Sonnets in Season

A collection of sonnets, originally published in 1949. They were written byWilliam Bacon Evans (1875-1964) was a long time member of the board of the Tract Association of Friends. He taught in Syria and at Westtown School, and served as a mentor and advocate of younger Friends, keeping them rapt during long trips or meetings for worship by having just the right touch, whether with home-made puzzles, by an arrow through his plain hat, or by his encouragement of budding gifts of ministry or service. His careful records of the work of the Tract Association are a model for current endeavors. His humor was contagious, as was his seriousness of purpose when the occasion required it.

AND ye who bear the precious name of Friends,
Boast not to see the Master’s whole design,
Who would be wise may wisdom’s claim resign,
So far God’s plan our simple wit transcends.
No cumbrous load the gospel yoke subtends,
Of many branches is the heavenly vine
Who tastes God’s love is careless to define,
A little child looks up and comprehends.
From self-indulgence keep your thought unstained,
As trusted stewards observe your Master’s will,
Judge no man but by wisdom from above.
In every nerve be honesty engrained,
So shall ye have your maiden virtue still
As heaven enfolds the earth in arms of love.


IN swaddling clothes she wrapped the naked child,
Men proffered incense, precious gifts and myrrh;
The shepherds gazed, yet Jesus did not stir,
Enough the camel bells, the south wind mild.
Bathed all in starlight sleeps the undefiled,
Announced by portent and the dazzling whir
Of angel wings to be the messenger
And sent of God. His kneeling mother smiled,
And in her heart were joy and anguish blent,
For who that instant should discern the whole!
She rose to give him suck; again she kneeled,
Devoutly pondering what those strange words meant,
Yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul,
That thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.


MY soul, I am ashamed of thee, thou nursed
Where praise and prayer like angels ever trod
The stair to heaven, wilt thou choose the rod
Of error’s sharp reproof and gall for thirst?
Or wretched dwellings is not self the words?
From this low ceiling roll a psalm to God?
Till conscience answered, Is thy lot so odd
If tenant of a narrow house? But first
Mock not what God hath wrought. Did not He grant
That seat where erring dust might hear His voice?
Work while He gives thee light, nor quit that post
His plan assigns. What! Is thy wit so scant?
The grub and worm serve God and trees rejoice,
Warm tears from eyes uplifted praise him most.

The Guest Chamber

WHERE is the guest room, that our Lord might share
With thee His presence, ere He be passed by?
Shall this-world guests alone have shelter there,
And only He abide night’s frosty sky?
Doves have their nests and tiger cubs their lair,
And fleeting swallows to their kind reply
But Thee, lone Stranger, shall we only spare
A manger in the caravansary?
He knocks, He waits, — would enter but to bless,
He prince of lovers, birth of heavenly bars,
Breath of past, present and what yet betides.
Let knees be bent and trembling hearts profess:
Come, enter here, Thou King of utmost stars,
Glad is the chamber where our Lord abides.

The Inward Light

THAT which doth manifest the way is Light,
And God is Light, and Christ the chosen Way,
Who guides from darkness to eternal day,
From doubtful gropings to pure sense and sight.
The Light is Christ, who stripped Himself of might,
Forsook priority of place and sway,
Of erring mortals took the mould of clay
Though clothed in righteousness of stainless white.
For our offences hung upon the tree,
Bore all the infamy and bitter loss,
Endured the taunts and cruel reproaches hurled:
Stole from the tomb and shining secretly,
Illumines paths converging at the cross,
Enlightens every man in all the world.