Tabb’s Poetry VIII


Anonymous—nor needs a name
To tell the secret whence the flame,
With light, and warmth, and incense, came
A new creation to proclaim.

So was it when, His labor done,
God saw His work, and smiled thereon:
His glory in the picture shone,
But name upon the canvas, none. 

Earth’s Tribute

First the grain, and then the blade—
The one destroyed, the other made;
Then stalk and blossom, and again
The gold of newly minted grain.

So Life, by Death the reaper cast
To earth, again shall rise at last;
For ’tis the service of the sod
To render God the things of God.


   Each separate life is fed
   From many a fountain-head;
      Tides that we never know
      Into our being flow,
And rays of the remotest star
Converge to make us what we are. 


Alike from depths of joy and sorrow start
   The rain-drops of the heart:
Alike from sweet and briny waves arise
   The tear-drops of the skies.
And back to earth salt tears and freshening rain
   Alike must flow again.
The Astronomer

The little dome that holds the brain,
Whereby he measures from afar
The influence of steadfast star
   Or moving moon and sun—
Both vaster mysteries contain
   Than those he looks upon;
Nay, such the marvel that perchance
The spheres in mute amazement scan,
The while they meet his upward glance,
   The deeper mind of man.

John B. Tabb



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“Anonymous”: Lyrics, p. 22, Poetry, p. 160. 1897. Anonymous means without a name.

“Earth’s Tribute”: Poems, p. 86, Poetry, p. 159. April 1892. The last line alludes to the answer given by the Lord Jesus to the Pharisees and Herodians in Matthew 22:15-22.

“Influences”: Later Poems, p. 98; Poetry, p. 117. December 1908.

“Fountain-Heads”: Poems, p. 47; Poetry, p. 111. December 1893.

“The Astronomer”: Father Tabb: A Study, p. 204; Poetry, p. 118. 1923. Perchance means perhaps, maybe, possibly.

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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