Tabb’s Poetry XXXIV


Throughout the livelong summer day
The Leaf and twinborn Shadow play
   Till Leaf to Shadow fade;
Then, hidden for a season brief,
They dream, till Shadow turn to Leaf
   As Leaf was turned to Shade. 

Love Immortal

The soul that sees no hell below,
   No heaven above,
All other mysteries may know,
   But never Love.

If from the prison-walls of Time
   No life may fly,
Then Love and Innocence and Crime
   Alike must die. 


   The tempest past—
A home in ruin laid;
   But lo! where last
The little children played
   At hide-and-seek,
   A footprint small
   Pleads silently,
As if afraid to speak.
  “Behold in me
   A memory,
The least & last of all!” 


Breathe above me or below;
Never canst thou farther go
Than the spirit’s octave-span,
Harmonizing God and Man.

Thus within the iris-bound,
Light a prisoner is found;
Thus within my soul I see
Life in Time’s captivity. 

An Interpreter

What, O Eternity,
   Is Time to thee?—
What to the boundless All
   My portion small?

Lift up thine eyes, my soul!
Against the tidal roll
   Stands many a stone,
   Whereon the breakers thrown
Are dashed to spray—
   Else were the ocean dumb.

So, in the way
   Of tides eternal, thou
   Abidest now;
And God himself doth come
   A suppliant to thee,
   Love’s prisoned thought to free.

John B. Tabb

For a recitation, click the play button:

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“Transfigured”: Lyrics, p. 21; Poetry, p. 113. November 1893. Transfigured means having become more elevated or beautiful.

“Love Immortal”: Later Poems, p. 76; Poetry, p. 137. 1910.

“Survival”: Later Poems, p. 103; Poetry, p. 156. November 1909. This poem was the last of Father Tabb’s poems to be published during his lifetime, in The Cosmopolitan.

“Limitation”: Poems, p. 2; Poetry, p. 109. November 1893. The spirit’s octave-span: an octave is a group or series of eight, especially, the eight degrees between two tones, in music, and the eight days of liturgical celebration of important feast days, in the church calendar; the phrase seems to mean the full reach of the human spirit.

“An Interpreter”: Later Lyrics, p. 13; Poetry, p. 142. 1902. A suppliant is one who makes a humble plea to another of more authority or power.

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