Unitarian Universalist Poetry.

by Elias Blum

These poems are by Andrew Wells, a late 19th century Unitarian Minister. They are now out of copyright, and, I think, well worth sharing.

God in Nature

The solemn, silent, archèd woodland ways,
And shady slopes beside the babbling rills
Where, to spring’s piping, dance the daffodils,
And happy song birds warble jocund lays,
Are now as in the antique golden days,
Haunted by Deity : whose spirit fills
The earth, whose garments trail across the hills,
Whose glory shineth in the noontide rays.
Altho’ we see no dryad in the wood,
Nor ever naiad resting by the stream,
Yet we do feel there is a spirit good
Abiding with us still : now as of old.
In all things pure and fair, we may behold
A revelation of the Power Supreme.

Of One Eternal Power Speak All The Creeds

From mosque, and synagogue, and forest fane
High church and chapel, prayers to God arise;
Who, then, dare say his brother calls in vain
To that blue dome where hope and healing lies?
To one All-Father throned in blissful skies,
Ascends from every land this plaintive strain,
“To thee, O Lord! we lift imploring eyes,
Thy succour send, Thy blessing on us rain.”
Of one Eternal Power speak all the creeds,
And pious lips find fitting words to say
When seeking guidance on the rugged way
That to the golden gate of glory leads :
God hears, alike, the cry of all who pray,
And with the bread of life all mankind feeds.

When from Creative Toil

When from creative toil God paused to rest,
Did man seem then in His admiring sight
A form of grace fulfilled with inward light?
Ah, no! he was not so supremely blest :
God sent him forth upon a weary quest,
And said, “From darkness deep as primal night,
By toil unceasing must he climb the height
Of knowledge all unaided. It is best.
His spirit I purify with fire
Of sorrow and sore anguish, so that he,
Heart-worn and weary, may My rest enjoy.
Beatitude is but fulfilled desire:
Schooled by affliction first, felicity
Will then taste sweet; now heavenly bliss would cloy.”

Whence and Whither

Moulded in grace and beauty by God’s hand
Some say were we : some say evolved from slime
In slow process of long enduring time ;
And some proclaim a faith, supremely grand,
That we shall yet in guise immoral stand
On time’s eternal shore, and sing sublime
Paeans to Him, to whom the ages climb
Convergent. The glories of that golden strand
Have ne’re to mortal eyes yet been revealed :
But O a loving tone proceeding thence
We crave ere we take our departure hence
The silent heavens, alas! no token yield
Nor sign vouchsafe! as darkness veils our whence,
So is our whither by deep shades concealed.

Question

For man’s offence you say this earth is cursed,
And that the Love Eternal turned His face
In anger from the father of our race,
Because for knowledge he was all a-thirst :
On such like tales our infancy was nursed!
And yet, in all we say, do we not trace
Infinite beauty? Yea, our dwelling place
Is now as fair and fruitful as when first
It heard in joy the voice of God, and rose
From chaos old, and dark primeval night,
Arrayed in garments beautiful and bright.
Did he, whose work infinite wisdom shows,
E’re ban this lovely earth with bale and blight,
And loose on man a leash of deadly woes?

 

This one is by Hosea Ballou, one of the founders of modern Universalism:

An Address To Orthodoxy.

You say, before the world began,
God’s first decree respecting man
Doomed more than half to endless woe ;
And then you say, that this decree
Left every man an agent free,
For bliss above, or flames below.

Now, to be saved, all that we need
Is to belive what God decreed,
And feel submissive to our fate ;
A willingness to go to hell
A title gives in heaven to dwell
In that most perfect, happy state.

Well, be it so ; it still remains
That we present our simple claims
That you this creed would now defend ;
To us, be sure, ‘t is dark indeed,
Our future state would be decreed,
And yet on what we do, depend

‘T is difficult for us to know
How those, whom God decreed for woe,
By faith in hell should heaven gain.
Could all mankind be saved, if they
Were willing to be damned? now say,
And try this problem to explain.

Smooth down that brow,– We’ve more to say ;
With circumspection would we pray
How you this knowledge did obtain?
We’ve searched the Scriptures through, but find
No testimony of this kind ;
But the reverse from them we gain.

God will have all men be saved, we read ;
You say, he more than half decreed
To death, and everlasting pain.
You cross yourself, and, what is worse,
In room of grace hold up a curse,
And death and hell’s eternal reign.

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