The Golden Key

Home to the George MacDonald Society

Home to the George MacDonald Society



"To June"
Ah, truant, thou art here again, I see!
For in a season of such wretched weather
I thought that thou hadst left us altogether,
Although I could not chose but fancy thee
Skulking about the hilltops, whence the glee
Of thy blue laughter peeped at times, or rather
Thy bashful awkwardness, as doubtful whether
Thou shoulds't be seen in such a company
Of ugly runaways, unshapely heaps
Of ruffian vapour, broken from restraint
Of their slim prison in the ocean deeps.
But yet I may not chide: fall to thy books -
Fall to immediately without complaint -
There they are lying, hills, and vales, and brooks.

Poetical Works, Vol. Two



It is not by pressing our insights upon them, but by bathing the sealed eyelids of the human kittens, that we can help them.

"The Gifts of the Child Christ"



Oh, is it Death that comes
To have a foretaste of the whole?
To-night the planets and the stars
Will glimmer through my window-bars,
But will not shine upon my soul.

For I shall lie as dead,
Though yet I am above the ground;
All passionless, with scarce a breath,
With hands of rest and eyes of death,
I shall be carried swiftly round.

Or if my life should break
The idle night with doubtful gleams
Through mossy arches will I go,
Through arches ruinous and low,
And chase the true and false in dreams.

Why should I fall asleep?
When I am still upon my bed,
The moon will shine, the winds will rise,
And all around and through the skies
The light clouds travel o'er my head.

O, busy, busy things!
Ye mock me with your ceaseless life;
For all the hidden springs will flow,
And all the blades of grass will grow,
When I have neither peace nor strife.

From "Sleep", Poetical Works, Vol. Two




"Sleep" , (cont'd.)

And all the long night through,
The restless streams will hurry by;
And round the lands, with endless roar,
The white waves fall upon the shore,
And bit by bit devour the dry.

Even thus, but silently,
Eternity, thy tide shall flow--
And side by side with every star
Thy long-drawn swell shall bear me far,
An idle boat with none to row.

My senses fail with sleep;
My heart beats thick; the night is noon;
And faintly through its misty folds
I hear a drowsy clock that holds
Its converse with the waning moon.

Oh, solemn mystery!
That I should be so closely bound
With neither terror nor constraint
Without a murmur of complaint,
And lose myself upon such ground!

Poetical Works, Vol. Two



Faith is that which, knowing the Lord's will, goes and does it; or, not knowing it, stands and waits, content in ignorance as in knowledge, because God wills; neither pressing into the hidden future, nor careless of the knowledge which opens the path of action. It is its noblest exercise to act with uncertainty of the result, when the duty itself is certain, or even when a course seems with strong probability to be duty.

"The Temptation", Unspoken Sermons, First Series


Oh that the wind would call
From the depth of the leafless wood,
Oh, that a voice would fall
On the ear of my solitude!
Far away us the sea,
With its' sound and its' spirit-tone;
Over it white clouds flee;
But I am alone, alone.

Straight and steady and tall
The trees stand on their feet;
Fast by the old stone wall
The moss grows green and sweet;
But my heart is full of fears,
For the sun shines far away;
And they look in my face through tears,
And the light of a dying day.

My heart was glad last night,
As I pressed it with my palm;
It's throb was airy and light
As it sang some spirit-psalm;
But it died in my breast,
as I wandered forth today, ---
As a bird sat dead on its nest,
While others sang on the spray.

Oh weary heart of mine,
Is there ever a Truth for thee?
Will ever a sun outshine
But the sun that shines on me?
Away, away through the air
The clouds and the leaves are blown;
And my heart hath need of prayer,
For it sitteth alone, alone.

Poetical Works, Volume 2



Tomorrow makes today's whole head sick, its whole heart faint. When we should be still, or sleeping, or dreaming, we are fretting about an hour that lies a half sun's journey away!
Not so doest thou, Lord; thou doest the work of thy Father!

"Cause of Spiritual Stupidity" - Unspoken Sermons II



Low-sunk life imagines itself weary of life, but it is death, not life, it is weary of.
Let us in all the troubles of life remember --- that our one lack is life --- that what we need is more life --- more of the life-making presence in us making us more, and more largely, alive. When most oppressed, when most weary of life, as our unbelief would phrase it, let us bethink ourselves that it is in truth the inroad and presence of death we are weary of. When most inclined to sleep, let us rouse ourselves to live. Of all things let us avoid the false refuge of a weary collapse, a hopeless yielding to things as they are. It is the life in us that is discontented; we need more of what is discontented, not more of the cause of its discontent. Discontent, I repeat, is the life in us that has not enough of itself, is not enough to itself, so calls for more. He has the victory who, in the midst of pain and weakness, cries out, not for death, not for the repose of forgetfulness, but for strength to fight; for more power, more consciousness of being, more God in him; who, when sorest wounded, says with Sir Andrew Barton in the old ballad ---

Fight on my men, says Sir Andrew Barton,
I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I'll lay me down and bleed awhile,
And then I'll rise and fight again;

--- and that with no silly notion of playing the hero --- what have creatures like us to do with heroism who are not yet barely honest! --- but because so to fight is the truth, and the only way.

"Life" - Unspoken Sermons, Second Series



The true man trusts in a strength which is not his, and which he does not feel, does not even always desire; believes in a power that seems far from him, which is yet at the root of his fatigue itself and his need of rest --- rest as far from death as is labour. To trust in the strength of God in our weakness; to say, 'I am weak: so let me be : God is strong;' to seek from him who is our life, as the natural, simple cure of all that is amiss with us, power to do, and be, and live, even when we are weary, --- this is the victory that overcometh the world. To believe in God our strength in the face of all seeming denial, to believe in him out of the heart of weakness and unbelief, in spite of numbness and weariness and lethargy; to believe in the wide-awake real, through all the stupefying, enervating, distorting dream; to will to wake, when the very being seems athirst for a godless repose; --- these are the broken steps up to the high fields where repose is but a form of strength, strength but a form of joy, joy but a form of love. 'I am weak,' says the true soul, 'but not so weak that I would not be strong; not so sleepy that I would not see the sun rise; not so lame but that I would walk! Thanks be to him who perfects strength in weakness, and gives to his beloved while they sleep!'

"Life" - Unspoken Sermons ,Second Series



Sometimes a thunderbolt, as men call it, will shoot from a clear sky; and sometimes, into the midst of a peaceful family, or a yet quieter individuality, without warning of gathered storm above or slightest trembling of earthquake beneath, will fall a terrible fact, and from that moment everything is changed.

Thomas Wingfold, Curate



Shown into the doctor's dining-room, I took a glance at the books lying about. I always take advantage of such an opportunity of gaining immediate insight into character. Let me see a man's book-shelves, especially if they are not extensive, and I fancy I know at once, in some measure, what sort of a man the owner is. One small bookcase in a recess of the room seemed to contain all the non-professional library of Mr. Armstrong. I am not going to say here what books they were, or what books I like to see; but I was greatly encouraged by the consultation of the auguries afforded by the backs of these.

Adela Cathcart



"Mother Nature"

Beautiful mother is busy all day,
So busy she neither can sing nor say;
But lovely thoughts, in a ceaseless flow,
Through her eyes, and her ears, and her bosom go ---
Motion, sight, and sound, and scent,
Weaving a royal, rich content.

When night is come, and her children sleep,
Beautiful mother her watch doth keep;
With glowing stars in her dusky hair
Down she sits to her music rare;
And her instrument that never fails,
Is the hearts and the throats of her nightingales.

Poetical Works, Vol. 2



For her heart, I know that cannot grow old; and while the heart is young, man may laugh old Time in the face, and dare him to do his worst.

The Portent



What religion is there in being convinced of a future state? Is that to worship God? It is no more religion than the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow is a religion. It may be a source of happiness to those who could not believe it before, but it is not religion.

Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood



Joseph (the dwarf gatekeeper) is asked whether or not he has been prayingfor a certain individual, and he replies, "I can't say I've exactly been praying; I just think of him and God together."

Thomas Wingfold, Curate

and from Robert Falconer:
"If there was one thing I could be sure of, it was when Grannie was thinking about you, father. Who wouldn't have known it, father, when her lips were pressed together, as if she had some dreadful pain to bear, and her eyes were looking away through the fire --- so far away! and I would speak to her three times before she would answer? She lived only to think about God and you, father. God and you came very close together in her mind... "



God is the origin of both need and supply, the father of our necessities, the abundant giver of the good things. Right gloriously he meets the claims of his child! The story of Jesus is the heart of his answer, not primarily to the prayers, but to the divine necessities of the children he has sent out into his universe.

"The Voice of Job"- Unspoken Sermons, Second Series



Every father ... who loved his children, ought to make them independent of himself, that neither clog, nor net, nor hindrance of any kind might hamper the true working of their consciences ; then would the service they rendered
their parent be precious indeed! then indeed would love be lord, and neither self, nor the fear of man, nor the fear of fate be a law in their life.

There and Back



It was a day when everything around seemed almost perfect; everything does, now and then, come nearly right for a moment or two, preparatory to coming all right for good at the last. It was the third week in June.

A Rough Shaking



. ..."But suppose he was a man who tried to do right, who tried to help his neighbour, who was at least so far a good man as to deny the God that most people seem to believe in --- what would you say then?" (Barbara asks Thomas Wingfold, who responds)

"I would say, 'Have patience.' If there be a good God, he cannot be altogether dissatisfied with such a man. Of course it is something wanting that makes him like that, and it may be he is to blame, or it may be he can't help it . I do not know when any man has arrived at the point of development at which he is capable of believing in God; the child of a savage may be capable, and a gray-haired man of science incapable. If such a man says, 'The question of a God is not interesting to me,' I believe him; but, if he be such a man as you have last described, I believe also that, as God is taking care of him who is the God of patience, the time must come when something will make him want to know whether there be a God, and whether he cannot get near him, so as to be near him. I would say, 'He is in God's school; don't be too much troubled about him, as if God might overlook and
forget him. He will see to all that concerns him. He has made him, and he loves him, and he is doing and will do his very best for him.' "

There and Back



Unconfessed to each other, their falls would forever have been between to part them; confessed, they drew them together in sorrow and humility and mutual consoling.

Paul Faber, Surgeon



Every uplifting of the heart is a looking up to The Father. Graciousness and truth are around, above, beneath us, yea, in us.

"The Hands of the Father" -Unspoken Sermons, First Series



Thank God for the night and darkness and sleep in which good things draw nigh like God's thieves, and steal themselves in --- water into wells, and peace and hope and courage into the minds of men.

St. Michael and St. George



God has to answer to himself for his idea; he has to do with the need of the nature he made, not with the self born choice of the self ruined man. His candle yet burns dim in the man's soul; that candle must shine as the sun. For what is the all pervading dissatisfaction of his wretched being but an unrecognized hunger after the righteousness of his father. The soul God made is thus hungering, though the selfish, usurping self, which is its consciousness, is hungering only after low and selfish things, ever trying, but in vain, to fill its mean, narrow content, with husks too poor for its poverty stricken desires. "The Voice of Job"- Unspoken sermons, Second Series



"In the midst of life we are in death," said one; it is more true, that in the midst of death we are in life. Life is the only reality; what men call death is but a shadow --- a word for that which cannot be --- a negation, owing the very idea of itself to that which it would deny. But for life, there could be no death. If God were not, there would not even be nothing.

"Life" - Unspoken Sermons Series II



The man who thoroughly loves God and his neighbor is the only man who will love a woman ideally - who can love her with the love God thought of between them when he made man male and female. The man, I repeat, who loves God with his very life, and his neighbour, as Christ loves him, is the man who alone is capable of grand, perfect, glorious love to any woman.

Deb, John


Where (there) is not already a far deeper unity than marriage can give, marriage itself can do little to bring two souls together - may do much to drive them asunder.

Weighed and Wanting



Folded in thy calm, I shall love, and not die. And ye, women, be the daughters of Him from whose heart came your mothers; be the saviors of men, and neither their torment nor their prey!

Paul Faber, Surgeon



... The thing most alien to the true idea of humanity, is the notion that our well-being lies in surpassing our fellows. We have to rise above ourselves, not above our neighbours; to take all the good 'of' them, not 'from,' and give them all our good in return. That which cannot be freely shared, can never be possessed...

There and Back



Opinion is not sight.

Home Again



But how can a man go through anything till his hour be come?

Thomas Wingfold, Curate