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George Meredith (1828-1909)

Meditation under Stars


              1What links are ours with orbs that are
              2      So resolutely far:
              3The solitary asks, and they
              4Give radiance as from a shield:
              5      Still at the death of day,
              6      The seen, the unrevealed.
              7      Implacable they shine
              8To us who would of Life obtain
              9An answer for the life we strain
            10      To nourish with one sign.
            11Nor can imagination throw
            12The penetrative shaft: we pass
            13The breath of thought, who would divine
            14      If haply they may grow
            15As Earth; have our desire to know;
            16If life comes there to grain from grass,
            17And flowers like ours of toil and pain;
            18      Has passion to beat bar,
            19      Win space from cleaving brain;
            20      The mystic link attain,
            21      Whereby star holds on star.

            22Those visible immortals beam
            23      Allurement to the dream:
            24Ireful at human hungers brook
            25      No question in the look.
            26For ever virgin to our sense,
            27Remote they wane to gaze intense:
            28Prolong it, and in ruthlessness they smite
            29The beating heart behind the ball of sight:
            30      Till we conceive their heavens hoar,
            31      Those lights they raise but sparkles frore,
            32And Earth, our blood-warm Earth, a shuddering prey
            33To that frigidity of brainless ray.
            34      Yet space is given for breath of thought
            35      Beyond our bounds when musing: more
            36      When to that musing love is brought,
            37      And love is asked of love's wherefore.
            38      'Tis Earth's, her gift; else have we nought:
            39      Her gift, her secret, here our tie.
            40And not with her and yonder sky?
            41Bethink you: were it Earth alone
            42Breeds love, would not her region be
            43      The sole delight and throne
            44      Of generous Deity?

            45      To deeper than this ball of sight
            46Appeal the lustrous people of the night.
            47Fronting yon shoreless, sown with fiery sails,
            48      It is our ravenous that quails,
            49Flesh by its craven thirsts and fears distraught.
            50           The spirit leaps alight,
            51           Doubts not in them is he,
            52The binder of his sheaves, the sane, the right:
            53      Of magnitude to magnitude is wrought,
            54To feel it large of the great life they hold:
            55      In them to come, or vaster intervolved,
            56The issues known in us, our unsolved solved:
            57      That there with toil Life climbs the self-same Tree,
            58Whose roots enrichment have from ripeness dropped.
            59So may we read and little find them cold:
            60  Let it but be the lord of Mind to guide
            61Our eyes; no branch of Reason's growing lopped;
            62Nor dreaming on a dream; but fortified
            63By day to penetrate black midnight; see,
            64Hear, feel, outside the senses; even that we,
            65The specks of dust upon a mound of mould,
            66We who reflect those rays, though low our place,
            67      To them are lastingly allied.

            68So may we read, and little find them cold:
            69Not frosty lamps illumining dead space,
            70Not distant aliens, not senseless Powers.
            71The fire is in them whereof we are born;
            72The music of their motion may be ours.
            73Spirit shall deem them beckoning Earth and voiced
            74Sisterly to her, in her beams rejoiced.
            75Of love, the grand impulsion, we behold
            76           The love that lends her grace
            77           Among the starry fold.
            78Then at new flood of customary morn,
            79Look at her through her showers,
            80      Her mists, her streaming gold,
            81A wonder edges the familiar face:
            82She wears no more that robe of printed hours;
            83Half strange seems Earth, and sweeter than her flowers.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: George Meredith, A Reading of Earth (London: Macmillan, 1888). end M474 R43 1888 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1888
RPO poem editor: H. Kerpneck
RP edition: 3RP 3.298.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/30

Form: irregularly rhyming (couplets and quatrains)


Other poems by George Meredith