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IV There was a lull in the rain, a lull In the wind too; the moon was risen, And would have shone out pure and full, But for the ramparted cloud-prison, Block on block built up in the West, For what purpose the wind knows best, Who changes his mind continually. And the empty other half of the sky Seemed in its silence as if it knew What, any moment, might look through A chance gap in that fortress massy:-- Through its fissures you got hints Of the flying moon, by the shifting tints, Now, a dull lion-colour, now, brassy Burning to yellow, and whitest yellow, Like furnace-smoke just ere flames bellow, All a-simmer with intense strain To let her through,--then blank again, At the hope of her appearance failing. Just by the chapel, a break in the railing Shows a narrow path directly across; 'Tis ever dry walking there, on the moss-- Besides, you go gently all the way uphill. I stooped under and soon felt better; My head grew lighter, my limbs more supple, As I walked on, glad to have slipt the fetter. My mind was full of the scene I had left, That placid flock, that pastor vociferant, --How this outside was pure and different! The sermon, now--what a mingled weft Of good and ill! Were either less, Its fellow had coloured the whole distinctly; But alas for the excellent earnestness, And the truths, quite true if stated succinctly, But alas for the excellent earnestness, ment, However to pastor and flock's contentment! Say rather, such truths looked false to your eyes, With his provings and parallels twisted and twined, Till how could you know them, grown double their size In the natural fog of the good man's mind, Like yonder spots of our roadside lamps, Haloed about with the common's damps? Truth remains true, the fault's in the prover; The zeal was good, and the aspiration; And yet, and yet, yet, fifty times over, Pharaoh received no demonstration, By his Baker's dream of Basket Three, Of the doctrine of the Trinity,-- Although, as our preacher thus embellished it, Apparently his hearers relished it With so unfeigned a gust--who knows if They did not prefer our friend to Joseph? But so it is everywhere, one way with all of them! These people have really felt, no doubt, A something, the motion they style the Call of them; And this is their method of bringing about, By a mechanism of words and tones, (So many texts in so many groans) A sort of reviving and reproducing, More or less perfectly, (who can tell?) The mood itself, which strengthens by using; And how that happens, I understand well. A tune was born in my head last week, Out of the thump-thump and shriek-shriek Of the train, as I came by it, up from Manchester; And when, next week, I take it back again, My head will sing to the engine's clack again, While it only makes my neighbour's haunches stir, --Finding no dormant musical sprout In him, as in me, to be jolted out. 'Tis the taught already that profits by teaching; He gets no more from the railway's preaching Than, from this preacher who does the rail's office, I: Whom therefore the flock cast a jealous eye on. Still, why paint over their door "Mount Zion," To which all flesh shall come, saith the prophecy?


"Christmas Eve" by Robert Browning