A quasi-Kantian meditation, and very much in its rough stages.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
The rule of good:
It begins, a sign of the Kingdom appears,
When its laws are promulgated and revealed;
For in the heart the root is already there,
Though shoots delay.
To join communion devoted to virtue
Belongs to human life, in reason itself,
By which we are responsibly social
And seek the good.
If all followed only a private conscience
To agree in common on good would be by chance;
But rational hope requires a structure,
A special union and more than happenstance:
A commonwealth that lives by the moral law,
A federation for withstanding evil
And doing good.
Most pure Zion,
Defeater of easy temptation's lures,
Most fit object of reason's rational hope,
Can any good heart hear of you and not rise
Filled with valor?
Unreasoning must be those who scoff at you,
And wicked must be those who scorn your name,
And blessed are those who of your pinnacles dream,
For you are good.
For you to be, all must be ordered by law
And all the laws from common power must come;
But your laws are moral and not made by us:
They are within,
And thus must come from one who precedes our own hearts.
And yet also these laws are not at random,
Nor dependent on sanction for their great force
But on the good.
O Zion, in you moral law will blossom
And become a liturgy of life and love,
The moral law a liturgical law made,
Yet still moral.
But only eternal reason can make law
That is deeper than the deep roots of the heart,
Only one can judge it who can see the heart
And who is good.
Ruled by one who can join virtue to its joy!
Eternal reason makes you a true people.
What reasoning soul would dare not hope for you,
To hope for you is an art of moral minds
And reason itself will love to seek your ways.
You shine with more splendor than stars in the sky:
Your light is good.
Deeper than any human law, the moral law shines;
The people fit for it are zealous for good,
The worthy rise daily to do better things,
Pray with good deeds.
They are no rabble but a royal priesthood,
A temple of spirit made active in works.
Yet how may this most rational hope take shape?
Only by good.
Not human hands,
Not human hearts, accomplish, though we are stones
In this edifice, and in us it is raised.
The best we can make are crude imitations,
Not true Zion.
From our warped wood none but a God could shape beams
Fit to rise in a temple of moral law;
Can criminal citizens make this city
Unless made good?
Most high Zion,
We must be made like you to walk in your streets,
We must be transfigured into your glory,
Shaped and restructured by a system of signs
And form a church,
Which is a people praying to be like you,
Which is a people being made into you.
Slowly and lamely, in cursive lines, we move
To be made good.
Zion most holy, no human deeds can raise
The towers of duty and virtue you frame;
Yet we are drawn. As blunt instruments we wait,
To be whetted,
To be applied, to participate in art;
As the stones wait, we wait for shape and cement,
We wait to be made, and to hear the old word,
That it is good.