Friday, August 27, 2021

Hushed Is Care, and Passion's Din

Monica and Augustine
by Lucy Larcom

In the martyr Cyprian's chapel there was moaning through the night;
Monica's low prayer stole upward till it met the early light.
Till the dawn came, walking softly o'er the troubled sea without,
Monica for her Augustine wept the dreary watches out.

"Lord of all the holy martyrs! Giver of the crown of flame,
Set on hoary-headed Cyprian, who to Thee child-hearted came;
Hear me for my child of promise! Thou his erring way canst see;
Long from Thee a restless wanderer, must he go away from me?

"'T is for Thee, O God, a mother this her wondrous child would keep;
Through the ripening of his manhood Thou hast seen me watch and weep.
Tangled in the mesh of Mani, groping through the maze of sense,
Other, deadlier snares await him, if from me he wander hence.

"Thine he shall be, Lord; Thy promise brightens up my night of fears:
Faith beholds him at Thy altar, yet baptized with only tears;
For the angel of my vision, came he not from Thy right hand,
Whispering unto me, his mother, " Where thou standest, he shall stand"?

"Saviour, Lord, whose name is Faithful, I am Thine, I rest on Thee;
And beside me in Thy kingdom I this wanderer shall see.
Check the tide! hold still the breezes! for his soul's beloved sake,
Do not let him leave me! Keep him — keep him — lest my heart should break!"

Man must ask, and God will answer, yet we may not understand,
Knowing but our own poor language all the writing of His hand.
In our meagre speech we ask him, and He answers in His own;
Vast beyond our thought the blessing that we blindly judge is none.

When the sun rose from the water, Monica was on the shore;
Out of sight had dropped the vessel that afar Augustine bore.
Home she turned, her sad heart singing underneath its load of care,
"Still I know Thy name is faithful, O Thou God that hearest prayer!"

By the garden-beds of Ostia now together stand the twain,
Monica and her Augustine, gazing far across the main,
Toward the home-land of Numidia, hiding in the distance dim,
Where God parted them in sorrow, both to bring the nearer Him.

And the mother's prayer is answered, for their souls are side by side,
Where His peace flows in upon them with a full eternal tide.
And Augustine's thought is blending with the murmur of the sea;
"Bless Thee, Lord, that we are restless, till we find our rest in Thee!"

And their talk, the son and mother, leaning out above the flowers,
Is like lapse of angel-music, linking heaven's enraptured hours.
Hushed is all the song of Nature; hushed is care, and passion's din,
In that hush they hear a welcome from the Highest: -- "Enter in!"

"What new mercy has befallen? every earthly wish is gone,"
Monica half speaks, half muses; " why should earthly life move on?
Ah, my son, what peace and gladness surging from this silence roll!
'T is the Eternal Deep that answers to the deep within my soul!

"Not a sigh of homesick longing moves the stillness of my heart;
In the light of this great glory, unto God would I depart.
Though more dear thou art than ever, standing at heaven's gate with me,
For the sweetness of His presence I could say farewell to thee."

There's a silent room in Ostia; tearless mourners by a bed:
Since the angels roused that sleeper, who shall weep, or call her dead?
Not beside the dust beloved shall her exiled ashes lie;
She awaits the Resurrection underneath a Roman sky.

Now Augustine in his bosom keeps the image of a saint,
Whose warm tears of consecration drop on thoughts of sinful taint.
In the home that knew him erring, a bewildered Manichee,
Minister at Truth's high altar, him that mother-saint shall see.

In the dreams of midnight, haunted by the ghosts of buried sins;
In the days of calm, the spirit, struggling through temptation, wins;
Monica looks down upon him, joy to bless, and gloom beguile;
And the world can see Augustine clearer for that saintly smile.

Still the billows from Numidia seek the lovely Roman shore,
Though Augustine to his mother sailed long since the death-wave o'er,
Still his word sweeps down the ages like the surging of the sea:
"Bless Thee, Lord, that we are restless, till we find our rest in Thee!"