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Tabb’s Poetry III

God’s Likeness

Not in mine own, but in my neighbor’s face,
   Must I Thine image trace;
Nor he in his, but in the light of mine,
   Behold thy Face Divine. 

Deus Absconditus

My God has hid Himself from me
Behind whatever else I see;
Myself—the nearest mystery—
As far beyond my grasp as He.

And yet, in darkest night, I know,
While lives a doubt-discerning glow,
That larger lights above it throw
These shadows in the vale below. 

The Stranger

He entered; but the mask he wore
Concealed his face from me.
Still, something I had seen before
   He brought to memory.

“Who art thou? What thy rank, thy name?”
I questioned, with surprise;
Thyself,” the laughing answer came,
   “As seen of others’ eyes.” 

Recognition

At twilight, on the open sea,
We passed, with breath of melody—
A song, to each familiar, sung
In accents of an alien tongue.

We could not see each other’s face,
Nor through the growing darkness trace
Our destinies; but brimming eyes
Betrayed unworded sympathies.

My Neighbor

My neighbor as myself to love,
   Thou hast commanded me,
And in obedience I prove
   That Thou Thyself art he.

John B. Tabb

 


 

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“God’s Likeness”: Lyrics, p. 130; Poetry, p. 338. April 1894.

“Deus Absconditus”: Lyrics, p. 129; Poetry, p. 219. September 1892 – February 1896. Deus Absconditus: Latin, Hidden God; see Isaiah 45:15.

“The Stranger”: Poems, p. 50; Poetry, p. 241. 1894. As seen of means as seen by or through.

“Recognition”: Poems, p. 34; Poetry, p. 246. 1894.

“My Neighbor”: Later Poems, p. 36; Poetry, p. 346. 1910. The poem alludes to Leviticus 19:18, quoted in Mark 12:31, and to Matthew 25:31-46.


A convert to the Catholic faith, Rev. John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) was a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Professor of English at St. Charles’ College, Ellicott City, Maryland. Poems selected, arranged, and annotated by E.L. Core.
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