|O AGED Saint! far off I heard|
|The praises of thy name;—|
|Thy deed of power, thy prudent word,|
|Thy zeal's triumphant flame.|
I came and saw; and, having seen,
|Weak heart, I drew offence|
|From thy prompt smile, thy simple mien,|
|Thy lowly diligence.|
The Saint's is not the Hero's praise;—
|This I have found, and learn|
|Nor to malign Heaven's humblest ways,|
|Nor its least boon to spurn.|
Bay of Biscay.
December 10, 1832.
St. John Henry Newman wrote this poem while he was an Anglican during that eventful trip to Italy and the Mediterranean. As he commented to his mother in a letter on December 11, 1832, he had been writing verse nearly every day of his voyage.
He was travelling with Richard Hurrell Froude and Froude's father as they hoped that a better climate would be beneficial to Richard, who was suffering from consumption (tuberculosis). Newman describes Froude's religious influence on him in the Apologia pro Vita Sua:
Newman also comments on the verses he wrote during this journey:
Here is that poem about his Guardian Angel:
ARE these the tracks of some unearthly Friend,
His foot prints, and his vesture-skirts of light,
Who, as I talk with men, conforms aright
Their sympathetic words, or deeds that blend
With my hid thought;—or stoops him to attend
My doubtful-pleading grief;—or blunts the might
Of ill I see not;—or in dreams of night
Figures the scope, in which what is will end?
Were I Christ's own, then fitly might I call
That vision real; for to the thoughtful mind
That walks with Him, He half unveils His face;
But, when on earth-stain'd souls such tokens fall,
These dare not claim as theirs what there they find,
Yet, not all hopeless, eye His boundless grace.
December 8, 1832.