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A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of an Old Soul
by [?]


I thought that I had lost thee; but, behold!
Thou comest to me from the horizon low,
Across the fields outspread of green and gold–
Fair carpet for thy feet to come and go.
Whence I know not, or how to me thou art come!–
Not less my spirit with calm bliss doth glow,
Meeting thee only thus, in nature vague and dumb.


Doubt swells and surges, with swelling doubt behind!
My soul in storm is but a tattered sail,
Streaming its ribbons on the torrent gale;
In calm, ’tis but a limp and flapping thing:
Oh! swell it with thy breath; make it a wing,–
To sweep through thee the ocean, with thee the wind
Nor rest until in thee its haven it shall find.


The idle flapping of the sail is doubt;
Faith swells it full to breast the breasting seas.
Bold, conscience, fast, and rule the ruling helm;
Hell’s freezing north no tempest can send out,
But it shall toss thee homeward to thy leas;
Boisterous wave-crest never shall o’erwhelm
Thy sea-float bark as safe as field-borne rooted elm.


Sometimes, hard-trying, it seems I cannot pray–
For doubt, and pain, and anger, and all strife.
Yet some poor half-fledged prayer-bird from the nest
May fall, flit, fly, perch–crouch in the bowery breast
Of the large, nation-healing tree of life;–
Moveless there sit through all the burning day,
And on my heart at night a fresh leaf cooling lay.


My harvest withers. Health, my means to live–
All things seem rushing straight into the dark.
But the dark still is God. I would not give
The smallest silver-piece to turn the rush
Backward or sideways. Am I not a spark
Of him who is the light?–Fair hope doth flush
My east.–Divine success–Oh, hush and hark!


Thy will be done. I yield up everything.
“The life is more than meat”–then more than health;
“The body more than raiment”–then than wealth;
The hairs I made not, thou art numbering.
Thou art my life–I the brook, thou the spring.
Because thine eyes are open, I can see;
Because thou art thyself, ’tis therefore I am me.


No sickness can come near to blast my health;
My life depends not upon any meat;
My bread comes not from any human tilth;
No wings will grow upon my changeless wealth;
Wrong cannot touch it, violence or deceit;
Thou art my life, my health, my bank, my barn–
And from all other gods thou plain dost warn.


Care thou for mine whom I must leave behind;
Care that they know who ’tis for them takes care;
Thy present patience help them still to bear;
Lord, keep them clearing, growing, heart and mind;
In one thy oneness us together bind;
Last earthly prayer with which to thee I cling–
Grant that, save love, we owe not anything.


‘Tis well, for unembodied thought a live,
True house to build–of stubble, wood, nor hay;
So, like bees round the flower by which they thrive,
My thoughts are busy with the informing truth,
And as I build, I feed, and grow in youth–
Hoping to stand fresh, clean, and strong, and gay,
When up the east comes dawning His great day.


Thy will is truth–’tis therefore fate, the strong.
Would that my will did sweep full swing with thine!
Then harmony with every spheric song,
And conscious power, would give sureness divine.
Who thinks to thread thy great laws’ onward throng,
Is as a fly that creeps his foolish way
Athwart an engine’s wheels in smooth resistless play.


Thou in my heart hast planted, gardener divine,
A scion of the tree of life: it grows;
But not in every wind or weather it blows;
The leaves fall sometimes from the baby tree,
And the life-power seems melting into pine;
Yet still the sap keeps struggling to the shine,
And the unseen root clings cramplike unto thee.