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My Namesake
by [?]

“He worshipped as his fathers did,
And kept the faith of childish days,
And, howsoe’er he strayed or slid,
He loved the good old ways.

“The simple tastes, the kindly traits,
The tranquil air, and gentle speech,
The silence of the soul that waits
For more than man to teach.

“The cant of party, school, and sect,
Provoked at times his honest scorn,
And Folly, in its gray respect,
He tossed on satire’s horn.

“But still his heart was full of awe
And reverence for all sacred things;
And, brooding over form and law,’
He saw the Spirit’s wings!

“Life’s mystery wrapt him like a cloud;
He heard far voices mock his own,
The sweep of wings unseen, the loud,
Long roll of waves unknown.

“The arrows of his straining sight
Fell quenched in darkness; priest and sage,
Like lost guides calling left and right,
Perplexed his doubtful age.

“Like childhood, listening for the sound
Of its dropped pebbles in the well,
All vainly down the dark profound
His brief-lined plummet fell.

“So, scattering flowers with pious pains
On old beliefs, of later creeds,
Which claimed a place in Truth’s domains,
He asked the title-deeds.

“He saw the old-time’s groves and shrines
In the long distance fair and dim;
And heard, like sound of far-off pines,
The century-mellowed hymn!

“He dared not mock the Dervish whirl,
The Brahmin’s rite, the Lama’s spell;
God knew the heart; Devotion’s pearl
Might sanctify the shell.

“While others trod the altar stairs
He faltered like the publican;
And, while they praised as saints, his prayers
Were those of sinful man.

“For, awed by Sinai’s Mount of Law,
The trembling faith alone sufficed,
That, through its cloud and flame, he saw
The sweet, sad face of Christ!

“And listening, with his forehead bowed,
Heard the Divine compassion fill
The pauses of the trump and cloud
With whispers small and still.

“The words he spake, the thoughts he penned,
Are mortal as his hand and brain,
But, if they served the Master’s end,
He has not lived in vain!”

Heaven make thee better than thy name,
Child of my friends!–For thee I crave
What riches never bought, nor fame
To mortal longing gave.

I pray the prayer of Plato old:
God make thee beautiful within,
And let thine eyes the good behold
In everything save sin!

Imagination held in check
To serve, not rule, thy poised mind;
Thy Reason, at the frown or beck
Of Conscience, loose or bind.

No dreamer thou, but real all,–
Strong manhood crowning vigorous youth;
Life made by duty epical
And rhythmic with the truth.

So shall that life the fruitage yield
Which trees of healing only give,
And green-leafed in the Eternal field
Of God, forever live!