The Diary of an Old Soul is a novel written by George MacDonald. In this volume of verse, MacDonald offers a poem for every day of the year; each is intended to prompt introspection and prayerful contemplation. George MacDonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. He was a pioneering figure in the field of fantasy literature and the mentor of fellow writer Lewis Carroll. His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including W. H. Auden, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Walter de la Mare, E. Nesbit and Madeleine L'Engle. C. S. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later," said Lewis, "I knew that I had crossed a great frontier." G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence". Elizabeth Yates wrote of Sir Gibbie, "It moved me the way books did when, as a child, the great gates of literature began to open and first encounters with noble thoughts and utterances were unspeakably thrilling." Even Mark Twain, who initially disliked MacDonald, became friends with him, and there is some evidence that Twain was influenced by MacDonald. Christian author Oswald Chambers wrote in his Christian Disciplines that "it is a striking indication of the trend and shallowness of the modern reading public that George MacDonald's books have been so neglected". In addition to his fairy tales, MacDonald wrote several works on Christian apologetics.
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Copyright © 2017 by George MacDonald.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing
First Edition: July 2017
THE DIARY OF AN OLD SOUL2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sweet friends, receive my offering.
You will find
Against each worded page a white page set:--
This is the mirror of each friendly mind
Reflecting that. In this book we are met.
Make it, dear hearts, of worth to you indeed:--
Let your white page be ground, my print be seed,
Growing to golden ears, that faith and hope shall feed.
YOUR OLD SOUL
LORD, what I once had done with youthful might,Had I been from the first true to the truth,Grant me, now old, to do--with better sight,And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and ruth,Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,Round to his best--young eyes and heart and brain.
A dim aurora rises in my east,Beyond the line of jagged questions hoar,As if the head of our intombed High PriestBegan to glow behind the unopened door:Sure the gold wings will soon rise from the gray!--They rise not. Up I rise, press on the more,To meet the slow coming of the Master's day.
Sometimes I wake, and, lo! I have forgot,And drifted out upon an ebbing sea!My soul that was at rest now resteth not,For I am with myself and not with thee;Truth seems a blind moon in a glaring morn,Where nothing is but sick-heart vanity:Oh, thou who knowest! save thy child forlorn.
Death, like high faith, levelling, lifteth all.When I awake, my daughter and my son,Grown sister and brother, in my arms shall fall,Tenfold my girl and boy. Sure every oneOf all the brood to the old wings will run.Whole-hearted is my worship of the man>From whom my earthly history began.
Thy fishes breathe but where thy waters roll;Thy birds fly but within thy airy sea;My soul breathes only in thy infinite soul;I breathe, I think, I love, I live but thee.Oh breathe, oh think,--O Love, live into me;Unworthy is my life till all divine,Till thou see in me only what is thine.
Then shall I breathe in sweetest sharing, thenThink in harmonious consort with my kin;Then shall I love well all my father's men,Feel one with theirs the life my heart within.Oh brothers! sisters holy! hearts divine!Then I shall be all yours, and nothing mine--To every human heart a mother-twin.
I see a child before an empty house,Knocking and knocking at the closed door;He wakes dull echoes--but nor man nor mouse,If he stood knocking there for evermore.--A mother angel, see! folding each wing,Soft-walking, crosses straight the empty floor,And opens to the obstinate praying thing.
Were there but some deep, holy spell, wherebyAlways I should remember thee--some modeOf feeling the pure heat-throb momentlyOf the spirit-fire still uttering this I!--Lord, see thou to it, take thou remembrance' load:Only when I bethink me can I cry;Remember thou, and prick me with love's goad.
If to myself--"God sometimes interferes"--I said, my faith at once would be struck blind.I see him all in all, the lifing mind,Or nowhere in the vacant miles and years.A love he is that watches and that hears,Or but a mist fumed up from minds of men,Whose fear and hope reach out beyond their ken.
When I no more can stir my soul to move,And life is but the ashes of a fire;When I can but remember that my heartOnce used to live and love, long and aspire,--Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art;Be thou the calling, before all answering love,And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.
I thought that I had lost thee; but, behold!Thou comest to me from the horizon low,Across the fields outspread of green and gold--Fair carpet for thy feet to come and go.Whence I know not, or how to me thou art come!--Not less my spirit with calm bliss doth glow,Meeting thee only thus, in nature vague and dumb.
Doubt swells and surges, with swelling doubt behind!My soul in storm is but a tattered sail,Streaming its ribbons on the torrent gale;In calm, 'tis but a limp and flapping thing:Oh! swell it with thy breath; make it a wing,--To sweep through thee the ocean, with thee the windNor rest until in thee its haven it shall find.
The idle flapping of the sail is doubt;Faith swells it full to breast the breasting seas.Bold, conscience, fast, and rule the ruling helm;Hell's freezing north no tempest can send out,But it shall toss thee homeward to thy leas;Boisterous wave-crest never shall o'erwhelmThy sea-float bark as safe as field-borne rooted elm.
Sometimes, hard-trying, it seems I cannot pray--For doubt, and pain, and anger, and all strife.Yet some poor half-fledged prayer-bird from the nestMay fall, flit, fly, perch--crouch in the bowery breastOf the large, nation-healing tree of life;--Moveless there sit through all the burning day,And on my heart at night a fresh leaf cooling lay.
My harvest withers. Health, my means to live--All things seem rushing straight into the dark.But the dark still is God. I would not giveThe smallest silver-piece to turn the rushBackward or sideways. Am I not a sparkOf him who is the light?--Fair hope doth flushMy east.--Divine success--Oh, hush and hark!
Thy will be done. I yield up everything."The life is more than meat"--then more than health;"The body more than raiment"--then than wealth;The hairs I made not, thou art numbering.Thou art my life--I the brook, thou the spring.Because thine eyes are open, I can see;Because thou art thyself, 'tis therefore I am me.
No sickness can come near to blast my health;My life depends not upon any meat;My bread comes not from any human tilth;No wings will grow upon my changeless wealth;Wrong cannot touch it, violence or deceit;Thou art my life, my health, my bank, my barn--And from all other gods thou plain dost warn.
Care thou for mine whom I must leave behind;Care that they know who 'tis for them takes care;Thy present patience help them still to bear;Lord, keep them clearing, growing, heart and mind;In one thy oneness us together bind;Last earthly prayer with which to thee I cling--Grant that, save love, we owe not anything.
'Tis well, for unembodied thought a live,True house to build--of stubble, wood, nor hay;So, like bees round the flower by which they thrive,My thoughts are busy with the informing truth,And as I build, I feed, and grow in youth--Hoping to stand fresh, clean, and strong, and gay,When up the east comes dawning His great day.
Thy will is truth--'tis therefore fate, the strong.Would that my will did sweep full swing with thine!Then harmony with every spheric song,And conscious power, would give sureness divine.Who thinks to thread thy great laws' onward throng,Is as a fly that creeps his foolish wayAthwart an engine's wheels in smooth resistless play.
Thou in my heart hast planted, gardener divine,A scion of the tree of life: it grows;But not in every wind or weather it blows;The leaves fall sometimes from the baby tree,And the life-power seems melting into pine;Yet still the sap keeps struggling to the shine,And the unseen root clings cramplike unto thee.
Do thou, my God, my spirit's weather control;And as I do not gloom though the day be dun,Let me not gloom when earth-born vapours rollAcross the infinite zenith of my soul.Should sudden brain-frost through the heart's summer run,Cold, weary, joyless, waste of air and sun,Thou art my south, my summer-wind, my all, my one.
O Life, why dost thou close me up in death?O Health, why make me inhabit heaviness?--I ask, yet know: the sum of this distress,Pang-haunted body, sore-dismayed mind,Is but the egg that rounds the winged faith;When that its path into the air shall find,My heart will follow, high above cold, rain, and wind.
I can no more than lift my weary eyes;Therefore I lift my weary eyes--no more.But my eyes pull my heart, and that, before'Tis well awake, knocks where the conscience lies;Conscience runs quick to the spirit's hidden door:Straightway, from every sky-ward window, criesUp to the Father's listening ears arise.
Not in my fancy now I search to find thee;Not in its loftiest forms would shape or bind thee;I cry to one whom I can never know,Filling me with an infinite overflow;Not to a shape that dwells within my heart,Clothed in perfections love and truth assigned thee,But to the God thou knowest that thou art.
Not, Lord, because I have done well or ill;Not that my mind looks up to thee clear-eyed;Not that it struggles in fast cerements tied;Not that I need thee daily sorer still;Not that I wretched, wander from thy will;Not now for any cause to thee I cry,But this, that thou art thou, and here am I.
Yestereve, Death came, and knocked at my thin door.I from my window looked: the thing I saw,The shape uncouth, I had not seen before.I was disturbed--with fear, in sooth, not awe;Whereof ashamed, I instantly did rouseMy will to seek thee--only to fear the more:Alas! I could not find thee in the house.
I was like Peter when he began to sink.To thee a new prayer therefore I have got--That, when Death comes in earnest to my door,Thou wouldst thyself go, when the latch doth clink,And lead him to my room, up to my cot;Then hold thy child's hand, hold and leave him not,Till Death has done with him for evermore.
Till Death has done with him?--Ah, leave me then!And Death has done with me, oh, nevermore!He comes--and goes--to leave me in thy arms,Nearer thy heart, oh, nearer than before!To lay thy child, naked, new-born againOf mother earth, crept free through many harms,Upon thy bosom--still to the very core.
Come to me, Lord: I will not speculate how,Nor think at which door I would have thee appear,Nor put off calling till my floors be swept,But cry, "Come, Lord, come any way, come now."Doors, windows, I throw wide; my head I bow,And sit like some one who so long has sleptThat he knows nothing till his life draw near.
O Lord, I have been talking to the people;Thought's wheels have round me whirled a fiery zone,And the recoil of my words' airy rippleMy heart unheedful has puffed up and blown.Therefore I cast myself before thee prone:Lay cool hands on my burning brain, and press>From my weak heart the swelling emptiness.
I TO myself have neither power nor worth,Patience nor love, nor anything right good;My soul is a poor land, plenteous in dearth--Here blades of grass, there a small herb for food--A nothing that would be something if it could;But if obedience, Lord, in me do grow,I shall one day be better than I know.
The worst power of an evil mood is this--It makes the bastard self seem in the right,Self, self the end, the goal of human bliss.But if the Christ-self in us be the mightOf saving God, why should I spend my forceWith a dark thing to reason of the light--Not push it rough aside, and hold obedient course?
Back still it comes to this: there was a man
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