Tabb’s Poetry XXXIII

The Life-Tide

Each wave that breaks upon the strand,
How swift soe’er to spurn the sand
   And seek again the sea,
Christ-like, within its lifted hand
Must bear the stigma of the land 
   For all eternity. 

Against the Sky

See, where the foliage fronts the sky,
How many a meaning we descry
That else had never to the eye
   A signal shown!

So we, on life’s horizon-line,
To watchers waiting for a sign,
Perchance interpret Love’s design,
   To us unknown. 


Oh, frame me in thy love, as I
The landscape in the branches low;
That none beneath the bending sky
   Our sylvan secret know.

For ’tis of Life the mystery
That, whereso’er its fibers run,
In time or in eternity,
   The many shape the one. 

A Crisis

O leaf, against the twilight seen,
   Move not; for at thy side
Gleams, trembling lest thou intervene,
   My hope, my star, my guide.

The heavens that seemed so far away
   When old-time grief was near,
Beyond the vista seen today,
   Close o’er my life appear;
For there, in reconcilement sweet,
   The human and divine,
The loftiest and the lowliest, meet
   On love’s horizon-line.

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“The Life-Tide”: Lyrics, p. 61; Poetry, p. 114. September 1892. A stigma is a sign or mark; the wounds of Christ’s Passion are called stigmata (plural).

“Against the Sky”: Lyrics, p. 34; Poetry, p. 133. January 1891. Perchance means perhaps, maybe, possibly.

“Outlines”: Later Lyrics, p. 3; Poetry, p. 115. January 1902. Sylvan means of the woods or trees.

“A Crisis”: Lyrics, p. 154; Poetry, p. 365. 1897.

“Retrospect”: Lyrics, p. 72; Poetry, p. 136. July 1891. A vista is a pleasant view.

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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