Just tell how this must be;

Whom wilt thou have abettor,
To be upheld in breath?
For I'm no more thy debtor,
Nor heed vain threats of death.

Or wouldst thou perfumed table,
With dainties covered o'er,
So art cuisine be able
To stimulate thee more?

And lyre, and whirl so maddening
Of rapid foot and hand,
And things to tell too saddening,
Known to the revelling band?

Art thou for such things wrangling?
Have thy desire!--but wait:
Such things, not life, but strangling,
To friends insatiate!

For thee, a house abideth,
A rock with self-formed dome;
Nature herself provideth:
We give thee such a home!

Or if thy fancy leadeth
To build thyself a cell,
But little toil it needeth,
Where thou mayst safely dwell,

The body claims small payment,
Ere it returns to dust:
Skins, camel's hair, for raiment
Sufficed of old the just.

And grass, or straw, as chances,
Make thou thy humble bed:
And purple heath, or branches,
Thy coverlet be spread.

Such for my guests is meetest:
No fear to great or small:
Plain table: odours sweetest,
Kind earth's free gifts to all.

Thus housed, we will thee nourish,
As best we can afford:
Wouldst eat? take bread and flourish:
Take meal, if on the board.

Here's salt: and thyme we scant not:
Such source no toil requires:
More luxuries we want not,
Whate'er the world desires.

Or drink wouldst thou? there springeth
An everflowing bowl:
No bane the fountain bringeth,
Bright cheerer of the soul.

But wouldst unbend in season,
And not, o'erstrained, repine?
We grant in this is reason,
Nor grudge the rough-made wine.

But thou dost spurn all measure,
And wouldst the vessel bore,
And take huge draughts of pleasure
Till thou couldst hold no more.

Then seek another helot,
All lengths with thee to go,
No idler I, nor zealot,
To nurse domestic foe.

A frozen reptile taken,
And with fond warmth caressed:
See! it to life doth waken,
And wound me in the breast.

Wouldst boundless gold-roofed mansions,
Gemmed paragons of art,
And master-piece expansions,
To life which almost start?

Colours with colours blending
In opposite array;
Rare tablets, softness lending,
Or shining bright as day?

Dost long for robes wide-flowing,
Pride of the untouched great;
And wealth on fingers glowing,
Incredible to state?

Art thou at beauty aiming?
The wise would scorn to win:
More I than all, proclaiming
That beauty is within.

Thus I to men benighted,
of earth the creatures fond,
For time alone quick-sighted,
With not a thought beyond.

But ye who soar up higher,
A noble life to live;
Who would to heaven be nigher,
Behold what God doth give!

In poorest clay there dwelleth
That which can never die:
With this my bosom swelleth:
For this I food supply!

God-minded, thyself harden!
Meet calm the flashing sword!
Plant trees for God's own garden!
Be worker, with the Lord!

Up! living words be building,
In God's blest truth secure.
Not robbed by foe's false gilding
Through pleasure's baneful lure!

Again of life eternal,
Approach the blessèd tree
The way, O Thou Supernal,
I've found in knowing Thee.

Past, present, never-ending,
The One great Light in Three;
To whom all things are tending:
To Thee, all glory be!

To self the wise thus speaketh,
Turning his eyes within;
And eager there he seeketh
To find out lurking sin.

But who to speak refuseth,
Will pass his days in vain:
Nay, more! the ease he chooseth,
May end in greatest pain.

Songs and Hymns of Earliest Greek Christian Poets, 1876

Translator: Allen W. Chatfield

Chatfield, Allen William, M.A., born at Chatteris, Oct. 2nd, 1808, and educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was Bell's Univ. Scholar and Members' Prizeman. He graduated in 1831, taking a first class in classical honours. Taking Holy Orders in 1832, he was from 1833 to 1847 Vicar of Stotfold, Bedfordshire; and since 1847 Vicar of Much-Marcle, Herefordshire. Mr. Chatfield has published various Sermons from time to time. His Litany, &c. [Prayer Book] in Greek verse is admirable, and has been commended by many eminent scholars. His Songs and Hymns of Earliest Greek Christian Poets, Bishops, and others, translated into English Verse, 1876, has not received the attention of hymnal compilers which it merits. One… Go to person page >

Author: St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Gregory of Nazianzus (St. Gregory Nazianzen), Bishop of Sasima and of Constantinople, son of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus in Cappadocia, and Nonna, his wife, was born at a village near that city where his father had an estate, and called Arizanzus. The date of his birth is unknown, but is generally given as A.D. 325. In early childhood he was taught to read the Scriptures by his mother. From his home he passed with his brother Caesarius to a school at Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia, where he was instructed by one Carterius, supposed by some to be the same as the subsequent head of the monasteries of Antioch, and instructor of St. Chrysostom. At Caesarea he probably met with Basil, with whom he maintained a life-long friendship. From Ca… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: O soul of mine, repining
Translator: Allen W. Chatfield
Author: St. Gregory of Nazianzus
Language: English
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