The Peace of God

O LOFTIEST peak of all the noble range
Towering majestic, massive height on height,
Far as the eye can reach, in endless change
Of line and tint and curve, and dark and light, —
Nearest the midnight stars, O proudest hill,
How quiet are thy paths! how still, how still!
In what unbroken silence dost thou lie,
Beneath a sunlit or a storm-filled sky,
Rain, wind, or trailing cloud, or whirling snow,
’Neath the first golden touch of rising day,
Or mellow evening’s last empurpling ray,
Untouched, unmoved from granite top to base,
When fiercest thunderbolts about thee play,
As by the shadow of a bird below,
That drifts some summer morn across thy face!
Unshaken since that hour when long ago,
Eons on hoary eons far away,
When mayhap ’mid the fiery pangs and throes
Of earth and sea, fused in one molten glow
Of liquid flame, thy swelling grandeur rose !
This of thy garnered secrets didst thou yield,
As through slow ages our dim eyes, unsealed,
With halting wisdom learned to read at last
Thy own brief story from the lips locked fast
In stony silence. Yet we could not wrest
One hint, one whisper, from thy rock-ribbed breast,
Solving the primal, awful mystery
Of life and death, which has unceasingly.
Since earth and time and consciousness began,
Haunted and mocked the searching soul of man.
Man in his greatness yet how infinite small!
Thou shalt behold his empires rise and fall,
His marble cities crumble to decay.
And of himself, for all bis boasting, see
Unnumbered generations pass away,
And leave no lasting sign beneath the sky
More than the chaff the chilly wind sweeps by,
While thou endurest in changeless majesty.
And still while furthest oceans ebb and flow,
And day and night their light and shadow trace,
And countless rolling seasons come and go,
Through russet autumn or the summer’s green,
The winter’s white or springtide’s tender sheen, —
On thee there dwells from granite top to base,
Through all thy trackless wastes and paths untrod,
The deathless, everlasting Peace of God !
Stuart Sterne.