Archive for December 13th, 2022

Isle of Quiet

GC Myers-Isle of Quiet sm

Isle of Quiet— At West End Gallery, Corning

Joy is like restless day; but peace divine
Like quiet night;
Lead me, O Lord, — till perfect Day shall shine
Through Peace to Light.

–Adelaide Anne Procter, Per Pacem ad Lucem,  (1862)

I was looking for something to accompany the new painting above, Isle of Quiet, when I came across the verse above. Though it has a more religious tone at first glance, it felt like a match. Wherever guidance comes from, be it a god or a star in the sky or one’s own inner voice, it is often invoked in a search for some sort of peace.

I didn’t know much about the poet, Adelaide Anne Procter. She was born in London in 1825 and died there in 1864 at the age of 38. So young. But she established quite a reputation in her short time. She was the daughter of a poet who had such luminaries as Dickens, Wordsworth, Thackeray and many others as regular visitors to their home. She was born to a life of letters and she made the most of it. In her time, she became the favorite poet of Queen Victoria and was considered among the most popular of the Victorian era poets, second only to Tennyson.

She notably used her work and celebrity to advocate for the less fortunate of that society– fallen women, the poor and the homeless. At the time of her death, many of her contemporaries cited exhaustion from her charitable efforts as a contributing factor to her from tuberculosis.

Her work hasn’t received the attention of other poets of that era. I am not going to get into a discussion of the merits, or lack thereof, of her work. I am not qualified to do such a thing. I will say that she was only 38 when she died in a society where a woman’s rights and voices were limited. Who knows what heights she may have climbed in a longer life or in a different time or place.

I do like the poem, Per Pacem ad Lucem, from which the verse above comes. It is a simple and straight forward request for guidance. Here it is in full:

I DO not ask, O Lord, that life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load;

I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.

For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,
Lead me aright—
Though strength should falter, and though heart should bleed—
Through Peace to Light.

I do not ask, O Lord, that thou shouldst shed
Full radiance here;
Give but a ray of peace, that I may tread
Without a fear.

I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand
And follow Thee.

Joy is like restless day; but peace divine
Like quiet night:
Lead me, O Lord,—till perfect Day shall shine,
Through Peace to Light.

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