George Macdonald 1824-1925) is remembered today mostly for his works of fantasy especially his collections of fairy tales. Regarded by C.S.Lewis as his literary ‘Master’ MacDonald also left behind him a rich body of metaphysical poetry including the book-length ‘The Diary Of An Old Soul’ from which the excerpt below is taken. The poem is divided into monthly sections and in each section there is a verse for every day, so one could in fact read the poem one verse a day over the twelve month period. This work has been called a modern day rendition of the Book of Psalms because of MacDonald’s brutal honesty when it comes to the issues of doubt and human imperfection.His literary style is not always brilliant but he never wavers from his life’s mission to lay hold of God…
” Be thou the well by which I lie and rest;
Be thou my tree of life, my garden ground;
Be thou my home, my fire, my chamber blest..
Oh, be my friend, each day still newer found..”
O Father, thou art my eternity.
Not on the clasp Of consciousness--on thee
My life depends; and I can well afford
All to forget, so thou remember,
Lord. In thee I rest; in sleep thou dost me fold;
In thee I labour; still in thee, grow old;
And dying, shall I not in thee, my Life, be bold?
In holy things may be unholy greed.
Thou giv'st a glimpse of many a lovely thing,
Not to be stored for use in any mind,
But only for the present spiritual need.
The holiest bread, if hoarded, soon will breed
The mammon-moth, the having-pride, I find.
'Tis momently thy heart gives out heart-quickening.
It is thyself, and neither this nor that,
Nor anything, told, taught, or dreamed of thee,
That keeps us live. The holy maid who sat
Low at thy feet, choosing the better part,
Rising, bore with her--what a memory!
Yet, brooding only on that treasure, she
Had soon been roused by conscious loss of heart.