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The Church-Builder Analysis

Author: poem of Thomas Hardy Type: poem Views: 20

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The church flings forth a battled shade

Over the moon-blanched sward:

The church; my gift; whereto I paid

My all in hand and hoard;

Lavished my gains

With stintless pains

To glorify the Lord.

I squared the broad foundations in

Of ashlared masonry;

I moulded mullions thick and thin,

Hewed fillet and ogee;

I circleted

Each sculptured head

With nimb and canopy.

I called in many a craftsmaster

To fix emblazoned glass,

To figure Cross and Sepulchure

On dossal, boss, and brass.

My gold all spent,

My jewels went

To gem the cups of Mass.

I borrowed deep to carve the screen

And raise the ivoried Rood;

I parted with my small demesne

To make my owings good.

Heir-looms unpriced

I sacrificed,

Until debt-free I stood.

So closed the task. "Deathless the Creed

Here substanced!" said my soul:

"I heard me bidden to this deed,

And straight obeyed the call.

Illume this fane,

That not in vain

I build it, Lord of all!"

But, as it chanced me, then and there

Did dire misfortunes burst;

My home went waste for lack of care,

My sons rebelled and curst;

Till I confessed

That aims the best

Were looking like the worst.

Enkindled by my votive work

No burnng faith I find;

The deeper thinkers sneer and smirk,

And give my toil no mind;

From nod and wink

I read they think

That I am fool and blind.

My gift to God seems futile, quite;

The world moves as erstwhile;

And powerful Wrong on feeble Right

Tramples in olden style.

My faith burns down,

I see no crown;

But Cares, and Griefs, and Guile.

So now, the remedy? Yea, this:

I gently swing the door

Here, of my fane--no soul to wis--

And cross the patterned floor

To the rood-screen

That stands between

The nave and inner chore.

The rich red windows dim the moon,

But little light need I;

I mount the prie-dieu, lately hewn

From woods of rarest dye;

Then from below

My garment, so,

I draw this cord, and tie

One end thereof around the beam

Midway 'twixt Cross and truss:

I noose the nethermost extreme,

And in ten seconds thus

I journey hence--

To that land whence

No rumour reaches us.

Well: Here at morn they'll light on one

Dangling in mockery

Of what he spent his substance on

Blindly and uselessly!...

"He might," they'll say,

"Have built, some way,

A cheaper gallows-tree!"


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