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IX Less or more, I suppose that I spoke thus. When,--have mercy, Lord, on us! The whole face turned upon me full. And I spread myself beneath it, As when the bleacher spreads, to seethe it In the cleansing sun, his wool,-- Steeps in the flood of noontide whiteness Some denied, discoloured web-- So lay I, saturate with brightness. And when the flood appeared to ebb, Lo, I was walking, light and swift, With my senses settling fast and steadying, But my body caught up in the whirl and drift Of the vesture's amplitude, still eddying On, just before me, still to be followed, As it carried me after with its motion: What shall I say?--as a path were hollowed And a man went weltering through the ocean, Sucked along in the flying wake Of the luminous water-snake. Darkness and cold were cloven, as through I passed, upborne yet walking too. And I turned to myself at intervals,-- "So he said, so it befalls. "God who registers the cup "Of mere cold water, for his sake "To a disciple rendered up, "Disdains not his own thirst to slake "At the poorest love was ever offered: "And because my heart I proffered, "With true love trembling at the brim, "He suffers me to follow him "For ever, my own way,--dispensed "From seeking to be influenced "By all the less immediate ways "That earth, in worships manifold, "Adopts to reach, by prayer and praise, "The garment's hem, which, lo, I hold!"

from "Christmas Eve" by Robert Browning