The Living Temple
By Oliver Wendell Holmes
NOT in the world of light alone, Where God has built his blazing throne, Nor yet alone in earth below, With belted seas that come and go, And endless isles of sunlit green, Is all thy Maker's glory seen: Look in upon thy wondrous frame,-- Eternal wisdom still the same!
The smooth, soft air with pulse-like waves Flows murmuring through its hidden caves, Whose streams of brightening purple rush, Fired with a new and livelier blush, While all their burden of decay The ebbing current steals away, And red with Nature's flame they start From the warm fountains of the heart.
No rest that throbbing slave may ask, Forever quivering o'er his task, While far and wide a crimson jet Leaps forth to fill the woven net Which in unnumbered crossing tides The flood of burning life divides, Then, kindling each decaying part, Creeps back to find the throbbing heart.
But warmed with that unchanging flame Behold the outward moving frame, Its living marbles jointed strong With glistening band and silvery thong, And linked to reason's guiding reins By myriad rings in trembling chains, Each graven with the threaded zone Which claims it as the master's own.
See how yon beam of seeming white Is braided out of seven-hued light, Yet in those lucid globes no ray By any chance shall break astray. Hark how the rolling surge of sound, Arches and spirals circling round, Wakes the hushed spirit through thine ear With music it is heaven to hear.
Then mark the cloven sphere that holds All thought in its mysterious folds; That feels sensation's faintest thrill, And flashes forth the sovereign will; Think on the stormy world that dwells Locked in its dim and clustering cells! The lightning gleams of power it sheds Along its hollow glassy threads!
O Father! grant thy love divine To make these mystic temples thine! When wasting age and wearying strife Have sapped the leaning walls of life, When darkness gathers over all, And the last tottering pillars fall, Take the poor dust thy mercy warms, And mould it into heavenly forms!
[The Professor, who is credited with this verse, was supposed to call it The Anatomist's Hymn.]