2 June 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 2
from A Song to David
Strong is the horse upon his speed;
Strong in pursuit the rapid glede,
Which makes at once his game:
Strong the tall ostrich on the ground;
Strong through the turbulent profound
Shoots Xiphias to his aim.
Strong is the lion—like a coal
His eyeball,—like a bastion's mole
His chest against the foes:
Strong, the gier-eagle on his sail;
Strong against tide th' enormous whale
Emerges as he goes.
But stronger still, in earth and air,
And in the sea, the man of prayer,
And far beneath the tide:
And in the seat to faith assign'd,
Where ask is have, where seek is find,
Where knock is open wide.
Precious the penitential tear;
And precious is the sigh sincere,
Acceptable to God:
And precious are the winning flowers,
In gladsome Israel's feast of bowers
Bound on the hallow'd sod.
Glorious the sun in mid career;
Glorious th' assembled fires appear;
Glorious the comet's train:
Glorious the trumpet and alarm;
Glorious the Almighty's stretched-out arm;
Glorious th' enraptured main:
Glorious the northern lights astream;
Glorious the song, when God 's the theme;
Glorious the thunder's roar:
Glorious Hosanna from the den;
Glorious the catholic Amen;
Glorious the martyr's gore:
Glorious—more glorious—is the crown
Of Him that brought salvation down,
By meekness call'd thy Son:
Thou that stupendous truth believed;—
And now the matchless deed 's achieved,
Determined, dared, and done!
About the author:
1722-71. With the exception of one brief intermission, Christopher Smart remained hospitalized for mental insanity from 1756 through 1763, during which he wrote the poems considered his best work: A Song to David (1763) and Jubilate Agno, first published in 1939 by W. F. Stead. Though critics of his own time accused A Song to David of incoherence, it experienced a surge of praise and interest in the nineteenth century by such poets as Browning and Yeats. Only fragments of Jubilate Agno remain today; best known of these fragments is the cataloging homage to his cat Jeoffry, companion during Smart's incarceration. Smart has been considered a forerunner of poets varying from John Clare and William Blake to Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman.
Learn more about the life and work of Christopher Smart at Wikipedia.
For further reading:
See the complete list of work by Christopher Smart at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 4, No. 2, where "from A Song to David" ran on June 2, 2004. List other work with these same labels: poetry, classic, rhyme.