Since we're all in a Ballad mood, and because the ballad is SOOOO cool~ another of my favorite passages:
"And well may God with the serving-folk
Cast in His dreadful lot;
Is not He too a servant,
And is not He forgot ?
For was not God my gardener
And silent like a slave;
That opened oaks on the uplands
Or thicket in graveyard gave?
And was not God my armourer,
All patient and unpaid,
That sealed my skull as a helmet,
And ribs for hauberk made?
Did not a great grey servant
Of all my sires and me,
Build this pavilion of the pines,
And herd the fowls and fill the vines,
And labour and pass and leave no signs
Save mercy and mystery?
For God is a great servant,
And rose before the day,
From some primordial slumber torn;
But all we living later born
Sleep on, and rise after the morn,
And the Lord has gone away.
On things half sprung from sleeping,
All sleepy suns have shone,
They stretch stiff arms,
the yawning trees,
The beasts blink upon hands and knees,
Man is awake and does and sees--
But Heaven has done and gone.
For who shall guess the good riddle
Or speak of the Holiest,
Save in faint figures and failing words,
Who loves, yet laughs among the swords,
Labours, and is at rest?
But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, labouring, lifts the world.
Wherefore was God in Golgotha,
Slain as a serf is slain;
And hate He had of prince and peer,
And love He had and made good cheer,
Of them that, like this woman here,
Go powerfully in pain.
But in this grey morn of man's life,
Cometh sometime to the mind
A little light that leaps and flies,
Like a star blown on the wind.
A star of nowhere, a nameless star,
A light that spins and swirls,
And cries that even in hedge and hill,
Even on earth, it may go ill
At last with the evil earls.
A dancing sparkle, a doubtful star,
On the waste wind whirled and driven;
But it seems to sing of a wilder worth,
A time discrowned of doom and birth,
And the kingdom of the poor on earth
Come, as it is in heaven.
But even though such days endure,
How shall it profit her?
Who shall go groaning to the grave,
With many a meek and mighty slave,
Field-breaker and fisher on the wave,
And woodman and waggoner.
Bake ye the big world all again
A cake with kinder leaven;
Yet these are sorry evermore--
Unless there be a little door,
A little door in heaven."
Again, I must say, read it in context. This quote is from book 4 which relates the famous story of Alfred and the cakes. The a classic story, probably the most well-known of Alfred legends, is beautifully embroidered with rich imagery and splendid quotes. I'll post more of book four next week.