God of the Distances, Hear Us


God of the Distances, hear us—
Hear us and guide us today.
Thy footsteps, though never so near us,
Are lost in the dust of the fray.
Thy high priests, who have often spoken
The word that was heeded, are mute ;
Their torch is extinguished ; their token
Is distrust and discord and dispute.
God of the Distances, never
Was man, though still fettered, so free
To challenge his star and to sever
Himself from the past and from thee.
But we, though our spirit is broken,
We heed thee again and anon ; 
We trust thee, O God, though thy token
Be the desert, thy promise, the sun.
Forever the Distances call us—
The Distances veiled of the Dream ;
And we come, whatsoever befall us,
Our pledges and thine to redeem.
We come ; and though often we altered
Our course at the gates of dismay,
We never looked backward or faltered,
Never regretted our way.
God of the Distances, hear us—
Hear us and guide us today.


From the cave of the first Dream we wandered
Through the forests of Fate and of Chance ;
And on many an illusion we squandered
The treasures of Faith and Romance.
We fared with the Fairies of noontide,
We roved with the Jinn of the night ;
Our high priests we left on the wayside,
Our prophets we lost on the height
Of rebellion recurrent. We passed
Many a temple and shrine,
Where the sherds of old creeds were recast
And traded as tokens divine.
We passed them, forever consoled
And cajoled by the Voice,—’T is the way
Of your goal ; your forebodings allay.”
But thousands of cycles we told,
Millions of leagues we unrolled,
Heedless of Time and his sway.
God of the visions of old,
Hear us and guide us today.


We sailed all the Seas of the Mind,
We rounded the Capes of the Soul,
We crossed all the Channels that roll
Over the dead of our kind.
And on many a beckoning strand,
Furrowed with silvery streams,
We lingered, but lo, in the land
Were the desolate gardens of dreams.—
Onward ! the sails of Desire,
Born of the Distances’ fire,
Tattered but ever unfurled,
To worlds undiscovered aspire—
To the life-giving worlds of our world.
Onward ! though no signs appear
Where once rose the phares of the Seer
And the Prophet. On, on ! to the goal,
Though veiled in the billows that roll
Over Orion.—The fear
Of the Distances never was liege
Of our hearts ; but the Mazes besiege
The bridges of Faith on our way.
God of our vision austere,
Hear us and guide us today.


Hear us the Captains of Sorrow,—
The tillers of the soil of defeat,—
The lights of the oft promised morrow,
Whose false dawns thy promise repeat.
Our name and our purpose are written
In blood on the tablets of Time ;
Our spirit, though frequently smitten
To the dust, has arisen, sublime
And triumphant, again and again ;
Our torch, though extinguished, was never
Relinquished ; our sword and our pen
Are brandished forever and ever.
Yea, the Ideal’s undying desire
And the wreaths of defeat it has won,
Their story, in letters of fire,
Is limned on the brow of the sun.
And not till a new world ’s begotten
Of the womb of our own, will the word
Of the soul of the earth be forgotten,
Or the cry of the earth be unheard.
’T is our word, ’t is our cry, ’t is our yearning,
Which shall mark even the ending of Time ;
For no cycle of darkness returning
Shall reach to the path we must climb,
Or efface from our sight the supernal
Beauty of Truth born of Dream.
God of the vision eternal,
We are thine, though in darkness we seem,
But hear us, O hear us today
And help us again to our way.


From A Chant of Mystics (James T. White & Co., 1921) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.