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John Henry Newman

Tomorrow (Feb. 21) is the birthday of Cardinal John Henry Newman…
Here are a few of our favorite poems of his:

 

The Sign of the Cross

John Henry Newman

WHENE’ER across this sinful flesh of mine
I draw the Holy Sign,
All good thoughts stir within me, and renew
Their slumbering strength divine;
Till there springs up a courage high and true
To suffer and to do.

And who shall say, but hateful spirits around,
For their brief hour unbound,
Shudder to see, and wail their overthrow?
While on far heathen ground
Some lonely Saint hails the fresh odor, though
Its source he cannot know.
 

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FAITH AGAINST SIGHT
John Henry Newman
(1801-1890)


The world has cycles in its course, when all
That once has been, is acted o’er again:–
Not by some fated law, which need appal
Our faith, or binds our deeds as with a chain;
But by men’s separate sins, which, blended still,
The same bad round fulfil.

Then fear ye not, though Gallileo’s scorn ye see,
And soft-clad nobles count you mad, true hearts!
These are the fig-tree’s signs;–rough deeds must be,
Trials and crimes: so learn ye well your parts.
Once more to plough the earth it is decreed,
And scatter wide the seed.

 


A Thanksgiving
John Henry Newman
(1801-1890)

LORD , in this dust Thy sovereign voice
First quicken’d love divine;
I am all Thine,–Thy care and choice,
My very praise is Thine.
I praise Thee, while Thy providence
In childhood frail I trace,
For blessings given, ere dawning sense
Could seek or scan Thy grace;

Blessings in boyhood’s marvelling hour,
Bright dreams, and fancyings strange;
Blessings, when reason’s awful power
Gave thought a bolder range;

Blessings of friends, which to my door
Unask’d, unhoped, have come;
And, choicer still, a countless store
Of eager smiles at home.

Yet, LORD , in memory’s fondest place
I shrine those seasons sad,
When, looking up, I saw Thy face
In kind austereness clad.

I would not miss one sigh or tear,
Heart-pang, or throbbing brow;
Sweet was the chastisement severe,
And sweet its memory now.

Yes! let the fragrant scars abide,
Love-tokens in Thy stead,
Faint shadows of the spear-pierced side
And thorn-encompass’d head.

And such Thy tender force be still,
When self would swerve or stray,
Shaping to truth the froward will
Along Thy narrow way.

Deny me wealth; far, far remove
The lure of power or name;
Hope thrives in straits, in weakness love,
And faith in this world’s shame.