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The Elements

John Henry Newman 1801 (London) – 1890 (Edgbaston)



MAN is permitted much
To scan and learn
In Nature’s frame;
Till he well-nigh can tame
Brute mischiefs, and can touch
Invisible things, and turn
All warring ills to purposes of good.
Thus, as a god below,
He can control,
And harmonize, what seems amiss to flow
As sever’d from the whole
And dimly understood.

But o’er the elements
One Hand alone,
One Hand has sway.
What influence day by day
In straiter belt prevents
The impious Ocean, thrown
Alternate o’er the ever-sounding shore?
Or who has eye to trace
How the Plague came?
Forerun the doublings of the Tempest’s race?
Or the Air’s weight and flame
On a set scale explore?

Thus God has will’d
That man, when fully skill’d,
Still gropes in twilight dim;
Encompass’d all his hours
By fearfullest powers
Inflexible to him.
That so he may discern
His feebleness,
And e’en for earth’s success
To Him in wisdom turn,
Who holds for us the keys of either home,
Earth and the world to come.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

51 sec read
134

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABCCABDEFEFD GHIIXHJKCKCJ LLMNNMBGXBXX
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 1,040
Words 170
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 12, 12, 12

John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman CO, also referred to as Cardinal Newman, was an important figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. more…

All John Henry Newman poems | John Henry Newman Books

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