Retrospect

Alas, and I have sung
Much song of matters vain,
And a heaven-sweetened tongue
Turned to unprofiting strain
Of vacant things, which though
Even so they be, and throughly so,
It is no boot at all for thee to know,
But babble and false pain.

What profit if the sun
Put forth his radiant thews,
And on his circuit run,
Even after my device, to this and to that use;
And the true Orient, Christ,
Make not His cloud of thee?
I have sung vanity,
And nothing well devised.

And though the cry of stars
Give tongue before his way
Goldenly as I say,
And each from wide Saturnus to hot Mars
He calleth by its name,
Lest that its bright feet stray;
And thou have lore of all,
But to thine own Sun's call
Thy path disorbed hast never wit to tame;
It profits not withal,
And my rede is but lame.

Only that, 'mid vain vaunt
Of wisdom ignorant,
A little kiss upon the feet of Love
My hasty verse has stayed
Sometimes a space to plant:
It has not wholly strayed,
Not wholly missed near sweet, fanning proud plumes above.

Therefore I do repent
That with religion vain,
And misconceiv-ed pain,
I have my music bent
To waste on bootless things its skiey-gendered rain:
Yet shall a wiser day
Fulfil more heavenly way,
And with approv-ed music clear this slip
I trust in God most sweet;
Meantime the silent lip,
Meantime the climbing feet.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Francis Thompson

The Rt Rev Francis William Banahene Thompson was Bishop of Accra from 1983 to 1996. more…

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"Retrospect" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 10 Jul 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/13930/retrospect>.

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