Tabb’s Poetry VI


Lo, where the routed shadows pass,
Upon each lifted blade of grass
   The tokens of a fray—
Pale life-drops from the heart of Night,
Mute witnesses of sudden flight
   Before the host of Day.


   A note so near the dawn
      Too timid was to stay
   Till shadows all were gone,
      But, dreamlike, sped away
While paled the hesitating sky
For Day to bloom or Night to die.


Thou hast not looked on Yesterday,
   Nor shalt Tomorrow see;
Upon thy solitary way
   Is none to pilot thee:
Thou comest to thine own
A stranger and alone.

And yet, alas, thy countenance
   To us familiar seems;
The wonder of thy wakening glance,
   The vanishing of dreams,
Is like an old refrain
From silence come again.


Behold, as from a silver horn,
   The sacerdotal Night
Outpours upon his latest-born
   The chrism of the light;
And bids him to the altar come,
   Whereon for sacrifice,
(A lamb before his shearers, dumb,)
   A victim shadow lies.

The Dayspring

What hand with spear of light
Hath cleft the side of Night,
And from the red wound wide
Fashioned the Dawn, his bride?

Was it the deed of Death?
Nay; but of Love, that saith,
“Henceforth be Shade and Sun,
In bonds of Beauty, one.”

John B. Tabb



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“Onset”: Lyrics, p. 62; Poetry, p. 83. October 1892.

“Brink-Song”: Later Lyrics, p. 50; Poetry, p. 76. 1902.

“Daybreak”: Later Lyrics, p. 48; Poetry, p. 72. 1902.

“Dawn”: Lyrics, p. 2; Poetry, p. 71. October 1895. Sacerdotal means priestly; chrism is the consecrated oil used during sacramental rites such as Confirmation and Ordination; the penultimate line alludes to Isaiah 53:7 and Acts 8:32.

“The Dayspring”: Poems, p. 39; Poetry, p. 71. 1894.

A convert to the Catholic faith, Rev. John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) was a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Professor of English at St. Charles’ College, Ellicott City, Maryland. Poems selected, arranged, and annotated by E.L. Core.
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