Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Soul's Efforts Undone; or, The Tower Broken

Why this, then, Lord?
All Thy bidding I did well,
Kept Thy counsel from my youth,
Put a greater price on Truth
Than fear I put on Hell.
My pleasure was Thy word--
Or if not pleasure, so I thought;
I tried, at least, to make it so--
Thinking, perhaps, that thus, though no
Thing earthly ever comfort brought,
My soul's sweat outpoured
Might yet a nobler balm afford.

Sin became the tally-mark
Of what I called my love for Thee:
Tears I shed to see Thee hang;
For sighing with such noble pang,
Must I not perfect be?
Must not Thy comforts wait on me?
Force of my will would rend the dark,
Those wretched days I counted prayers
As steps to mount a flight of stairs--
How grimly stark
That hopeless tower's walls must be!--
Where man of man would rise to Thee.

O, but Thy benefits
Are not for trading; Thou dost drive
A bargain harder far than mine:
Only to give Thee what is Thine.
Give Me, Thou say'st, thy soul alive;
Forget these bits
And scraps of joy thou hoardest so.
I want no tower;
Give me the darkness of this hour.
Do I, Who made all lives, not know
What best thy life befits?

Harsh is Thy mercy! Sore
The heart that sees its labor broken,
Pride's shards scattered on love's floor;
Hoarded scraps flung far and wide.
What if they split
But to allow joy infinite?
May I not to my rubble cling?
No answer, save love from Thy side
Washing, reddening everything
Built, and ruined, by my pride.
Such a Word once spoken,
Can man say more?

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