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The self-deceit of having wrought the light.

PEOPLE arrive to worship in their church.


Though it is getting tired and insecure,
The monument can make a gathering yet
With people poured into it by the roads.
It sifts them as they enter through its porch,
And gently it removes from each the thoughts
Which might not melt so well as all the rest,
Replacing them by others left behind
By those who came to Mass in days of old.


The crowd which tramples on the flags outside
Bears nosegays of ideas new and bright;
The fresh dreams of to-day spread over them,
Rosy and blue as sunshades which in their
Own manner dye the radiance of the sky.


Inside there are no nosegays and no sunshades.


The naves and aisles are overflowing with
A crowd the pillars intimately know,
Their contact is as ancient as the church,
And every summer Sunday when the sun
Begins to lick the windows by one edge,
And in the winter of discoloured lamps,
For centuries this crowd has been reborn
On every following Sunday still the same.


Women and men are entering in file.


The crowd is borne in haste by all the doors,
Rumbling an instant, ordered, then appeased;
It has not changed its shape; it is already
Moulded unto the contours of the walls;
Faithfully bodies lean on the same chairs.
Now it is born again while ring the bells.

But the dark power
That gives life
On the seventh day
Of every week,
Softens at last
Like an old spring,
Little by little
Born less far
From death.


It is a group
Worn out with use
Whose flesh grows flabby.
And in the winter
It is cold
Under the roof.
In olden days,
In the city

It was the greatest of unanimous beings,
And all the city was transfused in it.
But now the workshops have arisen,
The workshops full of youth!
They live in ardour.
Their smoke soars higher than the sound of bells.
They do not fear to hide the sun,
For their machines make sunshine.


Like a dog that comes out of a pool and sneezes,
The workshop shivering scatters round it drops
Of energy that wake the town to life.

But the senile group
Sprouts not with bristling
Wires and cables.
No electricity
Rustles from it
To countless houses.


It is feeble,
Its chinks are stopped,
It is gathered in.

But it preserves with pride its fixed idea:
Others may swell with sap and ramify;
And shadow with a foliage of green forces
All the massed houses;
The humble group would tenderly, heart to heart,
Speak to the infinite group benevolent words.
For it is sure a soul stands o'er the world.


It knows God's finger painlessly from Heaven
Leads the leash of natural forces;
That God sees all, and that His tender eyes
Wrap up the form and penetrate the essence
Of things.
The group is sure of it.
But fears
Lest having to keep watch o'er all these minds
And bodies, all these angels, beasts, and deaths,
Ant-hills, cities, forests,
Planets and planetary systems,
God see no more the little auditory
Which listens to the Mass in pillared shade.


It calls Him; makes to Him the holy signs.
In olden days God taught His creatures words
Which force Him to give heed and to vouchsafe.


The group that mumbles them knows not their meaning,
But knows the priest before the altar knows:
The illuminated summit of the group.


Upon the murmurs serving it as rollers
Slowly the common thought advances, like
A boat that fishers launch into the sea;
And onward floats the thought of God.


From hearts the fervour passes to the walls,
The rising fluid magnetizes
The steeple, and the steeple brings down God.

God approaches, God descends;
He is quite near; the air
Weighs heavier.


Something compresses, heats it;
The choir is filled with incense
So that, arriving, God
Shall find here clouds
Like those He dwells in,
And feel less strange.

He is quite near, quite near. You can whisper to Him,
Tell Him what you would dare tell no man, ask Him
For anything you like. And even if God
Refuse, He is so good you cannot vex Him.


"O God in Heaven, vouchsafe to cure my leg!
Matter burst from it yesterday.--My God,
Vouchsafe to fill my shop with customers!
--Help me to find out if my servant John
Is robbing me!--O God, cure my sore eyes!
--Save me, my God, from getting drunk so often!
--Lord, let my son pass his examination!
He is so shy. Thou shalt have a great big candle.
--Help me to make her fall in love with me,
I will put ninepence in St. Anthony's box.
--My God! if only I could get some work!
--He makes a martyr of me. Let him die!
--My God, my God, I am certain I am pregnant;
O let the child go rotten in my belly."


It is like a hamlet at the hour of noon.
On every soul's hearth they have kindled fire,
Which casts its smoke and yields it to the wind.
God sees the bluish prayers climb up to Him.


They are a perfume which delight Him. He
Comes nearer. The crowd rises, touches Him.
Their longing to caress serves them for arm.
They seize on God to press Him close to them;
To be alone and to possess Him all.


This morning, God, the conscience of the universe,
Has from the universe withdrawn, like blood
Out of a bull's limbs bleeding at the head.
All the world's soul, the whole of God is here;
The church is the glad vase that gathers Him.


God now can think but of the little crowd;
The things they wish He too must wish, since He
In them is incarnated and their breath.

Then in the mystical certitude;
Drunk with alcohol
Hid in the organ notes,
The light of the rose-window,
And the stained glass;
Clad with incense like
A scented sleep that bends and swoons;
By old, magnetic rites
Plunged in hypnotic sleep
Whence mount, like bubbles
Crossing stagnant waters,
Memories and mouldiness
And age-old madness;
Forgetting that beyond these walls
There is the town, and earth,
And then infinity;
The group so old, so little,
Which withers, which is scarce alive,
Dreams aloud that it is God.