The Cross and the Grail

Print

The Cross and the Grail

Arthur's knight had trials long,
Going forth to right the wrong:
Arthur's knight had perils great,
On the moorlands desolate,
In the dungeon and the fen,
Slaying dragons, rescuing men.

Knightly souls must needs be true:
Arthur's knight had work to do,
Vows to keep and quests to make,
Such as heroes undertake:
Tokens in the earth and sky
Led him on to victory.

Visions of the Holy Cup
Shone before him, gazing up
Where, upon some peak remote
Morning's sudden sword-flash smote,
Or where pilgrim-pathways steep
Rose, and sank in sunsets deep.

Sometimes, tinged with radiance strange,
Would the beaker seem to change
To the outline of a cross--
Emblem of life's gain in loss--
Glimpsing, fading like a cloud,
As he stood, with forehead bowed.

'Twas the cup the Master drank;
Veiled to those who weakly shrank
From His awful sacrifice;
Only shown to faithful eyes
Turned in steadfast prayer to Him:
Only pure lips touched its brim.

Only knightly purity
Could the glorious vision see:--
But if once his longing sight
Drank its overflow of light,
Soul of Arthur's knight grew strong
For the unending strife with wrong.

***

On a mountain in the West
Hangs a snowy cross impressed,
Melted not by summer's heat,
Undefiled by careless feet,
Gleaming through the clouds, a sign
Of the Sacrifice Divine.

That white cross is lifted up
Like an overbrimming cup:
Downward from its stainless snow
Rills of limpid crystal slow;
And the traveler at their brink
May of heaven's refreshment drink.

Say not that by accident
Those gray crags were seamed and rent!
God can write upon His hills
Any message that He wills.
Glad the mountains are, to bear
Christ's dear sign aloft in air.

Holy Cross and Holy Grail!
Hold them not an idle tale
Of the dead crusader's years!
They are for the ear that hears,
For the open eyes, that see:
Man, the vision is for thee!

Wear the white cross on thy heart,
For Christ's messenger thou art.
From His love's great overflow,
Love divine shalt thou bestow;
Thou, a stream of life, shalt bless
Souls that thirst for righteousness.

Only manhood that is pure
Work achieves that shall endure:
Manhood like the Master's, brave
With His strength, His world to save
From the curse that sin has wrought;--
Brave and pure, in deed and thought.

Subtler wrongs than Arthur's knight
Ever faced, are thine to fight.
In thine own heart, at the board
Where the dizzying wine is poured;--
Foes in thine own household stay:
Gird thee! shrink not from the fray!

Go thou forth, the knight of Christ;--
Him, whose perfectness sufficed
To make men and angels see
God in our humanity.
Lo! His Cup, His Cross divine!
Conquer by each holy sign!

Thou, if pure in heart, shalt see
God in all things, close to thee;--
In each drop of water quaffed,
Taste a sacramental draught;--
Feel, in every breeze, the breath
Of His life, who vanquished death.

Purity and sacrifice!
Lo! the Christ, before thine eyes!
Unto mortal vision given,
Yet receding into heaven,
That thy human soul may climb
After Him, to heights sublime!

Bear His Cross, receive His Cup!
Be thy whole life offered up
For thy bretheren, in His name
Who to save our lost world came!
Never lower standard can
Shape thee to a perfect man.