The Elements

John Henry Newman 1801 (London) – 1890 (Edgbaston)

MAN is permitted much
  To scan and learn
  In Nature’s frame;
 Till he well-nigh can tame
 Brute mischiefs, and can touch
 Invisible things, and turn
All warring ills to purposes of good.
 Thus, as a god below,
  He can control,
And harmonize, what seems amiss to flow
 As sever’d from the whole
 And dimly understood.
 
 But o’er the elements
  One Hand alone,
  One Hand has sway.
 What influence day by day
 In straiter belt prevents
 The impious Ocean, thrown
Alternate o’er the ever-sounding shore?
 Or who has eye to trace
  How the Plague came?
Forerun the doublings of the Tempest’s race?
 Or the Air’s weight and flame
 On a set scale explore?
 
 Thus God has will’d
 That man, when fully skill’d,
 Still gropes in twilight dim;
 Encompass’d all his hours
  By fearfullest powers
 Inflexible to him.
 That so he may discern
  His feebleness,
 And e’en for earth’s success
 To Him in wisdom turn,
Who holds for us the keys of either home,
 Earth and the world to come.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman CO, also referred to as Cardinal Newman, was an important figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. more…

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"The Elements" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/23314/the-elements>.

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