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The Human Temple

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik 1826 (Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire) – 1887 (Shortlands, London)



The Temple in Darkness

Darkness broods upon the temple,
Glooms along the lonely aisles,
Fills up all the orient window,
 Whence, like little children’s wiles,
Shadows—purple, azure, golden—
 Broke upon the floor in smiles.
 
From the great heart of the organ
 Bursts no voice of chant or psalm;
All the air, by music-pulses
 Stirred no more, is deathly calm;
And no precious incense rising,
 Falls, like good men’s prayer, in balm.
 
Not a sound of living footstep
 Echoes on the marble floor;
Not a sigh of stranger passing
 Pierces through the closèd door;
Quenched the light upon the altar:
 Where the priest stood, none stands more.
 
Lord, why hast Thou left Thy temple
 Scorned of man, disowned by Thee!
Rather let Thy right hand crush it,
 None its desolation see!
List—‘He who the temple builded
 Doth His will there. Let it be!’
 
A Light in the Temple

Lo, a light within the temple!
 Whence it cometh no man knows;
Barred the doors: the night-black windows
 Stand apart in solemn rows,
All without seems gloom eternal,
 Yet the glimmer comes and goes—
 
As if silent-footed angels
 Through the dim aisles wandered fair,
Only traced amid the darkness,
 By the glory in their hair,
Till at the forsaken altar
 They all met, and praised God there.
 
Now the light grows—fuller, clearer;
 Hark, the organ ’gins to sound.
Faint, like broken spirit crying
 Unto Heaven from the ground;
While the chorus of the angels
 Mingles everywhere around.
 
See, the altar shines all radiant,
 Though no mortal priest there stands,
And no earthly congregation
 Worships with uplifted hands:
Yet they gather, slow and saintly,
 In innumerable bands.
 
And the chant celestial rises
 Where the human prayers have ceased:
No tear-sacrifice is offered,
 For all anguish is appeased,
Through its night of desolation,
 To His temple comes the Priest.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Dinah Maria Craik (; born Dinah Maria Mulock, also often credited as Miss Mulock or Mrs. Craik) was an English novelist and poet. She is best remembered for her novel John Halifax, Gentleman, which presents the mid-Victorian ideals of English middle-class life.  more…

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