Tabb’s Poetry XXVII

The Peak

As on some solitary height
Abides, in summer’s fierce despite,
Snow-blossom that no sun can blight,
   No frost can kill;
So, in my soul—all else below
To change succumbing—stands aglow
One wreath of immemorial snow,
   Unscattered still.


I go not to the grave to weep,
But to my heart, wherein I keep
A hidden manna that hath fed
Alike the living and the dead.

We gathered it as, day by day,
It fell from heaven upon our way,
To be, if haply one were gone,
The bread for both to feed upon. 


Full many a noonday nook I know
Where memory is fain to go
And wait in silence till the shade
Of sleep the solitude invade.

For these the resting-places are
Of dreams that, journeying afar,
Pause in their migratory flight
This side the continent of night.


God speed thee, setting Sun!
Thy beams for me have spun
   Of light today
A memory that one
Alone could bring, and none
   Can take away.

I miss thee everywhere.
   The places dear to thee,
Familiar shadows wear
   Henceforth for memory.

And where thou hast not been,
   Thou seemest to repose
As near—though never seen—
   As fragrance to the rose.

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“The Peak”: Poems, p. 28; Poetry, p. 154. January 1892. Snow-blossom is a reddish algae (Protococcus nivalis) that only grows on snow.

“Memory”: Later Poems, p. 64; Poetry, p. 156. 1910. Manna was the miraculous food provided by God, day by day, to the Israelites during their sojourn in the desert; see Exodus 16. Haply means by chance or accident.

“Harbors”: Later Poems, p. 79; Poetry, p. 155. February 1903. Fain means pleased or willing.

“Adieu”: Lyrics, p. 55; Poetry, p. 155. June 1895. Adieu: French, farewell. God speed is a wish for success, especially on a journey.

“Withdrawn”: Later Poems, p. 70; Poetry, p. 157. November 1906.

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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