Song of the Mystic

I walk down the Valley of Silence --
Down the dim, voiceless valley -- alone!
And I hear not the fall of a footstep
Around me, save God's and my own;
And the hush of my heart is as holy
As hovers where angels have flown!

Long ago was I weary of voices
Whose music my heart could not win;
Long ago was I weary of noises
That fretted my soul
with their din;
Long ago was I weary of places
Where I met but the human -- and sin.

I walked in the world with the worldly;
I craved what the world never gave;
And I said: "In the world each Ideal,
That shines like a star on life's wave,
Is wrecked on the shores of the Real.
And sleeps like a dream
in a grave."

And still did I pine for the Perfect,
And still found the False with the True.
I sought 'mid the Human for Heaven,
But caught a mere glimpse of its Blue:
And I wept when the clouds of the Mortal
Veiled even that glimpse from my view.

And I toiled on, heart-tired, of the Human,
And I moaned 'mid the mazes of men,
Till I knelt, long ago, at an altar
And I heard a voice call me. Since then
I walk down the Valley of Silence
That lies far beyond mortal ken.

Do you ask what I found in the Valley?
'Tis my Trysting Place with the Divine.
And I fell at the feet of the Holy,
And above me a voice said: "Be mine."
And there arose from the depths of my spirit.
An echo -- "My heart shall be Thine."

Do you ask how I live in the Valley?
I weep -- and I dream -- and I pray.
But my tears are as sweet as the dewdrops
That fall on the roses in May;
And my prayer, like a perfume from censers,
Ascendeth to God night and day.

In the hush of the Valley of Silence
I dream all the songs that I sing;
And the music floats down the dim Valley,
Till each finds a word for a wing,
That to hearts, like the Dove of the Deluge,
A message of Peace they may bring.

But far on the deep there are billows
That never shall break on the beach;
And I have heard songs in the Silence
That never shall float into speech;
And I have had dreams in the Valley
Too lofty for language to reach.

And I have seen Thoughts in the Valley --
Ah! me, how my spirit was stirred!
And they wear holy veils on their faces,
Their footsteps can scarcely be heard;
They pass through the Valley like virgins,
Too pure for the touch of a word!

Do you ask me the place of the Valley,
Ye hearts that are harrowed by Care?
It lieth afar between mountains,
And God and His angels are there:
And one is the dark mount of Sorrow,
And one the bright mountain of Prayer.

(Father Abram Ryan, "Priest-Poet of the South)

born 15 August, 1839; died 22 April, 1886

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