THE FACE OF GOD

by Luis G. Dato

“Daily, with souls that cringe and plot, We Sinai climb and know it not.” — James Russel Lowell

These gnarled trees that have stood for many a year,
Of God they seem to whisper to our ear —
Here there’s no need to teach the heart to learn,
It’s obvious in the grace of palm and fern,
Or teach the mind majestic Nature’s moods
Of lovely forests, Panicuason’s woods,
We listen to the murmur of each rill,
And Eden lost appears yet with us still,
Howe’er from it our steps have been astray,
Not knowing here is Heaven’s, not earth’s way,
That ‘neath this canopy of leaf and vine,
We can find on earth the life divine,
In this communion, purified of sin,
God’s glory we can see the heart within,
Envision in each rock, each glad bird-call,
Or purl of water and bright waterfall.

And here alone, from the harsh world apart,
How restful to commune with Nature’s heart,
And as we plod uphill the glutted the way,
We call to mind our kinship with cold clay,
And sense in every rock and white, blanched stone
Awareness that we ate not quiet alone,
That in the solitude ’tis ecstasy
To feel that God still keeps us company,
In the gray barks and not quiet trunks of trees
Find fresh from God His solemn haunts of peace,
See in each leaf, each breeze a warm caress
Of both divine and mundane loveliness,
For Nature talks with sir of mystery
As thought it said, “Nature, return to me!”,
As though it were the unknown face of God,
In virgin woods primeval and untrod.

We live were truly by the rocks and falls,
Hearing after shrill cries and sharp bird-calls,
O rapture of the wilderness so still,
Save for the murmur of the rushing rill,
For birds of plumage bright green boughs among,
Warbling daylong their endless wealth of song,
O wilderness of Heaven deep and cool
Beside the wonder of crystal pool!
We see here in the distant leap of water
Arcane of eternal, unknown laughter,
Behold perhaps in stones green-grown with moss
The mystery of how life first arose.
For God we endlessly have made our search,
Where be His belfry and His unseen church?
O not in cities His cathedral all,
But here by limpid brook and waterfall.

Luis Dato
Luis Dato

Luis G. Dato (July 4, 1906 - January 29, 1985) was a poet, writer and educator from Sta. Cruz, Baao, Camarines Sur. He published books in English including Manila A Collection of verse (1926), My Book of Verses (1936) and the Land of Mai in 1975. He also wrote several books and text in Bikol such as, Vocabulario Bikol-Ingles-Kastila (1963), Cantahon na Bikol (1969), Morfologia kan Tataramon na Bikol (serialized in Naga Times), Patotodon sa Bikol (Bikol Mail) and Sarabihon sa Bikol.

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