To every Man his Mystery, A trade and only one: The masons make the hives of men, The domes of grey or dun, But we have wrought in rose and gold The houses of the sun.
The shipwrights build the houses high, Whose green foundations sway Alive with fish like little flames, When the wind goes out to slay. But we abide with painted sails The cyclone of the day.
The weavers make the clothes of men And coats for everyone; They walk the streets like sunset clouds; But we have woven and spun In scarlet or in golden-green The gay coats of the sun.
You whom the usurers and the lords With insolent liveries trod, Deep in dark church behold, above Their lance-lengths by a rod, Where we have blazed the tabard Of the trumpeter of God.
II. The Bridge-Builders
In the world’s whitest morning As hoary with hope, The Builder of Bridges Was priest and was pope: And the mitre of mystery And the canopy his, Who darkened the chasms And domed the abyss.
To eastward and westward Spread wings at his word The arch with the key-stone That stoops like a bird; That rides the wild air And the daylight cast under; The highway of danger, The gateway of wonder.
Of his throne were the thunders That rivet and fix Wild weddings of strangers That meet and not mix; The town and the cornland; The bride and the groom: In the breaking of bridges Is treason and doom.
But he bade us, who fashion The road that can fly, That we build not too heavy And build not too high: Seeing alway that under The dark arch’s bend Shine death and white daylight Unchanged to the end.
Who walk on his mercy Walk light, as he saith, Seeing that our life Is a bridge above death; And the world and its gardens And hills, as ye heard, Are born above space On the wings of a bird.
Not high and not heavy Is building of his: When ye seal up the flood And forget the abyss, When your towers are uplifted, Your banners unfurled, In the breaking of bridges Is the end of the world.
III. The Stone-Masons
We have graven the mountain of God with hands, As our hands were graven of God, they say, Where the seraphs burn in the sun like brands And the devils carry the rains away; Making a thrift of the throats of hell, Our gargoyles gather the roaring rain, Whose yawn is more than a frozen yell And their very vomiting not in vain.
Wilder than all that a tongue can utter, Wiser than all that is told in words, The wings of stone of the soaring gutter Fly out and follow the flight of the birds; The rush and rout of the angel wars Stand out above the astounded street, Where we flung our gutters against the stars For a sign that the first and the last shall meet.
We have graven the forest of heaven with hands, Being great with a mirth too gross for pride, In the stone that battered him Stephen stands And Peter himself is petrified: Such hands as have grubbed in the glebe for bread Have bidden the blank rock blossom and thrive, Such hands as have stricken a live man dead Have struck, and stricken the dead alive.
Fold your hands before heaven in praying, Lift up your hands into heaven and cry; But look where our dizziest spires are saying What the hands of a man did up in the sky: Drenched before you have heard the thunder, White before you have felt the snow; For the giants lift up their hands to wonder How high the hands of a man could go.
IV. The Bell-Ringers
The angels are singing like birds in a tree In the organ of good St. Cecily: And the parson reads with his hand upon The graven eagle of great St. John: But never the fluted pipes shall go Like the fifes of an army all a-row, Merrily marching down the street To the marts where the busy and idle meet; And never the brazen bird shall fly Out of the window and into the sky, Till men in cities and shires and ships Look up at the living Apocalypse.
But all can hark at the dark of even The bells that bay like the hounds of heaven, Tolling and telling that over and under, In the ways of the air like a wandering thunder, The hunt is up over hills untrod: For the wind is the way of the dogs of God: From the tyrant’s tower to the outlaw’s den Hunting the souls of the sons of men. Ruler and robber and pedlar and peer, Who will not harken and yet will hear; Filling men’s heads with the hurry and hum Making them welcome before they come.
And we poor men stand under the steeple Drawing the cords that can draw the people, And in our leash like the leaping dogs Are God’s most deafening demagogues: And we are but little, like dwarfs underground, While hang up in heaven the houses of sound, Moving like mountains that faith sets free, Yawning like caverns that roar with the sea, As awfully loaded, as airily buoyed, Armoured archangels that trample the void: Wild as with dancing and weighty with dooms, Heavy as their panoply, light as their plumes.
Neither preacher nor priest are we: Each man mount to his own degree: Only remember that just such a cord Tosses in heaven the trumpet and sword; Souls on their terraces, saints on their towers, Rise up in arms at alarum like ours: Glow like great watchfires that redden the skies Titans whose wings are a glory of eyes, Crowned constellations by twelves and by sevens, Domed dominations more old than the heavens, Virtues that thunder and thrones that endure Sway like a bell to the prayers of the poor.