Posted by: Sherry Goodwin | April 10, 2008

Compensation

O THE compensating springs!  O the balance-wheels of
life,
Hidden away in the workings under the seeming strife!
Slowing the fret and the friction, weighting the whirl and
the force,
Evolving the truest power from each unconscious source.

How shall we guage the whole, who can only guess a part?
How can we read the life, when we cannot spell the heart?
How shall we measure another, we who can never know
From the juttings above the surface the depth of the vein
below?

Even our present way is known to ourselves alone,
Height and abyss and torrent, flower and thorn and stone;
But we gaze on another’s path as a far-off mountain scene,
Scanning the outlined hills, but never the vales between.

How shall we judge their present, we who have never seen
That which is past for ever, and that which might have
been?
Measuring by ourselves, unwise indeed are we,
Measuring what we know by what we can hardly see.

Ah!  if we knew it all, we should surely understand
That the balance of sorrow and joy is held with an even
hand,
That the scale of success or loss shall never overflow,
And that compensation is twined with the lot of high and
low.

The easy path in the lowland hath little of grand or new,
But a toilsome ascent leads on to a wide and glorious
view;
Peopled and warm is the valley, lonely and chill the
height,
But the peak that is nearer the storm-cloud is nearer the
stars of light.

Launch on the foaming stream that bears you along like a
dart,–
There is danger of rapid and rock, there is tension of
muscle and heart;
Glide on the easy current, monotonous, calm, and slow,
You are spared the quiver and strain in the safe and quiet
flow.

O the sweetness that dwells in a harp of many strings,
While each, all vocal with love, in tuneful harmony rings!
But O, the wail and the discord, when one and another is
rent
Tensionless, broken, or lost, from the cherished instrument.

For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss,
And the hand that takes the crown must ache with many
a cross;
Yet he who hath never a conflict hath never a victor’s
palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.

Only between the storms can the Alpine traveller know
Transcendent glory of clearness, marvels of gleam and
glow;
Had he the brightness unbroken of cloudless summer
days,
This had been dimmed by the dust and the veil of a
brooding haze.

Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know,
The finest quiver of joy or the agony-thrill of woe?
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.

Great is the peril or toil if the glory or gain be great;
Never an earthly gift without responsible weight;
Never a treasure without a following shade of care;
Never a power without the lurk of a subtle snare.

For the swift is not the safe, and the sweet is not the
strong;
The smooth is not the short, and the keen is not the long;
The much is not the most, and the wide is not the deep;
And the flow is never a spring, when the ebb is only neap.

Then hush! oh, hush! for the Father knows what thou
knowest not,
The need and the thorn and the shadow linked with the
fairest lot;
Knows the wisest exemption from many an unseen snare,
Knows what will keep thee nearest, knows what thou
could’st not bear.

Hush! oh, hush!  for the Father portioneth as He will,
To all His beloved children, and shall they not be still?
Is not His will the wisest, is not His choice the best?
And in perfect acquiescence is there not perfect rest?

Hush!  oh, hush!  for the Father, whose ways are true and
just,
The cup He is slowly filling shall soon be full to the brim,
And infinite compensations for ever be found in Him.

Hush!  oh, hush!  for the Father hath fulness of joy in store,
Treasures of power and wisdom, and pleasures for ever-
more;
Blessing and honour and glory, endless, infinite bliss;–
Child of His love and His choice, oh, canst thou not wait
for this?

–Frances Ridley Havergal from THE POETICAL WORKS

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Responses

  1. I am 73 years old. I learnt this as a small child from my mother reciting it.
    You have left a line out.- second verse from end and second line. – Hush!, oh hush for the Father knoweth and careth and loveth and waits for our perfect trust.
    (I think this is correct from memory
    Regards
    Rachel


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