Tabb’s Poetry XIX


Tonight the onward-rushing train
   Would bear thee far from me;
But, winged with swifter dreams, again
   My spirit flies to thee.

Nay, speeding far beyond thee, waits
   To welcome thee anew,
Where Dawn is opening the gates
   To let the darkness through. 


Once when my heart was passion-free
   To learn of things divine,
The soul of nature suddenly
   Outpoured itself in mine.

I held the secrets of the deep,
   And of the heavens above;
I knew the harmonies of sleep,
   The mysteries of love.

And for a moment’s interval
   The earth, the sky, the sea—
My soul encompassed, each and all,
   As now they compass me.

To one in all, to all in one—
   Since Love the work began—
Life’s ever widening circles run,
   Revealing God and man.


Thou hast the final touch supplied
That till thy coming was denied—
A single letter in a word
Whose absence all the context blurred;
A missing note that, but for thee,
Had marred the perfect harmony.
The Pilgrim

When, but a child, I wandered hence,
Another child—sweet Innocence,
   My sister—went with me;
But I have lost her, and am fain
To seek her in the home again
   Where we were wont to be. 

Our Stars

My twilight is before the dark,
   And thine before the day;
O’er both alike a beacon-spark
   To keep us in the way.
The darkness can but brighten mine;
Let not the noon extinguish thine.

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“Outspeeded”: Lyrics, p. 80; Poetry, p. 248. January 1895. Waits: that is, his spirit waits.

“Communion”: Lyrics, p. 74; Poetry, p. 245. September 1892.

“Import”: Father Tabb, p. 188; Poetry, p. 251. October 1909.

“The Pilgrim”: Lyrics, p. 83; Poetry, p. 246. 1897. Fain means eager.

“Our Stars”: Lyrics, p. 114; Poetry, p. 249. 1910.

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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