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


Do thou, my God, my spirit’s weather control;
And as I do not gloom though the day be dun,
Let me not gloom when earth-born vapours roll
Across the infinite zenith of my soul.
Should sudden brain-frost through the heart’s summer run,
Cold, weary, joyless, waste of air and sun,
Thou art my south, my summer-wind, my all, my one.


O Life, why dost thou close me up in death?
O Health, why make me inhabit heaviness?–
I ask, yet know: the sum of this distress,
Pang-haunted body, sore-dismayed mind,
Is but the egg that rounds the winged faith;
When that its path into the air shall find,
My heart will follow, high above cold, rain, and wind.


I can no more than lift my weary eyes;
Therefore I lift my weary eyes–no more.
But my eyes pull my heart, and that, before
‘Tis well awake, knocks where the conscience lies;
Conscience runs quick to the spirit’s hidden door:
Straightway, from every sky-ward window, cries
Up to the Father’s listening ears arise.


Not in my fancy now I search to find thee;
Not in its loftiest forms would shape or bind thee;
I cry to one whom I can never know,
Filling me with an infinite overflow;
Not to a shape that dwells within my heart,
Clothed in perfections love and truth assigned thee,
But to the God thou knowest that thou art.


Not, Lord, because I have done well or ill;
Not that my mind looks up to thee clear-eyed;
Not that it struggles in fast cerements tied;
Not that I need thee daily sorer still;
Not that I wretched, wander from thy will;
Not now for any cause to thee I cry,
But this, that thou art thou, and here am I.


Yestereve, Death came, and knocked at my thin door.
I from my window looked: the thing I saw,
The shape uncouth, I had not seen before.
I was disturbed–with fear, in sooth, not awe;
Whereof ashamed, I instantly did rouse
My will to seek thee–only to fear the more:
Alas! I could not find thee in the house.


I was like Peter when he began to sink.
To thee a new prayer therefore I have got–
That, when Death comes in earnest to my door,
Thou wouldst thyself go, when the latch doth clink,
And lead him to my room, up to my cot;
Then hold thy child’s hand, hold and leave him not,
Till Death has done with him for evermore.


Till Death has done with him?–Ah, leave me then!
And Death has done with me, oh, nevermore!
He comes–and goes–to leave me in thy arms,
Nearer thy heart, oh, nearer than before!
To lay thy child, naked, new-born again
Of mother earth, crept free through many harms,
Upon thy bosom–still to the very core.


Come to me, Lord: I will not speculate how,
Nor think at which door I would have thee appear,
Nor put off calling till my floors be swept,
But cry, “Come, Lord, come any way, come now.”
Doors, windows, I throw wide; my head I bow,
And sit like some one who so long has slept
That he knows nothing till his life draw near.


O Lord, I have been talking to the people;
Thought’s wheels have round me whirled a fiery zone,
And the recoil of my words’ airy ripple
My heart unheedful has puffed up and blown.
Therefore I cast myself before thee prone:
Lay cool hands on my burning brain, and press
From my weak heart the swelling emptiness.



I TO myself have neither power nor worth,
Patience nor love, nor anything right good;
My soul is a poor land, plenteous in dearth–
Here blades of grass, there a small herb for food–
A nothing that would be something if it could;
But if obedience, Lord, in me do grow,
I shall one day be better than I know.