Poem: The Ineffable by Charles Harpur

Words are the special dies of Thought,
   And well they mint its gold,
But Feeling cannot so be brought
   Within their sublest mould.

With minds on some great theme intent,
   We seek to them at length,
And lo, we utter all we meant,
   To wonder at their strength.

But when we thought their might would wreak
   The expression, hardly sane,
Of highest joy or grief -- how weak
   We find them, and how vain?

Acting the bliss of feeling, Thought
   May seize her very air,
And then, as to her heaven upcaught,
   Its transports thus declare:

My joy floods out, like Horeb's rill
   Loosed by the Prophet's rod!
My soul, all light, with blissful will,
   Rays like a Star of God!

But Feeling's happy self the while,
   All silently apart,
May only wear a glowing smile,
   And breathe as from the heart.

Or Thought, to imitate her woe,
   May wildly cry aloud,
My peace is wasting as I go,
   Even like a summer cloud!

My spirit hath so deep a wound,
   No cure might be devised,
And shed like water on the ground
   Is all that most I prized.

While Feeling's self may only shake
   Her weary head, or start
To find how vainly words would break
   The silence of her heart.

Or when the holiest spirit, Love,
   Plumed with purpureal beams,
Comes like a heaven-descended dove,
   To nestle with our dreams;

In vain would Thought in words, though rich
   And rare as gems, reveal
That mystic grace of passion which
   We feel -- and can but feel.

But most, when Music's seraph-fire
   Runs kindling through the air,
Making it such as Gods respire,
   (And Gods perhaps are there!)

How vainly would the sublest wit
   Word-picture as they roll,
The clouds of glory it hath lit
   Like sunrise in the soul!

Like sunrise, when its conquering glow
   Smiles through the vapours cold,
Till all their ragged inlets flow
   With floods of burning gold!

The deep of the Ineffable --
   That Deep which none may sound,
Pours round us, with its breathing spell --
   Immeasurably round!

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 1 January 1876

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 21, 2009 7:35 AM.

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